Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Bryce Suderow and is included in a collection of articles from the Detroit Free Press. His transcription of this article is published here with his written permission.
FROM THE TWENTY-FOURTH
Crossing James River
June 16th — At 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon our train was all across the Chickahominy, the 6th Corps in advance of us and the 2nd closely following. A hard and pauseless march over good roads brought us to the James River, and into park a few miles below Charles City Court House, nearly opposite Fort Powhattan at 10 o’clock last night. The troops of the 6th Corps were in line of battle to cover the crossing, the 2nd corps are reported over the river above us, and the 5th, our own, were waiting their turn, being transported by boats from the landing to Windmill Point, nearly opposite Charles City. All the trains of the army are here concentrating, and passing over the river by a bridge of pontoons of 103 boats, each with its stringers and planks forming a stretch of about 20 or 21 feet, the entire bridge being over two thousand feet, or nearly half a mile in length.
After getting into park, orders were issued to “unhitch, water and feed, but not unharness.” At a quarter to one o’clock at night, having passed the meantime in feverish unrest, our time came for the right of way over the bridge, and 3 o’clock this morning found us across, and upon the south side of the James, the fifth great river and the greatest of them all, crossed since the beginning of this campaign. We are marching around Richmond by the left flank, an operation full of significance, perhaps of alarm to great men of little faith who are preventing by the stern necessity of the hour, the will of the leader of our armies. . .
The river here both above and below the pontoon bridge is full of transports, vessels and steamers loaded with stores and munitions of every kind, among which schooner loads of sutler’s stores are said to be plenty, but little opportunity as yet is allowed for their trade. Their prices are said to be fabulous to anybody but the poor purchaser who can swallow a dollar greenback at a mouthful of their cakes and fruits, of which the soldiers will buy as long as they have cash or credit. Almost the only article of real benefit to be had is canned milk, the rest is worse than useless trash. . .
- “From the Twenty-Fourth,” Detroit Free Press, June 23, 1864, p. 4 col. 2 ↩