This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 the march; this name was given to a brigade of cavalry, accompanied by a few pieces of artillery, which had been raised in South Carolina by the general whose name it bore. The small space of ground on which Williamsburg is built was designed by nature to have an important bearing on the retreat of the Confederates. It was a narrow gate, easily kept closed, through which the whole army had to file in a single column, and which it was necessary to guard against the seizure of the enemy until the last man had passed. Defensive works of considerable strength had been constructed there. The two streams, College Creek and Queen's Creek, which, as they wind through the dense woods, form numerous ponds in their course, take their rise at a distance of one kilometre from each other. The swamps by which they are surrounded soon render them impassable even for infantry. The space intervening between these two water-courses was for the most part occupied by a cultivated clearing. The woods had been cut down, and the skirt of the forest, being thus extended farther to the south-east by this abatis, described a concave arc of a circle enveloping this small open plateau at the south from one stream to the other. It was here that the two roads from Lee's Mills, on the south, and from Yorktown, on the east, met. A large work closed at the gorge, called Fort Magruder, rose at a distance of three or four hundred metres in the rear of this intersection; it commanded both roads and the entire isthmus. To the north-east and to the south-west the Confederates had constructed, on the west bank of the two streams where the forest had been cut down, a chain of small redoubts, which defended the few passages practicable for infantry. These passages consisted of three dams, two on Queen's Creek and one on College Creek, so narrow that a few men lying in ambush would have barred their approaches to a whole column. Longstreet, after evacuating Yorktown during the night of the 3d-4th of May, proceeded rapidly toward Williamsburg, situated two thousand seven hundred metres beyond Fort Magruder, on the road to Richmond, for he intended to make there his first halt on the journey. The Federals allowed him to gain a precious advance during the first hours of that difficult retreat, for they
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.