War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0014 OPERATIONS IN SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA. Chapter XIX.

Search Civil War Official Records

vicinity, amounting to at least 12,000 infantry at Newport news alone, which at any moment could be increased to 18,000 from Fort Monroe, I saw that it was utterly impossible to do anything toward attacking the fort. My own troops, which are obliged to be divided to defend two roads, Yorktown and Warwick, being when united only about 4,000 infantry, 450 cavalry, and a few pieces of light artillery, the larger number being too heavy to bring over the roads, which are recently worse than ever.

Finding, as I anticipated, that the naval attack produced no effect upon the fort except to increase its garrison, I contented myself with occupying the most advanced posts, Bethel and Young's Mill, where the troops are now.

I believe the enemy's plan was to ascend James River by land and water, to attack and capture, if possible, Jamestown Island, which would cause the fall of Yorktown, ad then to occupy Suffolk, James town, and West Point, and leaving Norfolk to fall with the fall of Richmond, if that could be accomplished, and to direct all his energies against the letter place. For the present his plans must be somewhat frustrated; but I consider that the Patrick Henry, Jamestown and Teazer having gone to Norfolk, and the Virginia into the dock for repairs, affords the enemy an admirable opportunity of fully retrieving his losses by placing the Ericsson battery at the month of James River and ascending at once the left of that river, attacking, supported by the Ericsson battery, the works of Harden's Bluff and Mulberry Island Point, which are weak, and thus forcing my troops to fall back to protect Jamestown and Williamsburg and isolating and reducing Yorktown. I therefore hope that the steamers Patrick Henry, Jamestown, and Teazer may without delay ascend the James River, and should they require repairs, have them done at Richmond. When the Virginia is repaired they could join her at any moment, as she would be the mistress of the Roads.

I have not had time to report that the troops ordered to Suffolk were embarked from King's Mill wharf immediately after the reception of the orders, as I am informed. A considerable number of the regiments sent were on furlough, and I therefore sent a somewhat larger number than that called for, estimating the number by the aggregate present and absent. I presume those absent will join at once. I sent also two batteries, that of Cobb's Legion and the First Company of Howitzers, the latter being for by General Randolph. I have sent 350 cavalry, that number being embraced in Cobb's Legion.

I beg leave respectfully to invite the attention of the Secretary of war to my remarks in relation to the location of the three steamers.

I have at length assembled many negroes, and the defensive works begin again to progress satisfactorily.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

General COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General.