NP: June 17, 1864 New York Herald-Tribune: The Great Contest



in June 1864

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ken Perdue.





Chickahominy Swamps Left for Lee.

Fighting on Wednesday at Petersburg.



Details of the Late Movement.



Fine Foraging and Fine Weather.

News from Bermuda Hundred to Wednesday Morning — A Battle in Progress toward Petersburg — Probably an Attack in Force — All Grant’s Army Passed Through Bermuda Hundred — Reenforcements Arriving.

Special Dispatch to The N. Y. Tribune.

WASHINGTON, Thursday, June 16, 1864.

A Government dispatch bearer, who got here this forenoon from Bermuda Hundred, reports that before he left on Wednesday morning a battle was in progress in the direction of Petersburg, and probably at that city. Cannon and musketry firing broke out at dawn, indicating an attack by Grant’s troops, and was so heavy and continuous as to show that the attack was in force.

The whole of our army had passed through Bermuda Hundred. Where the advance guard was the dispatch bearer, of coarse, could not tell. He did know, however, that the rear-guard was several miles from Bermuda, and on the Petersburg road. The 5th Corps was in the advance.

Our informant saw considerable reënforcements of fresh troops arrive at Bermuda Hundred, and met more coming up the river as he went down.

The impression when he left was that Petersburg was defended only by volunteer citizen exempts, principal among whom were Professors of a female college, druggists, and merchants. If not defended by Longstreet’s veterans, it was thought that Grant would burst into the town on the run.

Fighting at Petersburg — Result not Known

Details of the Great Movement Across the Swamps to James River.

FORTRESS MONROE, Wednesday, June 15, 1864.

The steamer John A. Warner, from Bermuda Landing, arrived here to-day.

Two army corps crossed to the south side of the James River last night. Other portions of the army are crossing at various points.

There was fighting this morning in the direction of Petersburg, the result of which is not known.

Gens. Grant and Butler were in consultation during yesterday.

Gen. Gillmore has not been relieved as was reported.


Tuesday, June 14 — Evening.

The Army of the Potomac took up its line of march for the Chickahominy at 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon.

The 5th Corps took the advance on the middle road, by way of Providence Church; the 2d Corps took the western road; the 9th and 6th Corps took the road leading to Jones Bridge; and in the mean time the 18th Corps embarked on transports at the White House.

The advance of the army halted for the night near the Chickahominy, which stream they crossed to-day without opposition. No signs of an enemy were to be seen except for a few cavalry pickets, who fled at our approach.

The 5th Corps took the road leading to Haxall’s, and the 2d Corps reached the Charles City Court-House at six in the evening.

The 6th and 9th Corps crossed at Jones Bridge, at a point about two miles lower down than Long Bridge, and are now close by.

The change of base has been very successfully made, with the utmost order, and without the loss of a man or a wagon, so far as your correspondent could hear.

It said that the Rebels left their works almost as soon as we did, taking the roads to Richmond.

The White House will be evacuated as soon as the supplies can be shipped on transports.

The crops here are very fine, and our horses to night are living in clover. It is expected that we will start for the James River at an early hour in the morning, and during the day open communication with Gen. Butler.

The weather is fine, the roads are good, and the Army of the Potomac are in the best of spirits.

Chaplain Bartlett of the 1st Maine Cavalry, was killed a few days ago by a shell.

Twelve o’clock, noon. — The army is now moving toward the river, for the purpose of crossing.

Gen. Grant and staff started for Gen. Butler’s command this morning.

A few guerrillas were caught in the woods, and brought in this morning.

The Movement to the James — The Left Flank Again — The Manner of the March — Sheridan and His Cavalry — The Dust of the Peninsula.

From Our Special Correspondent.


Sunday, June 12, 1864 — 6 p. m.

The whole army is again in motion. After six days of comparative rest the men march briskly, almost eagerly. They have replenished their stock of fighting endurance, at no time exhausted, but a week ago a good deal tasked, and a rich new wine of battle again courses in their veins and exalts their hope and courage.

It is another flank movement — perhaps the most stupendous of the series. “Enamored of his left flank,” said a Richmond paper lately, in discussing Grant’s strategy. And a very good and fruitful thing to be enamored of, the paper might have added. No mistress fickle and false has the left flank been, but a hand-maiden faithful and true to her lord and master.

The 5th Corps marched yesterday, and was last night at Jones Bridge, on the Chickahominy. It is to make the best possible time to the James River and across it. The 18th Corps (Smith’s) is to take transports at White House for Bermuda Hundred.

We are moving in three columns, Hancock (2d Corps) at the right nearest the Chichahominy, Burnside (9th Corps) on the left, and Wright (6th Corps) in the center. Army Headquarters to-night will be at Cedar Grove. Sheridan is off with the divisions of Gregg and Torbert to find Hunter and pilot him in this direction. Wilson’s division will watch our rear and right flank.

Gen. Getty has been placed in command at White House. His wound will not admit of field service for some weeks. His Adjutant-General, Capt. Hazard Stevens, also wounded in the Wilderness, has also returned to duty.

The heat and dust of to-day’s marching are terrible.

Dirt, dust, pulverization of earth into infinitesimalities of concreted nastiness. Dirt, dust, soil, no longer soil but ashes. Powder, worse than that of guns, worse than any prescribed by physicians. Dirt, dust, ashes, powder.

Alluvium — crushed, ground, pulverized, and powdered. Fine dirt, knee-deep to wade through. Impalpable dust, sky-high to breathe. A hundred thousand shirts, uncomfortable as the shirt of Nessus. A hundred thousand skins, uncomfortable as the skin of Hazael after the leprosy of Naaman cleaved unto him. Dirt, dust, ashes, as we go marching on.

Why, I have this week been all the way to Washington, that I might achieve the novel sensation of cleanliness, and now this march makes my last days worse than my first. I suspect the army has picked itself up and journeyed to the James River at the dictation of no strictly military necessity. It will doubtless further the purpose of taking Richmond, but I believe this to be a subordinate consideration. The paramount reason is to have a grand army Washing-Day! and no stream of less ablutionary capacity than the James will suffice. Dust! thou scourge of the great modern Virginia Desert — ugh! u-g-h! u-g-h! I loathe thee, and I draw thee as though thou wert sweet with the perfumes of Araby the Blest, and Cathay and Oriental spices, into my nostrils, and thou art laden with the seventy distinct stinks of Cologne. I detest thee, and I swallow thee. I abominate thee, and take thee to my bosom. That which I would eschew I chew. I am wretched and I retch.

There are more than 100,000 men marching by, and they are all like unto me, only more abundant is their dust and misery. Calculate the aggregate, and credit it to the Army of the Potomac.

C. A. P.1

Note: This newspaper article is used with the permission of  All rights reserved.


  1. New York Herald-Tribune, June 17, 1864


What are your Top 10 Gettysburg Books? See what a panel of bloggers said recently.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: