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Doc. 119.-fight near Yorktown, Va. April 4th, 1862.

The following is an account of the advance from Fortress Monroe and the fight near Yorktown:

Locust hill., in camp, five miles from Fortress Monroe, April 3, 1862.
The order for the advance was given to-day. It made a lively and exciting stir in the different camps. From the moment of pitching tents here an order to this effect has been impatiently looked for and desired. There was not a soldier that was not delighted at the order. It foretold an advance to Richmond, as was believed, although, of course, unknown, and the chance of seeing active service on the way. This was what the soldiers wanted. With the order came one to prepare five days rations, three in knapsacks and two in wagons. While the troops have been busying themselves getting ready for the morrow's work and writing letters home, a council of all the commanding officers was held at Gen. Porter's headquarters. There had never been an assemblage of the officers of such moment and significance.

The night is a beautiful one. The new moon looks down from a starlit and cloudless sky upon the burning camp-fires. It being the last night in the camp, additional rails and logs are piled on the fires, giving a bonfire and jubilant look to most of the camps. The brilliant illuminations present to view picturesque groups of soldiers, some cooking, some burnishing their arms, and others putting needed stitches in their rent and [434] worn uniforms. The hands play enlivening airs, and all are active and merry. No one would think that these men at daybreak are to start on a march that may lead them to battle and many to their deaths. But thus it is, and thus it ever is in war-times. War is a mysterious developer of curious phases of human life, and philosophy and science look on bewildered. Tattoo and taps are beat in their order. Except here and there a late light in an officer's tent, who is writing what may prove his farewell letters, a deep silence pervades the camps. The men are sleeping and dreaming — dreams of childhood, home, loves, ambition, battles, victories, death. The light of the camp-fires grows dimmer, and the pale moonlight reveals a picture growing more serene and silent as the hours advance. There is no more impressive picture than an encampment in a midnight moonlight. Underlying the picture is that too deep for utterance. In coarse woolen blankets lie patriots, heroes, martyrs, true men. These are no cowards; devotion to country has brought them here.

Cockletown, nine miles beyond Big Bethel, April 4, 1862.
We have seen some of the rebel forces, and they have fled before us. The Stars and Stripes have been hoisted, and are floating over rebel fortifications where the flag of disunion has long waved in triumph its ignominious folds. But I must resume my narrative where I left it off last evening, of the movements of this division, and give briefly, in the order of occurrence, the events of the day.

At three A. M. the long roll sounded, summoning the troops from their sleep. In a few moments the lights of a thousand camp-fires were brightly burning, the coffee was boiling hot, the morning meal was hastily eaten, knapsacks were packed, and officers and men were in their places, and ready to march. I need not describe the scenes attending the breaking up of camps. It is now more than a “thrice-told tale.” The men were not allowed to overload themselves. The soldiers carried their own shelter-tents. Only six wagons were allowed each regiment for the conveying officers' tents, baggage, hospital and commissary stores. It was a little past five o'clock when the division brigades had formed in line of march.

The cavalry and sharpshooters preceded the column, to look after the enemy, remove felled trees, and rebuild the bridges over Big Bethel Creek, which had been destroyed since the reconnoissance several days ago. Gen. Morell's brigade, and Gen. Hamilton's division, took what is called the “road to the right.” The remainder of the troops in the corps took the main road to Yorktown. They all came together near Big Bethel, where the works of the enemy were found the same as on the first visitation of our regiments. From this point the column proceeded, in order of brigades, to the Half-way House. The Fourteenth New-York regiment, Col. McQuade, and Allen's battery, were sent on to Howard's Bridge. to reconnoitre the territory and feel the enemy. And now began the advance farther into rebel territory than had been made by any of our forces hitherto. Capt. Sears's company was ordered ahead as skirmishers. The road is winding and muddy, and a good deal of the way skirted with woods on either side. Mounted scouts of the enemy soon showed themselves. Between the two there was pretty brisk firing. The enemy continued to retreat until they fell back to their intrenchments at Harrold's Mill. On the way, a rebel, believed to be an officer, was shot but whether fatally or otherwise is unknown, as his comrades bore him away with them. A horse, shot dead by our men, was left behind. As our men arrived within half a mile of the rebel intrenchments, several shots were fired at them from two rifled cannon. Allen's battery responded by hurling in three well-directed shells. The enemy were not long in evacuating. Taking their cannon--ten-pounders — they fled to their barracks to the left, set fire to them, and then beat a precipitate retreat in the direction of Yorktown.

