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NP: June 14, 1864 Richmond Examiner: The War News, June 13


Early yesterday morning [June 13, 1864] heavy cannonading was heard along the right of our lines, and soon the report came to the city that the enemy was moving off.  Later information stated that he had thrown a portion of his forces across to this side of the Chickahominy and was moving in the direction of Malvern Hill, which position he is reported to have occupied.  There were a number of rumours flying through the city, but all that seemed to be positively known was that the enemy had abandoned his works, moved over to this side of the Chickahominy, and was making in the direction we have indicated.  The War Department was in receipt of no further information last night, and our authorities seemed perfectly easy and undisturbed by this movement of the enemy.  If this news be true, then Grant holds about the same position that McClellan did in 1862, after his defeat and on his retreat to the James river.  Surely we have nothing to fear from him in this position, for how can he hope, with a whipped and demoralized army, to accomplish from the Peninsula what McClellan failed to do with his large, well appointed and well disciplined army, urged on by confident expectations.

A gentleman who came up last evening reports that the enemy crossed the Chickahominy at the Long Bridge commencing to cross on Sunday night soon after dark.  They were still crossing yesterday morning [June 13, 1864], and, about seven o’clock, a sharp fight ensued, near Riddel’s [sic, Riddell’s] shop, on the Charles City road, their advanced forces coming upon some of our cavalry.  After a gallant resistance, they fell back before the enemy, who were in large force, with infantry and artillery.

On discovering yesterday morning that the enemy had moved off [from Cold Harbor], our lines advanced and captured about a hundred and fifty prisoners, who still lingered about their abandoned fortifications.

It is reported that the enemy landed troops below Malvern Hill, from their gunboats in the James river on Sunday night [June 12, 1864].

At the time our informant left, nothing was going on but the manoeuvreing of the two armies.

[SOPO Editor’s Note: Portions of this article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg were excised from this story.]


A deserter from Grant’s army came into our lines yesterday [June 13, 1864].  He belonged to Burnside’s corps [IX/AotP].  He tells a sad story.  He says that Grant’s army is utterly demoralized, and the men sick, and dying like sheep.  The men have been on short rations, and have had not a bit of salt meat—their food for weeks being nothing but hard tack and fresh beef, without change.  The consequence is that a large number have become sick, and the mortality is represented by him as fearful.  He says that no attention is paid to the men, and that they are allowed to lie and die like dogs.  The whole army he represents as dissatisfied with Grant, and in a state of great dissatisfaction and discontent.—He states that the men will not fight and that they are ready to desert, whenever an opportunity occurs, and that the only way Grant holds them in subordination is by the most rigorous and extreme measures.  [Illegible]

This deserter states, in the most solemn manner, that the alleged demoralization of Grant’s army is [illegible] true; that there is no doubt of it; that it really and absolutely exists.  The reasons given by him for it are these:  that the whole army is jaded and dispirited from the long marches down from Spotsylvania; that the men have been on short rations; that great sickness prevails throughout the ranks; that the men have lost all confidence in Grant; that they believe he fights them too hard; that no attention is paid to the sick and wounded; and that  very few of them have any hope of ever taking Richmond.

He tells also that Grant’s army has suffered terribly in the late battles.  He says that the Fifty-eighth Massachusetts regiment, which numbered eight hundred and fifty at the battle of the Wilderness, cannot, muster now two hundred and fifty men, all told.1  Other regiments have suffered just as heavily, and the way Grant has sacrificed his men, and the desperation with which he fights them, has made him very unpopular, and engendered a spirit of demoralization that is fast creeping through his whole army.

Such is the story of this deserter; and it is told at least, with an earnestness and simplicity that give it the mark of truth.

[SOPO Editor’s Note: Portions of this article not pertaining to the Siege of Petersburg were excised from this story.]


We understand that Major General Robert Ransom, of North Carolina, has been relieved of his command of the department of Richmond, and appointed to the chief command of all the cavalry forces in the Valley.  It will be recollected that General Jones, who filled this position, was killed in the fight about a week ago with the enemy near Staunton.  General Ransom will proceed out at once to his new command, and will be accompanied, we learn, by most of his present staff.

Owing to the assignment of General Ransom to this command, there will be a vacancy in the head of the department of Richmond.  We hear several names mentioned as his probable successor, and most prominent among them is General Custis Lee.

We shall have also a change in the command of the military post of Richmond, Brigadier General Gardner, of Florida, having already been ordered to report here, in place of Winder sent out to Georgia.



If we did the militia of Petersburg injustice, in our account of the fight there on Thursday [June 9, 1864], on the approach of the enemy, we regret it.  Certainly such was not our intention.  What we said was this and only this—that they offered “a weak resistance.”  We were told this by a Government officer who conversed with a courier who bore despatches from there, and professed to have witnessed the action of the militia with his own eyes.  Other and perhaps more impartial witnesses declare that the militia fought well, with all the coolness and firmness of veterans, and that their gallantry was the subject of especial praise on the part of the commanding officer.  In evidence of this, they cite the casualties in half a company, which fought for two hours in the intrenchments, and had four killed; nineteen wounded and ten captured.  This is certainly an honourable record, and we are glad to know that the militia of Petersburg acquitted themselves on the occasion with so much credit and gallantry.— We are not of those who value lightly the services of the militia, and think they won’t fight.  So far from it, we have always believed that there was as much spirit and true pluck among them as any troops in the field.





Grant is again in motion on our right, and our Generals are making proper movements to meet him.  He commenced retiring from our front last night [June 12, 1864] but the movement was not discovered until this morning, when our line of battle was advanced, and it was discovered that the enemy were gone.

Grant commenced crossing at Long Bridge with infantry, artillery and cavalry this morning after a feeble resistance on the part of  the forces there stationed.  Grant is, therefore, across the Chickahominy, and it cannot be long before a collision occurs.

It is quite true that Grant has been tearing up and burning the York River railroad, which indicates that Grant either intends to cross to the Southside, or he intends taking James river as a base.  This morning troops are landing from transports near Malvern Hill.  It is impossible yet to say where our lines are likely to be established.  Grant has, by this movement, secured possession of Malvern Hill, it is believed.

The breastworks which Grant has left, were all of the most formidable character, and were six lines deep.

No collision of any magnitude has yet occurred, but before to-morrow’s sun shall set you may expect another battle.

There was an engagement this morning [June 13, 1864], next to Ridley’s [sic, Riddle’s] shop, on the Charles City road, about fifteen miles below Richmond, between the enemy’s force, consisting of infantry, artillery and cavalry, and a body of our cavalry.  Our cavalry, however, owing to the superiority of the enemy’s numbers, were forced back.  The enemy is also said to be moving up the river road.  Grant has gotten no nearer to Richmond by this move.  He has, however, reached the south side of the Chickahominy.

About one hundred and fifty prisoners, left by the enemy to-day in their abandoned trenches, have been brought in among  them a mail carrier.


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

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The 58th Massachusetts had indeed suffered heavily during the Overland Campaign.  It had been a new regiment at the start of the campaign, and had seen hard fighting.  For a detailed account of a similarly numbered Massachusetts regiment in the Ninth Corps and which had a similar experience, see Mother, May You Never See the Sights I Have Seen: The Fifty-Seventh Massachusetts Veteran Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac, 1864-1865.
  2. “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. June 14, 1864, p. 2 col. 1-2
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