NORFOLK NAVY YARD
BATTLE OF THE HAMPTON ROADS IRONCLADS
Index this Page:
Sacramento Daily Union, June 26, 1862. A Trip to Norfolk.
* * * * *
THE NAVAL OPERATIONS
BETWEEN FORTRESS MONROE AND NORFOLK.
Diagram Exhibiting the Water-Passage to Norfolk and Portsmouth,
the Evacuated Rebel Batteries at Sewall's Point, and all the Locations
of Interest in the Vicinity of Hampton Roads.
Enlarge: In browser click on symbol at lower right of picture.
Dispatches from Fortress Monroe.
FORTRESS MONROE, Thursday, May 8, via BALTIMORE, Friday, May 9.
Shortly before noon to-day, the Monitor, Naugatuck, Seminole, Susquehannah, Dacotah and San Jacinto, in the order in which they are named, steamed up towards Sewall's Point, Capt. LARDNER, of the Susquehannah, in command of the expedition. As soon as within range, fire was opened with shot and shell against Sewall's Point. Most of the shots were good ones. It was nearly half an hour before a reply was made from the Point. The Rip Raps next opened fire, and then the Naugatuck for the first time. Several shots were fired from the single gun on the extremity of the Point, when one from the Monitor struck in the vicinity, doubtless disabling the gun, as it has not fired since. The position of the Monitor was far in advance of the rest of the fleet and she continued in motion until within a mile or two of the Point, when considerable execution must have been done by her accurate firing. The Naugatuck kept in the back-ground, the range of her Parrot gun enabling her to do so. Sewall's Point battery replied briskly. The Rip Raps fired occasionally, and a continued fire was kept up from the gunboats. The affair was comparatively uninteresting from this point of view on account of the distance, so details cannot be given. At about 1 o'clock a black smoke was seen to arise, supposed to have been occasioned by combustible shells being thrown into the woods. It soon died away, however, and disappeared. Nothing more occurred until a little before 2 o'clock, when the firing was very feeble from the Point. The Monitor about this time returned from her advanced position and joined the fleet. In the distance nothing of her could be seen but a small square dot in the water. At 2-1/4 o'clock a very dense black smoke arose rapidly from the Point, caused, probably, by the burning of the rebel barracks or other buildings. At about 2-1/2 o'clock the Merrimac made her appearance, when the fleet returned, with the exception of the Monitor. The Merrimac is still (5 o'clock) off the Point. The Monitor is ready to attack her. The Seminole has returned to the Lower Roads. There is no prospect of a fight at present—5-1/2 o'clock. The Monitor has returned—the Merrimac is in the same position.
The crew of the steam tug which deserted from the enemy, report there is great excitement in Norfolk this morning; that Gen. Burnside, with a large force, is within a few miles of Weldon, and that the rebel troops are evacuating the city with all possible speed.
Sewall's and Pig Points, they say, are already abandoned, and preparations were making to destroy the Navy-yard and other public property.
A MORE DETAILED ACCOUNT.
Enlarge: In browser click on symbol at lower right of picture.
BALTIMORE, Friday, May.
The special correspondent of the American sends the following,
relative to affairs in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula'
FORTRESS MONROE, Thursday, May 8
This has been a most stirring and exciting day at Old Point, and all are anticipating the early fall of Norfolk.
At 11 o'clock, the steamer Naugatuck was observed raising steam, and about 12 o'clock she moved out by the side of the Monitor, which vessel had also cleared her deck for action, taken down her awning and pipes and stood forth in full fighting trim.
11-1/2 o'clock.—The gunboat Dacotah has just moved up in line of battle, with two little batteries, followed by the sloop-of-war Seminole and the San Jacinto. The flag-ship Minnesota is also under steam.
12 o'clock.—The Naugatuck has moved up toward Elizabeth River, followed by the Monitor and Dacotah in line of battle. The San Jacinto follows slowly. Heavy firing can still be heard from the direction of James River, where, as you have already been informed by telegraph, the Galena and other gunboats have gone. The sidewheel steamer Susquehannah has just moved up, passing the Seminole and San Jacinto. In the meantime the Dacotah, Monitor and Naugatuck had reached the channel and taken a position off Sewall's Point, and the Dacotah fired a shot toward Craney Island. A second shot from the Dacotah struck the beach at Sewall's Point.
12:3- o'clock.—The Susquehannah moves up, and takes the lead of the San Jacinto and Seminole. No answer from either of the rebel forts, and the Dacotah and Monitor are steaming up Elizabeth River. The Naugatuck is lying off toward the mouth of the James River. Presently, the Dacotah and Monitor approach Craney Island and Sewall's Point. The Dacotah fires every few minutes alternately at Sewall's Point and Craney Island, the enemy making no reply, although all the ball reach their intended destination. The Monitor is now taking the lead, but has not fired. In the meantime the Seminole and Susquehannah open on Sewall's Point, and two shots are fired from the Point, the latter falling short of the Monitor, which is now a mile above the other vessels.
12:40 o'clock.—The rebels are firing rapidly from Sewall's Point, principally at the Monitor, while a continual succession of shells are being poured on the enemy from the Susquehannah, Dacotah, Seminole and San Jacinto, broadside after broadside. The Rip Raps also throw occasional shells into Sewall's Point.
12:50 o'clock.—The Susquehannah, Dacotah, San Jacinto and Seminole are pouring shells, and the Monitor threw her first two shells from a point full a mile and a half ahead of the other vessels. The guns from Sewall's Point fall short of the regular fleet, and many of them explode high in the air at half distance. The Monitor is still moving forward, firing an occasional shot; whilst the Rip Raps and a float, lying in line of battle, are still firing steady.
1 o'clock P. M.—The Monitor is now within a mile of Sewall's Point, moving slowly forward and firing. The enemy are also firing briskly from Sewall's Point at the Monitor, and shells are falling thickly around her. Craney Island is also joining in the fight, and has just thrown several shells at the Monitor, one of which exploded directly over her. The Monitor moved steadily forward, occasionally firing and receiving shells and shot from the rebel batteries with perfect indifference.
2 o'clock, P. M.—During the past hour there has been but little if any change in the progress of the bombardment. The Monitor has fallen back and lays alongside of the Susquehannah, probably for the purpose of communicating with her. The Naugatuck in the meantime, has been throwing shells into Pig Point, and the fleet have also thrown a number of shells in the same direction.
2-1/4 P. M.—The Monitor and Dacotah are moving along again slowly up the mouth of the Elizabeth River. A dense black smoke has commenced to rise from Sewall's Point, indicating that our incendiary shells thrown there have fired the barracks. The Dacotah continues to throw her shells directly into the Point, the explosions of which can be distinctly seen. The shells from the Point mostly fall short and splash along in the water or explode in the air, the constant changing in position of our vessels destroying the range of the rebel gunners. They are, however, making quite a determined fight from their works, giving our fleet almost shell for shell and shot for short. Sewall's Point is almost enveloped in smoke from the constant explosion of shells and the smoke from its own guns, and the fire raging in the vicinity must make it a hot place for suffering humanity.
2:30 P. M.—The Monitor has laid out of action for nearly an hour. She is probably cooling her guns. Four larger vessels throw occasional shots, all of which appear to enter the works of the enemy, or explode within the woods beyond. The Rip Raps has also kept up a constant cross-fire, throwing a large number of shells in the rear of the Point batteries. The Rip Raps battery has the range of Sewall's Point perfectly.
2:45 P. M.—The rebel monster Merrimac now makes her appearance on the scene. She has just passed from behind Sewall's Point, and is running down slowly toward the National fleet. Her black hull can be seen moving slowly along shore, in front of Craney Island batteries. Simultaneously with the appearance of the Merrimac, the Monitor started up from behind the wooden vessels, and moved up to meet the enemy. Dense volumes of smoke ascend from the pipes of the Merrimac. The Monitor, with only a puff of white steam escaping, looks in the distance like an atom on the surface of water. The larger vessels have drawn aside and left. The Monitor and the Naugatuck are now in the approaching path of the Merrimac. The contestants are yet miles apart.
3 P. M.—The Minnesota fires her signal gun, and the long roll is being beaten in the fort. The Minnesota is starting to come up from her anchorage below the fort. The vessels of the fleet had been lying quietly at anchor for the last half hour, when the signal from the flagship ordered them all to return. The Susquehannah led the way, followed by the San Jacinto, Seminole, Dacotah, and the Monitor bringing up the rear, all apparently using the greatest speed toward the fort.
To spectators this seemed rather mortifying, but as they moved down in line the Monitor was observed to halt and the San Jacinto and Dacotah also followed her example, leaving the Susquehannah and Seminole moving ahead. The four steamers and the Monitor having taken their positions, the Merrimac also halted, and the five vessels thus stood not more than a mile and a half apart, the Merrimac apparently not willing to come further down, and the Monitor unwilling to go further up. The Minnesota also steamed up in front of the fortress wharf, followed slowly by the Vanderbilt, when both stopped. After laying in this position the Minnesota turned round and steamed back, and the Vanderbilt, without turning, backed water slowly down the river. Whilst all this maneuvering was going on, firing had entirely ceased from all points.
3:40 P. M.—The Merrimac now turns round and steams back toward Norfolk, with her rebel flag flying impudently. The Baltimore steamer Georgiana has laid out in the stream with steam up all the afternoon, ready to escape from danger at the earliest moment. The Minnesota and Vanderbilt have gone back to their anchorage. The Dacotah again proceeded up toward the Merrimac, and the monster starts toward the mouth of Elizabeth River. The Dacotah is now within easy range of Sewall's Point, but the batteries there do not open on her. She and the Monitor have both stopped, and the Merrimac is lying stationary about a mile in advance of the Craney Island batteries. (Here commenced an important movement, which cannot be made public just yet.)The Vanderbilt and Arago have now steamed up in front of the wharf and have again halted.
The Merrimac has run back under the buns of Craney Island, and the Monitor is steaming off toward her, at full speed.
The Minnesota is also coming up again at full speed, the effort being to draw the rebels out again.
4:45 P. M.—For the past hour the fleet has been moving back and forward, but the Merrimac still lies under the guns of Craney Island.
The Monitor is lying about a mile and a half from the Merrimac, and the Dacotah, Susquehannah and Seminole are still in the rear. The Naugatuck is also moving up toward the Monitor.
The Minnesota, Arago and Vanderbilt have gone back to their anchorage, and there is no prospect of a fight tonight.
The troops are going on board the transports, and the war vessels, including the Monitor, have all returned to their anchorage.
The President viewed the action from a tugboat lying about a mile in the rear of the fleet. He has just returned, and, as he passed up the wharf, was vociferously cheered by the troops.
LATEST.—Our fleet having retired, the Merrimac is again steaming out. The Monitor, Dacotah and Naugatuck are still, however, in position off Sewalls' Point.
An officer of the Seminole states that the rebel flagstaff at Sewall's Point was twice shot away during the bombardment. The first time it fell it was picked up, and a rebel in a red shirt jumped on the ramparts with a stump of the staff and the flag, and waved it, when another shell struck him, killing he, and, it is supposed, others near him.
Of the many shots fired at the fleet by the rebels, not one struck any of our vessels. Some went over their masts, but most fell short. The rebels could be distinctly seen from the vessels carrying off their dead and wounded.
Dispatch From the Secretary Stanton.
WASHINGTON, Sunday, May 11.
The following was received at the War Department this morning:
FORT MONROE, Saturday, May 10—Midnight.
Norfolk is ours, and also Portsmouth and the Navy-yard.
Gen. WOOL, having completed the landing of his forces at Willoughby Point, about 9 o'clock, this morning, commenced his march on Norfolk, with 5,000 men.
Secretary CHASE accompanied the General.
About five miles from the landing-place a rebel battery was found on the opposite side of the bridge over Tanner's Creek, and after a few discharges upon two companies of infantry that were in the advance, the rebels burned the bridge.
This compelled our forces to march around five miles further.
At 5 o'clock in the afternoon our forces were with a short distance of Norfolk, and were met by a delegation of citizens.
The city was formally surrendered.
Our troops were marched in, and now have possession.
Gen. VIELE is in command, as Military Governor.
The city and Navy-yard were not burned. The fires which have been seen for some hours proved woods on fire.
Gen. WOOL, with Secretary CHASE, returned about 11 o'clock to-night.
Gen. HUGER withdrew his force without a battle.
The Merrimac is still off Sewall's Point.Commander ROGERS' expedition was heard from this afternoon ascending the James River.
Reports from Gen. MCCLELLAN are favorable.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
DESTRUCTION OF THE MERRIMAC.
Dispatch to the Navy Department.
FORTRESS MONROE, Sunday, May 11.
To Hon. M. H. Watson, Assistant Secretary of War:
The Merrimac was blown up by the rebels at two minutes before 5 o'clock this morning. She was set fire to about 3 o'clock. The explosion took place at the time stated. It is stated to have been a grand sight by those who saw it. The Monitor, E. A. Stevens (Naugatuck) and the gunboats have gone up toward Norfolk
THE PREPARATORY MOVEMENTS.
Special Dispatch From Fortress Monroe.
Moore's Ranche, Pleasure Point,
Saturday, 3 P. M., viz. WASHINGTON, May 11.
