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NP: June 17, 1864 Petersburg Daily Express: Error of the Richmond Press, June 15-16, 1864


The Richmond papers of yesterday morning [June 16, 1864], speak of the fighting near this city on Wednesday [June 15, 1864] as a very trifling affair.1 This is a very erroneous idea and does great injustice to our brave soldiers who bore the heat and burden of the day, and who nobly discharged their duty. When the Petersburg papers of yesterday [June 16, 1864] are read in our sister city [of Richmond], its people will find that the conflict on Wednesday [June 15, 1864] was something considerably more than an unimportant skirmish. The enemy made a vigorous attempt with a large force to get possession of Petersburg, and our fortifications were assailed at different points with great fury. But, thanks to the God of battles, their purpose was again frustrated. Our men fought with an intrepidity worthy of the occasion. For many long hours they resisted triumphantly the onsets of the foe, and in one part of the field inflicted severe punishment upon him. Two or three of our breastworks were captured by the continued rushing of overwhelming numbers, and a few guns were lost, but the advance of the enemy was effectually checked.

Yesterday morning [June 16, 1864] at an early hour the struggle was renewed and the roar of artillery was incessant for upwards of an hour, when it began to slacken, and long intervals would elapse without a discharge audible in our streets. At the time of this writing (about noon) [on June 16?] occasional reports are heard, but there is no reason to doubt that the fight is still actively progressing. We have as yet learned none of the particulars—certainly none to create any uneasiness about the final result. Our people are calm and hopeful, trusting in that good Providence which has twice interposed to save us from the worst of fates.—Further information will not be received, perhaps, for several hours, and will be given in another article.2

This movement against Petersburg has evidently grown out of the utter failure of Grant to reach Richmond on the north side of James River. He occupies a position which affords him great facilities for striking a blow in this direction, and but for the fortifications, which were in good time erected for our defence and which are proving themselves to be formidable structures, we should have been at the mercy of the foe. We cannot be sufficiently thankful for the completion of these preparations for our protection before the hour of need arrived. So far, by Divine assistance, we have passed triumphantly through this fiery ordeal to which we have been subjected. Thus encouraged, we look forward with an humble reliance on the Most High to our final and complete deliverance.

How striking are the vicissitudes of war. Twelve months ago we were daily and anxiously poring over telegrams giving information of the scenes then enacted around Vicksburg, little dreaming that it would so soon be our fortune to be involved in the same danger. And now we have almost at our gates the conqueror of Pemberton, seeking to reduce us to the same miserable condition as that of Vicksburg. But Grant finds no Pemberton in the trenches around Petersburg. He meets with a customer here inured to victory—the hero of CHARLESTON, MANASSAS and SHILOH—a commander whose name is worthy to be placed alongside of any that shines in military history. There is some difference between Beauregard and Pemberton—and some too between Beauregard and Grant.3

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  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: This is the first day of the Second Battle of Petersburg, fought on June 15, 1864.  MG William F. “Baldy” Smith’s Eighteenth Corps, Army of the James, went up against elements of P. G. T. Beauregard’s Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. Though the Union won the day tactically, taking multiple redoubts along the eastern edge of the Dimmock line, Beauregard won a strategic victory by preventing the capture of Petersburg, buying time for Rober E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to reach the Cockade City.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: This paragraph describes the second day of the Second Battle of Petersburg on June 16, 1864.  Winfield Scott Hancock’s Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac had joined Smith’s men, followed by Burnside’s Ninth Corps, and continued assaults on the eastern defenses of Petersburg continued all day.  But the city held again.
  3. “Error of the Richmond Press.” The Daily Express (Petersburg, VA). June 17, 1864, p. 2 col. 1
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