Chapter 15: the Army of the Potomac on the Virginia Peninsula.
- The Confederates evacuate Yorktown, 377.
-- pursuit of the fugitives
-- Confederate works at Williamsburg, 378.
-- Hooker's advance upon them, 379.
-- battle near Williamsburg
-- Hooker bears the Brunt, 380.
-- Kearney's troops on the field, 381.
-- Hancock's flank movement, 382.
-- close of the battle of Williamsburg
-- composition of the National Army there, 383.
-- McClellan urged to the front
-- the fruits of victory lost by delay, 384.
-- expedition up the York River
-- National troops on the Pamunkey
-- a sharp fight, 385.
-- quarters near the “White House”
-- a trick to save that building, 386.
-- preparations to attack Norfolk
-- vigilance of General Wool, 387.
-- he leads troops against Norfolk
-- surrender of the City, 388.
-- events in the Shenandoah Valley, 389.
-- battle at McDowell, 390.
-- Kenly attacked at front Royal, 391.
-- Banks's retreat toward the Potomac
-- difficulties in the way, 392.
-- battle at Winchester, 393.
-- Banks's retreat to the Potomac
-- Jackson hastens up the Shenandoah Valley, 394.
-- an exciting race in that Valley
-- Jackson and Ewell hard pressed, 395.
-- battle of Cross Keys, 396.
-- map of operations in Upper Virginia, 398.
-- battle of Port Republic and escape of Jackson's Army, 399.
-- a visit to the Shenandoah region
-- Weyer's Cave, 400.
-- passage of the Blue Ridge, 401.
'S batteries would all have been ready to open on the Confederate
works on the morning of the 6th of May;
but there was then no occasion for their use, for those works were abandoned.
So early as the 30th of April, Jefferson Davis
and two of his so-called cabinet, and Generals Johnston
, and Magruder
, held a council at the Nelson House
where, after exciting debates, it was determined to evacuate Yorktown
and its dependencies.
A wholesome fear of the heavy guns of the Nationals, whose missiles had already given a foretaste of their terrible power, and also an expectation that the National
gun-boats would speedily ascend the two rivers flanking the Confederate Army, caused this prudent resolution.
had been ordered to Yorktown
, but it had so great a dread of the watchful little Monitor
that it remained at Norfolk
Already some war-vessels, and a fleet of transports with Franklin
's troops, as we have observed, were lying securely in Posquotin River, well up toward Yorktown
These considerations caused immediate action on the resolutions of the council.
The sick, hospital stores, ammunition, and camp equipage were speedily sent to Richmond
, and on the night of the 3d of May, the Confederate
garrisons at Yorktown
, and the troops along the line of the Warwick
, fled toward Williamsburg
Early the next morning General McClellan
telegraphed to the Secretary of War
that he was in possession of the abandoned
post, and added: “No time shall be lost.
I shall push the enemy to the wall.”
At that hour a vigorous pursuit of the fugitives had begun by the cavalry and horse-artillery under General Stoneman
, followed along the Yorktown
road by the divisions of Generals Joseph Hooker
and Philip Kearney
, and on the Winn's Mill road, which joins the former within two miles of Williamsburg
, by the divisions of Generals W. F. Smith
, Darius N. Couch
, and Silas Casey
Those of Generals Israel B. Richardson
, John Sedgwick
, and Fitz-John Porter
, were moved to the vicinity of Yorktown
, to be ready to go forward as a supporting force, if required, or to follow Franklin
's division, which was to be sent up the York River
to West Point
, to co-operate with the pursuing force on the flank of the fugitives, and to seize that terminus of the Richmond and York River railway. General Heintzelman
was at first charged with the direction of the pursuit, but the General-in-Chief
changed his mind, and directed General Edwin V. Sumner
, his second in command, to go forward and conduct the operations of the pursuers.
remained at Yorktown
, to make arrangements for the dispatch of Franklin
up the York
The Confederates had, some months before, constructed a line of strong works, thirteen in number, across the gently rolling plateau on which Williamsburg
These were two miles in front of that city at the narrowest part of the Peninsula
the right resting on a deep ravine near the James River
, and the left on Queen's Creek
, near the York River
The principal work was Fort
, close by the junction of the Yorktown
and Winn's Mill roads. It was an earth-work with bastion front, its crest measuring nearly half a mile, surrounded by a wet ditch, and heavily armed.
The others were redoubts, similar to those cast up around Washington City
At these works the retreating Confederates left a strong rear-guard to check the pursuers, while the main body should have time to place the Chickahominy River
between it and the advancing Nationals
approached these lines he was met by Confederate cavalry, and these, with the guns of Fort Magruder and its immediate supporters, caused him to halt, fall back about four miles, and wait for the infantry.
Hearing of this repulse, Hooker
, who was not far in the rear of a brick church on the Yorktown
road, was impatient to move forward, but the way was blocked by Smith
Therefore he sought and obtained leave of