Engagement on James river — Heavy cannonade.
Shortly after 12 o'clock on Thursday night the citizens of Richmond
were startled by heavy and continuous reports of cannon, proceeding from the direction of City Point
The reports were very rapid and those who occupied eligible positions could distinctly see the flash of the guns.
This was kept up for nearly two hours, during which period is estimated that there were no less than five hundred discharges.
From information received yesterday morning, it appears that our artillery, including a number of heavy siege guns, which had been placed in position at and below Coggin's Point
on Thursday, opened a fierce cannonade during the night upon the Federal fleet and McClellan
's camp, on the opposite side of the river.
The enemy was evidently taken by surprise, and all the lights of the fleet were immediately extinguished, but this did not prevent our gunners from preserving their range, which they had taken care to obtain with accuracy while daylight gave them an opportunity.
A feeble response was made by the gunboats; but firing at random, and comparatively ignorant of our position, they inflicted little damage.
The fleet, on the contrary, is supposed to have suffered heavily.
A great crashing was heard in the river, and it is conjectured that collisions occurred among the vessels in their haste to get beyond the reach of danger.
At daylight yesterday morning the entire fleet had disappeared, and great commotion was visible in McClellan
The only casualties reported on our side were caused by an accident to one of the guns, by which one man was killed and six were wounded--two of the number, belonging to Page
's battery, badly.
is in Prince George county
, about forty miles from Richmond
by the river route, but less than thirty in a direct line.
Observations made on Wednesday revealed about 150 Federal vessels at Harrison's Landing
, nearly opposite, comprising vessels of every description, among them some very fine steamers.
On the same day four large transports, crowded with troops, came up the river.
The fleet was lying quietly at anchor, and no unusual movement was noticed in the vicinity.
A member of Dabney
's Artillery, who participated in the engagement, arrived in this city last evening with the remains of Wm. F. Dalton
, of the same battery, who was killed by a shell.
His account of the affair agrees mainly with the foregoing statement, though he says that the enemy's fire was very heavy, but, owing to the darkness of the night, not well directed.
The scene on the opening of the cannonade is described as magnificent.
The long line of Federal vessels drawn up near the shore opposite, with their glimmering lights, reminded the beholder of an illumination for some tive occasion.
Our informant could tell very little of what occurred afterward, except in regard to the part sustained by the battery to which he belongs.
‘"Long Tom"’ fired fifteen rounds, some of which he felt confident took effect upon the enemy's fleet.
The crashing of timber was heard distinctly amid the roar of cannon, yet the darkness of the night rendered it impossible to make any observations.
The casualties in Dabney
's company were three--W. F. Dalton
, killed; Thomas Farquhar
and Patrick Graham
's battery, H. Thacker and John Brooks
, of Hanover
, were severely injured by the premature explosion of a gun, and four others slightly wounded.
If any further casualties occurred along our extended line, they have not yet been reported.
The orders were, as we are informed, to fire a certain number of rounds at the enemy, and when this was accomplished our force quietly withdrew, and the engagement terminated.