War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0387 Chapter XXIII. SIEGE OF YORKTOWN, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

Considerable complaint was made from time to time against the engineer officers in charge of the work, that they were not to be found, and the absence of definite instructions as to where the parties were to report and what they were to do. While there may have been some ground for a portion of this complaint it seemed to me that the engineer officers accomplished all that the same number of officers could accomplish. The necessity of a more thorough and systematic division of labor, and of more assistance to the engineer officers in directing the work of details, was very evident. The inclosure, marked A,* I would respectfully submit as a system which seemed to me would be of more benefit in securing a greater amount of work and leaving the engineer officers a better opportunity of more advantageously carrying on the work.

After reading the orders, as previously stated, to the officer in charge of the outposts I dispatched Captain Hoyt to supervise the posting of the guards, examine and report upon the work in the trenches on that portion of the line from the secession huts to the Yorktown road, Lieutenant Perkins to the same duties from the Yorktown road to Battery Numbers 7., and gave my personal attention to the balance of the line on the right not included in the above.

At about 9.20 a.m. the enemy opened fire upon nearly the whole of our front from the ravine to the left of the Peninsula over to Battery Numbers 6. Several shells burst in the immediate vicinity of the mill-dam in the ravine in front. One burst in the seventeen-gun battery and some near the secession huts. No one was hurt.

There was no other firing of any consequence until the afternoon, when some shells exploded near yourself and General McClellan and others who were passing along the trenches.

Toward evening, after leaving General McClellan and yourself, I found the detail of 1,000 men of the Eleventh Massachusetts, under charge of Colonel Tileston, who had been at work, waiting to be relieved. They waited something like on and a half hours, when word was received that no detail was to relieve them, and they were sent home. An accurate estimate of the number of hours of labor lost through the various causes mentioned shows the necessity of a more thorough system of organization of work in the trenches.

During the day Captain Wheeler and Lieutenant R. J. Parker, of the First New York Artillery, from Smith's division, came to the front not on duty and without a pass. They were ordered to report themselves under arrest to General Andrew Porter, provost-marshal, in accordance with instructions in confidential circular dated April 23.

At night, finding the number of men detailed for outpost duty in my judgment insufficient to properly guard the works, I requested Captain McKeever to send another regiment to report to Colonel Poe, in order to complete the connection between the six-gun battery and the battery at the left of the Yorktown road. This regiment was sent, and the details were posted in accordance with the verbal instructions received from you. The rifle pits ordered to be made by you during the night were all made. Some shells were fired by the gunboats during the night, the first six of which, using twenty-second fuses, as timed by us at the mill, burst in and near the enemy's works; the remained fell short, some of them exploding over the right of the parallel across the Peninsula and on the ground between the parallel and Moore's house.

At 8 a.m. this morning the first tier of gabions had been laid on the

---------------

*Not found.

---------------