Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
From the Petersburg Register of June 17th.
Affairs in the Vicinity of Petersburg.
At sundown on Wednesday evening [SOPO Ed.: June 15, 1864], affairs looked gloomy along the line of our entrenchments. From early daybreak till past six o’clock p. m., the enemy were kept at bay. Heavy lines of skirmishers made repeated attacks, always with the same disastrous result. Battery No. 5, situated on Jordan’s farm, was all day a special object of the enemy’s attention. It mounted four guns, two manned by Major Batte’s company of the City Battalion, and two belonging to Sturdivant’s Battery. Their repeated repulses from this well-served battery caused a cessation of their efforts about 4 o’clock p.m., but after that hour they received reinforcements, which enabled them to outflank the few gallant and exhausted defenders of the post. Soon after 6 o’clock a heavy charge was made in front, while a large body succeeded in crossing the breastworks and placed our troops beneath a cross fire. Without reserves to fall back upon, or muskets to defend themselves, a precipitate retreat was the only alternative. Four guns were captured, and Major Batte and Captain Sturdivant made prisoners, besides some officers and privates who were wounded. No blame can be attached to the troops who were thus overpowered. For a long summer’s day they have defended their post without food or refreshment, and only yielded when flanked and overpowered by an overwhelming force of fresh and unwearied enemies.
At the same time, the enemy succeeded in carrying several other batteries, and at night-fall all our lines and batteries from No. 1 to No. 14, were in possession of the enemy. The capture of battery No. 5 unfortunately gave them a position from which they could shell a portion of the suburbs of the city.
THURSDAY MORNING [SOPO Ed.: June 16, 1864].
True to their fiendish instincts, which set at naught all the courtesies of civilized warfare, and following the unhallowed promptings of a malignant hatred to the Southern people, they commenced throwing shell into the city at an early hour. Availing themselves of their temporary advantage, without giving the slightest notice, they hurled their shrieking missiles against the homes of helpless women and children. For about two hours these messengers of death flew fast and furious, but an overruling Providence baffled the villainous designs of these would-be murderers of unresisting non-combatants. There were no injuries done to the dwellings and but trifling casualties to the persons of our citizens. A few shells fell but did not explode, in the neighborhood of the South Carolina Hospital on Washington street. On Main street in Blandford, near the Cemetery; a small shell passed through the frame house of a colored man named Hargrave, doing no damage but displacing a few inches of the weatherboarding. We hope the mark will be allowed to remain unrepaired, as a specimen of the Yankee mode of winning our affections and restoring the Union. In the same neighborhood a shell exploded as it passed through the house of Mrs. Naw, who was seated in her back parlor with her infant in her lap; a fragment struck her on the head inflicting a painful, but not serious wound, which did not prevent her from walking into town for medical assistance. A number of negroes fled in affright from their dwellings but only one was hurt by a fragment slightly bruising his arm. About 9 a.m., the shelling ceased. We hear our troops captured the gun from which it proceeded, but rather think the advance of our troops compelled the enemy to remove it.
From 10 a.m.to 4 p.m., the heavy boom of a slow cannonade could be distinctly heard along our front. An officer from the field informed us that it was an artillery duel. Up to that hour (11 a.m.), no attempt had been made to recover the works taken by the enemy on day before yesterday. It would be impossible to select the true from the false, among the floating rumors of the day. The following facts we learned from gentlemen entitled to credit. Capt. John C. Pegram, Adjutant General to Gen. Matt Ransom, was mortally wounded by a ball which entered his abdomen and passed out through his back. He was a son of Capt. Pegram, C. S. N., and a gallant and esteemed officer. About noon, the enemy attacked the militia posted at Mr. Avery’s farm, and after a short contest compelled them to retreat. Report says they lost two killed and thirteen wounded. We may learn the particulars before going to press. Major Archer in command of the militia, was wounded in the left arm.
A gentleman who reached our works on the river bank about noon, informs us, he found them unoccupied by the enemy who had left after spiking the guns. The rifle pits for a considerable distance were also unoccupied. At 4 o’clock, A.M., our batteries from No. 5 to 14 were in the hands of the enemy, except No. 9, which had been retaken in a charge made by the 59th Va. Regiment.
At the present hour, 8 o’clock, P. M., a battle is raging along the centre of our lines, probably at batteries No. 5 and 6. A courier to Headquarters, at sundown announced the gratifying intelligence that our troops made a general advance and drove the enemy before them, recapturing all or nearly all of our batteries and line of breastworks. It is difficult to substantiate the fact, but we certainly believe the statement to be true.
