This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 our pickets were driven in on the City Point and Prince George Court-house roads. It was subsequently ascertained that these movements were but feints to deceive our forces, while the real movement for the surprise and capture of the city was on the Jerusalem plank-road, coming into Petersburg from a southerly direction. On the two first-named roads the enemy appeared in considerable numbers as early as seven o'clock, and brisk skirmishing was kept up for some. At eight o'clock the Court-house and engine bells were rung, to which the citizens responded with their usual alacrity, and manifested every disposition to defend their homes and firesides. In the meantime, the enemy's gunboats ascended the Appomattox river, and opened a furious fire on Fort Clifton and at various other points along the river, for the obvious purpose of occupying the attention of our troops in Chesterfield. At nine o clock our pickets on the Jerusalem plank-road were driven in, and before ten the enemy showed himself in overwhelming numbers, filling the road and woods on both sides. Our breastworks here extended from the residence of Timothy Rivers, Esq., on the left to and across the roadway, and beyond the house of Mr. William A. Gregory on the right. The enemy manoeuvred for a while, thinking, probbably, that our raw troops would abandon their position without a fight. But never were the Yankees more mistaken. Our men were made of sterner stuff, and inspired by the cool determination of their leaders, General Colston and Colonel F. H. Archer, maintained their ground like veterans. Finally, the enemy ordered a charge, and came down to our breastworks with a yell, their drawn sabres flashing in the sunlight. When within forty paces of the fortifications the order to fire was given and the Yankees recoiled and fell back. A prisoner, taken subsequently, states that in this charge the notorious Spear led, and that he had forty killed and wounded. This charge was repeated twice, but with like results, when the enemy resorted to the flanking process, which, by reason of his overwhelming numbers he was enabled to do with much ease. A short time afterward a regiment came round Rivers' house, on our left, another appeared on our right, and a large body came down in front. We had but a hundred and seventy men, all told, and it was impossible with this number to guard centre, right and left, along a length of three quarters of a mile or more. The order was given to retreat, and in a few minutes the enemy had possession of our works, our camp, and were in full pursuit of our men. Couriers had been despatched for reinforcements, but they did not come up in time to save our fortifications, and many of Petersburg's best and most gallant sons fell in the affray, some killed and others wounded. The enemy came on in double columns, with sabres drawn, until they reached the hill opposite the waterworks, where they planted a cannon for the purpose of shelling the city. They then started down the hill, and their column actually took possession of a bridge which crosses Powell's run, at the foot of the waterworks hill. They were almost in Petersburg; could see its spires and steeples, and many of the houses on our suburban limits; but again that Divine arm, which has been so often outstretched in our behalf, was bared, and our city was saved from the tread of the ruthless invader. Just at this opportune moment, Graham's battery reached the Reservoir Hill, unlimbered in an instant, and with a precision and rapidity which we have heard spoken of as being almost without precedent, threw into the ranks of the enemy a shower of shell. The missiles of death coming so unexpectedly to the foe, he at first seemed overwhelmed with surprise, and halted, neither advancing nor retreating ; but, a minute or two later, another branch of our service made its appearance, which quickly determined the enemy as to the best course for him to pursue. Dearing's cavalry brigade quickly dismounted, and descending the hill with a yell, charged upon the enemy in beautiful style. This was more than they expected (since they had encountered only a few militia in the breastworks, and had advanced nearly a mile without seeing any regulars), and they instantly wheeled their horses, and started back up hill in great confusion. Graham's battery continued to play upon them, and Dearing's men crossed the ravine and ascended the opposite hill in gallant style, their carbines keeping up a regula and musical fusilade upon Kautz and Spear and their rapidly retreating followers. Upon reaching the top of the opposite hill the enemy hoped to make a stand. Here another column which they had sent to the city for the purpose of entering by the Brentford Church road hove in sight. But this column had also started on a retrogade movement, but, to their surprise, too, they had encountered Sturdivant's battery, which had gone out by another road, and the two columns met and continued their retreat, the speed not at all slackened by Confederate shell and balls, which were falling thick and fast among them. In Jackson's field, a mile or so from Brentford Church, we captured a handsome cannon and six horses, which the enemy were compelled to abandon in their flight. Our forces pursued them for a few miles, killing and wounding many and taking some prisoners. Yesterday afternoon late, our pickets extended several miles on the Jerusalem plank-road, but nothing of the enemy could be seen, and it is supposed that they have retreated to the river. This is only supposition, however, and the vandals will bear constant and vigilant watching. Kautz is in command of this force, and prisoners taken variously estimate it at from three thousand to five thousand. There is no
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.