THE WAR NEWS.
Grant is preparing to do something; what that something is, perhaps will soon appear. The note of preparation sounds along his whole line from Petersburg to White Oak Swamp. There is a stir and a commotion in his camps, but it is not clear as yet what it all means. The sum of what we know is that he has crossed to the north bank of the James a heavy force [on July 27, 1864], say between twenty and thirty thousand men, and that for the last three days these troops have been manoeuvring.1
After the affair at New Market on Wednesday [July 27, 1864], when the Yankees took our four Parrott guns, they extended their lines as far north as White Oak Swamp, a distance from the river of five miles, resting their right on the swamp and their left on the river at Deep Bottom. Their position was distant from the city by the New Market road about twelve miles and a half.
There was, we believe, some very heavy skirmishing on Thursday evening [July 28, 1864] on the right and right centre of our line, though we have been unable to obtain any official intelligence of what took place.2
Persons who came into the city yesterday morning [July 29, 1864] from New Market give various accounts of the occurrences of the previous day [July 28, 1864]. One statement was that we had, after a fight of several hours, taken eight guns from the enemy. Another account said we had taken the eight guns, but that four of them were recaptured. A wounded soldier, who came up last evening, said positively that there had been a fight on Thursday, [July 28, 1864] during which we got hold of four of the enemy’s guns, but were only able, at the conclusion of the engagement, to hold one.
We cannot undertake to settle the question about the guns, and think it a matter of no great consequence what are the facts. We think there is no doubt that a very considerable amount of skirmishing took place.
Last night [July 29, 1864] we received official intelligence that the enemy were falling back by the Long Bridge road. This is an important movement, as a glance at the map will show. The Long Bridge road strikes off from the New Market road at New Market in a northeasterly direction. At a distance of five miles it crosses what the Yankees call the “Quaker road,” which runs up north from Malvern Hill to Bottom’s bridge, crossing White Oak Swamp two miles north of the Long Bridge road. Except by the Quaker road bridge, White Oak Swamp, which flows due east into the Chickahominy, is impassable for an army. From this bridge to the Williamsburg road, at Bottom’s bridge, the distance is no more than a mile and a half. Bottom’s bridge is fourteen miles from Richmond.
We say this movement of the enemy down the Long Bridge road is important. They may design throwing a corps or two across the Chickahominy at Long Bridge to operate on the upper Chickahominy; or they may design crossing White Oak Swamp to the Williamsburg road and menacing Richmond from that quarter. We think the latter place the more likely, with his right on the Williamsburg road, and his left on the river at Deep Bottom. Grant would find an ample field for the operation of his whole force on the north bank of the James, and would then occupy the position which the Yankee newspapers now say is the only road to Richmond. Is this the only one that has not been used?3
We have no news from the Valley or from Georgia.
YANKEE STEAMER DESTROYED.
Last Friday [sic, early morning of Saturday, July 23, 1864] the Yankee side wheel steamer Keystone [sic, Kingston]4 went ashore below Diamond Marshes, Northumberland county, and all the efforts of her crew and men having failed to get her off, her officers and men abandoned her, when some of our reserve forces went aboard of her and took off several thousand dollars’ worth of provisions and clothing among the latter there being a large number of silk dresses supposed to have been stolen. Our reserves, having secured whatever they wanted, applied the torch to the steamer and destroyed her.5
SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
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- SOPO Editor’s Note: Hancock’s Second Corps Army of the Potomac and three divisions of cavalry, Kautz’s, Torbert’s and Gregg’s, crossed the James River near Deep Bottom on July 27, 1864 and stayed until the evening of July 29. This movement resulted in the First Battle of Deep Bottom. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: I am a little unsure if the Richmond papers considered Petersburg when discussing “our lines.” I am unsure about any skirmishing near Petersburg or around Bermuda Hundred, what I would consider the “right and center” of the Confederate lines. However, I do know that on the Confederate far left, four brigades of Confederate infantry under division commander Joseph B. Kershaw attacked the Union cavalry divisions of Torbert and Gregg in a seesaw fight on July 28 on the second day of the First Battle of Deep Bottom. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: What was really happening during this movement was that the Confederate forces around Petersburg were being weakened in order to strengthen the defenses at New Market Heights against Hancock’s Union forces north of the James near Deep Bottom. By the time the citizens of Richmond read these words, Pegram’s Salient east of Petersburg had been blown sky high early on the morning of July 30, 1864, and resulted in the Battle of the Crater. The Union move north of the James, which had started with high hopes for some success, had rapidly evolved into a diversion. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: After looking in the Naval Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, pages 469–470, it appears the name of the ship was Kingston rather than Keystone. Per this report, the Kingston was a 200 ton sidewheel steamer commanded by “Captain Smithers”, “owned in Philadelphia,” and chartered to the US Government. I can find no mention of the Kingston in my usual reference books on steamers of the Civil War era. If you know more about which ship this was, please Contact Us. ↩
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. July 30, 1864, p. 1 col. 1 ↩