I have just arrived here, and meet intelligence from the army in advance. It seems that five regiments of infantry were sent forward this morning, and pushed forward as far as the bridge across Tanner's Creek, about seven miles from this place, on the road to Norfolk. They arrived just in time to see the secession troops burn the bridge in their faces, and plant four pieces of rifled cannon on the opposite bank to protect the in doing it. It was then discovered that our artillery, which had been ordered over, was still on board the transport, not a single piece having been landed. The result was, that we were absolutely helpless.
It was decided to take a roundabout road, which leads around the head of Tanner's Creek. Gen. MANSFIELD, who had been requested by Gen. WOOL to leave his command at Newport News, overtook the advancing troops, Max WEBER's Regiment taking the lead, just after the bridge had been fired, and was at once placed in command. He attended to everything in person, and has now gone back to attend to the landing and forwarding of the artillery, and to bringing up reinforcements. Five regiments are already in advance.
By the road which the destruction of the bridge has compelled them to take, our troops will be obliged to march some eight miles further—not far from twenty in all—to Norfolk, which they will scarcely be able to reach before morning.
H. J. R.
DISPATCHES TO THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.
FORTRESS MONROE, Friday, April 9—Evening.
Old Point this evening presents a most stirring spectacle. About a dozen steam transports are loading troops. They will land on the shore opposite the Rip Raps and march direct on Norfolk. At the time I commence writing, (9 P. M.,) the moon shines to brightly that I am sitting in the open air, in an elevated position, writing moonlight. The transports are gathering in the stream—they have on board artillery, cavalry and infantry, and will soon be prepared to start. The Rip Raps are pouring in shot and shell into Sewall's Point, and a bright light in the direction of Norfolk leads to the supposition that the work of destruction has commenced.
President LINCOLN, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, is superintending the expedition himself. About 6 o'clock he went across to the place selected for the landing, which is about a mile below the Rip Raps. It is said he was the first to step on shore, and, after examining for himself, the facilities for landing, returned to the Point, where he was received with enthusiastic cheering by the troops who were embarking.
The Merrimac still lies off Craney Island, and the Monitor has assumed her usual position. The fleet are floating quietly at their anchorage, ready at any moment for action.
It is evident that the finale of the rebellion, as far as Norfolk is concerned, is rapidly approaching. The general expectation is, that the troops now embarking will have possession of the city before tomorrow night.
10 P. M.—The expedition has not yet started, the delay being caused by the time required for stowing the horses and cannon on the Adelaide. The batteries at the Rip Raps have stopped throwing shells, and all is quiet. The scene in the Roads, of the transports steaming about, is most beautiful, presenting a panoramic view seldom witnessed.
11 P. M.—The vessels have not yet sailed.
The Merrimac exhibits a bright light.
It is said the Seminole will go up the James River in the course of the night.
BALTIMORE, Sunday, May 11.
The Old Point boat has arrived.
Our troops crossed to the Virginia shore during Friday night, whilst the Rip Raps shelled the rebel works at Sewall's Point.
A landing was effected at Willoughby's Point, at a spot selected the previous day by President LINCOLN, who was among the first who stepped ashore.
The rebels fled as our troops advanced.
At last advices Gen. MAX WEBER was within three miles of Norfolk.
The Merrimac remained stationary all day off Craney Island.
WILLOUGHBY'S POINT, Saturday Morning, May 10.
The troops left during the night, and at daylight could be seen from the wharf landing at Willoughby's Point, a short distance from the Rip Raps. Through the influence of Secretary STANTON, I obtained this morning a permit to accompany Gen. WOOL and Gen. MANSFIELD and Staffs to Willoughby's Point, on the steamer Kansas, and here I am, on "sacred soil," within eight miles of Norfolk. The Point at which we have landed is known as Point Pleasant, one of the favorite drives from Norfolk.
The first regiment landed was the Twentieth New-York, known as MAX WEBER'S regiment, which pushed on immediately, under command of Gen. WEBER, and were at 8 A. M., picketed within five miles of Norfolk. The First Delaware, Col. ANDREWS, was pushed forward at 9 o'clock, accompanied by Gens. MANSFIELD and VIELS and Staff. They were soon followed by the Sixteenth Massachusetts, Col. WYMAN. The balance of the expedition consists of the Tenth New-York, Col. BENDIX, the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania, Col. Bailey, the Ninety-ninth New-York, (Coast Guards,) Major DODGES' Battalion of Mounted Rifles, and Capt. FOLLETT'S Co. D of Fourth (regular) Artillery. Gen. WOOL and staff remained to superintend the landing of the balance of the force, all of whom were landed and off before noon.
The President, accompanied by Secretary STANTON, accompanied Gen. WOOL and Staff to the wharf, and then took a tug and proceeded to the Minnesota, where he was received with a National salute. It is generally admitted that the President and Secretary STANTON have infused new vigor into both, the naval and military operations here, and that the country will have no cause for further complaint. As to the insulting course of the rebels in this quarter, the President has declared that Norfolk must fall, that the Merrimac must succumb to the naval power of the Union, and that the Government property at Norfolk must be repossessed at whatever cost it may require. What is more, he has determined to remain until it is accomplished.
The iron-clad gunboat Galena, accompanied by the Port Royal and Aroostook, went up the James River on Wednesday night, and although I have been unable to obtain any positive information from them since they silenced the forts on the lower part of the river, it is understood that the President has received dispatches from Gen. MCCLELLAN to the effect that they have given him most valuable aid in driving the enemy to the wall. It is even stated today that the Galena not only captured the Yorktown and Jamestown, but has put crews on board and ran them up within shelling distance of the river defenses of Richmond. Of the truth of this, however, I cannot vouch, as Old Point is becoming famous for fabulous rumors.
THE CITY OF NORFOLK.
Norfolk, by last census, had a population of 14,000, about 3,300 of whom were slaves. But on account of the fearful state of perturbation in which the city has been kept for the last year, and also on account of the rebel conscription, it is now probably reduced to a half of that number. It is situated on the right bank of the Elizabeth River, just below the confluence of the two branches, 8 miles from Hampton Roads, 32 miles from the Ocean, and 106 by land and 160 by water southeast from Richmond. The situation is low; the streets are irregular and mostly wide, with good brick and stone buildings.The harbor is safe and spacious, admitting the largest vessels. The entrance to it is over a mile in width, and Fortress Monroe and Fort Calhoun, on the Rip Raps, were built for its defence.
Among the principal buildings, are the City Hall, having a granite front, and a cupola 110 feet high; the Norfolk Military Academy, Mechanics' Hall, and Ashland Hall. The city contains a court-house, jail, custom-house, three banks, and fourteen churches. There is a beautiful cemetery, handsomely laid out, and adorned with cypress trees. In the vicinity, at Gosport, is the celebrated United States Navy-yard, which was seized by the rebels last year, and at which they clad in iron the Merrimac and other vessels. The yard contains a dry dock, constructed of granite, at a cost of a million of dollars.
The foreign commerce of Norfolk exceeds that of any other place in Virginia; and there are only two towns in the State of greater population, Petersburg and Richmond.
The Dismal Swamp Canal connects Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound, and opens an extensive water communication from Norfolk to the South. The locks of this canal were recently partially destroyed by Gen. RENO, when the battles of Camden ensued; and the canal was subsequently obstructed by a detachment of Commodore ROWAN'S naval force. There is a line of railroads running from Norfolk to Suffolk, in the adjoining county of Nansemond, which connects it with the whole Southern system of railroads.
Norfolk was the scene of important military events in the war of the Revolution. The British fleet, to which Lord DUNMORE, the Governor of Virginia, fled at the outbreak of hostilities, made Norfolk harbor its principal rendezvous. On the 1st of January, 1776, the town was bombarded by the British at the order of DUNMORE, and a party of troops were landed, who set fire to the houses. The fire raged three days, and the horrors of conflagration were heightened by the thunder of cannon from the ships; and many women and children lost their lives. The remaining edifices were afterward destroyed, and the mournful silence of gloomy depopulation reigned where once was the principal town of Virginia. But it rose again from its ashes, and has now, for the second time been taken, but by a more humane and civilized Government than the British.
THE TOWN OF PORTSMOUTH.
Portsmouth, directly opposite Norfolk, is a place of 9,500 inhabitants. It is built on level ground, has various institutions of learning, a military academy, five newspapers, and six churches. By the seaboard and Roanoke Railroad, and James River, it has extensive communications North and South. It, of course, falls with the fall of Norfolk. The Navy-yard is more properly said to be here than at Norfolk. It is half a mile from the central part of the town, or that part of it called Gosport.
THE CAPTURE OF NORFOLK.
Ocean View, Opposite Fortress Monroe,
Saturday evening, 8 o'clock.
NORFOLK and Gosport Navy-yard again belong to the United States! Our troops under Gen. WOOL entered and took possession of the town at 5 o'clock this afternoon, receiving its surrender at the hands of the Mayor and Common Council. All the troops who had been holding it under Gen. HUGER were withdrawn yesterday,—the public buildings and public property in the Navy-yard were all destroyed,—the people remained in the city, and our forces entered into peaceable possession, being encamped two miles out of the town, in what is called the entrenched camp, which was very strongly fortified, and in which 30 pieces of cannon fell into our possession. Brig. Gen. EGBERT L. VIELE has been appointed Military Governor of the place, and the strongest assurances were given by Gen. WOOL and by Secretary CHASE, who accompanied him throughout the march, that the persons and property of all the inhabitants should be treated with the utmost respect.
This is the general summary of the intelligence as I have just received it at this point from Gen. WOOL and Secretary CHASE, who have this moment returned from Norfolk in the carriage heretofore used by Gen. HUGER. The details of the expedition as well as its origin, are worthy of more specific mention. For some time past Gen. WOOL has been of the opinion that Norfolk might be taken without great cost: but nothing definite had been done in regard to it, partly because the cooperation of the Navy Department could not be secured, and partly because such a movement was not consistent with the general plan of the campaign which had been decided upon. After the fall of Yorktown and the withdrawal of the great body of the rebel army, it was believed that the abandonment of Norfolk would speedily follow as a necessary consequence. When Gen. McCLELLAN, therefore, on Monday after the fall of Yorktown, telegraphed to Gen. WOOL asking for more troops in order to make an effective pursuit of the rebels up the York River, Gen. WOOL declined to send any on the ground that it might become necessary for him to take and hold Norfolk.
On Thursday the little steamtug J. B. White came in from Norfolk, having deserted from the rebel service. She had been sent to bring in a couple of schooners from the mouth of Tanner's Creek; the officers in charge of her being Northern man, and having been long desirous of escaping from the rebel regime, considering this a favorable opportunity for effecting their object. They slipped past Craney Island without attracting any hostile observation, and then steered directly for Newport's News. On arriving they reported to Gen. WOOL that the rebel troops were evacuating Norfolk—that very many had already gone, and that not over two or three thousand remained. and even these, it was confidently believed, would very speedily be withdrawn. They were men of intelligence and of evident sincerity, and their statements commanded full confidence.
Under these circumstances Gen. WOOL decided to make a military demonstration upon Norfolk. A large body of troops was embarked upon the transports lying in the Roads, and all preparations were made with a view to a landing on Sewall's Point during Thursday night. Several of our vessels were sent to shell the Point during the preceding day, and as you have already heard, they did it with a good deal of effect. But they received very vigorous replies from the batteries there, and were finally put to flight by the appearance of the Merrimac, which came up to take part in the conflict. This vigorous demonstration on the part of the rebels satisfied the military authorities that the attack could not safely be made at that time, or at that point. The troops were accordingly disembarked on Friday morning, and the expedition was for the time abandoned.
On Friday Secretary CHASE, who had been spending several days here, as had also President LINCOLN and Secretary STANTON , learned from a pilot familiar with the coast, that there was a place where a landing could be effected a mile or so beyond Willoughby Point,—and that a very good road led directly from that shore to Norfolk. In company with Gen. WOOL and Col. T. J. CRAM, of the Topographical Engineers, Secretary CHASE on Friday crossed over in the steam revenue-cutter Miami, and sent a boat to sound the depth of water and examine the shore, with a view to a landing for troops. While doing so, they perceived signs of a mounted picket guard on the shore above, and not deeming it safe to venture too far, they pulled back for the Miami. On their way, however, a woman was seen in a house on shore waving a white flag. The boat's crew at once returned, and were told by the woman that her husband had fled to the woods to avoid being forced into the rebel service by the mounted scouts who came every day to find him, and that on his last departure he had instructed her to wave a white flag on the approach of any boats from the Union side. She gave the party a good deal of valuable information concerning the roads and the condition of the country between there and Norfolk. Secretary CHASE and Col. CRAM went ashore and satisfied themselves that a landing was perfectly feasible. On returning to Fortress Monroe they found that President LINCOLN and Secretary STANTON, on examining the maps, had been led to make a similar exploration and had come to a similar conclusion, though the points at which the two parties had struck the shore proved to have been a mile or two apart.
The result of all this was that Gen. WOOL decided upon an immediate march upon Norfolk from that point, and orders were at once issued to carry it into effect. The steamer Adelaide, which was filled with freight and passengers for Baltimore, was stopped half an hour before her time of sailing, and with half a dozen others, was at once occupied by the infantry and artillery destined for the expedition. They began to embark at about 4 o'clock, on Friday afternoon, and by midnight several of them had started for the opposite shore. A vigorous bombardment was open from the Rip Raps upon Sewell's Point, and kept up for two hours, to induce the belief that this was the intended point of debarkation. The steamers crossed over, and at daylight preparations were made for landing. The shore is a smooth sandy beach,—the sand being very deep as you leave the water, and suddenly rising into long mounds ten or fifteen feet high, thrown up by the heavy winds blowing in upon the shore, and forming a complete breastwork around the fields which they invade. The water, shallow at the shore line, deepens very gradually, and only at some fifty feet out becomes deep enough for vessels drawing five or six feet of water. Three or four canal-boars were towed over, and placed side by side lengthwise of the coast,— an inclined platform was constructed to land, and this served for a temporary wharf across which the troops, cannon, and other indispensables of the expedition were landed. The infantry regiments were landed first, and started at once upon their march. The negroes, who alone remained behind, said that a mounted picket had been there the day before, but had left, saying that the Union men were coming over in a day or two. The troops landed, and started forward in the following order:
Twentieth New-York, Col. Max WEBER
Sixteenth Massachusetts, Col. P. T. WYMAN
Ninety-ninth New-York, Col. WARDROP
First Delaware, Col. J. W. ANDREWS
Tenth New-York, Col. BENDIX
One hundred Mounted Riflemen
FOLLETT'S Battery, Light Artillery, six pieces
HOWARD'S Battery, four pieces.
One leading object of pushing forward the infantry rapidly was to secure, if possible, the bridge across Tanner's Creek, by which the route to Norfolk would be shortened by several miles. The route lay through pine woods and over roads in only tolerable condition. At about 1 o'clock the leading regiment, under MAX WEBER, came to the bridge and found it burning, having just been set on fire by a body of men who had planted a couple of small guns on the opposite bank, which they opened upon our advance. Gen. MANSFIELD, who had come over from Newport News, at Gen. WOOL'S request, to join the expedition, thought this indicated an intention to resist the further progress of our troops, and that nothing could be done without artillery and a larger force. He accordingly started back to hurry up the batteries and to provide for bringing over a portion of his command as a reinforcement. Gen. WOOL, however, meantime decided to push forward. The column marched back about two miles and a half to a point where a diverging road led around the head of Tanner's Creek, and took that route to Norfolk. Nothing further was heard from the party that had fired upon our column, and it was evident that the demonstration was merely intended to protect them in the destruction of the bridge. They fired about a dozen shots, none of which took effect.
Our troops pushed rapidly forward in spite of the heat of the day, and at 5 o'clock reached the entrenched camp, some two miles this side of Norfolk, which had been very strongly fortified with earthworks on which were mounted twenty-nine pieces of artillery. No troops were in the place, and our forces passed through it on their way to the town. Just before reaching it they were met by a flag of truce, to which an officer was at once sent forward to inquire its object. Receiving the information that it was to treat for the surrender of the city, the officer returned, and Gen. WOOL and Staff, with Secretary CHASE, advanced to meet the Mayor of the city, who had come out under the flag. Both parties dismounted and entered a cottage by the roadside, when the Mayor informed the General of the evacuation of the city and of the object of his visit.
It seems that a meeting was held at Norfolk some days since, not long, probably, after the evacuation of Yorktown was resolved upon, of the rebel Secretary of War, Gen HUGER, Gen. LONGSTREET, and some others of the leading military authorities, at which it was determined not to attempt to hold the City against any demonstration of the National forces to effect its capture. This decision was followed by the withdrawal of the main body of the troops; and this (Saturday) morning, after it was understood that our troops had landed at Ocean View, and were advancing upon the City, Gen. HUGER addressed the following letter to the Mayor:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Norfolk, May 10, 1862.
Hon. W. W. Lamb, Mayor:
SIR: The troops which formerly defended this neighborhood having been removed elsewhere by order of the Government, I have not the means to defend the city, and have ordered the forces off, and turn over the charge of the city to yourself and its civil officers.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ. HUGER, Major-General.
Upon receiving this note, the Mayor immediately convened the Select and Common Councils of the city, and the following action was taken:
At a joint meeting of the Select Council and the Common Council of the City of Norfolk, held on the 10th of May, 1860, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:
Whereas, An official communication has been received by the Mayor of the city from Maj. Gen. HUGER, announcing that the troops which formerly defended this neighborhood having been withdrawn, he has no longer the power to defend the City, and that he turns over the charge of it to the Mayor and civil officers;
Therefore, Resolved, That Capt. JAMES CORNICK and C. H. ROWLAND, Esqs., President and Vice-President of the Special Council, and J. B. WHITEHEAD and G. W. CAMP, Esqs., President and Vice-President of the Common Council, be, and they are hereby appointed a Committee to cooperate with the Mayor in conferring with the Federal Military Commander, and assuring him that no resistance can or will be made to the occupation of the city by the United States forces, but that the citizens expect and claim protection to persons and property during such occupation.
Resolved, That the Committee proceed to meet the Commanding-General of the United States forces, and communicate this action to him.
(Signed) F. G. BROUGHTON, Jr., Clerk.
These proceedings were taken this morning, and the Committee designated in these resolutions proceeded, in company with the Mayor, to meet Gen. WOOL.
The Mayor, after presenting these resolutions, said he had come in conformity with the instructions they contained to surrender the city into the hands of the United States, and to ask protection for the persons and property of the citizens.
Gen. WOOL replied that his request was granted in advance,—that the Government of the United States had not the slightest wish or thought of interfering with the rights of any peaceable citizen, and that all should have full protection against violence of every kind. The first thing he had done on setting out in the morning had been to issue an order, prohibiting under the severest penalties any interference whatever with the private property or rights of any citizen, and this prohibition should be enforced with the utmost rigor. He begged the Mayor to rest assured that everything he had asked should be granted.
A general conversation then took place between the officials on each side, in which their sentiments and opinions were freely interchanged. Special stress was laid by the city representatives on the fact that they had discountenanced, in every way possible, all the propositions that had been made for the destruction of private property, and the burning of the bridge across Tanner's Creek was characterized as an utterly useless and unauthorized act. Capt. CORNICK said that if the Government had ordered the city to be burned, he should of course have submitted; but he had given public notice that if any member of any Vigilance Committee, or anybody else, without full authority from the Government, should attempt to set his house on fire, he would shoot him on the spot. The Mayor concurred in these sentiments, and expressed the strongest determination to do everything in his power for the preservation of the public peace and of social order.
The party then broke up to go to City Hall for the formal inauguration of the new military authorities. The Mayor invited Gen. WOOL and Secretary CHASE to ride with him in his carriage, and they proceeded together, followed by the General's bodyguard and the troops. After entering the City Hall the Commanding General issued the following
GENERAL ORDER, NO. 1.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Norfolk, May 10, 1862.
The city of Norfolk having been surrendered to the Government of the United States, military possession of the same is taken in behalf of the National Government by Maj.-Gen. JOHN E. WOOL.
Brig.-Gen. VIELE is appointed Military Governor for the time being. He will see that all citizens are carefully protected in all their rights and civil privileges, taking the utmost care to preserve order and to see that no soldier be permitted to enter the city, except by his order, or by the written permission of the commanding officer of his brigade or regiment, and he will punish summarily any American soldier who shall trespass upon the rights of any of the inhabitants.
(Signed) JOHN E. WOOL, Major General Commanding.
Immediately after issuing this order Gen. WOOL with his Staff and Secretary CHASE withdrew, and rode back in the carriage used only this morning by Gen. HUGER, across the country to Ocean View, the place of debarkation, which they reached at a little after 8 o'clock. The only report of the surrender of the city which preceded them was brought by a negro, who arrived about twenty minutes in advance, and said that he left Norfolk at 5-1/2 o'clock, and that he then saw a body of our horsemen and one regiment of infantry inside the works. He had walked all the way, and his report was speedily confirmed by the appearance of the General in person, who at once went on board the steamboat Pioneer and returned to Fortress Monroe—stopping on the way to announce the result to the Flag-officer of the fleet on board the Susquehanna.
Gen. VIELE at once entered upon the discharge of his duties. His first act was to issue the following, which was freely posted and circulated throughout the town:
Norfolk, Va., May 10, 1862.
The occupancy of the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth is for the protection of the public property, and the maintenance of the public laws of the United States. Private associations and domestic quiet will not be disturbed, but violation or order and disrespect to the Government will be followed by the immediate arrest of the offenders. Those who have left their homes, under the anticipation of any acts of vandalism, may be assured that the Government allows no man the honor of serving in its armies who forgets the duties of a citizen in discharging those of a soldier, and that no individual rights will be interfered with. The sale of liquor is prohibited. The office of the Military Governor and of the Provost-Marshal are at the Custom-house.
(Signed) EGBERT L. VIELE, Brigadier-General United States Army, and Military Governor.
Immediately after Gen. WOOL left the City Hall, a large concourse of citizens assembled around the City Hall and called loudly for a speech from the Mayor.
Mayor LAMB came forward and addressed them briefly, confining himself mainly to a recital of the incidents of the day. He said that he had had nothing to do with deciding the result; that had been done by the superior authorities. The citizens of Norfolk had been deserted by their friends, and all the city authorities could do was to obtain the best terms possible for themselves and their property. He was happy to assure them that in this he had been successful. The Commanding General of the United States troops had conceded everything they had asked, and had guaranteed the preservation of order. He enjoined upon the citizens the maintenance of peace and quiet, and exhorted them to abstain from all acts of violence and disorder. If the decision had rested with him he would have defended the city to the last man; but their Government had decided differently, and they must yield to its authority. The Mayor's remarks were cheered by the crowd, who also gave three cheers for President DAVIS with a great deal of enthusiasm, and also responded with less heartiness to a demand for three groans for LINCOLN.
Gen. HUGER left Norfolk only two hours before the entry of our troops. Before the army withdrew, the following letter was addressed to the Mayor:
Norfolk, May 10.
DEAR SIR: I am directed by Major-Gen. HUGER to hand over to you all the provisions in my possession for distribution to the poor and needy of our community, discriminating in favor of the families of the volunteers who are absent on service.
In the press and hurry of the moment I cannot furnish an inventory of the stock on hand. But there are several hundred barrels of flour at the tobacco warehouse and at the store of ODOM & CLEMENTS. At the store of W. D. REYNDERS & CO. there is also a large amount of bacon, and in the building occupied by me there are many articles for the needy.
W. H. SMITH.
Thus ends this day's work. It has been vigorous and effectual. The embarkation of the expedition began last night at 4 o'clock. It was landed upon a slightly-known shore, without a wharf, early next day. Gen. WOOL slept in Fortress Monroe last night,—marched with his troops some twenty miles, captured Norfolk, and was in bed again in his own quarters before midnight. The President and Secretary of War were awakened to hear the news, and received it en deshabille, and with great exultation. They all slept the better for it.
One of the neatest little exploits of the campaign was performed by Capt. DRAKE DE KAY, of Gen MANSFIELD'S Staff, while awaiting the General's arrival at a house called Moore's Ranche, a kind of Summer hotel kept by a man named MOORE, at Ocean View, the place of debarkation. All the white men, and most of the women of this vicinity had fled—it was said by those they had left behind, to the woods, to prevent being forced into rebel service. Capt. DE KAY, while supper was being prepared, mounted his horse and determined to explore the country, followed only by his negro servant. As he was passing a swamp toward evening, he came suddenly upon seven of the secession troops, who were lurking by the roadside, and were armed with double-barreled guns. The Captain turned and shouted to his (imaginary) company to prepare to charge—and then riding forward rapidly, revolver in hand, told the men they were his prisoners, as his cavalry would soon be upon them, ordered them to discharge their pieces and deliver them to him, which they did without delay. He then informed them that his only "company" was his negro servant, and directed them to follow him into camp. An hour later, just after Gen. WOOL had returned from Norfolk, the Captain rode to the beach and informed Col. CRAM, as Chief of the General's Staff, that the seven prisoners, who he had marched to the beach, were at his disposal. Their arms were taken away, and on promising to take the oath of allegiance, the men were at once dismissed. One of them proved to be MOORE himself, who came over to his house, where he found half-a-dozen of us in full possession, and just preparing to discuss a very comfortable supper which his colored cook had got ready for us. Like nearly all the rebel soldiers in this section, he said that he had been forced into service, and was only awaiting a chance to run away; but his statements on this point did not obtain, to say the least, any more credit than they deserved. The guns of this little squad, who were probably one of the rebel pickets scattered through the woods, were all handsome and effective double-barreled fowling pieces.
"Merrimac" destroyed at the burning
of the Norfolk Navy Yard
April 19, 1861.
FORTRESS MONROE—Sunday Morning.
The first news that greeted us this morning was that the Merrimac had been blown up by her officers, and was no longer to dominate our fleet in Hampton Roads. The news at first seemed too good to be true. Careful observers, however, and among them Capt. GADSDEN, of the Arago, reported that they had seen and heard the explosion at about 4-1/2 o'clock this morning, and that they thought they could not be mistaken. Early in the morning, on hearing the report, Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH ordered the two tugs Zouave and Dragon to go down to Craney Island on a reconnaissance. They did so, and very soon returned, reporting that the Merrimac was no longer to be seen, that pieces of timber and other indications of a burned and wrecked vessel were floating in the neighborhood where she had lain the night before, and that the report of her explosion was doubtless true. Previous to their return they were followed by the Monitor and Naugatuck, and the San Jacinto, the Susquehanna, the Mount Vernon, the Seminole and the Dacotah steamed in the same direction. These vessels ran down below Craney Island, and lay off the city. On Craney Island were two or three negroes, who said that the Merrimac had been brought back the night before about a mile from where she had been lying,—and that early this morning she was blown up, her officers and crew having gone ashore in small boats, and having started at about 8 o'clock across the country for Suffolk. They said they were about 200 in number.
