Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.
[From the Petersburg Express of Tuesday [June 21, 1864]]
NO GENERAL ENGAGEMENT YESTERDAY—HEAVY SKIRMISHING—THE ENEMY CONTINUE TO SHELL THE CITY—OUR TROOPS EAGER FOR THE FRAY.
Contrary to public expectation there was not a general engagement yesterday between the two great armies now massed near the corporate limits of Petersburg. From certain movements of the enemy, which were unmistakeably apparent on Sunday, every body with whom we conversed, fully expected the ball to open at an early hour yesterday. It was thought, too, that the chief efforts of our foe would be directed against our left, as in that direction he was observed actively moving on Sunday. But as an evidence of the uncertainty of military operations, all was unusually quiet up to half past six o’clock last evening, on the part of the enemy’s lines. It may be that the enemy contemplates an assault here, and as it is very near the river, and would give him control of that important stream, we should not be surprised at any moment to hear that Grant has made one of his characteristic assaults in the vicinity of Jordan’s Farm, but of course he is under the eye of watchful leaders, and strike where he will an opposition will be offered, that will test the metal [sic, mettle] and endurance of his hordes to their fullest capacity.
On other portions of the lines there was heavy skirmishing yesterday, but nothing more. The enemy have learned a lesson, during the past four or five days, which has not been without its salutary effects. He approaches now with great caution, and the least show of determined opposition on our part, generally causes him to desist. This was especially the case yesterday.
There was a considerable artillery practice yesterday [June 20, 1864], as must always be the case where two armies of such magnitude confront each other. The damage inflicted, if any, we could not ascertain.
THE ENEMY’S BARBARITY.
The inhuman, uncivilized and anti-Christian practice of the barbarous foe, was continued yesterday [June 20, 1864] without abatement. All the day long at intervals of every five minutes, his shell were thrown into the city. Fortunately, the ingenious foe have discovered no method of deadening or destroying the sound when they hurl their deadly missiles into our midst, and every report which falls upon the ear, puts all persons in exposed situations on the watch. Their whizzing sound and rapid flight through the air, are easily heard and seen, and hence we are glad to know that the damage inflicted yesterday amounted to comparatively nothing. We heard of a little bricks and mortar being displaced, the pavements torn up in two or three streets, and in one instance a large door on Sycamore street was unhinged. But we heard of no injury to life or limb yesterday, and the enemy probably threw an aggregate of 150 or more shells into the city’s limits.
A GREAT DELUSION
It is quite evident from a speech delivered by Lincoln in Philadelphia on Thursday last [June 16, 1864], that his [ticklers?], Grant and Sherman, have impressed upon his obtuse brain the ridiculous idea that the army of the Potomac now occupies a position from which it cannot be driven by Gen. Lee. This speech will be found in another portion of today’s Express. Never, however, did Lincoln labor under a more fallacious idea. Of all the positions the army of the Potomac has occupied, and they have been numerous, no one has been more precarious than the present. In due time Old Abe will learn to his sorrow, that our opinion on this matter is correct, and that of his greatest of all living generals wrong.
THE FLAGS OF TRUCE.
The flags of truce sent in by the enemy Sunday [June 19, 1864], and referred to by us yesterday [June 20, 1864], was forwarded by that cautious Yankee commander, Meade. He desired the privilege of burying his dead. For obvious reasons, which it is not necessary here to mention, Gen. Beauregard courteously, but peremptorily declined to grant the requests. It seems a little singular, that in all the heavy fights in the Wilderness, and around Spotsylvania Courthouse, thousands upon thousands of Yankee dead were permitted to bake and fester, and yet no solicitude was manifested for their burial. But now when the fatal casualties are not near so large, because of the fewer numbers engaged, the enemy manifests an undue anxiety to put his dead under the sod. This glaring inconsistency must strike every reader at the first glance.
THE ENEMY’S STRENGTH.
An ordinarily intelligent Teuton, who fell into our hands Saturday night [June 18, 1864], gave the brave Confederate who captured him a statement of Grant’s forces, which is believed to be in the main correct. He says Grant’s army now on the Southside of James River, is composed of the Second, Fifth, Ninth, Tenth, Eighteenth, and Twentieth Corps. The second, commanded by Hancock; the Fifth by Warren, and the Ninth by Burnside, are all operating immediately around Petersburg. The Eighteenth, commanded by Baldy Smith, is at and near Bermuda Hundreds. The Tenth and Twelfth1, have no regular commanders, and are held near City Point as a reserve. All these army corps have been fearfully reduced since the commencement of the present campaign, and many of the regiments composing them do not now muster 200 men.
The prisoner who furnishes this information, says he was enlisted in Germany two and a half years ago and for the sole purpose of fighting in the Yankee army. He is highly pleased at the idea of being taken prisoner.
Last evening [June 20, 1864] about seven o’clock, the enemy was observed to doub[l]e his pickets on our extreme left—a generally sure indication of an attack on his part. Up to one o’clock this morning [June 21, 1864], no engagement had occurred, but there was much picket firing going on.2
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The editor probably meant Twentieth, but neither Corps was really present. The Twelfth Corps had become a part of the new Twentieth Corps out west with the former Eleventh Corps, and the new corps was part of the Army of the Cumberland, then fighting in the Atlanta Campaign. ↩
- “From the Petersburg Express of Tuesday.” Raleigh Confederate. June 23, 1864, p. 2 col. 3 ↩