[On Board Columbia]
May 4, 1862
I wrote a letter last night to send in Parker’s letter today but he did not send it & I am sitting up again with Horace. It is 11 o’clock. Horace is getting along slowly but Benj. Spalding is sick & I fear that he a going to have the fever. While I was laying quietly in my tent today, all at once the boys began to shout “strike tents.” We did so & went on board the Columbia & are now at 11 o’clock at night running up York river as I was told that our destination is West Point—a place above Yorktown. Still we may go somewhere else but it is plainly evident that we are in a hurry to get somewhere or we would not be running all night tonight.
I received your letter of the 27th today. No doubt but what you have before this read one or two of the 3 or 4 I have written. I sent my allotment the 24th. I did send something in a box. They were directed to Pierre Jones but they never reached him as we could hear of.
Yorktown is ours. The heaving firing last night was all done by them & none by us so I am told but McClellan was not so easily fooled. He knew they were leaving & had his cavalry, artillery, and some regiments of infantry ready to pounce upon them at daylight this morning. Two men out of the regiment have been there today. He says they have one fort about three times as large as the one we built & as much better as you can think—also others not as good as Fort Ward—rifle pits extending for miles. The Rebs had placed torpedoes around in different places. He saw a horse all blown up and some men burying a man killed in the same way but that soon played out as they went around & a guard was placed over the suspicious places in the forts. There were about 50 heavy cannons all spiked that were of the improved kind; also rifled shell, some of which were left scattered around but fixed so that if not left alone, they would burst.
Flour, meat, camp kettles & numerous other things were left when once over these torpedoes. Our men will press them hard. He seen a rebel cavalry camp about two miles off & they were about starting while we had about 5,000 cavalry & a good many batteries of flying artillery, some infantry ready too, pursued. [But] before he got far back (for he was sent back), he heard heavy firing so we must chase them up. They dare not face us in open honorable battle.
Take some of my money & buy me some postage stamps.
May 4—We are opposite Yorktown. The banks are high & well fortified. On the opposite side is Gloucester Point. There is a good fort water battery & the old fort cannons can be seen in the fort.