THE WAR NEWS.
Yesterday [July 19, 1864] was a quiet day. There was no booming of cannon, no heavy masses of smoke on the southern horizon, and no exciting rumours from any quarter. The fact that the flags of the Yankee shipping in James river were at half-mast on Monday [July 18, 1864] caused many to give credit to the report of Grant’s death, and this topic and the removal of General Joseph E. Johnston from the command of the army of Tennessee were the topics that chiefly occupied men’s minds. Though no one believed his death would be of any great benefit to us, yet every one would have been glad, on general principles, to have been assured of his death. The Yankees think much of him, and that is sufficient to make us rejoice over any misfortune that might befall him. We fear, however, that the report is too good to be true. Butchers like Grant seldom die on the field of battle; they are generally reserved for cancers, mania potu and the like.
The Petersburg papers reported that nothing of interest was transpiring on the lines in front of that town. The usual mortar and picket firing was kept up. Persons who came over from Petersburg last evening [July 19, 1864] make the same report.
Yankee pickets insist that Grant is dead.
FROM OUR ARMY OF INVASION.
We have nothing later from our forces recently operating in Maryland than the news published by us yesterday [July 19, 1864]. Other officers and men wounded at Monocacy arrived yesterday evening, but they bring nothing new, except that they estimate the number of horses obtained and secured by us in the raid at seven instead of five thousand.
A late New York HERALD states that, on the 14th [of July, 1864], Breckinridge was at Leesburg, and that Early was moving towards the Valley through Snicker’s Gap. While we mention this, we are aware that the New York HERALD is in a state of the profoundest ignorance as to the movements of our forces, their numbers and who commands them.
The Yankee papers state that Sheridan is on another raid, and intimate that he will turn up in the neighbourhood of our forces in Northern Virginia. This is probable; but we have good reason for knowing that he will reach his destination by a different route from the one which they desire to persuade us. They would have us believe he was travelling across the country from Gloucester Point in the direction of the Potomac. We have it from a source usually well informed, that Sheridan proceeded from Suffolk (the last point from which we heard from him authentically) to Portsmouth, and then shipped with his two brigades for Washington city. Wherever he turns up we imagine he will find his coming not unexpected.
The only news we have from Georgia is contained in the press despatch, published in another column. From that it will be seen that affairs at Atlanta begin to wear a serious aspect. Sherman with his whole army has crossed to the east bank of the Chattahoochie river, and his cavalry were skirmishing with Hood’s, within six miles of Atlanta. If Atlanta is to be defended a battle must be delivered within a very brief period. If the enemy is allowed to intrench, having the larger army, he will immediately outflank General Hood or oblige him to fall back. The eyes of the country are anxiously turned to this quarter.
The dispatch alluded to says “the army and publick were surprised by the announcement of the change of commanders.” The army and publick in Virginia have seen and experienced such strange things in the last three years, as to have lost the faculty of being surprised at anything done by those in authority.1
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- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 20, 1864, p. 1 col. 1 ↩
Hi Brett – this post rang a bell.
From a letter written by Spann Jeffers to Sister Annie, from Camp 7th SC Cav, Malvern Hill, on 20 July 1861:
“My Dear Sister Annie
… It is reported that Grant is dead did but although it has been two or three days since the rumor started nothing conclusive has been heard. Our Army has returned in safety from Maryland. Though they did not capture Washington or Baltimore or devastate, in retaliation, the country through which they passed I hope they accomplished the object for which they were sent. Our commissary stores have been greatly replenished, our supply of horses increased, and Grant’s plans probably embarrassed. The beneficial result (to us) which the expedition may produce on the pending elections at the North will also be great, not to speak of the influence it will have in Europe in our favor. But it is useless for me to criticize the movements of Gen Lee. He is best informed as to the expediency of taking Baltimore or Washington, and to one who has shown so much wisdom and judgment in [the] past I am content to leave the consummation of the future.”
Spann was ever-hopeful, right to the end!
Sorry I missed your comment earlier. I’ve now turned into a a stay at home Dad and teacher in addition to trying to work from home, so things are a bit chaotic! Please keep adding these anecdotes wherever it makes sense to do so. I hope to see your published book someday, hopefully sooner rather than later!