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Doc. 77. operations in Virginia.

General Butler's despatch.

off City Point, Va., May 5, 1864.
Lieutenant-General Grant, Commanding Armies of the United States, Washington, D. C.:
We have seized Wilson's wharf landing. A brigade of Wild's colored troops are there. At Fort Powhatan landing two regiments of the same brigade have landed. At City Point Hinks' division, with the remaining troops and battery, have landed. The remainder of both the Eighteenth and Tenth Army Corps are being landed at Bermuda Hundreds, above the Appomattox.

No opposition experienced thus far. The movement was apparently a complete surprise. Both army corps left Yorktown during last night. The monitors are all over the bar at Harrison's Landing and above City Point. The operations of the fleet have been conducted today with energy and success. Generals Smith and Gillmore are pushing the landing of the men. General Graham, with the army gunboats, led the advance during the night, capturing the signal station of the rebels.

Colonel West, with eighteen hundred cavalry, made several demonstrations from Williamsburg yesterday morning. General Kautz left Suffolk this morning with his cavalry, for the service indicated during the conference with the Lieutenant-General,

The New York, flag-of-truce boat, was found lying at the wharf, with four hundred prisoners, whom she had not time to deliver. She went up yesterday morning.

We are landing troops during the night — a hazardous service in the face of the enemy.

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General Commanding. A. F. Puffer, Captain and A. D. C.

A National account.

steamer Grayhound, off Fort Powhatan, James river, Va., Thursday, May 5, 1864.
The movement of the Union army in this direction, which, for weeks past, has been vaguely expected, commenced this morning.

To Major-General Butler is exclusively due whatever credit shall result from the inception and execution of the plan. When, four weeks since, Lieutenant-General Grant, the actual commander of the armies of the United States, visited Fortress Monroe, it was for the purpose of ascertaining the views of General Butler respecting an advance upon the rebels by way of the Peninsula, to be carried out in co-operation with the Grand Army of the Potomac. General Grant had considered the various plans proposed with this object in view, but had committed himself to none, and was inclined, therefore, to listen attentively to what General Butler might suggest.

The project was to advance upon Richmond by the James river; get a foothold as near the city as possible, on the south bank of the stream; seriously interrupt the communications of the rebel capital southward, and eventually compel the evacuation by Lee's army of their strongly-fortified position on the Rapidan, thus forcing the rebels to give Grant battle, or press rapidly rearward to the walls of their capital.

The first step toward organization was made some weeks since, by the concentration at Yorktown, from the various posts in the Department of North Carolina and Virginia, the great bulk of the Eighteenth Army Corps. To the command of these troops was assigned Major-General W. F. Smith. In addition to these war-worn heroes from the coast of North Carolina and the posts in Virginia, nearly all the brave and gallant fellows in the Tenth Army Corps (under Major-General Gillmore), were sent to General Butler, to participate in the movement, forming their encampment at Gloucester Point, opposite Yorktown.

That Yorktown and Gloucester Point, both at the mouth of the York river, should have been selected for the rendezvous of these troops, naturally led to the supposition that the advance was intended to be made up the Peninsula by the route which proved so fearfully disastrous to McClellan. But this show of force was merely a stupendous ruse de guerre, and circumstances indicate that it succeeded admirably in deceiving the rebels. Their journals have constantly spoken of these troops as destined to follow the path of 1862, and that the assurance of their deception might be made doubly sure, a brigade of Union troops was despatched by General Butler even as late as yesterday to White House landing, where, at sunset, when we last heard from them, they were sedulously engaged in felling timber and constructing a wharf, as if preparing to facilitate the landing of a large army. To aid in this scheme of mystification, all the light-draft steamers were kept until the last moment at Fortress Monroe, whence, early yesterday morning, they were despatched to the York river, and the work of embarking the troops, whose arrangements for the purpose had been [494] already made, was begun promptly. Soon after the shades of evening closed over the camping-ground, the last tent was struck and the troops were all on board.

General Butler's order to his subordinate Generals made it incumbent for them to repair to Hampton Roads as quickly as possible after dark, where they were to anchor for the night. At daybreak the order commanded an advance of the troops up the James river, convoyed by three army gunboats, under Brigadier-General Graham, and a naval force, consisting of five monitors and eleven gunboats, under Rear-Admiral Lee.

The cavalry branch of the expedition is commanded by Brigadier-General A. V. Kautz, who, with a fine body of several thousand white troopers, left Suffolk, Va., also, at daylight yesterday morning. The point at which he aims primarily to strike is Hickford, a town orr the Petersburg, Richmond and Weldon railroad. A ride of about eighty miles, by the Surrey and Sussex roads, allowing him time to pay his compliments to the people as he passes along, would bring him to Hickford to-morrow evening. The railroad bridge there, which is a strong one, about three hundred feet long, will be destroyed if possible; and then the dashing horsemen will do other damage to the enemy's means of supply as far as they can find opportunity. General Kautz has received a roving commission, and if not too hardly pressed by the rebels, he may penetrate as far south as Weldon, N. C., returning when it suits his convenience.

Starting up the Peninsula from Williamsburg, another cavalry force, somewhat smaller, commanded by Colonel West, also set out at daybreak. Their object was to create a diversion in our favor by keeping the rebels excited and attacking guerrillas and the garrisons of the outposts. Colonel West would try to cross the Chickahominy at Bottom's bridge and make his way to the main body on the James.

As on every occasion when a large piece of machinery is put in operation, there is certain to be more or less friction of the parts, so this complex machine of a gallant and mighty army did not move smoothly according to the programme. The Eighteenth corps (General Smith's), having the advance, was promptly up to time, dawn finding all the steamers used in its transportation steaming by Newport News into the mouth of the James river. But the steamers of the Tenth (General Gillmore's) corps were still quietly at anchor off Fortress Monroe. Here was an unexpected source of detention. General Butler had every reason to suppose that the sailing orders were perfectly understood, and would be implicitly followed by his corps commanders. It was easy to perceive that he was both distressed and annoyed at the delay. He had hoped to reach his intended point of debarkation (City Point, fifteen miles below Richmond), at three o'clock in the afternoon. This he expected to accomplish, even in case that the possession of two points on the way up the river, viz., Wilson's wharf and Fort Powhatan, should be contested by the enemy, as it was very likely would be done. There was nothing for it, then, but to learn the cause of this dilatoriness of the Tenth corps, and to hasten the vessels forward. This was done.

The fleet new steamer Grayhound, the flag-float of the expedition, on board which General Butler, with his staff, had come at midnight, went back from Newport News to Fortress Monroe. General Gillmore was sent for, and made satisfactory explanations to General Butler. This accomplished, off we started at eight o'clock up the river.

The scene in the hazy light of the beautiful spring morning was picturesque and animated. Crowded steamboats labored heavily through the still water, pontoon trains and lumbering canal barges, to be used in disembarking, were in tow of the swifter transports. The long, low lines and wedge-like shapes of those naval nondescripts, the monitors, with their high cylindrical turrets amidships, gave variety to the scene. The swift Grayhound flits among the slowmoving craft and slackens her speed an instant as she comes abreast each vessel, allowing General Butler from the hurricane deck to order them to advance with all the celerity possible. “Give her all the steam you can, Captain,” shouts the General, with upraised cap, and as the crowds of blue-coats recognize him they burst out vociferously in cheers. The scene, as we pass up the river, is charming in the extreme. The high wooded banks of the stream present us every variety of delicate foliage with which the spring delights to clothe the earth in vernal beauty. Occasionally a house is visible over the bluffs, and a man appears, beyond doubt very much amazed at the sudden appearance of so large a fleet of invading Yankees. The trip up the river is unbroken by any sign of war.

Taking the advance, General Butler's boat reaches Wilson's wharf, a point about thirty-five miles below Richmond. Here a regiment of General Wilde's negro brigade have effected a landing, and are busily engaged in making preparations to hold the place. From this point up the river to Fort Powhatan is a clear straight reach of seven miles, which it would never do to leave in command of the enemy, who could fortify the bluffs and play the mischief with our water communications. So General Butler takes possession of both these strong positions. The stalwart Africans gaily run up the bluffs, and are soon at work swinging axes with a will, and the giant trees fall with a mournful crash under their sturdy strokes. Soon a wide space of woods on the high banks are cleared away, and rebels approaching from toward Richmond must come within the sweep of our batteries. There can be nothing mentioned which better shows the perfect surprise of this movement to the rebels, than the fact that, according [495] to their own admission, they have a strong force at Charles City Court-house, six miles inland from Wilson's wharf, engaged in collecting negroes together for work on the Richmond fortifications. It is strange, if this force was aware of our approach, that they did not come up and give us a few shots from a field battery. But no welcome of this lefthanded sort greeted us. It is quite likely that our negroes may repair VI et armis to the Charles City rendezvous, and so reverse the kind of work their brethren have been assembled to perform on the strongholds of Richmond. The boat is just now leaving Powhatan, where a strong negro garrison has been landed, having little to do in the way of securing their position but mount the ordnance in the works which the rebels two years ago so laboriously constructed.

General Butler's headquarters, Richmond and Petersburg pike, within three miles of Fort Darling, May 13, 1864.
I write to-night, in the house latterly occupied by Dr. Cheatham, an account of yesterday's and to-day's operations, to the music of the rifles of our own and the rebel skirmishers, in the woods a mile distant. These rifle-balls sing soprano, and the bass of the guns of our batteries, and of the cannon in the rebel intrenchments, only ceased with the coming of night. The good news from Grant, read to the troops to-night, called forth cheers that must have awakened the echoes of Richmond, and elicited from the rebels a few parting shots of spite. We will settle that score with them to-morrow, however.

Wednesday night orders were issued to General Smith to move with five brigades at daylight, and occupy a position at right angles with the Richmond and Petersburg pike, above Chester station. As General Smith occupied our left, this necessitated a march across the right. General Gillmore was directed to leave sufficient force in the intrenchments, and to move with the rest of his command to the junction of the railroad with the Richmond and Petersburg pike. This was to prevent the forces said to be in Petersburg from moving up the pike to Richmond. The first object of the move was to mask a cavalry raid by General Kautz, for the purpose of cutting the Danville railroad, and the second to reconnoitre the position about Fort Darling, and ascertain the enemy's strength or weakness.

Thursday morning brought with it a drenching rain, which, of course, retarded the movements of the troops. General Smith was in motion soon after daylight, and got into position by noon, when it was found that his force was insufficient to properly cover the whole line. Part of General Gillmore's force was therefore ordered up to complete it. The Commanding General and staff left headquarters at seven o'clock, expecting to find all the troops in position, but, as before stated, an unavoidable delay occurred in consequence of the heavy rain. General Butler, therefore, went riding around to find the lines, and found himself once or twice in rather close proximity to his skirmishers. We finally struck the turnpike, about midway between Richmond and Petersburg, and then waited, in a most terrific rain, till couriers, who were sent out to ascertain where General Smith was to be found, returned. The good-natured Chief of Staff, in response to the half-earnest, half-joking remonstrance of one of the staff, as to the propriety of bringing them out in such a shower, remarked, “I know it rains pretty bad; but, gentlemen, this rebellion has got to be crushed.” The party persisted in having their jokes, even though their boots were filled with water and their coats wet through. At last General Smith was found to the left of the pike and about the centre of his line.

It must be said that this country is one of the very worst to campaign in.

Roads leading nowhere; swamps where swamps ought not, by any physical rules, to be; woods, impenetrable at the very points where, for military operations, they should be at least passable; ravines of considerable width and variable depth; creeks, formidable for their muddy bottoms more than their width; in short, everything that is horrid, and rendering the country one of peculiar advantages for defence. A brigade lost its commander, and the commander lost his brigade, and the General's aids could find neither. Division commanders lost their line, or rather never found it, and the whole thing, which was perfectly plain on the map, became an unaccountable muddle on land. Under all these difficulties the Commanding General and all his officers preserved a remarkable equanimity, and philosophically worked out the difficult problem. General Turner, with his division of the Tenth corps, held the extreme right, resting on James river, at Dr. Howlett's farm. General Weitzel held the centre, and General Brooks the left. Subsequently General Gillmore was sent to the left with a portion of his command, a brigade from General Terry's division being ordered to the support of General Weitzel. General Ames, of the Tenth corps, was at Walthal Junction with his brigade. General Weitzel moved up the pike, in conjunction with General Brooks, and their skirmishers soon met those of the enemy. General Turner, on the right, did not advance as soon as directed and the enemy succeeded in driving Weitzel's skirmishers back. With the force sent to his support in reserve, Weitzel again advanced, and drove the enemy up the pike nearly a mile. The One Hundred and Forty-eighth New York, Colonel Guyon, Wistar's brigade, steadily pushed the enemy back. General Turner, by this time, was also in motion, and our whole line obtained an advanced position beyond Kettle run, and near Proctor's creek. The enemy had a battery in position on the pike, which annoyed our men considerably, and we were unable to obtain a position which commanded [496] it. It was then determined to attempt a movement to the left, so as to obtain a position on the high ground beyond, which commanded that of the rebel battery, and also opened a prospect of turning the right of the enemy's position. After much necessary delay, and after several reconnoissances had been made, a crossing was discovered over Kettle run: also, a road through the swamp, and a fording-place on Proctor's creek; but darkness coming on, the move was deferred until the morning. The rain continued, and the troops slept on their arms all night in a drenching rain. Headquarters were established on a cross-road off the pike, in the house of a woman, who lost her temper and scolded her negro girl and her children; who objected to doing anything for us, and who pays twenty dollars a year, Confederate money, rent for a house and a small farm; whose husband is in the rebel army, and stationed at Drury's Bluff, and whom the General promised to catch and return to her; who took her ducks, her pigs, her dogs, and her turkey-eggs to bed with her, lest they might “turn up missing” in the morning. The good woman never had seen an army in her immediate vicinity before, and evidently didn't like it. She was somewhat appeased when the General told her he would pay her for everything he took, and also twenty dollars apiece for several chickens “gobbled” by some of the passing troops. She was not so highly gratified when the General added “in Confederate money.”

