OR XL P1 #2: Dispatches of Charles A. Dana, Asst Secy of War June 12-July 30, 1864

   

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in Part 1 (Serial Number 80)

No. 2. Dispatches of Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War.1

MOODY’S, VA., June 13, 1864 – 6 a. m.
(Received 7 p. m.)

Wison’s cavalry crossed without opposition at Long Bridge about 8.30 p. m. yesterday. A pontoon bridge was laid at once, and Warren’s corps got across and advanced upon and held the road leading toward Richmond. Smith, Wright, and Hancock withdrew from the lines before Cold Harbor without difficulty. Everything is going prosperously forward.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

LONG BRIDGE, VA., June 13, 1864 – 8 a. m.
(Received 9.15 p. m.)

Everything quiet. Hancock’s corps is all close up here ready to cross. Wright and Burnside are moving to Jones’ Bridge. No enemy in the way on either road. General Warren reports that there is no obstacle between here and James River. Wilson, who is feeling out with his cavalry toward White Oak Swamp bridge and toward Bottom’s

Bridge also, finds no force of any moment before him. We have reports from deserters that Beauregard is intrenched at Malvern Hill. Hancock and Warren are to move direct to Wilcox’s; Wright and Burnside to Charles City. Hancock will reach his destination before dark. The army will cross the James at Fort Powhatan. There are strong indications that Lee is moving troops to Petersburg.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

GENERAL BUTLER’S HEADQUARTERS,
June 14, 1864 – 2.20 p. m.
(Received 2 a. m. 15th.)

Wright’s corps reached the James River last night opposite Fort Powhatan. Burnside camped on the other side of the Chickahominy. Warren camped at Saint Mary’s Church. Both these corps are up before this time. The wagon train, with Ferrero’s division, reached the Chickahominy at the Windsor Shades, but did not cross, because they did not have enough bridge material. The deficiency has been supplied. Butler’s engineers had begun work for the pontoon bridge at Fort Powhatan before our arrival, and are now aided by heavy details from Hancock’s corps. It is a pretty heavy job to corduroy the march, which is fully half a mile wide, and quite deep. When we left Wilcox’s Wharf at 9 o’clock this morning there were three steam-boats there to begin ferrying Barlow’s division. No ferry-boat had yet appeared; however, the crossing will be made with all practicable rapidity, the troops crossing on boats, and the bridge being used for the trains only. The weather is cloudy, threatening rain, but I think we shall get everything out of the Chickahominy bottom upon the highlands along the James River before any trouble from that source. We know nothing of Lee’s movements. He has not yet sent troops to Petersburg. General Grant desires me to inquire whether Quartermaster Holabird, at New Orleans, has been relieved. He has very bad reports concerning him. He also wishes that you would send him $500,000 in Confederate money for use in a cavalry expedition, on which he proposes to pay for everything taken. Your dispatch respecting Barnard was received and communicated. There is no reason for anxiety on that subject.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

HEADQUARTERS,
June 15, 1864 – 8 a. m. (Received 9.50 p. m.)

All goes on like a miracle. Pontoon bridge at Fort Powhatan finished at 2 a. m. Artillery trains instantly began crossing. Hancock’s corps is nearly all landed by ferry at Wind-Mill Point; last of it will be over by 10 a. m. Hancock moves our instantly for Petersburg to support Smith’s attack on that place, which was to have been made at daylight. General Warren will next be ferried, followed by Burnside and Wright. None of the boats sent by General Halleck, on General Grant’s order, have arrived. The great wagon train had not yet begun to come up from the Windsor Shades, the pontoons sent back there having been delayed. Wilson’s cavalry pickets now extend from White Oak Swamp bridge, on the right, to Malvern Hill, on the left. Wilson had constant sharp skirmishing on 13th, losing 50 men. He has taken prisoners who report that Hill and Ewell are intrenched on the line from White Oak Swamp to Malvern Hill. Lee appears to have had no idea of our crossing the James River. General Grant moves his headquarters to City Point this morning. Weather splendid.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, June 15, 1864 – 5.30 p. m.
(Received 10.30 a. m. 16th.)

The Petersburg Express newspaper of yesterday has a telegram sent to Extra Billy Smith from Lynchburg stating that Hunter entered Lexington on the 11th. They estimate Hunter’s strength at 16,000; his advance was resisted by General McCausland. The Richmond Enquirer of the 13th has official intelligence that Crook, with 8,000 men, was at Amherst Court-House, only twelve miles from Lynchburg. They had destroyed the bridge over the Ta River. Lynchburg is defended, as Enquirer says, by a much larger force than it had expected, aided by militia. Smith, with 15,000 men, attacked Petersburg this morning. General Butler reports from his observatory near Bermuda Hundred that there has been sharp fighting, and that troops and trains of the enemy were, as he writes, moving from the city across the Appomattox as if retreating.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 15, 1864 – 7.30 p. m.
(Received 5 p. m. 16th.)

Our latest report from Smith was at 4.04 p. m. He had carried a line of intrenchments at Beatty’s house, the colored troops assaulting and carrying the rifle-pits with great gallantry, but he had not yet carried the main line. He describes the rebel artillery fire as very heavy. He expected to assault this line just before dark. Hancock is within three miles of Smith.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, June 16, 1864 – 7 a. m.
(Via Jamestown Island 11.45 a. m. Received 4.45 a. m. 17th.)

