Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
THE WAR NEWS.
The principal event of the neighbouring lines is the deluge of rain. It has been pouring down for thirty-six hours. The lands below Richmond are a great bog, and unless there comes a remarkably drying spell of weather, the roads will be broken up for the winter. Nothing can be done now that requires the movement of cannon.
THE LATE AFFAIR NEAR HOWLETT’S.
It is due to the officers directing, and the troops executing the recent picket movement on the Chesterfield peninsula1, that something more should be said of it. Before Petersburg was invested, General Beauregard established a picket line extending from the James to the Appomattox, in nearly a straight line. The advantage gained by the enemy consequent upon the sudden transfer of a portion of General Beauregard’s troops to Petersburg was the occupation of this picket line from a point within two miles of the James river to about the same distance from the Appomattox. This line they held from June last until Thursday night [November 17, 1864], when it was determined to dispossess them of it. The troops assigned to the duty were portions of Hunton’s and Stewart’s [sic, Steuart’s] brigades of Pickett’s division.—They entered upon the job with enthusiasm and accomplished it in a very short time. They started about half-past eight o’clock from their camp, proceeded as noiselessly as possible until challenged by the enemy, and then rushed upon the foe with a cheer. The Yankees, taken by surprise, fled in disorder, divesting themselves of everything which could impede their flight; but one hundred and fifty of them were “headed” and captured. Our loss was two killed and two wounded. From forty to fifty of the enemy were killed and wounded.
The grand result of this little enterprise was the “straightening” or re-occupation of our picket line from river to river, as originally established by General Beauregard. General Hunton gains an additional “front” of nearly four hundred yards, within which is a belt of pine forest, affording fuel for his brigade during the winter.—The line has been strengthened by earthworks since its capture, and is now almost as strong as the exterior defences of Fort Drewry.
The [Petersburg] Express gives the following statement of the chief affair on the Petersburg lines:
“A most amusing, and at the same time satisfactory incident, occurred in front of Wright’s brigade, just to the left of the Weldon railroad, on Saturday morning [November 19, 1864], an hour or two before day. A report was brought in that the enemy was advancing at that point, and the men were called to arms at once. The pickets were on the alert, and soon heard a noise in front, as of advancing forces. A sharp volley of musketry was discharged at the supposed foe, when a sudden rush was heard, and forward through the lines charged in wild disorder forty-two fine beeves—until that moment Yankee property. They had evidently strayed or deserted from the Yankee herd, or perhaps came in search of those recently captured by General Hampton on the banks of the James. They got lost on the way, and were wandering between the two armies, coming in the direction of Petersburg, when they were discovered by our pickets. The sudden discharge of musketry in their front, and the probable wounding of one or two, frightened the creatures and caused them to dash forward. This is the first instance on record of a charge by cattle on lines defended by armed men and in the face of a rapid musketry fire. We understand they came in good line of battle, and were not gathered up until they had passed to the rear.—They are remarkably fine beeves, and the incident caused great amusement in camp. Perhaps the Yankees might learn a lesson from the charge made by the dumb beasts they had transported for slaughter.”2
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