any obstructions of felled trees or broken bridges by which the enemy might have endeavored to retard their progress.
The main body of the troops advanced by the direct route to Yorktown
's Brigade and General Hamilton
's Division of the Third Corps took a road which led to the right.
The route traversed by both wings of the army led through the old fortifications of Big Bethel and over a fertile and very beautiful region, shaded with forests and embellished with the mansions of the wealthy planters.
It was formerly the garden spot of Virginia
, but the war had already spread its desolation over the once fair fields and they were now perfectly devastated.
The farms were forsaken, and the little villages were abandoned by their terrified inhabitants.
A rain storm of several hour's duration compelled a halt and during that time Generals McClellan
passed the column on horseback.
The cheering grew gradually and constantly louder as they approached, culminating in a deafening roar as they passed and gradually died away in the distance, showing at once the extent of the line and the enthusiasm of the soldiery under such a leader as their favorite, ‘Little Mac.’
At the end of the second day's march, the army encamped on a plain about two miles from the enemy's works at Yorktown
A sharp artillery duel followed.
Here army life began in real earnest.
Uncooked rations were served to the men and the company cooks were ordered to the ranks.
On the 7th of April, the Nineteenth and Twentieth Massachusetts regiments, under the command of General Dana
, started on a reconnoissance of the enemy's works.
After discovering the fortifications at Winn's Mills, the Nineteenth was ordered to march through a belt of woods down upon the works, then pass along their front and discover its extent.
This was successfully accomplished under a sharp musketry fire, in the midst of which the regiment moved steadily and unflinchingly as if on drill.
Two of the captains in the regiment, in their enthusiasm, borrowed each a musket from their men and peppered away at the enemy until ordered by a staff officer to desist.