judge of the formidable character of the works before us as well as if he had been on the ground; and whatever might have been his desire for prompt action (certainly no greater that mine), I feel confident if he could have made a personal inspection of the enemy's defenses he would have forbidden me risking the safety of the army and the possible successes of the campaign on advantageous and formidable position, which, even if successful, could not have been followed up to any other or better result than would have been reached by the regular operations of a siege. Still less could I forego the conclusions of my most instructed judgment for the mere sake of avoiding the personal consequences intimated in the President's dispatch.
The following extracts from the report of the chief engineer (Brigadier General J. G. Barnard) embody the result of our reconnaissances, and give with some degree of detail the character and strength of the defenses of Yorktown and the Warwick and some of the obstacles which the army contended against and overcame:
Extracts from General Barnard's report.
The accompanying drawing (map No. 2) give with accuracy the outline and armament of the fortifications of Yorktown proper, with the detached works immediately connected with it.
The three bastioned fronts looking toward our approaches appear to have been earliest built, and have about 15 feet thickness of parapet and 8 feet to 10 feet depth of ditch, the width varying much, but never being less at top of scrap than 15 feet - I think generally much more.
The works extending around the town from the western salient of fronts just mentioned appeared to have been finished during the past winter and spring. They have formidable profiles, 18 feet thickness of parapet and generally 10 feet depth of ditch. The water batteries had generally 18 feet parapet; the guns in barbette. They were (as well as all the works mentioned) carefully constructed, with well-made sod revetments.
There were numerous traverses between the guns, and ample magazines; how sufficient in bomb-proof qualities I am unable to say. The two first guns of the work on the heights upon the water as well as the land, and were of heavy caliber. The list herewith gives all the guns in position or for which there were emplacements. The vacant emplacements were all occupied before the evacuation by siege guns, rifled 4 1/2-inch 24-pounder and
In Fort Magruder (the first exterior work) there were found one
8-inch columbiad, one 42-pounder, and one 8-inch howitzers, the two in barbette. The sketch will show the emplacements for guns on field and siege carriages, making, I think, with the foregoing, twenty-two. Two of these were placed behind traverses, with embrasures covered by blindages. The two external redoubts, with the connecting parapets, formed a re-entrant with the fronts of attack, and all the guns bore on our approaches.
It will be seen, therefore, that our approaches were swept by the fire of at least forty-nine guns, nearly all of which were heavy, and many of them the most formidable guns known. Besides that,
two-thirds of the guns of the water batteries and all the guns of Gloucester bore on our right batteries, though under disadvantageous circumstances.
The ravine behind which the left of the Yorktown fronts of attack was placed was not every difficult, as the heads formed depressions in front of their left, imperfectly seen by their fire, and from which access could be had to the ditches; but we could not be sure of this fact before the evacuation. The enemy held, by means of a slight breastwork and rifle trenches, a position in advance of the heads of these ravines as far forward as the burned house. The ravines which head between the Yorktown fortifications and the exterior works are deep and intricate. They were tolerably well seen, however, by the works which run westwardly from the Yorktown works, and which were too numerous and complicated to be traced on paper.
Fort Magruder, the first lunette on our left, appears to have been built at an early period. The external connection between this work was first a rifle trench, probably afterwards enlarged into a parapet, with external ditch and an emplacement for four guns in or near the small redan in the center. Behind this they had constructed numerous epaulements, with connecting boyaus not fully arranged for infantry fires, and mainly intended, probably, to protect their camps and reserves against the destructive effects of our artillery. From the "red redoubt" these trenches and epaulements