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Foreign and Colonial News

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1145, p. 519.

May 24, 1862


By the arrival of the North American and the City of Washington we have news from New York to the l0th inst.


The events on the York and James River peninsula have been of the highest significance. On the 30th ult. President Davis and other Confederate leaders arrived at Yorktown, and after a consultation with the leading Generals all agreed that Yorktown was untenable and should be evacuated. General Magruder alone was of opinion that it was not advisable to evacuate the position. General J. Johnston issued the order for the evacuation on the 1st inst. It was commenced on the 2nd and completed on the night of the 3rd. The Confederates left a large amount of guns and camp equippage which they could not remove for fear of being seen.

As soon as the evacuation of Yorktown was known, the troops under the command of General M'Clellan were put in motion to pursue the Confederates. On the 4th, two miles from Williamsburg, they came up with the Confederates' rearguard, which was found to be strong. The Federals being in want of infantry and, night coming on, the pursuit was postponed till the morning of the 5th.

The Federal gun-boats proceeded up York River simultaneously with the land forces.

On the 5th an engagement took place at Williamsburg, which resulted in the further retreat of the Confederates, and the occupation of the position by the Federals. At nine p.m. General M'Clellan and escort entered the town and took possession. About 150 of the Confederates' wounded were left behind without any rations, medicines, or surgeons. All the wounded prisoners taken by the Confederates were also abandoned. Including the wounded, the Federals took in the engagement about 1000 prisoners. General M'Clellan reports that the brilliant bayonet charge of General Hancock decided the fate of the day. The Federals lost about 300 killed and 700 wounded. Nearly 700 of the Confederate dead were left on the field. A large number of guns, ammunition and a considerable store of provisions were found in the town, and the road was strewn for many miles with arms.

After the evacuation of Williamsburg the Federal forces pursued the Confederates eight miles beyond, as far as the Chickahominy River. The Confederates, retreating across the Chickahominy, destroyed all the bridges. The main body had at last accounts retreated to the south bank of the James River. The Federal forces rested on the left bank of this river. General M'Clellan finds great difficulty in getting up food, on account of the state of the roads. The Confederates in front of him are in a worse condition, many of the captured not having tasted anything but biscuit for forty-eight hours.

The Federal iron-clad steamer Galena, with two gun-boats, had started up the James River to cut off the river communication of the Confederates with Richmond. This expedition seems to have miscarried, as, on the 9th, General M'Clellan reports that the Galena was aground in James River, a little above Yorktown.

Twenty thousand Federal troops, under General Franklin, had been landed at West Point, at the head of York River, and twenty miles above Williamsburg. An engagement had occurred at West Point between this division and the Confederates under General Lee. The latter were shelled by the gun-boats and retreated. It was hoped that this body would intercept the retreat of the Confederate army; but the retreat of the main body across the James River had frustrated this scheme, and General Franklin's troops had effected a junction with M'Clellan's.

Norfolk had not yet been evacuated. Reconnaissances of Federal iron-clad boats to Sewall's Point have established the fact that very few guns and men remained there. The Merrimac and Monitor approached each other several times, but no battle ensued. The Federal steamers returned to Fort Monroe.

General M'Dowell had made no onward movement, and General Banks was still at Newmarket, in the valley of the Shenandoah, waiting for forage and provisions.

Advices from General Burnside's command in North Carolina report that large numbers of men had taken the oath of allegiance, and that a loyal regiment of North Carolinians had been organised.

Nothing decisive is reported from the armies of Generals Halleck and Beauregard.

Federal accounts from New Orleans state that the bombardment of the forts below that city lasted six days without intermission. Twenty-one mortar and three gun boats conducted the attack. On the 23rd ult. they succeeded in silencing the fortifications, and in securing the safe passage of the river of fourteen war-steamers, among which was the flag-ship. A severe naval engagement ensued, in which eleven Confederate gun-boats were destroyed. The Union gun-boat Verona and the Confederate steamer Webster mutually destroyed each other. General Butler landed 4000 men above the forts, and on the 24th the forts were surrendered unconditionally. Captain Bailey officially reports that the whole of the Confederate navy at New Orleans has been destroyed. The loss of the Federals was thirty killed and one hundred wounded; that of the Confederates much greater. The way is now clear from the Gulf to Bâton Rouge, and the Federal fleet are moving on to Natchez and Memphis.

The Confederates have destroyed cotton and shipping to the amount of 10,000,000 dols. to prevent it falling into the hands of the victors. At Memphis sugar and molasses in large quantities were on the bluff ready to be rolled into the river, and all cotton was to be burnt. The planters whose estates lie on the tributaries to the Mississippi have also set the torch to their stores. It is said only one planter objected to take this course.

Postal communication by water between New York and New Orleans has been re-established. The Union citizens of the latter place have held a meeting at which enthusiastic demonstrations took place.

The steam-ship Bermuda, and other British ships, laden with arms, ammunition, and stores, had been captured by the Federal fleet, the former when bound for and about to enter the British port of Nassau, New Providence. The steamer Nashville successfully ran the blockade off Wilmington with a cargo of gunpowder and army stores. She passed through the fleet of seven vessels, all of which threw shells at her without inflicting any damage.


The proceedings of Congress have been unimportant. The French Minister arrived at Yorktown on the 4th inst. On the 7th President Lincoln was at Fortress Monroe and Newport News, and had a distant view of the Merrimac.

Mr. Seward has instructed Mr. Adams to demand of the British Government the restitution of the recaptured prize, Emily St. Pierre, lately brought into Liverpool.

In consequence of the decisive successes of the Federal forces, all Government, railway, bank, and insurance stocks have risen rapidly in value. The 7 30 Treasury notes were at 3 per cent premium, and everything else in proportion.

The official figures of the losses of the Federals at the battle near Pittsburg Landing show the following results:—Total killed, 1735; total wounded, 7882; missing, 4044: grand total, 13,661.

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