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Text for Page 136 [04-16-1862]

		To Ship Point.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
From Heintzelman�s Division�Health and
     Comfort of the Troops�Activity of Pre-
     paration�Attack on the Rebel In-
From Our Special Correspondent.
		On the Yorktown Road, April 16�Noon.}
  I have little, if anything, of a belligerent or ex-
citing character to chronicle to-day; although as I
write, I hear the boom of cannon and the sound of
shot and shell away to the left, in explanation of
which I am told that �our boys� are amusing them-
selves at the expense of the Rebels.  Should the
cannonading continue, and the affair prove of im-
portance, I intend to ride to the scene of action and
append my observations as a postscript of more mo-
ment that this letter.  At headquarters this morning
�I mean those of Gen. Heintzelman, to which I am
reportorially attached�I found things quiet enough;
quiet and sunny, almost lazy.  The General, by-the-
by, has pitched his tent not far from the site occupied 
by Lafayette, at the time when the name of York-
town first became historic, at the corner of a large
field�a fine battle-ground, if the Rebels would only
come out of their intrenchments and make a fair
fight of it.  That, however, of course they won�t
do; their policy throughout the war has been to
select a strong position, and leave the onus of attack
to us and results have justified it.  Here they oc-
cupy one which we, certainly, are not going to walk
into in a day or two.  Those in the rear of us,
whether on the Yorktown or Warwick road, though
ably constructed, could not have been held against 
our force; now the Rebels could hardly be better
placed, and, we suppose, will make this upper por-
tion of the peninsula the scene of the crowning
fight of the war.
  We have spend the last two days in preparation.
The fine weather�I write on a perfect June day,
with a cloudless blue sky overhead, and the hot
noontide sun rendering the shade and scent of the
adjacent pines doubly grateful, with dusty roads and
perspiring men and horses perceptible from the door
of my tent�has witnessed our wholesome transform-
ation from a huge army of drenched, shivering and half-
starved soldiers, into as enormous a corp of 
cheery laborers.  Whatever may be the results of
this war, it will leave this part of the Old Dominion
in better traveling condition than any known to the
present or past generation.  Riding out yesterday to
Ship Point, in company with my present host, Dr.
J. A. Skilton (of the 87th New-York), I had an
opportunity of witnessing how the Yankee Mars acts
as pioneer to the god Terminus�who, if my
mythology is not at fault, presides over roads and
their belongings.
  From here to the Point is about six miles in a
south-easterly direction, but we made about fourteen
of it, by striking off to the left, just beyond the
abandoned Rebel camp to be used as a hospital, un-

[newspaper clipping: second column]
der charge of a Dr. Gunn of a Michigan regiment, the
construction of which I have commended in a former
letter.  It comprises at least a hundred huts, forming
regular streets or avenues, all of them weather-proof
and accommodated with chimneys, many possessing
bunks or berths like those on shipboard.  The work
of the soldiers and negroes, it contrasts curiously
with the ordinary dilapidated dwellings of the poor
whites of the vicinity; and no camp built by our
men, except that at Newport News, put up by the 
2d New-York (the Troy Regiment), can compare
with it for beauty and convenience.  This is true,
too, with respect to the Rebel quarters in general.
Every eligible portion of this peninsula seems to 
have been dotted with them; the field near which I
write, skirted on three sides by the woods, on the
fourth by the high road, exhibits marks of a recent
encampment�of tents, not houses, therefore easily
removable.  It is a matter of some surprise that the
Rebels did not fire their abandoned huts; by omitting
to do so, they have left us more hospital accommo-
dation than, I hope, will be needed.
  All along our route we passed marching and labor-
ing soldiers.  Go where you will upon this Peninsula,
you find them.  I can hardly convey to you the im-
pression of number�of the enormous extent of our
army�which this produces.  There are camps every-
  Ship Point completely commands the river, which
here debouches into a bay.  The Rebels had fortified
it with their usual efficiency.  We found three heavy
lines of earthworks looking seaward, a fosse out-
side.  The inner intrenchment is excavated into a
gallery, entered by sundry apertures popularly
known as �rat-holes,� which, with all due deference
to Mr. Russell�s ideas of their depreciatory effects
upon military discipline, I should pronounce excel-
lent places to run into to avoid a bursting bombshell.
A spacious camp, of the ordinary neatness of con-
struction, indicates that the recent possessors of Ship
Point were no mere temporary sojourners.
  April 16, 9 p. m.�I have just returned form a dark
ride through the woods, terminating the journey of
inquiry I promised myself at the beginning of the
preceding letter, in case the bombarding continued.
It did so all day, and I hear our guns thundering
now.  Of course, at present I can interpret the
work of the last twelve hours but imperfectly. What
I have gathered is as follows:
  The firing began at about 6 a. m., our artillery
opening upon the left of the Rebels� center, with the
intention of demolishing a prominent portion of their
intrenchments, possibly effecting an entrance.  Gen.
McClellan, accompanied by a portion of his staff, in-
cluding the Prince de Joinville and the Comte de
Paris (whom I met gaily caracoling on their re-
turn through the woods at sunset), commanded in
person. Four of our batteries were engaged in the               
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