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April 15.

The National gunboat Chenango, while proceeding to sea from New York City to-day, burst one of her boilers, killing one man, and severely wounding thirty-two others.--A meeting was held at Knoxville, Tenn., at which [64] resolutions offered by W. G. Brownlow were unanimously adopted, favoring emancipation, recommending a convention to effect it, and requesting Governor Johnson to call the same at the earliest period practicable, and indorsing the administration and war policy of President Lincoln. Governor Johnson made a powerful speech in support of the resolutions.--the Ninth Connecticut and Eighth Vermont reenlisted veteran regiments arrived at New Haven, Ct., this evening.--General John W. Geary, commanding Second division, Twelfth (afterward Twentieth) army corps, started from Bridgeport, Ala., on an expedition down the Tennessee, last Tuesday, taking with him one thousand men, and one gunboat. They shelled along the banks of the river, occasionally routing a party of guerrillas and rebel cavalry, until within eleven miles of Decatur. Here they came to a large force of infantry, artillery, and cavalry. It was nearly dark, and the General ordered the boat up the river again. But the rebels were not to be thus trifled with, and sent a battery of flying artillery up both sides of the river to head off the gunboat. The artillery went up the banks, and got in position to play when the Nationals passed; but the night was very dark, and the General with his men passed in safety. The expedition halted ten miles below Bridgeport, at a small village, and sent out a company as skirmishers. They went in the town, drove some rebel pickets, and captured a mail and seventeen thousand dollars in confederate money. They returned to camp this evening.

A body of rebel cavalry made an attack on the National pickets at Bristoe Station, Va., killing one man, and wounding two others of the Thirteenth Pennsylvania regiment. They were driven off after a few shots had been exchanged, but carried their wounded with them.--the notorious guerrilla Reynolds, and his command, was surprised by a party of National cavalry, near Knoxville, Tenn., and ten of them killed. Reynolds and fifteen others were captured, together with their horses, equipments, and arms.

The expedition to Smithfield, Va., which left Portsmouth day before yesterday, returned this day. A participant gives the following account of it:

The expedition consisted of three regiments, the Twenty-third and Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, and the Ninth New Jersey. Our regiment, the Twenty-third, alone landed at a point nine miles above Smithfield. The others were to land below at that place. We took up our line of march, and within about one mile came upon the rebel signal corps, who gave us a volley and fled. We followed, meeting with no opposition for three miles, when we found them posted behind breastworks and reenforced. They were too strong for our skirmishers, and Captain Story, of company F, was ordered to charge the breastworks with his command, companies I and D, about fifty men; and lest this should seem small for two companies, I will say, our whole regiment only mustered three hundred men, and were put into six companies of fifty men each. We were ordered to fix bayonets, and then forward, every man's eye being on the breastworks as he advanced toward it, expecting to receive a volley; but the rebels fled without firing. We pressed after them; and a mile further came to a mill-dam, with a bridge to cross, and discovered a turn in the road on the opposite side, where the rebels had posted themselves to advantage. A company was ordered into the woods to keep up a fire on them. The videttes were on the road watching the movements of the enemy, but kept themselves well covered, as we had already found they were good shots, having had two men wounded before reaching their breastworks. At this point, Sergeant Thomas Porter, of company I, a daring and brave young man, ventured beyond the videttes to get a shot, when he fell mortally wounded, the ball entering his shoulder, passing entirely down the back, and was extracted near the side.

At this time we heard firing in our rear, and feared that the guerrillas would give us trouble by attacking our rear-guard; but we were determined to clear our way in front first, and Captain Raymond was ordered to charge across the bridge at all hazards, and disperse the foe, which was handsomely done, capturing the officer of the signal corps and two of his men, while the rest scattered in all directions, we not losing a man. In the morning we were informed that the Colonel's orders were from General Graham, commanding the expedition, to reach Smithfield at such an hour, expecting we should meet with little or no opposition; but, as the prospect was, that every mile was not only to be disputed, but that we were going to have considerable trouble in our rear with the guerrillas, the Colonel concluded to fall back to the river, under the protection of the gunboats, as we had already three wounded men to get there, and no ambulance to [65] convey them in. On turning back to the breastworks from which we drove the rebels, we took a different road from the one we came up in the morning, but had not gone far, before the guerrillas were following us, and a rear-guard was taken from company F, and they had something to do to keep them back, continually exchanging shots. The rebels were bold and daring; they knew every turn in the road, and would watch their chance to ride up and give us a shot, whenever opportunity offered. When within a half-mile of the river where we halted, Corporal Hiram B. Lord, of Newburyport, was wounded in the thigh, the ball passing in one side and out of the other.

We came to the river-bank and stacked our arms in front of the residence of General F. M. Boykin, who was a noted politician of the democratic school, as letters found on his premises proved. This place has of late been made the headquarters of the rebel signal corps. Here was found a brass field-cannon in good order. A few rods from here is a fort which was erected at the outbreak of the rebellion, and was to command not only the river, but all approaches to it by land. In it were a number of large guns dismounted, and ten so damaged that they will never be of any use again. It looks as if it had been deserted for some time. Just before dark, our regiment took up its quarters in this fort, as it was thought it would be a good position, in case the enemy should come upon us in force. We had not been in the fort more than two hours, before we were ordered to go aboard the transport, and that night moved down to Smithfield; and the next forenoon the other part of the expedition came out, and we all returned to Portsmouth. A Lieutenant, belonging to frigate Minnesota who accompanied the expedition to Smithfield, was killed, and also an officer of the Ninth New Jersey killed, and one private wounded. I believe those were all the casualties they met with. The Twenty-third had one mortally wounded, Porter, of company I; two seriously, Lord, of company I, Symonds, of company C; one slightly, Osborn, company G; and one wounded and taken prisoner, Thomas, of company F, who was sent with the quartermaster and another man to signalize the gunboats of our whereabouts. What damage we did the rebels we do not know. The other part of the expedition took some prisoners, two of them wounded; whether they killed any I did not learn. I think this expedition is the second made under the command of Brigadier-General Graham.

A forage-train belonging to the National forces under the command of Colonel Williams, of the Kansas infantry, was attacked and captured at a point about eight miles from Camden, Ark., by a portion of the rebel forces under General Price.--Leavenworth Conservative.

The Richmond Examiner contained the following review of the situation:

Whilst the black cloud is slowly gathering on the horizon which will soon overspread the heavens, and, amid roaring thunder, discharge its flashes of lightning, a silence full of awe reigns through all nature, unbroken except by the painful soughing of the wind and a faint muttering in the distance. Such is the apparent quiet that oppresses our mind, and makes us bend low before the fearful storm that we feel in our heart is not afar off. Even the busy hum of preparation is hushed; what man can do to prepare for the fearful day has been done, and the South, at least, stands ready, like the strong man armed; the good knight, with the sword loose in its sheath, his harness bright and his heart full strong. Our men, after all their struggles and buffetings, riddled with wounds, broken by sickness, tried by cares, overcast by checks, are yet undaunted and unwavering; and once more, after imploring the Most High for his blessing, cast off the dust and ashes from their head, and rise at the call of danger, hopeful and confident as when they buckled on their maiden swords. People and army, one soul and one body, feel alike in their innermost hearts that when the clash comes, it will be a struggle for life or death.

So far, we feel sure of the issue. All else is mystery and uncertainty. Where the first blow will fall, when the two armies of Northern Virginia will meet each other face to face; how Grant will try to hold his own against the master spirit of Lee, we cannot even surmise. But it is clear to the experienced eye that the approaching campaign will bring into action two new elements not known heretofore in military history, which may not unlikely decide the fate of the gigantic crusade. The enemy will array against us his new iron-clads by sea, and his colored troops on land.

Europe will watch with nervous interest the first great trials made of these improved monitors, [66] if it should be our good fortune to finish and equip our own vessels of that class in time to meet them on equal terms. For since Aboukir and Trafalgar — a longer pause than was ever before known in the history of Europe — there have been no great naval fights, where fleets have met and the empire of the ocean has been at stake. Great wars have been carried on by land, but the sea has not been the scene of like great conflicts. During this long truce, two new elements — steam and improved projectiles — have entirely changed the conditions of such contests.

Vessels have become independent in their movements. Wind or tide may aid or impede, but they are no longer essential, and steam enables them to approach each other at will, untrammelled by external agencies. The power of the engines of war which they carry has steadily increased; and in precise proportion as the projectile gained in weight and distance, the means of defence were improved in the armament of vessels. Thus, we have now guns of a calibre unknown since the first days of artillery, and ships armed like the mailed knights of the middle ages. They promise a truly fearful character for the result of the first hostile meeting on a large scale.

The experiments heretofore made with ironclad vessels have been but very imperfect trials. During the Crimean war certain floating batteries of the French attacked the very strong batteries of Kinsburn, and silenced them with apparent ease. They were, however, mere iron boxes, having neither masts nor yards, and, in fact, in no point like the iron-clads of our day, with their plate armor at the sides and their turrets on deck. A trial on a larger scale was contemplated against the forts of Venice, when peace came and resigned them to the dockyard.

In our navy, also, the vessels of the enemy have, with the exception of the fight with the Merrimac, attempted only the reduction of stone walls at Charleston. Successful in beating down brick and mortar, and reducing granite to atoms, their projectiles have been found powerless against sand-bags and heaps of rubbish. The only serious encounter that can be called a fair trial of iron-clads resulted in the destruction of the monitor Keokuk, by the superiority of our projectiles — steel bolts and spherical shot — devised by Brooke, the ingenious inventor of the deep-sea sounding-line. The Yankee gunboats occasionally, with their light draughts and powerful guns on pivots, have ascended our rivers with impunity, frightened the people on shore, and controlled the country for miles around. The prestige that attended them at first, and cost us so dear, has, however, completely vanished. Like every dreaded danger, they succumbed as they were fairly looked in the face. Now we know fully their vulnerability, and the perils of a water transport for troops, with their helplessness when attacked in boats.

Since the first trials, however, the Yankees have made great efforts to remedy the evils that attended their early iron-clads — their want of buoyancy, their sinking too deep forward to approach well at certain landings, the necessity to tow them out at sea, and their slowness, which would embarrass the fleet to which they may be attached. They claim now to possess vessels as buoyant and free in motion as ordinary steamers, impenetrable to any known projectile, including the new Whitworth arms, and provided with a heavier armament than the last built iron-clads of the English. These they propose to carry into our harbors, and if we there can meet them, a conflict such as the world has not seen yet will take place. The famous deeds of our noble Merrimac will be repeated, and England especially will watch the result with intense interest, as she well knows that these Yankee iron-clads were, in reality, not built for us, but for British ports and British vessels. After Mr. Seward's insolent despatch to Mr. Adams, which Earl Russell so conveniently ignored, they are amply forewarned.

Another fleet of smaller but equally dangerous vessels has been built in the interior of the country, and there is no doubt that the Yankees will again send out the fleet of light gunboats, well armed and iron-clad, to force their way into regions otherwise inaccessible, to carry war to waters where they are least expected, and to overcome shore defences by a tempest of converging fire. They will again try to illustrate the powerful aid which a land army may receive from the kindred branch afloat, manoeuvring on its flank, and supporting it by bold demonstrations. It is fortunate for us that we are both forewarned and forearmed. We have been steadily informed of the powerful engines of war prepared for our destruction. We have had our successes on the Lower James and in Charleston harbor.

We have, just in time, received the instructive account of the first trial of an English-built iron-clad, the Danish monitor Rolf Krake, before [67] Prussian batteries, and may derive great comfort from the severe punishment she has received by guns far inferior to those we hold in readiness. For we also have not been idle, and both afloat and on shore all is prepared to resist attack and to meet the foe on his own terms. Our rivers also will have less to fear, for repeated triumphs and captures have taught us the value of horse-artillery and light movable batteries against the best-armed boats. Still, the conflict will be fierce and full of interest, not only to those who are engaged in it, but to all observers. Our fate is at stake; but we may, in all probability, have to perform the rehearsal of a fearful tragedy soon to be enacted on a still vaster stage, amid the crash of ancient empires and the uprising of powerful races in the old world.

The other new feature likely to give a strange coloring to the summer's campaign is the large force of armed blacks which our enemy is practising to employ. They have apparently reconsidered their first plan of using them mainly for garrison duty, and we see them, in Virginia and other points of attack, place them in the van, or send them, well mounted, on foraging expeditions, in order thus to harden them for war. Whilst it cannot be expected that they will ever fight with the bravery or gallantry of our own men, we are disposed to believe that they will be as soldiers but little inferior to the riff-raff of Germany and Ireland, which enters so largely into the composition of the Northern army. The history of war teaches us that the most indifferent material may be made useful by careful association, and it is a maxim of common experience that those who will not fight alone and by them-selves, will stand their ground, if properly supported and surrounded by large numbers. It is never wise to despise an enemy, least of all when he is as yet untried.

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