Early in Apr., 1862, McClellan had about 100,000 men at Fort Monroe. Instead of trying to break through the Confederate line across the peninsula, he prepared to besiege Yorktown, the strongest point in the line. General Johnston evacuated Yorktown (May 3) just as McClellan had completed his preparations. An indecisive, though severely contested, rear-guard action was fought at Williamsburg (May 5) as the Confederates retired toward Richmond. The evacuation of Yorktown opened up the York River to the Union fleet, and on May 16, McClellan established his base at White House Landing (c.20 mi/32 km east of Richmond) on the Pamunkey River.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.