[from our own correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
Spotsylvania C. H., May 9, 1864.
The operations in this quarter continue to be of the most interesting character.
On Saturday afternoon, the 7th inst., the date of my last letter, the cavalry reported that Grant
, while keeping up a threatening attitude in our front, was preparing to move still further to our right, and in the direction of Spotsylvania Court-House, and Richmond
Having fortified his position, especially on the plank road and turnpike, he hoped that a small force would be able to hold it, while the main body of his army was being moved to this place, the possession of which was a matter of the greatest consequence to Grant
The road from Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan
, by which he advanced, leads directly to this point, and thence to Richmond
Other important roads, including one from Fredericksburg
, intersect here, and render in a place of no little strategic value.
In the present campaign against the Confederate
capital its consequence can hardly be overrated.
Upon the reception of the intelligence alluded to above, orders were immediately issued by Gen Lee
's corps (or Anderson
's, as I shall designate it hereafter,) to move at 11 o'clock that night rapidly to Spotsylvania Court House, and, if possible, head off the Federal
army then believed to be marching for the same destination.
Our cavalry had behaved very well, and had beaten back the enemy's cavalry for two days. Late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, however, it was ascertained that the cavalry were supported by infantry, and that the latter were advancing in considerable force.
Their march was delayed as much as possible, in order to give Anderson
time to get up, but they succeeded in occupying the Court House
, and were in possession early Sunday morning when Kershaw
's division (formerly McLaws
's and Wofford
's brigades Kershaw
immediately advanced against the enemy holding the village; his old brigade and Humphreys
's were sent under Humphreys
against the forces then approaching down the road from the battle field of the Wilderness
, pushing our cavalry before them.
cleared the village in a few minutes and made his dispositions to hold it Humphreys
placed his command behind a fence and some trail obstructions which the cavalry had previously prepared.
The enemy advanced with great confidence, being ignorant of the presence of Confederate infantry, and supposing the troops behind the line of fence and brush were dismounted cavalry.
reserved his fire until they got within a few paces, and then gave them a volley which covered the ground with their dead and wounded.
A sharp combat ensued, the result of which was the rapid retreat of the enemy, who left many dead and wounded in our hands, including a Brigadier General
, who was mortally wounded.
Our own loss was insignificant.
's division came up soon afterwards, and a portion of it (Law
's brigade,) engaged the enemy later in the day, repulsing him as usual.
The forces disposed of in this summary manner by Anderson
was the fifth army corps, which Ewell
had beaten so handsomely three days before in the Wilderness
Some two hundred prisoners and five or six hundred small arms fell into our hands.
's corps moved from the battle-field early yesterday (Sunday) morning, and Hill
's corps Sunday night, the former got into position last evening, and the latter this morning.
Thus has Gen Lee
succeeded in throwing his whole army right across the path of his antagonist.
Had the ground been more favorable to military operations, or had the enemy delayed his attack on the second day an hour longer, until Longstreet
could get in position our victory at the Wilderness
would have been decisive and crushing.
As it was, Gen Lee
repulsed all Grant
's assaults with heavy loss, and held him there until he could throw his army in front of him and between him and the capital.
This was a masterly performance, and renders it necessary for Grant
to give us battle here or make a further detour to the right.
There is but one road on the right between Spotsylvania Court House and the Mattaponi
by which he can move; that is known as the Telegraph
road, and leads directly from Fredericksburg
, crossing the North Anna
, south Anna
and Little river
, a few miles above the point where they unite and form the Pamunkey
East of the Mattaponi
is another road which passes through Bowling Green
, but if Grant
should move by that he would find it necessary to cross three considerable streams, the Mattaponi
, Pamunkey, and Chickahominy
The importance of these observations will be apparent to the reader upon the inspection of a good map. The distance from the Court-House
to the Telegraph
road is about eight miles, and to Fredericksburg
it is eleven miles.
It must be confessed that Grant
has shown a good deal of cleverness in one respect, and that was in avoiding the route by Fredericksburg
which proved so disastrous to Burnside
At the time Burnside
moved down the north bank of the Rappahannock
and attempted to cross at Fredericksburg
, it is known that Hooker
pointed out the route by which Grant
has advanced as the better of the two; and it will be remembered when he succeeded to the command of the army, then occupying the heights of Stafford
, he adopted his original plan in part and succeeded in getting as far as Chancellorsville
The thing which we have chiefly to regret is the loss of the devoted town of Fredericksburg
, which has passed, temporarily at least, into the hands of the invader.
We hear that Grant
brought twenty two days supplies with him, the men carrying seven days on their backs, and the remainder being transported in wagons, of which there are 800 to each corps.
It was evidently his purpose to make a rapid march upon the capital, just as Sherman
did upon Meridian
From information derived from prisoners, one is led to believe that be expected when he crossed the Rapidan
's right, that the latter would fall back by Gordonsville
The two armies now confront each other on the north side of the Court-House
, and a battle may take place at any time.
There has been considerable skirmishing and manœuvering all day. --Twenty four hours will decide whether Grant
will deliver battle here, or seek to turn our position again.
Lieut Gen Hill
is sick, and Maj Gen Early
has been assigned to the command of his corps, and Brig Gen Gordon
Brig Gen Mahone
's division since the assignment of the latter to the command of Longstreet
, of the Fifteenth Georgia, succeeds to the command of Benning