As noted by David W. Judd, author of the Book “The Thirty-Third Regiment” or “Two Years of Campaigning” published in 1864 gave Judd’s firsthand accounts of the siege of Yorktown. David Judd was the New York Times writer that followed the 33rd into battle and lived as they lived, ate what they ate and many times ducked the bullets and cannon balls of war. He had noted that preparations were made and all the troops were ready for storming the rebel stronghold. When the word came on Sunday morning the 4th of May, 1862 from some fugitives left behind, that the Rebels had left. A straggler came to Lt. Col. Joseph Corning that Thursday evening the artillery was moved out and on Friday the wagon-trains and some of the troops left. The information was sent to General Hancock who spread the word to the other Generals. The word was mortification as their plans were dashed. Not to worry Williamsburg still lay ahead.
The move was on with no Rebels holding back the Yankee troops and the Regiments began crossing the creek. By noon the entire Division made it to the other side. The pursuit was now on as General Hooker’s troops kept a good distance from the Confederates so as not to reveal his location. All corps and Divisions were pushed forward with their respective Generals, Sumner, Heintzelman, Keys and Smith’s Division. We left the 33rd Regiment waiting for the word to move on and help the picket of the 7th Vermont that crossed the Warwick Creek met with fired and havoc by the Confederates. Word did not come until after 5 p.m.
Fort Magruder was the Rebel stronghold that covered the road from Yorktown to Williamsburg. Retreating at Yorktown several Rebels were left to cover the forward movement of the Yankees. The Rebel Army was able to cross the Chickahominy River. The northern corps were on the move and they stopped to regroup and meet up. As the northern troops came nearer to the forts, they were met with heavy artillery fire. The 33rd overtook the Rebel Division as they moved forward. General Hooker’s troops moved to the left flank and were met with a fierce fire fight with the enemy. Hooker fell back and supported General Peck’s Brigade. The 33rd joined with the 4th Wisconsin, 49th Pennsylvania, and 6th and 7th Maine, began to march on the enemy turning their position. Heading directly for the York River the Division moved to the left and crossed the King’s Creek instead. And, the three 33rd companies B, K, and G under the command of Lt. Col. Joseph Corning guarded the forks in the road. After the forces crossed the creek the 33rd companies took possession of the first fort. Lt. Col. Corning was ordered to take Company A, D, and F with the Regiment colors and occupy and hold the fort.
Page 2 of 2 - Colonel Taylor with the remaining companies C, E, H, and I came to the front and right and were then deployed as skirmishers. Wheeler and Cowan’s Batteries moved on Fort Magruder, and began to shell in heavy borage. Now the plan is coming together and the 33rd came up on the right, connecting with the 5th Wisconsin skirmishers, as the 6th Maine and 49th Pennsylvania were on the left. McClellan arrived on the opposite side of the creek and the fight was in full stride. This is what was happening with our hometown boys on the front as they began to move on Williamsburg. The 33rd Regiment Company B was almost a part of this war for one year. As they thought of the fanfare on Main Street on May 16, 1861 as they marched out of town with speeches and handkerchiefs waving them goodbye. Tears from loved ones were shed knowing they would be back soon and this war would be over. This was not to happen. May 16, 2013, 150 years after the 33rd Company B left Palmyra, a program on Gettysburg will be given by educator Stuart Howell at the Alling Coverlet Museum at 7 p.m. This is a no charge program and all are welcome. Call 597-6981 for information.