Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
From the Petersburg Express of Monday[SOPO Ed.: June 20, 1864].
A GREAT BATTLE IMMINENT–FIGHTING ON SATURDAY [SOPO Ed.: June 18, 1864]–OPERATIONS YESTERDAY.[SOPO Ed.: June 19, 1864]
All the indications from the front point to a great battle–which cannot be delayed much longer. That it will be one of the most important and probably decisive battles of the war may be readily imagined, since Grant is fighting now for what he considers the key to Richmond, and our noble army for its very existence and the safety of the Republic.–The lines of both armies now confronting each other almost within full view of this devoted city, have been contracted, and are so closely drawn to each other, that the slightest movement may bring on a general engagement.
Early yesterday morning, it was apparent that Grant was massing his troops on our left, and this appearance later in the day gave place to certainty. He intends to hurl his strength against that portion of our lines, and by force of overwhelming numbers, break through and overpower our troops. He has tried this experiment in Spotsylvania, at Cold Harbor and elsewhere, to his cost, and he may be as signally repulsed here. He has no room to maneuver his vast army–all of which it is believed is now in front of Petersburg–and must fight at once or retire. That he will fight, his movements yesterday leave no room to doubt.
The enemy’s forces who lately occupied the Bermuda Hundred Peninsula, or have been recenlty landed there, have been transferred to the Southside of the Appomattox. This was done on Saturday night and yesterday morning, and with his army complete, Grant now confidently confronts us. Another day may tell the tale of this monstrous expedition. May God aid and defend the righteous cause.
Of course there is some excitement and much feeling in the city. Entire calmness and indifference could not be expected when such mighty hosts are marshaled so near, and when such mighty issues are at stake. But there is a feeling pervading the community–so strongly confident in our success that Grant, with all his mighty army at our gates cannot quell it.
FIGHTING ON SATURDAY [SOPO Ed.: June 18, 1864]
The enemy made several fierce and determined assaults on our lines, at points extending from our right to our left, on Saturday, all of which were handsomely and signally repulsed. In each instance, his forces were advanced against our breastworks in columns of from four to six deep, but were met with such steadiness and severity of fire from our batteries and infantry, that before reaching the goal of their ambition, they were compelled to fly precipitately and in great confusion. Time and again their charge was repeated, and with like success.
From all sources, our information is that the enemy’s loss in these assaults was very severe. They advaced (sic) across fields–some of them several hundred yards in width, in which they were fully exposed to the play of our artillery, which was beautifully and most accurately served, and to the fire of our infantry, which is now rendered ever sure.–We state it from officers and men in the fight, and from witnesses of the battle field–and we may almost say officially–that the Yankee loss was very heavy. The bodies of their slain strew the fields from side to side, and the nearer our breastworks the assaulting columns came, the thicker the bodies lie. Within the last few days the army of Gen. Grant has been depleted by many thousands–how many, no body but himself and his secretive government will ever know.
Of the contrary, our losses have been extremely light. It is the remark of both officers and men, that so little loss of life and so few wounded were never before known in such a series of engagements. Our hospitals testify abundantly to the truth of this assertion. An overruling Providence seems to smile upon our army and protect it from harm.
OPERATIONS YESTERDAY. [SOPO Ed.: June 19, 1864]
Operations yesterday were confined mainly to heavy skirmishing, picket firing and sharpshooting. As on Saturday the enemy attempted once or twice to force our lines on Taylor’s farm, but met with a harsh repulse. Taylor’s farm was the scene of the most active hostilities both on yesterday and Saturday, and is the resting place of hundreds of the Northmen. It is situated on the Baxter road, near the right of our lines.
THE ENEMY’S LINES.
The Yankee line of battle now extend from the Jerusalem Plank Road all around our former breastworks to the Appomattox river–their left resting at or near Mr. Timothy Rivers late residence on the above road. On their extreme right, near Battery No. 1, they have placed a formidable gun in position, from which they have been throwing shells over in Chesterfield, and towards the city.
FLAG OF TRUCE FROM THE ENEMY.
About two o’clock yesterday afternoon the enemy sent a flag of truce towards our lines which, an hour or so later, was followed by a second. Nothing relative to their character has transpired , and we do not even know that they were received. It was conjectured but without foundation, that the truce was but a cover to sound our position. If this was the real object, it proved a failure.
VANDALISM OF THE ENEMY.
On Saturday, several fires were observed in different directions in Prince George county which proceeded from the burning of dwellings by the enemy. It is stated that Mr. John Hare’s residence near New Market, was destroyed, as also Mrs. Beaseley’s some distance beyond. It is also reported that Mr. Gregory’s house was burned. We hope none of these reports may be true.
SKIRMISHING IN CHESTERFIELD.
On Saturday and yesterday there was heavy skirmishing in Chesterfield county, in which the enemy was considerably worsted. Over there everything is working to the very best advantage.
THE SPIRIT OF OUR ARMY.
The spirit of our army was never better.–It is exhuberent and confident, and calmly awaits the issue, which all believe is so soon to be presented. May Providenced (sic) protect them and vouchsafe them a great victory.–The prayers of the community and of the nation at large are offered up for them and the cause they defend, and we believe they will not be without effect.1
- “From the Petersburg Express of Monday.” Raleigh Confederate. June 22, 1864, p. 2 col. 4 ↩