At 7.20 p. m. yesterday Smith assaulted and carried the principal line of the enemy before Petersburg, taking 13 cannon, several stand of colors, and between 300 and 400 prisoners. This line is two miles from Petersburg. Hancock got up and took position on Smith’s left at 3 a. m. to-day. There was heavy firing in that direction there from 5 to 6. No report yet.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

HEIGHTS SOUTH OF PETERSBURG, June 16, 1864-8 a.m.
(Via Jamestown Island 12.30 p.m. Received 4 p.m. 17th.)

The success of Smith last night was of the most important character. He carried these heights, which were defended by works of the most formidable character, and this gives us perfect, command of the city and railroad. The enemy, still hold south of the city and west of the river, but their position of little comparative value. General Smith says the negro troops fought magnificently. His loss is in round numbers 750, of which 500 were among the negroes. He took 16 cannon.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

DOUTHAT’S LANDING, VA., June 16, 1864-1 p.m.
(Received 11.45 p.m.)

After sending my dispatch of this morning from the heights southeast of Petersburg I went over the conquered lines with General Grant and the engineer officers. The works are of the very strongest kind, more difficult even to take than was Missionary Ridge, at Chattanooga. The hardest fighting was done by the black troops. The forts they stormed were, I think, the worst of all. After the affair was over General Smith went to thank them and tell them he was proud of their courage and dash. He says they cannot be exceeded as soldiers, and that hereafter he will send them in a difficult place as readily as the best white troops. They captured six out of the sixteen cannons which he took. The prisoners he took were from Beauregard’s command: some of them said they had just crossed the James above Drewry’s Bluff. I do not think any of Lee’s army had reached Petersburg when Smith stormed it. They seem to be there this morning, however, and to be making arrangements to hold the west side of the Appomattox; the town they cannot think of holding, for its lies directly under our guns. The weather continues splendid.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

DOUTHAT’S LANDING, June 16, 1864-2.30 p.m.

I have come down here from Petersburg to see how the crossing advances. I find the rear of Warren’s corps just being ferried across. The great wagon train will all be over the bridge by daylight to-morrow morning. The cavalry (Wilson’s division) will also pass over in the night, leaving Wright’s corps to hold the rear. The line of defense across the neck here is about a mile long and very strong, extending from one swamp to another. The last of the army will no doubt be south of the James River by noon to-morrow. I must here say that the unprecedented pontoon bridge, nearly 700 yards long, constructed by Major Duane, is of the most admirable solidity. After Duane had nearly finished it Benham came up and took charge.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 16, 1864-4 p.m.
(Via Jamestown Island 11.45 p.m. Received 5.30 a.m. 17th.)

The Richmond Whig of yesterday says that General Stahel, with 2,000 cavalry, has passed west through Robertson’s Gap, apparently to destroy the Tennessee railroad. The infantry force which had been at Amherst Court-House is said to be moving in the direction of Buffalo Springs. A dispatch from the same paper General Lee reports that Hampton and Fitz. Lee have routed Sheridan at Trevilian Station, capturing 500 prisoners and 6 guns, and Sheridan is said to have left his dead and wounded on the field. The same paper has a dispatch from Atlanta stating that General Polk was killed by a cannon-ball at 11 a.m. Johnston, Hardee, and Jackson were with him when he fell.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, June 16, 1864-4.15 p.m.
(Via Jamestown Island 11.45 p.m. Received 4.50 a.m. 17th.)

General Butler reports from Bermuda Hundred that the enemy have abandoned the works in the front of that place. His troops, are now engaged in tearing up the railroad between Petersburg and Richmond . Two divisions of the Sixth Corps, now coming up on steamers from Douthat’s Landing, will be sent to support Butler.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, June 17, 1864-9 a.m.
(Via Jamestown Island 8 p.m. Received 1.30 a.m. 18th.)

I find that I was wrong yesterday in regard to the points of the compass. The works taken by Smith on Wednesday evening are on the east and northeast of Petersburg, extending across the line of the City Point railroad. After the Second Corps got up a part of Smith’s troops were relieved and the whole of the Second Corps was put in on the east of the city with its line inclining to the southwest. On the left of Hancock came the Ninth Corps; its line, however, did not extend to the Norfolk railroad. General Meade arrived on the ground at about 3 p.m. yesterday and took command. At 5 p.m. Hancock attacked upon his whole front, supported by two brigades of the Eighteenth Corps. Birney made considerable progress, taking some of the advanced works of the enemy and one of the main works of their first line. This morning at 4 o’clock Burnside moved a strong assaulting column from his own right and broke through the rebel lines, capturing 2 redoubts, 4 guns, and 400 prisoners. General Meade reports that there was fighting along the line all night, the moonlight being very clear. He estimates his total losses at less than 2,000 killed and wounded. Colonel Kelly, commanding Irish brigade,and Lieutenant-Colonel McCreary, One hundred and forty-fifth Pennsylvania, are reported killed.* Colonel Egan, Fortieth New York; Lieutenant-Colonel McGee, Sixty-ninth New York; Colonel Hapgood, Fifth New Hampshire, wounded. The Fifth Corps reached the field about 11 p.m. yesterday. Two divisions of the Sixth Corps,

—————

*McCreary was captured, not killed.

—————

under General Wright, have gone to help Butler in front of Bermuda Hundred, where he holds the position abandoned by the enemy yesterday. He reports three miles of the Richmond railroad torn up.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. S. STANTON.

***

FORT MONROE, VA., June 17, 1864.
(Received 2 a.m. 18th.)

Add the following to Dana’s report of 9 a.m. 17th to the Secretary of War:

CIPHER CLERK

General Grant is now there to see if anything can be done toward taking in the rear the rebel force at Petersburg. It does not appear that that force includes any considerable part of Lee’s army. Prisoners say that Hoke’s command, Bushrod Johnson’s division, and Wise’s Legion are there, some say also a part of Longstreet’s corps. Admiral Lee reports having seen yesterday afternoon a column of troops, 40,000 to 50,000 in number, from Malvern Hill across Deep Bottom in the direction of Richmond whether to go to the city or to cross the James River at a pontoon bridge they have near Drewry’s Bluff it was impossible to judge. This is the only light we have upon the mystery of Lee’s where-abouts. The crossing of our trains and troops at Fort Powhatan has gone on prosperously. Wilson’s cavalry got over last night, and the last of the wagons, with Wright’s remaining division and Ferrero’s colored division, will be on this side by noon. The bridge is to be brought up to Bermuda Hundred, and thrown across the James River near Dove’s [Jones’] Neck. The heat is very intense.

C. A. DANA.

***

CITY POINT, June 17, 1864-5.30 p.m.
(Received 8.50 a.m. 18th.)

On the 14th instant General Butler relieved General Gillmore from command of the Tenth Army Corps and ordered him to Fort Monroe to await a court of inquiry concerning his disgraceful failure to capture Petersburg after he had volunteered for the duty. On hearing Gillmore’s explanation, Grant has modified the order so that Gillmore is relieved-at his own request and ordered to Washington to report to the Adjutant-General for orders.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

FORT MONROE, VA. June 18, 1864-12.30 a.m.

Add to Dana’s report of the 17th, 5.30 p.m, to the Secretary of War the following:

CIPHER CLERK,

General Butler reports at 5.17 p.m. that the enemy have formed in line of battle, driven in his pickets, and occupies the powerful lines in front of Bermuda Hundred which they abandoned to him yesterday; all this notwithstanding he had with him two divisions of the Sixth Corps, in addition to his own force. I was misinformed respecting Wilson’s cavalry. It has not yet crossed the bridge at Fort Powhatan. It remains north of the river to guard the great herd of cattle, which is not yet up, but will be there before dark. The cattle will be swum over and then the remaining troops will cross. I got my information, erroneous information, from General Grant, who had received it from some officer of General Meade’s. No news from Petersburg since morning. General Grant is now there.

C. A. DANA.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 18, 1864-8 a.m.

General Burnside attacked at 3 p.m. yesterday with Willcox’s division and gained ground. He attacked again at 8 p.m. with Ledlie’s (late Crittenden’s) division, carrying what prisoners and deserters reported to be the enemy’s last and main line on that part of the defenses of Petersburg. Ledlie suffered severely, but no figures are yet reported, either of loss or captures. In the night Ledlie was driven back, but at 2 a.m. the rebels evacuated the line. Deserters report that they have taken up a shorter one, enveloping the railroad bridge. General Meade reported at 5.30 this morning that he was moving forward to find and feel them, but that his men were so worn out with marching, fighting, and digging that they must have rest, unless some great opportunity should present itself. No report from General Butler since my last dispatch. He was ordered to retake the position which the enemy had reoccupied, after leaving it open to him for thirty hours, but no sounds of his guns have been heard to indicate an attempt, though the two divisions of the Sixth Corps had been sent him expressly to secure the position. He had not even a line of battle or a cannon placed up the heights. With regard to the two French officers who wish to come here General Grant now desires me to say that he will be glad to have them, but wishes them to understand that the campaign is carried on under the greatest inconveniences as respect personal comfort. Everything is across the river at Powhatan. The brigade was taken up at 3 a.m. to-day.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 19, 1864-9 a.m.
(Received 4.20 p.m)

General Meade advanced his forces yesterday morning until he found enemy occupying a new and shorter line of intrenchments, about a mile in front of Petersburg. Believing from the unanimous statement of prisoners that there was no force in his front except Beauregard’s three divisions he determined by a vigorous effort to push them over the Appomattox. A general assault was ordered at noon, and Martindale, having two divisions of the Eighteenth and one of the Sixth Corps, attacked promptly and successfully, occupying enemy’s line, and taking some 40 prisoners. Birney attacked at the same time, but made no progress. About 2 p.m., Warren and Burnside having got ready, advanced for considerable distance without reaching enemy’s main line. About 4 p.m. Birney again assaulted with nine brigades, but was not able to force the enemy’s line. Martindale also again attempted to advance farther, but failed. Both Birney and Martindale report the enemy before them in very strong force, with heavy reserves masked in the rear, from which General Meade infers that main body of Lee’s army has re-enforced Beauregard. General Meade says that these assaults were well made, and that all men could do under the circumstances was done. At 7 p.m. Willcox, of the Ninth Corps and Warren again assaulted, but in vain, and with that the day’s operations, closed. Our advance lines are held and intrenched. The result of the three days’ operations since Meade took command there is the driving the enemy from two lines of intrenchments, the capture of 4 guns, 4 colors, and about 500 prisoners. I have not been able to witness the fighting of the last two days, having been kept in camp by sickness, but Comstock, of General Grant’s staff, tells me that it has not been equal to our previous fighting, owing to our heavy loss in superior officers. The men fight as well, but are not not directed with the same skill and enthusiasm. General Meade gives no statement of casualties, but says they are no heavier than was to be expected from the numbers engaged. General Grant has directed that no more assaults shall be made. He will now maneuver. I presume that Sheridan’s report, telegraphed here last night from West Point, was at the same time telegraphed to you. His succession the great purpose of destroying the railroad seems to have been incomplete. Butler, with Grant’s assent, has assigned Brooks to command the Tenth Army Corps. Prisoners report that Ewell’s corps has gone to Lynchburg.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 19, 1864-11 p.m.
(Received 10 a.m. 20th.)

Richmond Examiner of yesterday says General Hunter, Thursday last, was at Forest Depot, on Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, destroying that road. Forest Depot supposed to be where the railroad crosses Forest Creek, some eight or ten miles southwest from Lynchburg, and appears to be on a road from Lexington. General Meade reports his casualties of Thursday, Friday,and Saturday to be about 7,000. Attacks of Thursday were made by General Grant’s orders, those of Friday and Saturday were made by General Meade himself.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 20, 1864-5 p.m.
(Received 8 a.m. 21st.)

Meade is ordered to devote himself to swinging his army around upon the south and southwest of Petersburg. He reports that his cavalry is already upon the Jerusalem road, and thinks that by fortifying as he extends to his left he can soon and safely reach the Appomattox on that side. This will give him possession of the railroad from Petersburg to Weldon and that to Lynchburg. He will be supported in this movement by a similar extension to the left on the part of the part of the troops of General Butler. Position of Meade’s forces are now as follows: On right, Sixth Corps holds works captured Wednesday by the Eighteenth Corps, which last corps has returned within General Butler’s lines. Next to Sixth is the Ninth, forming Meade’s present center, and next the Fifth, forming his left. The Second Corps is in reserve in the rear. The movement begins by putting Second Corps upon left of the Fifth, and drawing back Sixth as a reserve, its place in the lines being taken by Eighteenth. These operations, I suppose, will be performed to-night. Next the Ninth Corps will be similarly withdrawn, and its place in the lines taken by all of the Tenth Corps which can be spared from Bermuda Hundred, where the works are so strong as to be safe with a small garrison, say of 5,000 men. As the object is to get possession of the railroad and inclose the enemy fighting will not be sought for, though, of course, it will not be avoided. Once extended to the Appomattox, the railroad will be thoroughly destroyed as far south as may be practicable, then if necessary Army of the Potomac may take ten days’ rations and move upon the Danville road, leaving its base of supplies here to be guarded by its fortifications and the forces of General Butler. A bridge is to be thrown across the James River to-night, and a bridge-head on the north shore fortified on Jones’ Neck. General Weitzel has charge of the operation. The bridge-head will require a garrison of 200 men. It will allow us to send cavalry over into Charles City County, where the teeming crops already need our attention, and it will also menace Richmond with attack on that side. Sheridan is ordered to come here, crossing the Chickahominy at Long Bridge or Jones’ Bridge, and striking the James River either at Wilcox’s and be ferried, or at the new bridge above spoken of. Wilson moves on a raid to-morrow night with his division, and half of Kautz’s. He has general instructions to do all the harm he can, especially to the railroad. Richmond Examiner of Sunday mentions safe arrival of a train by that road, as if it were something to be thankful for. General Meade notified Warren this morning that he must either ask to be relieved, or else he (Meade) would prefer charges against him. For past three days Hancock has been so far disabled by his old wound that Birney has commanded the Second Corps. General Grant has just sent Hancock ten days’ leave unasked.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, VA., June 21, 1864-9 a.m.
(Received 6.30 p.m.)

All quiet at Petersburg during night. The pontoon bridge at Jones’ Neck was successfully thrown last night. One of Butler’s brigades under Foster passed over, and has constructed a bridge-head at Deep Bottom. Meade did not move the Second Corps last night, it being impracticable to get the Sixth and Eighteenth Corps ready to move Forrest’s official report of his fight with Sturgis. Forrest claims that he killed, wounded, and captured more men than he had in his own command.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA. June 21, 1864-10 a.m.
(Received 12.45 p.m. 22d.)

General Meade reports that his former report of casualties on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday last was erroneous. Instead of 7,000 it should have been 9,500.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

HEADQUARTERS U. S. ARMIES,
June 21, 1864. (Received 11 a.m. 22d.)

The Petersburg Express of this morning contains a report that General Hunter attacked Lynchburg on Saturday last and was repulsed. He approached the town by the Salem road. The report gives no account of casualties on either side or other circumstances, and I judge from its statement that the attack was nothing more than a reconnaissance. The Express says that a great battle was expected at Lynchburg on Sunday. All has been quiet at Petersburg during the day, except that the enemy threw a good many shells at the right of our lines this morning, doing no damage. The President arrived here about noon and has just returned from visiting the lines before Petersburg. As he came back, he passed through the division of colored troops commanded by General Hinks, which so greatly distinguished itself on Wednesday last. They were drawn up in double lines on each side of the road and welcomed him with hearty shouts. It was a memorable thing to behold the President, whose fortune it is to represent the principle of emancipation, passing bareheaded through the enthusiastic ranks of those negroes armed to defend the integrity of the American nation.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

FORT MONROE, VA., June 22, 1864-11.30 a.m.
(Received 6 p.m.)

Insert in Dana’s of 21st, sent this morning, between, “doing no damage” and “the President arrived,” the following:

CIPHER CLERK.

I was at Petersburg at 6 p.m. One division (Barlow’s) of the Second Corps had already taken up its position on the left of the Fifth, and the other two division were moving in the same direction. The Sixth Corps was all ready to withdraw from the lines on our right, and move to the left of the Second, or in case the Second should be attacked in the morning to support it. The Eighteenth Corps was in the rear, waiting to occupy the lines in place of the Sixth. General Foster reports from Deep Bottom that his cavalry scouts had fallen in with a considerable infantry force of the enemy. A woman in the neighborhood had also informed him that a whole division under a General Lee was about to attack him, but as he received this information this morning, and no sound of battle has yet been heard from that direction, it is probable that his anxiety was groundless.

C. A. DANA.

CITY POINT, July 1, 1864-10.30 a.m.
(Received 8 p.m.)

I arrived here an hour since, the boat having lain by last night and night before. The army occupies about the same lines as when you were here. The Eighteenth and Ninth Corps are alone engaged in anything like siege work, their effort being to get possession of a knoll before them. If they succeed in this the enemy will have to abandon this side of the Appomattox. On the left of the Ninth Corps the Fifth is posted, extending nearly southward across the Jerusalem road, but at so great a distance from the rebel fortifications as to have no immediate effect upon them. The Second and Sixth Corps are both well protected. No attempt has been made to establish intrenchments toward the Appomattox on the left since the failure of the Second and Sixth Corps on Thursday night of last week. It seems that the rebels are very strongly fortified there, also, and that if we were to attempt to envelop them for the whole distance, we should not only render our lines weak from their great extension, but should have no free infantry force to operate with elsewhere. Our batteries of heavy guns are used with much effect on Smith’s front. He keeps silent the rebel fort, Clifton, which you will recollect is on the west side of the Appomattox, and, as he thinks, has much damaged the railroad bridge. To this he is directing special attention. Grant thinks all the railroads are well broken up. The Weldon road Wright has pretty thoroughly destroyed with his infantry. On Butler’s front at Bermuda Hundred al is substantially as when you were here. I have in the most informal way communicated to Grant the substance of what you said respecting Rosecrans and Curtis. He thinks the most useful way to employ Rosecrans would be to station him at some convenient point on the Northern frontier with the duty of defecting and exposing rebel conspiracies in Canada.

C. A. DANA.

His Excellency the PRESIDENT,
Washington.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 1, 1864-11 a.m.
(Received 8.30 p.m.)

Grant thinks the difficulty between Meade and Warren has been settled without the extreme remedy which Meade proposed last week. Butler is pretty deep in controversial correspondence with “Baldy” Smith, in which Grant says Butler is clearly in the wrong. A report is here that Wilson has been surrounded and destroyed, but it is improbable. Grant does not believe it; besides, he thinks Wilson to be as likely as any other man to get safely out of a tight place. All that is certain is, that Kautz got separated from him, and that some men of Wilson’s division came in with him. It appears that Wilson had not the sort of roving commission which Grant supposed, but that Meade gave him explicit instructions as to every part of his course. That portion of them which related to the Danville railroad he had fully executed, except that it is not yet satisfactorily ascertained whether he succeeded in destroying the bridge over the Stauton River and had got back upon the Weldon road, near Stony Creek, when he was attacked by the whole body of the rebel cavalry. This had been set free by Sheridan crossing the James River and stopping to rest, and was all at once pitched upon Wilson. No doubt he had has hard fighting and heavy losses, but I think he will bring in the mass of his division in safety. Sheridan has gone out to help him, but his horses are badly jaded, and he cannot move very rapidly. Wright has moved out to Reams’ Station to support Sheridan.

C. A. DANA.

Hon. E. M. STANTON.
Washington.

***

CITY POINT, July 1, 1864, – 2 p.m.
(Received 8.20 a.m. 2nd.)

I have just seen General Kautz, and have obtained from him a clearer idea of the disaster to Wilson’s cavalry. It seems Wilson had been led to believe, by a dispatch from General Meade, that our lines had extended around to the Appomattox, or at least across the Weldon railroad . He was, accordingly confident of finding our pickets at Reams’ Station or near there. After he crossed the Sappony, on what is called the stage road, he was attacked by Hampton’s cavalry: fought them Tuesday afternoon and night between that stream and Stony Creek, relying all the while on aid from the Army of the Potomac, which he supposed to be in hearing of his cannon. One of his aides, Captain Whitaker, also cut his way through with a company and reported the case at General Meade’s, but succor could not be got up in season. Pushing on, Wilson crossed Stony Creek, when his advance, under Kautz, found before it an infantry force, which prisoners reported as consisting of three brigades, under Finegan. Wilson now determined to go back and break through Hampton’s force, but on returning to Stony Creek found that Hampton’s men had already destroyed the bridge. The case being desperate, he gave orders to destroy the train and artillery. The caissons were blown up, and the guns, twenty in number, spiked and hauled into a wooded morass just as Finegan’s force with a body of cavalry came up, charging so as to divide Kautz and Wilson. The former saw that he had a chance to bring off his command in safety, and thought that to rejoin Wilson would only be to expose himself to the danger of also being surrounded and captured. Accordingly, he marched out, bringing off his division and about 1,000 men of Wilson’s including the whole of the Second Ohio Regiment. He does not think Wilson has been captured, but that he has escaped with the mass of his troops, either passing to the southeast between Stony Creek and the Sappony and swimming or fording the Nottoway, or else by moving to the northwest toward Dinwiddie Court-House. Sheridan marched on Wednesday night, and left Prince George Court-House yesterday morning at 7 o’clock, while the Sixth Corps went to Reams’ Station, but nothing has been heard from them or from any of Wilson’s troops. If Wilson took the road by Dinwiddie Court-House he would have to make a long circuit before he could again come within reach of us. Kautz says that the outermost pickets of our army were really not more than one mile and a half from the scene of these events. Up to that point the expedition had been exceedingly successful. It had thoroughly destroyed the Danville railroad from about four miles northeast of Burke’s Station to the Stauton River, which General Meade’s orders fixed as the limit to their march in that direction. The bridge at that river they were not able to destroy. It was very strongly fortified and guarded. Most of the Danville track was of flat or strap iron laid upon pine scantling, so that the destruction was easy as well as perfect. On the South Side road they destroyed about four miles, working each way from the junction at Burke’s. The expedition averaged forty miles a day, doing the work of destruction mostly by night. They found no great stock of supplies in the country. Their horses fed chiefly on green oats and wheat. About 3,000 negroes, who had joined the column in Dinwiddie and Amelia, were with it when it was attacked. Kautz estimates the losses of his own command at about one-quarter of his division, which at starting was about 2,500 strong, but had not yet received any accurate reports from his officers.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Washington.

***

CITY POINT, July 1, 1864-4.30 p.m.
(Received 7.30 a.m. 2nd.)

I find that-in my last dispatch I misunderstood Kautz’ statement of the amount of railroad destructing accomplished by Wilson’s expedition. It seems before reaching Burke’s Station he had first destroyed about one mile and a half of the Weldon road, then he struck the South Side road, near Ford’s Station, and destroyed it is far as Black and Whites Station, after which he moved to the Junction and did what was reported in my former dispatch.

C. A DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

GRANT’S HEADQUARTERS,
July 1, 1864-5.30 p.m (Received 8.10 a.m. 2nd.)

One of General Meade’s scouts is just in, who left Wilson’s command this morning at 7 o’clock on the road from Suffolk to Prince George Court-House, Wilson having yesterday succeeded in crossing the Blackwater. The scout thinks he has most of his men with him, although he was obliged to abandon all property, and many of his men are dismounted. He will be in by night.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, July 1, 1864-7.30 p.m.
(Received 9.20 a.m. 2nd.)

Two of Wilson’s officers have just come in to report. He reached the James River about six miles above Powhatan at 5 o’clock. Men and horses are badly jaded, but the losses seem to be much less than we had supposed. He has with him also two of Kautz’s regiments, which that officer considered lost. From present appearances the total casualties of the expedition will not exceed 750, including killed, wounded, and missing. Of the property nothing fell into the hands of the enemy expect part of the artillery and the ambulances, which were full of men, wounded in the previous fighting. The wagons were all destroyed. When the column was attacked it had picked up in the country about 5,000 horses, but most of these were unable to stand the hard march by night and day and were lost before the escape was complete. Very many of the contrabands came safely off with the column. No particulars are yet reported, but this raid seems to have surpassed all others, except Hunter’s in the damage inflicted on the enemy.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Washington.

***

GRANT’S HEADQUARTERS,
July 2, 1864-11 a.m. (Received 4.50 p.m.)

Everything quiet this morning. There was a good deal of firing both of musketry and artillery about 10 p.m. yesterday on Burnside’s front, but it amounted to nothing. Nothing heard yet from Sheridan. Wilson is moving up to this vicinity to recruit his horses. The heat is excessive.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 3, 1864-9 a.m.
(Received 1.35 p.m.)

All quiet on lines and no new developments. The mine with which the rebel redoubt in front of Burnside is to be blown up is advancing well, but is a pretty heavy job, and will take some time yet. I have just come in from a visit to Wilson’s cavalry camp. The men and horses are both in much better condition than I had expected. Wilson estimates his total loss at from 750 to 1,000 men, including those lost from Kautz’s division. Of these some 600 were killed and wounded in fair fighting, of which they had plenty from the beginning. Wilson confirms Kautz’s statement that the expedition averaged forty miles a day. In one thirty-six hours Kautz marched eighty miles. Of railroads fully sixty miles were thoroughly destroyed. The Danville road, Wilson says, could not repaired in less than forty days, even if all the materials were at hand, and he has destroyed all the blacksmith shops where the bars might be straightened out, and all the mills where scantling for sleepers could be sawed. The thirty miles he broke up of the South Side road my be repaired in about ten days, if the work is not disturbed. That road has I rails and for want of suitable implements the rails could not be thoroughly destroyed, but only bent and twisted by laying them across piles of burning ties. The bridge across the Staunton or Roanoke River he was unable to destroy, because he could not cross the river to get in the rear of the fortifications, there being neither ford nor bridge for fifty miles, except this very railroad bridge. It had been garrisoned for protection against the cavalry of Hunter’s expedition. The river at that place is some 600 feet wide. The same want of means of crossing prevented the expedition from crossing back on the south side of that river. It appears that the only means of passing it used by the inhabitants is small ferry-boats, and with these the expedition could not have been safely got over. The final misfortune resulted from ignorance of the fact that the Army of the Potomac had not been able to take up the position indicated in General Meade’s instructions to Wilson; besides, all the scouts and country people reported that there was no rebel force between Stony Creek and the Federal lines. But for this Wilson would have crossed the Nottoway and come in by the route he finally adopted, moving by Jarratt’s Station to the Blackwater near Waverly. At that place the column was detained for some ten hours to restore a destroyed bridge. The whole Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac is now camped near Light-house Point. General Sheridan thinks it will take ten days to recruit the horses so that they can resume the offensive efficiently. Wilson brought in about 400 negroes and many of the vast numbers of horses and mules gathered in his course. He reports that the rebels slaughtered without mercy the negroes they retook. Wilson’s loss in property is a small wagon train, used to carry ammunition, his ambulance train, and 12 cannon. The horses of cannon and wagons were generally brought off. Of the cannon two were removed from the carriages, the wheels of which were broken, and the guns thrown into the water, and one other gun had been disabled by a rebel shot breaking the trunnions before it was abandoned.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

GENERAL GRANT’S HEADQUARTERS,
July 3, 1864-3.30 p.m. (Received 8 p.m.)

There is pretty good evidence that Early is now here, and all of Ewell’s corps with him, but Breckinridge has not yet rejoined Lee’s army. If he is moving down the Valley, as Sigel reports, it is possible that he may have with him 10,000 men of all sorts, not more.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

GRANT’S HEADQUARTERS,
City Point, July 3, 1864-4 p.m.

The Petersburg Express of yesterday proposes that the Yankee prisoners should be fed on bread and water only, rather than starve the Confederate soldiers and people in the two cities. This paper admits that while the roads are cut as at present supplies are very short: besides if the roads should be repaired, it says there is no telling how soon they will be broken again.

C. A. DANA.

SECRETARY OF WAR.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 4, 1864-9.30 a.m.
(Received 7.15 a.m. 5th.)

No new developments at the front. Burnside’s mine is hindered by springs and quicksands. Smith’s batteries of 30-pounder Parrotts are believed to have damaged it considerably. The enemy, who have repaired the road where General Butler broke it, make no attempt to run trains into Petersburg. Two citizens who came in from Richmond, having left that place on Thursday, report that the rebels are at work repairing the Virginia Central. It seems that the road between Gordonsville and Lynchburg has never been interrupted for any great length of time.  A good deal of sickness from the extreme heat is reported from both Smith’s and Meade’s commands, in front of Petersburg. Weather cool this morning, but no rain.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA. July 4, 1864-12.30 p.m.
(Received 6.15 a.m. 5th.)

Though General Grant fully acquiesced in your observations respecting General Barnard, still I deem it exceedingly desirable that the latter should be recalled from him. His advice tends to blunder and injury. General Meade is less positive than yesterday in his belief that Early is here. Deserters reported him here, but Meade states that he has captured no men from him (Early’s) command.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA, July 4, 1864-1 p.m.
(Received 6.15 a.m. 5th.)

General Barnard has laid before General Grant a memorandum explaining various plans for immediate operations, and concluded with an elaborate recommendation of an assault upon the key of Petersburg, which is a strong earth-work in front of Warren. It stands at the angle above the rebel lines on the east of the town which run pretty nearly north and south, joining those on the south whose general direction is about east and west. Barnard proposes to make very careful preparations to concentrate the fire of at least 100 cannon upon the point, and to attack with very heavy masses of men. I do not think that General Grant is much inclined to this idea, but he has sent to ask Meades’ opinion about it. All our experience shows that with the mass of Lee’s army to defend the works assailed they cannot be carried, and that the attempt, if made with vigor, would cost us at least 15,000 men.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 4, 1864-4 p.m.
(Received 5.55 a.m. 5th.)

The Richmond Examiner of Saturday claims that they have taken 500 prisoners from Wilson’s command, including 250 wounded, 16 cannon, and between 500 and 700 negroes of all sizes and sexes, 35 wagons, 33 ambulances, and a great train of carriages and buggies. Many of the negroes were dressed in the finery of their masters and mistresses. The captured soldiers were loaded, according to the Examiner, with stolen watches, silverware, and ladies’ and children’s clothing. That paper argues, in a bitter article two columns long that they ought not to be treated as prisoners of war, but as bandits and assassins. It seems the recaptured negroes unanimously declared they had been forced away from their homes, and the Examiner says the men who committed this outrage ought to be hung.

C. A. DANA.

SECRETARY OF WAR.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 4, 1864-4 p.m.

A deserter from the Sixty-first Virginia, who came into Hancock’s lines this morning from the extreme right of the rebel army, says it was reported in their camp that Ewell had gone into Maryland with his own corps and the other forces lately operating in the Valley. He took only hard bread in his wagons and left all baggage at Staunton. The same deserter reports that the rations of Lee’s army have been reduced to one-quarter of a pound of meat, whilst the ration of sugar and coffee has ceased to be regularly issued.

C. A. DANA.

SECRETARY OF WAR,
Washington, D. C.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 5, 1864-8 a.m.
(Received 6 p.m.)

General Meade totally condemns Barnard’s project of assault. He says that he did his best against the very work Barnard desires to attack twelve hours after he got here and failed. It has since been much strengthened. Meade also condemns the idea of throwing a heavy force across the Appomattox, with ten days’ rations, to operate on the right of the enemy, for the reason that the column would have to cut loose from its base and the rest of the army, and would probably be confronted by intrenched lines on that side also. He favors regular siege operations where we are, and places a good deal of dependence upon Burnside’s mine. That mine will be ready in a week. Meade holds to the plans of operating against the rebel lines of communication by the cavalry alone, and says it will be a fortnight before Sheridan is ready to resume the offensive. An intelligent deserter says General Early is here in person, but does not know where his troops are. He also says Lee is about making a flank movement against this army, which means if anything, that our left is to be attacked. On that wing both Hancock and Wright are massed.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

HEADQUARTERS OF GENERAL GRANT,
City Point, July 6, 1864-8 a.m. (Received 12.10 p.m.).

Rickett’s division, of the Sixth Corps, with a force of dismounted cavalry from 8,000 to 10,000 men in all, embark this morning for Baltimore. Nothing new along the lines yesterday. Burnside reports that the gallery of his mine had advanced 290 feet yesterday morning. He intends to divide the gallery into five branches, and to put a ton of powder in each. Some prominent officers says that the enemy is aware of the mine, and has constructed a new line within that he means to blow up. Meade told me yesterday that he was at last convinced that Early and his troops had gone down the Valley. Ewell, as you are aware, is disabled and commands in Richmond. The Richmond Examiner of yesterday urges that no prisoners should be taken from raiding parties. Richmond is suffering for want of vegetables, butter, and milk, all owing to the drought.

