March 22, 1862: Third Corps Ordered to Fort Monroe



In the latter half of March of 1862, General McClellan began massing his forces at Fort Monroe to begin the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia in April, perhaps the most strategically brilliant and operationally inept campaign of the Civil War.  In the Peninsula Campaign McClellan came achingly close to winning the War in 1862, only to see Robert E. Lee, in a brilliant counter-offensive, establish complete dominance over McClellan and gain the strategic initiative in Virginia which would only be ended with Grant’s Overland Campaign of 1864.

Logistically the Peninsula campaign was an immense undertaking, involving the transport by sea of some 121, 500 troops, 44 artillery batteries, 1050 wagons, 15,000 horses and endless tons of supplies.  Here is the order for the movement of the Third Corps:


Brig. Gen. S. P. HEINTZELMAN, Commanding Third Corps.

        GENERAL: Upon the disembarkation of Porter’s division at Fort Monroe I have to request that you will move your two divisions (Porter’s and Hamilton’s) some 3 or 4 miles out from the fort, to find good camping places, where wood and water can be readily obtained, and where your positions will be good in a defensive point of view. You may find it advisable to place one division on or near the road leading to Yorktown from Newport News; the other upon that leading to Yorktown direct from Fort Monroe. If you find that the nature of the country will permit easy communication and mutual support between the two divisions it will be best to place one on each road. It will be best to remain pretty near the fort for the present, in order to give the impression that our object is to attack Norfolk rather than Yorktown. You will do well, however, to push strong reconnaissances well to the front, to ascertain the position of the enemy and his pickets. I will, as soon as possible, re-enforce you by the third division of your corps, and it is probable that a part or the whole of the Fourth Corps will also move from Fort Monroe. This will probably be determined before your disembarkation is completed, and you will be informed accordingly.         My desire would be to make no important move in advance until we are fully prepared to follow it up and give the enemy no time to recover.         The quartermaster of your corps will receive detailed instructions in regard to land transportation from General Van Vliet.         It will be advisable to mobilize your corps with the least possible delay and have it prepared for an advance. I have directed extra clothing, ammunition, &c., to be sent to Fort Monroe, so that all deficiencies may be supplied without delay.         Please report to me frequently and fully the condition of things on the new field of operations and whatever intelligence you gain as to the enemy.         Engage guides in sufficient numbers at once, and endeavor to send out spies.

I am, very truly, yours, GEO. B. McCLELLAN, Major-General, Commanding.

Published in: on March 22, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on March 22, 1862: Third Corps Ordered to Fort Monroe  
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