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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 180 [05-04-1862]

              159
		     Yorktown.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
ment for my curiosity.  I have seen shot, shell, and
canister, piles of boxes of ammunition, and infinitely
more of all sorts of things than I shall find leisure to
relate, this afternoon, sitting on a door-step to which
I have descended from my Court-House elevation.
I will try, however, to jot down some of them.
  Yorktown is not a considerable place; old-fashion-
ed, of course, comprising about thirty houses, not
one of which looks as if it had been built during the
last fifty years.  It stands on an elevated site, a road
winding beneath its river side, where lie the water
batteries, laid out at right angles, the houses apart
from one another, with trees about them, it resem-
bles an English village gone to decay.  These houses
furnished quarters for the Rebel officers; the men
being lodged under canvas, or in huts of their own
or negroes� construction.  They have abandoned all
of them; only half a dozen colored people being left
in the place.
  The position is really very strong, the earthworks
immense; the labor bestowed upon them must have
been enormous.  At certain places the sloping sides
resemble huge quarries, or the works within a
fortress, such as Fortress Monroe.  They are now
sparsely covered with short grass, for the slaves and
free negroes were compelled to labor upon them so
long back as April, 1861.  Everywhere the natural
advantages of the spot seem improved to the utmost.
With Gloucester Point and batteries within a half
miles� distance, and the river commanded on either
side, it could scarcely have been attacked with suc-
cess by water; landward, I think it might have been
found vulnerable.
  The Court-House, looking exteriorly like a church,
retains all its accommodations as a hospital, its
bedding, stretchers, bottles and chemicals.  Its few
houses have not been deprived of their old-fashioned
furniture.  Its rickety wharf is littered with pack-

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
ages of Rio coffee, cartridges, rice, farina, oats, torn
muster rols, old shoes, disused articles of dress,
bayonet sheaths, bits, bridles, boxes, candles, all
abandoned, lying here and there in confusion.  On
the embankments, in the huts, tents and houses, our
men have found plentiful supplies of tobacco, occa-
sional rebel-flags (I saw one at least 12 feet long),
jewsharps, inscriptions derisive of Yankees, letters,
pamplets, military documents, registers of soldiers�
names, ballads in song and manuscript, and much 
more that I can recall or record�had I not, in the
hurry of the day, lost my note-book (and very nearly
my horse), I might have done better.
  But, wander where you will, it is wise to tread
carefully, and keep the middle of the road, accord-
ing to the counsel of the negroes, for there are
torpedoes buried inside as well as outside of York-
town; and less than fifteen minutes ago I heard the
explosion of one, and was told that another soldier
had been murdered.  Going to get some water from
a well, too, near one of the embrasures, I was
warned off; the Rebels had secreted torpedoes on
one side of it.
  How did they depart, and when? you inquire.  I
have gathered the following particulars:
  They began leaving on Thursday morning last.
Their rear-guard departed just before daylight to-
day.  Our pickets (there are so many claimants to
the feat that I cannot at present risk committing
myself by naming any one regiment) discovered that
their sentinels had disappeared, took possession, and
communicated the news of the evacuation to head-
quarters.  I saw two prisoners (who had either got
lost in the woods or overslept themselves) brought
into Gen. Heintzelman�s this morning, and I hear
we have others.  The army is on its march, and I
must break off in the midst of my letter, deferring a
tithe of what I have to tell to another day and mail.

[photograph]
Naval Battery, Yorktown, with Nelson Church, subse-
quently used as an Hospital.               
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