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In the mean time a most important movement had been made in McClellan's rear by the Confederates at Norfolk, and by General Wool at Fortress Monroe. Wool, 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 and Stanton visited Fortress Monroe, that his suggestions were favorably considered. He then renewed his recommendations; and when, on the 8th,

May, 1862.
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. Goldsborough attacked the Confederate batteries on the point, which replied with spirit. The Merrimack came out to assist

McClellan's Headquarters at Cool Arbor.

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 (his Inspector-general, 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 be opened. The troops were again embarked, and a bombardment was opened on Sewell's Point from Fort Wool, in the Rip Raps,1 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

May 10, 1862.

1 An unfinished fortification that commanded the entrance to Hampton Roads, in front of Fortress Monroe, It was at first called Fort Calhoun. Its name was changed to Wool, in honor of the veteran General.

2 The troops composing the expedition consisted of the Tenth, Twentieth, and Ninety-ninth New York; Sixteenth Massachusetts; First Delaware; Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania; one hundred mounted riflemen; Follet's battery of light artillery, and Howard's battery.

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