Plan of the Seat of War in Eastern VirginiaThe Illustrated London News, vol.41, no.1157, p.128.
August 2, 1862
The Plan which we present to our readers on page 125 covers an area of about 20,000 square miles, and includes a large portion of the country between the Blue Ridge on the west and Chesapeake Bay on the east, between the Potomac on the north and James River on the south, which has been the theatre of the best-contested conflicts on land and sea between the Federals and Confederates. East of the Chesapeake are the two peninsular counties of Virginia and a portion of the "eastern shore" section of Maryland. West of it lies a nobly-watered country, including portions of Maryland, the district of Columbia, and the "tide-water" section of Virginia. The rivers falling into the Chesapeake from the west are successively from north to south, the Patuxent, Potomac, Rappahannock, York (formed by the confluence of the Pamunkey and Maltapony), and, lastly, the James. In the north-west corner of the plan are to be seen the cities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria. The country intersected by the York and James Rivers abounds in points of interest. At the extremity of the peninsula formed by those two rivers are Fort Monroe and Hampton. Nearly opposite, on the Elizabeth River, are Norfolk and the Gosport Navy-yard. On the York River, near its embouchure, is the little port of Yorktown, famous for the surrender of Lord Cornwallis to the American forces in 1781. It
Page 129recently fell into the hands of the Federals, when the Confederates fell back on Richmond. Jamestown, a little village on the north bank of the James River, thirty-two miles from its mouth, was the seat of the first permanent English colony in America (in 1607). A few miles above Jamestown the Chickahominy discharges itself into the James. About halfway between Richmond and the mouth of the Chickahominy lies the hilly country, where M'Clellan's army is now stationed. Still higher up, and only seven miles below Richmond, is Fort Darling, where the course of the river is obstructed to prevent the passage of the Federal gun-boats. Richmond itself is situated on the north bank of the James, about 100 miles from its mouth. Directly opposite to Richmond are its suburbs of Manchester and Spring Hill, which are connected with the city by three bridges. Five lines of railroad radiate from the capital of Virginia. The Richmond and York River Railroad, which in times of peace connected the city with the aforesaid river, was the line by which M'Clellan supplied his army, and on which his head-quarters at White House were situated until his recent change of front and base of operations. His right wing at one time was extended so far as to rest on the Virginia Central Railway, a line running north from Richmond, just north of the point where it crosses the Chickahominy. This river and the White Oak Swamp, across which his army retreated, lie between the Richmond and York River Railway and the James River. On the south bank of this river, nearly opposite to Turkey Bend, is City Point, where the Federal flotilla is now anchored. This is also the point where the Appomattox flows into the James.