Large fragments of the wreck were also found floating around, which rendered this story almost certain to be true.
I understand that the officers of the Monitor and Naugatuck discovered, early this morning, two dead bodies floating in the water, which they had no doubt were those of two sailors belonging to the Merrimac. They were not examined, however, nor were any means taken to identify them.
Last night a man in gray naval uniform, accosted Gen. VIELE, at the Atlantic hotel, and wished to know if he would be arrested. The General told him certainly, if he wore that uniform. This morning he made his appearance in the same uniform again, and was arrested. He proved to be the sailing master of the Merrimac. He knew nothing of her having been destroyed, but said that her latest orders from the Government were to go up the James River for protection against the Federal gunboats. TATNALL had tendered his resignation rather than take her up the York River, but had withdrawn it on receiving notice of this change in her destination. The prisoner was taken on board the Monitor, and had a long conversation with Lieut. JEFFERS about the contest between the two vessels. He said no shots from the Monitor had penetrated the Merrimac, or injured her in any way except by starting her timbers; and that the only shot which entered her was one from the Cumberland, which struck her porthole, split the gun, killed two men and wounded seventeen, including Capt. BUCHANAN. This man did not concede that the Merrimac was afraid to fight the Monitor, but he intimated very plainly that there had been great dissatisfaction among the crew, and great difficulty in bringing them to obey orders. He thought they would not blow her up so long as there was any chance of making her useful in the James River or elsewhere; but that if this project had been given up, they would be very likely to dispose of her in that way.
I have no doubt whatever of the destruction of the vessel. It became, in fact, a necessity after the surrender of Norfolk. She could only go twelve miles up the James River, as the water was not deep enough for her,— and our gunboats are already far beyond that point. If it was certain that the rebels were determined to make another stand in front of Richmond, I should think it strange that they should consent to forego all aid from this formidable vessel, which might at least prevent other gunboats from going to the assistance of the attacking army. But the destruction of the Merrimac confirms the impression I have received from the recent military movements of the rebels, and which I have more than once expressed, that Virginia has been substantially abandoned by the rebel Government.
STANTON AND CHASE TO NORFOLK.
President LINCOLN, who has been staying here, as have also the Secretaries of War and the Treasure, for several days, and whose presence and personal participation in the movements of the last week, have been of the utmost importance to the country, decided to start for Washington this morning in the steamer Baltimore. On hearing the reported destruction of the Merrimac confirmed he concluded first to take a look at this latest of the cities which has been recovered for the Union. Taking Gen. WOOL on board the steamer accordingly, under the charge of Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH, they went down to Norfolk, where the Commodore left his flagship, and Gen. WOOL remained to transact business connected with the affairs of this new Department. The President did not go ashore, but after taking a look at the city started immediately for Washington. His visit here has been of the most unostentatious, but certainly of the most useful sort. He has given his personal attention and care to every department of operations here, and has brought a very excellent and safe judgment to bear upon matters which required something more than mere professional knowledge and skill for their solution. And I do no injustice to others in saying that much of the vigor and success of the recent operations here is due to the stimulus of his presence.
LATEST FROM NORFOLK.
NORFOLK, Sunday, May 11—2 P. M.
I seized the first opportunity, to-day, to take a look at the fortifications by which Norfolk has been so long defended against our fleet. It is easy to see that their strength has not been exaggerated. The works on Sewell's Point are quite extensive, intended for forty guns, only twenty-three of which, however, have ever been mounted, and of these only seven now remain. Craney Island—long, low and level—stands just at the entrance of the channel, and has upon it a very formidable series of skillfully constructed earthworks, intended for fifty guns, of which thirty-nine had been mounted,—mostly nine and ten inch Dahlgrens, though there were also rifled and Parrot guns among them. There were also nine finished casemates on the north bastion, and five unfinished. The works are all admirably constructed. Next beyond Craney Island, on the right, is a most beautiful semi-circular water battery, with eleven casemates, and finished in as fine style as any works of a similar kind I have ever seen. Still further on, upon the same side, is still another battery, while on the opposite shore stands Fort Norfolk. All these works together constitute a gauntlet which certainly would not be prudent in any but the most powerful vessel of war to attempt to run. Then, too, just below these batteries, directly across the channel, has been driven a line of piles, an opening being left in the middle for the passage of vessels, intended, however, to be closed in an emergency by sinking the immense hulk of the old United States, which lies close by for preparation. Upon these piles, the San Jacinto, as she was going in to-day, stuck fast for a couple of hours, but finally extricated herself without injury.
The rebels succeeded in almost completely destroying the Navy-yard last night. Hundreds of them were busy in setting fire to all the buildings and all the vessels, and this morning little remained but smoking ruins and a dismal desolation. The great Eastern and Western ship-houses, the marine barracks, officers' quarters, smith's shops, engine houses, &c., were all consumed. The rebels had built and launched two iron vessels, mounting four guns each and built in water-tight compartments, so as to be raised or sunk at pleasure. These were not intended to be propelled, but to be used as stationary batteries for harbor defence, or else to be towed out to operate against our wooden vessels. They were burned, but not so seriously injured as to be entirely useless. A number of small vessels and schooners were also burned. Great efforts were made to destroy the dry dock, but they were unsuccessful.
The magnificent Naval Hospital remains untouched. Even the vandalism which has marked so many of the acts of the rebels during the war, shrank from the sacrilege of firing this splendid structure.
A good deal has been said in conversation here of the feeling of the citizens of Norfolk. All the public indications of sentiment in the city thus far have certainly been on the side of secession. Scarcely half-a-dozen men have ventured to come out boldly as Union men. The general tone of conversation, where you succeed in getting any, is dull, discontented and sour. I do not regard this, however, as an infallible indication of settled political sentiment. The people unquestionably feel that they have been abandoned by their friends and conquered by the North. This is never a pleasant feeling, and men must be pardoned for not being able to conquer it on the instant. I saw nothing, during my stay in the city, which was it is true very short, to indicate that spiteful hatred of the Union and its friends which has been manifested in other quarters.
The negroes were out in full force,—and were all in their most smiling holiday attire. Whether it was the military show, always so fascinating to the negro mind, or the equally strong passion for something new, or a sanguine perception that all this conquest is for their behalf, I do not pretend to say; but they certainly seemed to be the parties most deeply interested in the pageant of to-day. Quite a number of Irishmen were in the streets, and they were mainly quite free to proclaim their satisfaction at the changed aspect of affairs. I had quite a political talk with a dozen or so of plain, respectable people collected on the wharf. They deplored the existing state of things, but thought the Abolitionists mainly to blame for it, and said they were glad no more blood had been shed, because it would only exasperate the feelings of the people, and it seemed after all that we should be obliged to live together again as friends by-and-bye.
From what they could learn they thought the state of things very critical at Richmond. The understanding, when Gen. HUGER withdrew the troops from Norfolk was, that they were to go direct by railroad to Petersburg, and thence to Richmond, with a view to a general concentration of all the Southern troops for the defence of that city. But they expressed a good deal of apprehension lest McCLELLAN should reach Richmond in advance of such a concentration and there either frustrate it at once or form a junction with BANKS and McDOWELL from the other side. They had advices from Richmond to Friday morning, but they contained nothing very important. The Whig of the 9th continues to express the utmost confidence in their ability to repel the "invaders."
I believe I have thus given you all that is of special interest, (and more, perhaps, than you will care to read,) concerning the capture of Norfolk,—including the Gosport Navy0yard, Fort Norfolk, Craney Island and all the batteries along the shore by which the approaches to the City were to be defended,—and last, but not least, the destruction of the dreaded monster Merrimac. It was a bloodless victory, but all the more precious on that account. Nor can any one doubt that it is a direct and inevitable result of the surrender of Yorktown and the retreat of the great rebel army. After that event the fall of Norfolk was simply a question of time. It could have been speedily and completely isolated and its supplies are already running low. The business of the place is evidently ruined. Grass is literally growing in what were once some of her busiest and most bustling commercial streets. The presence of the army has given a stimulus to certain limited kinds of business, but nothing upon which the prosperity of a great community can be based. Everybody seemed to have his pockets full of Confederate scrip, and many declared their belief that every dollar of it would be redeemed. But this was rather an attempt to bolster up their own faith in the only kind of money they had, than an indication of confidence in its substantial value.
* * * * * *
Enlarge: In browser click on symbol at lower right of picture.
We give herewith a diagram, showing the minute topography of the famous rebel Capital, upon which Gen. McCLELLAN, is now advancing with such rapid strides. The city, by last census, had a population of thirty-eight thousand souls; but the great influx of civil and military official and refugees from other parts of the State, has probably raised it, of late, to a much higher figure. It is situated at the head of tide-water, at the lower falls of James River, about one hundred and fifty miles from its mouth. The city occupies a most picturesque situation, being built on Richmond and Shockoe hills, which are separated by Shockoe Creek and surrounded by beautiful scenery. It is regularly laid out and well built, the streets, which are lighted with gas, crossing each other at right angles On Shockoe Hill are the State Capital and other public buildings. The Capitol is an imposing edifice, and contains in its central hall RONDON'S celebrated statue of WASHINGTON. On the east of the square is the Governor's mansion, now occupied by the drunkard and traitor LETCHER. JEFF. DAVIS resides in a private mansion, which was purchased for him by the rebel Government. The city has many fine public buildings, six banks, thirteen newspapers and twenty-three churches. In one of the three Presbyterian churches JEFF. DAVIS worships.
The falls of James River afford immense water-power, and there are very extensive factories, including four cotton and about fifty tobacco factories, flour mills, rolling mills, forges, furnaces, machine-ships, &c., the latter of which, and particularly the Tredegar Iron Works, have been of immense service to the rebels in turning out ordinance and material of war. The annual exports of Richmond before the rebellion reached to near $7,000,000, and its imports three quarters of a million; but since it had the honor of being the rebel capital, its foreign commence has been extinguished. Vessels or gunboats drawing ten feet can ascent to within a mile of the city, at a place called Rockets, from which the rebel capital could be conveniently shelled. Vessels of fifteen feet draught ascend to Warwick, three miles below. A canal has been built around the falls, and above them there is navigation for over 200 miles. The James River and Kanawha Canal, intended to extend to Covington, is completed for 200 miles.
Richmond has very extensive railroad communications, being the terminus of five roads, running to Fredericksburg and the Potomac, (now in our hands,) to West Point and the York River, (in our hands,) to Petersburg and Norfolk, (partly in our hands,) to Danville, Va., to Jackson's River, by the Central Railroad, and from these the connections lead all through the Southern States. Opposite the city are the two towns of Spring Hill and Manchester.
Richmond was founded in 1742, became the Capital of the State of Virginia in 1779, and in June, 1861, it was made the center of government for the "Confederate States of America," whose Congress assembled there on July 20. Its history since then is only too familiar to the country. Around the city are various hills extending a great distance, on the most important of which fortifications were erected last Summer, in the days of the "On to Richmond" cry. Some of these will be found indicated in our diagram. What fate may now awaits the city depends upon JEFF. DAVIS and his army.
WASHINGTON, May 11.—The following was received at the War Department this morning:—
FORTRESS MONROE, May 10—12 o'clock at night.
Norfolk is ours, and also Portsmouth and the Navy Yard.
General WOOL having completed the landing of his forces at Willoughby Point, about nine o'clock this morning, commenced his march on Norfolk with 5000 men.
Secretary CHASE accompanied the General. About five miles from the landing place a Rebel Battery was found on the opposite side of the bridge over Tanner's Creek. After a few discharges by companies of infantry the Rebels burned the bridge. This compelled our forces to march around five miles further. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon our forces were within a short distance of Norfolk, and were met by a delegation of citizens, and the city was formally surrendered. Our troops marched in and we now have possession.
Gen. VIELE is in command as Military Governor. The city and Navy Yard were not burned. The fires which have been seen for some hours proved to be the woods on fire.
General WOOL, with Secretary CHASE, returned about 11 o'clock to-night.
General HUGER withdrew his forces without a battle.
The Merrimac is still off Sewall's Point.
Com. ROGERS' expedition was heard from this afternoon ascending the James river.
The reports from General McCLELLAN are favorable.
EDWIN M. STANTON.
The following has just been received
FORTRESS MONROE, May 11.
To the Hon. P. H. WILSON, Assistant Secretary of War:—
The Merrimac was blown up by the Rebels at two minutes before five o'clock this morning. She was set fire to about three o'clock. The explosion took place at the time stated. It is said to have been a grand sight, by those who saw it.
The Monitor, Stevens and the gun-boats have gone up towards Norfolk.
E. S. SANFORD, Military Supervisor.
DETAILS OF ADVANCE ON NORFOLK.
President Lincoln in the Field—He Lands at Willoughby's Point.
FORTRESS MONROE, May 10.—Troops crossed over to the Virginia shore during Friday night, and whilst the Rip Raps shelled the Rebel troops at Sewall's Point, a landing was effected at Willoughby's Point, at a spot selected on the previous day by President LINCOLN himself, who was among the first who stepped ashore. The Rebels fled as our troops advanced. At last advices, General MAX WEBER was within three miles of Norfolk.
The Merrimac has remained stationary all day off Craney Island.
FORTRESS MONROE, May 9, P. M.—Old Point this evening presents a most stirring spectacle. About a dozen transport steamers are loading with troops. They will land on the shore opposite the Rip Raps, and march direct on Norfolk.
