to cover the city at a greater distance could be constructed by the troops assigned to the defense, aided by such other labor as could be obtained.
It was decided to be an injudicious waste of labor to build the outer works before the stronger inner line was completed, even though the latter was too near the city.
Very few more guns were procured, however, and it seemed of doubtful propriety to place so many heavy guns in such a contracted space.
McClellan's Peninsula campaign was bringing his army dangerously near the Confederate
Hurried preparation of the unfinished works placed them in as strong a condition as possible, and the outer line was started.
When the Federal
army began its advance from Yorktown
, there were only three guns in position on Drewry's Bluff
, but, owing to the fear that the Union gunboats would ascend the river past the batteries further down, several ship's guns were also mounted to cover the obstructions in the channel.
On May 15th, a fleet of Union gunboats under Commander John Rodgers
ascended the James
and engaged the batteries at Drewry's Bluff
The seven heavy guns now on the works proved most effective against the fleet.
After an engagement of four hours the vessels withdrew, considerably damaged.
From information then in the possession of the Confederates
, it was supposed that McClellan
would change his base to the James
in order to have the cooperation of the navy, and it was hoped that he could be successfully assailed while making the change if he crossed above the mouth of the Chickahominy
The repulse of the Union fleet at Drewry's Bluff
created a greater feeling of security in Richmond
, and there arose a determination that the honored capital city of the Old Dominion and of the Confederacy
should not fall into the hands of foes.
The battle of Seven Pines
, on May 31st, initiated by Johnston
's army was divided, stopped the progress of the Federals
, but the serious wounding of Johnston