Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
THE WAR NEWS
It was reported early yesterday morning that a great battle was going on near Petersburg, and that the Yankees were shelling the city vigorously. As this has been a standing morning report ever since Grant crossed to the Southside, it was not very generally received. The latter portion of the story, however, turned out to be too correct. The enemy was and is shelling the city, though not so heavily as was represented. From a gentleman who spent the day there yesterday, and came over last evening, we learn that Grant is throwing into the city a shot or shell every twenty minutes. The shell are twelve and thirty-two pounders. Occasionally a solid shot is thrown. Mrs. Quinn is the only white person killed that our informant heard of. She was killed Saturday evening. Five or six had been severely wounded. Three negroes were wounded on Saturday. We have a partial list of houses that have been struck. G. H. Burton’s, P. H. Booth’s, Dr. Robinson’s, Mrs. Colcuheren’s, Atkinson’s, Whitenmarsh’s iron buildings, McIlwaine & Sons, three times at Stratton & Raines and a woolen building on the river, eight times; Southside depot, Presbyterian church, Bradberry’s, kitchen of Jewel saloon, Bollingbrook, Gilliam’s factory, Colson’s shoe store, Jeter’s on the wharf, Liedbetter’s, Archer’s, Vincent’s and Eppes.
When the train left last evening there was nothing going on but this infamous shelling—a thing hopelessly without military result, and kept up purely through a diabolic design to worry and harass defenceless non-combatants. Not one of our soldiers can ever be struck by it if he keeps at his post, which is two miles nearer the enemy than the quarters of the city which are being bombarded.
This official dispatch was received from General Lee yesterday:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VA.,
“June 25, 1864.
HONOURABLE SECRETARY OF WAR:
“SIR. General W. H. F. Lee pursued the enemy’s cavalry which advanced along the Southside railroad. He had a skirmish on the 22nd near Dinwiddie Court House, and the next day struck their column in flank, near Black’s and White’s, cutting it in two, and getting possession of the road by which they were moving, towards Nottoway Court House.
The road was held after an engagement which continued from 12, PM., until dark, the enemy making repeated attempts to break through and rejoin his advance. He withdrew from General Lee’s front at daylight on the 24th, leaving his dead and wounded on the field, taking the road to Hungarytown and Keysville. General Lee is still following them. Very respectfully, &c.,
“R. E. LEE, General.”
The force of the enemy mentioned in this despatch, as struck by General William H. F. Lee last Thursday, was the rear of Kautz’s column,—as at the very time that the fight here described was in progress. Kautz was destroying the Danville and Southside railroads at Burkeville.
The only additional information we have of these raiders is through private, but perfectly trustworthy sources. From Burkeville they proceeded down the Danville road in the direction of Danville, destroying the road at intervals, and firing all the water tanks and depot buildings. When last heard from, which was on Saturday night, they had carried this work of devastation for thirty odd miles, and were within a mile and a half of the bridge over the Staunton river, thirty-six miles beyond Burkeville and ninety from this city.
On the train from Petersburg last evening, twenty-eight of these raiders were brought over.—They were captured by an army officer on furlough and seven of our men, while on a (illegible) raid to destroy a county bridge.
From the fugitive Hunter and his raiders we have nothing but the very unsatisfactory telegram to be found under the telegraphic head. As he receded from us it was to be expected we should hear from him less frequently.
ANOTHER VICTORY OVER SHERIDAN.
The following, announcing another victory over Sheridan by General Hampton, was received yesterday morning:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VA,
“June 25, 1864, 9 P. M.
“HONOURABLE SECRETARY OF WAR:
“SIR. Our entire loss yesterday morning was ninety-seven killed and wounded and two hundred and nine missing.
“Nothing of moment has occurred to day, on the lines in front of Bermuda Hundred and around Petersburg.
“General Hampton reports that the enemy’s cavalry advanced yesterday to Nance’s shop and intrenched themselves there. He attacked them and drove them from their works pursuing them until nine, P. M., to within two miles of Charles City Court House.
“They left their dead and wounded on the field, and along the route. Great credit is due to General Hampton and his command for their handsome success.
“R. E. LEE, General.”
From a gallant officer, who participated in this engagement we have some interesting particulars.—In Saturday’s paper we described the engagement near Forge bridge on Thursday, in which one of our brigades drove back a brigade of the enemy upon Sheridan’s main body, who were at the time crossing the Chickahominy. It will be recollected that after this affair, our men withdrew in the direction of Richmond, and rejoined the rest of Hampton’s force at Samena church, near Nance’s shop. It seems that Sheridan was completely deceived by this manoeuvre. Believing that this brigade was the entire force we had in this neighbourhood, he determined to cut them off. With this design he halted with two divisions at Charles City Court House, and despatched Gregg and Custer with their divisions to get in our rear.