The force inside the works consisted of three companies of Major Phillips's Virginia cavalry, under command of Capts. Todd, Puller and Rose, and a battalion of Mississippi infantry. Two of the infantry managed to straggle behind and allow themselves to be captured. One says he is a native of Boston, and the other of Wisconsin. Happening to be in Mississippi when the rebellion broke out, they were impressed into service, and the present was their first opportunity of joining the Union troops.

Our troops quickly extinguished the flames of the burning barracks. They were log-huts for winter accommodation, got up in the comfortable style of the Manassas huts, and well provided with soldierly requirements — flour, meat, blankets, cooking-utensils, etc. The fires for cooking were still burning, pots of eatables boiling, and tables spread for a set down. There were about twenty huts, and a quantity of extemporized shelters and sleeping-places made of rails and covered with boughs. A portion of the Fourteenth regiment, headed by Lieut.-Col. Skillen, and Capt. Auchmutz and Lieut. Seymour, of Gen. Morell's staff, pursued the retreating rebels nearly a mile. Firing was kept up on both sides. A rifle-ball grazed the top of Lieut. Seymour's cap.

By the time the Stars and Stripes had been planted on the enemy's earthworks, the remaining regiments of Gen. Morell's brigade arrived at the place. They made the surrounding woods ring with their cheers, at sight of the glorious national ensign. The intrenchments consist of only two earthworks on either side of Poquosin River, which at this point is narrow and meandering, to an extent possibly pleasing to one of poetic fancy, but stupidly disgusting to one who has to make his way along by practicable pedestrianism. They are both of most ordinary and plain construction, with a ditch on both sides. On the river is the skeleton remnant of an old mill; so old, I should presume from its appearance, that the memory of the oldest inhabitant [435] could not run back to the time of its construction. The land is rugged, and is now covered mainly with stumps of pines, the trees having been cut down by the rebels to enable them to command the approaches this way to Yorktown.

The whole division in the afternoon moved on to this place, where the regiments and batteries are encamped. General Heintzelman and staff have also taken quarters here for the night, as, of course, General Porter and staff. Cockletown has four small, plain, wooden dwelling-houses, what was a blacksmith — shop, what might have been a store, but no sign of school-house or church. Some of the natives are still here. They are now strongly Union, and strong in their charges, fifty cents being the charge for a meal that would cost about one fourth this sum almost anywhere else. It has been a good day's march for the soldiers; but they have gone through it splendidly, and are feeling jolly enough to-night — a jollity that seems to increase as the advance into rebeldom increases.

in camp, two miles from Yorktown, April 5 P. M.
The ball has opened. We are near Yorktown, but not in it yet. The rebels have entered a vigorous protest against our occupation of this town of Revolutionary fame. The battle has begun. Dead and wounded Union soldiers are lying in the division hospital to-night. The list, happily, is small; that of the rebel killed and wounded is believed to be larger. There has been no general engagement thus far, only cannonading and firing of sharpshooters. I will recount the scenes of the day in their order.

At seven o'clock A. M., the divisions left Cockletown. The order of march was the same as on the previous day, excepting that the Fourth Michigan regiment, Col. Woodbury, led the infantry. Colonel Averill's cavalry and Berdan's sharpshooters kept the advance of the column. For about an hour in the march, a heavy rain fell; but the troops apparently did not heed it; neither did they seem to mind the bad and muddy road, extending about three miles through a region of swamp. In some places the mud was up to the men's knees. The artillery had hard work to move on. At intervals the roads were blocked, impeding the progress of the troops. About four miles advance and the marsh was passed, and the column came into good roads, in a cultivated and beautiful section of country. It was inspiriting to the troops.

Passing by Cheeseman and Goose Creeks and Grafton Chapel, our column came in sight of the earthworks of the enemy, and York River to the right and beyond. Gen. Heintzelman was present to direct arrangements. In the excitement soldiers forgot their weariness. It was believed a battle would soon be fought. Col. Averill's cavalry and the Berdan sharpshooters kept ahead, on the vigilant lookout for rebels and masked batteries. General Porter's brigade steadily advanced toward the earthworks, although there were no supporting troops behind for some distance, and wholly ignoring the thought of the force the enemy might bring against them.

