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niodate 2,000 or 3,000 men. The top of the position need not be cut away; it will be better to throw up the earth into a large traverse, which may also be a bomb-proof. Its profile should be' strong, and its ditches should be flanked. It should receive a heavy armament of 24 or 32-pounders, with some rifled (Parrott) 20 or 30-pounders. Its guns should command all the exterior works, so that these works could be of no use to the enemy, should he take them. In accommodating the fort to the ground, this consideration should not be lost sight of.
"After tracing these works on the ground, you will make a sketch embracing the whole of them, showing their relative positions and size. This sketch should embrace the junction of the railroads and the ground for some distance around the main work. It need not be made with extreme accuracy. The distances may be paced or measured with a tape line. The bearings may be taken by compass.
"Having located the works and prepared your sketch, you will report to Captain Frederick E. Prime, of the corps of engineers, who will furnish you the means of construction.
"It is important that tl^ese works should be built with the least possible delay; you will therefore expedite matters as fast as possible. "Very respectfully, your obedient servant, "B. S. Alexander, "Lieutenant Colonel, Aid-de-Camp.
"Captain Fred. R. Munther, Present"
"Washington, April 6, 1862.
"Sir: I enclose you herewith a copy of the instructions which I gave to Captain Munther, in reference to the defences of Manassas.
"As there has been a new department created (that of the Rappahannock), it is possible that you and I, as well as General McClellan, are relieved from the further consideration of this subject at the present time.
"I will, however, state for your information, should the subject ever come before you again, that in my opinion the communication with Manassas by land should be secured.
"To effect this in the best manner, so far as my observations extended, I think the bridge over Bull run, near Union mills, and jus* above the railroad bridge, should be rebuilt or thoroughly repaired, and that a small work, or perhaps two or three open batteries, should be erected on the adjacent heights, to protect it as well as the railroad bridge.
"The communication by land would then be through or near Centreville, over the road used by the enemy.
"I wrrite this for fear something should detain me here; but I hope to leave here to join you to-morrow. My health is much improved. "Very respectfully, your obedient servant, "B. S. Alexander, u Lieutenant Colonel, Aid-de-Camp. "Brigadier General J. G. Barnard,
"Chief Engineer, Army of the Potomac"
I may be permitted also to mention that the plans (also unexecuted by my successor) indicated in my letter of instructions to General Banks, dated March 16, 1862, for intrenching Chester gap and the point where the Manassas railroad crosses the Shenandoah, were for the purpose of preventing even the attempt at sueh a raid as that of Jackson in the month of May following.
MILITARY INCIDENTS OF THE FIRST PERIOD.
Before taking up the history of the embarkation and the Peninsula campaign, I should remark that during the fall and winter of 1861-62, while the army of the Potomac was in position in front of Washington, reconnoissances were made from time to time, and skirmishes frequently occurred, which were of great importance in the education of the troops, accustoming them to the presence of the enemy, and giving them confidence under fire. There were many instances of individual gallantry displayed in these affairs: the reports of most of them will be found "among the documents which accompany this report.
One of the most brilliant of these affairs was that which took place at Drainsville, on December 20, 1861, when the 3d brigade of McCall's division, under Brigadier General E. O. C. Ord, with Easton's battery, routed and pursued four regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and a battery of six pieces.
The operations of Brigadier General F. W. Lander on the upper Potomac during the months of January and February, 1862, frustrated the attempts of General Jackson against the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, Cumberland, &c, and obliged him to fall back to Winchester. His constitution was impaired by the hardships he had experienced, and on the 2d of March the fearless General Lander expired, a victim to the excessive fatigues of the campaign.
The council, composed of four corps commanders, organized by the President of the United States, at its meeting on the 13th of March, adopted Fort Monroe as the base of operations for the movement of the army of the Potomac upon Richmond. For the prompt and successful prosecution of the projected operation, it was regarded by all as necessary that the whole of the four corps should be employed, with at least the addition of ten thousand men, drawn from the forces in the vicinity of Fortress Monroe: that position and its dependencies being regarded as amply protected by the naval force in its neighborhood, and the advance of the main army up the Peninsula, so that it could be 6afely left with a small garrison.
