THE WAR NEWS.
The intelligence from Atlanta, contained in official and press despatches, constitutes the most important news of the last three days. It is very cheering, and goes far to relieve the publick anxiety on the subject of the situation in Northern Georgia. The following despatch from General Hood, giving an account of a battle on Friday [July 22, 1864], in which we obtained an important victory, was received at the war office Saturday evening1:
“July 23d, 1864.
“HON. J. A. SEDDON, SECRETARY OF WAR:
“The enemy shifted its position on Peach Tree creek last night, and General Stewart’s and Cheatham’s corps formed a line of battle around the city.
“General Hardee’s corps made a night march and attacked the enemy’s extreme left to-day.—About one o’clock he drove him from his works, capturing sixteen pieces of artillery and five stands of colours. General Cheatham attacked the enemy, capturing six pieces of artillery.
“During the engagement we captured about two thousand prisoners.
“General Wheeler’s cavalry routed the enemy in the neighbourhood of Decatur to-day, capturing his camp.
“Our loss is not yet fully ascertained.
“Major General Walker was killed. Brigadier Generals Smith, Gist and Mercer were wounded.
“Prisoners report that General McPherson was killed.
“Our troops fought with great gallantry.
“J. B. HOOD, General.”
This despatch confirms, in the main, what we stated in Saturday’s paper [July 23, 1864], as to the position occupied by the enemy. Facing Atlanta from the north, his right, as we were then advised, rested on the Chattahoochee, near the railroad bridge, while his line stretched away to the eastward, his left being opposite and near Decatur, which is six miles east of Atlanta. He had, on Thursday [July 21, 1864], probably advanced his right from the river towards Atlanta.
Hardee’s corps made a wide detour eastward and northward, and at one o’clock, P. M., on Friday [July 22, 1864], fell upon the rear of the enemy’s left. When Hardee had, by this rear attack, thrown the enemy’s lines into confusion, Cheatham, who was in line of battle opposite the enemy’s left centre, near and north of Atlanta, Wheeler, who confronted the enemy’s left at Decatur, made simultaneous attacks. Our combined attacks were all successful, and the result, besides the capture of guns and prisoners, must materially have altered the respective positions of the two armies, although of this General Hood says nothing. We should judge that the enemy’s entire left had been huddled back upon his centre, that is driven to the west of a line drawn north and south through Atlanta.
General Hood says “prisoners report McPherson killed.” If this is true, it is more important to us than the capture of all the prisoners and cannon. McPherson was, and, if he lives, is the most dangerous man in the whole Yankee army. He was regarded at West Point as a military genius, and in the field has fully sustained his academic reputation. He was the very brain of Grant’s army, and his genius led it to victory and won for Grant all his glory. Grant took leave of his luck when he parted with McPherson, and has never had a military success since. McPherson then took the place in Sherman’s army that he had occupied in Grant’s, and his genius has carried it on its wondrous campaign through the mountains and valleys of Georgia, to the gates of Atlanta. Most devoutly do we hope he may be dead.2
The General Walker mentioned as killed is General William H. S. Walker.
So much for the official despatch. Two press despatches from Atlanta will be found under the telegraphic head, and are very interesting, though the agent being dependent upon hearsay for information, his statements are less to be relied upon than General Hood’s. The first press despatch gives an account of a sanguinary battle on our left, that is, northwest of Atlanta, which was brought on by the enemy’s attacking General Stewart’s corps. As General Hood makes no mention of this fight we take the liberty of believing that none such occurred, and that the press agent is referring to the battle described by General Hood, which, as we have seen, took place on our right, and not our left, and was brought on by our attack and not the enemy’s. The press agent knew there had been a battle, and that was all he knew about it. This, however, did not deter him from describing it graphically, and throwing in the usual stereotyped phrases which have now, by long abuse, become meaningless, of our receiving the enemy with “a galling fire,” and causing them “to falter,” our troops “charging with great gallantry” and “inflicting immense slaughter,” &c, &c. He then gives us the gratifying intelligence of McPherson’s death, (“shot through the heart,”) to which we should attach more importance if the agent had not been so lamentably far out the way in the matter of locating the battle.
The second despatch is dated on Saturday [July 23, 1864], and by this time the agent having had more time to inform himself as to the occurrences of the previous day, his statements are more entitled to credit.—The most important news contained in this despatch is that the battle was not renewed on Saturday. The next, that when Wheeler routed the enemy at Decatur he took five hundred of their wagons, loaded with supplies.
From the information so far obtained we feel safe in concluding that the battle of Atlanta, fought on Friday, the 22d of July, was a very important Confederate victory.3
RICHMOND AND PETERSBURG.
Saturday [July 23, 1864] and yesterday [July 24, 1864] it was rumoured that Grant was abandoning his position in front of Petersburg and re-crossing to the north bank of the James at Deep Bottom and Malvern Hill. Though this report is pretty generally believed by the publick we have been unable to obtain a single fact that would justify us in giving it credit. We think it likely Grant may have thrown a division over to the north bank.4
The only incident of interest on the lines which we have heard of in the past two days occurred Saturday night at twelve o’clock [midnight between July 23-24, 1864]. At that hour one of our artillery battalions on the north bank of the Appomattox opened on a portion of the enemy’s lines on the Prince George side of the river and kept up a terrific fire for an hour. The enemy’s guns replied feebly. There was no casualty on our side. The object of the cannonade was to disturb Grant’s men and keep them from sleeping too comfortably, and we feel authorized in saying that our object was fully accomplished.
On last Friday [July 22, 1864] several hundred of our cavalry rode down into Prince George to look after some Yankee cavalry who were said to be prowling about. Our men came upon them ten miles from Ream’s station [on July 23, 1864], and charging them suddenly put them to flight. We killed two and captured three. No casualty on our side.5
Cannonading was heard down the river yesterday [July 24, 1864].6
FROM THE VALLEY.
The city was ringing yesterday [July 24, 1864] with reports that Ramseur’s command had been cut to pieces in the Valley. The story was that Ramseur being sent on a reconnaissance was surprised and ambuscaded by the enemy and most of his command cut to pieces or captured, and he himself had lost an arm. No official information of any such affair has been received, and we do not believe that any such has occurred. We think it much more likely that the report is based upon the affair which took place at Snicker’s Gap [on July 20, 1864], when, it will be recollected, the enemy took some of our wagons, which were afterwards recaptured.7 Some straggler, who has walked across the country, has brought an account of this, which has been seized upon and made into a new thing.8
SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
If you are interested in helping us transcribe newspaper articles like the one above, please CONTACT US.
- SOPO Editor’s Note: This first lengthy portion of the war news for July 25, 1864 contains details of the July 22, 1864 Battle of Atlanta, or Battle of Bald Hill. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: General James B. McPherson had indeed been killed on the field of battle. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: While the Confederates inflicted damage on the Union Army of the Tennessee, they received even more damage, and it was damage they could ill afford to take. It would not go down as a victory, but a bloody draw with dire strategic results for the Confederates. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The First Battle of Deep Bottom was about to occur north of the James River, but Hancock’s Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac had not yet crossed at the time of this paper’s publication. However, starting on July 21 and continuing for days, the 11th Maine and other units kept attacking “the rebel battery on the New Market and Malvern Hill road below the Four-Mile Creek.” In addition, portions of Currie’s Brigade of the XIX Corps (1/3/XIX), fresh from Louisiana, arrived in the area and crossed north of the James River at Deep Bottom. These latter two events probably accounted for the rumors appearing in this edition of the Examiner. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: This was the Skirmish Near Lee’s Mill on the morning of July 23, 1864. See Colonel George Chapman’s note on this battle from the Union perspective, OR XL Pt 3, page 415. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: After a careful review of the July 24 correspondence in the Official Records, it seems likely this cannonading was part of the 11th Maine’s attack and capture of a Confederate Battery mentioned in my earlier comment. If you know of any other possible causes, please Contact Us. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The Examiner might have been incorrect. This account, while greatly exaggerated, seems to tell of the July 24, 1864 battle of Rutherford’s Farm, where Ramseur’s Division was routed. My only skepticism comes from the fact that I am unsure if news of the rout could have reached Richmond in time on July 24 to make it into the July 25 paper. ↩
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 25, 1864, p. 1 col. 1-2 ↩