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NP: July 21, 1864 Richmond Examiner: The War News, July 17-20 Plus Early’s Maryland Raid


There was no news yesterday [July 20, 1864) until late in the afternoon, when an official despatch was received at the War office announcing an important Confederate victory in Northern Virginia.  The following extract is as much of the despatch as it is deemed expedient to make publick at present:

“A large force of Yankees crossed the Shenandoah at Snickers’ on the 18th instant [July 18, 1864].

“At 3 o’clock, P. M., they were attacked and driven across the river in confusion.  Our loss is stated to be between two and three hundred; that of the enemy’s is much greater.1

This fight took place on the eastern border of Clarke county, on the west side of the Blue Ridge and about twenty miles a little south of east of Winchester, at what is known as Snicker’s Gap, Hunter advancing from Winchester.  From the western end of the Gap to the Shenandoah river the distance by the road is from three to five miles.  Along and across this road was the battle-field.  It is about twenty miles due west from Leesburg.  The Shenandoah river is here narrow and deep, and as the enemy were driven across “in confusion,” their loss must have indeed been heavy.

This fight was brought on by an attempt of Hunter to prevent our return to the Valley with the spoils of the Maryland campaign.  After the sudden and evidently unexpected blow administered to him on this occasion, he is likely to keep at a respectful distance and allow our mysterious army, with its nameless commanders, to pass at their pleasure.  Really Hunter’s bewilderment must, by this time, be painful.  A month ago he, with the utmost confidence, threw himself against Lynchburg, but, being hurled back by a strong hand, he fled in horrour and amazement, not tarrying to learn who was his powerful antagonist.  On Monday, having recruited and increased his forces, he attempts to crush a few thousand cavalry who are returning weary and heavy laden from their rioting and raiding through the fertile fields of Maryland, even to the gates of the capital of his nation.—Again he is dashed back by the still unknown iron hand, and his men put to the rout.

Before taking leave of Hunter for the present we must not fail to mention that this movement against our forces is doubtless the grand, magnificent, brilliant movement which, according to the statements of all the Yankee papers, Grant was about to spring upon us rebels.  This was the brilliant movement that was to electrify every body and bring this abominable rebellion to its last leg.  It was very easily disconcerted certainly.  We will not discuss its brilliancy.


We have before us a letter from an officer, giving a sketch of the operations of the cavalry during the recent invasion of Maryland and the District of Columbia.  We give below all of the letter that is necessary to the interest of the narrative; a part we consider it proper to withhold:

“July 15, 1864.

“We are back over the river, after a ten days’ sojourn in Maryland.  What all the results of our expedition are I do not yet see, but suspect they are *  *  *  *  *  In many respects the raid is certainly a success.  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

“We left Staunton about the 27th of June, the infantry passing down the Valley pike, the cavalry along a road parallel and to the west of the pike.

“We (the cavalry) reached Winchester on the 3d, and on the 4th [of July, 1864] attacked General Sigel at Leetown, from which, after a severe struggle, he retir[ed.]  At noon we struck the Baltimore and Ohio railroad and telegraph, and immediately pressed on towards Martinsburg.

“On the 4th our infantry took Sheppardstown, from which the Yankees were driven with loss.—We here took a flag from the First New York cavalry.

“On the 5th we crossed the Potomac and proceeded to Sharpsburg, and thence marched to Boonesboro’ and Middletown, skirmishing a little with the Yankees at the latter place.

“On the 8th we drove them to the suburbs of Frederick, but our orders would not permit us to take the town; consequently we saw no one there.

“On the 9th we started on our raid.  The army marched on Monocacy junction, while we struck to the east for the railroads.  Marching rapidly and changing horses as fast as they were broken down, we passed over the State.  At daylight on the 10th we were at Reistertown, twelve miles from Baltimore; and at 9 o’clock, A. M., were at Cockeysville, on the Northern Central railroad.

“Major Gilmor, with the Second and part of the First Maryland cavalry, pushed on, while we burnt the bridges at Cockeysville.  Next day Major Gilmor destroyed all the bridges on the Philadelphia and Baltimore railroad, captured a train and Major General Franklin, and rejoined the command at Poolesville on the 13th.

“From Cockeysville Johnson’s brigade swept around Baltimore, appearing almost simultaneously on so many different roads, at intervals of from six to ten miles apart that many different columns were reported to be advancing at once on Baltimore.

“On the 11th we struck the Baltimore and Ohio railroad at Woodstock, and on the 12th the Washington and Baltimore road at Beltsville.  At the latter place we fell in with the Yankee cavalry, which we routed in thirty minutes.  By this time Mr. Abraham Lincoln did not know whether the United States had seceded or not.  We had cut all communication between Washington and the North.  After routing the Yankee cavalry, we caught a passenger train of nine cars and a commissary train laden with sugar and coffee.  Several citizens told us that Lincoln had gone over the road in a burthen train a short time before our arrival.  We remained at this place (Beltsville) until ordered to rejoin the army.

“A party sent by General Johnson burnt Governour Bradford’s house, with everything in it except the ladies’ clothing and the piano.  General Johnson ordered this to be done as a retaliation for the burning of Governour Letcher’s house by General Hunter.  It was a harsh measure, as far as it affected the ladies of the family, but just vengeance can take no account of persons.  The manner of the burning was, however, very different from that at Lexington.  The young men engaged in it treated the family with the greatest respect; assisted them in removing their clothing and carried their piano out for them.  A quantity of gold found in the house was given to one of the young ladies on her assurance that it was her property.

“Some of the incidents of our ride were amusing.  We fell in with Painter’s celebrated travelling ice- cream saloon, with a large quantity of ice-cream aboard.  We had no rations, and vanilla, lemon and other ices were issued to the whole command, who ate until they could eat no more.  This was the first time a whole cavalry brigade ever fed on ice-cream.

“Our loss, from the time we left the army at Frederick until we rejoined it at Blair’s house, was one officer, Lieutenant Edelin, company B, First Maryland cavalry, killed or wounded, and two men captured.  We started on Saturday, the 9th, and rejoined the army on Wednesday, the 13th, having been out of the saddle only twice during that time, and marched eighty miles at a stretch.”


Nothing of interest occurred on the lines in front of Richmond and Petersburg yesterday [July 20, 1864].  If Grant is not dead, he might as well be for anything that he is doing.  His only work from day to day is to throw a few shells at little Petersburg.

We have nothing in confirmation of the rumour of Grant’s death, but we have the lively satisfaction of knowing that, at any rate, some conspicuous Yankee has gone to that bourne from which no traveler returns.  The Yankees do not hang their flag at half-mast for nothing, and it was at half-mast on all their shipping in James river last Sunday [July 17, 1864].

Deserters who came into our lines say that Ulysses is not dead, and the New York HERALD of the 18th, which was received last night, has nothing on the subject.  The HERALD has advices from Grant’s army of the 16th [of July, 1864], last Saturday, the day on which, according to the report, Grant was said to have been struck by one of our shells.


There was no news received yesterday from Georgia either through official or private sources.  If a battle had taken place we should have heard of it.  We must therefore infer that the situation is unchanged since our last advices, when it will be recollected that the whole of Sherman’s army had crossed to the east bank of the Chattahoochie and sat down before Atlanta.

At a late hour last night, we received the despatch published in another column, announcing the skirmish at Peach Tree creek.  Peach Tree creek is a small stream, which, taking its rise five or six miles northwest of Atlanta, flows in a southwesterly direction and empties into the Chattahoochie near the railroad bridge, and nearly due west of Atlanta.  Our right is believed to rest upon this stream and be protected on its flank by it.2

This skirmish is an auspicious beginning for General Hood.3

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

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: This paragraph and several succeeding paragraphs discuss the July 18, 1864 Battle of Cool Spring, in which one Union Division was attacked by three Confederate Divisions and nearly driven into the Shenandoah River.
  2. I’m not sure if this is discussing the Battle of Peachtree Creek, fought on July 20, 1864, or earlier skirmishing.  If this is the actual Battle of Peachtree Creek, this would be an EXTREMELY quick turnaround to be reporting it in Richmond the very next day.
  3. “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 21, 1864, p. 2 col. 1-2
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