Battle of Williamsburg.
It may be well imagined that McClellan
, sorely disappointed, and knowing very well that the people of the North
, who were already clamouring for a change of commanders, would not be satisfied with the barren occupation of the deserted works of Yorktown
, was anxious to snatch some sort of victory from the rear-guard of the Confederate
retreat, which he might magnify in official dispatches and Northern newspapers.
01 the morning of the 5th May, Gen. Hooker
's division of Heintzelman
's corps came up near Williamsburg
with the Confederate
rear-guard, commanded by Gen. Longstreet
The Federals were in a forest in front of Williamsburg
; but as Hooker
came into the open ground, he was vigorously attacked, driven back with the loss of five guns, and with difficulty held the belt of wood which sheltered and concealed his men from the Confederate
Other forces of the enemy were moved up, until Gen. Longstreet
was engaging nine brigades of the Federal
During the whole of the day, from sunrise to sunset, he held McClellan
's army in check, drove the enemy from two redoubts he had occupied, and secured Johnston
's retreat so effectually, that the next morning when the rear guard moved off, it did so as undisturbed as if the enemy were a thousand miles distant.
But Gen. Longstreet
not only accomplished the important object of securing the retreat.
He won a brilliant victory.
himself confessed a loss of 455 killed, 1,400 wounded, and 372 missing, making a total of 2,228.
carried off with him nine pieces of captured artillery.
Yet so anxious was McClellan
for the colour of victory that he dispatched to Washington
news of a success, and represented as the process of “driving rebels to the wall,” the leisurely retreat of Johnston
to works around Richmond
, prepared ten months ago under the prudent and skilful direction of Gen. Robert E. Lee
, and already the amplest and strongest at any point in the Confederacy
The fact was that McClellan
's army had received a serious check at Williamsburg
, which, if Gen. Longstreet
had been able to take advantage of it, might have been converted into a disastrous defeat.
had also planned a flank movement upon Johnston
This performance, too, proved a miserable failure, although the idea did credit to his genius.
The design was that Franklin
should move to West Point
, the head of the York River
, and disembark a large force there to assail Johnston
on the flank.
On the 7th of May, Franklin
attempted a landing under cover of his gunboats, at Barhamsville
near West Point
The attempt was gallantly repulsed by Whiting
's division of Texas
The fight was