In the mean time a most important movement had been made in McClellan
's rear by the Confederates
, and by General Wool
at Fortress Monroe
, who saw the eminent advantage of the James River
as a highway for the supplies of an army on the Peninsula
, had, ever since McClellan
decided to take that route to Richmond
, urged the Government
to allow him to attempt the capture of Norfolk
, and thus make the breaking up of the blockade of the James
an easy matter.
But it was not until after the evacuation of Yorktown
, when President Lincoln
and Secretaries Chase
visited Fortress Monroe
, that his suggestions were favorably considered.
He then renewed his recommendations; and when, on the 8th,
he received positive information that Huger
(who, with Burnside
in his rear and McClellan
on his flank, saw that his position was untenable) was preparing to evacuate that post, orders were given for an immediate attempt to seize Sewell's Point
, and march on Norfolk
Arrangements were made with Commodore Goldsborough
to co-operate; and a large number of troops were embarked on transports then lying in Hampton Roads
attacked the Confederate batteries on the point, which replied with spirit.
came out to assist
them, when the National
vessels withdrew, and the troops were disem barked.
The enterprise was abandoned for the timer but information that reached Headquarters a few hours later revived it.
On the following day General Wool
, with Colonel T. J. Cram
, and an accomplished topographical engineer) and Secretary Chase
, made a reconnaissance toward Willoughby's Point, and along the coast toward the sea, when it was decided to land five thousand troops at a summer watering-place called Ocean View, by which the works on Sewell's Point
could be taken in reverse, and a direct route to Norfolk
The troops were again embarked, and a bombardment was opened on Sewell's Point
from Fort Wool, in the Rip Raps
to deceive the Confederates
with the appearance of a design to renew the attempt to land there.
At a little past midnight, the troops, artillery, infantry, and cavalry,2
under the immediate command of Brigadier-general Max Weber
, were in readiness for debarkation at Ocean View, and early in the morning