“SHAK[E]SPEARE ON A RAID”—One of the most amusing instances of the war occurred in this city on Thursday last, during the excitement consequent upon the sudden attack of the enemy under Kautz and Speare on Petersburg [on June 9, 1864]. The spirit of the immortal Shak[e]speare, could it have witnessed the scene would have smiled at its very ludicrousness. Our informant was standing near the foot of Sycamore street, calmly conversing about the affairs of the hour, when a neatly dressed and intelligent, but much startled countryman came rushing by, evidently laboring under the strongest excitement. Astonished, no doubt, at the strange calmness of the two gentlemen in conversation, he stopped abruptly and asked with great tremulousness of voice:
“Have you heard the news?”
“No, sir—what is it?” answered one of them, thinking something really new had “turned op.”
“Why, sir,” said the countryman, becoming still more excited, “SHAK[E]SPEARE is on a grand raid around Petersburg, and is now near Butterworth’s bridge.”
Never having heard of a Shak[e]speare in the Yankee army, our informant requested a repetition of the countryman’s intelligence, who to make his statement more convincing, replied: “That as he was coming down Halifax street a little while before, he was overtaken by two cavalrymen, who told him that Shak[e]speare was on a raid, and was then in the vicinity of Butterworth’s bridge.” The countryman added: “You may believe it or not as you please, but I tell you the truth,” and then went his way.
Our informant then remembered that the notorious Speare [Samuel P. Spear of the 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry] was trying to enter the city, and thinking the countryman had mistaken his name for that of Shak[e]speare, laughed heartily at the error.
We would add, however, in closing, that should any of the rebel boys ever have an opportunity, we hope they will shak[e]-Speare until there is not a whole bone left in his vile body.1
[SOPO Editor’s Note: a portion of this article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg has been omitted.]
LOSSES OF THE MILITIA—It is well known that the camp of a portion of our gallant militia was captured, rifled and destroyed by the Yankees during the fight of Thursday last [June 9, 1864]. Many of the men lost everything they had there, and are now suffering for the want of them. Their tents were destroyed, and their blankets and other articles of comfort were stolen while they were fighting for the defence of the city. Upon a goodly number of these men this loss falls heavy. They are unable to purchase blankets to keep them comfortable, and even if they had the money, they could not find them to purchase. In their behalf, therefore, we take the liberty of appealing to a generous public, whose property they so largely aided in protecting, to contribute some of their spare blankets and comforts. This is a relief in which the community should take a great pride in contributing to, and we doubt not that the simple mention of the circumstances is sufficient to bring in many donations.
Blankets or comforts sent to this office will be promptly forwarded.
STOLEN BACON RECOVERED.—We understand that the valiant raiders under Kautz and Speare, during their rapid flight from the fortifications of this city on Thursday last [June 9, 1864], dropped a large number of fine hams along the road. A portion of our forces who pursued them, picked up a plump ham here and there, which had fallen to the ground. This bacon was Virginia cured, and was undoubtedly stolen from the farms these vandals and thieves had visited. Pity but what they could be caught and indicted for larceny. But then there are so many rogues in the Yankee army, that even the small number we capture would overrun all the jails and penitentiaries in the South.
Bacon, however, was not the only thing these routed Yankees dropped. Canteens, blankets, oil cloths, etc. were found scattered here and there for miles along the road.
THE YANKEE OBSERVATORY.—It is well known that the Yankees on the Bermuda Hundred Peninsula have erected an elevated observatory, which commands a view of the country around, and even of the city of Petersburg itself. This look out has reached the height of over 100 feet, and towers above the trees around it. It is situated on Cobb’s farm, in Chesterfield county, and can be distinctly seen with the naked eye from our Courthouse and the surrounding hills. With the aid of a small glass, the sentinels are plainly visible. This observatory is erected of scantling, and is not yet finished. From its top the Yankees seek to pry into all of our movements. Two or three days since [approximately June 11 or 12, 1864] a piece of artillery was placed in position to play upon it, and we understand, succeeded in striking it once or twice, but before much damage could be done, the enemy’s batteries compelled its removal.
THE DAILY PRAYER MEETINGS.—We advise all the devout, and praying people of the city, to attend the Daily Afternoon Prayer Meetings. The meeting this afternoon will be held at the Baptist Church on Washington street. All the congregations in the city should be united, and let prayer, earnest, fervent, believing, be offered, that God may make this the last campaign of the war; that he may deliver us from our foes, and give us peace with independence.
Petersburg has been twice mercifully delivered from the attacks of the enemy, and now let the Christians meet and gratefully praise the Author of all Good for his mercies. The meetings assemble alternately at the three Protestant Churches, on Washington street, at half past 5, p. m.
MORE PRISONERS.—Two more Yankee prisoners, captured by our forces in Prince George county, beyond our breastworks, were brought to Petersburg yesterday [June 13, 1864], and lodged in the guard home.
EVIDENCES OF [?]
The Yankees have been recently amusing themselves by throwing fifteen-inch shell from their gunboats in James River across our lines in Chesterfield County.—Seven of these huge monsters which were found unexploded by some of our men, were gathered together and brought into this city yesterday, and exposed to view at the Ordnance Store on Old street, where they attracted much attention. They are 15 inches in diameter, and are charged with forty pounds of powder. The weight of the shell alone is about 426 pounds, and the thickness of the metal is about five inches. They are so large that they can plainly be seen flying through the air, and are so easily do[d]ged that they prove much more harmless than the minnie ball. If the Yankees continue to throw them inside of our lines, we shall soon have enough iron to enclose half a dozen gunboats. The shells, however, afford a striking illustration of the Christianized Warfare the Yankees are waging against us.
ARREST OF A MURDERER—We learned at a late hour last night, that Captain Donnan, of the Petersburg Night Police, succeeded yesterday in effecting the arrest of the soldier, who murdered Jesse F. Howell, at Maria Banks’ Mount Vernon establishment, on Saturday night last [June 11, 1864], full particulars of which were given in yesterday’s Express. The name of the murderer is _______ [John] Cato[n?]2, and he is a member of Company F, 59th Virginia Regiment Wise’s Brigade.
INFORMATION WANTED—Any information of Mr. Warren Russell, formerly engaged in the shoe business in this city, who took part in the fight around Petersburg on Thursday last [June 9, 1864], and who has not since been heard from, will be thankfully received by his deeply afflicted family.3
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Samuel Spear and his 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry had been in this vicinity for quite some time before the Siege of Petersburg. He and his men must have gone on several raids during that time, because by mid-June 1864 the Petersburg papers often refer to Spear in the manner shown here. If anyone has details on what Spear did to get the Petersburg Express so riled up, please Contact Us. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: I want to be careful here and add a comment. I do not want to indict an innocent man, but the only person in the entire Compiled Service Records of the 59th Virginia whose name is remotely close to Cato, is John Caton, and he was indeed a member of Company F. ↩
- “Local Matters.” The Daily Express (Petersburg, VA). June 14, 1864, p. 2 col. 4-5 ↩