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[572] whole affair they have displayed all the qualities of good soldiers.

By command of

W. F. Smith, Major-General. William Russell, Jr., Assistant Adjutant-General.
Solon A. Carter, Captain and A. A. A. G.

In the course of the night of the fifteenth, the Second corps occupied the works that had been captured earlier in the day, relieving General Thinks' colored division which encamped in the rear.

On the evening of the sixteenth the Second corps had a spirited fight — Barlow on the left and Birney in the centre. General Smith's corps held the right, but took slight part in the engagement. Our successes were positive but not very important. When the firing ceased, our lines in the centre had established themselves in advance of the positions occupied in the afternoon. Colonel Bell's brigade of the Eighteenth corps was swung around to support the centre.

June 18--8 A. M.--To-day the Ninth corps relieved General Barlow on the left. Late in the evening the rebels made a furious attempt to dislodge them from their positions. The fight was a severe one while it lasted, and the repulse complete. This morning the Ninth corps assumed the offensive, carried a portion of the second line of the rebel works, and took five hundred prisoners.

before Petersburg, June 19.
11 A. M.--Last evening the rebels made a very vigorous attack upon our centre, the Second corps, and our extreme left, the Ninth corps. After a severe engagement they were repulsed and driven to their works in disorder. Early this morning the Second corps charged the rebel centre, and carried the works in their front, which they now firmly hold. At nine o'clock two brigades of General Martindale's division, supported by Duncan's brigade, were advanced on the right, and carried the rebel line in its front, being a continuation of the works taken by the Second corps on the centre and right.

We are now within a mile of Petersburg, and the city is at the mercy of our shells. The only defenses remaining to it are the intrenchments, which the rebels have hastily thrown up within the last two or three days. The two lines of formidable works which our brave troops have carried by storm, are at least four miles in length, stretching from a point on the Appomattox at our right nearly to the same river at our left, and crossing all the railroads that go out of Petersburg on the south of the Appomattox.

June 21--7 A. M.--Yesterday was quiet, that is, there were no assaults and no line-of-battle fighting; but our batteries kept exchanging occasional compliments with those of the enemy, and along the picket line the spiteful whiz of the Minie was a very familiar sound, enough to assure one that two large armies lay in close proximity. The number of casualties in this skirmishing has been rather large.

The relative positions of our own and the rebel army appear to be nearly the same as at the several points where they have lain for a time in opposing lines of battle from the Rapidan hither.

Both occupy similar lines of intrenchments, within short rifle-range of each other, but as it devolves on us to attack, the enemy derives the greatest advantage from his works.

One unfamiliar with military operations can hardly form a conception of the value of mere impromptu earthworks; rifle-pits, such as can be constructed in a single night. But troops who have had to charge them can fully appreciate their importance as parts of a defensive system.

Every attack upon such works, unless it is a surprise, costs hundreds or thousands of lives, and men ensconced behind them can successfully hold at bay largely superior numbers. These impromptu works are all that now enable the rebel army to keep us out of Petersburg. The strong fortifications taken by the advance of our army, on the evening of the fifteenth were the regular defences of the place, and, had they been fully manned, could only have been taken by regular siege approaches, requiring protracted labors. That we gained possession of them so easily was an immense advantage, and is the more satisfactory, because it is an unequivocal strategic victory over the wily rebel commander, to whom it must be extremely mortifying.

He was, for once at least, held in uncertainty as to our movements long enough to enable us to beat him in point of time, an achievement which the chivalry ought to consider a decided feat, so confident have they always felt in his vigilance and promptness.

Batte-field, near Petersburg, June 21--11 P. M.
A considerable portion of the army has been on the march to-day to execute another flank movement. The grand object in view seems to be to operate against the enemy's communications from the south of Petersburg and Richmond. Should we gain possession of all the railroads running northward into Petersburg, we should inflict incalculable injury on the enemy, and perhaps necessitate his immediate abandonment of Richmond.

Of the four railroads converging at Petersburg, and thence branching off in different directions southward, the City Point and the Norfolk roads are already in our hands. Only these two railroads have been included in the line our army has hitherto held in front of Petersburg, and for some time past they have been of but little consequence to the enemy. Two others are still open, and are of greater service to him, namely, the Weldon and the Danville railroads

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