Today in History:

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


a division of about 10,000 men, which was to be assigned to the First Corps.

During the night of the 3rd 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 Wood and the troops under his command and forbidden to detach any of his troops without his sanction. This order left me without any base of operations under my own control, and to this day I am ignorant of the causes which led to it.

On my arrival at Fort Monroe the James River was declared by the naval authorities closed to the operations of their vessels by the combined influence of the enemy's batteries on its bank and the Confederate steamers Merrimac, Yorktown, Jamestown, and Teazer. Flag-Officer Goldsborough, then in command of the United States squadron in Hampton Roads, regarded it (and no doubt justly) as his highest and most imperative duty to watch and neutralize the Merrimac, and as he designed using his most powerful vessels in a contest with her, he did not feel able to detach to the assistance of the army a suitable force to attack the water batteries at Yorktown and Glouncester. All this was contrary to what had been previously stated to me and materially affected my plans. At no time during the operations against Yorktown was the Navy prepared to lend us my material assistance in its reduction until after our land batteries had partially silenced the works.

I had hoped, let be say, by rapid movements to drive before me or capture the enemy on the Peninsula, open the James River, and press on to Richmond before he should be materially re-enforced 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 Fourth Corps by the Newport News and Williamsburg roads to take up a position between Yorktown and Williamsburg, while the two divisions of the Third 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 First Corps, re-enforced, 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 feature, we found to be inaccurately described in essential particulars in the only maps and geographical memories 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. Reconnaissance, frequently under fire, proved the only trustworthy sources of information. Negroes, however truthful their reports, possessed or were able to communicate very little accurate and no comprehensive topographical information.