War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0401 Chapter XXIII. SIEGE OF YORKTOWN, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

of Redoubt A, and were dispersed by a few shell thrown front that redoubt. During the night every precaution was taken to guard against an attack, and your orders in regard to Battery Numbers 3 were complied with. The parapets were manned, and skirmishers thrown forward to give notice of an attack.

A heavy fire was kept up by the rebels until about 1 o'clock this morning. After that hour they fired at intervals. At 4 o'clock a fire was seen in the enemy's works, which was evidently the conflagration of a building containing ammunition, the explosions resembling volleys of musketry and the bursting of shell.

About sunrise I received a telegram from your ordering me to send forward a party of men to occupy the enemy's works if abandoned. Two hundred men were at once detailed for that purpose. At this time the enemy fired three shot, which fell in the wood immediately to the left of Battery 6. A few minutes afterward the officer in command at Redoubt A opened fire upon the rebel sand-bag redoubt, where he reported the rebels to be collected in considerable numbers, apparently at work. After communicating this intelligence to you I made a personal examination of the enemy's works, and without awaiting the receipt of an answer from my last dispatch I advanced with the outpost guard-consisting of detachments from the Thirty-eighth and Fortieth New York Regiments, under command of Colonel Riley, which had just relieved the old guard-and entered the rebel works at the redoubt near the Yorktown road about 6 o'clock a. m. While in the redoubt an infernal machine of the enemy exploded, killing 2 and wounding 3 men of the Fortieth New York Regiment. The men were immediately withdrawn from the redoubt, and a guard posted, so as to prevent unauthorized persons from entering it. I left the outpost guard in command of Colonel Riley, and instructed him to send a party into the wood in rear of the enemy's works to reconnoiter, and to bring in any stragglers or deserters from the enemy who might be secreted there.

I am compelled to report that the outpost duty was not performed entirely to my satisfaction, owing to the inexperience of the officers and the bad state of discipline among the men. I was unable to procure reliable information of the movements of the enemy, except by personal observation. The men came on duty without rations, and the attempts to obtain permission to leave the guard to procure them caused much confusion. The commanding officer reported that the detail for the guard was not received by him until 11 o'clock the night before, and the prohibition against fires in camp during the night and the obligation to mount guard at daybreak prevented the men from preparing rations.

No field officer accompanied the detail of 500 men from the One hundred and fifth Pennsylvania Regiment. There was no surgeon detailed for the guard. The surgeon who accompanied the guard of the day before remained until this morning.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Colonel and General of Trenches.

Brigadier General FITZ JOHN PORTER,

Director of Siege.