Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
LATEST OFFICIAL WAR GAZETTE.
Capture of Petersburg by General “Baldy” Smith—He takes Four Thousand Prisoners
and Thirteen Cannon—Gallantry of the Colored Troops.
WASHINGTON, June 17, 9 30 A. M.—To Major-General Dix, New York:—The following despatches have been received by this Department:—
CITY POINT, June 15, via Jamestown Island, 5.30 A. M., June 16.—General SMITH, with fifteen thousand men, attacked Petersburg this morning.
General BUTLER reports from his observatory, near Bermuda Hundred, that there has been sharp fighting, and that the troops and trains of the enemy were, as he writes, moving from the city across the Appomattox, as if retreating.
HANCOCK is not near enough to render General SMITH any aid.
The Richmond papers have nothing to indicate a suspician of our crossing the James River. The Rebels expect to be attacked from the direction of Malvern Hill.
CITY POINT, Va., June 15, 7.30 P. M.—Our latest report from SMITH was at 4 P. M.
He had carried a line of entrenchments at Beatty’s House, the colored troops assaulting and carrying the rifle pits with great gallantry; but he had not yet carried the main one.
He describes the Rebel artillery are as very heavy.
He expected to assault this line just before dark.
HANCOCK is within three miles of SMITH.
CITY POINT, Va., June 16, 7 A. M., 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 thousand prisoners.
This line is two miles from Petersburg.
HANCOCK got up and took position on SMITH’S left at 3 A. M. on Tuesday.
There was heavy firing in that direction from 5 to 6 A. M., but no report yet.
DOUTHART LANDING, Va., 1 P. M. June 16.—After sending my despatch 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 to take than was Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga.
The hardest fighting was done by the black troops. The forts they stormed 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 that hereafter he will send them in a difficult place as readily as his best white troops.
They captured six out of the thirteen cannon which he took.
The prisoners he took were from BEAUREGARD’S command. Some of them said they had just crossed the James River above Drury 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, as it lies directly under our guns.
The weather continues splendid.
CITY POINT, Va., June 16, 4.13 P. M., via Jamestown Island, 11.45 P. M.—General BUTLER reports from Bermuda Hundred that the enemy have 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 ones:—
JAMESTOWN, Va., June 16.—I came down from the pontoon above Fort Powhatan with despatches for Secretary STANTON. Just as I left, Captain PITZIN [?] 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 instant contains a despatch from General LEE, stating that SHERIDAN had been routed in an engagement with FITZHUGH 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 P. M., has been received. It only states the relative position of his forces. No serious engagement had yet occurred. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.1
- “Latest Official War Gazette.” Philadelphia Inquirer. June 18, 1864, p. 1 col. 1-2 ↩