Monthly Record of Current Events, May 8.
Yorktown, where Cornwallis surrendered in 1781, virtually closing the war of the Revolution, was Strongly fortified by the Confederates. The attack upon this place was opened on the 5th of April by our forces, under the immediate direction of General M'Clellan. While our works were pushed forward several sharp skirmishes took place, the most notable of which was on the 16th, at Lee's Mills, where the Vermont brigade charged one of the enemy's entrenchments, carried, and held it against overwhelming odds, but were finally forced back, having suffered a loss of 35 killed and 120 wounded. The approaches to the Confederate works were pushed on until the 4th of May, when all was ready for a vigorous attack. But on the previous night the enemy evacuated the place, leaving behind 70 heavy guns, and a large amount of stores and camp equipage. They fell back to Williamsburg, their rear being closely pressed by our forces. Here they made a stand and a sharp encounter took place, resulting, according to the dispatch of General M'Clellan of the 6th, in their defeat, with considerable loss, and the abandonment of Williamsburg, which had, like Yorktown, been elaborately fortified.
General M'Dowell's division has been in the mean time pressing forward toward Richmond. The latest dispatches leave him in possession of the important town of Fredericksburg.
The battle of Pittsburg, or Shiloh, as it will probably be named, from a church standing near where it was fought, was hardly as decisive as our first reports indicated. On the first day, April 6, the result seemed to be wholly in favor of the Confederates, who, with greatly superior forces, attacked our lines, captured General Prentiss, with a large part of his command, and appeared to have won a decisive victory. General Beauregard telegraphed this result to Richmond, where it was received with great rejoicing. The advance of the enemy was checked by our gun-boats, and the opportune arrival of reinforcements under General Buell enabled us to assume the offensive on the following day, when the enemy were driven back toward Corinth. General Albert Sidney Johnston, the Commander-in-chief of the Western Division of the Confederate army, was killed in the action of the 6th. Our entire loss, as officially given, amounts to 1735 killed, 7882 wounded, and 4044 missing — these including the prisoners captured with General Prentiss — a total loss of 13,661 men. The loss of the enemy, in killed and wounded, probably exceeds our own; partial reports, gleaned from the Southern papers, already bring it up very nearly to our numbers. This battle, though not decisive, is the most bloody ever fought upon this continent.We closeour Record for the month
113in hourly anticipation of important tidings from this quarter.
General O. M. Mitchell, long known as one of the foremost astronomers of the day, who was the first to enter the Confederate strong-hold of Bowling Green, performed a brilliant exploit on the 10th of April. Making a sudden dash forward, he took by surprise the town of Huntsville, Alabama, an important point on the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, which connects Richmond with the South west.
Two important fortifications seized by the enemy at the outbreak of the rebellion have been recaptured. Fort Pulaski, near Savannah, Georgia, has been for some time closely invested. It was garrisoned by about 400 men, with abundant ammunition and provisions for six months, and was believed by the enemy to be able to resist any force that could be brought against it. Our batteries were placed on Tybee Island, at distances varying from 1700 to 3500 yards from the fort — a greater distance than has ever before been found available against strong fortifications. These were completed, on the 10th of April, and the fort was summoned to surrender, and immediately on refusal firs was opened. At the end of 18 hours bombardment a breach was effected, but the resistance was kept up 12 hours longer. Every thing was in readiness for storming the fort, when, on the 11th, it was surrendered, with all its stores, ammunition, and garrison. Our loss in the capture was but one man, and only four were injured within the fort. — Fort Macon, at Beaufort, North Carolina, surrendered on the 25th of April, after a bombardment of eleven hours.
Of still greater importance is the capture of New Orleans, which took place on the 26th of April. The accounts which have reached us come indirectly through Southern sources, and embrace only the leading points. It had been constantly reported that the whole course of the Mississippi below New Orleans was so fortified that no fleet could possibly reach the city; which was also said to be occupied by a large force, abundantly armed. Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on opposite sides of the river, about twenty-five miles above its mouth, and seventy-five miles below New Orleans, were relied upon to prevent any passage. The National fleet, under command of Commodore Farragut, approached these forts about the 20th of April, and opened a vigorous bombardment, which lasted for nearly a week. Besides the fire from the forts, our vessels were exposed to the assaults of fire-boats sent down against them, and gun-boats and steam batteries on the general plan of the Virginia. These proved unavailing, and at length the fire of the forts was silenced; but whether they were captured we are not as yet informed. But, in any case, the passage was forced, and our vessels made their way up to New Orleans on the 26th, with no further opposition. The city was now wholly at their mercy, and its surrender was demanded by Commodore Farragut. He required that the flag of the United States should be raised on the City Hall, Mint, and Custom-house, and that all other emblems of sovereignty should be removed, promising that the rights of persons and property should be respected; but insisting that no persons should be molested for expressions of loyalty to the Government of the United States. He gave special notice to the Mayor, to whom his demand was addressed, that he should "speedily and severely punish any person or persons who shall commit such outrages as were witnessed yesterday by armed men firing upon helpless women and children for giving expression to their pleasure at witnessing the old flag." — The Mayor, Mr. John F. Monroe, replied that out of regard to the lives of women and children who crowded the city, General Lovell had evacuated it, and given back to him the administration of the government, The city was wholly without means of defense. To surrender such a place would be an unmeaning ceremony; it was at the disposal of the assailants by "brute force, and not by the choice or consent of the inhabitants." But no man was to be found there who would hoist a nag not of their own adoption. The people, he said, were "sensitive to all that could affect their dignity and self-respect," and he asked that their "susceptibilities should be respected;" they would not allow themselves to be "insulted by the interference of such as have rendered themselves odious and contemptible by their dastardly desertion of our cause in the mighty struggle in which we are engaged, or such as might remind them too forcibly that they are the conquered and you are the conquerors. Your occupation of the city," concludes this singular document, "does not transfer allegiance from the Government of their choice to one which they have deliberately repudiated, and they yield the obedience which the conqueror is entitled to extort from the conquered."