of the siege. Our troops toiled a month in the trenches or lay in the swamps of the Warwick. We lost few men by the siege, but disease took a fearful hold of the army, and toil and hardship, unredeemed by the excitement of combat, impaired the morale. We did not carry with us from Yorktown so good an army as we took there. Of the bitter fruits of that month gained by the enemy we have tasted to our hearts' content. They are not yet exhausted.
The siege having been determined upon, we should have opened our batteries on the place as fast as they were completed. The effect on the troops would have been inspiring. It would have lightened the siege and shortened our labors, and, besides, we would have had the credit of driving the enemy from Yorktown by force of arms, whereas, as it was, we only induced him to evacuate for prudential considerations. Yorktown having fallen, however, as it did, it was right to pursue the enemy with our whole force; but the battle of Wiliamsburg, fought as it was without reconnoitering the position, without concert of action among the different corps and division commanders, and almost without orders, was a blunder which ought not to have happened.
We knew of this position beforehand, and we knew it was fortified. We might have been sure, if the enemy made a stand there, that it would be a strong one, for he would be fighting for time to get his trains out of our reach. We fought, and we lost several thousand men, and we gained nothing. If we had not fought till next day, a battle would in all probability have been unnecessary; but if it had been, we could have had time to have brought up our resources, reconnoitered our position, and delivered our attack in such a way that some results might have flowed from it. We had every advantage. Franklin's division landed at West Point on the next day and Sedgwick's division on the day following. These two divisions, had the enemy waited another day at Wiliamsburg, could have cut his communication, and in that case we would have been superior in his front and have had two divisions in his rear. His hasty retreat and perhaps his capture must inevitably have followed, and the great object of keeping Franklin so long embarked, and finally sending him to West Point, would have been accomplished.
On leaving Wiliamsburg we should have crossed the Chickahominy and connected with the Navy in the James. We should have had a united army and the co-operation of the Navy, and probably would have been in Richmond in two weeks. The facts that we did not know the character of the Chickahominy as an obstacle (as it lay across our direct road to Richmond); that our transports were on the York River, and that the railroad furnished a good means of supply to the army; that we wished to connect with McDowell coming from Fredericksburg, &c., determined our route. In taking it we lost essentially all that was worth going so far to gain, viz, the James River approach and the co-operation of the Navy.
The route chosen, two weeks should not have been spent in traversing the 40 miles from Wiliamsburg to Bottom's and New Bridge; and the barrier of the Chickahominy being left unguarded at Bottom's Bridge, no time should have been lost in making use of the circumstance to turn and seize the passage of New Bridge, which might have been done by the 28th and even earlier had measures been pressed to prepare for it.
The repulse of the rebels at Fair Oaks should have been taken advantage of. It was one of those occasions which if not seized do not