Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ken Perdue.
THE OFFICIAL WAR BULLETIN
PETERSBURG REPORTED IN POSSESSION OF THE FEDERAL TROOPS.
CANNON AND PRISONERS CAPTURED.
LEE APPARENTLY DECEIVED IN GRANT’S MOVEMENTS AND DESIGNS.
REBELS PREPARING TO HOLD THE WEST SIDE OF THE APPOMATTOX.
DESTRUCTION OF THE RAILROAD LINE.
REBEL REPORT OF A DISASTER TO GENERAL SHERIDAN.
WASHINGTON; June 17 — 9.30 A. M.
To Major General J. A. Dix, New York:
The following despatch has been received by this Department;
“CITY POINT, June 15th, via JAMESTOWN ISLAND, 5:30 a. m. June 16, 1864 — “Smith, with 15,000 men, attacked Petersburg this morning. Gen. Butler reports from his observatory, near Bermuda Hundred, that there has been sharp fighting, and troops and trains of the enemy were, as he writes, moving from the city across Appomattox, as if retreating. Hancock is not near enough to render Gen. Smith any aid.
“The Richmond papers have nothing to indicate a suspicion of our crossing the James River. They expect to be attacked from the direction of Malvern Hill.”
“CITY POINT, VA., 7:30 p. m., June 15. — Our latest reports from Smith was at 4:04 p. m. He had carried a line of entrenchments at Beatty’s House, the colored troops assailing and carrying the rifle pits with great gallantry; but he had not yet carried the main line. He describes the rebel artillery fire as very heavy. He expects to assault this line just before dark. Hancock is within three miles of Smith.”
CITY POINT, Va., 7 a. m., June 16, [via Jamestown Island, 11:45 a. m.] “At 7:20 p. m. yesterday Smith assaulted and carried the principal line of the enemy before Petersburg, taking thirteen cannon, several stands of colors, and between three and four hundred prisoners. This line is two miles from Petersburg. Hancock got up and took position on Smith’s left, at 3 a. m. to-day. There was heavy firing in that direction from 5 to 6. No report yet.”
“DONT HARD LANDING, VA., 1 p. m., June 16, 1864. — After sending my dispatch of this morning from the heights southeast of Petersburg, I went over the conquered lines with General Grant and the engineer officers. The works are of the very strongest kind, more difficult even to take than was Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga. The hardest fighting was done by the black troops. The forts they stormed were, I think, the worst of all.
“After the affair was over, General Smith went to thank them, and tell them he was proud of their courage and dash. He says they cannot be exceeded as soldiers, and hereafter he will send them in a difficult place as readily as the best white troops. They captured six out of the sixteen cannon which he took. The prisoners he took were from Beauregard’s command. Some of them said they had just crossed the James above Drury’s Bluff.
“I do not think any of Lee’s army had reached Petersburg when Smith stormed it. They seem to be there this morning, however, and to be making arrangements to hold the west side of the Appomattox. The town they cannot think of holding, for it lies directly under our guns. The weather continues splendid.”
“CITY POINT, Va., 4.15 p. m., June 16, 1864, (via JAMESTOWN, 11.45 p. m.) — General Butler reports from Bermuda Hundred that the enemy abandoned the works in front of that place. His troops are now engaged in tearing up the railroad between Petersburg and Richmond.”
The following despatch does not designate the hour, but it is supposed to be later than the preceding one:
“JAMESTOWN, Va., June 16, 1864. — I came down from the pontoon above Fort Powhatan with despatches for Secretary Stanton. Just as I left Captain Pitkin reported to me that Petersburg was in our possession.”
Nothing of recent date has been heard from General Sheridan, but the Richmond Whig of the 15th contains a dispatch from Gen. Lee stating that Sheridan had been routed in an engagement with Fitz Lee and Hampton, losing five hundred prisoners and leaving his dead and wounded on the field.
From General Sherman a despatch dated last night at 9 o’clock, has been received. It only states the relative position of the forces. No serious engagement had yet occurred.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.1
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- Washington Evening Union, June 17, 1864 ↩