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Battle of Williamsburgh(1865)

  • E473.63.B97 1865

James R. Burns wrote a moment-by-moment account of the fierce, bloody combat of May 5, 1862 in his book Battle of Williamsburgh, with Reminiscences of the Campaign, Hospital Experiences, Debates, Etc. (New York, 1865). He was a member of the 74th New York Regiment and lost an arm in the conflict.

Forces of Gen. George McClellan, hoping to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, marched from Fort Monroe up the Peninsula—as the land between the York and James rivers is known. Union Gen. Joseph Hooker’s troops met those of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet before the earthworks of Fort Magruder, just outside the town. Heavy rains the night before turned the ground into a slippery morass. Recognized as an inconclusive struggle, both sides, nonetheless, claimed victory. Union casualties totaled 2,283 and southern losses were 1,682. Mocked as the “Virginia creeper” for his hesitant tactics, McClellan did capture the old colonial capital which, though briefly changing hands on several occasions, was largely occupied by Union forces from this time until the end of the war.


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