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Requesting Another Battery of Artillery During the Siege of Yorktown
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In the middle of the Civil War Siege of Yorktown, General Charles Hamilton fruitlessly asks for more artillery.

CHARLES SMITH HAMILTON (1822-1891). Autograph Letter Signed (“C. S. Hamilton”), as General U.S. Army, with additional autograph endorsements on verso by S. P. Heintzelman, James A. Hardie and William F. Barry. Div. Hd. Qrs., April 12, 1862. To Gen. S. Williams. 2 pp, 7¾ x 10 in., ruled paper, closed tear.

Inventory #20363.05       Price: $800


“Div. Hd. Qrs. Apr 12 1862


            I understand the Fourth Battery for my Division has been designated and is on the Peninsula.  I beg it may be ordered to report to me forthwith.


                                                            I am General

                                                                        Very Respy

                                                                                    Your Obt. Srt.

                                                                                                C. S. Hamilton

                                                                                                            Brig Gen

                                                                                                                        Comdg Div.

Brig Gen S. Williams


                        Army of the Potomac

[docketing on verso, as request is passed up the chain of command, not transcribed]

[Barry’s reply, written on verso:]

Respectfully returned.  The Battery intended for Hamilton’s Div[isio]n. was to have been withdrawn from Richardson’s, which latter was to have been supplied with a Battery from the Art[iller]y: Depot in Washington.  Circumstances compelled the ordering of the Battery intended for Richardson elsewhere.  As soon as another Battery can be prepared, the original design will be carried out.

                                                                                    William F. Barry

                                                                                    Brig. Genl. Ch[ief]-of-A[rtiller]y”

At the beginning of the Civil War, Charles Smith Hamilton was appointed Colonel of the 3rd Wisconsin regiment and promoted to Brigadier-General of volunteers. He served in Virginia during the Siege of Yorktown (April 5- May 4, 1862) but was relieved of command for insubordination on April 30. In September of that year was promoted to Major-General of volunteers. After the siege of Yorktown, he was transferred to the Army of the Mississippi, commanded a division at Corinth, and won the battle of Iuka. Afterward he commanded the left wing of the Army of the Tennessee and the 16th corps. He resigned his military commission in April of 1863. Hamilton went on to serve as President of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin from 1866 until 1875.

Historical Background

In the Peninsula Campaign of April-July 1862, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan attempted to attack Richmond with his (Union) Army of the Potomac from the southwest (up the peninsula between the James and York rivers in Virginia, rather than marching south from Maryland).  Despite swamps and swollen rivers, which made it difficult to move artillery, the Union soldiers were able to advance within a few miles of Richmond. They fought the Confederates to a draw in the Battle of Fair Oaks (also called Seven Pines, May 30-June 1).  However, after Fair Oaks, President Jefferson Davis assigned Gen. Robert E. Lee to command the Army of Northern Virginia, which defended Richmond.  In a series of engagements called the Seven Days’ battles (June 26-July 2), Lee counter-attacked strongly, and convinces McClellan to abandon the campaign.

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