Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin. Portions of this article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg were omitted.
THE WAR NEWS.
The city was undisturbed by even a rumour until yesterday evening, when it was reported, upon what authority we could not learn, that a Northern paper of the 30th June had been received, which stated that, upon the receipt of the news of the defeat of Sherman and Kautz, the Yankee Congress had taken up the military bill and abolished the three hundred dollar clause by an overwhelming majority. It was said the same paper quoted gold at 262.
THE SITUATION ABOUT RICHMOND AND PETERSBURG—RUMOURED GRAND ATTACK OF THE ENEMY TO-DAY.
It was the general impression in the army last evening that Grant was preparing for a grand combined attack on Petersburg and Richmond this morning. He was certainly actively shifting the positions of his forces. New troops were being placed in front of Petersburg, whilst others, who had been there since the beginning of the siege, were withdrawn. It was believed to be satisfactorily ascertained that Warren’s army corps had been thrown across to the north bank of James river, near Deep Bottom. The Yankees have removed the obstructions recently sunk by them in Trent’s Reach.
Deserters who came into our lines yesterday say that Grant, on the previous day, informed his army, in a General Order, that unless it were sooner surrendered he should lay Petersburg in ashes to day. They also report that a number of heavy guns have been put into position to shell the place.
Last evening it was currently reported in Petersburg that Grant had demanded the surrender of the town by ten o’clock this morning.
Appearances would seem to indicate that Grant is about to celebrate the anniversary of his nation’s birth-day, by a grand old final effort to take the capital of the Confederacy and crush this “wicked rebellion.”
BURNSIDE—WHERE IS HE?
Burnside was reported a week ago to have left Petersburg and gone to Washington. Since then we have heard nothing from him. We admit, as the general conviction seems so strong in that direction, that he has left Petersburg, but we are by no means satisfied that his whereabouts has been satisfactorily settled. Why should he go to Washington? The Yankees certainly do not intend to make “heavy artillery out of him and his negro troops. Possibly he may be on the Pamunkey, in the neighbourhood of the White House, ready to co-operate in a combined movement against this city.
During Saturday there was no news from Kautz and his brigands, after their defeat. What became of them after their rout at Reams’ has not been learned. “Our cavalry were in pursuit,” but we presume that, as usual, little came of it. The fugitive in such cases has every advantage. He throws away whatever encumbers him and gathers fresh horses as he goes.
About noon, on Saturday, the following despatch from General Lee was made public. It will be seen he puts the number of the raiders captured during their whole “expedition” at one thousand. Some of these have reached the Libby; others were sent South. This is General Lee’s despatch:
“HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
“July 1st, 1864.
“HON. SECRETARY OF WAR:
“General Beauregard reports a feeble demonstration made by the enemy on a portion of General Johnson’s lines about five, P. M., yesterday. His skirmishers, supported by two lines of troops, drove in our line of skirmishers, which was re established at dark.
“In the various conflicts with the enemy’s cavalry in their late expedition against the railroads, besides their killed and wounded left on the field, one thousand prisoners, thirteen pieces of artillery, thirty wagons and ambulances, many small arms, horses ordnance stores, and several hundred negroes, taken from the plantations on their route, were captured.
R. E. LEE, General.”
Through a letter from a valued correspondent we have some facts concerning Kautz’s raid not previously published. The raiders, about six thousand strong, reached Kingsville, on the Danville road, seventy five miles from Richmond and fifteen from Staunton river bridge, on the afternoon of Friday, the 24th instant. Their first exploits at this place were the burning of the depot and other railroad buildings, the Masonic hall and Mr. Isaac Well’s smoke house. On the following morning they divided their forces, one half being set to work to destroy the railroad, which they did at their leisure, in the most effectual manner.—The rest went off in ravaging parties into the surrounding country, stole negroes and horses, and ransacked and pillaged private houses.
A party of seventy-two reached Charlotte Court House about eleven o’clock Saturday, and remained three or four hours, and employed themselves in stealing horses, destroying furniture, breaking open iron safes, and robbing citizens of money, watches and jewelry. They did not burn the Court House, clerk’s office, or any other building.
After leaving Keysville, they burnt all the depot buildings and works at Drake’s Branch, Mossingford and Roanoke stations, and nearly every sawmill on the line of the road between Burkeville and Staunton river. In some instances, they burnt tobacco houses and corn cribs with their contents, but everywhere spared the grist mills, at the solicitation of the negroes.
About the time the main body were at Staunton river bridge, General H. F. Lee attacked their rear squadrons on the plantation of Mr. William M. Watkins, near Mossingford, but with no important result, our men and horses being, from fatigue, in poor condition for a fight.
Our correspondent, speaking of the enemy’s loss in the fight at Staunton river bridge, a detailed account of which we have heretofore published, says that after the battle we found forty of their dead in front of the bridge, and subsequently discovered sixteen others in a wheat field near by, and dragged out twelve from Little Roanoke river. Five newly made graves on the ground occupied by the enemy indicated where others, supposed to have been officers, had been buried. In the smoking ruins of a store-house, burnt by them at Roanoke station, were found the charred carcasses of ten or a dozen more. Last Tuesday two other dead bodies were found in the fields near the bridge. These facts induce us to believe the enemy’s loss in this affair was at least one hundred killed. We have no means of ascertaining the number of their wounded. Eight prisoners taken near the bridge, said their loss during the action was three hundred killed and wounded, but it is not probable that they know anything about it. It is more likely their casualties of all sorts exceeded five hundred. The movements of the enemy after this fight tells how severely they were punished. They wasted no more time in pillaging farm houses, but made a straight and precipitate run for the protection of Grant’s lines.
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 4, 1864, p. 1 col. 1-3 ↩