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NP: July 18, 1864 Richmond Examiner: The War News, July 16-17


As on previous days the invasion of Maryland was the subject mostly engaging publick attention and interest on Saturday and yesterday [July 16 and 17, 1864].  Saturday evening Washington papers were received announcing that our forces had withdrawn from before Washington and were presumed to be retreating into Virginia by way of Edward’s ferry, near Leesburg.  Extracts from these papers will be found in another part of this journal.  From these it will be seen that it was not certain that our forces had retreated further than Rocksville, which is in Montgomery county, Maryland, sixteen miles northwest of Washington.  It will also be observed that the Yankees, up to the last moment, were in a state of the most perplexing ignorance as to the strength of our army of invasion.

From a gentleman who left Washington last Monday [July 11, 1864] we learn that the troops mentioned by us on Saturday [July 16, 1864] as going up the Potomac in twenty-four transports, were Warren’s corps, estimated at between ten and twelve thousand men.1


From the Baltimore AMERICAN of the evening of the 14th [of July, 1864] received here yesterday, we are assured that General Franklin had been permitted to escape from our forces.  The paper publishes General Franklin’s statement of the manner of his escape.  He says he was consigned to the charge of a Confederate captain and two men, who took him into a barn yard, where they all laid down and compelled him to do the same.  Very soon his guard fell asleep.  At first he could not credit that they were really asleep, but believed that they desired him to attempt to escape that they might have an excuse for shooting him.  In order to try them he arose walked about the barn yard and coughed repeatedly, when, finding that they gave no signs of arousing, he walked out of the barn yard and took to the bushes.

The criminal carelessness of these men has allowed to escape a prize for whom the Yankees would willingly have returned us General Edward Johnson, or any other of our Generals, now exposed to fire at Charleston.


Through a trustworthy correspondent we learned yesterday that, on Saturday evening [July 16, 1864], Major [Alexander W.] Starke [sic, Stark] went down with some artillery2 to Wilcox’s landing, ten miles below Westover, and opened on seven Yankee transports loaded with troops, which were going down the river.  He succeeded in sinking two of the vessels, and obliged the remaining five to put back in haste.3

The report was brought over from Petersburg Saturday evening [July 16, 1864] that Grant had that morning been struck by one of our shells and killed.  The report was treated as a joke until yesterday [July 17, 1864], when rumours to the same effect, coming in from different quarters along our lines, seemed to give it some colour of truth.  A deserter who came in yesterday said that Grant was certainly dead, and gave the particulars of his death.  His account was that Grant, while reconnoitreing in person on Saturday morning, has his left arm shattered near the shoulder by one of our shells, and that he died while the limb was being amputated.  Several Yankee prisoners captured yesterday said there was a piece of good news in store for us which we would hear in the course of the next day or two, but which they were unwilling to disclose.  On the other hand, an army officer of intelligence, writing from Chester yesterday, characterizes the report of Grant’s death as “ridiculous.”  We have given the report for the amusement of the reader, reminding him, if disposed to be credulous, that of all the many commanders the army of Potomac has had, Hooker is the only one who, to our certain knowledge, ever exposed himself to fire.4


As will be seen from the following official despatch, General S. D. Lee hurt the enemy worse at Tupelo than he had any idea of at the time of his last despatch, which we published on Saturday.  In that, it will be remembered, he claimed only a “drawn battle.”  However, it may be truly said that to an invader, especially a raider, a drawn battle, being a check, is essentially a defeat.  The following is the official despatch:

“TUPELO, July 15, 1864.

“The enemy are in retreat towards Ripley.—General Forrest is in close pursuit. *   *  *  *Will send details.  The raid from Vicksburg is retreating.      (Signed)                                                                 S. D. LEE.”

A press despatch on this subject will be found under the telegraphic head.


From the press despatch, in another column, it will be seen that a temporary quiet prevails in military affairs in Northern Georgia.  General Johnston holds a strong position east of the Chattahoochee river, his right resting on a creek which flows by a southwesterly course into the river a mile or two above the railroad bridge.  The bulk of Sherman’s army is on the left bank of the river, though he has thrown across a corps, believed to be Hooker’s, which has fortified and holds a position north of the creek and above its confluence with the Chattahoochee.


From Mr. James D. Mitchel, a citizen recently released from Fortress Monroe, we learn that Captain N[athaniel]. A. Sturdivant, of Richmond, [commander of the Albemarle Virginia Artillery] who was believed to have been murdered by Burnside’s negro troops after being taken prisoner near Petersburg [on June 16, 1864], is safe at Point Lookout.  During his detention by the Yankees Mr. Mitchel was confined in a room with Captain Sturdivant and Messrs. E. Warren, Winston, Edsha Lowry, L. Throckmartin, John Henry Freeman, Charles Darrscott, Frank Terrell and Walter Luck.


We published last Tuesday General Samuel Jones’ despatch from Charleston, announcing General Beverly H. Robertson’s successful attack upon the enemy on John’s island, in front of Charleston, but owing to the protracted interruption of mail communication we have only now come into possession of some of the particulars of the affair.

John’s island, which is almost due south of Charleston, is separated from James island on the North and West by the Stono river.  Nine regiments of the enemy, numbering about three thousand men, under the command of Generals Saxton, Brown and Hatch, after a skirmish with our troops on the 8th, had strongly intrenched themselves, anticipating an attack on the 9th.  About daylight on the 9th General Robertson, with the First Georgia Regulars, the Thirty second and Forty-seventh Georgia regiments, Bonnean’s Georgia battalion, part of the Fourth Georgia cavalry, and the Marion and Washington artillery, moved forward to the attack.  In the face of a heavy fire of artillery and musketry our troops stormed the enemy’s position, when a short but desperate hand to hand conflict took place within the enemy’s intrenchments.  Notwithstanding that the enemy were reinforced by two regiments of infantry during this fight, they were finally driven back along the whole line, and retreated towards their gunboats on the south end of the island.  That night the enemy embarked and left the island.  This assault and fight lasted until nine o’clock, A. M.  Our loss was seventeen killed and ninety-three wounded.  Many of our men were struck whilst scaling the enemy’s works.  The enemy’s loss was double our own, but the exact figure has not been ascertained.

On Sunday night the enemy made an attack on battery Simpkins in barges, but were driven back by our artillery and musketry.


Passengers by the Petersburg train last night [July 17, 1864] reported that Northern papers of the 15th had been received in camp, which stated our “army of invasion” had not retreated from Maryland.5

SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is incorrect.  The troops were initially Wright’s Sixth Corps, Army of the Potomac, followed by elements of the Nineteenth Corps, recently arrived in the area from Louisiana.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Major Alexander W. Stark was in charge of Stark’s Artillery Battalion, Chaffin’s Farm, Department of Richmond which consisted of exactly two batteries of artillery, the Giles Virginia Artillery (French’s VA Battery) and the Mathews Virginia Artillery (Armistead’s VA Battery).  It is logical to assume, though I cannot find a source and I cannot prove, that one or both of these batteries sent guns with Major Stark, if this report was not a mere rumor.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: Page 1 of the July 18, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer mentions an action at Wilson’s Wharf, east of Wilcox’s Landing, where the steamer United States, and another unnamed steamer were fired upon by Confederate artillery on July 16, 1864. Later, the gunboat USS Dawn came up too late to engage the Confederate battery, but found an unnamed gunboat had already done this.  This report seems to match the details listed out above.  If you have more information on this affair, especially if you can point to sources listing more of the vessels attacked, the missing gunboat, or you can prove the fights discussed here and in the Inquirer are one and the same, please Contact Us.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: As anyone remotely familiar with the Civil War knows, rumors of Grant’s demise were greatly exaggerated and several decades premature.
  5. “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 18, 1864, p. 1 col. 1-2
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