War of the Rebellion: Serial 012 Page 0413 Chapter XXIII. SIEGE OF YORKTOWN, VA.

Search Civil War Official Records

occupied the remaining positions at Lee's Mill. One gun of Captain Nelson's battery, under the command of Lieutenant Nelson, was placed at Dam Numbers 1. Captain Macon's battery (the Fayette Artillery), six pieces; the Donaldsonville Battery, six pieces, Captain Maurin; three pieces of the howitzers (Captain Hudnall), and a portion of Captain Southall's battery were stationed at Wynn's Mill. A piece of Captain Hudnall's and a piece of Captain Southall's artillery were placed at the "upper dam." Captains Smith's, Armistead's, Richardson's, and Page's, and the remaining pieces of Captains Nelson's and Southall's batteries, occupied positions at Redoubts Nos. 4 and 5, the curtain connecting these redoubts, Yorktown, and the intermediate positions.

The enemy came up and opened fire on the morning of April 5. From that time until our evacuation of the Peninsula the firing was continued with slight intermissions.

I have been thus particular in noticing the batteries in position on April 5, because I think it due that all who first stood the advance of the enemy, in force at least seven times greater than ours and confident in superior numbers, should have a place in this report. It is a tribute due to their courage, firmness, and patriotic purpose to defend our position to the last, no matter in what superior numbers he should come. The defense was gallantly and most successfully made, and our pieces, all along the line from Minor's farm to Yorktown, were fired at the enemy. My duties called me along the whole line, and I can bear willing testimony to the bravery of the infantry and cavalry, all of whom were acting as skirmishers along the line. Wherever the enemy appeared-and they appeared all along the line-our muskets and artillery opened upon them. The enemy, after a few days, seemed to change their purpose of breaking our lines by assault, and commenced to erect batteries in front of our lines. They seemed determined to forego the gallant charge, and went to the spade and their rifled guns, under the cover of intrenchments, to dislodge us from our position. No other course could have afforded a more ennobling tribute to our small force or a more damaging slur upon the boastful arrogance of the enemy.

On April 16 General McClellan laid aside "his ill-timed prudence" and ventured an assault at Dam Numbers 1, one of the weakest positions on our line. It was of great danger and of commensurate importance to us. A small clearing in the woods had been made on our side, opening upon a large field upon the other. The cleared space permitted us to employ but few guns at this point. The enemy had erected three batteries, and opened upon us with a converging fire of sixteen guns. A 24-pounder howitzer, of Captain Nelson's battery, occupied the front and most exposed position immediately at Dam Numbers 1. Two pieces of the Troup Artillery (Captain Stanley) occupied positions at the right and left redoubts, about 200 yards to the rear, upon rising ground. The enemy made an assault in force upon this position and attempted to cross.

I refer to the reports of Captain Stanley and Jordan for a detailed account of their conduct in the fight. The charge was signally repulsed by our infantry. Our artillery did all that could be done in sustaining our infantry force and dispersing the enemy.

It gives me great pleasure to bear tribute to the alacrity with which Captains Page and Palmer hurried up to this position when sent for by me. It was a critical point in the engagement, but by the daring assaults of our infantry the enemy were quickly dispersed before their guns could be brought up. After this signal repulse no further assault