“The Rapid Decline of Martial Spirit”
On the Peninsula we had not been idle during the fall and winter. Besides a tolerably strong line of advances works from a point on the York River via Bethel to Young's mill and thence to James River, Yorktown and Gloucester Point were strongly fortified by water batteries, bastion forts, field redoubts, rifle pits, a series of bastion forts and redoubts connected by a line of breast works from Yorktown to the source of Warwick River, thence extending the western bank of that sluggish and boggy stream to Jones' mill (where Warwick Road crossed) thence to the mouth of the river at land's end and flanked by enemy works on Mulberry Island, constituted the main line of defense.
Brigadier General J. B. Magruder commanding about ten thousand infantry holding this line whilst the advanced line consisted of about one thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry and were about twelve miles in front of the main line.
The enemy had now about fifteen or twenty thousand men stationed at Fortress Monroe, Hampton, and Newport's News. Our cavalry picketed within eight miles of Hampton and Newport's News and about eight miles in front of our Bethel line. We had to go on picket about once a week, a detail of about 75 going out every day to relieve the posts, and also kept up a regular camp guard. So that he who got off with two days guard duty a week besides details to go after rations, forage, on scouts, he was deemed fortunate.
As the weather was very wet we were necessarily very uncomfortable during the winter. We had no winter quarters but we had good tents and owing to easy transportation and plenty of sawmills we had plank fur