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NP: July 29, 1864 Richmond Examiner: Will Grant Attempt to Surprise Richmond?

The movements of the enemy on the Peninsula demand immediate attention.  GRANT has tried battles, he has tried siege works, he has tried blockade so far as he could by cutting roads.  All these means for taking Richmond have proven ineffectual.  His position at Petersburg is a deadlock.  He can do absolutely nothing with the position.  But he cannot go back to Washington.  He has no idea of abandoning the enterprise.  On the contrary, he has lately been heavily reinforced by the greater part of Banks’ army, which was delayed for the defence of Washington while EARLY was in Maryland, but which was brought on to him the moment that danger was believed to have passed.1  In the last day or two a powerful body of troops have crossed the river and stretched up the Chickahominy.2  This looks as if GRANT was about to try his last chance for taking Richmond—a COUP DE MAIN—like that by which he NEARLY won Petersburg some six weeks ago.3  If the Confederate generals are as slow to learn his movements now as they then were, he may yet give us much trouble.  But let us trust that they have learned the lesson of experience.

We repeat, that it is logical to suppose that the enemy are about to try this chance, because it is all that is left him.  Neither by a battle nor by a siege can he touch Richmond; his only hope is a surprise of some point on a long line by superiour forces suddenly thrown far from the mass of both armies.4

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

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Various portions of the Nineteenth Corps, late of Banks’ army in Louisiana, had arrived at the Siege of Petersburg and Washington, DC in mid-July 1864.  Grant had initially planned to use the Nineteenth Corps in operations around Petersburg, but after Jubal Early’s Valley Army threated Washington, DC, the entire Nineteenth Corps was shifted there by late July, and eventually became a part of Sheridan’s Army of the Shenandoah in August 1864.  Contrary to the report in this editorial, the Nineteenth Corps never returned to Petersburg.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Portions of Hancock’s Second Corps as well as Union cavalry crossed the James River to threaten Richmond and possibly spring the cavalry for a raid. This was called the First Deep Bottom Campaign, from July 27-29, 1864. It was already winding down as this editorial was written.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Editor of the Examiner feared Grant would surprise and capture Richmond as he had nearly done to Petersburg back on June 15-18, 1864 at the Second Battle of Petersburg.  This movement did not contain nearly as many troops as the earlier one, and did not come anywhere near Richmond during the small campaign.
  4. No title. Richmond Examiner. July 29, 1864, p. 2 col. 6
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Lisa Fulton August 7, 2020, 6:39 pm

    Brett – Captain Henry Jeffers of C. “G”, 7th SCC, Gary’s brigade, was wondering the same thing as the editor of the Examiner. Here are excerpts from his letters before and after 1st Deep Bottom:

    “Camp 7th Regt – Charles City Road
    1 Mile above Riddles Shop
    July 25th 1864

    My Dear Sister,

    …On Sunday [24 July 1864] at 10 AM, as I had settled myself to write you we were ordered to move. After sitting in the saddle until about 2 PM we were ordered here to Camp No 3 on the Charles City Road just above Riddles Shop (above means towards Richmond). I don’t exactly understand what Grant is up to. It may be that he only wants to hold the banks of the River on this side to keep his Gun Boats from being fired into by our artillery and sharpshooters. Or it may be an advance in force upon Richmond. Whatever it may be I think he has made a mistake. Genl Lee will have a better chance at him than he had on the other side, and our defences on this side are certainly better than on the other…”

    “Camp 7th Rgt SCC
    Fussells Mill July 31st 1864

    My Dear Pa

    …It is very quiet this morning on this side. Yesterday [30 July 1864] they were fighting in Petersburg & most of us think Grant intended this [Henry had just described the battle of 1st Deep Bottom] as a diversion merely, provided he found a strong resistance. If he had been successful in making much progress on this side, he would have no doubt reinforced on this side and crossed over most of his army. It seems strange to us, that we should day before yesterday have in front of us on this side of the River twenty-five or thirty thousand Yanks and every prospect of a lively time for some time to come, and today everything so quiet and so few Yankees here…”

    And as you suggested, I am reading the article by Bruce Suderow to understand what Grant was up to.

    Regards, Lisa Jeffers Fulton

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