Historic Fort Norfolk Logo
 Surrender of Norfolk




On they charge steadily for four long miles, when an orderly of the General’s comes dashing down the road in a cloud of dust to meet us, and in a loud voice exclaims, “Cheer up, boys, you will sleep in Norfolk tonight.  The enemy’s works are abandoned and the city is evacuated.”  Off they go again at the double quick, the German Rifles, 20th New York, taking the lead.  The Germans are exultant, and, in broken tones, they strike up, “We’ll hang Jeff Davis on a sour apple tree, glory Hallelujah.”  The Germans are fond of singing, and the General will not suppress their exuberant spirits.

In a half hour more, we are in sight of the enemy’s immense entrenched camp, or barracks.  We find them deserted.  They are mounted with heavy guns and comprised five bastions – each a mile in length.  But, thank God, there is no one there to use the pieces.  The cavalry make a dash at the entrance of the works and find that nothing obstructs their passage.  They examine several of the guns, find them spiked with ten-penny nails, draw the nail, bring them back, and report to the commanding general.  In a few moments five regiments are within the breastworks.


These works are built in a peculiar manner, and are certainly admirable and very strong.  In the first place, we have a ditch twelve feet wide, and well constructed.  About two feet beyond the ledge of this the earthwork commences.  It is composed of sand, chiefly backed up by bundles of white oak saplings, firmly tied up and packed between piles, which are driven in on both sides.  Behind this, earth is again thrown up, and sodded with grass.  Within the fortifications there is a clear space of some seventy or one hundred acres, in which are standing numerous furnaces for heating hot shot, numerous magazines, and a large number of small dwellings, used, no doubt, as barracks, and affording accommodations for at least five thousand men.  It is estimated that there are a hundred and fifty guns mounted here.  A contraband informs us that we are now just four miles from the city.  We cannot see a spire, but hopefully we push on.


In half an hour we met two Union citizens driving up the road towards us.  They offer us every facility, and inform us that the city is evacuated, at our mercy, and will be surrendered at once to us.  The stars and stripes are brought to the front, the band strikes up the “Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by “Hail Columbia” and “Yankee Doodle,” the troops cheering widly, and ever and anon shouting Glory, Hallelujah!  On they go for a mile or two more, and before us we can see, in the dim distance, a few church spires and house tops, which we presume to indicate the city of Norfolk.  On yet a little way, and the vanguard observe a small white frame house, on the outskirts of the city, in front of which a man is vigorously waving a white flag.

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Surrender of Nofolk Continued

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Source of Information

The Press, Philadelphia, PA Newspaper, Tuesday, May 13, 1862.

Image from Harper's Weekly May 24, 1862.