Official Records of the Rebellion

Official Records of the Rebellion

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While general headquarters were at Williamsburg the battle of West Point was fought. The command of General Franklin, arriving at that place under convoy of the fleet on the afternoon of May 6, had by the morning of May 7 been so far disembarked that a large force of infantry was on shore, but not yet in perfect condition for action. It was without cavalry and but poorly supplied with artillery. The disembarkation from numerous transports of various descriptions was yet in progress. The position was almost surrounded by thick woods, which came down near to the river. The country, which was difficult, was not well known by our troops.

Whilst our forces were thus opened the pickets were driven in and heavy volleys of musketry announced the approach of the enemy under General Lee, advancing in great force to the attack, with the hope, doubtless, that our troops, taken unprepared and yet landing, could be routed and driven into the river. At the same time a battery of heavy field guns opened from a height at once upon the army and the transports. It was a moment of serious danger, and the most rapid action was necessary.

Part of the signal officers of the expedition had landed with the troops to which they were assigned. The firing on shore caused those on the war vessels and the transports to be everywhere on the alert. General Franklin, on the Mystic, at West Point, was sent for by signals. The order went quickly from the shore to the fleet, and as quickly from ship to ship, to move up and cover the army with their fire. With a promptness impossible without this communication the vessels were brought into position, and threw in the fire of their great guns to aid that of our army.

The contest was not long; the enemy’s batteries were silenced, and their troops, repulsed and broken, fell back through the woods, followed for a long distance by the shell of the Navy.

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Official Records of the Rebellion: Volume Eleven, Chapter 23, Part 1: Peninsular Campaign: Reports, pp.236

web page Rickard, J (19 November 2006)