The brigades were put in position. Captain Griffin's and Capt. Weeden's batteries took places on the brow of a hill in face of the rebel intrenchments. On the right, in a piece of woods, lay Gen. Morell's brigade, to support the batteries. Beyond the woods, in a peach-orchard, were the Berdan sharpshooters; they were eight hundred yards from the intrenchments. Our artillery was one thousand five hundred yards distant from the enemy. At ten o'clock the first shot was fired. It came from one of the rebel works to the right. The shot went over our field-pieces, and came near where Gens. Porter and Morell and other officers were standing. It struck heavily in the sand, but did not explode. A quick response followed from Captain Weeden's battery, which brought an immediate rejoinder. This second shot, a solid one, struck one of the gunners, named Reynolds, on the right leg below the thigh. The limb was amputated; but he died fifteen minutes after the operation.

A continuous firing was kept up an hour and a half; subsequently, intervals of from fifteen to twenty minutes occurred between the shots. The enemy fired mainly heavy guns, from twelve to twenty-four pounders.

Only four of the enemy's shells burst. Our boys did not seem to mind them much, but rather enjoyed the thing. One shot struck in the Ninth Massachusetts regiment, ricochetted and wounded two men of the Sixty-second Penn sylvania regiment.

There were a good many narrow escapes. A piece of a shell knocked off Major Coles's cap, of the Fourth Michigan regiment. He made it the subject of a joke, and said it was the result of capillary attraction. A small ball from an exploded shell fell inside the shirt-collar of another of the Fourth Michigan men. He coolly took it out and put it in his pocket. One shell went through a series of erratic bounds. Passing over Weeden's battery, it struck the ground, gave a bound, went under Capt. Weeden's horse, gave another bound, struck the earth a third time, started again in the direction of the upper air, and then exploded, hurting no one. A spoke from one of Capt. Griffin's battery wagons — the one, and only one, by the way, he brought away from Bull Run — was sent whizzing from its place by a shot. This was the only injury sustained by his battery, although in equally exposed position with Capt. Weeden's battery. Not an officer or man attached to either battery shrank from valorous performance of duty.

The regiments of Gen. Morell's brigade, although saluted occasionally by the dropping in of shells among them, showed no signs of fear. A shell passed over the Ninth Massachusetts regiment, and struck in the pioneer corps of the Sixty--second Pennsylvania regiment. It first tore away the haversack of Jacob Bell, of company D, then struck----Musser, of company I, tearing away his cartridge-box, causing it to explode. After this it hit Jacob Rombaugh, of [436] company D, on the left foot, inflicting a severe wound; slightly bruised John Reddy, a drummer-boy, and then hopped into the air and came down without exploding. Musser subsequently died of his injuries. He lived in Jefferson County, Pa., and was a single man.

Gen, Morell and staff and Gen. Martindale and staff were in the foremost places of danger with their regiments. The Berdan sharpshooters made fearful havoc among the enemy's gunners, picking them off by the dozen. Col. Berdan says they killed at least fifty of the rebels and wounded a hundred. Toward night the enemy commenced shelling them by running a gun out from behind the left end of the fort, discharging it and then dragging it in to load again, the only way they were enabled to work the gun. They tried the plan of covering the working of guns by running a plank upon the parapet, and turning it upon the edge; but they did not seem to like to trust it. The attempt at shelling was not long continued. As soon as a gunner showed himself the aim of the unerring rifle would enforce on him the propriety of retirement. At first the rebel sharpshooters attempted to shoot our men from rifle-pits; but they found even these places too hazardous, and were not long in withdrawing to safer positions behind the intrenchments. During the afternoon a small mounted party, led by an officer wearing a white shirt, the bosom of which was distinctly visible, ventured outside the fort. A member of the sharpshooters, who goes by the soubriquet of “California Joe,” observed that “he was best at a white mark.” He quickly drew up his telescopic rifle, took aim, fired, and the man reeled in his saddle and fell to the ground, apparently dead.

At one time during the day a squad of rebel cavalry came out, apparently to charge upon our sharpshooters. Suddenly a shell from one of our guns fell in their midst, scattering them like chaff before the wind. They scampered off into their intrenchments, and no more cavalry was seen during the day, except an occasional mounted man.

