Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Fooled By The Numbers
Union Brigadier General Erasmus D Keyes found Confederate defensive works along the Warwick River on April 5th 1862. This was an area in which General George B McClellan hadn’t expected any resistance. Confederate Major General John B Magruder moved his troops only around 6,000 strong back and forth through his 13 mile long works, convincing the Union Commanders that his force was larger then it was. Keyes’ reconnaissance caused him to believe there were 40,000 Confederates in his front, and he advise McClellan not to assault the Confederate works. The Union IV Corps came into Magruder’s earthworks at Lee’s Mill, they stopped about 1,000 yard from the fortifications and were joined by a brigade of Union Brigadier General John Davidson’s. There was an artillery duel between the two side for several hours. While this was going on Keyes made another reconnaissance, and waited for more units to arrive.
McClellan doubting that his numbers were superior, decided not to attack and instead had his army entrench, and begin a siege of Yorktown. While the Union troops dug in, Magruder continued to receive reinforcements, but still had only about 35,000 men by mid April; not really enough men to even defend his line. The siege would go until May 4th 1862.