From information received from prisoners and other sources it was ascertained that a portion of Beauregard's force marched up the pike last night and reached the intrenchment in front of Fort Darling. Had our troops been able to move promptly, as ordered, the capture of a portion of the rebel force would have been certain. While all this manoeuvring was going on, General Kautz with his cavalry slipped off, and ere this must have effected their object. Captain James Shafer of General Butler's staff, who was sent after the cavalry to communicate with them, and return at once and report progress, has not yet been heard from, and it is feared that he has been captured, though some incline to the belief that, finding the country with too many guerrillas around, he prudently decided to remain with General Kautz. A report came to General Butler that torpedoes had been planted on Dr. Howlett's farm, and Major Ludlow of the staff was despatched with several orderlies to hunt them up, with the characteristic instruction from the General, “If you find any, don't fire them, but send for me.” Major L. did not find torpedoes. This propensity of seeing and judging for himself is so strong in General B., that one who was on the Highland Light when the Commodore Jones was blown up, remarked to one of the General's staff also present, “For my sake Major, don't tell the General about the torpedoes, for he will want to take the Grayhound and explore the river himself.”

Captain West of General Smith's staff, with a party of men, went over to James river where a rebel schooner lay, made a raft of logs, went off to the boat, and set her on fire. It was thought that a torpedo was attached to her, and she had been floated down and anchored at that point.

In the fight of Monday last, the three Massachusetts regiments were encountered by General Hazard's brigade, of South Carolina, their regiments being the same numbers, Twenty-three, Twenty-five and Twenty-seven. They were badly whipped, and Captain Leroy Hammond, who was mortally wounded, told one of the surgeons, before his death, “If we had known you were veterans we wouldn't have charged so.” It was like retribution.

Friday dawned with alternate cloud and sunshine. General Butler's staff were early in the saddle, and galloped to the position of yesterday on the left of the pike. The disposition of the troops was at once made and the force put in motion. General Gillmore was to move from the left to the railroad at Chester Junction, thence up the road to turn their flank. General Gibbon's forces occupied the line between General Smith's left and General Ames' right, and to add to the force General Marston's brigade was ordered to cross Kettle run and Proctor's creek, and advance up the line of the railroad. General Turner had also been withdrawn from the right, as the bend in the river narrowed the line, and was transferred to the left of General Brooks' division. A portion of General Gillmore's command made a detour to the left of the railroad, in order to flank the enemy's position, while another portion moved directly up the line of the railroad to feign a direct attack. This movement was successfully accomplished, and the enemy forced to retreat.

Meanwhile skirmishing had commenced on the left of the pike about noon. The enemy were discovered up the pike in position, with two guns, from which they opened on us pretty lively. The wounded were carried to the rear, and everything betokened that the fight had begun in good earnest. Presently the line of skirmishers fell back, and commenced running out of the woods. It was ascertained that the “Rebs” advanced in a very thickly-formed line, and apparently in great force. This was really to cover their weakness, for our men were rallied and went into the wood again, when the enemy retired.

Headquarters General Butler, Half-Way House, Richmond and Petersburg pike, May 14, 1864.
As anticipated, the success of General Gillmore on our left, compelled the evacuation of the first line of works held by the enemy, which they did upon the advance of General Smith this morning, after a brief resistance. This line of works is formidable, and pierced at commanding points for artillery. It extends from beyond the railroad across to the James. Riding out to the right, from the high land on the river we could see the rebel works at Chapin's [497] Farm, on the north bank of the river, and supporting the works upon this side of the river. As our troops advanced with Heckman's brigade on the right of the pike, the rebels made an assault and charged them, but were no better pleased with the result than on former occasions. Steadily but surely our lines advanced, Follett's and Belger's batteries hitting their works from the Half-way House, where we now are. A drenching rain came, but operations were continued, General Butler being determined to push matters vigorously. General Weitzel quickly got his batteries, Follett's, Company D, Fourth United States, and Belge's, Company F, First Rhode Island, into position, using the embrasures from this side the enemy's intrenchments to fire through. A ride along the centre and right showed the enemy to be very strongly posted. On the left of the pike, General Brooks with his brigade occupies the rebel intrenchments, our men having about one foot and a half of level ground to stand upon between the ditch which surrounded the works and the embankment. Here they lie against the slope, carefully watching, while the line of skirmishers in the woods beyond tell by their continual popping of the presence of the foe. To the right of the road, in rear of the rebel works, now our front, is an open field, and beyond that is a formidable earthwork, with a curtain connecting other works, bastions, &c., evidently built with great care. Over this flaunts the rebel flag, and on it seven guns have been discovered. They kept up a sharp fire for a while, but were soon silenced by our fire. Here, on the parapets of our first line of works, our sharpshooters are posted, and keep a close watch against the approach of any rebel marksmen who may aim to shoot down our artillerymen. Still further along our skirmishers are deployed through the woods, and Heckman's gallant men lie on their arms, ready for any emergency.