During Thursday night these enterprising Yankees, by following the direct road from the Court House to Long bridge, put themselves in Hampton’s rear at a point between Hawes’ shop and Samena church, and no doubt congratulated themselves exceedingly upon the success of their plans for our certain capture. To make assurance doubly sure, and to provide against the possibility of our escape, they spent most of the day in throwing up heavy double lines of earthworks in front of themselves and between us and Richmond.
General Hampton also threw up intrenchments. At three o’clock Friday evening the hostile forces were half a mile apart, a thick wood and a narrow field being between them, the enemy fronting southeast, our forces northwest. Chambliss was on the left of our line, then Young, Wickham and Lomax, and Butler on our extreme right. Each side had a skirmish line thrown out some two hundred and fifty or three hundred yards in front, between whom skirmishing began about noon.
About four o’clock, P. M., all of our men being dismounted, General Hampton sent Chambliss to turn the enemy’s right flank and take him in rear, and soon after ordered the rest of our force to leave their breastworks and charge the enemy.—When our troops reached our skirmish line, they were opened on by the enemy’s cannon [with?] canister and grape, at a distance of three hundred yards. Not wavering for an instant, our men pushed forward, firing volley after volley, their fire being mostly directed against the artillerists.—When we got into the field before mentioned, just beyond which were the enemy’s intrenchments and cannon, a large body of the enemy’s cavalry charged upon us. Our men were ordered to halt and receive their onslaught. They dashed up to us in very handsome style, but on receiving two steady volleys broke and fell back in confusion.—Again being rallied they were brought to the charge, but this time with much less steadiness and impetuosity. A volley or two scattered them, and they came back no more, but scampered away to our right. Our men resumed their charge upon the enemy’s works, but observed, with regret, that his cannon had disappeared. It had been withdrawn during the diversion created by the cavalry charge, and was at that moment clattering away towards Charles City Court House. But the enemy’s dismounted men kept up a hot fire from his breastworks upon our advancing line; a fire which we returned with good effect. On our getting near the enemy’s first line of intrenchments his men deserted them and fled, leaping and running over the men in the second line. Our men scaled the outer works and dashed up to the second, from which not a shot was fired upon them, and where they found the Yankees seeking safety by crouching behind the intrenchments. As we scaled this line its occupants fled, and joined pell-mell in a regular race for Charles City Court House. Simultaneously with our advance Chambliss had struck them in rear.
Our men pressed them closely, pouring into them a galling fire. The pursuit was kept up till we arrived within two miles of the Court House, when, night having come on, we halted.
Immediately on the arrival of his beaten divisions, Sheridan made a hasty change in his plans. Instead of attempting to reach Harrison’s landing, as he had proposed, he immediately started for Wyanoke, a point on James river, five or six miles below Charles City Court House. At this place, on Saturday, he crossed on pontoons to the Southside of James river.
In this battle the enemy lost not less than five hundred killed and wounded, two hundred prisoners, and a large number of horses. One hundred will cover our casualties. Most of the enemy were killed after they had been driven from their works and were in retreat, when we fired into them from rear and flank.
Among the enemy’s killed who were left on the field, were two lieutenant colonels, a major and several captains. Colonel (illegible), Eighth Pennsylvania and eleven other commissioned officers, and one hundred and sixty men reached the Libby yesterday morning.
Among our casualties, we regret to have to enumerate Lucius Davis, jr.,—Gray and J. D. Wagner, of Henrico, killed; Captain Dettor, wounded in the wrist, and Captain Newham, jaw fractured.
We look with some interest for Sheridan’s official report of this affair.—We are curious to learn how he will translate it into a victory. Citizens who saw the rout state that a negro regiment who were mounted fled on the instant that Chambliss struck their rear, and that all attempts to halt them was utterly time thrown away. They buried their spurs into their horses’ flanks, and turning their head towards Charles City Court House, never looked behind. Of course Sheridan must notice the distinguished gallantry of this “coloured” regiment.
We omitted to state that our pursuit of the enemy was rendered less effective by the fact that the enemy, having ascertained the position of our horses, had shelled them during the action, and when we were ordered to mount and ride down the flying foe, the horses having been stampeded, had to be caught. Much valuable time was thus lost.1
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. June 27, 1864, p. 2 col. 1-2 ↩
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