NP: June 17, 1864 Petersburg Daily Express: From the Petersburg Front, June 16, 1864

   

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in June 1864

FROM THE [PETERSBURG] FRONT.

—–

THE FIGHTING YESTERDAY—SUCCESSES AT MANY POINTS—HOKE’S DIVISION GALLANTLY REPULSES THREE ASSAULTS—CAPTURE OF MANY PRISONERS ON OUR RIGHT, ETC, ETC.

—–

As was the universal expectation with every mind on Wednesday night [June 15, 1864], our people were aroused at an early hour yesterday morning [June 16, 1864] by the heavy booming of cannon in the direction of Jordan’s Farm. This is on the City Point road, not far from the river. The cannonading continued for about one hour, and was incessant. Couriers who came in, state that it was caused by the opening of the enemy’s guns on our men. They were promptly replied to, and with the exception of a few casualties, amounted to nothing—neither side gaining any advantage.

Heavy skirmishing was kept up during the day [June 16, 1864], and scarcely a moment elapsed without the report of heavy guns falling upon the ears of the people, and breaking in upon the almost Sabbath like stillness, which reigned throughout the city’s precincts.

THE ENEMY REPULSED.

Yesterday afternoon [June 16, 1864], a furious assault was made upon Gen. Hoke’s front, whose Division occupied a position facing batteries from nine to twelve, inclusive—and constituting a most important situation.—The enemy came up in three lines of battle, and made three charges, but were each time repulsed by a heavy fire which blazed from along our lines, and sent the vandals back in confusion. Our men occupied entrenchments, which had been hastily thrown up during Wednesday night [June 15, 1864].

On our right, in the vicinity of Colonel Avery’s farm, there was heavy firing during the greater portion of the day, but late in the afternoon, it became quite severe, the enemy attempting to carry our works by assault. This portion of the lines was occupied in the morning [June 16, 1864] chiefly by our militia forces, where we regret to hear, several severe casualties occurred.

The enemy having succeeded in moving two or three batteries in that direction, commenced to shell our men furiously, and the missiles bursted immediately among them. Gallanty they stood their ground, however, until our batteries could be placed in position, so as to silence the enemy’s fire, which they effectually did.

KILLED AND WOUNDED.

Two of our citizens were killed, and a few slightly wounded. Among the former was the following:

F. Thomas Scott, a native of Sussex, but for many years a resident of Petersburg. He was much esteemed, and leaves a wife and four little boys.

Mr. Nathan Hoag, a tobacconist. He leaves a daughter, his wife having died several years since.

WOUNDED.

Major F[letcher]. H. Archer, commanding militia forces [3rd Virginia Reserves Battalion], slightly in arm.

Robt. L. Watson, of this city, severely on the upper part of thigh.

Chas. K. Elliott of Petersburg, slightly.

John Molloy, of Petersburg, slightly.

R.A. Spiers, of Prince George, severely in the neck.

Edward Simmons, of Prince George, slightly in the arm.

Many made narrow escapes, the shell exploding all around them, and in some instances covering them with dirt and dust.

As soon as regular troops could be brought up and placed in position, the militia were relieved, and Gen’l Bushrod Johnson’s division occupied the breastworks, along with the Macon (Georgia) Light Artillery, and other batteries, the names of which we could not learn.

Here, as stated above, the work grew quite hot as the day [June 16, 1864] advanced, the enemy having massed certainly two divisions, if not more, in our front. Late in the afternoon, a charge was made, but the enemy were most handsomely repulsed, chiefly by the 64th Georgia, and Colonel W. J. Clark’s 24th North Carolina regiment, of Gen. Matt Ransom’s brigade.

In the last charge, the enemy came within one hundred yards of our fortifications, but the fire was so terrific that they halted, broke ranks and retired in great confusion, seeking shelter in a ravine about 100 yards from our lines. Here a large portion of a Yankee brigade, being exposed to an enfilading artillery fire from our guns, and not daring to show their heads, for fear of being toppled over by our musketeers, surrendered to the 64th Georgia regiment, Capt. Pritchard [sic, Thomas J. Pritchett] commanding.1

THE PRISONERS.

These prisoners numbered over 400, rank and file, and constituted the greater portion of the Fourth Brigade, First Division, Hancock’s Second Army Corps. They complain very much of Birney’s Division, which was to have supported the charge, but whose hearts failed them when the time of trial came.

They say they were fearfully cut up, losing a great many officers and men—Gen. Barlow, of New York city, commanding Division, was borne from the field, and supposed to be mortally wounded, a fragment of a shell tearing off his left hip.

Major Springstead [sic, Edward A. Springsteed], of Albany, New York, whom the men all say they loved as a brother, was instantly killed2, and many other casualties occurred, which had a very depressing effect on the invaders.

Several of these prisoners with whom we conversed, state that they were enlisted in the heavy branch of the artillery service for local defence around Washington, but the pressure for men became so great after Grant’s campaign commenced, that they were placed in the ranks and armed as infantry.

The most of them were cheerful, and openly declared their gratification at the fortune of war which had made them captives.

They state that they started for Richmond, not Petersburg—but since they could not get to the rebel capital, they will be satisfied with the Cockade City.—They say that Burnside’s and Hancock’s Corps are operating immediately around Petersburg; that Baldy Smith is at Bermuda Hundred, and that Grant, Butler, Warren and others, are lying around promiscuously.

Several commissioned officers were captured, but none of higher rank than Lieut. Colonel.

They were coming in up to a late hour last night in squads, and we presume that the aggregate number captured will reach 700 or more. They were all carried before [Provost Marshall] Major Kerr , and by him turned over to Provost Marshal Hawes.3

RECAPTURE OF [BATTERY] NUMBER FIVE.

The terrific fire of cannon and musketry, which startled our citizens last evening [June 16, 1864] about half-past seven, and was continued for an hour or more, without cessation, was caused, we hear, by an effort on the part of the Confederates to recapture Battery Number Five, which we were informed at a late hour last night, had been entirely successful. The enemy were driven off at the point of the bayonet, our men entering the works with a yell which scattered the blue coats like chaff before the wind. This is a most important position, as it commands the high hill at Friend’s Farm, on the City Point road. It was this position which the enemy charged and captured from us at a late hour Wednesday evening [June 15, 1864].4

OCCUPATION OF THE RICHMOND AND PETERSBURG RAILROAD.

Our forces in Chesterfield having been somewhat weakened for the more important work in Prince George [east of Petersburg], the enemy took advantage of this circumstance yesterday morning [June 16, 1864], and advanced to the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, taking possession. We offered but little resistance, and the enemy again destroyed a small portion of the track. They occupied it, however, but a few hours, as General Frank Anderson’s Division [sic, Pickett’s Division] advanced yesterday afternoon [June 16, 1864] from the direction of Drewry’s Bluff, and drove the enemy back to Bermuda Hundreds, where they sought safety under cover their gunboats.5

ATTACK ON FORT CLIFTON.

Yesterday afternoon [June 16, 1864] the enemy’s gunboats came up the Appomattox, and opened fire on Fort Clifton. They stood off out of sight and at long range, and inflicted no damage whatever. The fire of the gunboats was directed by a signal man, who flopped his flag industriously from the new Observatory on Cobb’s Bluff. It is stated also that the enemy attempted yesterday morning after the moon went down, to ascend Swift Creek in barges, but the stealthy movements of the foe were discovered, and they were speedily driven back.6

OPERATIONS YESTERDAY.

We understand that the operations of yesterday [June 16, 1864], were exceedingly satisfactory to our commanding general. The enemy felt our lines from the [Appomattox] river around to Battery 10, the Baxter road, but gained no advantages. On the contrary he lost many in killed and wounded, and a large number of prisoners. We inflicted severe loss on the enemy yesterday, but shall be much better prepared for him to-day [June 17, 1864], and we hope to announce to-morrow [June 18, 1864] that he has become satisfied of his inability to capture Petersburg as he has already virtually confessed that he cannot take Richmond. The south side will like the north side, prove too much for Grant and his rabble soldiers.7

THE CASUALTIES.

There were many casualties yesterday [June 16, 1864], but we regret that it is out of our power to give them in to-day’s issue. We will not pain relatives and friends by announcing names upon mere rumor. Will the Chaplains and Adjutants of the various regiments do us the favor to furnish correct lists for publication? We shall [esteem?] it a favor, if they will accommodate us in this respect.

We heard yesterday [June 16, 1864] of the following only, which we can announce with the assurance that they are correct.