Here we encountered General Weitzel seated upon a log, quietly smoking his pipe, the shells from both Union and rebel batteries flying over his head, and the singing of Minie balls occasionally becoming unpleasantly loud. The General has been hit, he laughingly says, for the first time, a fragment of shell striking his whiskers. He waits for the artillery on the left to commence “shooting” before he opens with all his guns, which he has been massing to bear upon the redoubt in front of us. As we look, a puff of white smoke from an embrasure, followed almost instantly by a report from the battery behind us, and the two shells traversed the air, crossing each other in their deadly flight. The rebel shell exploded to the rear of our battery, while ours struck the rebel works just at their entrance and the gun was immediately withdrawn. Our fellows watch the appearance of a gun on the fort, and then rattle away at it until it is taken off. Beyond the rebel work other defences were seen stretching away toward Fort Darling, situated on the next bend of the river. The rebels are evidently husbanding their resources expecting an assault. As we ride along we encounter soldiers lying asleep in small squads, “just relieved from skirmish line,” and snatching what sleep they can. Poor fellows! tired and weary, which of you will be the beloved to whom He giveth sleep, the sleep of death, from which you shall awake to life immortal? Here comes a stretcher, having upon it a man just wounded, and who is being taken to the rear. There limps a poor fellow who has some slight wound. Another walks slowly along, his arm in a sling, and faint from loss of blood and reaction of the nervous system. Here, by the battery, they are removing a dead comrade for burial. At one point on the parapet, where the rebel fire was particularly severe, one of our men was wounded. We could see him — though at some distance from the spot — raise his head occasionally as if imploring help. At last two or three of his comrades discovered him, made a rush, and dragged him off a parapet into the ditch, where they awaited an opportunity to remove him.

General Gillmore rides up from the left to consult with General Butler, who directs that he get his batteries in position and open on the enemy's works in his front, while General Smith increases his fire on the right. About five o'clock the fire opened along our whole line, and continued for an hour, the rebels taking the whole without an answering shot. The only damage done was the bursting of a rebel caisson. Our men were a good deal annoyed by rebel sharpshooters, who picked off whoever dared to show himself. From the top of the mansion of one Friend, a good view was obtained of General Brooks' and General Turner's divisions in position. A battery near the house was firing three guns at a time, with terrible effect, as far as noise was concerned. The battery of 20-pound Parrotts on the right of the pike belched forth responsive notes, which were echoed and re-echoed from the extreme right and left. The intervals were filled with the popping of small arms. Tiring of the continued shooting, I did Mr. Friend the honor to look through his premises. The vandals had been there, and everything was turned upside down. This friend must have been a minister and scholar. A large number of valuable books were still left lying about the floors, among them many classical works. Private letters were strewn about, and a receipted tailor's bill bore testimony to the man's integrity and conscientious scruples. The mansion is quite roomy but old-fashioned, delightfully situated and but for the teachings of Mr. Friend and his brother ministers, would not have come to such desolation as was presented. Quite a quantity of unginned cotton covered the attic floors, while unnumbered Scotch ale jugs and a large quantity of carefully selected straws, for the imbibition of mint juleps, sherry cobblers, &c,, told of the Virginian's hospitality. The fire [498] of the batteries slackened; there was some talk of an assault, and other talk of no demonstration of so warlike a nature; and then General Butler returned to his headquarters at the house of Dr. Cheatham. The military gentlemen who thoroughly understand the art of war wish everything done on profoundly scientific principles, while the Commanding-General cares not how, so that the thrashing of the rebels be accomplished. He knows the importance of keeping this force here, be it large or small, employed, and he intends to do it. He can afford to be defeated for the sake of making Grant's victory thoroughly complete, and the rebels will find that he will give them all they want to do. Prisoners already talk of short rations and a limited supply of ammunition, and if the juncture indicated by the arrival at Bermuda Hundred of General Sheridan with ten thousand cavalry from the Army of the Potomac means anything, the traitors may be prepared to meet their doom.

On Friday morning General Butler despatched Major Ludlow of his staff back to Bermuda Hundred to communicate with Admiral Lee, inform him of the intended attack, and to urge upon him to co-operate with the monitors and gunboats. To this statement the Admiral replied, in substance, that owing to shoal water in Trent Reach, as shown by coast-survey chart, the draft of the monitors, and rebel torpedoes, it would be very difficult, if not impracticable, at present, to get up as high as Dr. Howlett's farm. In order to thoroughly remove obstructions, it would be necessary to control the left bank. The enemy now occupy, in considerable force, the high ground on the left bank, around Jones' Neck, and the same difficulty will be found at Dutch Gap. This occupancy would interrupt the supply of coal for the monitors. The Admiral, however, promised all possible aid and support, and would at least protect the river line below where the fleet now lies (Four Mile Creek). A despatch has since been received that he has started to move up, and will come as far as possible.

in camp, Tuesday Morning, May 17, 1864.
The hardest fighting of the campaign on the south side of the James river occurred yesterday. In the early morning, under cover of a fog so dense as to limit vision to the distance of a few yards, the enemy fell upon the right of our line of battle with the force of an avalanche, completely crushing it backward, and turning our flank, as two days before we had turned theirs. Their advantage, however, was but temporary, for our veterans quickly recovered from the sudden shock, and drove their assailants back beyond the line of the attack. The fighting, thus unceremoniously inaugurated, continued with more or less briskness throughout the day, and the losses on both sides were severe. The impression is, however, that the rebels in this respect were the greater sufferers, but our loss is estimated at not less than fifteen hundred to two thousand in killed, wounded and missing. The day's operations resulted in our entire army being ordered to return from its advanced position, within ten miles of Richmond, to the line of defence known as Bermuda Hundred, between the James and Appomattox rivers. Here the troops were securely encamped before ten o'clock last night, having buried their dead, and brought from the battle-field in perfect order their wounded and all their supplies.

The five days campaign which has been thus unexpectedly closed, can in no wise be designated a defeat. General Butler has accomplished all, and more than all that he intended. When, on Thursday morning last, the army left its intrenchments, and faced toward Richmond, its object, primarily, was to engage the attention of the strong rebel force garrisoning the outer defences of the city, and thus permit General Kautz, with his cavalry, to emerge from our lines, with the object of pushing forward to the Danville and Richmond railroad This road being cut, every line of travel radiating from Richmond, by which Lee could receive supplies for his army, would be closed. To accomplish an end of such advantage to Grant as the crippling of his antagonist in this regard, General Butler considered, would be cheaply gained, comparatively speaking, even by the sacrifice of his entire command.

Kautz has been heard from. The damage he set out to do has been fully inflicted, and by our stubborn fighting of the enemy in our front, a force which we have reason to believe is greatly superior to our own, has been kept constantly busy south of Richmond, instead of passing northward to reinforce the exhausted and demoralized hordes opposed to Grant.

