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Yorktown's Civil War Siege: Drums Along the Warwick

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Co-authored by our Take a Stroll with a Historian

J. Michael Moore

Yorktown's Civil War Siege: Drums Along the Warwick 

This book chronicles the commanders, the common soldiers, the enslaved persons, technology, and the events that shaped the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and impacted the final battles around Richmond.

Although normally associated with the American Revolution, Yorktown had a crucial role in the American Civil War.  On April 4, 1862, Union Major General George McClellan marched his 121,500-man Army of the Potomac from Fort Monroe toward the Confederate capital at Richmond.  Blocking the Union advance was the twelve-mile Confederate Warwick-Yorktown Line that incorporated portions of Revolutionary War entrenchments.  Since May 1861, Confederate Major General John Magruder directed the construction of these fortifications which combined with his own theatrics stopped McClellan's advance.  Despite outnumbering Magruder almost four to one, McClellan laid siege to Yorktown for twenty-nine days.  Just before the massive Union artillery barrage was ready to commence, the Confederates abandoned their defenses and retreated toward Richmond.  McClellan had lost valuable time in his advance up the Virginia Peninsula and an opportunity to end the Civil War.