At the time I commence writing, 9 o'clock P. M., the moon shines so brightly that I am sitting writing in the open air by moonlight. The transports gathering in the stream have on board cavalry, artillery and infantry, and will soon be prepared to start. The guns on the Rip Raps are pouring shot and shell into Sewall's Point, and a bright light in the direction of Norfolk, leads to the supposition that the work of destruction there has commenced.
President LINCOLN, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, is superintending the expedition himself. About 6 o'clock he went across to the place selected for landing, which is about a mile below the Rip Raps. It is said that he was the first to step on shore, and after examining for himself the facilities for landing, returned to Old Point, where he was received with enthusiastic cheering by the troops who were embarked. The Merrimac still lies off Craney Island, and the Monitor has resumed her usual position. The fleet are floating quietly at their anchorage, ready at any moment for active operations. It is evident that the finale of the Rebellion, so far as Norfolk is concerned, is rapidly approaching. The general expectation is that the troops now embarking will have possession of the city before to-morrow night.
10 O'clock, P. M.—The expedition has not yet started, the delay being caused by the time required for storing the horses and cannon on the Adelaide.
The batteries on the Rip Raps have stopped throwing shells, and all is quiet.
The scene in the Roads, of the steam transports moving about, is most beautiful, presenting a panoramic view seldom witnessed.
ELEVEN O'CLOCK, P. M.—The vessels have not sailed. The Merrimac exhibits a bright light.
It is said that the Seminole will go up the James river in the course of the night.
* * * * * *
Norfolk and Portsmouth.
The blow has been struck, and Norfolk, Portsmouth and Gosport are in the possession of the Union troops. Norfolk is one of the most important ports in the State of Virginia. Its population before the war broke out was near 15,000. It is about 11 miles in a direct line from Fortress Monroe, and 106 miles by land from Richmond. Norfolk has always enjoyed a larger foreign commerce than any other port in the State. The harbor is one of the best in the Union, and vessels of the largest size come up to the wharves.
The Dismal Swamp Canal gives it communication with the South, connecting the Chesapeake Bay with Albemarle Sound. Norfolk is one of the oldest towns in Virginia, having been "established by law in October, 1705." It was burned by the British in 1776. As an entrepot for the commerce of the Chesapeake Bay, , and the rivers empty into it, Norfolk possess great advantages.
Since the secession of Virginia, the Rebels had made this city the depository of much of their military stores. They have boasted long and loud of its impregnability, but, like New Orleans, it has succumbed to the Union army, and the old flag once more waves over the ancient borough, "never again to be removed."
Portsmouth is the capital of Norfolk county, with a population of some nine thousand. The United States Government located and built at this point a first class Navy Yard, which contained a vast amount of naval stores when taken possession of by the Rebels. Over two thousand cannon, of the best manufacture and in good condition, were in the Yard at the time. The great supply thus obtained has furnished the Rebellion with guns for their fortifications all through the South, and as far West as the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers.
There were no less than ten United States vessels at this station when Commodore McCAULLEY made his futile attempt to destroy them and the Navy Yard. Portsmouth rest on the left bank of the Elizabeth river, and is opposite Norfolk. Gosport is a suburb of Portsmouth, and the United States Government had here an immense and costly dry dock, which has capacity for the largest ships.
OUR FORTRESS MONROE LETTER
Special Correspondence of the Inquirer.
FORTRESS MONROE, May 9.
The Monitor and Merrimac.
The Merrimac remained all last night in the position which she took yesterday afternoon after the close of the bombardment at Sewall's Point. This morning at 10 o'clock the Monitor was cleared for action, and moved slowly up the channel towards her antagonist. Spectators, as usual, hurried to the beach from all directions, and everybody except the faithless said, "now the fight will surely come off." Slowly the Monitor steamed away in the distance until she came within range of the Merrimac and Sewall's Point, when she opened with two shells which sped with quick certainty and burst upon the beach about a quarter of a mile beyond the Point. The Rebels did not reply.
Soon Fort Wool joined in the bombardment, and fired a series of splendid shots. The Merrimac kept her position, and did not accept this challenge to come out and fight the "cheese box." Neither did she fire a gun. The Monitor laid in an inviting position until one o'clock, when she returned and resumed her former location in the channel. The Merrimac did not follow her, and thus the spectators were convinced that the naval engagement was not est, at least to-day. During the bombardment a smoke was seen rising from the point, probably proceeding from a fire in the woods, caused by the incendiary shells thrown from Fort Wool. It continued for several hours, and the disappeared. At the same time another column of smoke arose beyond the point, in the direction of Norfolk, and continued all the afternoon.
* * * * * *
Merrimac Still Watching.
The Merrimac has kept a watchful eye on this point during the whole night, and this morning is seen sullenly lying in her old position off Craney Island. She doubtless considers that this is an important position for her present inspection. A great desire exists among the fleet that she should come down nearer, and not rely so much upon the position of the guns o Sewall's Point and Craney Island.
The Rebels have mounted a large gun on this side of Sewall's Point, but failed to do any damage in their firing last evening. The gallant Monitor has been eyeing her antagonist all the morning in the most complacent manner. At 1-1/4 o'clock P. M., the Merrimac moved further back towards Craney Island, a dense volume of smoke issuing from her stack. It is thought here that she has been aground all the morning, thus accounting for the long time she has been stationary.
Four o'clock P. M.—No change has taken place in the position of our fleet or the Merrimac. The sun is intensely not, the dust is almost suffocating, and there is but little sea-breeze.
May 13, 1862.
CAPTURE OF THE CITY OF NORFOLK, PORTSMOUTH AND
THE GOSPORT NAVY YARD.
ON BOARD STEAMER "GEO. WASHINGTON,"
Hampton Roads, May 9, 10 P. M.
The Little Germ from which Grew the Tree.
Very early in the morning on the 7th of May, 1862, the tug J. B. White escaped from Norfolk to Old Point, and brought the exciting intelligence that the Rebels had determined to evacuate Norfolk and the forts defending the approaches to that city. General WOOL, anxious to bring his great experience into play for the service of his country renewed his oft-repeated request to the President and Secretary STANTON to be permitted to move his Division upon Norfolk. Well knowing that it was composed of the best drilled troops in the army, he had no fears of failing in the execution of a well-matured plan of advance into the enemy's country
Lincoln, Stanton and Chase at Work.
Fortunately, the President and his two able and energetic Secretaries were at Old Point at the time stated, and determined to give the whole matter their special attention, thus relieving Gen. McCLELLAN of the necessity of being in immediate direction of the operations.
Eluding the Enemy's Attention.
As a portion of the grand plan, Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH was directed to make an attack upon Sewall's Point, and, if possible, draw out and capture the Merrimac. Out she came, but would not offer our vessels an opportunity to engage her, but lay at anchor in the mouth of the Elizabeth river, watching our movements. In order to confuse her officers as to our plan of attack, Gen. WOOL'S division was __rtially embarked last night, and the transports were moved mysteriously around the harbor, but no __ding was made, and early this morning the troops were disembarked and marched back to camp, much to the disappointment of the brave men.
So complete a secret were the real designs of the originator of the plan kept, that your correspondent in company with Brigade Surgeon R. K. BROWN and Dr. D. W. M. MAUL, Chief Surgeon of the First Regiment Delaware State Volunteers, selected a soft plank of the long wharf, and slept there during the night, with nothing for cover "save the canopy of Heaven," so sure was said scribbler that he would be left behind should he move away from the immediate vicinity of the transports.
The Real Embarkation.
During the morning of today the revenue steam cutter Miami left the naval station here, having on board the President, General WOOL, Secretary STANTON, Secretary CHASE and a number of naval, topographical engineering and staff officers, and proceeded to what appears to be the opposite shore from the point, formed by a beautiful body of water called Willoughby's Bay, into which empties Mason's creek and several smaller streams. The above mentioned distinguished committee made soundings in every direction, and in a couple of hours made a thorough reconnaissance of the surface of the land for some miles. An excellent channel was found, and a landing place selected and marked for the future landing of troops.
President LINCOLN was the first man to step on shore, and we are informed that he put his foot down firmly on the land. We believe the sequel will prove the assertion to be a correct one. The "Stars and Stripes" were planted, and the land occupied in the name of the powerful Government of the United States.
In order to evade the notice of the enemy, the Monitor moved up near the Merrimac, to try and coax her out into the Roads to fight, while Fort Wool opened upon the battery at Sewall's Point, although it was believed that that earthwork had been deserted the night before.
The New Order to Move.
About one o'clock to-day, an order was conveyed to the Colonels of the regiment to have their commands ready to move by five o'clock, with three days cooked rations served. Upon publishing this order to the troops their enthusiasm knew no bounds; they began to appreciate the movements of the previous night, and regard them as the forerunners of great events to occur and to be shaped by them in the immediate future.
The men marched from Camp Hamilton to the transports with alacrity, and at dark to-night, a fleet to ten large steamers were loaded, and with loaded barges in tow were anchored out in the harbor.
The principal steamboats were the George Washington, flag-ship, following the Lioness (which acted as pilot boat, and upon which were the staff officers and other distinguished persons, whose names it may not be wise to publish as yet), the steamers Adelaide, Nelly Baker, Nantucket, New Raven, New York, Rancocas, William Kent, and several other smaller steamers. All of these steamboats had barges in tow filled with troops and stores, and a host of small tugs followed in the wake of the steamboats with canal and flat-boats in tow. President LINCOLN, who was the busiest and hardest working man on the wharf during the embarkation, remarked that the appearance of so may canal-boats reminded him of his youth, when he was leading the happy life of a "jolly flat-boatman."
Besides having on board the well-disciplined First Delaware Volunteers, Colonel ANDREWS, the George Washington was selected as the flag-ship of Brigadier-General MAX WEBER and staff. General WEBER is beloved by his troops, and was everywhere received with tokens of respect and confidence on the part of the troops of his brigade.
The representatives of the Press were tendered the use of the cabin of the George Washington, in conjunction with General WEBER and staff, by her courteous commander, Captain INGRAM.
As we were leaving the wharf, Mr. LINCOLN asked, "Captain INGRAM, how much water does the George Washington draw?" "Ten feet, sir, loaded." "All right, then, go ahead," said our worthy and beloved President, in a firm tone.
SATURDAY, May 10—12-1/2, A. M.
The whole fleet is now steaming, with its precious freight of Union soldiers, to its destination. All is still, and the order has gone forth to every vessel, from Major-General WOOL, that no cheering or noise of any kind shall be made by the troops on landing. The night is clear and beautiful, and the moon and stars are shining brightly; indeed, every evidence of the blessing of Divine Providence is with the fleet thus far.
There the pilot boat has taken the lead, and the George Washington, with her consorts, are following, brigaded and in perfect line of battle. The signal for "all goes well" is swinging before us.
Sailing up Lynnhaven Bay.
About one o'clock the fleet rounded the Willoughby Spit Lightboat, and headed up Lynnhaven Bay, the scene of a Revolutionary naval battle, and about three o'clock we were abreast of Pleasure House Cove, where it was designed to make a land.
The First Troops Landed.
The first troops landed were the men of Captain DAVIS' Richardson Light Infantry, an independent company from Lowell's Massachusetts; so the old Bay State has the honor of having her sons first beached on the shores of Lynnhaven Bay, and the first in the advance upon Norfolk. The company was towed to the shore by a tug, and proceeded to scout around in the woods and fields on the shore.
This company was followed by the New York Twentieth, Col. WEISS, formerly commanded by Gen. MAX WEBER, and then followed the disembarkation of the other regiments composing the expedition.
The Work Commenced.
The troops, as they were landed, were at once sent out upon picket duty, and at 7 A. M., the Twentieth New York Rifles had advanced as far as the Half-way Cross Roads, about five miles from the place of debarkation.
On the March to Norfolk.
HALF-WAY CROSS ROADS, May 10, 8 A. M.
I have just arrived here with Brig.-Gen. MAX WEBER, who determined to advance rapidly, and had made up his mind to march on foot to his outpost and attend to the forward troops in person. The company is composed of the gallant General, Major the Baron HERRMAN, and your correspondent.
The Road to Norfolk.
The road is generally good, being raised about two feet above the level of the swampy thickets which abound on either side. It is obstructed by trees thrown across for the distance of a quarter of a mile, about two miles beyond the Ocean View Hotel, where we landed. Our pioneers are cutting a new road for the passage of the rest of the army.
Deserted Cavalry Camps.
About three miles from our landing place we observed the barracks of a Rebel cavalry company, constructed after the most approved fashion, and forming a real little town in itself. This was deserted, apparently, as sabres and other equipments were strewed around in great profusion.
Intended Battle Ground.
Here we are at Half-way Cross Roads, a small village, comprising a store, tavern, and a few dwelling houses. They have all been deserted, with the furniture left standing and the beds still warm. To the left is a fine level open field, skirted with woods on the left and south. In the woods on the left the enemy had his two howitzers posted last night, and his infantry and cavalry drawn up in line of battle, with the avowed intention of giving us a fight when we should advance, his scouts having given him notice of our approach. But with all this preparation the enemy's courage sank, and he is now falling back to Tanner's creek, the bridge over which he no doubt intends to burn. What a pity it is we have not our squadron of cavalry landed to make a dash at the Rebels and save the bridge. Here we have two roads, the one puts Norfolk but five miles from us, and the batteries to take; the other places the city eight miles away, with the enemy's entrenchments, five miles in length, to capture.
