Plate 12. Battery No. 1, Near Yorktown - No. 1

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Text and photograph from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War, Vol. II. Negative by Wood & Gibson, text and positive by Alexander Gardner.
When Gen. McClellan undertook to capture the confederate army on the Peninsula by seige, he commenced to construct a line of works from the York to the James river, across the narrow neck of the Peninsula, in front of Yorktown. The first battery was located on the York river, about a mile and three-quarters from Confederate's wharves and their main works in front of Yorktown. It was built by the First Connecticut artillery, Col. Tyler, and had six of the heaviest rifled guns ever mounted in a land battery, namely, one 200-pound Parrott and five 100-pounders. The guns were mounted on heavy wrought-iron carriages, and could only be fired once in fifteen minutes. The muzzles of the guns were about five feet from the ground, and the bottom of the carriages about ten feet below the surface. The dirt thrown out of the excavation was banked up in front of the guns, and kept from falling in by wicker baskets, constructed by the Engineer Corps, and filled with earth. On the top of these were piled bags of sand, and the whole sodded, making an embankment of thirty feet thick in front of the guns. The enemy fired a number of solid shot and shell into this bank from an English sixty-four rifled gun, but none of them did any damage, or entered over ten feet into the earth.
The work was built in a grove of peach trees, on a small promontory which ran out into the York river, and the first intelligence the enemy had of our movements there was a broadside into some of their schooners, which were unloading supplies at the wharf-front of Yorktown, nearly two miles distant. One shot tore through the rigging of a schooner, and another exploded close by, throwing an immense sheet of water into the air over the vessels. In a few minutes they all left, and ran up the York river out of sight. Occasional shots were fired from this battery, at various intervals, up to the time of the enemy's departure, but no regular bombardment was ever attempted by it. On riding through the confederate works, the next morning after the retreat, it was found that shells from this battery had fallen two miles beyond their works, or four miles from the battery. Nineteen men were killed and wounded at a distance of three miles by a single shell of tyke 100-pounders dropping into a confederate camp and exploding before the men could scatter.
An immense magazine in the rear, was connected with the guns by an underground tunnel, through which the men could pass in carrying ammunition. Experienced officers expressed the opinion that with this battery alone, the enemy could have been driven from their position in Yorktown. No lives were ever lost on our side at this battery from the enemy's fire upon it.
Currently not on view
date made
Gardner, Alexander
place made
United States: Virginia, Yorktown
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 17.6741 cm x 22.86 cm; 6 15/16 in x 9 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
Civil War
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Gardner's Sketchbook
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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