In addition to the land forces, the co-operation of the navy was desired in the projected attack upon the batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester, as well as in controlling the York and James rivers for the pr tection of our flanks, and the use of transports, bringing supplies to the army. With these expectations, and for reasons stated elsewhere in this report, my original plan of moving by Urbana and West Point was abandoned, and the line with Fort Monroe as a base adopted. In the arrangements for the transportation of the army to the Peninsula by water, the vessels were originally ordered to rendezvous mainly at Annapolis, but upon the evacuation of Manassas and the batteries of the lower Potomac by the enemy, it became more convenient to embark the troops and materiel at Alexandria, and orders to that effect were at once given.
In making the preliminary arrangements for the movement, it was determined that the first corps, Gen. McDowell's, should move as a unit, first, and effect a landing either at the Sandbox, some four miles south of Yorktown, in order to turn all. the enemy's defences at Ship point, Howard's bridge, Big Bethel, &c, or else, should existing circumstances render it preferable, land on the Gloucester side of York river, and move on West Point.
The transports, however, arrived slowly and few at a time. In order, therefore, to expedite matters, I decided to embark the army by divisions as transports arrived, keeping army corps together as much as possible, and to collect the troops at Fort Monroe. In determining the order of embarkation, convenience and expedition were especially consulted, except that the first corps was to be embarked last, as I intended to move it in mass to its point of disembarkation, and to land it on either bank of the York, as might then be determined.
On the 17th of March, Hamilton's division of the 3d corps embarked at Alexandria, and proceeded to Fort Monroe, with the following orders:
41 Washington, D. C, March 17, 1862. 44 You will, on your arrival at Fort Monroe, report to General Wool, and request him to assign you ground for encamping your division. You will remain at Fort Monroe until further orders from General McClellan. Should General Wool require the services of your division in repelling an attack* you will please obey his orders and use every effort to carry out his views. 44 R. B. Marcy,
44 Chief of Staff. "General C. S. Hamilton, 44 Commanding Division"
On the 22d of March, as soon as transportation was ready, General Fitz John Porter's division of the same corps embarked. General Heintzelman was ordered to accompany it, undei the following instructions:
"Headquarters Army Op The Potomac,
"Seminary, March 22, 1862.
"General: Upon the disembarkation of Porter's division at Fort Monroe, I have to request that you'will move your two divisions, Porter's and Hamilton's, some three or four miles out from the fort, to find good camping places where wood and water can be readily obtained, and where your position will be good in a defensive point of view. You may find it advisable to place one division on or near the road leading to Yorktown from Newport News, the other upon that leading to Yorktown direct from Fort Monroe. If you find that the nature of the country will permit easy communication and mutual support between the two divisions, it will be best to place one on each road. It will be best to remain pretty near the fort for the present, in order to give the impression that our object is to attack Norfolk rather than Yorktown. You will do welly however, to push strong reconnoissances well to the front, to ascertain the position of the enemy and his pickets. I will, as soon as possible, reinforce you by the 3d division of your corps, and it is probable that a part or the whole of the 4th corps will also move from Fort Monroe: this will probably be determined before your disembarkation is completed, and you will be informed accordingly.
'* My desire would be to make no important move in advance until you are fully prepared to follow it up, and give the enemy no time to recover.
"The quartermasters pf your corps will receive detailed instructions in regard to land transportation from General Fan Vliet:
"It will be advisable to mobilize your corps with the least possible delay, and have it prepared for an advance. I have directed extra clothing, ammunition, &c, to be sent to Fort Monroe, so that all deficiencies may be supplied without delay,
"Please report to me frequently and fully the condition of things on the new field of operations, and whatever intelligence you gain as to the enemy.
"Engage guides in sufficient numbers at once, a&4 endeavor to send' out spies. •" I am very truly yours,
"Geo. B. Mcclellan, u Major General Commanding. ** Brigadier General 8. P. Beintzelman,
"Commanding 3d Corps."
The remaining divisions embarked as rapidly; as transports could be supplied.
On the 1st of April I embarked, with the headquarters on the steamer Commodore, and reached Fort Monroe on the afternoon of the 2d.
In consequence of the delay in the arrival of the horse transports at Alexandria, but a small portion of the cavalry had arrived, and the artillery reserve had not yet completed its disembarkation.
I found there the 3d Pennsylvania cavalry, and the 5th regular cavalry; the 2d regular cavalry and a portion of the 1st had arrived, but not dise «ibarked: * so few wagons had arrived that '*. *^as not possible to move Casey's division at al; lor several days, while the other divisions weic obliged to move with scant supplies.
As to the force and position of the enemy, the information then in our possession was vague and untrustworthy. Much of it was Obtained from .the staff officers of General Wool, and was Simply to the effect that Yorktown was surrounded by a continuous line of earthworks, with'Strong water batteries on the York river, and garrisoned by not less than 15,000 troops, under the command of General J. B. Magruder. Maps, which had been prepared by the topographical engineers under General Wool's com* mand, were furnished me, in which the Warwick riVer was represented as flowing parallel te,T>ut not-crossing the rOad from Newport Ne'w^to Williamsburg, making the so-called Mull^e^ry island a real island; and we had no inforination. as to 'the true course of the Warwick across the Peninsula, nor of the formidable line of works which it cove red. ':;•'>
Information which I had collected during the winter placed General Magruder's command at fromi 15,000 to 20,b()0 nien, independently of General Buger's force at Norfolk, estimated at about 15,000, -''
It was also* known that tnere were strong defensive works at or ne^^
Knotting that General -Huge*; could easily spareSome troops to re-iiiforce Yorktown, that
he had indeed done so, and that Johnston's army of Manassas could be brought rapidly by the .lames and York rivers to the same point, I proceeded to invest that town without delay;
The accompanying map of Colonel Cram, TJ. S. topographical engineers, attached to General Wool's staff, given to me as the result of several months' labor, indicated the feasibility of the design. It was also an object of primary importance to reach the vicinity of Yorktown before the enemy was reinforced sufficiently to enable him to hold in force his works at Big Bethel, Howards's bridge, Ship point, &c, on the direct road to Yorktown and Young's mills on the road from Newport News. This was the more urgent as it was now evident that some days must elapse before the first corps could arrive.
Everything possible was done to hasten the disembarkation of the cavalry, artillery, and wagons in the harbor, and on the 3d the orders of march were given for the following day.
There were at Fort Monroe and its vicinity, on the 3d, ready $o move, two divisions of the 3d corps, two divisions of the 4th corps, one division of the 2d corps, and Sykes's brigade of regular infantry, together with Hunt's artillery reserve, and the regiments of cavalry before named, in all about 58,000 men and 100 guns.
Richardson's and Hooker's Divisions of the 2d and 8d corps had not yet arrived, and Casey's division of the 4th corps was unable to move far want of wagons.
Before I left Washington an order had been issued by the War Department, pMcing Fori Monroe and its dependencies under my control, and authorizing me to draw from the troops under General Wool, a division of about 10,000 men, which was to be assigned to the 1st corps. During the night of the 3d I received a telegram from the Adjutant General of the army, stating that, by the President's order, I was deprived of all control ''over General Wool and the troops under his command, and forbidden to detach any of his troops without his sanction.
This order loft me without any base of operations under my own control, and to this day I arn ignorant of the causes which led to it.
On my arrival at Fort Monroe the Jame3 river was declared, by the naval authorities, closed to the operations of their vessels,- by the combined influence of the eneim's batteries on its banks and the confederate steamers Merrimac, Yorktown,1 Jamestown, and Teazer. Flag Officer Goldsborough, then in command of the United States squadron in Hampton roa'ds, regarded it (arid, ho doubt, justly) as his highest and most imperative duty to watch and neutralize the Merrimac, arid as he designed using his most powerful vessels in a contest with her, he did hoi1 feel able to detach for the assistance of the army, a suitable force to attack the water batteries at Yorktown and Gloucester. All this was contrary to whtvt had^ been previously stated to me, arid materially affected ms plans.
At no time during the operations against Yorktown w-«s the navy prepared to lend us any material assistance in its reduction, until after our land batteries had partially silenced the worka
1 had hoped, let frie say, by rapid movements, iddrive before me Or capture the'enemy oh the Peninsula, open the James River, and press on to Richmond before he should be materially reinforced from other portions of his territory. As the narrative proceeds, the causes will be developed which frustrated these apparently well-grounded expectations.
I determined, then, to move the two divisions of the 4th corps by the Newport News and Williamsburg road, to take up a position between Yorktown and Williamsburg, while the two divisions of the 3d corps moved direct from Fort Monroe upon Yorktown, the reserves moving so as to support either corps, as might prove necessary. I designed, should the works at Yorktown and Williamsburg offer a serious resistance, to land the 1st corps, reinforced, if necessary, on the left bank of the York, or on the Severn, to move it on Gloucester and West Point, in order to take in reverse whatever force the enemy might have on the Peninsula, and compel him to abandon his positions.
