Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of Union and Confederate accounts of the fighting on July 27, 1864 at the First Battle of Deep Bottom. His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.
Mr. S. Cadwallader’s Dispatch
City Point, July 28, 1864
The Attack Upon Foster At Deep Bottom
For three or four days past the rebels have manifested more than their wonted activity on General Foster’s front at Deep Bottom, which led us to believe they possibly intended a serious attempt to drive in and contract his lines, if not entirely dislodge him from his threatening position. The sharpshooting has been continuous and sometimes severe, although the loss ontalled was comparatively light. On Monday and Tuesday especially affairs at that point assumed a formidable aspect, and as our force there was really light, it was determined to send a considerable portion of Hancock’s corps to assist in repelling any attempts the enemy might be emboldened to make on our position.
These troops were put in motion Tuesday afternoon, and began crossing the James river on the pontoon bridge near Deep Bottom in the night. By daylight they were nearly all across and in position.
Our Sharpshooters had in the meantime pushed their line to within a very short distance of the rebel field works at one or two points, and by their untiring pertinacity and accuracy of aim had compelled the enemy to abandon the use of several pieces of artillery which had annoyed us considerably up to that time. Whenever a gunner exposed himself to the ? he found he immediately became the target innumerable concealed and unerring marksmen. Flesh and blood could not face the ordeal and serving these guns was temporarily abandoned.
Hancock’s Charge Upon the Rebel Works
On looking the ground over after his arrival of his corps, General Hancock was of the opinion that the capture of one or more of these rebel batteries by assault was practicable, and dispositions were made accordingly. The boys started in with a yell but were met with a more obstinate and murderous resistance than was expected. According to the account of one informant, our line was at one time thrown into great confusion; but their invincible discipline and prowess rose superior to all obstructions or disadvantages, and rallying again to the charge, they carried the works triumphantly after a second short but sharp contest. The fruits of this gallant achievement were some rebel colors, a few prisoners, four twenty pound Parrot guns, and the possession of the enemy’s advance ground and breastworks.
We Hold the Works and Rebel Guns
Our troops remain in possession of the latter, and the rebels retired to other positions further in the rear. The four pieces of captured cannon were brought off safely to this side of the James River and are reduced to actual possessions beyond all immediate contingencies of battle. The firing was heavy on both sides for an hour or two, and the strive determined and hot, yet the losses on our side are reported as insignificant. I am unable to give any detailed information this morning as none has been received here. I hope your correspondents on the ground will send those by to-day’s boat. No general officers were either killed or wounded that I could hear of, and but few in the regiment or line.
The Rebels Surprised
The rebels were apparently taken by surprise, and were not expecting us to assume the offensive in that quarter at that time. They seem now more than ever impressed with the belief that we contemplate an immediate advance on Richmond from there, and are bending all their energies to strengthen their position. Large bodies of troops were moved from Petersburg to Richmond yesterday. The bustle and hurry in their lines could be distinctly seen from our front. Not less than thirty six car loads left during the day. Very little firing occurred at Deep Bottom yesterday, after the morning’s conflict, and none last night or this morning. The rebels showed no disposition to attempt the recapture of their works. We are contented for the presence with their possession. General Sheridan crossed the James river at Deep Bottom yesterday, with the first and second divisions of his cavalry corps, and took position on our flank to develop the enemy if practicable or at least to observe his approach should any be attempted.1
- “Mr. S. Cadwallader’s Dispatch,” New York Herald, July 30, 1864, p. 1 ↩