Yorktown (Siege of)

Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder, CSA

McClellan had the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, and faced only a division or two.

There were only about 350 casualties.

Marching from Fort Monroe, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan's army encountered Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder's small Confederate army at Yorktown behind a strong defensive line along the Warwick River. Magruder's was heavily outnumbered, but theatrics convinced the Federals that his works were strongly held. McClellan suspended the march up the Peninsula toward Richmond, ordered the construction of siege fortifications, and brought his heavy siege guns to the front, which had to come by sea. In the meantime, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston brought reinforcements for Magruder.

On 16 April, Union forces probed a weakness in the Confederate line at Lee's Mill or Dam No. 1, resulting in about 309 casualties, mostly among a Vermont brigade. Failure to exploit the initial success of this attack, however, held up McClellan for two additional weeks, while he tried to convince his navy to bypass the Confederates' big guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point and ascend the York River to West Point thus outflanking the Warwick Line. McClellan planned for a massive bombardment to begin at dawn on May 4, but the Confederate army slipped away in the night toward Williamsburg, avoiding what would have been a sure defeat.

Location: 
York County and Newport News, Virginia, United States
Outcome: 
Inconclusive
Campaign: 
Peninsula Campaign
Start Date: 
Saturday, April 5, 1862
Start Year: 
1862
End Date: 
Saturday, May 3, 1862
End Year: 
1862
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