Editor’s Note: This article was found by Brett Schulte at the free newspaper site Historical Newspapers of the Rochester, New York Region and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
From the Army.
HEADQUARTERS 2D ARMY CORPS,
August 28th, 1864.
EDITOR REPUBLIC:—It is a fine day and a cool, comfortable air. We no longer complain of heat, dust and flies as we had good reason to three weeks ago. The roads which were rather bad because of recent heavy showers, are becoming solid again. I have been in the saddle the most of the day riding along our lines from the Appamattox River to opposite General Headquarters, and at several of our signal towers, which are somewhat up in the world. I found officers and men busy reading messages that were passing along the line of rebel signal stations! The purport of one lengthy message was that several trains of artillery were passing from the left to the right of the enemy’s lines, and our trains of artillery were passing as they said, for the 18th and 10th corps have been changing positions, the 18th from our centre to our right, and the 10th from our right to our centre. Our movements are all open to the enemy from their advantage of position, while theirs are covered by dense forests. In company with two others I came down along the railroad to where a party were practicing with a large mortar that has been in operation on a track car on the track, now it has moved out in the rear of a sharp bluff, and is being worked from a new position. They were firing at a rebel fort known as Fort Clifton, which is very troublesome at times. After firing three times they put a shell into the fort which must have made a stir among the Johnies stationed there. This mortar measures forty-nine inches across the muzzle, and throws a thirteen inch shell, which weighs one hundred and ninety-four pounds before it is filled, six pounds of powder are required for the filling of each shell, and in firing at Fort Clifton, a distance estimated to be two thousand five hundred yards, a charge of seven and three-fourths pounds of powder was used, and the fuse of the shell cut at eighteen seconds. The weight of the mortar alone is seventeen thousand pounds.—In firing, the course of the shell is plainly discernable against the sky, and makes a sound very much like a locomotive when about half under headway just starting out. They are firing this piece about once in twenty minutes to-day, which is about the only heavy firing we hear, to disturb the general quiet of the Sabbath. Toward sunset and till nine o’clock to-night we may expect an artillery duel which is practiced at that time nearly every day, accompanied by heavy picket firing, that is kept up till daylight. Since the return of the Second Corps from its late movement over the James River, it has been pushed out on the left of the Fifth Corps across the Weldon Railroad. The Second Division of cavalry under Gen. Gregg, formed our extreme left, then came two divisions, the first and second of the Second Corps’ while the Third Division was at the right of the Fifth Corps, and near the Jerusalem Plank Road. On Thursday morning of the 25th inst., the enemy made a strong demonstration on our left and front skirmish line and were held in check, but they returned at noon and drove our skirmishers in, and made four heavy assaults in mass upon the old Second, and finally drove it from its position, capturing nine pieces of artillery and many prisoners, making the most complete rout our corps has ever known, scattering both cavalry and infantry, who fell back about six miles. There were two corps of the enemy massed against our two divisions who repulsed four heavy assaults before yielding—The Ninth Corps came up as soon as possible to reinforce the second, but was too late.—Heavier musketry and artillery firing has rarely been heard than on that afternoon. Our loss is estimated at one thousand three hundred. The Fifth Corps advanced and re-took the same ground the next morning with little or no resistance, and buried the dead of our own and the enemy, and they report four of the dead of the enemy to one of ours. I have not heard any official statement, and do not know the full result. We still hold the Weldon Road, and from the actions and movements of the enemy, they are fearful of another of Grant’s flanks. We are anxiously waiting for the result of the Chicago Convention, for we wish to know what kind of a show the Democrats will bring up. Time wears heavily, and the soldiers feel that the war is not at an end yet. I believe that the majority have faith in the Administration that it does all in its power to put down the rebellion, but we are sick at heart and discouraged because of the treasonable performances of political demagogues at home, and they are doing more to prolong this struggle and to ruin our country than Jeff. Davis and his cabinet can do. The enemy are anxious to prolong the struggle till after the election of a Democrat, when they hope for peace on their own terms. Prisoners see that the re-election of Lincoln would be their death blow and that they could hold out no more, but if a peace Democrat like Little Mac, or some one of his stamp fills the chair, then their highest wish will be gratified. It does not seem that our voters at home can be so blind to their own good interests as to allow such a change to be brought about. We here in the field, who are the only ones who really know and feel the full force of this blow, and we want no peace except it be an honorable and a lasting peace, one that shall be our country’s glory hereafter.
E. W. H.1
- “From the Army. HEADQUARTERS 2D ARMY CORPS, August 28th, 1864.” Brockport (NY) Republic. September 8, 1864, p. 2 col. 4-5 ↩