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[3] divided into two parts: The first, by far the more important, forms a real peninsula between the salt tide-waters which ascend York River as far as West Point, and the James beyond City Point. This flat country, which is both sandy and marshy, intersected by countless bays, extremely wooded, poor, and thinly peopled, forms the peninsula of Virginia. The second, extending, between the Pamunky and the James proper, to a distance far above Richmond, very undulating, covered with magnificent forests, a little better cultivated than the former, and enlivened here and there by the residences of a few wealthy planters, is divided longitudinally by the Chickahominy, a river rendered famous in the annals of American colonization by the romantic adventures of the traveller John Smith and the Indian maid Pocahontas. This water-course, of little importance from its ordinary volume of water, flows through wooded swamps, where impenetrable thickets alternate with groves of tall white oak, a tree admirably adapted for naval construction, the feet of which are buried in the ooze, while the trunks, as straight as the mast of a ship, rise to extraordinary heights. After a rain-storm, the Chickahominy not only overflows its wooded banks, but, spreading over the adjacent plains, forms a sheet of water which at times is a kilometre in width. This, therefore, was a formidable obstacle in the way of military operations. The river runs parallel with the Pamunky, and cutting off a corner of the peninsula, empties into the estuary of the James at an equal distance from City Point and Newport News. The James on one side, the York River and the Pamunky on the other, form two magnificent lines of communication. The former is navigable as far as Richmond, but the Virginia debarred the Federals from using it. The latter may be ascended as far as White House, a plantation which had formerly belonged to Washington, and was now the property of General Lee. But at the entrance of York River, the two banks of this arm of the sea draw closer, forming a strait commanded by the guns of Yorktown, and batteries erected opposite, at Gloucester Point. Hence the importance which has always attached to the little place of Yorktown, around which some slight undulations covered with rich turf still indicate the trace of the parallel thrown up by the French and American

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R. E. Lee (1)
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