previous next

[573] If the present operations — designed to give us permanent possession of those roads likewise — are entirely successful, the effect will be to prevent supplies from reaching Richmond.

The Second corps has led the advance in this important movement. Last night Burnside's corps relieved it from its former position in the line, and this morning General Birney commenced moving toward the Jerusalem plank-road and the Weldon railroad. The movement is participated in by other portions of the army. The troops have been marching all day in the scorching sun, and this evening the Second corps is in line of battle in the new position to which General Meade assigned it.

The main body of the rebel Army of Virginia is opposing us in our immediate front. Large bodies of rebel troops have been moving to our left, and the result of reconnoissances made to-day in this direction demonstrates the fact that that portion of the outer line of the Petersburg defences not in our possession has recently been strengthened, and is now firmly held by the enemy. From the stubborn resistance shown this afternoon to the advance of our skirmishers, a bloody battle on this immediate ground is not at all improbable, and might be momentarily expected.

Toward evening the lines in front of our new position were formed by Major-General Birney, and the skirmishers of General Gibbon's division of the Second corps were connected with those of General Griffin's of the Fifth, which had marched from its former position, extending to the left of the Fifth corps line, and which moved into position about the same time as General Gibbon's. General Griffin's division is formed on the right of the Jerusalem plank-road, and the whole of the Second corps, temporarily commanded by Major-General Birney, is in position on the left. Gibbon's division holds the right of the Second corps line, Mott's the centre, and Barlow's the left. While the dispositions were being made, Barlow's line was somewhat shortened in order to leave room for the Sixth corps to come in between his left and the Weldon railroad. Ricketts' division of the Sixth corps is now taking up its position on the left of Barlow's, and the remainder of the Sixth corps will probably have extended the line still further at an early hour to-morrow. Thus, while our line has been prolonged to the left, the right of the army will be protected by Smith's corps, and other troops which are taking the places of those that have just assumed the new post of honor in this latest flank offensive movement.

The rebel works directly in our front extend along the crest from Gregory's to Rives' residence, and form a part of that semi-circular chain of fortifications that appear in front of Petersburg, from the Appomattox on the right to the Appomattox on the left. This section of the country is varied with wood and meadow, and fine fields of grain; but there are not so many streams as in other portions of Virginia. We can distinctly see the rebel works from some points, although at present our lines are formed for the most part in thick and heavy timber. As a general rule the works are constructed on commanding places, where extensive open fields spread out in front of them, and over which an attacking force must necessarily advance. Several hundred yards in front of the main defensive line, the rebels have skirmishers and sharpshooters concealed in rifle-pits.

When the lines of the different divisions of the Second corps were formed this afternoon, our skirmishers were thrown forward to within a few hundred yards of the enemy's skirmish line, outside his works, and since that time, for several hours, the skirmishers on both sides have been exchanging shots. General Barlow met with considerable resistance from dismounted rebel cavalry in advancing his line. He soon came in contact with the infantry. Artillery and musketry were used on both sides, and the skirmishing was very spirited for some time. After Barlow's line had struck the enemy's infantry his further advance was checked. Subsequently the enemy made an attack on that portion of our front, and was handsomely repulsed. The enemy's loss was considerable. That in the Second corps will probably not amount to more than a hundred killed and wounded. A few prisoners were captured.

The position of affairs at this time compelled General Birney to resume the line he had occupied in the morning, and throw his left a little to the rear, in order to protect the flank. Ricketts' division of the Sixth corps, and Crowninshield's squadrons of cavalry, were at the same time placed in position, so as to still further cover the left flank and rear until the other divisions of the Sixth corps should have taken their positions in the extending line. This was the position of the Second corps when the operations closed for the night.

battle-field, near Petersburg, July 22--11:30 P. M.
In the operations of our army around Petersburg, this has been a strange and eventful day. During all this afternoon and evening there has been continuous fighting on some portion of the lines. Night has closed upon a day of strong endeavor and of action, and yet it is with great reluctance that we are forced to the conclusion that nothing of practical importance has been accomplished. The fortunes of war, however, are exceedingly precarious, and if it happens that to-day the advantage may be on the enemy's side, it is quite as probable that to-morrow it will be on ours.

During last night the Sixth corps had moved to the left and massed at the Williams House. This morning Wilson's and Kautz's cavalry had cut the Weldon railroad, so that orders were at once given to suspend the demonstration in that direction, and swing the left of the Second corps round, so as to develop the enemy's works in front of Petersburg, without regard to the

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.

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.
Farmville Barlow (5)
Birney (4)
Gibbon (3)
James B. Ricketts (2)
Charles Griffin (2)
James H. Wilson (1)
W. F. Smith (1)
Rives (1)
Mott (1)
George G. Meade (1)
A. V. Kautz (1)
William A. Gregory (1)
Crowninshield (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.
July 22nd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: