Brig.-Gen. Benjamin F. Butler
, of the Massachusetts
militia, was assigned, on the 22d of May, to the command of the ‘department of Virginia,’ with headquarters at Old Point
Comfort, and nine additional infantry regiments were sent to that place.
On the 23d, between 4 and 5 p. m., a Federal regiment made a demonstration against Hampton
, greatly alarming the citizens of that place.
Maj. J. B. Cary
, of the Virginia
artillery, in command at Hampton
, had made arrangements for the destruction of the bridges leading from Fort Monroe
, but the enemy were in sight before the fires could be well started.
He then sent Lieutenant Cutshaw
to demand of the Federal
colonel his object in approaching Hampton
with so large a body of men. He replied that he had simply come, under the order of General Butler
, to reconnoiter; he then gave assurance that he would make no attack upon personal property, unless molested, when both sides joined in extinguishing the fires at the bridges.
This amicable understanding reached, the Federal
troops marched into the town, remained for awhile and then returned.
reported to Colonel Ewell
, that this demonstration indicated the propriety of removing his camp farther from Hampton
, where the people had responded indifferently to his call for aid in erecting intrenchments.
As the site selected for his camp was probably visible from the ramparts of Fort Monroe
, he thought the erection of the first tent there would be the signal for another demonstration.
On the 21st of May, Col. John B. Magruder
, of the provisional army of Virginia
, a Virginian officer of the old Federal army, later a major-general of the Confederate States
army, was assigned to the command of the ‘department of the Peninsula
,’ including the York
and the James rivers
, and he began organizing forces for defense.
Maj. H. B. Tomlin
, commanding at West Point
, reported that he had placed guards near the York river railroad bridge over the Pamunkey
A letter of General Lee
to ex-Governor Wise
, of May 24th, describes the situation at that date:
Since my arrival in Richmond I have used every exertion to organize troops and prepare resistance against immediate invasion, which has appeared imminent, and as almost everything had to be created, except the guns found at the Gosport navy yard, the preparations have absorbed all the means I can command.
We are still engaged