Affair at Tanner's Creek—the Bridge Burned.
Ah! here comes General MANSFIELD! A council of war is held between him and WEBER, and an advance upon the Tanner's creek bridge determined on with nothing but infantry—there being no artillery or cavalry up with out advance yet. A brave and trusty regiment is needed. It is here—the New York Twentieth, under command of Lieutenant-Colonel WEISS.
"General WEBER," said General MANSFIELD,"I will take these German riflemen of yours and try and save the bridge. Send on reinforcements as rapidly as possible."
"I will bring them myself, sir, instantly," returned General WEBER.
On we go for half a mile, where we find a Methodist meeting house, with the food of the Rebel cavalry lying around, quite fresh yet. The marble-top table at the altar has been used for the officers' mess with half a dozen handsome stuffed chairs around it. The Holy Bible lies upon the pulpit, the only article left undisturbed by the Rebels. I looked at it, and found it was opened at the account given of Absalom's treason.
Marching on two miles further, we could see the creek and the smoke rising from the burning bridge, but we may not yet be able to save it by pushing forward rapidly.
Arriving near by it was observed to be enveloped in flames, with the Rebels posted strongly on the opposite bank.
At precisely eleven o'clock they opened a fire upon us with a howitzer and rifled brass piece, but their shells exploded without doing the slightest harm to the Union troops. Seeing no possibility of taking the Rebel field battery except with artillery, a recall was sounded and our troops fell back to Half Way Cross Roads.
Two prisoners were taken in the woods by our troops. They said they belonged to the Fortieth Virginia Regiment, which formed the garrison for the works at Sewall's Point. These batteries, they said, had been evacuated, but they knew nothing of Norfolk, except that they had heard it was being evacuated.
Arrival of General Wool.
IN THE FIELD, SATURDAY NOON, May 10.
Major-General WOOL and Staff have arrived, accompanied by Secretary CHASE. Gen. WOOL has assumed command, and will move on Norfolk by the long road to the left, immediately. The Brigades of WEBER and MANSFIELD are now moving, with your weary correspondent and other "gentlemen of the Press: after them on foot. As many of the field and staff officers have not got their horses with them, we, of course, must walk.
It is very hot to-day. Water is very scarce. The troops drink every spring dry as it is found. Some of the noble fellows are so thirsty that they are compelled to drink the stagnant water from the swamps. One man has just fallen from sunstroke. Several surgeons are attending him, but it is feared he will not recover. Many are fainting and lying down in the roadside from sheer exhaustion.
TWO MILES FROM THE ENTRENCHED CAMP, 3 o'clock P. M.
A staff officer has just returned from the head of the column, and reports to the troops as he passes, "Boys, you can sleep in Norfolk to-night!"
Tired, dry, hungry and covered with dust, we give three cheers and rush on at a "double quick," the news giving us renewed energy.
The Great Entrenched Camp.
NORFOLK, May 10—5 P. M.
The great entrenched camp of the Rebels, commanding every approach to Norfolk, has been reached, and "Stars and Stripes" float over them. The works comprise five immense bastions, each a mile in length, made of sand, and backed by bales of cotton and bundles of small oak logs or saplings. Behind this is a stockade of live oak piles, backed at last by earth sodded with grass. It is far superior to the works at Yorktown.
In some places the works are casemated, and they are mounted with over one hundred 64 pounders. The guns were all spiked with nails, but these our men pulled out with their fingers in many instances, and they do no real harm to the pieces. Many of the guns are superior siege-pieces, of English manufacture.
The honor of first entering the enemy's entrenchments belongs to the First Battalion of Mounted Rifles, from New York, known as General WOOL'S Body Guard and commanded by Major DODGE, a gallant and accomplished officer.
Next to the Mounted Rifles came the gallant New York Twentieth, German Rifles. As this regiment was marching on to Norfolk, after the battle of Tanner's Creek, Secretary CHASE asked the officer in command the name of the regiment. After this he rode up to the front of the Twentieth with General WOOL to observe their condition, and turning to General WOOL he inquired, "Who commands that Regiment, Sir?" "It is under command of Lieutenant-Colonel WEISS," returned the Commanding General. "No sir," said Mr. CHASE, "he is a Colonel now—Colonel WEISS, if you please, General."
Approaching the City.
As we approached the city, only two white men came out to meet us—they were in a buggy, which they had hired for the occasion, and they seemed from their language and actions, to be the strongest kind of Union men. They offered to take us "on behind," but we preferred walking ahead leisurely and seeing the sights.
The Surrender of the City.
About half-past three o'clock we had arrived at the limit of the eastern suburb and observed a white flag flying from the portico of a deserted frame dwelling, with some miserable looking blacks standing in front of the door. Gen. WOOL immediately dispatched an Orderly to find out what was desired by those over whom the flag of truce was floating. The Orderly returned in a few moments (during which the Division halted in the road,) and reported that the Mayor of Norfolk was at the house under a flag of truce, and desired "a few minutes' parley with the Commander of the United States forces, for the purpose of surrendering the city according to the usages of modern warfare, as directed by Major-General HUGER, C. S. A., Commanding the Department of Norfolk, and the Select and Common Councils of the city."
Major-General WOOL and staff, accompanied by Secretary CHASE and Generals WEBER and MANSFIELD, approached the house in a quiet manner. There was no ostentation whatever, but, like veteran chieftains, as they are, they passed up to the house and dismounted, where they were cordially received by Mayor W. W. LAMB, and a Committee of two members of the Select Council and three members of the Common Council.
After the distinguished Party had sat down and taken a glass of cool spring water, Mayor LAMB arose and stated the purpose of and authority for the meeting. He presented a communication from Gen. HUGER, in which that well-known Rebel officer stated that the city was delivered over to the charge of his honor; that the troops would evacuate immediately; that the bearer would give the keys of the Custom House, Post Office and Jail to Mr. LAMB, and that it would be advisable to surrender the city to the Union forces then advancing and within five miles of the entrenched camps.
The Mayor then said that he would lay aside all political feeling in the matter, and then and there surrender the city to the United States Government in this formal manner, as directed by the Common Councils. He assured General WOOL that no opposition whatever would be made to his thorough occupation of the city by the Federal troops, however humiliating a matter it might apparently be to the many citizens of the town who had espoused the cause of the Confederate States.
He had been directed to show to the General commanding, or any one of his Aids, the strong positions and places of importance.
In conclusion, he would demand of the General, as a right, that the lives, property and legitimate business of the citizens should be protected—that law and order should be restored, and that peace and quiet should be vouchsafed to any and every person.
General WOOL accepted the terms in a general way, and stated that it was not the desire of the Government to punish any of her erring or misguided citizens who should lay down their arms and return to their allegiance, nor those who were unprotected and following the ordinary pursuits of life, but to crush the Rebellion in a decided and honorable manner. The Union troops, in taking possession of the city, would afford every protection and privilege possible that did not interfere with martial law, and the Constitution and Laws of the United States.
Entering the City Proper.
The Mayor, General WOOL and staff, Mr. CHASE and the Committee of Councils then entered carriages, and entered the city of Norfolk, passing along Church street to the City Hall, accompanied only by Major DODGE'S magnificent squadron of mounted riflemen as an escort of honor.
First "Yankees" in the City.
Several newspaper correspondents became exhausted with the march, and failed to connect at the out end of Church street; and, as a fact due to the no little perseverance exhibited, I may be excused, when I publish the truth, in saying that the first men who entered the city of Norfolk, half a mile in advance of General WOOL'S body-guard were two young newspaper "Specials"one connected with a New York illustrated paper, and the other one of the Fortress Monroe correspondents of THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER.
"How we were Received."
As we entered, the soldiers of Gen. MAX WEBER'S regiment, the Twentieth New York, now commanded by Col. WEISS, struck up the song "Glory, Hallelujah!" and the verse commencing, "We'll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree," was given with spirit, resounding far over among the meadows and woodlands, and must have reached the ears of the citizens of Norfolk. The band of the regiment then played the "Star Spangled Banner," and the regiment halted while Gen. WOOL and his body-guard proceeded to the City Hall.
Very few of the people expressed any kindly feelings towards us. The women and children were terrified at our appearance, and the men greatly surprised. The latter gathered in crowds upon the street corners, and were mostly quiet and well-behaved, but here and there a growl or two was heard. It became evident very soon that the worst "fire-eaters" and the reptiles who were left, were weak rather from fear of punishment than from real sympathy with the Confederates.
One man, with about as much education as a Southerner of the middle class of society usually has, came running up to the van, composed as aforesaid, of two half famished reporters, and asked in a loud voice:—"Is them d__d Yankees a-comin; is we 'bagged' or is we not." We informed him that we were glad to see him, as he was the first outspoken Rebel that we had seen, and that if he would wait and remain quiet for quarter of an hour, he would see so many Yankees that he could not count them.
At the City Hall.
When we arrived at the Town Hall the crowd had swelled to about five thousand; and it was a motley one, indeed, as there were men, women, children, "big niggers" and little one, male and female. The whole town seemed to have turned out to meet us. The crowd was kept back personally by the Mayor.
General WOOL, and the other officers previously mentioned, entered a retiring room on the second floor, for the purpose of arranging the establishment of a liberal system of martial law, and subsequently issued the following:—
The Order of Occupancy.
HEAD-QUARTERS, DEPARTM'T OF VIRGINIA, NORFOLK, May 10, 1862.
The City of Norfolk having been surrendered to the Government of the United States, the military possession of the same is taken in behalf of the National Government by Major-General JOHN E. WOOL.
Brigadier-General EGBERT L. VIELE is appointed Military Governor for the time being, and he will see that all citizens are carefully protected in all their rights and civil privileges, taking the utmost___________ order, and see that no soldier be ______________ the city except by his order, or by _________________ of the commanding officer of his _________________, and he will punish, summarily, _______________ soldier who shall trespass upon the __________ of the inhabitants.
Departure of Gen. Wool.
After these arrangements had been completed, General WOOL entered a carriage, and proceeded to the outskirts of the city; taking his horse there, and riding along rapidly, he reached Ocean View, on Lynnhaven Bay, about six o'clock. He departed for Fortress Monroe at once, and arrived there late at night, waking up the President and Secretary of War to give them the news. President LINCOLN describes this scene as truly comical. There stood the President, with hair looking like a crow's nest on an intelligent looking stump; in a moment Mr. STANTON entered in a long white night robe, and matters came to the climactic point when STANTON embraced the old General—the one in a night robe, and the other in his dusty regiments. The reader may imagine the effect of such a sight upon an audience of a thousand Americans.
A Speech to the People.
The crowd around the City Hall now became very dense, and somewhat boisterous, and Mayor LAMB proceeded to make a speech from the door-step. He told the people what he had done for them, and said that he hoped they would take everything in good heart, and retire quietly and peaceably to their homes, and submit willingly to the new Government now about to be established. The Mayor was cheered quite lustily at the close of his remarks, which were brief, but well selected. During the delivery of the address, General VIELE came to the window, and looked in his stern but kind manner upon the crowd, when some rough fellow fired a pistol, apparently aimed at him. The man turned out to be one of Mayor LAMB's Day Police. He came up and apologized to General VIELE soon after, and said he did not mean any insult or harm by what he had done.
He was released by General VIELE, and tendered some good advice for his future welfare.
The City Patrolmen.
The Mounted Rifles, Major DODGE, were ordered to patrol the city on the night of the entrance of the National troops, and it is needless to say that every duty incumbent upon these men was handsomely performed.
Upon taking a long walk around the city, your correspondent found it like a city where an epidemic is raging, as it was here some years ago. The stores were mostly closed; the moon was shining brightly, lending a sort of ghostly appearance to distant objects in the streets.
Supper at the Atlantic
NORFOLK, Saturday, May 10—7 P. M.
We stopped at the Atlantic Hotel to-night and engaged rooms. We have just had supper, and the landlord excused himself for having so scanty a meal by saying that nothing was to be bought in the way of food, and as his guests had come down to the small number of six at dinner, he had just concluded to shut up shop, but as he presumed the Union troops had brought plenty of money with them, he would keep open house for a while yet. We called for a cup of tea, and were presented with a reddish-looking decoction of weeds; we called for coffee, and they gave us rye.
General VIELE has just issued the following stirring proclamation to the people of Norfolk and Portsmouth:—
NORFOLK, VA, May 10, 1862.
The occupancy of the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth by the military authorities is for the protection of the public property and maintenance of the public laws of the United States; but violations of order, and disrespect to the Government will be followed by the immediate arrest of the offenders. Those who have left their homes under the anticipation of any acts of vandalism may be assured that the Government allows no man the honor of serving in its armies who forgets the duties of a citizen in discharging those of a soldier, and that no individual rights will be interfered with.
The sale of liquor is prohibited.
The office of the Military Governor and of the Provost Marshal are at the Custom House.
EGBERT L. VIELE, Brigadier-General, United States Army, and Military Governor.
Destruction of the Gosport Navy Yard.
The barbarous and wanton Rebels on the other side of the river have just learned that the city is occupied by Federal troops, and they are already applying the torch to everything that will burn at the Gosport Navy Yard. Now, at eight A. M., I can plainly see the entire Yard in flames, which leap madly upward as if fanned by the cowardly Rebels behind as they fly before the advance of the Union armies. The ship house, machine shop, carpenter shop and barracks, with the officers' quarters, are all in flames and will be totally destroyed.