It may well be supposed that the troops were greatly fatigued after the four days hard fighting prior to yesterday, coupled, as the warfare was, with the discomforting incidents of a persistent rain, which kept every shred of clothing almost constantly drenched, and liquefied the clayey soil into a pasty mud. In this condition the troops lay down to rest on Sunday night, along the line of intrenchments which we had taken two days before. The heavens were black, and the atmosphere damp and heavy. At daybreak, Monday morning, a thick fog shut out everything from view. A horse was completely enveloped from sight a dozen yards away. In these bewildering circumstances, the massed enemy came up on the right of our line, which was the thinnest place in our position. General Heckman's brigade of Weitzel's division, in the Eighteenth corps, whose bravery on many a hard-fought field has won for them the title of “the invincibles,” was posted here. The surprise was, however, so complete, that these gallant fellows were for once and for a moment helpless. The first they knew of the enemy upon them, was when his fierce yell awoke them as he dashed across the earthworks and turned the flank of their line of battle. General Heckman's voice was speedily heard calling upon his [499] men to rally, and they, answering the rebel yells with Union cheers, formed as best they could in the horrible darkness and confusion, when a hand-to-hand contest followed. The assailants and the assailed fell in heaps together. The enemy at last, outnumbering the gallant Heckman's forces five to one, enveloped the remnant of the brigade, and ordered them to the rear. Resistance, on their part, was no longer possible. All this occurred in less time than the reader can glance over what is written.

Meanwhile the firing has dispelled sleep from every eye. The most tired man along the line is now thoroughly awake, and ready to do his share in battle. In the rear of Heckman's brigade, as a reserve, are two regiments of the Tenth corps, the Eighth Maine, and One Hundred and Twelfth New York, temporarily detached for duty under Weitzel. They are led by Colonel Drake, who brings them up from the woods in the rear to the relief of General Heckman. They make a splendid charge upon the enemy and drive him outside the line of earthworks. The immediate effect of this is to release from three to four hundred of Heckman's men, who are prisoners. Heckman himself, however,is carried off. Again the enemy charge with fresh troops, but are repulsed and slaughtered by our men, only to rush up once more over the dead and dying with the fury of demons, with still another line of fresh troops, to be again dashed back in confusion. So the battle raged on the extreme right — the Eighth Maine and One Hundred and Twelfth New York having received aid from the fragments of Heckman's crippled force.

The attack was not confined to the extreme right, although it was there most determined. It was simultaneously undertaken along our entire line of two miles and a half in length. On the left, however, it was scarcely more than a feint, compared with the fury which characterized it on the other end. Wistar's and Burnham's brigades, also of Weitzel's division, were set upon with the same impetuosity exhibited toward Heckman. The rebel plan of massing brigade after brigade in line of battle, and hurling them in rotation against us, was here tried with very bad result. General Smith, with that forethought which is characteristic of him, anticipating some such movement on the part of the enemy, had ordered a large quantity of telegraph wire to be intertwisted among the trees and undergrowth which lay in front of our position. Wistar and Burnham received the order and obeyed it. Heckman failed, unfortunately, to get it. When, therefore, the rebels charged upon our intrenchments in the “dull light,” hundreds of them were tripped down and unable to tell the cause. As they lay upon the ground our musketry fire kept many of them from ever rising more. As with the first line so with the second. They met the same fate. The third line fared no better, and this simple agency of a telegraphic wire interlaced among the trees played more havoc in the rebel ranks than anything else. The dead lay like autumn leaves before the front of Wistar and Burnham.

At eight o'clock there was a cessation of the fighting; at least there was comparative quietness. The centre of our line of battle, resting on the turnpike, had been comparatively weakened by moving forces toward the right, and General Gillmore, on the left, was ordered by General Butler to close up the gap. Here there seems to have been a misapprehension of orders. General Gillmore understood that he was commanded to retire, instead of moving to the weakened point. This he accordingly did, and the rebels on the extreme right, having gained a temporary advantage by again flanking our position, the whole line moved slowly back, and reformed about half or three quarters of a mile in the rear. After resting for a while, although the skirmishing in front was still quite heavy, the command to advance was again given, and the movement forward was splendidly made en echelon. There was not the slightest wavering, and the enemy retired before us. The line of battle was once more formed within a few hundred yards of the position held by us at the commencement of the fight, and when the dead and wounded had been cared for, the order to retire was given. The Eighteenth corps moved back first, and the Tenth brought up the rear. The route back to our intrenchments was by different roads, but everything was conducted in an orderly manner, and there was no molestation on the part of the enemy.

Among our losses in the fight were four guns. Three of these pieces belonged to Ashby's battery. They were twenty-pounder Parrotts. This battery supported Heckman, and thirty of the horses were killed in the first impetuous attack of the rebels. Ashby was wounded slightly in the head, and not one of his officers escaped a wound, though none were seriously hurt. Fifteen of the gunners were killed. By great efforts the artillerists brought off the limbers and caissons.

Belge's First Rhode Island battery, famous all along the coast, for the first time lost a gun — a twelve-pounder brass field piece. Captain Belge is reported wounded in the leg, and a prisoner. The loss of the battery was heavy.

Hawley's and Barton's brigades, of Terry's division, Tenth corps, did the hardest fighting on the left of our line. Both organizations suffered severely.

We took in all about two hundred rebels prisoners. Among them were several high officers, a colonel, a major, and a score or more of captains and lieutenants. Prisoners tell us that on Sunday night they were reinforced by three. brigades from Richmond, but whether from Lee's army or not we could not determine. Bragg and Jeff. Davis are positively asserted to have come from Richmond to be near Beauregard during the fight.

Major Brooks, Chief Engineer of General Gillmore's staff, slightly wounded in right arm. [500]

Captain Platt, of the Second New-Hampshire, was killed. He was the only officer killed of the Second, Tenth, Twelfth and Thirteenth New Hampshire regiments.

Lieutenant Wheeler, of General Heckman's staff, was killed.

The fog was so dense during the early part of the fight that officers and men, on both sides, stumbled into each other's lines, and very many amusing scenes occurred. At one time General Weitzel and his orderly got among the rebels, and the latter was captured. He called to Weitzel to save him, which was done by placing a pistol at the rebel's head and ordering him to yield his musket to the orderly, by whom lie was marched off. Tables of this kind were constantly turned. General Butler was out in the thick tempest of rifle-shells. One shot passed between him and Colonel Kensett, one of his aids. General Martindale's sword was struck by a shrapnel shot and indented greatly.

While the fighting was going on toward Richmond, an attempt was made on the part of the enemy to attack in rear, by coming up from Petersburg. General Ames, of the Tenth corps, who commands in that direction, gallantly kept them at bay until the order was given to retire.

Tenth Army corps, near City Point, Va., Friday Evening, May 20, 1864.
There has been to-day a fierce and sanguinary battle on the spot which I mentioned in my last — the front of the Third division of this corps, under General Ames.

Our line passes irregularly from the Appomattox on the left to the James on the right. The approachable spot was at a single point of the line, in a space of about eight hundred yards in width and the same in depth.