In the commencement of the movement from Fort Monroe, serious difficulties were encountered from the want of precise topographical information as to the country in advance.
Correct local maps were not to be found, and the country, though known in its general features, we found to be inaccurately described, in essential particulars, in the only maps and geographical memoirs or papers to which access could be had; erroneous courses to streams and roads were frequently given, and no dependence could be placed on the information thus derived. This difficulty has been found to exist with respect to most portions of the State of Virginia, through which my military operations have extended. Reconnoissances, frequently under fire, proved the only trustworthy source of information. Negroes, however truthful their reports, possessed or were able to communicate, very little accurate and no comprehensive topographical information.
On the 3d the following orders were given for the movement of the 4th:
"Porter's and Hamilton's divisions, and Averill's cavalry of the 8d corps, and Sedwick's division of the 2d corps, under Brigadier General Heintzelman, commanding 3d corps, will move to*morrow in the following order: Porter's division, with Averill's cavalry, at 6 A. M., over the New Market and New bridges to Big Bethel and Howard's bridge. This division will send forward to the batteries where the Ship point road intersects the main Yorktown road, a sufficient force to hold that point, and cut off the garrison of the Ship point batteries; the whole division may be used for this purpose, if necessary, and if possible the batteries should be occupied by our troops to-morrow. The portion of the division not necessary for this purpose will encamp at Howard's bridge.
"Hamilton's division will march at 7 A. if. by the New bridge road to Big Bethel, and will encamp on Howard's creek.
"Sedgwick's division will march at 8 A. M. by the Newmarket bridge, taking the direct road to Big Bethel, and will also encamp at Howard's bridge.
"Brigadier General Keyes; commanding 4th corps, will move with Smith's and Couch's division at 6 A.m. (Smith's division in advance),
by the James river road; the 5th regular cavalry, temporally assigned to this corps, will move with Smith's division, which will encamp at Young's mills, throwing. forward at least one brigade to the road from Big Bethel to Warwick; Couch's division will encamp at Fisher's creek.
"The reserve cavalry, artillery, and infantry will move at 8.30 A.m. by the Newmarket bridge to Big Bethel, where it will encamp; on the march it will keep in the rear of Sedgwick's division."
The following is an extract from the orders issued on the 4th for the march of the 5th:
"The following movements of the army will be carrried out to-morrow (oth).
"General Keyes will move forward Smith's division at 6 A.m., via Warwick Court House, and the road leading near the old ship yard, to the Half-way house on the Yorktown and Williamsburg road.
"General Couch's division will march at 6 A.m., to close up on General Smith's division at the Half-way house.
u General Keyes's command will occupy and hold the narrow dividing ridge near the Halfway house, so as to prevent the escape of the garrison at Yorktown by land, and prevent reinforcements being thrown in.
"General Heintzelman will move forward General Porter's two rear brigades at 6 A.m., upon the advanced guard, when the entire division will advance to a point about two and three quarters miles from Yorktown, where the road turns abruptly to the north, and where a road comes in from Warwick Court House. General Hamilton's division will move at 6 A.m., and follow General Porter's division, camping as near it as possible. General Sedgwick's division will march at 5 A. M., as far as the Warwick road, which enters the main Yorktown road near Dr. Power's house, and will await further orders.
"The reserves will march at 6 A.m., upon the main Yorktown road, halting for further orders at Dr. Power's house; the infantry leading, the artillery following next, and the cavalry in rear.
"General Sedgwick's division will, for the present, act with the reserve, and he will receive orders from headquarters."
In giving these orders of march for the 4th and 5#i, it was expected that there would be no serious opposition at Big Bethel, and that the advance of the 3d corps beyond that point would force the enemy to evacuate the works at Young's milts, while our possession of the latter would make it necessary for him to abandon those at Howard's bridge, and the advance thence on Yorktown would place Ship point in our possession, together with its garrison, unless they abandoned it promptly. The result answered the expectation.
During the afternoon of the 4th, General Keyes obtained information of the presence of some 5,000 to 8,000 of the enemy in a strong position at Lee's mills: the nature of that position in relation to the Warwick not being at that time understood, I instructed General Keyes to attack and carry this position upon coming in front of it.
Early in the afternoon of the 5th, the advance of each column was brought to a halt: that of Heiutzeiman (Porter's (iivision) in front of Yorktown, after overcoming Some resistance at Big Bethel and Howard's bridge-, 'that of Keyes (Smith'o division) unexpectedly before the enemy's works at Lee's mills, where the road from Newport isews to Williamsburg crosses Warwick river.
