previous next


Our loss is very slight, not exceeding fifty, killed, wounded and missing. Among the latter, I regret to state, is Captain George D. Hart, of Company K, of the Fifth, a brave and efficient officer.

Great credit is due to General A. V. Kautz, Colonel S. P. Spear, and their subordinate officers, for their gallant attack upon the strongly-fortified city of Petersburg.

The crossing of the James.

United States steamship Onondaga, James river, Va., June 18, 1864.
The Army of the Potomac is across the James, and the news can no longer be contraband. Those who were permitted to see the transition of this army of one hundred and thirty thousand men from the northern to the southern bank of the James, will remember a scene strange and magnificent beyond description, and which can never be effaced from the memory.

The army left the banks of the Chickahominy, and marched in the direction of Charles City Court-house, evidently puzzling and surprising the enemy as to the intention of the sudden movement from their front. The advance of the army arrived at the river near Harrison's landing — so familiar to us as the place of embarkation of McClellan's army two years ago — during the day of Tuesday, the fourteenth. It was contemplated crossing the river in this vicinity to Windmill Point, on the southern bank, and also to Fort Powhatan, about two miles farther down the river. The number, however, was comparatively few who crossed at the latter place, while at Windmill Point the main bridge of pontoons was laid. It consisted of some fifty broad, strong boats, over and upon which the planking and beams, lashed together, were laid. In the river, above and below, and at short distances from the bridge, schooners were anchored, and from them ran hawsers, fastened to the bridge, steadying it and keeping it in position. It was three thousand five hundred and eighty feet long, and probably one of the longest pontoon bridges ever laid. The planking or floor was two feet above the water, and was sufficiently wide to enable twelve men or five horsemen to cross abreast. The northern shore descended gradually to a slight elevation where the land is quite level, and a mile or more beyond the river is thickly wooded. The southern bank descends abruptly to a series of hills, all of which are heavily timbered. From Windmill Point, to which the southern side of the bridge was affixed, a good road ran directly up and over hills leading to Petersburg.

In the early daylight of the morning of Wednesday, the fifteenth, the crossing began. The open plain on the northern side of the river, and far back into the woods and through the opening, which, like a large gateway, permitted the column to pass, was crowded with the armed host preparing to form in line. A thin cloud of dust hung over the region like a gossamer veil. The air was still, and the columns of smoke ascended from the fading camp-fires, and were lost in the blue ether above. The regimental wagons, in seemingly inextricable confusion, were running hither and thither; the ambulances and Sanitary Commission wagons were finding their proper places; companies and regiments were marching and countermarching; batteries were mounting and forming in line; and cavalry regiments were marching and wheeling to their respective brigades and divisions. The broad plain was a scene of strange activity, wonderful and grand. The sun had not risen when the crossing commenced, and the morning was delightfully cool and bracing. The corps of Burnside led the van. The regimental wagons moved on to the bridge first. From beneath the soiled and dusty wagon-covers penetrated the tent-poles and their tackling, the buckets and camp kettles, and in nearly every wagon, as an appropriate and component part of the mass of camp material, was a young contraband, with soiled cap and broken visor, with haversack around his neck, and his half-covered legs dangling over the tail-board, and shoes--“prodigious!” The commissary wagons followed, crammed with stores, and drawn by stout-looking mules, that seemed to comprehend and with wonderful alacrity obeyed the half-expressed commands of their drivers. After these came the covered ambulance wagons, that looked peculiarly comfortable and easy in contrast with the heavy teams before them. After these, the light, tidy wagons of the Sanitary Commission, attached to each of which, and following them, were fine-looking milch cows. The rear guard closed this long train, and then the crossing of the men began. The artillery led the line, and the horses moved on to the bridge as though it was the solid ground. From the plain, down the bank, across the bridge they came, horses and drivers, guns, limbers, and caissons, steadily on, and up the hill, away from sight into the woods. It was a noticeable feature that almost without exception, the batteries consisted of four pieces only, and these all Parrott guns, mostly ten-pounders, though there were twenty and thirty-pounders in some of them. This, we understand, is in accordance with an order of General Grant, which reorganizes this branch of the service. And so, the old familiar “Napoleons,” the six and twelve-pounder “smooth-bores,” and the “James rifled,” have given way to these long, slender, saucy-looking Parrotts. The last caisson of the long line has reached the bridge, and the bayonets of the advancing infantry glisten above the bank. With ranks well aligned and in order, with steady, strong steps, they move on to the bridge, by the right flank or four abreast, and with arms “at will.”

The campaign, since the fifth of May, has sifted from the ranks all those unable to endure the excessive fatigue which those men have been called upon to bear beyond that of almost any army of which history tells, and the remainder,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Richmond (Virginia, United States) (2)
United States (United States) (1)
Chickahominy (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
S. P. Spear (1)
McClellan (1)
A. V. Kautz (1)
William James (1)
George D. Hart (1)
T. J. Harrison (1)
U. S. Grant (1)
A. E. Burnside (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 18th, 1864 AD (1)
May 5th (1)
15th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: