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NP: June 16, 1864 Richmond Examiner: The War News, June 14

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


Grant has determined on another “change of base.”  This was indicated early yesterday morning by the following official despatch from General Lee to the Secretary of War:


“June 14, 1864—9 P. M.


“Sir:  The force of the enemy mentioned in my last despatch as being on the Long bridge road, disappeared during the night.  It was probably advanced to cover the movement of the main body, most of which, as far as I can learn, crossed the Chickahominy at Long bridge and below, and has reached James river at Westover and Wilcox’s landing.

“A portion of General Grant’s army, upon leaving our front at Cold Harbour, is reported to have proceeded to the White House and embarked at that place.

“Everything is said to have been removed and the depot at the White House broken up.

“The cars, engine, railroad iron and bridge timber that had been brought to that point have also been shipped.

“Very respectfully, &c.,

“R. E. LEE, General.”

Immediately after the receipt of this despatch, a number of rumours were started through the city, and speculation was rife as to where Grant was making for.  Some thought that, with his army beaten and demoralized and himself smarting under the disappointment of not being nominated at Baltimore, he was withdrawing his army to Washington; others, that he was making back for Fredericksburg; others, again, thought he was making for Suffolk, to move against the railroads in North Carolina; others, that he was sending off the bulk of his army to reinforce Sherman in Georgia; and still another opinion was that he was moving off to the Southside.  Ridiculous as some of these were, they were the rumours of the day, and as such we note them.  To heighten this speculation, a deserter, who came in yesterday, reported that Grant was under arrest for drunkenness; that he had been dead drunk since the day of the fight near Hanover Court House, and had to be borne in an ambulance.  All this tended to increase the anxiety, and to give colour to every rumour that was heard in the street.

But by night it was pretty definitely ascertained that Grant, or at least the greater portion of his army, had crossed over to the Southside.  We heard of no official intelligence of this, but, from information we received last night, we see no reason to doubt it.  Westover, where General Lee, in his despatch above, states the enemy to have moved, is immediately on the James river, not far from Bermuda Hundred, where Butler is, and the river at that point is narrow and well situated for the laying down of pontoons.  It is likely he crossed his forces over here, and effected a junction with Butler.  At any rate, it was generally reported and believed last night that the enemy was moving on Petersburg, and a rumour was current last night that fighting had commenced between the two armies.  We learned last night, on inquiry in official circles, that they had been advised of no fighting beyond some skirmishing yesterday with Dearing’s cavalry, in which our pickets were driven in.  Otherwise they reported all quiet.

But private accounts reported that the enemy was around Petersburg, and that his forces were in line of battle in front of the outer fortifications.  This may be a little extravagant, a little too fast, but from all we can learn, we think it is likely that Grant has effected a junction with Butler and designs moving on Petersburg, with the view of cutting our lines of communication with the South.  Finding that he cannot whip us, he will probably resort to the other expedient of starving us.1


  1. “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. June 16, 1864, p. 2 col. 1
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