Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Michael Weeks.
THE FIGHTING ABOUT PETERSBURG – THE OPERATIONS DOWN TO SUNDAY NIGHT – THE FIGHT OF SATURDAY – THE ENEMY ARE REPULSED IN SEVEN SUCCESSIVE CHARGES.
The Petersburg papers bring us the particulars of the fighting about Petersburg from Friday night up to Sunday night. We make up from the Register’s account the following summary:
FRIDAY NIGHT – THE BATTLE OF SATURDAY.
The firing on Friday night, for nearly an hour, was absolutely terrific – particularly of musketry, which roared without the intermission of a second of time. What added to the excitement caused by this terrible round of mingled cannon and musketry was a report which, about eight o’clock, P.M., reached the city that the enemy had broken through our lines and were between our troops and Petersburg. This report, it is said, was brought to town by a regiment of ——- brigade, which broke and ran into Blandford, scattering terrour and alarm through that once quiet suburb. This report was quickly communicated to Petersburg, and, in consequence, there was no little uneasiness felt for a short time. Soon, however, other and better news came to hand, and when the hot firing ceased, the good people of the Cockade who were not on duty sought their pillows with the pleasing conviction that their gallant defenders had repulsed the vandals repeatedly, each time with great slaughter, and had regained all the ground we had lost in the morning. The remainder of Friday night was passed in comparative quiet, its stillness being broken only by the report of an occasional cannon.
On Saturday morning, about ten o’clock, quite a brisk fight was struck up in the immediate vicinity of Taylor’s farm, (Spring Garden) about two miles from the city. Cannon firing was rapid, and from the roof of Jarratt’s hotel the rattle of musketry was distinctly heard. In the afternoon intelligence came to hand that our troops had gallantly repulsed seven successive charges.
Soon after night closed in the repose of the city was unbroken, save by the noise of a rather sharp skirmish, which terminated in our charging and driving off the enemy, the lusty cheers of our men being distinctly heard from the top of Bollingbrook hill.
SATURDAY EVENING – DESPERATE CHARGE OF THE ENEMY.
That portion of our new line of defence on Avery’s farm which fronts our old line, now occupied by the enemy, was the scene of repeated attacks and brilliant repulses on Saturday evening. Our breastworks, mere temporary ones, constructed in a few hours, were lined by ——— and ——— brigade, with ——– artillery. After the enemy captured battery No. 16, they pushed forward a new line of works which enclosed Avery’s house, and took in a part of the deep cut on the Norfolk railroad, and a portion of Baxter’s road. Under this cover they securely massed their men and advanced within about forty to fifty yards of our line without being exposed to our fire. At 6 o’clock, P.M., they made their final attack. It was, as usual, preceded by a concentrated fire of shot and shell, which continued until their troops defiled from the railroad for the attack. Their officers led them on with great spirit, and they succeeded in planting their colours within thirty yards of our breastworks, but those brave enough to follow were swept away by a discharge of canister and musketry from our line. Falling back, their abandoned standard waved solitary and alone. Again they formed below, and, led by a Colonel on horseback, they made a hurried and confused advance. During a lull he was heard to exclaim, “G-d d—m it men, come on.” A moment after, he and all who followed his leadership were swept away by a shower of canister. It was the last charge, but one bolder than the rest rushed forward, and was killed by our sharp shooters as he grasped the standard. Another followed and carried it off unscathed by our heavy fire.
During the occupation of our old defences, the enemy have worked like beavers and strengthened them materially. Their new line of defence on Avery’s farm gave them great advantage during the repeated attacks on Saturday, but their appearance in our front as their masses appeared over the railroad bank, was the signal of a storm of canister and musketry, which always made the few survivours turn and run. Their loss must have been enormous, and ours, in consequence of our sheltered position, was remarkably small. Their artillery practice covering their advance was unusually accurate; their shells fell in our trenches and mashed a wheel of one of our guns, which was quickly replaced. This fire was kept up with the same accuracy until the columns advanced from the road where they formed under cover. Our fire was [illegible] and deliberate, and so destructive that they seldom waited to receive a third round. Their dead and wounded, at twelve o’clock on yesterday, were lying in heaps before our works, their sharp shooters keeping up such an unremitting fire that our men could not leave the trenches to give them any assistance. This brutal disregard to the sufferings of their mutilated mercenaries, independent of their general savage conduct during the war, is sufficient to place them among the lowest in the scale of civilized nations.
SUNDAY – ALL QUIET.
From daylight on Sunday morning until twelve, M., the Yankees contented themselves with firing at intervals of four or five minutes, solid shot at, it is believed, a bridge over the Appomattox.
For the last half hour (we write at half past twelve, P.M., on Sunday,) a profound quiet prevails in the city.
We stopped writing at a little after twelve o’clock, P.M. Since the then firing has been desultory, and denoted sharpshooting, skirmishing and picket firing, with an occasional dropping of a shell in different parts of the city, which, as far as we have been able to ascertain, has done no damage to-day to life or limb, and scarcely any to property – in fact, we may say that twenty dollars in old currency would repair all the damage from shelling to-day.
The city was quiet, the churches filled with even larger congregations than usual and the public pulse beat as calmly as if the Yankee devils were at home.
We cannot possibly learn the amount of casualties on our side. We may say that our losses have not been in the ration of more than one to four to that of the enemy, many of whom are now lying unburied on the field upon which they fell.
Among the casualties in the charges made by the enemy on Friday night, we have to record the name of Adjutant Brown, of the Twenty third ——- regiment, who was struck by a piece of shell in the forehead and died in the hospital Saturday. He was studying for the ministry when the war broke out. His body was taken home by his faithful body servant. He was an exemplary member of the Presbyterian church.
Colonel J. S. Jones, of the Thirty-fifth ——– regiment, wounded, and died in the hospital.
Captain Blackwell, Company E, acting Major of the Thirty-fifth, was killed instantly.
Reid’s Battery. – Killed: Sergeant John Fouch, Corporal John M. Burkly and Private George F. Sanders.
Wounded: Sergeant, ‘Marshall’ and Private Thomas Dove, slightly.
Halifax Artillery. – Killed: Josiah Anderson. Wounded: Lieutenant Ferguson, seriously; Sergeant T. S. Boyd, slightly; Corporal J. F. Irby, in hand; Privates Walter [illegible], in leg; James Mister, in arm; G. W. Quarles, slightly; J. P. Ballard, slightly; —— Blackwell, slightly; [illegible] Rowland, very slightly.
This company lost one gun, and the following members were taken prisoners by the enemy: Sergeant Tune, Privates Lawrence Davis, Thomas J. Dunn, Robert W. Dunn, Lee Tune, John Ferguson, George Enbank, P. Q. R. S. Strange, Lafayette Dixon, John Thompson, David Thompson, Harmon Richardson, William Clardy.
The dwelling of William Taylor, Esq., known as “Spring Garden,” was destroyed by order of our authorities as a military necessity. At Greencroft, the residence of Mr. Alexander Pace, the barns and outhouses have been destroyed. This property is about two miles from Petersburg, and just opposite to where the roads cross to Prince George Court House and City Point. At Windsor farm, the property of Mr. John Hare, and just opposite to New Market race course, a barn has been burnt.1
- “The Fighting About Petersburg.” Richmond Examiner. June 21, 1864, p. 3 col. 3-4 ↩