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arduous portion of the soldiers' labor during the siege is thus graphically described:
Working In The Trenches.—A working party is detailed for night duty. With muskets slung on their backs and shovels and picks on their shoulders, they proceed to the selected ground. The white tape marks the line of excavation—the dark lanterns are "faced to the rear"—the muskets are carefully laid aside—the shovels are in hand, and each man silently commences to dig. Not a word is spoken—not one spade clicks against another. Each man first digs a hole large enough to cover himself—he then turns and digs to his right-hand neighbor. Then the ditch deepens and widens, and the parapet rises. Yet all is silent—the relief comes and the weary ones retire. The words and jests of the enemy are often heard, while no noise from the men disturbs the stillness save the dull rattle of the earth as each spadeful is thrown to the top. At daylight a long line of earthworks, affording complete protection, greets the astonished eyes of the enemy, while the sharpshooters' bullets whisper terror to his ears.
On the 2d of May the rebels opened fire from an immense gun mounted on a pivot at a corner of the main fort on the heights of Yorktown, which inflicted serious injury on the Federals, who replied with much spirit from their No. 1 battery, mounting one and two hundred-pounder Parrot guns. On the twenty-third discharge of the enemy's gun it burst into a thousand pieces, tearing up the parapet, and making fearful havoc among the immense crowd surrounding it. The Federal guns on No. 1 battery were then brought to bear on the rebel works at Yorktown and Gloucester, and on their shipping, with marked effect, to which they were unable to reply.
From the 1st to the 4th of May the Confederate army evacuated Yorktown, without awaking the suspicions of the besiegers, making a safe retreat with all their field artillery and most of their stores. Eighty heavy guns at Yorktown and Gloucester, with large quantities of ordnance stores, fell into possession of the Federals, who occupied the rebel ramparts on the morning of the fourth.
On the same day the iron battery Merrimac made her appearance off Sewall's Point, and the Federal gunboats availed themselves of the opportunity to go up the York river, convoying a portion of the army transports, with the design of intercepting the retreating enemy, while most of the cavalry and horse artillery, followed by the infantry, started in immediate pursuit by land.
When within two and a half miles of Williamsburg, at two o'clock on May 4th, General Stoneman's advance came up with the enemy, who threw out a body of cavalry to check the pursuit. Captain Gibbon's battery was brought to bear on the horsemen, who on their approach were met by a charge of the First and Sixth regular cavalry, who drove them back, capturing twenty-five of their number. Two of the Federals were killed, and about twenty wounded; and twenty of Captain Gibbon's horses were killed.
THE BATTLE OP WILLIAMSBUBG.
Mat 5, 1862.
The evacuation of Yorktown, which occupied several days, was completed on the morning of Sunday, the 4th of May, the main body of the retreating rebels taking the principal road through Williamsburg, and smaller portions of the army passing along the road near the banks of the York river. A line of entrenchments had been run about two and a half miles from Williamsburg, and became the scene of a fiercely contested engagement on May 5th.
The rebel forces had succeeded in passing through tho city, and left a force of about five thousand men to engage and retard the advance of the Union army.
The approach to Williamsburg from the lower part of the peninsula is by two roads, one on the James river side, from Warwick courthouse, and the other from Yorktown, on the York river side. Both these roads lead through a dense forest, broken only by occasional openings, and over alternate soils of sand, reddish clay and swamp. The heavy rains had saturated the soil, and the retreat of the rebels, with their ponderous trains, had cut the roads up to an extent that made them almost impassable. In very many places where they led over swampy ground, horses and wagons would sink together, and other teams were necessary to draw them out and place them upon soil that was firm only by comparison. This was the general character of both these roads. They gradually approach each other through the forest, and meet at a sharp angle about forty rods beyond the edge of the forest, in a large open plain, which stretches away on either side, and lies directly in front of the village of Williamsburg, at a distance of about two miles. Beyond this intersection of the two roads, and directly ahead, was a long earthwork, some hundred rods in advance, called Fort Page, (also called Fort Magruder,) commanding with its guns and the infantry who were concealed behind its walls both these converging roads. Looking to the right, the eye ranges over a broad open field, stretching a mile or more away, with a rolling surface, backed by a swamp, and dotted with five separate earthworks, placed to command the plain in advance and concentrate their cross-fire upon the troops approaching by the roads. Looking to the left, there are three
other works of a similar character, commanding the approaches on that side. Here the woods came closer up to the road, and for a space of some twenty or thirty acres lying along the James river road, the trees had been cut down, and the ground in part had been filled with riflepits.
As soon as the evacuation of Yorktown was ascertained, on Sunday morning, General Stoneman, with several regiments of cavalry, followed by light field batteries, including horse artillery, started in pursuit of the enemy. About noon General Hooker's division left the camp in front of Yorktown, followed by General Kearney's division, both belonging to General Heintzelman's corps, and marched towards Williamsburg, to support General Stoneman, and assist him in cutting off the enemy's retreat. The cavalry followed close upon the rear guard of the enemy, and during the day there was occasional (skirmishing between them. After having advanced about six miles the cavalry halted to await the arrival of the infantry. The divisions of Generals Smith and Hooker met at a crossing of the roads, and continued on their routes, and met again at the junction below Fort Page. It was now late in the day, and General Sumner, who desired to engage the enemy, was compelled to defer an attack until the morning.
The troops bivouacked at night in the best positions they could secure. General Hooker's division was in front of the centre of the enemy's works. General Smith's infantry, and General Stoneman's artillery and cavalry were on the right. Generals Kearney and Couch had also come up, and halted in the rear, while other divisions took position where they could be disposed to the best advantage. Rain had fallen almost constantly during the day, and now a stormy night drew its dark mantle over them, while the wearied army lay upon the wet earth, and sought repose.
Early on the following morning, the 5th, the troops commenced their march, and soon came up to the poin% where the road passes out of the woods into the open plain before the fort. The first who came up formed a part of General Hooker's division. As they advanced from the James river road to the opening, they were greeted with a storm of balls and grape from the bastion; and as the men were deployed in the woods, and attempted to pass over the fallen timber, they were met by a heavy fire from the rebel infantry, close in front, concealed in their rifle-pits or behind the trees.
General Hooker ordered up Bramhall's battery, but just as it left the woods and was coming out into the open ground, the wheels stuck fast in the deep clay mire, in which the horses vainly floundered in the effort to draw them out. The rebels had pushed their infantry into the woods on their right, and were pouring deadly volleys into the ranks of the