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NP: July 28, 1864 Richmond Examiner: The War News, July 27


General Early’s victory in the Valley has had its effect upon Grant.  It has convinced him of the importance of doing something ‘upon this line’ at once, instead of idling away the summer, now more than half gone, shelling the little town of Petersburg.  His first step has been to increase his force, already strong, on the north bank of the James at Deep Bottom.  He sent over some troops on Saturday [July 23, 1864] and on Tuesday night [July 26, 1864] threw over Hancock’s [Second] corps, thereby increasing his force on this side the river to twenty thousand men.  He also sent over on Tuesday night twenty-two pieces of cannon.

His force at Deep Bottom is ascertained to consist of the Tenth, the Nineteenth and Hancock’s corps.  Hancock is probably in command.1

This force assumed the offensive at an early hour yesterday morning [July 27, 1864], resting their left on Deep Bottom, while their right stretched away to the northeast towards White Oak swamp.

Between eight and nine o’clock, A. M., yesterday [July 27, 1864], the first collision in this quarter took place at New Market [Heights], which is a mile north of Deep Bottom and twelve miles from Richmond by the New Market road.  We have no particulars of the fight except that the enemy were so far successful as to capture four of our cannon.  We did not hear of their taking any prisoners and consider it hardly possible that they could have done so if the accounts that reach us of the rapidity with which our men ran be true.  The fight lasted but a few moments and was probably brought about accidentally, the enemy stumbling upon us before either they or we were aware of it.  Some musketry skirmishing was kept up during the remainder of the day.2


By a letter received late last night we learn that the guns captured belonged to the First Rockbridge battery, Captain Graham.  They were 20 pounder Parrott guns, taken from the enemy at Harper’s Ferry.  We lost no prisoners and no horses.

It is useless to speculate upon Grant’s plans.  The [?] in [?] are that he proposes making his next attacks on our lines at three points simultaneously, Deep Bottom, Fort Drewry and Petersburg.3  We see no reason to feel the least apprehensive as to the result; attack when and where he may.  As we have before remarked, we believe he appreciates the necessity of doing something, and that quickly.


Grant is as yet quiet in front of Petersburg.  His mortar firing and cannonade have slackened in the past few days.  He is said to be mining.  He has been reported to be doing this for a month.  It is quite time he was springing some of his mines.4


We have had not a word from Atlanta since our last issue.  Possibly a battle may have been joined there though as yet we hear no rumours of it.[5 SOPO Editor’s Note: The July 28, 1864 Batte of Ezra Church was being fought west of Atlanta at the same time Richmond’s populace was reading this article.]  No official despatches have been received.  A battle can hardly be long deferred unless Sherman repeats before Atlanta the game Grant has been playing before Petersburg.  The grateful news of McPherson’s death is fully confirmed by the Northern papers.


There was not a rumour yesterday from the Valley.5

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

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: This report about the opening moves of the First Battle of Deep Bottom on July 27, 1864 is fairly accurate.  The Tenth Corps remained mostly south of the James River on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula, but a small portion of the Tenth Corps WAS in the Deep Bottom bridgehead along with newly arrived troops of the Nineteenth Corps.  The main strike force, however, was two divisions of Hancock’s Second Corps as well as a portion of Sheridan’s Cavalry Corps.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: This fight was a bit of an odd one. With what was essentially a reinforced skirmish line, the Yankees suddenly rushed the four 20 pound Parrott Rifles of the 1st Rockbridge VA Arty and quickly captured them. The cannoneers, perhaps surprised at the rapidity of the advance, fled and left their cannon to be captured.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: These rumors proved mostly true as well.  Grant was indeed planning a two pronged attack.  He wanted to draw Confederate forces north of the James to confront Hancock so that the mine could be sprung at Pegram’s Salient, hopefully allowing the capture of Petersburg.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Examiner would not have long to wait.  Grant “was springing” just two days later on the morning of July 30, 1864, leading to the Battle of the Crater.
  5. “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 28, 1864, p. 1 col. 1
{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Lisa Fulton July 24, 2020, 1:09 pm

    Hi Brett, Reading over my family’s letters, I did recognize this action that happened on the 27th, the loss of the cannons, and the flight of the cannoneers. This is what Spann Jeffers of the 7th SC Cavalry wrote home:

    Camp 7th SC Cavalry
    Near “Deep Bottom”
    July 31st 1864

    My Dear Sister Annie!

    The excitement created by the appearance of the enemy on the “North Side,” in such strong force, has subsided as they have all gone back excepting the troops which they originally had at “Deep Bottom.” …

    Our Regiment participated in only one engagement and then only the right was hotly engaged. Our Squadron is on the extreme right of the Regt and consequently suffered more than any other. Co “B” (Capt Trenholm’s) had (7) seven wounded, Sammy Crayton quite severely in shoulder and Preston Earle slightly in the leg. They both stood their wounds manfully. Company “G” (“Capt Jeffers”) escaped without any casualties excepting one man struck on the breast by a spent ball.

    No blame can be attached to our Regt or the Hampton Legion for the repulse which our line suffered and the loss of the four pieces of artillery. We drove the enemy back in our front and only fell back when the infantry on our right gave way and the enemy were on our flank. The troops which the papers allude to as having run was the 24th Virginia Cavalry of our Brigade who are reported to have obeyed the order to “fall back” with the greatest alacrity! …

    It’s fun to match the articles you post with events written about in the letters. I’m sure I miss some – but this one was easy to remember. I had wondered what Spann meant. He may have been referring to this very newspaper article. The “Capt Jeffers” he references is his older brother Henry.

  • Brett Schulte July 27, 2020, 9:23 am


    THANK YOU for continuing to post these accounts. It only reinforces my opinion that you have one of the best collections I’ve ever looked at as far as the Siege of Petersburg goes. Please do continue to add these every time you notice a connection. The July 27 fight is a larger one and has a lot of eyewitness accounts. But a lot of the fights the 7th SC Cavalry was involved in have few or no first person accounts available other than what the Jeffers boys wrote about.


  • Brett Schulte July 27, 2020, 9:25 am

    PS It’s interesting he is sticking up for his fellow South Carolinians in the Hampton Legion. I hadn’t really considered the home State politics in Gary’s small cavalry brigade of two South Carolina regiments and one Virginia regiment.


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