Today in History:

968 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas

Page 968 Chapter IX. OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA.

country is cleared to a distance of a mile in front of our works. Through this cleared space the roads from Hampton and Wormley's Creek approach the line, and the ranges are a mile and more in extent. It was along these roads, and through ravines diverging from them, that Washington made his approaches and planted his batteries. Should the enemy bring a siege train from Old Point, or land guns from their vessels, which they may do within a few miles of us, they may erect heavy batteries between the roads from hampton and Wormley's Creek and for some distance west of the Hampton Roads, which will destroy our works unless we have guns of equal metal on our side. I have ascertained that there are two ravines running from Wormley's Creek and the Hampton Roads, which unite eight hundred yards in front of our lines, and send out two branches, one to our left and the other two or three hundred yards farther to our right, affording a perfect protection to the enemy until within four hundred yards of our lines. They may make their approaches through these ravines without being seen, and at night might construct a parallel which light pieces of artillery could not destroy. To guard this portion of our lines, I made a requisition for eight 30-pounder navy guns of the class weighing 27 cwt., and submitted it to General Lee for his approval. He approved of it, and also of a requisition for four 42-pounder carronades, intended for the line along the march where the ranges are short. Only two of the 32-pounders were sent, and we were then informed that the remainder had been sent to General Beauregard, and that we could get no more of them. I then proposed to substitute for the six 30-pounders of 27 cwt. two 9-inch shell guns and a long 32-ponder of 61 cwt., intending to mount the latter on the old English redoubt in the center of our defenses, and to fire solid shot over the heads of our own men. The advantage of this position is that it commands the entire country around, and affords a very extensive field of fire for a gun of long range. We obtained one shell gun which had just arrived at Gloucester Point, and, hearing subsequently that two others had arrived, I went over during your absence, at Colonel Hill's request, to get another. I found that it was intended for an embrasure in the water battery not yet opened, and designed to afford the means of firing on a fleet after it had passed the batteries of Yorktown and Gloucester Point and anchored above; and also to sweep the beach for a short distance, not exceeding two hundred yards, above the battery. Considering these rear defenses of the water battery of less importance than our lines on the land side, I advised the transfer of the gun. It is right to add that there were two shell guns at Gloucester Point not mounted, one of them intended for an elevated platform in the rear of the water battery, from which the beach below the battery is completely commanded, and the other to fire up the river, as above stated. The barbette gun is mounted, I am informed, making the tenth or eleventh heavy gun, I believe, in the water battery. The land defenses of Gloucester Point have two 32-pounders and the ground admits of a cross-fire from these guns though most of its extent. I do not know the length of their line, but suppose is not to exceed one thousand yards. Our lines are certainly not less than one and a half miles, admit of very little cross-fire, and are defended by two shell guns and two 32-pounders. We have five field pieces stationed here. Three are at Gloucester Point two iron 6-pounders and Cabell's battery of four pieces, which, having no field service to perform, should be counted as a part of the artillery at that post.

Very respectfully,


Page 968 Chapter IX. OPERATIONS IN MD., PA., VA., AND W. VA.