Letter from Stephen Miller at West Point, regarding Yorktown skirmishes and land mines – May 8, 1862
Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Miller of the 1st Minnesota Regiment to Ignatius Donnelly regarding skirmishes near Yorktown.
“West Point Va May 8, 1862 Confidential
My Dear Govr Your kind favor was received a few days ago, and I cordially reciprocate its generous contents and should I be the successful man you may depend upon my best efforts to make satisfactory provision for you.
We are now at the head of York river, 30 miles above York-town, and about the same distance from Richmond. We shall probably start for the later place to day or tomorrow, while McClellan with the bulk of the army presses them up the James River side of the Peninsula.
We have some 20,000 men here and more coming. We have small battles or large skirmishes daily. [On] yesterday we lost 200 killed and wounded here, and the enemy many more, when they retreated. Our Regt was held as a reserve and did not become engaged, tho the cannon balls of the foe flew uncomfortably near and thick for a time. None of our reg’t hurt since our arrival at Fortress Monroe, tho’ we have been much exposed in Picket duty &c. The retreating rebels left many miles of the strongest earthworks and fortresses I ever saw at and about Yorktown, and about 110 pieces of heavy artillery at Yorktown & Glocester. The scoundrels buried hundreds of torpedoes and prepared shells in the highways and abandoned works and about Yorktown, which explode by treading upon them,, and killed and wounded a number of our men.
To have taken the place by storming would probably have cost 10,000 lives; and our Gen’l’s hope to bag them very soon with but little loss upon our side. So may it be.
Kind regards to Mrs. D.
Truly yours Stephen Miller”
Citation: May 8, 1862 Letter from Lt. Col. Stephen Miller to Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly, Correspondence Apr-May. 1862. Ignatius Donnelly and family papers, 1812-1973. Minnesota Historical Society.