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Chapter 15: the Army of the Potomac on the Virginia Peninsula.

General McCLELLAN'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, Lee, and Magruder, held a council at the Nelson House,1 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. The Merrimack 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 Gloucester, and the troops along the line of the Warwick, fled toward Williamsburg. Early the next morning
May 4.
General McClellan telegraphed to the Secretary of War that he was in possession of the abandoned

1 This was a large brick house in Yorktown, which belonged to Governor Nelson, of Virginia, and was occupied by Cornwallis as Headquarters during a part of the period of the siege of that post in 1781, when, at the instance of the owner, who was in command of Virginia militia engaged in the siege, it was bombarded and the British General was driven out. When the writer visited Yorktown in 1848, the walls of that house exhibited scars made by the American shells and round shot on that occasion. When he was there in 1866 the house, which had survived two sieges more than eighty years apart, was still well preserved, and the scars made in the old War for Independence were yet visible. At his first visit he found the grave-yard attached to the old Parish Church in Yorktown, and not far from the Nelson House (in which two or three generations of the Nelson family were buried), in excellent condition. there being several fine monuments over the graves of leading members of that family; but at his last visit that cemetery

Parish Church in 1866.

was a desolation-those monuments were mutilated, and the place of the steeple of the Church (which the Confederates used for a quarter-master's depot, and whose walls and roof only were preserved) was occupied by a signal-tower, erected by Magruder. The Nelson house was used as a hospital by the Confederates.

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