Throughout yesterday, the twenty-second, the enemy vigorously shelled our gunboats cooperating with Foster — the Mendota and the Hunchback — the former lying below the pontoon bridge, and the latter a short distance above that structure. They are commanded by Captain Nichols and Captain Fife, respectively. The Mendota returned the enemy's fire, in a short time silencing their batteries. The enemy, on Foster's front, has been ascertained by Lieutenant Bernard N. Smith, aid-decamp, to consist of Cook's brigade, of Heath's division, of A. P. Hill's corps. The enemy's cavalry is commanded by Major Robins, of Holcomb's Legion, which is composed of cavalry, artillery and infantry. In addition to this, several brigades of rebels passed down our front yesterday afternoon (June twenty-second), three regiments passing over Four-Mile creek, with one regiment deployed as skirmishers. The skirmishing resulted in our taking a few prisoners. The destination of the passing brigades alluded to is unknown. On yesterday some of the troops, in making excavations, discovered five thousand dollars in gold and silver, buried in the ground beneath the ruins of a charred and destroyed mansion. The excitement was intense among the boys when these spoils of war were divided among them on their own motion.
headquarters Army of the Potomac, Thursday, June 23--10 P. M.The operations of the last three days have had for their object possession of the railroads south of Petersburg — the Weldon and Raleigh road and the Lynchburg. To accomplish this required an extension of the line far to the left. It was thought possible a surprise might be effected. In that case, planting ourselves on those roads, all would be attained which the occupation of Petersburg would give us. To carry the latter directly, we must expect to sustain large loss. To reach the same end by a sliding movement toward the south, was worth the trial. Besides, if successful, it would still further envelop the city, and be another step toward its fall — a step toward that remoter objective, Richmond. Well, it has been tried, and the result — if we may accept as the result the situation of this hour — is not the most cheerful in the world; nor satisfactory, nor yet disheartening, but marred by a disastrous episode — the loss of prisoners by the Second corps yesterday. There is this comfort, that the losses in killed and wounded, compared with those of last week, are inconsiderable. The Second and Sixth corps were designated for the movement, while the Eighteenth was brought from Butler, and with the Fifth and Ninth holds the old works. Thus three corps were stretched over the ground until then occupied by four. The distance from the left of that line, being Warren's left, to the point on the Weldon road which it was thought might be struck, is five miles or thereabout. The Second corps under Birney, had gained position on Warren's left on Tuesday--so withdrawn, however, as not to attract the attention of the enemy. By yesterday morning the Sixth had assumed a similar relation toward the Second, and now the two corps advanced toward the railroad, still three miles distant. Whether the enemy penetrated the design, or happened to be making a reconnoissance in force on his own account, he seems to have been moving toward us simultaneously with our advance. This was about noon yesterday, and the collision was but an hour or two later. The country was utterly unknown to us, or if anything was known as to the direction and termini of roads, and the distances between given points, it was so vague and faulty that it only served to mislead. We found the woods more dense and continuous than any encountered since the wilderness; as dense as those, and different only in that there are more cleared spaces. Notwithstanding the brief time the troops had been in the position from which they started, they moved from very tolerable works — the Second Corps from a continuous line, and the Sixth from a line thrown up by Ricketts' division, which reached here in advance of the rest of the corps. The enemy discovered our advance before we did his, and made dispositions accordingly — to attack us in flank when marching. He confronted the Second corps, and Barlow's division; the left of that corps was moving still further to the left. Ricketts' division, Sixth corps, was also moving, and was within a mile and a half of the railroad. Mott's (late Birney's) and Gibbon's Second corps, were in aligned positions on the right of Barlow. Gibbon had planted one battery of four guns (McKnight's Twelfth New York Independent). I have been unable to sift a vast contrariety of statements, so as to arrive at even a theory of the precise way it all happened. But the enemy came down with little or no previous indication of his presence, in force, struck Barlow, and glanced by him, bearing away prisoners, and then falling upon Mott and Gibbon. Officers in the divisions of the latter insist that the first knowledge they had of the enemy was his presence directly in their rear. Whether he came down between Barlow and the Sixth corps, or behind him and Mott, or Gibbon, it is impossible for me to say. It is perhaps certain that Barlow was first struck, that at some points the line was struck from the rear, at others from the front — at all unexpectedly and disastrously. It was the work of an instant. Scarcely any resistance was made — there was no time for it. Gibbon's staff were eating dinner a fourth of a mile in rear of their advance, and heard no fighting; were confounded at sight of men running. These they rallied into line, but the enemy came no further. Those that did not run, some of the best troops in the army, were captured by regiments. The First brigade (Pierce's) suffered