Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
1862 Peninsula Campaign
Gen. Johnston criticized the Peninsula’s defenses and believed that Richmond was best defended nearer the capital. President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee wanted the Union Army held at the Warwick-Yorktown line. During the summer of 1861, Gen. Lee had counciled Magruder that "A defensive line between Yorktown and Mulberry Island by damming and defending the Warwick River promises the happiest results." Johnston, however, argued that McClellan outnumbered and outgunned his forces. The Union
The Confederate artillery covered the night march toward Williamsburg. The Union soldiers, who occupied the Warwick-Yorktown line on May 4, 1862, discovered a new type of weapon. The Confederates buried subterra torpedoes (land mines). As the 23rd Pennsylvania Infantry occupied Lee’s Mill, Sergeant Caldwell stepped on a torpedo which was calmly extinguished by Private Albert Barry pouring his canteen over the smoking shell. Not all encounters were bloodless and at least three dozen Union troops were injured and one civilian telegraph operator died. The Union Army occupied Yorktown and pursued the retreating Confederates. The May 5, 1862 Battle of Williamsburg delayed the Union pursuit and allowed Johnston’s forces to retreat safely to Richmond. The Peninsula Campaign continued for another two months, culminating in McClellan’s defeat during the Seven Days battles around Richmond.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Location. 37° 9.821′ N, 76° 33.88′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Rivers Ridge Circle, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Battle of Lee’s Mill (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); The Warwick River (about 400 feet away); Lee’s Mill (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Battle of Lee’s Mill (about 600 feet away); Lee’s Mill Earthworks (approx. 0.4 miles away); Glebe Lands (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newport News.
More about this marker. A sketch of “The Occupation of Yorktown” appears on the top of the marker next to the title. The bottom right of the marker features a photograph of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, Courtesy of the National Archives.
Related markers. 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 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
2. Tidewater Virginia, The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Civil War Traveler. (Submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,339 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 10, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.