Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of articles from the New York Daily News. His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.
FROM GENERAL FOSTER’S COMMAND
[Correspondence of the Boston Traveler]
July 1, 1864
Deep Bottom Bluffs, Va.
July 1, 1864
During the past week the enemy have appeared in force on our front, and have exhibited considerable activity and industry in erecting earthworks and getting batteries into position to work on our transports and gunboats on the James River. After considerable maneuvering, working after dark and screening themselves behind a belt of woods to escape the fire of our gunboats, the enemy managed to get a battery planted in a favorable position for shelling our transports while passing near the pontoon bridge at Jones Neck. The rebs erected their battery about a mile inland, near Four Mile Run, and uncovered it on Tuesday night [June 28] by cutting away the woods. The gunboat Hunchback shelled it during the day on Wednesday, [June 29] but elicited no reply until late in the afternoon, when the enemy opened on a tugboat towing a supply vessel up the river. The Hunchback “sailed in” with another gunboat and threw shot and shell over to the rebs in lively style, but with what effect I am unable to say. The effect of the rebel fire was a hole knocked into each of the gunboats, and the engineer of the tugboat had one of his legs knocked off.
One of the monitors was immediately brought down the river and got into position, when she threw two or three blacksmith shops over to the rebs, which completely silenced them, and all was quiet on the James until yesterday afternoon [June 30], when a dispatch was received from Capt. Bell, in command of a detachment of the 24th Massachusetts, stationed on the bluffs below Four Mile Run, stating that a force of rebel cavalry, with two pieces of artillery, had made their appearance in that neighborhood. The Hunchback at once steamed down the river and shelled the woods and ravines in that vicinity. The rebs returned the compliment by shelling the pickets of Captain Bell’s command; but the gunboat kept the enemy at so great a distance that they could do us but little injury. Captain Bell’s command consists of Cos. A and C of the 24th Massachusetts. Our forces on this side of the river, consisting of cavalry, artillery and infantry, are under the command of Gen. R.S. Foster. It is positively known that there is at least a division of rebel troops in front of us — how many, or if any more, is not known. In our immediate front the enemy have erected two batteries, one pierced for four guns and the other four eight guns. It is reported to-day that the enemy have drawn off their artillery from our front, probably with a view of operating at a point further down the river.
The Engineer Corps have laid out work enough at this point to keep the force here busy till next Fall. The boys have polished their picks and shovels with the sacred soil and have got dry at the work, are now looking anxiously for that portion of whisky which Gen. Grant has ordered for them. The regiments stationed here are temperate, but the men are not all teetotallers.
The cannonading in the direction of Petersburg has been very heavy for the last three days. Large fires are burning on all sides of us day and night. The destruction of property in the vicinity of the two armies is fearful. Dwellings, granaries, and standing crops are all going to ruin. The widow on whose plantation we are encamped values her crops at fifteen thousand dollars in Confederate money. She will be lucky if she realizes fifteen dollars on the entire lot.
- “From General Foster’s Command,” New York Daily News, July 11, 1864, p. 5 col. 2-3 ↩