previous next
[389] received publicly expressed thanks for his achievement.1 At dawn the same morning a bright light was seen in the direction of Norfolk, and then an explosion was heard. The fleeing Confederates had set the Merrimack, other vessels, and the Navy Yard on fire, and by a slow match communicating with her magazine, the monster ram was blown into fragments.2 Sewell's Point and Craney Island, both strongly fortified, were abandoned.3 The Confederate gun-boats in the James River fled toward Richmond, and the navigation of that stream was opened to the National vessels.4 The Confederates destroyed all they could by fire before they departed, but left about two hundred cannon in fair condition, to become spoils of victory. Two unfinished armored vessels were among those destroyed.

While the stirring events we have just considered were occurring in Southeastern Virginia, important military movements were seen in the Shenandoah Valley and the adjacent region on both sides of the Blue Ridge. There were three distinct Union armies in that region, acting independently of, but in co-operation with, the Army of the Potomac. One was in the Mountain Department, under Fremont; another in the Department of the Shenandoah, under Banks; and a third in the newly created Department of the Rappahannock, under McDowell. At about the time of the siege of Yorktown, early in April, General Fremont was at Franklin, in Pendleton County, over the mountains west of Harrisonburg, with fifteen thousand men; General Banks was at Strasburg, in the Valley, with about sixteen thousand; and General McDowell was at Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock, with thirty thousand.

When the appearance of McClellan on the Peninsula drew Johnston's main body from the Rapid Anna to the defense of Richmond, Washington was relieved, and McDowell's corps was ordered forward to co-operate with the Army of the Potomac; and for this purpose Shields's division was detached from Banks's command and given to McDowell, making the force of the latter about forty-one thousand men and one hundred guns. Such was the disposition of the National forces in Virginia at the close of April, when “Stonewall Jackson,” who, as we have observed, was driven up the Shenandoah Valley after his defeat by Shields at Kernstown, again commenced offensive operations.

Jackson remained a few days at Mount Jackson, after his flight from Winchester, and then took a position between the South Fork of the Shenandoah

1 “ The skillful and gallant movements of Major-general John E. Wool, and the forces under his command,” said Secretary Stanton, in an order issued by direction of the President, on the 11th, “which resulted in the surrender of Norfolk, and the evacuation of strong batteries erected by the rebels on Sewell's Point and Craney Island, and the destruction of the rebel iron-clad steamer Merrimack, are regarded by the President as among the most important successes of the present war; he therefore orders that his thanks, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, be communicated by the War Department to Major-general John E. Wool, and the officers and soldiers of his command, for their gallantry and good conduct in the brilliant operations mentioned.”

2 The Merrimack, then in command of Commodore Tatnall, was at Craney Island, for the two-fold purpose of protecting Norfolk and guarding the mouth of the James River. The land troops had fled without informing Tatnall of the movement, and the unfortunate old man, seeing the Navy Yard in flames, and all the works abandoned, could do nothing better than to destroy his ship and fly, for with his best efforts he could not get her into the James River.

3 Craney Island was much more strongly fortified now for the defense of Norfolk than it was in 1813. See Losing's Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. Captain Case, of the Navy, was the first man to land on the abandoned Island, and to pull down the ensign of rebellion and place the National flag there.

4 Reports of Colonel T. J. Cram and Flag-officer Goldsborough; Narrative of Henry J. Raymond; Letter of General Wool to the author, May 28, 1862.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April (2)
May 28th, 1862 AD (1)
1813 AD (1)
1812 AD (1)
11th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: