Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
There were yesterday morning no rumours of any renewal of active hostilities about Petersburg. Some refugee women and children, who arrived here during Monday night, brought the report that Grant had notified General Beauregard to have the non-combatants removed, as he would shell the city at ten o’clock, A . M., yesterday. This, no doubt, was a story circulating on the streets of Petersburg, which caused many persons to leave the place; but that it had any foundation, in fact, is more than doubtful. Had so important a communication been made to our military authorities it would have been promulgated through the press for the benefit of all whom it might concern.
Officers arriving last night from our lines on the Southside represent that all was quiet in the direction of Petersburg yesterday.
The enemy yesterday threw a considerable force to the north side of the James at Deep Bottom, some fifteen miles below the city. This is, by some, considered an important movement; by others it is regarded very lightly.
NAVAL ENGAGEMENT ON THE JAMES—OUR RAMS FIRE INTO THE MONITORS AT LONG TAW
Yesterday several of our rams dropped down the river to Dutch Gap, and opened across the neck of land at that place upon the Yankee monitors, lying about a mile below. At the same time our battery at Howlett’s also opened upon the monitors. The monitors did not reply to our shots, but very soon a heavy land battery from within the enemy’s lines unmasked and directed its fire upon the Howlett battery. The firing was kept up by both sides until late yesterday evening without any important results having been accomplished. Our battery at Howlett’s was struck once and a gun dismounted, but it was soon again put into position. The monitors were struck repeatedly, but with what result is not known. There were no casualties on our side. The fight will probably be renewed this morning.
MILITARY OPERATIONS BEYOND LYNCHBURG.
At the time of writing no official account of military operations beyond Lynchburg have been made public; such have doubtless been received but have been withheld from publications through motives thought to be wise. We believe the news from this quarter to be good, and can afford to wait for it. We have no reason to doubt the truth of the announcement that our forces had routed the enemy at Liberty and captured a very large number of prisoners on the contrary, unofficial telegrams received yesterday morning from Lynchburg confirm it. The news came through the same source that we had pursued Hunter to the Peaks of Otter, and that, by the very latest accounts that had reached Lynchburg, a fight was going on at a place in the vicinity of the Peaks known as Fancy Farm.
Hunter is retreating directly to Buchannon, on the James river canal, in Botetourt. Should he reach this point in safety, two roads will lie before him, one running in a northwesterly direction to Lexington and Staunton, the other bearing northeasterly, and leading to Jackson’s river depot, in Alleghany county. We hope he will never reach Buchannon. Two hundred resolute, active men, on the line of his retreat, could so obstruct the mountain passes and defiles through which he must pass as effectually to obstruct his passage. We cannot learn whether we have any such men in his way. We only hope, we have. But should he reach Buchannon, by which of these roads he will proceed is an interesting question. Had he full supplies, and were his force in good traveling order, he would make for Jackson’s river; but we trust that by this time he has no supplies whatever, and that his men and animals are much exhausted. In this case he will turn his head toward the nearest source of supply. Now, we learned yesterday that an immense wagon train, sent out to supply his army, was moving up the Valley towards Staunton. Unless he finds himself most sorely pressed, he will attempt to move in the direction of this train, and we may expect to hear of his return to Staunton. But one or two more blows such as he received at Liberty will render useless farther speculation on this subject.
LATER FROM HUNTER’S ARMY.
We heard last evening, on what may be considered good authority, that when the Yankees reached Liberty they separated into two parties, one going towards the Peaks of Otter, the other by the road leading due west.
Up to a late hour last night no official despatches from Lynchburg were given to the press.
SHERIDAN AND HIS RAIDERS.
We mentioned yesterday that Sheridan had reached the White House, and that persons from that neighborhood reported that a fight had taken place between him and Hampton, but that none of the particulars or results of the engagement had transpired. Yesterday morning it was reported on the streets that in the fight alluded to, Hampton had beaten the enemy and taken eight hundred prisoners; but after diligent inquiry at the sources of information usually most trustworthy, we failed to obtain anything confirmatory of this agreeable account. Cavalrymen and couriers from the neighborhood of Tunstall’s station, on the York river railroad, had heard nothing of so important a capture; they said there had been a short fight, but they had learned none of the facts connected with it.
Another report, which gained some credit, was that Sheridan was south of the Pamunkey, near Talleysville, otherwise known as the Cross Roads, and that he was completely surrounded by our troops. It has required a three years’ experience of war to convince as how absolutely a people may be for days at the mercy of flying rumours concerning (illegible) of moment occurring only twenty miles distant from their homes. But such is the fact. One of the most important arms of Grant’s invading host was on Monday morning scarcely twenty miles away from us, in a condition which rendered it useless and even threatened its destruction. The country between it and the city is in our occupancy, and a man might have walked hither and told us all we desired to know, yet up to noon of yesterday we knew absolutely nothing more of how matters stood with the enemy than we did Monday morning, when listening to the distant cannonade, the sound of which came to us from his neighborhood.
Although we as yet have nothing authentic from this body of the enemy since he reached the White House, we have received some trustworthy and very gratifying information as to his condition while retreating through King and Queen. A gentleman from Newtown, King and Queen, reached here yesterday morning. He left Newtown last Sunday night. On that morning Sheridan and his column reached that place, and Sheridan went in person to this gentleman’s house to get something to eat. One-third of the Yankees were on foot, and the horses of the balance were so fagged that Sheridan said he would be obliged to shoot one-half of them. The men were famishing and mutinous. There were one hundred and fifty vehicles, mostly taken from the country people, filled with wounded. They had two hundred of our men as prisoners, many of whom fainted and fell in the roads from weakness induced by want of food.—But the most cumbrous part of the Yankee train consisted of a procession of five hundred negro women and children, amongst whom the suffering from hunger and fatigue was excessive. Many of the women becoming exhausted, had thrown their children in the roads and deserted them. Some of these waifs were picked up alive and cared for by the country people, but most of them were found dead, some having died for want of nourishment, and some having been trampled to death by the men and horses. Sheridan, in the course of a conversation with the gentleman from whom we obtained these facts, stated that he had, tup to that time, lost fifteen hundred men; that he whipped Hampton in the fight near Louisa Court House Saturday evening, but that Hampton had beaten him on the next day at Trevillian’s.
Another gentleman who came in from King and Queen since Sunday, also gives pleasing accounts of the miserable condition of these raiders. On his way hither he traveled for some distance in their track, and lying in the road he counted fourteen dead Yankees, whom he concluded, from their emaciated condition and their having no sign of wound about them, had died of famine and exhaustion.—It is (illegible) that these fiends in human shape should perish of want in the country they had devastated.
THE LATEST FROM THE RAIDERS—THE AFFAIR OF MONDAY MORNING—SHERIDAN AT WEST POINT.
Through persons who left King William yesterday morning and arrived here last night, we have some definite information respecting Sheridan’s movements and the fight reported to have taken place between him and Hampton in the vicinity of the White House. On Sunday Sheridan started down the north bank of the Mattapony towards Gloucester Point, but being met by a courier, from Grant it is supposed, he immediately countermarched to Walkerton and Dunkirk, and there crossed over into King William. A body of five hundred cavalry, who for some time past have been stationed at the White House, came up to meet him, and this party burnt King William’s Court House. Sheridan bore straight down between the Mattapony and Pamunkey in the direction of West Point. Hampton, at this time, was abreast of him on the south side of the Pamunkey. On getting opposite the White House, on Monday morning, Sheridan threw over into New Kent a guard of a thousand or fifteen hundred men to protect himself from a flank attack by Hampton. This force, from behind strong earthworks, directed about the White House by Baldy Smith when he came to reinforce Grant, opened upon Hampton with artillery. Hampton replied with artillery, and an iron clad, which was lying at the White House wharf, joining in the affair, the three parties together for an hour or two made a pretty considerable amount of noise, but very little damage was done to either side. The iron clad delivered itself of some immense missiles, many of which fell as far inland as Tunstall’s station, on the York River railroad, four miles distant from the White House. We had two or three men slightly wounded by fragments of shell.
When the rear of Sheridan’s column had passed below the White House, the force he had thrown over to the south bank of the Pamunkey recrossed and joined him, and the whole proceeded down to West Point. Whether they will embark here and rejoin Grant, or await the return in part or in whole of his army to the north side of James river, a few days more will disclose.
With this statement of facts, the glorious report of our having captured eight hundred of those raiders in battle on Monday vanishes into thin air.
At a late hour last night a report reached the city that Sheridan had crossed to the south bank of the Pamunkey at the White House. This move ment his gunboats and earthworks would enable him to execute at any moment. If he has done this, it may have some connection with the enemy’s crossing to the north bank of the James at Deep Bottom.
DAMAGE DONE BY THE ENEMY AT STAUNTON.
The Yankees, during their brief stay in Staunton, burnt the Government shops, except the shoe shop, which being in the centre of the town, could not have been burnt without destroying the town itself, the wollen mills, the Government stables, and the railroad depot. They broke down the arch of the railroad that spans the Middlebrook road and the creek a short distance west of the town, and destroyed the iron bridge on the railroad, several miles east of the town. The shoe shop they hacked and battered considerably with axes. They broke open and threw out most of the articles in private shops and stores, and ransacked and pillaged many private dwellings.
FROM NORTH GEORGIA
An official dispatch was received at headquarters yesterday from General Joseph E. Johnston. He reports that there has been no change in the general situation, and nothing like a general engagement had taken place on his lines. On Monday General Wheeler, with a comparatively small force of cavalry and a battery of artillery had attacked and driven from the field a division of Yankee cavalry under Garrard, the enemy leaving his dead and wounded on the field:1
- “War News.” Richmond Examiner. June 22, 1864, p. 2 col. 1-2 ↩
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