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NP: October 21, 1864 Philadelphia Inquirer: Army of the Potomac, October 17-19

Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Brett Schulte.



Special Correspondence of the Inquirer.


Quiet in the Army

CITY POINT, Tuesday, Oct. 18, A. M.

No change yet on any part of our lines. The October calm or nature seems to have infected the military status, for certain it is there is a perfect similitude between the stillness of these autumn days and the quiet that pervades our front. Generally, the night brings with it more or less of cannonading, harmless in itself, but usual in reminding us that two great armies lay here confronting each other; but last night even this was wanting. Not the sound of a gun was borne to our ears either from Dutch Gap or the Petersburg front.

Continued Rebel Desertions.

Meantime, the regular routine goes on. Many deserters from the Rebel army are daily or rather nightly, coming into our lines, all agreeing in the main outlines of the Rebel situation—food, clothing, esprit du corps, all on the wane. Richmond, from the calling into service of the Local Reserve, by which many citizens have been compelled to close their places of business and lay in the trenches, begins to present the appearance of a besieged city. Some of the Richmond papers are growling about this closing of business houses, and seem to expect their citizens to stand behind earthworks in our front, at the same time.

What Lee is Doing.

But the beleaguered [ROBERT E.] LEE is working hard yet in defense of his capital. He is apparently taxing the South Side [Rail] Road to its utmost capacity, for the noise of rolling trains and the whistle of locomotives is heard almost constantly from our extreme left. Richmond is not evacuated, and JEFF. DAVIS has not fled, nor have the newspapers emigrated.

The Presidential Question.

The advent of the various State Commissioners is giving an impetus to the Presidential canvass in the army. There are of course no public meetings or harangues, but there is a vast deal of talk among the men. The thing, however, is so one sided, that it is doing no injury to the service.

Rebel Prisoners of War.

Are just now more than ordinarily unfortunate.

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Continued from the First Page.


Those who fall into [BENJAMIN] BUTLER’S hands, instead of lolling at their ease and enjoying large rations in some Northern camp, are sent to Dutch Gap to dig on the Canal, and their ration is of the scantiest in quantity and by no means [?]ing in quality, BUTLER giving them exactly what the Rebels give our negro soldiers whom they have captured and are forcing to work on their fortifications.

Lee’s Extremity.

Is GRANT’S opportunity, and it is fair to presume that the Lieutenant-General understands it, and in fact there are many indications that he does. For all that he is a traitor, and the arch-traitor in ability of them all, there is something sorrowful in seeing this man LEE dying by inches under the grasp that GRANT has fixed upon him and is tightening daily. LEE continually moves his troops from one side of the river to the other in an [?] hurried way that shows how great is the dread upon him of the nearness of his end. His army diminishes day by day, and all sorts of expedients must be employed to make up for the growing paucity of numbers. DAVIS’ wail at Macon, and LEE’S movements at Richmond are both pitiable confessions of an irreparable weakness in the Confederacy.

Election Commissioners on Hand.

While LEE has bodies of troops constantly flitting hither and thither to meet any possible attack on any part of his lines, our armies are just now plying them more with ballots than bullets.

The Commissioners of New York and Connecticut are scattered all over the armies, actively engaged in the discharge of their duties under the laws of the States which require the soldiers’ votes to be cast by proxy on the day of the election, in the precinct of their residence. Many of the New York regiments have already cast their votes for President, but as each ballot is separate and sealed, I have as yet heard no figures given in connection with the result. The Connecticut soldiers are just beginning to vote, and it is fair to presume that in both of these States the entire soldiers’ vote will be polled.

Yesterday was but another added to the list of quietude and inaction so far as throwing missiles of war about. On both sides of the river we are still strengthening our line, an occasionally, when the Rebels grow troublesome, engage in cannonading. Some such episode occurred last night, for during an hour or two a very lively game appeared to be playing before Petersburg. What it began in or resulted in is not yet apparent.

The hospitals at the front were all emptied yesterday, the patients being sent to this point.



Special Correspondence of the Inquirer,

CITY POINT, Wednesday, Oct. 19, A. M.

An extended tour along the left of our lines yesterday afternoon revealed no changes in our own or the Rebel position. The usual quiet pervaded our entire front, out of which, of course, no starting items could be gleaned. The Rebel cavalry are still upon our left flank, and make occasional predatory incursions on our left rear, but being always promptly met by [DAVID McM.] GREGG, we find their presence there no particular inconvenience. Yesterday Major VAN BUREN and Captain PELL, of General [AMBROSE] BURNSIDE’S staff, reported to General [JOHN G.] PARK[E]. commanding the Ninth Corps, for duty. General [GOUVERNEUR K.] WARREN is still absent, and General [SAMUEL W.] CRAWFORD still presides at Yellow Tavern, the Fifth Corps head-quarters.

From General BUTLER’S front nothing of importance reaches here. Yesterday a woman came in from Richmond. Being a woman she talked considerably; and being, furthermore, a Secesh woman, ahe talked wildly and vauntingly. According to her, Richmond is all serene; nobody has any fear of our taking the city at any time, near or remote; business is brisk and the markets plentifully supplied; in short, Richmond is a rather pleasant place for a family than otherwise. This was the substance of her tale as it was told me, and I send it as a remarkably lively specimen of gravy and whistling.

General BUTLER still keeps his prisoners at work at Dutch Gap, and to add to their delight their friends, the Rebels, generally throw a few shells at our working parties there every night.

The weather for the last ten days has been royal, the sky cloudless, the air cool and bracing, the earth hard and solid; no grander Indian summer has been seen for years. It still continues, and to all appearances the mud and rain of early winter are yet afar.1

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  1. “Army of the Potomac.” Philadelphia Inquirer. October 21, 1864, p. 1 col. 5 and p. 8 col. 1
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