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[578] our skirmishers had all got in, a volley was immediately fired into the ranks of the enemy that mowed them down fearfully. Their progress was all at once stopped, and to retreat was as much out of the question as to advance. When placed in this dilemma, our men continued firing rapidly upon them. They made signs of a desire to surrender, which was not at first received, but, as soon as their wish was ascertained, firing was discontinued, and they received a cordial invitation to come in.

The number of prisoners taken was one hundred and sixty-six, and thirty-six wounded were brought off the ground. The remainder of the four hundred must have been either killed or too badly wounded to get away, as the men captured say none went back. Many of the prisoners appeared to be rather pleased than sad at the lot which had befallen them. One, a sergeant, exclaimed fervently as he jumped into our intrenchments, “Thank God, I'm a white man again,” a rather emphatic way of announcing that he considered himself released from slavery in becoming a prisoner.

Another one, a captain, expressed the opinion that the entire brigade to which he belonged would come in, if they could do so without being fired on. It is worthy of remark, that the men appear to be chiefly South Carolinians, and, judging by the feelings they express, one would infer that the State which inaugurated the war was ready to cry, “hold, enough ;” but these men are of the poorer class, and their views and feelings are entirely distinct from those of the wealthy oligarchy who rule them, and wield them for the accomplishment of their own aims, by combining a system of the most shameless mendacity with a rigorous exercise of power.

Some of the prisoners taken this morning say they have been told constantly that the Yankees, if successful, will reduce them to a condition almost worse than that of the slave, compelling them to work for seven pence a day, or whatever they may see fit to give. I was particularly struck by the naturalness and evident sincerity of the reply made by a wounded rebel to some one who inquired whether he came into the army on his own inclination. “No, indeed,” he answered, “I ought to be home plowing corn this very hour.” The look of care in his eye, as he said this, betrayed anxious thoughts of his distant wife and children, and the crops he had planted wilting under the hot sun for want of his culture.

Yesterday afternoon General Wright, with the Sixth corps, made a movement to the left, and reached the Weldon railroad, of which he destroyed some five miles. Fires were built along it, which destroyed the ties, and, at the same time, warped the iron so as to unfit it for future use. Having accomplished his object, he returned to his former position. Toward evening a report was brought in that a heavy column of the enemy was moving off toward our left, with the probable intentention of turning our flank.

Some little excitement was created by this statement, as soon as it got hinted around, but it was only a very brief time before preparations had been made to repel any attack from the threatened quarter.

Colonel Sweitzer's brigade of General Griffin's division, Fifth corps, moved down the Jerusalem plank-road at double-quick, and Colonel Collis, with the Provisional brigade from headquarters of the army, moved down in the same direction. Selecting a suitable position, they deployed across and to the right of the road, and threw up a line of breastworks, which were held throughout the night, but no enemy appeared to molest them.

Everything is extremely quiet to-night. Three or four times since dark I have heard the report of cannon and a little musketry, but now I hear no sound more warlike than that of horses browsing in the bushes near where I write, and a single wagon rattling over corduroys a quarter of a mile away; not the sound of a single gun, large or small, for the last half hour. The heat to-day has been intense, and the dust rises in clouds, which envelop everything.

field before Petersburg, June 24--P. M.
The Weldon and Petersburg railroad was seized early this morning by the Sixth corps, without any opposition to speak of being offered by the enemy. Yesterday a party sent out to destroy the road were set on by Anderson's division, of A. P. Hill's corps, and driven off disastrously. This morning we take and hold it unmolested. What can be the enemy's reason for thus deserting this important point, has been the cause of much speculation.

A party advancing against the road, at seven o'clock this morning, discovered that it had been abandoned by the enemy. Reinforcements were immediately sent them, and the road is now in our possession. While moving down reinforcements on the line of the railroad, the enemy opened with artillery on them. General Birney, commanding the Second corps, soon silenced the battery in a very peculiar manner, by throwing shells into the city. He has found this a very effective way to force them to cease firing.

A mulatto, who has just come into our lines, reports Petersburg to be filled with people, all the inhabitants within a radius of ten miles having fled to the city for shelter and provisions. The latter are furnished by the commissary department, who issue to them, as well as to the troops, half rations daily.

The report of the disaster which befell a portion of the Second corps, on the twenty-second, appears to have been rather modest. Instead of simply meeting with a reverse on that unfortunate day, one entire brigade (General Pearce's), and part of another, were “gobbled”

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