Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Jackie Martin.
ADDITIONAL FROM THE NORTH.
We continue our summary of news, extracted from Northern papers of the 22d:
THE WAR NEWS—SITUATION AT PETERSBURG.
All interest in the North seems to be centred on Petersburg. It has become the focus of the war. The Northern papers of the 22d, as we have before remarked, are without the usual “official gazette” of Mr. Stanton, but they are filled with private accounts from their correspondents of the operations and movements of the armies around Petersburg. The HERALD’S first page is emblazoned with a large map, over which are the following words, in large capitals: “PETERSBURG—THE THREE REBEL LINES OF INTRENCHMENTS.” Alluding to it, the HERALD remarks:
With the capture of Petersburg as an accomplished fact, the Danville railroad is the only one that connects the rebel capital with the Southern Confederacy. The width of track on this road is said to differ from all other Southern railroads, and will prevent the withdrawal of rolling stock. This road can be easily threatened, or even destroyed from Petersburg, so that the rebel Government will feel that Richmond is held by a very slight tenure. THE LOSS OF PETERSBURG IS THE VIRTUAL SURRENDER OF RICHMOND.
A glance at the map will convince the most unbelieving. Our communications will be matchless; their’s hopeless. Let the timid, who scent disaster in every breeze and borrow trouble from all our movements, be assured that the glorious campaign of Vicksburg will find a parallel here. There is something very grand and imposing in the slow and steady advance of this army on Richmond. It reminds one of the mountains closing in on the three brothers in the fairy tale.
The HERALD’S correspondent writes of operations around Petersburg:
When the principal forts in the outer line of works were taken, it was supposed that we would soon be in possession of the city; but the rebels have been pouring in reinforcements in great numbers from North and South Carolina, as well as from Lee’s army, and every foot of ground over which we have advanced since the fighting commenced in this vicinity has been vigorously disputed by the enemy.
The fighting goes on day and night with unexampled fury. We have constantly gained ground, and have driven them from one line of intrenchments to another, until we are now quite near the city. The rebels are evidently imbued with a spirit of desperation, and work and fight with an energy deserving a better cause. Our losses have been very heavy there.
The health and MORALE of the army remain unimpaired.
Yesterday afternoon a flag of truce was sent out from our side, and arrangements were effected for collecting the wounded and burying the dead that lie between the lines, in which pious duty working parties were engaged. The losses in front of Petersburg have been severe on both sides, but our list of casualties has evidently been greater than the enemy’s, because we have made repeated charges on his fortified lines.
The charge made on Saturday afternoon at one point of the line by the storming column in the Second corps was a magnificent affair, and the universal opinion is that it would have been successful if the troops had only had the advantage of the presence of their old officers to lead them—But many of the valuable officers have been either killed or wounded, and of course the efficiency of the troops, as a necessary consequence, has been considerably impaired.
Another correspondent writes of the fortifications around Petersburg:
The works are of great strength and well defended. A large work on a hill to the north of the river covers the city and their line of works, and also bears upon our lines. The firing from this work, called Fort Clifton, has been very heavy and severe, and has not yet been silenced by our guns; means will be found ere long to remove this obstacle and occupy the city, which is now covered by our guns.
Another correspondent writes of the fighting around Petersburg:
The fighting in front of the city continues night and day, and veterans of the Potomac army say they never witnessed anything like it for desperation and valour. I think they must want to close the thing up and go home. The losses on both sides are enormous.
A mournful scene transpired here yesterday, the first of the kind during the war, so far as my knowledge extends, in the drumming out of the service of First Lieutenant Matthew Keck, Adjutant of the One Hundred and Eighty eighth Pennsylvania volunteers, for cowardice at Drury’s Bluff, in the action of the 16th of May.
ATTACK ON THE YANKEE LINES AROUND PETERSBURG.
The HERALD has an account of the attack on the enemy’s lines on the 17th inst. The correspondent writes:
On the morning of the 17th instant, about half past three, the enemy with infantry attacked General R. S. Foster’s division of the Tenth corps.—Their infantry consisted of Field’s and Pickett’s divisions of Longstreet’s corps. The attack was kept up during the day, and only ceased after dark—General Foster’s right rested on Wars Bottom church, near James river, extending towards the Appomattox, a distance of a mile and a half. The enemy extended from Dr. Howlett’s house, on the James river, towards the Appomattox, the whole being in the immediate front of General Foster.—At this time fighting was also going on on the fronts of General Ames and General Turner, in the direction of the Appomattox. At about two o’clock P. M. the enemy formed line of battle and charged General Foster’s line, driving his left and centre back about two hundred yards, they being repulsed on every other portion of our line. Subsequently a part of the original line lost was regained, thus leaving the relative positions of the two opposing armies the same as on the 16th, save on General Foster’s left, where we retired some two hundred yards, and which they hold To day, the 19th, at three o’clock, P. M, the same troops made another attack upon Foster’s right and centre with infantry and artillery. A portion of our centre was driven back. An advance was ordered, and the enemy were driven back from the position gained by them in this attack, and we now triumphantly hold the line. As I write constant attacks are being made upon the lines of Ames and Turner, but they have not succeeded in driving us back from our position, having been repulsed in every attempt. A number of prisoners were taken on Foster’s line from Pickett’s and Field’s divisions. Pickett’s division consists of four brigades, each numbering about twenty five hundred men. Among the brigades of Pickett’s division are Aylett’s, Hunter’s and Barton’s. These prisoners state that we are throwing shell into Petersburg, and that a large portion of General Lee’s army is at Petersburg and in Butler’s front, some portion of it having remained on the north side of the James.
General Ferrero, with the coloured division of our corps, came into position on the front yesterday afternoon. He will be heard from in the next encounter. By the way, we have a camp story about one of these darkeys. The coloured soldier had a rebel prisoner under guard for some time, and was afterwards asked how the rebel liked it “Oh, he acted berry nice, and called me Mister,” was the response, with a grin which showed his evident appreciation of the dignity to which he had risen in the rebel’s estimation. When Southerners begin to call darkeys “Mister,” it evinces a progress in refinement on their part which cannot but be very gratifying to those who are afflicted with Ethiopocephals.
LATEST FROM PETERSBURG.
The latest advices from Petersburg, in the Northern papers of the 22d, are up to the 20th. A letter of that date says:
Yesterday our corps enjoyed a spell of rest.—There was no general engagement, but the pickets kept up an incessant interchange of shots. The rebels opened from one of their batteries several times during the day; but Captain Roemer, chief of artillery on General Wilcox’s staff, brought his guns to bear, and silenced them with a few shots.
A good deal of active skirmishing, intermingled with occasional severe cannonading, made up yesterday’s programme. There has been no change in the position of the lines on either side.
Last evening the enemy again made an assault, but they soon fell back before our volleys of musketry.
Another correspondent writes:
Yesterday was one of the most peaceful Sundays this army has had since the campaign commenced. Scarcely a shot was fired during the day. Most of the day was devoted to re organizing the troops and strengthening the lines. The soldiers were very much exhausted with continued marching and fighting, and needed a little rest.1
- “Additional from the North.” Richmond Examiner. June 28, 1864, p. 3 col. 3 ↩