The progress of each column had been retarded by heavy rains on that day, which had made the roads almost impassable to the infantry of Keyes's column, and impracticable to all but a small portion.of. the artillery, while the ammunition, provision, and forage could hot be brought up at all.
When General Keyes approached Lee's mills his left flank was exposed to-a sharp artillery fire from the further bank of the Warwick, and upon reaching the vicinity of the mill he found it altogether stronger than was expected, unapproachable by reason of the Warwick river, and incapable of being carried by assault.
The troops composing the advance of each column were during the afternodh under a warm artillery fire—the sharpshooters even of the right column being engaged, when covering reconnoissances.
It was at this stage and moment of the campaign that the following telegram was sent to me:
u Adjutant General's Office,
"April 4, 1862. "By direction of the President, General McDowell's army corps has been detached from the force under your immediate command; and the general is ordered to report' to the Secretary of War; letter by mail.
"Adjutant General. "General Mcclellan."
The President having promised in on* interview following his order of March 31, withdrawing Plonker's division of 10,000 men from my command, that nothing of the sort should be repeated, that I might rest assured that the campaign should proceed, with no further deductions from the force upon which its Operations had been planned, I may confess to having been shocked at this order, which, writh that of the 31st ultimo, removed nearly 60,000 men from my command, and reduced my force by more than one-third after its task had been assigned, its operations planned, its fighting begun. To me the blow was most discouraging. It frustrated all my plans for impending operations. It fell when I- was too deeply committed to withdraw/ It left me incapable of continuing operations .'which had been begun. It compelled the adoption of another, & different, and a less effective plan of campaign. It made rapid and brilliant operations impossible. It was a fatal error.
It was now, of course, out of my power to turn Yorktown by West Point, I had therefore no choice left, but to attack it .directly in froitf;,as I best could with the force at my command. Reconnoissances made under fire on ..that.and the following day determined, ihvt th;e:sources
of the Warwick river were ii^ar* Yorktown, commanded by its gnus, while tfriat stream for some distance from its nioiith on the James river was controlled by the confederate gun-boats; that the fords had been destroyed by dams, the approaches to which were generally through dense forests, and deep swamps, and defended by extensive and formidable works; that timber felled for defensive, purposes, and the flooding of the roads caused by the dams had made these works apparently, inaccessible and impossible to turn; that Yorktown. was strongly fortified, armed and garrisoned, and connected with the defences of the Warwick fey forte anid intrenchments, the ground of which w^s swept by the guns of Yorktown. It was also ascertained that the garrisons had been and. wece daily being, reinforced by troops from Norfolk^ and the army under General J. E. Johnston.
Heavy rains made the roads to Fort Monroe impassable, and delayed the arrival of troops, ammunition and supplies, while storms prevented, for several days, the sailing of transports from Hampton roads, and the establishment of depots on the creeks of, York river, near the army.
The ground bordering the Warwick river is covered by very dense and extensive forests, the clearings being small and few. This,: with the comparative flatness of the country, and the alertness of the enemy, everywhere in force, rendered thorough reconnoissances slow, dangerous and difficult, yet, it was impossible otherwise to determine whether any assault was anywhere practicable, or whether the more tedious, but sure operations of a siege must be resorted to.
I made, on the 6th and 7th, close personal reconnoissances cf the right and left of the enemy's positions, which, iwdth information acquired already, convinced ihe that it. was best to prepare Ipr an assault by the preliminary employment of heavy guns, and some siege operations.' Instant assault would have been simple folly.
On the 7th I telegraphed to the President as follows:
il Headquarters Army Of The Potomac,
"April 7, 1862.
"Your telegram of yesterday received. In reply I have the honor to state that' my entire force for duty, amounts to' only'a'bout (85,000) eighty-live thousand men. General Wool's command, as you will observe from the accompanying order, has been taken out of my control, although he has most cheerfully co-operated with me. The onlytise that can be made of his command, is to' protect my communications in rear of this point. At this time only nTty-three thousand men have joined --Hie, bmt they are coming up a« rapidly a'3 my means of transportation witl permit.
"Please refer to riVy despatch to the Secretary of War of to-night, f&t the details of our present situation.
"Geo. B. Mocj^ellan,
u Major Ohieral "To the President, Washington, 1). V.)1
On the same day Ffient the foil owing: