Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
THE SITUATION AT PETERSBURG.
We received yesterday morning of Mr. A. A. Tentler, a copy of a Petersburg paper, some ten hours in advance of the mail. It confirms the rumoured stir and commotion in Grant’s army, and reports that considerable change has been made in Grant’s front. It says:
It is positively known that Grant has greatly contracted his lines around the city, having withdrawn an army corps or more from his extreme left, which, until Saturday, extended to Dr. Gurley’s farm, within four miles of Reams’ station, and about two miles to the east of the Petersburg and Weldon road. His reasons for this contraction are not known, but two or three causes suggest themselves. His idea of circumvallating the city, so as to include the Weldon, Southside and Danville railroads, has been completely exploded by the recent disastrous termination of his grand Wilson raid.
Again, the point to which he had extended his left offered such a tempting bait to Mahone that it had been twice flanked and a large number of prisoners captured. It is said, too, by persons who know the country, that in that particular section there is always a great scarcity of water, but since the present protracted drought it has been next to an impossibility to procure it. Prisoners taken confirm this, and say that there has been great suffering in camp for water. During one of the late engagements in that section a General barely escaped capture while endeavouring to slake his thirst over a little mud-puddle in the woods.—Two of his Aids were not so fortunate, and our soldiers captured them on the spot.
Our cavalry have also contributed somewhat to this recent contraction of Grant’s lines. A day or two more will fully develop the intentions of Grant.
It was also rumoured in Petersburg that the enemy had embarked a large number of troops at City Point on Thursday last. The men occupied five large transports, and the boats appeared to be crowded to overflowing. Whether these were men whose terms of service has expired, or whose removal from Grant’s army have been rendered necessary for operations elsewhere, was not known.
Tremendous cannonading commenced Sunday night, about ten o’clock, on our left. One of the guns used was a whopper, and each explosion shook the city.
MORE OF THE RAID—THE FIGHT NEAR SAPPONI CHURCH—THE FRUITS OF THE VICTORY—BETTER AND BETTER.
The more we hear the more complete is rendered our victory over the raiders. We get the following additional particulars from the Petersburg papers:
The fight near Sapponi church was most hotly contested, and continued from six, P. M., of Tuesday, until after sunrise on Wednesday morning. Then it was that we turned the enemy’s flank, and caused him to run for Reams’ station with all the rapidity which his much jaded horses would allow.
In this fight several hundred prisoners were taken, who were immediately sent forward to the prison depot in Georgia. None estimate the number at less than five hundred, and many put it as high as seven hundred. There have already been received in Petersburg about four hundred prisoners unhurt, and one hundred and thirty-five wounded.—Squads continue to come in. As they were scattered in every direction during their flight, they will doubtless come in for several days yet, and one may safely estimate the losses of the enemy in prisoners alone at twelve hundred or more.
We also captured many hundred small arms and 60,000 rounds of ammunition. Our cavalry succeeded in finding two additional pieces of cannon in the Nottoway river, between Stony creek and Jarratt’s depot, last Saturday. These pieces were beautiful mountain howitzers. They will make our total captures in artillery fifteen pieces, and prisoners say that this is the sum total taken out by the enemy.
It is reported that we have captured several thousand horses, although the enemy killed at least eight hundred or one thousand. The horses are much exhausted, but can, for the most part, be recuperated, and made to render good service.
The captured wagon train, on Thursday, included Wilson’s headquarter and private wagons.—They are said to have contained many valuables. Among other articles, were the commander in-chief’s rich wardrobe, and a very choice collection of wines, brandies, English cheese, sardines, and such other luxuries as only the dainty appetite of this modern Sardanapalus could endure.
Besides the very large number of contrabands received in Petersburg, a drove of one hundred and twenty took fright during the fight of Wednesday and fled back in the direction of their homes. A gentleman, residing in Petersburg, saw these negroes Saturday near Sutherland’s depot, covered with dirt, weary and worn out, plodding along, and endeavouring to reach the happy and contented homes from which they had been enticed. Numbers had stopped at their homes by the way. It is safe to say, that this defeat of Wilson’s band has reclaimed at least one thousand slaves.
These raiders seemed more intent on plunder in their late raid, than has ever been the case previously. They robbed ladies of breastpins, ear rings and finger-rings. When the rings were not surrendered quietly, one of the Yankee ruffians would hold the victim in his strong arms while another would remove the jewelry. Ladies’dresses, from the undergarment to their richest silks, were stolen indiscriminately. Many of the wagons stolen were heavily freighted with every description of ladies’ wearing apparel.
A Yankee Major, of considerable intelligence, revealed the following, which he alleges was the programme chalked out by Grant:
Wilson and Kautz were to effect a most thorough destruction of the Southside and Danville railroads, but were to part company this side of Danville. Wilson was to come down through the rich counties of Charlotte, Lunenburg, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Greensville and Sussex, stealing all the horses and negroes which could be found in his way, and again enter Grant’s lines by way of Stony creek; and if, this point proved impracticable, to come out where he entered, at Reams’ station. Kautz was to proceed to Danville, from thence to Greensboro, then on to Raleigh, and thence along the Raleigh and Gaston railroad to Weldon.—At the latter place the bridge was to be burned, and Kautz was then to make for the Blackwater, and come around through Southampton, Surry, Sussex and Prince George to Grant’s headquarters.
This officer states that the combined forces numbered all of eight thousand; that they were splendidly armed and equipped; well mounted; had picked men; and that, in all respects, it was intended to have been the grandest raid of the war.
FATAL ACCIDENT FROM PLAYING WITH A SHELL.
A cavalryman from Georgia, attached to General Dearing’s command, whose name we did not learn, was seriously, and it is feared fatally wounded on Saturday afternoon, by the explosion of a shell, which he was handling. He was riding up Lombardy street, when seeing a shell lying upon the pavement, he dismounted and proceeded to draw the powder from it. He had unscrewed the cap, and was jostling the small end of the shell on the rocks, so as to jar the powder out, when the latter ignited and a tremendous explosion occurred. One of his hands was terribly torn, one leg badly broken, his face bruised and mangled, and probably some internal injuries was sustained.1
- “The Situation at Petersburg.” Richmond Examiner. July 5, 1864, p. 2 col. 4-5 ↩