Union Occupation

Union Occupation (HM7AI)

Location: Newport News, VA 23608
Country: United States of America

N 37° 9.821', W 76° 33.88'

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1862 Peninsula Campaign

The Battle of Lee's Mill set the stage for an elaborate ruse as Gen. Magruder maneuvered his troops along the 12-mile line and created the illusion of double his numbers. Moreover, Gen. McClellan was daunted by the Confederate defenses and had siegeworks and 15 separate batteries for the heavy siege cannons and mortars erected between April 5 and May 4, 1862. Gen. Joseph Johnston arrived mid-April with three divisions that increased the Confederate force to 56,000. The only real battle occurred at Dam No. 1 on April 16, 1862, when the 3rd Vermont Infantry broke through the Confederate defenses. The Green Mountain boys did not receive reinforcements and retreated under heavy fire. McClellan wasted this opportunity, and his siege operations provided the Confederate high command time to prepare Richmond's defenses and reorganize their army.

Gen. Johnston criticized the Peninsula's defenses and believed that Richmond was best defended nearer the capital. President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee wanted the Union Army held at the Warwick-Yorktown line. During the summer of 1861, Gen. Lee had counciled Magruder that "A defensive line between Yorktown and Mulberry Island by damming and defending the Warwick River promises the happiest results." Johnston, however, argued that McClellan outnumbered and outgunned his forces. The Union commander scheduled the grand barrage of the Confederate defenses for May 5, 1862. Johnston disobeyed orders and retreated on the night of May 3, 1862.

The Confederate artillery covered the night march toward Williamsburg. The Union soldiers, who occupied the Warwick-Yorktown line on May 4, 1862, discovered a new type of weapon. The Confederates buried subterra torpedoes (land mines). As the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry occupied Lee's Mill, Sergeant Caldwell stepped on a torpedo which was calmly extinguished by Private Albert Barry pouring his canteen over the smoking shell. Not all encounters were bloodless and at least three dozen Union troops were injured and one civilian telegraph operator died. The Union Army occupied Yorktown and pursued the retreating Confederates. The May 5, 1862 Battle of Williamsburg delayed the Union pursuit and allowed Johnston's forces to retreat safely to Richmond. The Peninsula Campaign continued for another two months, culminating in McClellan's defeat during the Seven Days battles around Richmond.
HM NumberHM7AI
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, October 2nd, 2014 at 12:33pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 361076 N 4114176
Decimal Degrees37.16368333, -76.56466667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 9.821', W 76° 33.88'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 9' 49.26" N, 76° 33' 52.80" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 280 Rivers Ridge Cir, Newport News VA 23608, US
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