The steamers William Selden, Cayuaga and Pilot Boy are burning in the stream, off the Navy Yard, as are a large number of schooners and canal boats. They have now just set fire to a canal boat, which is running down the stream with the tide, but has her rudder so strapped up that she is heading in for the shore. There, she strikes the main street wharf, but the fire engines are on the ground, and the flames do not communicate. The citizens have scuttled her, and she will sink somewhere below.
Occupation of Portsmouth.
PORTSMOUTH FERRY BOAT, May 10—8 P. M.
Colonel POWELL T. WYMAN has just arrived on the wharf with the Sixteenth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers. He has been ordered to occupy Portsmouth immediately. We have secured one small ferry boat, upon which about two hundred men can stand at a time, and the advance is a hazardous one, but Colonel WYMAN and his men came down here to fight, and they will go over at any risk.
By this time the Tenth New York, Col. BENDIX, has arrived in town and will be placed on duty as a provost guard for the night, and as other troops will arrive soon the Sixteenth Massachusetts can be easily spared for the night. The regiment is now passing over—they arrive at the wharf across the river. They are apparently welcomed by the citizens and march quietly into the town. Portsmouth is ours, and Massachusetts hath done it!
MIDNIGHT—SATURDAY.—All is quiet now. The fire across the river has gone down very much. The dry dock is safe. Col. POWELL has just occupied the immense Marine Hospital across from the city, and the American flag will be raised over it early in the morning.
Fort Norfolk Deserted.
Fort Norfolk was found abandoned, with the guns in place and untouched. It is just below the city, and is now occupied by a portion of the New York Tenth Regiment.
I will now take the first real sleep I have had for seventy-two hours.
Terrible Explosion—Merrimac Blown Up.
The city was shaken to its very foundations, this morning, by a terrific explosion in the direction of Sewall's Point. Secessionists here believe that the Merrimac has been blown up. They say that she was under the command of TATNALL to the last, but that some of her crew revolted, and that several of the men refused to work the ship in an attack upon the Federal vessels. These were put in irons and punished cruelly. Commodore TATNALL had been ordered up the York river, but he refused to go up, and sent in his resignation. He was then sent up the James river, with positive orders that he was to blow up the ship if she got trapped in any way by Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH. TATNALL was always afraid of the Monitor. He didn't like her looks at all. The more we know of her the better we like her.
Arrival of the Federal Fleet.
At nine o'clock this morning we witnessed a magnificent sight. The entire fleet from Hampton Roads entering the Norfolk Harbor, in line of battle, under steam.
The Monitor and E. A. Stevens came in a good way ahead. The former excited a great deal of attention among the people, while the latter has been always called, by the people here, the Non Such, for some reason.
The steam sloop-of-war Seminole came up soon after, followed by the Susquehanna, Dacotah, the Monticello, and the San Jacinto, but the latter vessel got "stuck" upon the piles driven into the river for obstructing it; fortunately she got off at high water, about noon.
Arrival of the President.
Soon after the fleet entered, the steamer Baltimore, the vessel known here as the "Merrimac Jumper," arrived up opposite the city. She had Mr. LINCOLN, Mr. STANTON, Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH, Gen. WOOL, and a number of other distinguished gentlemen on board. General WOOL landed, but the eminent statesmen remained on board. Commodore GOLDSBOROUGH set his flag upon the Susquehanna, and made her his flag-ship temporarily. The President was overjoyed at our success, and thought that what he had seen amply repaid him for his trouble.
First Steamboat at the Wharf.
The steamboat George Washington, Captain INGRAM, of Philadelphia, having been the first boat that landed troops at Lynnhaven Bay, was the first alongside the dock at Norfolk.
The Telegraph and Mails.
The Rebels have cut the telegraph wires from here to the South, and they have taken all the rolling stock of the Petersburg Railroad away down South to Dixie's Land.
Craney Island—Pig's Point.
These batteries were both found deserted this morning, with the Rebel rag nailed to the pole on top. They have been evacuated several days, evidently. Pig's Point mounts seven guns and Craney Island fifty. It is a fine fortification.
Lambert's Point—Sewall's Point.
These are fine batteries, thrown up for the defence of the city by attack from the Roads. The First Lieutenant commanding the garrison of the Lambert's Point work came into General VIELE, this morning and surrendered himself and his whole command, consisting of 150 men.
On Boust's Point there is a beautiful little battery of which the Rebels were justly proud. It mounted seven heavy guns, and was found abandoned.
Raising the First Flag.
This morning, about 10 o'clock, the American colors, belonging to the Tenth New York State Militia, were raised above the CUSTOM HOUSE, now the Head-quarters of General VIELE, by one of the Zouaves belonging to the Tenth. A large number of officers and citizens were present. As the flag was waved, Major DODGE said, in a loud voice, to the men who were drawn up in line, "Soldiers, a rousing three time three for our glorious old "Stars and Stripes."
The Union Feeling.
Among the people here has not had a chance to show itself. A large number of persons have come to me and asked if I thought the occupation would be a permanent one, for if so, they would declare themselves.
God Bless the Ladies.
The Union feeling is very strong in Portsmouth, always noted for its beautiful and accomplished ladies; and it seems to me their beauty is heightened by their Union sentiments. Early this morning little American flags were flying in every direction.
News from Richmond.
A young lady friend, of Portsmouth, informs me that the Rebels intend to fall back to the South from Richmond, and that many of the soldiers look upon the war as useless. The Galena is said to be aground off Sandy Point, in the James river, and the other two gun-boats, Port Royal and Aroostook, are trying to get her off. The Rebels have found out that she is an iron-clad sloop, and they are very much afraid of her.
This morning, as soon as General VIELE was seated in the chair occupied by General HUGER yesterday, a servant was ushered in by an orderly, and present him with two beautiful bouquets of fresh and fragrant flowers and roses. Among them were rare specimens of the calycanthus. One of these was presented by the ladies of Norfolk, and the other by the ladies of Portsmouth.
Importance of the Capture.
It would be wrong in us to speak of Norfolk as a strategical place at present. But we may be permitted to say that its fine harbor will be an excellent naval and commercial station for us.
We have captured a fine city, nearly five hundred guns, five forts, and an immense entrenched barracks, large enough to accommodate five thousand men. Two cavalry barracks, suitable for a squadron each, and many minor captures have been made.
Provost Marshal of Norfolk.
Captain PHINEAS A. DAVIS has been appointed Provost Marshal of the city. Captain DAVIS was in the same position at Fortress Monroe for six months or more, and he was generally a great favorite, and as a Marshal rendered the most perfect satisfaction to all. The selection is an excellent one.
The First Delaware.
Volunteers will probably be selected to do provost guard duty in the city. This fine, quiet regiment is a great favorite.
Provost Guard at Work.
The provost guard yesterday discovered and took possession of two hundred and fifty muskets and a large amount of ammunition. They were found in a large factory, the doors of which were locked and had to be forced open.
The Rebels Steal Horses.
The Rebels that were here must have been cousins, german to General FLOYD, for when we arrived here there was not a horse to be hired at any price, and the citizens informed us that the Rebels took the horses out of private vehicles, and mounting them, rode away to the ferry.
Sweet Mementoes of the Past.
General HUGER left Norfolk in such a hurry yesterday, that he left his file of unpaid bills at Head-quarters. There are a large number of them, and I am bringing some of them up as curiosities.
NORFOLK, VA, May 11—4 P. M.
All is quiet now, and "nobody's hurt."
Official Report of General Wool.
WASHINGTON, May 12.—The following was received at the War Department to-day:—
FORTRESS MONROE, May 12, 1862.—To Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War:—On the 9th of May (Friday afternoon) I organized a force to march against Norfolk. On the 10th of May (Saturday morning) the troops were landed under the direction of Col. CRANE at Ocean New, and commenced to march towards MANSFIELD and WEBER, who proceeded on the direct route by way of Tanner's creek bridge, but finding it on fire, they returned to the Cross Roads, where I joined them and took the direction of the column. I arrived by the old road, and entered the entrenchments in front of the city at twenty minutes before 5 P. M.
I immediately proceeded towards Norfolk, accompanied by the Hon. Secretary CHASE, and met the Mayor and a select Committee of the Common Council of Norfolk at the limits of the city, agreeably to the terms set forth in the resolutions of the Common Council, presented by the Mayor, W. W. LAMB, which were accepted by me, so far as related to the civil rights of the citizens. A copy of the resolutions have been already furnished you. I immediately took possession of the city, and appointed Brigadier-General EGBERT NEIL Military Governor of Norfolk, with directions to see that all the citizens were protected in all their civil rights. Soon after, I took possession of Gosport and Portsmouth.
The taking of Norfolk caused the destruction of the iron-clad steamer Merrimac, which was blown up by the Rebels about five o'clock on the morning of the 11th of May, which fact was soon after communicated to you and the President of the United States.
On the 11th I visited the Navy Yard, and found all the workshops, storehouses and other buildings, in ruins, having been set on fire by the Rebels, who at the same time, partially blew up the Dry Dock.
I also noted at Craney Island thirty-nine guns of large caliber, most of which were spiked; also, a large number of shot and shell, with about 5000 pounds of powder, all of which, with the buildings were in good order.
As far as I have been able to ascertain, we have taken about two hundred cannon, including three at the Sewall's Point batteries, with a large number of shot and shell, as well as many other articles of value stationed at the Navy Yard, Craney Island, Sewall's Point, and other places.
JOHN E. WOOL, Major-General Commanding.
TUESDAY, MAY 13, 1862
Annihilation of the Rebel Navy.
In no particular did the Rebels exhibit more spirit than in their attempt to construct a navy of gun-boats and iron-clad rams to enable them to compete with or destroy our invaluable auxiliaries of the naval arm. For a short while their activity and enterprise threatened us with serious disaster, but, thanks—immortal thanks—to the brave spirits of our navy, officers and men, the menaced danger has almost ceased to exist. Eleven of their vessels, including the "HOLLINS Turtle," were destroyed by FARRAGUT in his progress up the Mississippi; and after his passage, three or four more, including the much vaunted iron-clad battery Louisiana, and the equally formidable, though unfinished, Mississippi, were also destroyed. At Norfolk the truly powerful Merrimac with several gun-boats on the stocks, are also among the things that were; and although the capture of the Yorktown and Jamestown exists yet only in rumor, the event is certain. On the Mississippi, near Fort Wright, the gallant Davis has exploded the boilers of one of the Rebel fleet at that place, burned another to the water's edge, and sunk the iron-clad ram, The Mallory, with all on board. The rest of the Rebel squadron took refuge under the guns of Fort Wright, and this little remnant—which is blockaded both above and below, and must be captured with the fall of the Fort—is all that is left of the entire navy of Secessia, which but a few weeks ago was a threatening danger of the most formidable kind. Eternal honor to the noble sailors of the navy of the United States!
* * * * * *
OUR FORTRESS MONROE LETTER.
Special Correspondence of the Inquirer.
FORTRESS MONROE, May 11.
Norfolk in our Possession.
The expedition, under the direction of General WOOL, which left here yesterday morning, effected a safe landing at Mount Pleasant Point, and immediately commenced the march upon Norfolk. They met with no opposition, Sewall's Point having been evacuated the day before, and the Rebel forces being in full retreat. Two of the enemy's pickets, who were asleep near the shore where the landing was effected, were taken prisoners and brought to the Fortress yesterday evening. Gen. MAX WEBER now occupies the enemy's entrenched camp, a few miles this side of Norfolk, in which were found twenty-nine cannon. Gen. WOOL and Staff rode through the streets of Norfolk at four o'clock yesterday afternoon. The Stars and Stripes were hoisted over the Court House, and a decided Union feeling was prevalent. The Rebels burned the two large ship-houses in the Navy Yard. It was the right of this conflagration which was the object of so much interest and speculation at this point night before last. It is believed here that they were afraid to burn the city, on account of an agreement with the French Minister to the contrary. The same arrangement exists in regard to Richmond, on account of the French residents and property holders in that city. For the same reason, they did not burn New Orleans.
Return of General Wool and Staff.
Last night General WOOL and staff returned from their successful expedition, and immediately informed the President of their good fortune, and the quiet occupation of the late Rebel rendezvous. Gen. MANSFIELD also returned, and sent off reinforcements last night to the expedition. This morning large quantities of supplies are being shipped from the Long Wharf for our troops at Norfolk. Everything is progressing in the most favorable manner for the speedy end of the war. General BURNSIDE will soon make his advent into Norfolk.
Blowing Up of the "Merrimac."
