Woburn Weekly Budget - May 4, 1862

 

HeadQuarters 22d Reg. Mass. Vols.
Yorktown, Va.
May 4th, 1862


This morning at half past four o'clock our regiment with a detachment from the 13th N.Y.V., started out on picket. We took the same course pursued last week and halted at the little mill. Here we found three men who had come over from the rebels, who stated that Yorktown was evacuated. It did not seem probable, as the cannonading from the rebels had been very severe all of Friday and Saturday, they throwing 175 shells at our work party in the outworks on Friday, before one o'clock in the afternoon, sending them into our camp with considerable accuracy; about dark Saturday night a shell burst over camp and threw a fragment weighing several pounds into the staff officer's tent, which buried itself in the ground beneath a bed on which our surgeon was reclining. To add to our skepticsm on this point, three shells burst over us while listening to the deserters story. They were taken under guard to headquarters, and we proceeded to the outpost. There were the 62nd Penn. Reg. and the 14th N.Y.V., in the trenches. Our officer's were soon satisfied that a portion of the rebel force at least had left, but to ascertain the truth, skirmishers were thrown out who advanced across the open space between our outpost and the forts, who advanced over the ramparts and took possession of the fort and raised the American flag (the one belonging to the Massachusetts 22d) upon the works. Then a shout arose from the boys in the fort and was echoed by the reserve, such as seldom heard in these parts. The reserves then followed the advance guard and were soon in the fort, the 22d Reg't, to whom belongs the honor of raising the first American flag above the rebel works, posted as guards upon the ramparts. Col. Gove was the first man in the fort, followed by Capt. Black of the 62d. The town was occupied by us at half past six this Sunday morning, and the hour was the pleasantest we have seen since leaving Hall's Hill..

Private O. H. P. Sargent - Mortally Wounded at Yorktown



The occupation was not without bloodshed however, for as we went across the field, a soldier stepped upon a shell which exploded, wounding Lieut. McKay and six privates in Co. G., viz: Lieut McKay left arm bruised slightly; O. H. P. Sargent, of Essex, leg amputated; Chas. Crane of South Boston, seriously wounded in the groin; Luke Ward, Liverpool, England, bad wound in the thigh; John inty, leg; Abel Wetherhead, in the shoulder slightly.

We found the works to be very elaborate and numerous, and it is a wonder how they can make a stand anywhere if Yorktown is untenable. The troops who will evacuate a stronghold like this, can not have much confidence in their cause. Warned by the accident, we advance cautiously, and guards were posted near where the ground seemed to indicate buried dangers, and have so far escaped. The McClellan cavalry, however, who came up soon after the occupation, passed along a road to our right when a mine exploded wounding two horses and one man. One horse had to be shot, but the rider did not appear to be seriously injured. A telegraph operator soon afterward, while digging a hole for a post, sprung a mine and was terribly mangled.

The town is not very large, and the few houses are about the same as we found in southern towns. There are barracks and tents for a large force, the former fitted up in a very convenient manner. The boys found great quantities of trophies of all kinds, and every one has something to remind him of "the Key to Richmond". In one hut occupied by the quartermaster there are heaps of blanks, all on brown paper. In another we found a copy of the Richmond Dispatch of Friday May 2, in which the evacuation is hinted at. The paper on which this is written was found in the barracks of the 6th Georgia regiment, as was also the pen, ink, and envelopes which I am using. Some stragglers form a work party who came out behind us as far as the trenches, cam eover to the fort without leave, for the purpose of plunder, and took a rebel flag which they found in a tent inside the works and carried it off. Col. Gove claims the flag as belonging to our regiment, the men who took it being without arms, and under orders to remain in the rear. Lieut. Crane found a Bible, on the fly leaf of which is written the following addressed to us: -

 

To the Yankees -

Enemys of the south you will no doubt have the Plasure of visiting Yorktown but if I had my way with you you [would] before the night be sunk the last one of you in the bottomless pit of hellfire we will meet with you some whaire between heare and the Riogrand whaires you will [be] resieved warmly or as hot as musket balls will make you. we do not leave heare because of feare of you but because it is necessary for our benefit this palce of no servise to us. we live like white men heare as well as at home, and hope you will Die before you can get off the peninsula. farewell for this time may the devill resieve you in short notice is my praise on the lid of the word of God no more but hoping you remember for what you are fighting we are only fighting for our rights and hope god will be with us in the end a true southener of GeorgiWa.

6th Regt. Ga. Vols., Co. K.

W. H. Loyd



We found no white inhabitants and only a few negroes who report that the rebels evacuated last night and early this morning, but their large guns remain. Three shots mentioned above were fired from Gloucester which is across the river from York, and was evacuated at this time. Here was Hill's headquarters (Magruder was not here, but at Lee's Mill) and a mulatto who lives there says the rebels began leaving on Thursday last, and that the rebel rear guard left just as we came over the ramparts. They took pains to sow the ground pretty thickly with mines and torpedeos in order that our men might be blown up. The gunboats came up the river after our entry and chased the rebel schooners farther up the river. They captured one of them, but the crew got off. The negroes say that Magruder hasn't ben here for four weeks, but Gen'l Hill was in command; he at first occupied a wooden house, but for fear of of its being set on fire by our shells, he moved into the next house which was of brick, and had the wooden one torn down. The artist of teh N.Y. Illustrated News found there a chart of rebel signals, and a skull which he was told was taken from Bull Run. The post office, just opposite, we were told was mined, and we gave it wide berth.

About two o'clock this afternoon we were ordered back to camp and expect to follow the rebels tomorrow. They have, we were told, gone to Williamsburg, twelve miles from Yorktown, but I don't see how they can make much of a stand. They left all their tents, and burned most of their stores, and the private baggage of the officers and camp furniture of the men was left behind, though rendered useless to us. The great part of the tents were cut so as to render them useless. Large quantities of tobacco were found by the boys who are highly elated at their success. Cavalry and artillery were dispatched in pursuit of the flying foe, and an engagement may have occurred as heavy firing can now be heard. Our regiment of infantry occupy the town, and some were sent forward, and the whole army wil probably be on the move tomorrow. The boys are in good spirits, and though we hoped to have bagged them, are confidant that the hope of the rebels is nigh extinguished.

John Lord Parker