The History of the Ninth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, June, 1861-June, 1864

By Daniel George Macnamara | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
SIEGE OF YORKTOWN.

GENERAL McCLELLAN RETURNS TO DUTY—THE CONFEDERATE ARMY MOVES
SOUTH—THE SPY SYSTEM—BAD ROADS AND LABORIOUS MARCHING
— STRENGTH OP THE SOUTHERN FORCES —GENERAL McCLELLAN’S
COMMAND REDUCED—FAIRFAX COURTHOUSE—OUR MARCH TO ALEX-
ANDRIA—STEAMER “STATE OF MAINE” —IN CAMP NEAR HAMPTON
—RECONNOISSANCE—SIEGE OF YORKTOWN—EVACUATION BY THE
ENEMY—BATTLE OF “WILLIAMSBURG—THE ARMY PUT INTO FIVE
CORPS—EXPLOITS OF THE FOURTH MICHIGAN—CAMP OF THE NINTH
AT GAINES’ MILL—RICHMOND IN SIGHT—OBSERVATIONS FROM THE
BALLOON “INTREPID.”

“BEFORE THE BATTLE.”
THOMAS MOORE.

“By the hope within us springing,
Herald of tomorrow’s strife ;
By that sun, whose light is bringing
Chains or freedom, death or life-— .
Oh ! remember life can be
No charm for him who lives not free !
Like the day-star in the wave,
Sinks a hero in his grave,
‘Midst the dew-fall of a nation’s tears.”

ABOUT the middle of January, 1862, General McClellan had recovered from a severe illness. On his return to duty he found that the administration was excessively anxious for an immediate movement of the United States forces.

The Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, had been recently appointed a member of the President’s Cabinet. General McClellan, therefore, laid before him his plan of attack on Richmond by the Lower Chesapeake. By direction of the Secretary of War he submitted the plan to the President. The result was that the President disapproved of it. Without consulting the major-general commanding, the President then issued War Order No. 1, January 27, appointing Feb. 22, 1862,

-69-

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