War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0228 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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the enemy, in which they precipitately fled, it came under fire, and was checked by the guns and works at Yorktown. The duties of signal officers accompanying this column were, as with the other wing of the army, those of exploration and reconnaissance.

General Heintzelman established his headquarters at the saw-mill near the head of Wormley's Creek, on the Hampton road.

On the 6th of April a number of vessels of the fleet appeared in the bay off Yorktown. A few exchanges of shots with the enemy's batteries bearing upon the river front convinced the naval commanders that with wooded vessels they could not pass between Yorktown and Gloucester, nor could they encounter without disaster the heavy metal and plunging fire of the enemy's guns. The fleet drew out of range, and anchored in the Roads about 3 1/2 miles from Yorktown.


Our forces were in this position when in headquarters camp Numbers 1, near Yorktown, it was first made known that the corps commanded by Major-General McDowell had been withdrawn from the Army of the Potomac. The hope felt by many that this corps was in some way to turn the enemy's defensive lines at Yorktown fell. At the same time reports were received of reconnaissances made along the lines in front. Earthworks seemed to be found everywhere, and very where bodies of the enemy, vigilant and of unknown numbers, resisted any threatened assault. There were heavy rains, and the mud grew deeper. A siege was becoming inevitable.

On the 10th of April headquarters camp moved to Camp Winfield Scott, in front of Yorktown. At about this date the army corps commanded by General Sumner arrived. The signal detachment, commanded by Lieutenant N. Daniels, acting signal officer, accompanied this corps. in the bay below Yorktown, at an estimated distance of from 3 to 4 miles from headquarters camp and in sight, lay the co-operating fleet, of which the United States ship Wachusett was flag-ship. From the shore of this bay southerly to nearly the bank of the James River the Army of the Potomac was stretched, buried in thick woods, and so hidden that rarely could more than a division be seen together, and often not more than a regiment was visible from any one point of view. The rebel lines reached through a light country from the works of Yorktown proper to nearly the navigable waters of the Warwick River. To pass from the right to the left of our lines, following the narrow and winding earth roads and the miles of chartered ways through the woods was a journey of several hours, during which one came by surprise, as it were, upon regiments and brigades of soldiers encamped here and there in the forests, and batteries of heavy field artillery position among trees and shrubs, and bearing often upon an enemy whose lines and forces, hidden by other trees and shrubs, were invisible. Along all this line there was the picket firing of both musketry and artillery.

On the right, between the works at Yorktown and the fleet below, desultory shots of enormous weight were thrown to and from rifled ordnance and 11-inch guns. On land, along the front, if a venturesome picket or curious signal man of either army showed himself within gunshot, or climbed a tree for observation, he was fired at as game. If a group was gathered together anywhere customary to disperse it with a shell from a rifled gun. The appearance of an