The rebels had come up in front of the clearing, having followed us down from Fort Darling, and had posted their first guns in the yard of the Howlett House. This house is behind a fall in the ground, and at several points along the same line they have posted light batteries. The clearing is wholly our own work, and is faulty only in not having been done to a greater extent. One strip of woods which threatened us with sharpshooters on Thursday is, happily, now down; but those next the Howlett House remain, and are now beyond our power to remove.

On Wednesday night our pickets dug a rifle-pit in front of the rebel position, and about eight hundred yards from our line, extending a quarter of a mile into the woods on our right, which yet stand. It was evident that this pit is invaluable to its possessors, and accordingly the rebels drove us out of it this morning, and the struggle of to-day has been an attempt to regain it, which is so far unsuccessful, although we have retaken the right of it, which is in the woods.

Last night there was an alarm between eleven and twelve, and another between two and three, caused by picket firing. Both times there was skirmishing and charging, but our troops held their pit. The moon shone, setting just after the second alarm, and our old enemy, the fog, was so thick that a man could not be distinguished at fifteen paces, even in a camp where fires had been burning all night. What mischief the rebels might prepare under its cover, no one knew; but it was thought they would try to plant batteries in the woods on the right of the Howlett House, on the ground where is now our section of the rifle-pit, and further alarm was looked for later in the night, but none came.

At nine, or thereabout, the muskets began a lively crackle, and the guns opened from the rebel position. Hurrying to the scene, I found the enemy had advanced and been repulsed, yet had the rifle-pit in their possession. The whole of the Ninth Maine, with portions of the Fourth New Hampshire, Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania, and Ninety-seventh New York, were occupying the rifle-pit, the regiment first named being nearly in the centre. The rebels charged upon them with their peculiar short-lived enthusiasm and their yell, and were met firmly, and the position might have been held without difficulty, had not the Ninth Maine broken and fled to the woods, thus permitting the rebels to enter the pit and flank the remaining regiments, compelling them to retire. Two Lieutenants of the Ninth Maine, who retired their men without orders, were brought this afternoon before General Ames, and by him sent to General Butler, who summarily dismissed one of them from the service. Both deserve severe punishment, for this unfortunate affair has cost hundreds of lives to-day, and threatens us with severe battles as the price of holding our position. The rebels in the pit, and the woods which yet stand next the Howlett House, are the twin sources of apprehension.

Our men once out of the pit and in retreat, the impetuous rebels pursued, recklessly charging into full view in the clearing. Then our guns, angry but silent while they shelled away at us yesterday, opened with spherical case, and they tumbled back to their newly-acquired pit.

Now came a momentary lull, and then the Third Regular battery, in the left redoubt, the Fourth New Jersey adjoining it on the right, both facing the pit, and the First Connecticut in the elevated redoubt further to the right, pointing diagonally and partly across it, opened fire, roaring without a moment's stop from half-past 10 to half-past 11, using at first mostly spherical case. The practice was mainly excellent, under the personal direction of General Ames, most of the shell bursting over the pit. The rebel guns returned the fire, but their shots counted hardly more than a fifth of ours, and only an insignificant number were struck, while our own fire was not in the least retarded. Meanwhile the Thirteenth Indiana, Colonel Dobbs, made a gallant and, as it seemed, imprudent charge upon the pit or the right, but was repulsed when within about a hundred yards of [501] the work. During this charge we took prisoner Major-General Walker, of South Carolina, who was here temporarily in command of a brigade. He had his foot torn off by a shell, and states that his brigade ran off and left him on the field.

The firing being over for the present, our men could be seen huddled behind apple trees and others in the clearing. The Lieutenant-Colonel of the One Hundred and Fifteenth New York rode airily out upon an elegantly-caparisoned horse, against warning, when down went the horse, off went his rider on foot, and soon after a man was seen to crawl carefully to the animal and remove the trappings, the rebels amusing themselves by firing at him.

For a rarity there was no rain, and the day was oppressively hot. The hot noon steamed away, and at half-past 2 our guns again began to roar. Word was brought that the left of the pit was empty, and soon the Ninety-seventh Pennsylvania was seen advancing against the left of the rifle-pit, in the open clearing. Their leader had mistaken or not followed precisely his orders, and the rebels had come in, and suddenly they rose and poured upon the Ninety-seventh a murderous fire of infantry and grape, and they seemed to fall in swaths. It was a sad sight, without help, but they ran deperately forward, hesitated, wavered, and ran back,,all in the space of a moment of time. Meanwhile our guns were turned upon the spot, and the fire of the rebels rapidly diminished. Thenceforward, for something like an hour, it was possible with a fair chance of impunity to sit upon the parapet and watch our shells, although for a time rebel shot flew wildly over us, and the trees flew into splinters. The clearing was now nearly empty of men, but about four o'clock word came that Colonel Howell's brigade was in the rifle-pit on the right. Five o'clock, and musketry crackled vigorously in the woods, showing that Terry's division was contesting there the right of the pit, and the guns were turned in that direction. They fired without intermission until half-past 5; then came a lull, during which the rebels could be seen busily spading and throwing the pit over the other way, while our men repaired the embrasures, many of which were too narrow, besides having been torn by the guns themselves.

Evening came, and all was quiet on the front, but on the extreme left we heard heavy firing from gunboats on the Appomattox, or from Rinks' battery on the other bank, shelling the ravine which runs from the river to the rebel position here. The woods have been so slashed that the signal corps communicate between the redoubts, and Terry's headquarters on the banks of the James are plainly visible.

Our losses to-day cannot now be estimated. In infantry fire they are heavy, and probably exceed that of the enemy; but our artillery practice was good, the rebels being sometimes seen on the run for the woods, and, perhaps, thus we have restored the balance of death. A few casualties occurred from our own guns. Not a musket shot was fired from our works.

Some shells of the Third artillery failed to explode this afternoon. One or two were examined and found to be filled with harmless plaster.

