Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
THE WAR NEWS.
No military event of moment occurred in this vicinity yesterday. Some prisoners, captured Monday night and brought in yesterday morning, stated that Grant, so far from intending to attack on the 4th, was all that day expecting an attack upon his own lines.
Some one who left Petersburg early yesterday and arrived here at midday, brought the report that on Monday night Grant concentrated his forces and made a vigorous assault upon Beauregard’s left, near the Appomattox. There was no truth in this story, as we learned from persons who came over from Petersburg last evening. There was some musketry firing on Beauregard’s left Monday night, but it amounted to nothing.
We are as ignorant of Grant’s designs as we were two days ago. There is nothing to induce the belief that he intends to attack Richmond. He kept up his usual shelling yesterday, and his usual kicking up of dust within his own lines—both very insignificant circumstances. Two reports gained currency yesterday evening, one to the effect that Grant was preparing to evacuate his position and go down the river, the other that he was moving back to the north bank. We think these rumours originated rather in deductions of reason than from opinions based upon known facts. People very naturally concluded, if Grant did not intend to fight, he would, like a sensible man, go away; that longer delay could not help him, as all of his cavalry raids having failed, and having received every reinforcement that could be raked and scraped throughout his country, he had nothing further to wait for. This appears to us sound reasoning, but still we know of no facts to confirm it.
It was rumoured last night that the monitor fleet had dropped down the river. We failed to obtain any official confirmation of the rumour.
Dense clouds of smoke, stretching over several miles of country, could be seen from the city yesterday in the direction of Bermuda Hundred, presenting the appearance of large bodies of forest on fire. Persons who came over in the evening train from Petersburg saw this smoke, but heard no explanation of it. It looked to them to be within the lines of the enemy.
We are still without news from the Southwest later than the official telegrams of General Johnston, published some days ago.
Grant assumed command of the army of the Potomac at Culpepper in April last. At the time it was composed of a number of skeleton corps. One of his first measures was to consolidate these corps in four CORPS D’ARMEES, under the respective commands of Hancock, Warren, Sedgwick and Burnside. Each of these corps, after the re organization, comprised between thirty-five and forty thousand men. With this army, nominally under the command of Meade, Generalissimo Grant crossed the Rapid Ann, and began that extraordinary series of battles for the possession of Richmond, which has so far resulted only in bringing him up in the most malarious region of Virginia, the marshes of the Appomattox. Sedgwick was killed at Spottsylvania. General Wright was assigned to the command of his corps. All of these corps suffered heavily at the Wilderness, at Spottsylvania Court House, and at Cold Harbour, but received, from time to time, reinforcements almost equal to their losses. At the latter place the army of the Potomac received the accession of Baldy Smith’s corps. When it reached its present position its numbers were still further swelled by Butler’s command. Butler’s and Smith’s commands, after the depletion incident to several violent collisions with Beauregard, numbered together, perhaps, thirty thousand men. If we allow to each of the four original corps thirty thousand men, we shall find Grant at the time of his assault upon Petersburg with an army of one hundred fifty thousand men, exclusive of raiders. Since he sat down before Petersburg he has lost in killed, wounded and prisoners, and by disease, not less than twenty-five thousand men. It is said that Burnside’s corps has been sent to Washington.—This, if true, and we see no reason to believe or disbelieve it would have reduced the army of Grant to under one hundred thousand men, but for the receipt of reinforcements equal in number to the troops thus detached. We know Grant would not have given up Burnside willingly at any time, and not at all had he not known how his place was to be supplied. He dared not show himself so near to Lee with anything under a hundred thousand men.
Just at this time, whilst we are wondering where, if Burnside has gone to Washington, Grant is to get the troops to supply his place, “prisoners recently captured say that the Nineteenth corps, numbering thirty thousand men,” has reached the Appomattox. This Nineteenth army corps is the corps of A. J. Smith, from the Trans-Mississippi department which, according to the Yankee newspapers, saved Banks from utter destruction by its timely arrival on the battlefield of Pleasant Hill, on the 8th of April last. If it now numbers thirty thousand men, it was brought up to that figure by the consolidation of three or four army corps of the Trans Mississippi.
We have written these paragraphs to give the reader some idea of who are our bad neighbours on the Southside, and what are their powers for mischief. We have taken no account of sixty and hundred day men, because we regard them not as an element of strength to the enemy.
It may be proper to say a word of the enemy’s cavalry arm. When Grant came south of the Rapid Ann he had twenty thousand cavalry. They were picked men, superbly mounted and equipped, and the most of them armed with a new and fearfully destructive weapon, the Stevens carbine.
With this tremendous army Grant has accomplished this: He has shifted his position from the north bank of the Rapid Ann to the south bank of the Appomattox; this is his greatest achievement, and the one upon which he most prides himself. He has thrown up a hundred miles of earthworks. He has lost one hundred thousand of his men; on this also he prides himself not a little. He has torn up fifty miles of our railroads. He has knocked holes into some dwelling houses in Petersburg. He has laid waste many a homestead. And lastly, he has made no impression upon the army of General Lee. Its bayonets bristle before him to-day more numerously than when he first met them in the Wilderness of Spottsylvania.
WORN OUT CAVALRY HORSES.
It is now the practice to send fagged out cavalry horses into the interiour to recuperate, under the charge of detailed men. If there were good pasturage, the horses would improve rapidly; but in consequence of the long drought, there being absolutely no grazing, the horses are tied up in the woods and fed upon the tithe clover hay, the only crop that has yet come in. Each horse consumes thirty pounds of this hay per diem; and instead of recuperating, grows feebler every day, and finally dies. In this way vast quantities of the clover hay have been wasted, and more is every day being wasted, and the services of large numbers of able-bodied soldiers detailed to take care of the horses, are lost to the army. Hay, horses and soldiers are all lost. Far better would it be for the country to sell the broken down horses to the farmers, to work their corn crops; give the money to the cavalrymen, and then put the latter into the infantry. The cavalry horses in the field and the artillery horses want the clover hay.1
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 6, 1864, p. 1 col. 1-2 ↩