Numbers 74. Report of Major General D. H. Hill,
C. S. Army, commanding division, of operations April 6 to May 9.
HEADQUARTERS, January 11, 1863.
MAJOR: I have the honor to transmit herewith the report of Major General D. H. Hill of the battle of Williamsburg. The report is just received. There are many reasons to think that the battle was an important one, and a great deal of the credit of it is due to Major-General Hill and his gallant division.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant-General, Commanding Corps.
Major W. H. TAYLOR,
MAJOR: I have the honor to report the part taken by my division from the time of leaving the Rapidan until after the battle of Williamsburg:
The division left the Rapidan on April 6, 1862, and the advance brigade (Griffith's) reached Grove's Wharf, on the James, on the 9th. I was immediately assigned to the command of the left wing of the line of defense, extending from below Wynn's Mill to York River, a distance of about 6 miles. After the arrival of my whole command we had but 15,000 men, extending over a line about 12 miles long. The defenses were of the weakest character, and the radical mistake had made of leaving the dense timber standing almost within stone's throw of the redoubts. The fire of the Yankee sharpshooters was, therefore very annoying during the whole siege. No line of intrenchments of rifle pits extended along the banks of the Warwick, and there was consequently no shelter against the superior artillery of the Yankees. Yorktown itself was surrounded by a most defective system of fortifications. The magazines were of the flimsiest character, and the gun which enfiladed one face would give a reserve fire on another. Heavy details were kept at work day and night to remedy the defects, strengthen the intrenchments, and secure shelter for the men.
The Yankee force in our front was enormous, and is has since been ascertained to have amounted to 158,000 men. The cautious leader of this immense host seemed, however, unwilling to risk an assault, though a determined attack of one-third of his force must have been successful. Two abortive attempts to pierce our lines were made. The most formidable of these was at Lee's Mill. It was badly managed by the Yankees and was a bloody repulse. After this McClellan commenced the surer if not more gallant method of the sap. He fell back some distance and began ditching, and waited for his mortars and siege guns.
Major-Generals Smith and Longstreet arrived with their divisions, and General Joseph E. Johnston assumed command. General Magruder was given charge of the right, General Longstreet of the center, General Smith of the reserves, and I of the left, including Yorktown and Gloucester Point.