We have had a conversation with the gallant commander of the militia, Major Archer, and we are happy to state his wound is a flesh one and the bone uninjured. He states his men were exposed to a tremendous shelling, mingled with showers of minie balls, which was borne with great firmness for a length of time. Being ordered to change their position, and while in the act of doing so, a shell fell in their midst causing some confusion and loss. Mr. Thomas Scott, and Mr. Nathan Hoag were killed, the body of the last being within the enemy’s line was not recovered.
TEN O’CLOCK, P. M.
We have just learned that from 1500 to 1800 prisoners have been taken. An installment of 400 has just passed up town, so much is certain. We take the balance due upon trust.
A heavy cannonade is still in progress, and occasionally with sharp musketry. Soldiers from the front state upon our advance the enemy abandoned the entrenchments which our troops immediately occupied. The enemy seemingly regretting their precipitate retreat, made several endeavors to retake them, but were repulsed and severely punished. A large number surrendered after very little resistance.
A shell from the enemy’s batteries exploded in Blandford this afternoon, and killed a negro woman belonging to Mr. A. S. Shafer.
11 O’CLOCK P. M.
The last arrival from the front, states that the enemy is yet in possession of Battery No. 9, and that Batteries 7 and 8 are unoccupied by either parties. The enemy have suffered fearfully, and on our side the loss has not been small, but all is guess work at present.
The valley of the Appomattox, on yesterday, was so enveloped in smoke that personal observation from a distance was nearly impossible. It is stated that Fort Clifton joined in the artillery chorus and shelled the enemy for some hours.
There are eleven commissioned officers in the first batch of prisoners. The privates seem very much fagged, but very saucy.–One offered to bet $100 that Grant would be in Petersburg in less than three days. A lad standing by remarked. “It is probable he would just as he had came–a prisoner.”
From the Petersburg Register of Saturday [SOPO Ed: June 18].
On yesterday [SOPO Ed.: June 17, 1864], at an early hour, the enemy vigorously charged Battery No. 16, on our extreme right, they were several times repulsed but at length succeeded by a flanking movement, and captured the battery and a portion of the force which defended it. We learn that part of two regiments numbering not less than two hundred men were taken; but up to this hour we have been unable to learn what regiments they were. Some say of Bushrod Johnson’s old brigade, others that they belonged to Wise’s brigade. We hope the affair is exaggerated. Col. Page of the 26th Va. Regiment, was mortally wounded at an early hour and died a short time after.
In the early forenoon there was heavy firing in the neighborhood of Fort Clifton. We were informed that the troops stationed at that portion of our lines were briskly engaged and finally repulsed the enemy.
The militia were ordered from the front, and the order from General Beauregard relieving them spoke of their services in very complimentary terms. They are now engaged in guarding &c., on other portions of our line of defence.
The number of prisoners captured during the past twenty-four hour, amount to four hundred and twenty. Twenty-two commissioned officers, from Colonel down to Lieutenant, left this morning for Americus, Georgia.
The enemy still occupy Battery No. 5 and is slowly shelling the woods in his front. About every two minutes his guns belch forth fire and smoke, but there is apparently no reply from our artillery. There was but little firing after three p. m., at that hour all was apparently quiet along our front.
From three to five o’clock the firing gradually increased. At the latter hour, Battery No. 5 and 6 ceased to fire, and the tide of battle rolled southward. The space in our front covered by the batteries numbering from 8 to 12, comprising the line occupied by Hoke’s division now became the scene of conflict; the artillery firing was very heavy, and as the enemy advanced a heavy fusillade commenced and was maintained until night set in. Judging from our ear the firing was stationary and the enemy had gained little or nothing by their several hours fighting.
We learned from an official source, at five o’clock, that a fierce attack upon our extreme right had been repulsed. But we did not learn the result of the conflict, which was raging at nine o’clock. We have no fear of the result. The utmost confidence prevails at headquarters. Our troops are amply sufficient, and no apprehensions of the enemy’s advance seems to be entertained by our citizens.
11 O’CLOCK P. M.
As we closed the last paragraph, a terrific cannonade commenced, and for the first time the unremitting roll of small arms was distinctly heard all over the city. For about three-quarters of an hour the battle raged much nearer our corporate limits than ever before; but the stubborn valor of our brave troops prevailed and the enemy were driven back and all the ground we lost during the day was recovered.
Col. Tabb, of the 59th Va. regiment was borne on a litter with a flesh wound in his leg. It was from him we learned the gratifying fact of the enemy’s bloody repulse.1
- “Affairs in the Vicinity of Petersburg.” Raleigh Confederate. June 20, 1864, p. 2 col. 3-4 ↩