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Confederate use of subterranean shells on the Peninsula. Several Union officers have written to the editors, stating that they witnessed the explosion of concealed shells or torpedoes at Yorktown — among them Fred T. Locke, assistant adjutant-general to Fitz John Porter, director of the siege, and Colonel Edward C. James, of the engineer corps. General Locke wrote in May, 1885: On the morning of May 4th, 1862, our pickets sent in a prisoner who said he was a Union man, had been impressed into the rebel service, and was one of a party detailed to bury some shells in the road and fields near the works. . . . A cavalry detachment passing along the road leading to Yorktown had some of its men and horses killed and wounded by these shells. Our telegraph operator was sent into Yorktown soon after our troops had got possession of the place. He trod upon one of the buried shells, which burst and terribly mangled both of his legs, from which he died soon after in great agony. . . .