You can little imagine the surprise and gratification evinced by the population of Old Point, this morning, when it was announced that the Merrimac had disappeared in a most summary and unostentations manner. From the engineer on board one of our picket boats, which are always stationed in the Roads at night, beyond the Monitor, to keep a watch for the coming of the Merrimac. I have learned the following particulars in regard to her last moments;—
She remained all night in her old position this side of Craney Island and in the channel, watching the movements of troops at this point, and also an opportunity to escape either up James river or out to sea. At 4-1/4 o'clock this morning my informant thought he saw an unusual light in the direction of the Merrimac, and upon closely inspecting it with his glass, he concluded that she was non fire. Her crew had doubtless been apprised of the evacuation of Norfolk and its possession by our troops, and finding no way of escape, they concluded to dig the "last ditch" for their favorite. The fire continued to burn slowly, sometimes streaming from her portholes and at others belching from her smoke-stack. It soon seemed to glare all over as if her iron-plating had become entirely heated through, and at five o'clock her smoke-stack fell with a dull crash, sending up a column of sparks and jetting flame. Anxiously the spectators awaited the explosion, and from the fact that the fire continued so long, it was thought there could not be much powder aboard. At fifteen minutes past five, her black-hull was lifted up as it were by some giant hand; a huge volume of flame and fireworks, rivaling the skill of a pyrotechnist, filled the air, and a dull report coming across the water told us that the Merrimac, which had caused such wonder in the Old World, and anxiety in this, had ingloriously sunk amid the scenes of her former conflict. Thus has the great question, which is the best vessel, the Monitor or Merrimac, been left unsettled, and the prestige which our navy might have gained by the capture of the Rebel iron-clad has been lost beyond recovery. While every one feels relieved that the Merrimac is not coming, still, a general desire has always existed that she should have been either captured or sunk by our fleet. Immediately upon the decease of the Merrimac our fleet steamed up the channel, and entered the Elizabeth river, the Monitor leading the van. The citizens of Norfolk will now have an excellent opportunity to inspect the "Cheese-box." Whether the crew of the Merrimac made a successful escape to the enemy's lines, is not yet known. Never again shall I hear a small contraband exclaim, as the signal-gun is fired, "run mudder, run, take in yer close line, de Merrimac is cumin!"
President Lincoln Visits the Merrimac's Grave.
This morning, immediately after breakfast, President LINCOLN, Secretaries CHASE and STANTON, Com. GOLDSBOROUGH, Gen. WOOL and Staff, went on board the steamer Richmond, to visit the spot where the Merrimac went down. The President seemed unusually pleased at the result of the late expedition and the demise of the Merrimac. He has devoted his attention for the last four days exclusively to the military operations in this department. It was under his personal inspection that the soundings were taken previous to the landing of the Norfolk expedition. Upon the return of the boat which was devoted to that purpose, the President went around to the various transports, and inquired of their captains the draught of water of each boat.
The Richmond, after visiting the channel opposite Craney Island, and affording the party on board an opportunity to inspect a place which is to be one of the most memorable in American history, will convey the Presidential party to Washington.
The visits of the President has been productive of great events, and proved him highly competent to be not only a President, but Commander-in-Chief.
DESTRUCTION OF THE MERRIMAC.
The Advance of the Navy—The Rebel Batteries.
FORTRESS MONROE, May 11.—At four o'clock this morning, a bright light was observed from Fortress Monroe, in the direction of Craney Island, which was supposed at first to be a signal of some description from the steamer Merrimac.
Precisely at half-past four o'clock an explosion took place, which made the earth and water tremble for miles around.
In the midst of the bright flames which shot up through the distant blaze, the timbers and iron of a monster steamer could be seen flying through the air, and no doubt was entertained that the veritable Merrimac had ceased to exist.
Flag-Officer GOLDSBOROUGH, on receiving this report, ordered two armed naval tugs, the Zouave and Dragon, to proceed towards Craney Island to make a reconnaissance, and ascertain the truth of the rumor.
Immediately after they had turned the Point, the Monitor and F. A. Stevens steamed up in the same direction, followed by the San Jacinto, Susquehanna, Mount Vernon, Seminole and Dacotah.
It was a most beautiful sight, and attracted throngs of spectators along the whole line of Old Point. Some were disposed to discredit the announcement that the Merrimac had been destroyed, and as they passed up toward Craney Island the excitement became intense.
In the meantime two tug-boats were seen coming in toward Fortress Monroe, at full speed, each apparently endeavoring to outrun the other, and when nearing the wharf the radiant countenance of Captain CASE, of the Minnesota, gave assurance that the news they brought was of the most gratifying character.
The report was true. He had met parts of the floating wreck, and all the earthworks of the enemy appeared to be abandoned, though the Rebel flag was still flying.
Lieut. SELFRIDGE, from the Dragon, had landed with an armed crew, and taken down the Rebel flag substituting the Stars and Stripes, amid the heavy cheering of the crew.
Capt. CASE immediately reported the fact to the President and the Secretary of War, who received the confirmation of the report of the picket boats with great satisfaction. At the request of the President, Capt. CASE immediately proceeded to Craney Island, to ascertain if the works were evacuated in the company with the fleet, which was then advancing.
They were soon on the way, and in a short time overtook and passed all the vessels of war that had started in advance of us, except the Monitor and Naugatuck, which were running ahead on their way to Norfolk, having passed by Sewall's Point and Craney Island.
As we neared Craney Island, we found this immense fortress apparently abandoned, though three Rebel flags were floating from very tall flag-staffs at different parts of the works.
Capt. CHASE, when within half a mile of the shore, ordered a shot to be fired, to test the fact of the evacuation. The only signs of life that the shell produced, was the appearance of two negro men on the shore.
A boat was immediately ordered off, and through the courtesy of the commander, I participated in the honor of lowering the Rebel emblem and substituting the pride of the American in its place.
Commander CASE was the first loyal man that pressed his foot on the soil of this treasonable stronghold. Without a thought of torpedo or infernal machines, the gallant commander rushed to the flag-staff, and the halyards being in good order, the old flag was given to the breeze.
The forts on the Island are in four or five separate sections, constructed with the best engineering skill, and of most admirable workmanship.
They were left in admirable condition, as were also the extensive barracks, which has accommodated, during the winter, a garrison of over two thousand men.
There were supplies of ammunition in the __ near each of the forty heavy guns mounted in different parts of the works.
On the main fort of the Island commanding her approaches to the river channel the works were casemated.
Nine of these casemates were finished, in each of which were 9 or 10-inch guns, principally Dahlgrens and the work of erecting five more was in progress at the time of the evacuation, in one of which a gun was mounted.
The fort at the head of the Island, called the Citadel, was not casemated, but mounted with five heavy guns.
The whole number of guns mounted was thirty-nine, of which two were Parrotts and a number of rifled Dahlgrens. Also, about six guns in the works that had not yet been mounted. None of them had been removed.
After spending an hour on the Island, we proceeded towards Norfolk.
Immediately at the upper part of the Island was found a mass of blackened wreck, floating on the water, some of it proceeding from the sunken portions of vessels.
We had also passed large quantities of floating timber on our way up, all of which had been torn and reduced to splinters.
From the men found on the Island, we ascertained that the Merrimac had laid, during Saturday, at a point nearly a mile below the position at which the fragments were observed. During the night, however, she had been brought back from shore.
Her officers and crew were landed on the Island, and a slow match applied to her magazine.
She was reduced to a wreck by the time the crew were out of reach of the falling fragments.
The negroes state that the officers and crew passed through the adjoining county, on the main land about eight o'clock in the morning, to the number of over two hundred. They said they were on their way to Norfolk.
On the line of the river leading from Craney Island to Norfolk there are not less than six heavy earthworks, mounting in all about sixty-nine cannon, all which are still in position, except those which were near the naval hospital. These are said to have been taken to Richmond during the past week. On the opposite bank of the river is another battery, with two or three other small works, before you reach old Fort Norfolk on one side of the river and the naval asylum batteries on the other.
On all these works, including that of Sewall's Point, the Rebel flag had been lowered by the fleet and the American substituted. In addition to the amount of ammunition left in the battery sheds, the magazines, of which there were a great number, were left well filled. The amount of powder in the magazines is estimated at five thousand pounds, and the fixed ammunition could be enumerated by the cargo. After cruising about for some time among the fleet, we landed at the wharf and took a stroll through the city.
It being Sunday, of course all places of business were closed, and the city presented a most quiet aspect. The wharves were crowded with blacks, male and female, and a goodly number of working people, with their wives and children, were strolling about. Soldiers were stationed on the wharves and picketed through the city, whilst the flag of the Union floated in triumph from the cupola of the Custom House. This flag, by the way, is the regimental flag of the Tenth New York Regiment.
The houses through the city were generally closed, especially most of those of the wealthier classes. Some of the females on the street scowled at the horrible Yankees, and some almost attempted to spit on them. But there was a subdued quiet among the middling classes, which their countenances implied to mean a desire to watch and wait for further developments. The Secessionists talked boldly of the Southern Confederacy, and declared their determination to receive Confederate money, and would have nothing to do with the Lincoln shinplasters. They were full of confidence that in twenty days Norfolk would be repossessed and the Yankees driven out.
The President laid off in the steamer Baltimore for about an hour in front of the city, and then steamed back to the Fortress. Secretary CHASE returned with him, whilst Secretary STANTON remained until a late hour, for consultation with the Military Governors, Gen. VIELE and Gen. WOOL.
June 26, 1862.
A TRIP TO NORFOLK.
A correspondent of the New York Times, writing from a Union vessel on York river, May 14th, has something to say about Sewall's Point battery, the wreck of the Merrimac, the obstructions near Norfolk, and the feeling in that city:
About noon yesterday we got on board of one of the little busybodies puffing about the roadstead, in company with the accomplished Col. Cram, Chief of the Topographical Engineer Corps of this Department. By the aid of a fine map prepared in the Colonel's bureau from his reconnaissance and other sources, and thanks to his kind explanations, we got a fine view of all the interesting points on the way up from the fortress to Norfolk.
Sewall's Point battery looks very formidable even at the distance we were off. In front of the dense woods which girt the shores of these waters, and at the very edge of the narrow strip of sand beach the sodded embankments stretch around a considerable area, containing extensive barracks; a deep ditch seemed to extend around the three land sides, and a row of palisades is visible at the foot of the embankment fronting the ditch. The work, I understand, mounted from thirty to forty guns. Our good old flag waved over it, and one of our sentries paced the once dreaded ramparts, to all appearances enjoying the warm sunshine and quietness all around, in a very complacent frame of mind.
There are a couple of smaller batteries, from six to nine guns each, on that side of the shore between Sewall's Point and Tanner's Point, and opposite to the latter is Craney Island, on which there are extensive fortifications evidently of very considerable strength.
About in a direct line from Tanner's Point to Craney Island, and, as near as I could guess, a third of the whole distance off Tanner's Point, we met a pile of iron work and charred and broken timbers sticking out of the water, these remnants of a fearful destructive catastrophe strangely contrasting with the placid sheet of water on which lay the soft, broad sunshine. The pieces of heavy timber fast in the bottom with their lower ends, as if driven in by a powerful pile-driver; the wood partially charred, and possessing that peculiar smell of wood not long since burnt; the end of a steam-boiler of the largest size, with its safety-valves, steam-pipes, and other portions of heavy machinery; and stretched across the wreck parts of a powerful chain cable, and a piece of hawser—this is all that remains of the Merrimac, or the Virginia, as the rebels very inappropriately called that anything but feminine monster, intended to be the terror of all our fleets and harbors, now here at the very gates of rebel-dom, which we broke through but lately, a symbol of the ruin and destruction which the insane course of a once free and happy and but too much favored portion of the people have wantonly brought down on themselves.
We jumped on the end of the boiler, which at low tide is a few inches above water, and wrenched off screw nuts and took other pieces of the wreck as mementos along. One of the gentlemen of our party got off the complete piston, piston rod, and top plate of one of the four safety valves, and the piece is now under way to Washington to be presented to the President.
The boiler consists of two semi-cylindrical parts, both together forming a cylinder, the central fireplace having a radius of about four feet, and the water space extending about two feet further, so as to make the whole diameter twelve feet. There are two valve boxes to each of the semi-cylindric portions of the boiler, the piston of each having about eight inches diameter. Some of the parts of the machinery, for instance some of the weighted levers for the valves, are twisted like wire, and from all it is evident that nothing but the most terrific explosion could have produced such a destruction.
As we neared Norfolk we passed through the narrow space left open by the rebels in a long row of piles which they had driven across the channel. This point is commanded from the sides by batteries on both shores, and in front by the old fort at Norfolk. Immediately behind this opening the hulk of the old Germantown is at anchor, which the rebels intended to swing across the opening and sink there, so as to block up the entrance to Norfolk if ever our vessels should attempt to force their way up to the latter place.
The defenses against an approach by water from Sewall's Point up to Norfolk, are indeed skillfully planned, and of a character which makes one wonder that so much time, labor and money should have been spent to so very little purpose.
We staid too short a time in Norfolk to be able to form an opinion of the sentiment and disposition of the people there. The deserted streets, however, hardly half a dozen people to be met with in any one square—the great number of houses apparently locked up and empty, and the silent reserve of what few people you meet, seemed to confirm, even in regard to Norfolk, said to contain a considerable Union loving population, which I believe to be true in regard to the States now in rebellion against the Government, to wit: that they can only be loyalized by breaking down not merely the political power of slavery, but slavery itself, by means of offering to the free labor men of the North such inducements as will produce a powerful emigration into every Southern State. I stepped into the office of the Day Book, that most venomous and fanatical rebel print. A tall, thin man with an ill-favored look, and as it seemed in anything but a pleasant mood, was busy at the counter assorting a big pile of paper money, although I dare say there was more paper than money about it, and torn and dirty rags at that. It may be he had similar notions on the matter, and wore, therefore, that look of deep disgust. My friend astonished the natives standing about waiting for the evening issue, by pulling out a silver quarter to pay for a copy of the paper. The disgusted looking gentleman emptied his whole cash-box, which contained just twenty cents, to make the change.
It was with little regret that I left the place. It is with no agreeable emotions one looks on people who were but yesterday loud and bitter enemies, no matter whether deluded or out of their own conviction. All that was pleasant to look at in Norfolk was the glorious flag waving over it.
Site Table of Contents