Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin. Portions of the article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg have been omitted.
THE WAR NEWS.
Grant failed to come to time yesterday. The Yankee nation and the Confederate people expected that he had reserved for his nation’s anniversary his final attempt on the Confederate capital. General Lee and his host were ready for the onslaught, but Grant, in the laconic language of the prize ring, failed to come to times. Unusual quiet prevailed along his lines yesterday and remained unbroken till noon. It has been suggested that he was drunk in honour of the day, but we think the difficulty with him was more serious than that. He has discovered that his last and greatest flank movement is no great military movement after all. He has swapped the swamps of the Chickahominy for the marshes of the Appomattox, the hasty earthworks of Cold Harbour for the fortifications of Petersburg, and at length he feels that he has gained nothing by the exchange. Could he have seen the remotest prospect of success, he would have attacked us yesterday. That he did not will cause a blank disappointment to his countrymen at home; indeed, it caused some here. A number of our people went out into Chesterfield yesterday to witness the fight, and came back at night sorely disappointed. Grant did not attack because he is too weak.
Information received from a number of sources convinces us that Grant is making some very important changes in the disposition of his forces. He has abandoned his position near the Petersburg and Weldon railroad and drawn in his left a mile or more; his men are kicking up a mighty dust continually, as if in rapid motion; and there is a general agitation and movement along his entire front. It is not impossible that he is about to seek a new base, this time by the rear and not flank movement; but the impression in the army is that he is recruiting new men and sending off veterans whose term of service has expired.
Up to noon yesterday fewer Yankee shells were directed against the city than usual. After that time, for an hour and a half, shot and shell were thrown in at the rate of four a minute.
The latest news from these brigands is that the remnant of them were making their way in a scattered and disorganized condition towards Grant’s rear. Their expedition, begun so gaily and conducted so haughtily till they reached Staunton river bridge, ended in disaster. At Sapponi church, Reams’ station and Stony creek they lost the entire fruits of their campaign, all their artillery, and more than one third of their men.
Besides the negroes, wagons, ambulances and other stolen property, we are said to have taken from them upwards of three thousand horses.
Our meat, provision and vegetable market is inadequately supplied, and the prices of food are enormously high. It would be a very great satisfaction to the kind hearted Yankee nation to know that this state of things was due to the presence near our city of their latest great military chieftain, Grant, and to his military movements. Grant has about as much to do with the prices of food in Richmond as has that Italian blackguard, Garibaldi, though the one is on the Mediterranean and the other on the insalubrious Appomattox.
Since the night of the battle of Cold Harbour, now more than a month, we have had nothing that deserved to be called a rain. We have had several light showers that did not lay the dust. This drought has been general in the county from which Richmond draws its supplies. Summer vegetables and fruits have suffered severely, and beef, butter and milk have grown scarce. This alone accounts for our present dearth and the consequent high prices. One good drenching rain, which we shall have in less than a week, will insure us an abundance of all the fruits of the earth, whether Grant keeps his ague-shaken army idle on the Appomattox or tries “conclusions” with General Lee before Petersburg.1
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 5, 1864, p. 1 col. 1 ↩