Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
THE WAR NEWS.
The latest information we had of affairs about Petersburg up to six o’clock last evening will be found under our telegraphic head and in the copious extracts we make from the Petersburg papers.
The following despatch from General Lee, giving an account of our brilliant success on Wednesday evening, was received here yesterday morning:
“HEADQ’RS ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
“June 22, 1864.
“HON. JAMES A. SEDDON, SECRETARY OF WAR:
“Sir—Since Friday last there has been skirmishing along the lines in front of Bermuda Hundred and around Petersburg. The Federal army appears to be concentrated at these two places, and is strongly intrenched.
“Yesterday a movement of infantry, cavalry and artillery was made towards the right of our forces and Petersburg, in the direction of the Weldon railroad. The enemy was driven back, and his infantry is reported to have halted. His cavalry have continued to advance upon the road by a route further removed from our position.
“The enemy’s infantry was attacked this afternoon, on the west side of the Jerusalem plank road, and driven from his first line of works to his second on that road by General Mahone, with a part of his division.
“About sixteen hundred prisoners, four pieces of artillery, eight stands of colours, and a large number of small arms were captured.
“Very respectfully, etc.,
“R. E. LEE, General”
It will be seen from a telegram in another column, received from Petersburg last night, that after the battle Wednesday night our troops relinquished the ground they had taken, and that the enemy moved up and re occupied the line of the Petersburg and Weldon railroad.
Kautz and his raiders, who crossed the Petersburg and Weldon railroad on Tuesday evening, were believed here to have struck the Southside and Danville roads at or on this side of Burkeville, at 12, M., yesterday, as about that time the telegraph ceased working further than Jetersville, ten miles this side of Burkeville. We, shall no doubt hear more of this raid before going to press. It is comfortable to know that we had no stores whatever at Burkeville, all having been removed in good time.
Information, deemed authentic, was received here last night that Kautz and his cavalry reached Burkeville between one and two o’clock, P. M., yesterday, and, after deranging the road and destroying the depot buildings, left in the direction of the High bridge.
It is ascertained that this expedition is under the command of Generals Kautz, Spears and Wilson.
HUNTER AND HIS PARTY.
The latest we have from this interesting party of skedaddlers will be found in the telegram from Lynchburg. If the information contained in that despatch is correct, as it most probably is, Hunter is striking for Jackson’s river depot, a point about forty miles north of Salem, and not more than eight or ten miles east of Covington. If he succeeds in reaching the latter place, and destroying the bridges after him, he will be safe. We believe that he will reach Covington with most of his army, but there is little doubt he will loose all his material of war and baggage by the wayside. His ignominious flight into Western Virginia contrasts well with his triumphant entry into the undefended town of Lexington!
SHERIDAN AND HIS GANG.
It is now pretty well ascertained that Sheridan, and such of his gang as could travel, left the White House Wednesday evening, and coming west as far as Cramp’s cross roads, near Tunstall’s, on the York River railroad, struck out in two columns for the James river. They are believed to have crossed to the south bank of the Chickahominy by the Long and Providence Forge bridges, about sunrise yesterday morning. The distance across the country from the White House to Westover is not more than twenty-five miles. It is possible Sheridan may encounter some obstacle to his safe transit.
No cannon were heard in that direction yesterday.
WHAT THE YANKEES DID IN LEXINGTON.
We have before us a letter from an intelligent lady of Lexington, speaking of the conduct of Hunter’s army at that place. On approaching the town and without any notification to the inhabitants, they opened on it with their artillery. The shells tore through and exploded in many of the dwelling houses before the inmates were apprised that the enemy was upon them. The consternation among the defenceless people was of course very great. The women huddled with their children into cellars, with the feeling that the next moment perhaps their houses would be burnt above them. The lady whose letter we allude to says that so excessive was the dread caused by this barbarous bombardment that the Yankees’ after acts of pillage and arson seemed by comparison mild.
Private houses were, according to the custom of Yankee soldiery, ransacked and pillaged, the heroes, in every instance, preferring to break the locks of smoke-houses and store-rooms, though the keys were at their service. Accounts have already been published of the number of buildings burnt, and it is unnecessary to recapitulate them, especially as this is no pleasant theme to dwell upon. The manner is which Governor Letcher’s family were treated deserves to be recorded as part of the history of this invasion of the South by the barbarians of the North. They gave his family notice that in TEN MINUTES they would apply the torch to his dwelling, and half of the time allotted was taken up by the officer appointed to burn the building in laying down injunctions as to what should and what should not be removed beyond the reach of the flames. All the clothes, furniture and provisions of the family were in that house, and all were consumed except the mere handful that could be taken out by two or three ladies in five minutes.
They committed only one murder that we have heard of. They took Mr. Matthew White from his house, and upon the charge, of which there was no proof, and which would have been no justification if it had been true, that he had been serving with General McCausland, and had killed one of their men, carried him into the country, tied him to a tree and shot him to death like a dog.
We have no morbid fondness for dilating upon the barbarous conduct of the enemy, and no disposition to exaggerate facts in themselves so horribly inhuman as to excite incredulity, were their truth not established beyond all doubt; but as journalists it is our duty to record these things.
FROM DEEP BOTTOM AND NEIGHBOURHOOD.
Our correspondent at this point writes: “After the noisome booming of cannon and incessant explosion of huge “lamp post” shells, thrown from the gunboats yesterday, to-day wears a very dull and monotonous aspect, perfectly devoid of the thousand and one exciting rumours occasioned always upon any demonstration of the enemy. Yesterday there were ten thousand Yankees, increasing with the day up to forty thousand, so somebody must have been correct. Your correspondent succeeded in getting a glimpse of the force landed, and in hearing the opinions expressed by officers who are calculated to know something about the matter, making his conclusions accordingly. The enemy, party negroes, landed at the lower part of Deep Bottom, under cover of their gunboats, and commenced moving up the river, hugging it closely, until they had proceeded probably a mile and a half, where they halted, and immediately set about fortifying. As their gunboats could come no farther, so they thought it prudent not to advance beyond their range. They ransacked, as usual, all the farms within their reach, and it was said by those who saw it, that they actually carried forage from this side across their pontoon bridge. At present, their whole force may be five thousand, certainly not more.
It is singular how often, according to reports in town, the DEPARTMENTAL battalion, or a portion, have been captured, cut off, torn to pieces, etc.—So far, they have not been exposed to any more danger than the rest of the troops, and none of this brigade have yet been hurt or captured. They are all well and in the best of spirits.1
- “The War News.” Richmond Examiner. June 24, 1864, p. 2 col. 1-2 ↩