At half-past 4 P. M. the enemy opened heavy firing from earthworks on the left of where the above shooting occurred. They made Gen. Martindale's brigade their target. Our people were ready for them. The Third Massachusetts battery took a position, and returned the fire with splendid and, as is believed, most telling effect. The rebel gunners showed more skill in sighting their pieces here than was shown from the other portion of the intrenchment. The sun was shining on our pieces, which gave the enemy a great advantage. At one of our guns two men were killed, and all the others disabled but four. Lieut. Dunn's horse was shot under him, as also the horses of Sergeants Strode and Foster. Our men did not shrink. They were plucky as steel, and had the last shot. Before the firing ceased Gen. Hamilton's division arrived on the ground. Capt. Randolf's Sixth Rhode Island battery relieved, during the last of the firing, the Third Massachusetts battery. Captain Randolf lost five or six horses. It was thought at one time a regular engagement would be brought on. Our boys were ready for it. Gens. Heintzelman and Porter were present at frequent intervals, giving the necessary orders and watching the course of events. A shell passed only a few yards over the head of Gen. Jameson, striking within a few feet of one of his sentinels. SeVeral solid shot came into the camp, but without injuring any one.

Soon after the arrival of the division, Professor Lowe got his inflating apparatus to work, and in a few hours had his war-balloon at a goodly altitude in the upper air. The afternoon had now far advanced, and it was almost too late for successful aeronautic observations. Several shots struck near the spot where the balloon was located. It was nearly sundown, when the last gun was fired. The rebels had fine range of the best locations for our artillery, and the grounds on which we were encamped; but the casualties were very slight indeed compared. with the injuries which our sharpshooters inflicted upon them. Whenever they made a good shot, they would utter unearthly yells. Their bands were playing “Dixie,” and other airs, which were distinctly heard in our camp-ground. The accompanying diagram will give an accurate idea of the rebel works, and the positions of our artillery and men. The principal portion of our troops, which had arrived, were located in the large fields on either side of the road, nearly surrounded by woods. In front, where our pieces were planted, there is an extensive field, and then a lower ground, a large plain, in front of the rebel works. The Yorktown turnpike runs through to the centre of the fortifications, which have dense woods behind them.

The following is a complete list of the killed and wounded.


Charles L. Lord, private, battery C, Massachusetts artillery.

Edwin W. Lewis, private, battery C, Massachusetts artillery.

I. Ide, Co. E, Berdan's sharpshooters.

John Reynolds, private, leg amputated, Weeden's battery.

Adam Musser, private, Co. I, Sixty--second Pennsylvania volunteers.

David Phelps, private, Co. H, Berdan's sharpshooters.


M. C. Barrett, Co. B, Twenty-second Massachusetts, slightly.

G. P. Field, private, Co. B, Twenty second Massachusetts, slightly.

A. O. Emerson, corporal, Co. B, Twenty second Massachusetts, slightly.

S. W. Bailey, private, Co. B, Twenty-second Massachusetts, slightly.

C. H. James, private, Co. B, Twenty-second Massachusetts, slightly.

Lieut. W. D. Morris, Co. B, Twenty-second Massachusetts, slightly. [437]

Frank B. Smith, private, Co. B, Twenty-second Massachusetts, severely.

John Collingshill, private, Co. H, Twenty-second Massachusetts, severely.

C. H. Tucker, corporal, Co. C, Martin's battery, slightly, lost his speech.

Freeman Carey,Co. C, Martin's battery, slightly.

Tim Donohue, Co. C, Martin's battery, thumb amputated.

Cyrus Wilcox, Co. C, Berdan's sharpshooters, slightly.

C. W. Peck, corporal, Co. F, Berdan's sharpshooters, slightly.

James Way, sergeant, Co. C, Berdan's sharpshooters, slightly.

Wm. Parker, Co. B, Berdan's sharpshooters, slightly.

William Bombaugh, private, Co. D, Sixty-second Pennsylvania, severely.

Corp. Tucker's case is very remarkable. The shot, in passing, did not strike him, but the velocity of the missile raised the skin on his breast, and bereft the poor man of his speech.

Prompt attentions were given to the wounded. The hospitals were in charge of Dr. Wyman, Division-Surgeon, and Dr. Waters, General Morrell's Brigade-Surgeon. A large dwelling, about three quarters of a mile from where our guns were planted, the former residence of Dr. Clark, of Delaware, is used as a temporary division hospital.

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