Saturday, seven A. M.--Firing on the left continued far into the night. Our batteries have just begun to fire again slowly, and the pit must be retaken to-day at whatever cost, for its loss will be the loss of our position on the Peninsula.

in the woods back of Bermuda hundred, Virginia, May 25, 1864.
Things are not working nor promising altogether well just now, in General Butler's command. For more than a week past the whole army here has been as good as shut up within its intrenchments back of Bermuda Hundred, and, instead of prosecuting a siege against Richmond or Fort Darling, is itself fairly under siege. Meanwhile the enemy has recovered possession of the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, and is evidently running trains over it day and night, his locomotive whistles being audible within our intrenchments. This is an ugly set-back from the state of things that existed, and from the prospect with which we were cheering ourselves a little more than a week ago. I, for one am not happy — not altogether happy — in the change. But there is no use disguising the fact, and I can anticipate no good from the loyal public being under a delusion in regard to the matter. The prevailing opinion here is, that General Butler has made one or two capital mistakes. He is indeed a strong man, a very strong man, and a glorious good fellow in the right place; but many a good and true man among us doubts seriously whether his right place be to have command of military operations in the field. I suppose that nobody will pretend that General Butler was educated a soldier. And it seems tolerably clear that he was not born one. Such being the case, I do not well see how he can be reasonably expected to show much mastership in a soldier's work. Probably there is no man now living in the United States who can justly claim to have been born a soldier; but we have quite a number who have been educated soldiers, and some of these, it must be confessed, are turning out pretty good ones. I must think, too, that we have had enough of undertaking to extemporize military leaders out of civilians, however capable these may be in their proper walks. And it seems rather unfortunate, to say the least, that in matters purely military the judgments of some of our best military men should still be liable to be overruled and set aside by civilian commanders.

For a due explanation of certain things already stated I must go back a little.

Up to the evening of Sunday the 15th, the whole movement of this army, in all its parts and particulars, had been a complete success. The sudden departure of the troops from [502] Gloucester Point and Fortress Monroe; their passage up the James; their landing at Bermuda Hundred; their advance to a position some six miles beyond that place, and intrenching themselves there; their pushing on some three miles further, fighting their way to the railroad, and their thorough, though temporary, disablement of the road for several miles ;--all this, accomplished within the brief space of six days, was full of encouragement, and the wisest tongues among us were fluent in praise of it. The enterprise seemed both judicious in the conception, and swift and strong in the execution. “A superb piece of work,” was the thought uppermost in the minds of all. General Butler received ample credit for the operation; his popularity among the troops was very great; wherever he made his appearance, cheers and benedictions greeted him full and free. What made all this still better was, that while the troops had been thus fighting successfully with the rebels directly in front, General Kautz, with his cavalry, had executed a grand raid round to the south of Petersburg, playing the mischief with the railroads leading from that place to Suffolk and Weldon. Nor did our success stop there. On the morning of Thursday the twelfth, the army, after a rest of twenty-four hours, began another advance in full force ; General Kautz setting forth about the same time on another raid, to break up the railroad between Richmond and Danville. This advance of the army was crowded with still more important success.

General Smith, with the Eighteenth corps, held our right, toward the river, and General Gillmore, with two divisions of the Tenth corps, Terry's and Turner's, held our left; his third division, under General Ames, being left in the rear of the main body, to act as a corps of observation against any approaches of the enemy from Petersburg. Slowly and steadily the army fought its way onward toward Richmond, though not a little impeded, meanwhile, by a drenching rain. Before Friday night, Gillmore had succeeded in turning the right of the enemy's outermost line of defences on the hither side of Richmond. This is a strong line of earthworks, its east end abutting on the river, where it connects with the system of fortifications on what is called Drury's Bluff. Westward the line extends upward of three miles, crossing the railroad, and of course commanding both that and also the fine Macadam turnpike, which runs about midway between the railroad and river. Before Saturday night, the whole western portion of the line, for nearly three miles, had been carried and was firmly held by Gillmore, the enemy charging fiercely upon him, but meeting with a decisive repulse. General Smith, meanwhile, had approached to within a few hundred yards of the eastern portion of the line, which being too strong to be carried by assault, preparations were forthwith set on foot for carrying it by siege. To this end, the engineers of the Tenth corps, the veterans of old Wagner and Gregg, and known as Serrell's New York Volunteer Engineers, were immediately ordered to the front with their tools, and the siege train was started forward. Monday morning the siege work was to begin in good earnest.

Gillmore, having thus firmly planted himself within the enemy's works, was clear and decided in the opinion that the army should go right to intrenching its position. The line, which had been captured, of course, needed a little engineering, to give it a practicable front the other way, and thus make it available as a base against the enemy's other works. He sent an earnest recommendation to General Butler in that behalf. General Butler, who was present, and commanding the army in person, would not listen to it. When it was urged upon him, with not a little persistency of argument, he set it aside peremptorily, saying that the movement was purely an offensive one, and that he would not stop for any defensive work. Yet it was clear enough that the proposal did not necessarily involve any loss of time; it only required that a portion of the troops should be at work, who would otherwise have a time of rest. General Butler seems to have had an odd sort of fear, lest the offensive character of the movement should be somehow compromised by stooping to defensive measures. I suppose it is not too much to say that this was a fatal mistake. And it was, surely, a most unmilitary proceeding. For the life of the enterprise manifestly depended on our keeping the advantages we had gained. And the obstinacy with which the rebels had disputed our progress, showed what a high value they set upon the ground whence we had driven them. So that the whole military reason of the case clearly indicates that no pains should be spared, no possible precautions omitted, for strengthening and securing our position.

Monday morning found both armies enveloped in a fog so thick that you could scarce distinguish a man five yards off. Under cover of this fog the rebels, at a very early hour, came upon us in strong force, and were almost literally in our midst before we knew it, their first attack being on our left, which, however, was quickly repulsed, and was probably intended as a feint. Soon after, they came with prodigious force against our right. Heckman's brigade, which held our extreme right, was quickly driven back, thrown into confusion, and a large part of it captured, including the gallant Heckman himself. Following up his success, the enemy completely turned us in that quarter, doubled up a portion of our line on itself, and even penetrated so far as to command the turnpike in our rear, over which a part of our army had advanced. On the whole, matters were drawing into a pretty critical shape. By this time, however, the fog had begun to lift, and General Smith had succeeded in restoring order among his troops and getting them in trim for good work.

Still our left, under Gillmore, stuck fast to its [503] place within the enemy's works, and showed no disposition to budge an inch, though the enemy was assaulting it with great vigor and resolution. Gillmore was of opinion, that if he held his end of the line firmly where it stood, the enemy would soon be forced to relinquish the advantage he had gained at the other end; especially as, in the meantime, Smith might make, as indeed he did make, the place too hot for him; insomuch that his very advantage was likely to become his adversity. Things standing thus, or moving thus, General Butler sent to Gillmore ordering him to withdraw. Gillmore was very reluctant to do this, as he saw in it nothing less than perdition to the whole enterprise; he, therefore, still lingered, hoping the commander would see cause to waive or suspend the order. But it was not long before a second and more peremptory message reached him, ordering him to retire immediately. This, of course, left him no choice; and he, therefore, withdrew slowly and in perfect order, bringing off everything except some of his killed, and took up a position on elevated ground, some three fourths of a mile this side of the place he had left. Here he effectually covered the retreat of the army, which was gradually withdrawn, and before sleeping-time all were back within their intrenchments at Bermuda Hundred.

