Today in History:

7 Series I Volume XI-I Serial 12 - Peninsular Campaign Part I


Alexandria but a small portion of the cavalry had arrived, and the artillery reserve had not yet completed its disembarkation.

I found there the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry and the Fifth Regular Cavalry. The Second Regular Cavalry and a portion of the First had arrived, but not disembarked. So few wagons had arrived that it was not possible to move Casey's division at all for several days, white the other divisions were 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 command of General J. B. Magruder. Maps, which had been prepared by the topographical engineers under General Wool's command, were furnished me, in which the Warwick River was represented as flowing parallel to but not crossing the road from Newport New to Williamsburg, making the

so-called Mulberry Island a real island; and we had no information as to the true course of the Warwick across the Peninsula nor of the formidable nor of the formidable line of works which it covered.

Information which I had collected during the winter placed General Magruder's command at from 15,000 to 20,000 men, independently of General Huger's force at Norfolk, estimated at about 15,000.

It was also known that there were strong defensive works at or near Williamsburg.

Knowing that General Huger could easily spare some troops to

re-enforce Yorktown - that he had, indeed, done so - and that Johnston's army of Manassas could be brought rapidly by the James and York Rivers to the same point, I proposed to invest that town without delay.

The accompanying map of Colonel Cram, U. 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 re-enforced sufficiently to enable him to hold in force his works at Big Bethel, Howard's Bridge, Ship Point,&c., on the direct road to Yorktown and Young's Mill, 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 3rd the orders of march were given for the following day.

There were at Fort Monroe and in its vicinity on the 3rd, ready to move, two divisions of the Third Corps, two divisions of the Fourth Corps, and one division of the Second Corps, and Sykes' 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, besides the division artillery.

Richardson's and Hooker's divisions of the Second and Third Corps had not arrived, and Casey's division of the Fourth Corps was unable to move for want of wagons.

Before I left Washington an order had been issued by the War Department placing Fort Monroe and its dependencies under my control, and authorizing me to draw from the troops under General Wool


*Maps to appear in Atlas.