Siege of Yorktown
After McClellan's huge army had landed on the Peninsula, he was held in position by Magrude's small army. Finally, Major General Benjamin Butler attempted an offensive upon Magrude's troops and moved them back beyond Yorktown. Although the Federals lost the battle it showed the Confederates just how big the force was and a meeting was called by Davis in Richmond. Lee suggested that Johnston try to hold the Union soldiers on the Peninsula and then drive them out, while James Longstreet felt that they should attack Washington while it was practically defenseless. However, Johnston felt that his army should stay within the security of Richmond and wait for the Federals to come and try and take the offensive. Davis decided to go with Lee's plan, and sent Johnston's troops down to Yorktown to join Magrude's forces.
McClellan's original plan was to attack the town of Yorktown and the fort at Glouscester Point with his much longer artillery range. Then he would move his fleet in behind the Rebels and smash the force. Unfortunately, the troops that he had trained for the situation were McDowell's and he had been ordered to withdraw from the campaign by President Lincoln. Second, McClellan's ships said that they could not get within range of Yorktown and the fort because of heavy Confederate protection on the water. Now with half of his original plan spiked by the government and the Confederate army, McClellan, to his disappointment, had to lay a traditional siege upon Yorktown.
His first move was to send Keyes up and attack the right flank of Johnston's army at Lee's Mill, while Heintzelman attacked the left flank, close to Yorktown. Both attacks were half-hearted and really just another display of force and to see how big Johnston's army was. Finally, McClellan moved in the rest of his army, digging parallels and moving in his siege guns. Johnston, on the other hand, was not about to let McClellan waste Yorktown and part of his army, so he sent a letter to Richmond telling Jefferson Davis that the position he was holding was unattainable. Second, Johnston suggested that they retreat back to the safety of Richmond, as he had originally planned, and Davis approved the move. So before McClellan had a chance to attack Johnston, he was gone and hiking back to Richmond. McClellan had a field day with the retreat, sending a letter to the government saying that he had captured fifty-six enemy guns, a very strong field position and not one man was wounded. He also emphasized that he won the battle without McDowell's corps and without the help of the navy.
Although McClellan considered it a victory many consider the siege and loss, for the Confederate were able to hold the Union soldiers at bay for more than a month. This allowed for Johnston to get reinforcements along with Richmond.