Meanwhile, information came, by a Richmond paper, that General Kautz had succeeded perfectly in his undertaking, making havoc of the Danville railroad at a place called Coal Mines, and also blowing up the bridge over the Appomattox, an iron structure, upward of three hundred feet long. So that thus far the movement was a success, the enemy having been thoroughly occupied while Kautz did his work; which was doubtless one of the leading purposes of General Butler in ordering the advance. As to the rest, the movement was a failure, and a bad failure too, inasmuch as it put the enemy in full possession of the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, from which there seems little prospect of driving him again for the present. General Gillmore, and other pretty good military heads, thought at the time, as indeed they still think, that apart from the Commander's positive order, there was no necessity of leaving his position within the enemy's works — that those works might be held, and, with proper engineering, made effective against the fortifications of Drury's Bluff, which, no doubt, are the key to Richmond on this side, as the reduction of them would open the river to Admiral Lee.

For the last eight days, the army, when not at rest, has been mainly occupied in finishing up and enlarging the defences of this place. The principal work is a huge line of intrenchments, composed of earth and logs, and extending nearly from river to river, a distance of about three miles. Both ends of the line are covered by gunboats. The line is not far from six miles back of the landing-place called Bermuda Hundred, which is on the point of land formed by the junction of the James and Appomattox rivers, so that the space now occupied by the army is of a peninsular shape. Most of it is covered with thick woods, though we find here and there openings of considerable extent, which appear to be slovenly and lazily cultivated by a sort of third or fourth rate farmers, or, in the Virginia dialect, planters. I have made a little acquaintance with some of the natives. The first thing I learn from them generally is that they have a pedigree.

The railroad is about three miles in front of our main line of intrenchments; too far to be reached by our guns; besides, the woods are so thick that we cannot see it. The enemy have a considerable force in our front; how large I cannot say. Well, our intrenchments are pretty strong; so strong, indeed, that, well manned as they now are, I think we may safely laugh to scorn almost any force the enemy may pit directly against us, for the ground all along our front is anything but a lovely place to manoeuvre an army in. Some half a mile in advance of our breastworks we have a line of rifle-pits. The rebels have made several pretty fierce attempts to oust us from these and turn them against us. Last Friday morning they did force us from a considerable portion of them.

In the afternoon, Colonel Howell, a regular old war-horse, and one of the finest gentlemen you ever saw, who commands a brigade of General Terry's division, Tenth corps, was thrown against the intruders; and his brave boys soon cleared the rascals out. Several prisoners were taken, and among them Brigadier-General William S. Walker, of Mississippi, was brought in, badly wounded. I had an interview with him the next morning; found him a good-looking and well-spoken man; his age, I should think, about forty. He told me he was a nephew of Robert J. Walker, who was his guardian from the age of twelve years. He said that the day before he would have preferred to die, but that he felt much better now, as everything was done, that could be done, for his health and comfort.

I told General Walker that I believed there was no disposition among us to treat otherwise than with all kindness, any wounded and suffering man who might fall into our hands. His eyes filled with tears at these words. He told me he was a member of the Episcopal Church. When first taken, his behavior was rather savage and fierce, but when I saw him he was very gentle and subdued. I felt no little interest in him. His leg had been amputated, and he expressed himself confident he should recover. This, however, I understand, is rather doubtful. While talking with him, I could not help thinking whether he knew, what I had been well assured of, that right here, in several instances, the rebel bloodhounds had been seen murdering our wounded men whom they found lying helpless before them.


The attack on Fort Powhatan.

Headquarters of General Butler, May 25, 1864.
General Wilde is in command at Wilson's wharf, on the north side of the James. He has a garrison, all negroes, with artillery belonging to the colored battery raised by General Butler. Wilson's wharf implies more than the name suggests. The wharf is one thing; the adjacent country quite another. The bluff rises somewhat abruptly, and then there is level land. Hereon our line was established, about a mile and a half in length, and thanks to the never-tiring energy of colored soldiers, has been well fortified.

Yesterday about noon, Fitz Hugh Lee, now Major-General and commanding the cavalry of the Confederate army, vice Stuart, killed by Sheridan's men, appeared before the place with thousands of the Southern chivalry. With the courtesy of a Fitz Hugh, the characteristics of a gentlemen, and the arrogance of the southern planter, F. H. L., Major-General, sent into our lines and demanded a surrender, promising that in case his request or demand was complied with, the garrison should be sent to the authorities at Richmond as prisoners of war, but if refused he would not be answerable for the result. Chivalrous gentleman! shrewd financier of lives I Did you not know that the “authorities at Richmond” had by public manifesto refused to recognize negroes as prisoners of war? Was it not plain to your intelligent mind that under this refusal these negroes could be again placed in bondage by those authorities, provided they should, by a special interposition of divine Providence, escape butchery at the hands of your gentlemen comrades?

General Wilde replied, “We will try that.” And the fight commenced. At first it raged fiercely on the left. The woods were riddled with bullets. The dead and wounded of the rebels were taken away from this part of the field, but I am informed by one accustomed to judge, and who went over the field to-day, that from the pools of blood and other evidences the loss must have been severe. Finding that the left could not be broken, Fitz Hugh hurled his chivalry — dismounted, of course — upon the right. Steadily they came on, through obstructions, slashing through, past abattis, without wavering. Here one of the advantages of negro troops was made apparent. They obeyed orders, and bided their time. When well tangled in the abattis, the death-warrant “Fire” went forth. Southern chivalry quailed before Northern balls, though fired by negro hands. Volley after volley was rained upon the superior by the inferior race, and the chivalry broke and tried to run. The fight lasted till about five o'clock, when hostilities ceased. General Wilde directed the operations in person, and made preparations to renew the fight, but during the night the chivalry imitated the Orientals, as told in the song, and

Folded their tents like the Arabs,
And silently stole away.

General Wilde is an enthusiast on the subject of colored troops. He firmly believes that a white man, in course of time and by strict discipline, can be made as good a soldier. He has the most implicit confidence in his troops, and so have they in him. General Hinks, who commands the colored division, took it by preference. There are those who affect to despise negro troops, and say they cannot be trusted in positions of responsibility, or in an emergency. Talking with a Regular Army officer, who entertains many of these prejudices, he admitted that with good officers the negroes would make good soldiers. An old adage, and true of any men of any color.

On the right of the line, at Wilson's wharf, between twenty and thirty dead rebels were found, among them Major Brickenner, of the Second Virginia cavalry. Their total loss was one hundred and fifty; nineteen prisoners were taken. Our loss was one killed and twenty wounded.

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