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[11] is to say, more than two divisions. The small body of Federal troops could not attack the redoubt, where the Confederates were increasing in number at every instant, but they made a stubborn defence in the breastworks they had conquered. Being finally overwhelmed by numbers, they were obliged to retire, and recross the river after losing more than two hundred in killed and wounded.

Although the Confederates were in a much better condition to repulse that attack on the 16th of April than they would have been on the 6th or the 7th, still, if the Federals had followed up the success of the Third Vermont, they would probably have pierced the line of Warwick Creek, and compelled Magruder to fight, without any point of support, the forty thousand men they could have massed on that strip of land.

This unfortunate affair produced a sad impression on the mind of the soldiers who had seen their comrades sacrificed without any orders being given to go to their assistance. It was moreover the signal for new delays. On the following day, General McClellan decided to resort to the sure but slow means of a regular siege. The surroundings of Yorktown alone afforded means of approach well adapted for this kind of attack; and on the 17th of April, the first parallel was opened at the head of a ravine situated about two thousand metres from one of the bastions. The inventive and laborious genius of the Americans had there an opportunity to signalize itself. The whole army set to work to cut roads, to construct bridges, to prepare places d'armes, to establish wharves, to dig trenches, and to erect batteries. Nothing was to be seen except manufactures of gabions and fascines. The siege equipage was landed, by dint of patience and exertion; cannon weighing as much as 10,000 kilogrammes, and thirteen-inch mortars, were placed in position. These immense labors, superintended in detail by the general-in-chief, who gave himself up entirely to his old specialty as an engineer officer, were prosecuted with the greatest activity. The woods and some undulations in the ground concealed them from the Confederates, whose shells, thrown at random, generally passed above the workmen, shattering the tall trees of the forest in their career.1 Nevertheless, in spite of all their diligence, the time was passing away, precious

1 For one month the headquarters of the army were within reach of the enemy's projectiles. The latter tried in vain to discover their locality, and during that entire month but one single Confederate cannon-ball whistled above the tents of the general staff.

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