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Siege of Yorktown

When he took over the Army in November 1861, General George McClellan felt that he could win the war by taking his army down the coast to come at the Confederate capital from its blind-side to the southeast. He continued to refine and modify his plan, never quite getting going despite the urging of President Lincoln. Finally, in March 1862, his troops began to sail south to Fort Monroe, still in Union hands, at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula. On April 4, McClellan's troops began their northward march, arriving at the first Confederate defensive position stretching from Yorktown across the peninsula. McClellan put the town and Confederate positions under siege beginning April 5. This was despite McClellan's overwhelming numerical superiority, for he was deceived into believing the Confederates were much stronger than they were. This allowed the Confederate commander, General Joseph Johnston to transfer troops from Northern Virginia to protect against the Federal thrust at Richmond from the south. McClellan's advance was stalled for the rest of the month.

General McClellan
"Genl. Geo. B. Mc.Clellan And Staff. Before Yorktown, Va. April 1862." New York: Currier & Ives, 1862. Small folio. 11 7/8 x 9. Lithograph. Original hand color. Some repaired marginal tears and light rub at top. Overall, very good condition. C:2260.

While his star was somewhat faded by the beginning of the peninsula campaign, McClellan was still widely popular in the North, so the New York firm of Currier & Ives issued this print of McClelland and his staff before Yorktown, clearly poised to lead the Union army to victory. $250

Sachse: Fortress Monroe
E. Sachse & Co. "Camp Hamilton, Fortress Monroe & Rip-Raps, VA." Washington D.C.: C. Bohn, 1862. 8 7/8 x 16 4/8. Tinted lithograph. Full margins. Some old, slight staining, conserved, good condition.

The image shows Fortress Monroe, near the mouth of the Chesapeake, with its neighbor, the famous Hygeia Hotel. It was issued shortly after the Union began its Peninsula Campaign by sending McClellan's army from Washington down to Fort Monroe. The Federal fleet is seen in the Chesapeake waters and in the foreground is a detail image of the Union camp with barracks, tents, infantry, cavalry and even telegraph lines. Civil War military history at its best. $600

Prints from Harper's Weekly

Scenes around Yorktown
McClellan's plan to attack Richmond from the South gave the Northern public great hope that this would be the final thrust to end the rebellion. Despite the fact that the Union army came to a halt just a short way up the peninsula, outside Yorktown, the public was still keen for news . Typically, Harper's Weekly supplied that desire with articles and images from the front.

Map of the Siege of Yorktown, April and May, 1862 / Battle-Field of Shiloh, April 6th and 7th, 1862 / Operations of the Army of the Ohio, April-June, 1862 From the U.S. War Department's Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington: Gov't. Printing Office, 1891-95. Lithographed map, with some highlight color. Double folio size. NB: The maps from this atlas are printed on brittle paper, so there may be short tears in this map.

Richard Stephenson has written, "This is the most detailed atlas yet published on the Civil War. It consists of reproductions of maps compiled by both Union and Confederate soldiers." [Stephenson, Civil War Maps, p 99.] The maps show many of the events of the Civil War with great detail, including topography, troop placements and movements, and other information of interest. These are the best near contemporary maps available of many of these battles, sieges, and other events of this conflict. $60
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. April 15, 2016