Capt. John Cargill Pegram, of General Matt Ransom’s staff, received a mortal wound in the side. He was shot by a sharpshooter, the ball striking below the hip, ranging downwards and penetrating the bowels. He was carried to the residence of Mr. J. Andrew White, on Market street, and survived but an hour or two. Deceased was the son of Captain Robert B. Pegram, of the Confederate Navy, and a most gallant young man.—

Lt. Col. Wise was seriously wounded, but the particular command to which he is attached we could not ascertain.

Lieut. N. M. Wyatt, of the 24th N. C., was seriously wounded.

THE CASUALTIES WEDENESDAY [June 15, 1864].

In the 26th [sic, 46th] Virginia8, Wise’s Brigade, the following casualties certainly occurred:

Col. Randolph Harrison, in the neck, severely, but not fatally.

Adj. [William W.] Alexander, in the arm.

Capt. Fred. Carter, of the Richmond Blues, in the groin—feared mortally.

A number of officers and a great many privates, were certainly captured. Among the latter, we hear of the following:

Captains Sutton, Shelton, and Poindexter.

Major [Peter V.] Batte, of the City Battalion [44th Virginia Battalion], who commanded a gun, and fought with distinguished gallantry, is missing and supposed to be captured.

Major Hood, of Southampton, is also missing, and supposed to be captured.

Lieut. Col. D. D. McCreary [sic, David B. McCreary], of the 145th Pennsylvania, who was captured and brought in last night, says he saw about one hundred and fifty Confederate prisoners going to the rear Wednesday night [June 15, 1864], after the fight at Jordan’s farm, and we hope that the great bulk of our missing are unhurt.

AN APPEAL TO THE CITIZENS.

We are requested by Major Kerr, Military Governor of this Post, to state that the services of citizens to act as guard to the prisoners, are needed. All disposed to aid in this patriotic work, are requested to meet at the Courthouse this morning [June 17, 1864] at 9 o’clock.

ULYSSES IN PRINCE GEORGE.

It is the opinion of our officers, that Grant, the great defeated, was in the vicinity of his troops, who were so badly whipped yesterday [June 16, 1864] near this city in every encounter.

THE LATEST.

We made application at Headquarters last night at 12 o’clock [midnight between June 16 and 17, 1864], for any reliable information that could be obtained from the field, but were informed that no reports had been received. We will be greatly obliged to officers or others, for any facts coming under their immediate observation, and cheerfully reciprocate all such favors, should opportunity offer.9

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Source/Notes:

  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The first portion of this article discusses the second day of the Second Battle of Petersburg, fought on June 16, 1864.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is a mistake.  A quick glance at the roster of the 7th NYHA shows Springsteed was only wounded on June 16, 1864, though he would later be killed at the August 25, 1864 Second Battle of Ream’s Station.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: In looking over the casualty records for the 4th Brigade, 1st Division, Second Corps, AotP in June (they are not broken down by day), it looks like the vast majority of these prisoners came from the 7th New York Heavy Artillery and 145th Pennsylvania.  These two regiments lost over 300 and over 100 officers and men respectively captured from June 15-30, 1864, and I suspect most if not all of those captures occurred on June 16, 1864.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Express is mistaken.  Though Beauregard did try some local counterattacks on the night of June 16, 1864, he did not succeed in permanently retaking any of the batteries lost on June 15.
  5. SOPO Editor’s Note: This was the June 16, 1864 Action on the Bermuda Hundred Front. Butler’s Army of the James had advanced to briefly cut the railroad between Richmond and Petersburg on June 16, 1864 as the Confederates had abandoned it to save Petersburg.  But Pickett’s Division drove them quickly back into their lines on Bermuda Hundred and restored the status quo in that area, a status quo that would essentially remain until the end of the Siege in April 1865.
  6. SOPO Editor’s Note: This naval engagement was part of the larger June 16-17, 1864 attacks on Fort Clifton and batteries in its vicinity on the Appomattox River.
  7. SOPO Editor’s Note: There would be more fighting on June 17-18, 1864, ending the Second Battle of Petersburg and initiating the Siege of Petersburg.  It would take the Union armies nine and a half long months to finally capture Petersburg, though it was in their site already on this date.
  8. There were two Colonel Randolph Harrisons in Wise’s Brigade at this time.  One commanded the 34th Virginia, and the other commanded the 46th Virginia.  A simple check at Fold3.com showed that Adjutant William W. Alexander belonged to the 46th Virginia.
  9. “From the Front.” The Daily Express (Petersburg, VA). June 17, 1864, p. 2 col. 2-4

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