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Lee Hall in Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Battle of Lee’s Mill

1862 Peninsula Campaign

 
 
The Battle of Lee’s Mill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
1. The Battle of Lee’s Mill Marker
Inscription.  In March of 1862, Union Maj. Gen. George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac landed at Fort Monroe and Camp Butler. This large force contained 121,500 soldiers, 44 batteries of field artillery and 101 heavy siege cannons. Confederate Maj. Gen. John Magruder, promoted for his June 10, 1861 victory at the Battle of Big Bethel, rightly viewed his situation as precarious and requested more cannons and troops for the Peninsula’s defenses.

On April 4, 1862, the Army of the Potomac moved up the Peninsula in two columns. The III Corps marched from Fort Monroe up the Hampton-Yorktown Road toward the Yorktown defenses, and the IV Corps advanced up the Great Warwick Road from Camp Butler toward the Halfway House between Yorktown and Williamsburg. Gen. McClellan planned to trap the Confederates in a two-pronged maneuver with the III Corps holding Magruder’s forces at Yorktown while the IV Corps blocked their retreat toward Williamsburg.

The Battle of Lee’s Mill on April 5, 1862, stopped the Union flanking movement. Gen. McClellan’s maps incorrectly showed the Warwick River flowing parallel to the James River. Therefore, he was unaware that the
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Warwick flowed from near Yorktown and blocked the Union advance. Lee’s Mill was defended by one brigade from Brig. Gen. Lafayette McLaws’ division and supported by Capt. Joseph Cosnahan’s Peninsula Artillery. Brig. Gen. William F. Smith’s division led the Union advance from the Warwick Court House towards Lee’s Mill. Lt. Col. John Weems marched four companies of the 10th Georgia Infantry across the river to skirmish with the advancing Union soldiers. Moreover, Capt. Cosnahan’s two cannons in the extreme right redoubt dueled with Capt. Charles Wheeler’s Battery E, 1st New York Light Artillery and forced their withdrawal. Halted by the Confederate defenses, Gen. Smith deployed his three brigades under heavy fire along the Warwick. Brig. Gen. Erasmus Keyes, IV Corps commander, reported to McClellan that “No part of this line as far as discovered can be taken by assault without an enormous waste of life.” The Battle of Lee’s Mill only cost the Confederates seven casualties and the Union twelve, but it thwarted McClellan’s plans and convinced him to besiege the Warwick-Yorktown line.
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1862.
 
Location.
Marker in Lee’s Mill Historic Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
2. Marker in Lee’s Mill Historic Park
37° 9.822′ N, 76° 33.912′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. It is in Lee Hall. Marker can be reached from Rivers Ridge Circle, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located along the walking trail in Lee’s Mill Historic Park, off Warwick Blvd. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23608, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union Occupation (within shouting distance of this marker); The Warwick-Yorktown Line (within shouting distance of this marker); Fortification Design (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Battle of Lee’s Mill (about 500 feet away); Lee’s Mill (about 500 feet away); The Warwick River (about 600 feet away); Lee’s Mill Earthworks (approx. 0.4 miles away); Air Cushion Vehicle, SK-5 (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
 
More about this marker. A portrait of Brig. Gen. Erasmus Keyes, Courtesy of Library of Congress, appears on the top of the marker to the left of the title. The bottom left of the marker features a drawing of “Union Artillery Shelling Lee’s Mill.” Courtesy of the Virginia War Museum. A photograph of Gen. William F. Smith and Staff, Courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society also appears on the marker.
 
Related markers.
Confederate Earthworks image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
3. Confederate Earthworks
These well-preserved fortifications, which were part of the Confederate second line of defense on the Peninsula, are found all along the walking trail in Lee’s Mill Historic Park.
Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers along the walking trail in Lee’s Mill Historic Park.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Peninsula Campaign. (Submitted on September 9, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
2. Tidewater Virginia, The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Civil War Traveler. (Submitted on September 9, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.) 
 
Lee’s Mill Historic Park image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
4. Lee’s Mill Historic Park
This park contains a trail through the Confederate fortifications on the Warwick River. The marker is on this trail.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 1, 2023. It was originally submitted on September 9, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 3,546 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 9, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.

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Feb. 28, 2024