10 a.m.-After another examination of the angle in the rebel lines in front of Warren, General Barnard yesterday telegraphed* his former recommendation that it should be assaulted. He had satisfied himself that the necessary position for artillery could not be obtained.

C. A. DANA.

Hon. E. M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA. July 6, 1864-1.30 p.m

Ricketts is not yet embarked, but will be started in two or three hours. His division numbers 4,500. General Meade thinks the dismounted cavalry will make as many more, but we have no precise report yet.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 7, 1864-8 a.m.
(Received 6 p.m.)

A change in the commander of the Army of the Potomac, now seems probable. Grant has great confidence in Meade, and is much attached to him personally, but the almost universal dislike of Meade which prevails among officers of every rank who come in contact with him, and the difficulty of doing business with him felt by every one except Grant himself, so greatly impair his capacities for usefulness and render success under his command so doubtful that Grant seems to be coming to the conviction that he must be relieved. The facts in the matter have come very slowly to my knowledge, and it was not until yesterday that I became certain of some of the most important. I have long known Meade to be a man of the worst possible temper, especially toward his subordinates. I do not think he has a friend in the whole army. No man, no matter what his business or his service, approaches him without being insulted in one way or another, and his own staff officers do not dare to speak to him, unless first spoken to, for fear of either sneers or curses. The latter, however, I have never heard him indulge in very violently but he is said to apply the often without occasion and without reason. At the same time-as far as I am able to ascertain-his generals have lost their confidence in him as a commander. His order for the last series of assaults upon Petersburg, in which he lost 10,000 men without gaining any decisive advantage, was to the effect that he had found it impracticable to secure the co-operation of corps commanders, and therefore each one was to attack on his own account and do the best he could by himself. Consequently each gained some advantage of position, but each exhausted his own strength in so doing, while for the want of a general purpose and a general commander to direct and concentrate the whole it all amounted to nothing but heavy loss to

—————

*So in copy on file, but it should probably read-withdrew his former recommendation, &c., or, telegraphed withdrawal of his former, &c.

—————

ourselves. Of course there are matters about which I cannot make inquiries, but what I have above reported is the general sense of what I have above reported is the general sense of what seems to be the opinion of fair-minded and zealous officers. For instance, I know that General Wright has said to a confidential friend that all of Meade’s attacks have been made without brains and without generalship. The subject came to pretty full discussion at Grant’s headquarters last night on occasion of a correspondence between Meade and Wilson. The Richmond Examiner charges Wilson with stealing not only negroes and horses, but silver plate and clothing on his raid, and Meade, taking the statement of the Examiner for truth, reads Wilson a lecture and calls on him for explanations. Wilson denies the charges of robing women and churches, and hopes Meade will not be ready to condemn his command because its operations have excited the ire of the public enemy. This started the conversation in which Grant expressed himself quite frankly as to the general trouble with Meade and his fear that it would become necessary to relieve him. In such event he said it would be necessary to put Hancock in command.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 7, 1864-8.30 a.m.

Nothing of importance since yesterday morning. The firing on Smith’s and Burnside’s lines was pretty constant during the day and night, and is active this morning. Drought continues.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA. July 7, 1864-9 a.m.
(Received 8.30 p.m.)

An intelligent refugee, who came into our lines by way of Reams’ Station, reports that the rebels are at work repairing the Weldon railroad. They have a large wagon train running from the break on the south toward Richmond by way of Dinwiddie Court-House. The same refugee says that as soon as Atlanta is taken Alabama will quit the Confederacy.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

HEADQUARTERS IN THE FIELD,
City Point, Va., July 8, 1864-9.30 a.m. (Received 3.15 p.m.)

Nothing of much importance this morning. Firing pretty active in the trenches yesterday, but without consequence. Directions have been given to make regular siege approaches to the rebel lines. General Meade reports that Burnside’s mine will prove of no value. He thinks the best place to work at is the salient angle on the Jerusalem plank road in Warren’s front. This is the point which Barnard proposed to assault, as I reported several days since. We had a trifling shower yesterday, without effect on the drought.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 8, 1864-1 p.m.
(Received 5 p.m.)

General Meade reports that a construction train went south from Petersburg this morning, and that the rebel working parties engaged in repairing the Weldon railroad are protected by detachments of cavalry and infantry. General Grant has ordered all of Sheridan’s cavalry that are in condition for the work to move out upon that road, supported by the entire Second Corps, and to destroy it thoroughly as far south as Hicksford. They are to move day after to-morrow night. We have the Richmond Examiner of the 7th and 8th, full of fury over Wilson’s raid. They complain that Richmond is running short of water owing to the drought. The fisheries have closed for the season, having produced almost nothing, because the Yankee gun-boats were in the way. The depot for prisoners of war at Andersonville, Ga., now contains 30,000, requiring 5,000 soldiers to guard them. All but the wounded have been sent there from Richmond. Another depot has been established farther south, at some place not named.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

***

CITY POINT, VA., July 9, 1864-9 p.m.
(Received 2 p.m.)

Burnside, a line of rebel infantry suddenly appeared along the crest of their parapets as if to advance upon our works. They fired a single volley, and received one from the men in our trenches, after which they fell back behind their breast-works. Our troops were all under cover, and we had no losses. The movement seems to have been for the purpose of ascertaining whether we were still there. The Richmond papers have of late abounded in reports that Grant was withdrawing his army. Weather hot; no rain.

C. A. DANA.

Honorable EDWIN M. STANTON.
Secretary of War.

Source:

  1. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume XL, Part 1 (Serial Number 80), pages 18-37

***



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