previous next


To ascertain the range of some one-hundred and two hundred pounders which had just been placed in position, a few projectiles had been thrown into Yorktown. The sight of the damage they had caused was a wholesome warning to the Confederate chiefs, who, knowing themselves to be on the eve of a bombardment, had no desire to wait for its effects. When this decision had been adopted, Johnston emptied his magazines, moved away his materiel and wagons, and established at the halting-places designated in his line of retreat such provisions as his army would need every evening after a rapid march. In order to conceal his movements, he had sacrificed his heavy artillery, which had kept up a continuous fire upon the besiegers to the last moment, the intensity of which had even been doubled on the evening of the 3d of May so as to deceive them more thoroughly. Seventy-one guns of various calibres were the only trophies abandoned to the Federals. The only thing which detracted from the merit of this able retreat was the commission of certain barbarous acts which the usages of war do not justify. Bombshells and infernal machines were placed in the huts and storehouses, so that they would explode under the feet of the first persons who might be drawn thither by curiosity. A few unfortunate individuals having been killed in this manner, General McClellan very properly employed the Confederate prisoners in ridding Yorktown of these dangerous snares.

When the Federal artillerists beheld the first rays of the sun lighting up the abandoned entrenchments, they felt for a moment stupefied. So much labor should at least have ended in a fight, and they had not even the satisfaction of trying those new guns from which they had expected such powerful effects. It was a serious disappointment to all. They were compensated, however, by the immediate prospect of a forward march and a campaign which promised to be thenceforth full of activity.

In evacuating Yorktown the Confederates abandoned York River to the Federals. The latter, therefore, had control of one of the flanks of the peninsula, and were able, by means of a landing, to demolish all the defences by which the enemy might have attempted to stop them between Yorktown and West Point. The army of the Potomac could not allow Johnston to escape a

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Yorktown (Virginia, United States) (4)
York (Virginia, United States) (1)
West Point (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Joseph E. Johnston (2)
McClellan (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
May 3rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: