Today in History:

77 Series I Volume XI-III Serial 14 - Peninsular Campaign Part III


that he might have some little opportunity of seeing the state of affairs, and give you an intelligent account. Our reconnaissance of yesterday shows the strength of the enemy's position.

The Warwick River grows worse the more you look at it. We are working away as hard as we can, but have terrible storms and horrid roads.

My impression now is that it will prove best to attack either Yorktown itself or the space between it and head of Warwick, although the works are heaviest there, but we would then get a better approach.

It is now pretty much reduced to a choice between one approach that is blocked by a marsh impassable under fire, and another that is passable, but completely swept by artillery. I think we will have to choose the latter, and reduce their artillery to silence.

I regret exceedingly that I have been deprived of the First Corps, and thus obliged to give up the movement we talked about-from the Severn upon the rear of Gloucester. But I have lost about 50,000 men since I commenced this operation, and do not feel strong enough to detach from what I now have, for when all my people are up I shall not have more than, say, 68,000 for duty.

General Joe Johnston has arrived in Yorktown, so prisoners say, with heavy re-enforcements. All the troops of Manassas are coming in, and they say that they intend fighting the first battle here.

I wish the Merrimac would come out, so that we could get our gunboats up the James River through all the local force of large vessels at Yorktown. I doubt whether the Merrimac will come out to fight.

In haste, I am, my dear general, your anxious and obliged friend,


Major-General, U. S. Army.

HEADQUARTERS, near Yorktown, April 7, 1862.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:

I propose to issue the following order if it meets your approval:


No. 2. Near Yorktown, April 7, 1862.

This army having advanced into Southeastern Virginia for the purpose of compelling submission to the laws of the United States, and extensive military operations therein being found necessary for the suppression of the existing rebellion, the general commanding deems it absolutely necessary, for the protection of the inhabitants and their property and the good order of the army, to establish that unwritten code of law which civilization has provided for the exigencies of a condition of war, however produced. It is therefore ordered-

First. That martial law be, and the same is hereby, declared to exist in and about all places occupied by the forces of the army for any and every military purpose, and in and about all its moving columns and detachments, of whatever kind.

Second. That all acts committed where martial law is thus declared to exist, either by officers, soldiers, or other persons connected with this army, or by inhabitants or other persons, which are commonly recognized as crimes against society, or which may be done in contravention of the established rules of war, shall be punishable by a course of military commission.

Third. Among the acts that are made punishable are murder, rape, malicious personal injuries, arson, robberies, theft, and wanton trespass, including also all attempts to perpetrate such acts; provided, however, that no cause already cognizable by court-martial shall be tried by military commission.

Fourth. Military commissions under this order shall be appointed, governed, and conducted, their proceedings reviewed, and their sentences executed as nearly as practicable in accordance with courts-martial; provided that all punishments under military commission shall be of the description generally affixed throughout the United States to similar offenses.