Marching from Fort Monroe, Union General George B. McClellan's army encountered Major General John B. Magruder's small Confederate army at Yorktown behind the Warwick River. Magruder's theatrics convinced the Federals that his works were strongly held.
General McClellan suspended the march up the Peninsula toward Richmond, ordered the construction of siege fortifications, and brought his heavy siege guns to the front. In the meantime, General Joseph E. Johnston brought reinforcements for Magruder.
On 16 April, Union forces probed a weakness in the Confederate line at Lee's Mill or Dam No. 1, resulting in about 309 casualties. Failure to exploit the initial success of this attack, however, held up General McClellan for two additional weeks, while he tried to convince his navy to maneuver the Confederates' big guns at Yorktown and Gloucester Point and ascend the York River to West Point thus outflanking the Warwick Line.
General McClellan planned for a massive bombardment to begin at dawn on May 4, but the Confederate army slipped away in the night toward Williamsburg.
Location: York County and Newport News
Campaign: Peninsular Campaign (March-September 1862) next battle in campaign previous battle in campaign
Date(s): April 5-May 4, 1862
Principal Commanders: Major General George McClellan [US]; Major General John B. Magruder and General Joseph E. Johnston [CS]
Forces Engaged: Armies
Estimated Casualties: 320 total