[from our own Correspondent.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
Spotsylvania C. H., May 11, 1864--5 P. M.
My last letter to you bears date of Sunday, the 8th.
At that time I wrote you from Orange Court-House
About 4 P. M. I left that point, following up Gen. Lee
, who was moving closely in the rear of Gen. Grant
From that time until this I have been unremittingly active, and now propose to give you a brief sketch of the movements and doings of the two armies during that period.
Saturday night, just after dark, the enemy began moving their columns down the plank turnpike and Catharpin roads towards Fredericksburg
When they reached Tabernacle Church, about six miles above Fredericksburg
, they sent a body of their force, said to be two regiments, to take possession of the town, throw down pontoons, and begin the work of putting the railway in running order between Fredericksburg
and Aquia Creek
The head of their column, on reaching Tabernacle Church, turned to the right, and began moving on and towards Spotsylvania Court House.
During Saturday night Gen. Lee
discovered that a movement was on foot, and supposing it might be Grant
's purpose to turn his flank, he sent forward a portion of Longstreet
's forces, who began to move about 3 A. M of Sunday morning. About 10 o'clock Gen. Lee
advanced skirmishers along the enemy's entire lines at the Wilderness
, and found their breastworks abandoned and their rear protected by a rear guard of cavalry.
Our forces were immediately moved forward, and the whole passed rapidly from the turnpike and plank roads on towards the Catharpin
road, by which our whole line passed on towards Spotsylvania Court House.
Early in the morning of this day (Sunday) Fliz Lee
, with his cavalry division, had engaged them, and was fighting them with unsurpassed bravery and desperate earnestness, and was being forced back by much superior numbers of the enemy's infantry.
As they were retiring upon Spotsylvania Court House, and whilst engaging in desperate fight with the 5th Yankee corps, Wofford
's and Bryan
's brigades, of McLaws
's division having opportunely arrived, engaged the enemy in front of Spotsylvania Court House, and Kershaw
's South Carolina brigade and Humphreys
's Mississippi brigade came in upon the flank of their column.
A severe fight ensued, lasting two hours. The result was that the enemy were driven completely back, with immense slaughter, whilst our loss was comparatively slight.
Again later in the day McLaws
's division having thrown up a line of breastworks, the enemy advanced upon them in heavy force, but were repulsed with great slaughter, Gen.
R. estimating that he killed and wounded twenty for one. --During this fight the enemy managed at one time to flank us, and so about two hundred of Humphrey
's Mississippi brigade found themselves with in the enemy's lines.
They did not, however, surrender, but pushed rapidly on and hid themselves in a thicket.
Here they found of the 4th Va cavalry.
That night they organized an army on a small scale, threw out their cavalry scouts, and having ascertained the enemy's position, flanked it, and came into camp about day daylight Monday morning.
During Sunday evening the enemy also attacked Bodes
, and were driven back most handsomely Nothing also of interest secured on Sunday.
On Monday both sides manœuvered for position all day, and some heavy skirmishing occurred.--Both sides were unremittingly active.
Towards night it was whispered in camp, and soon turned out to be true, that the Yankee
cavalry, numbering about three thousand strong, had passed around our fight flank, and were moving upon the Central railway.
Stuart at once detached a sufficient force and sent them in pursuit.
With what success he has pursued them you doubtless know more than I do. Towards night a warm fight ensued near the bridge over the river.
The losses were slight, and the results unimportant.
All day Monday our pioneer corps was busy at work, and at night our position was believed to be one of great strength.
Early yesterday morning it was ascertained that the enemy were moving around on our left flank, as if to seize the road leading to Louisa
C H. Just
before day Gen. Early
, who was in command of A. P. Hill
's corps, moved to meet the enemy, taking with him Heth
He engaged the enemy on or near the Louisa C. H. road.
The enemy were in heavy force.
Our men drove them back from three lines of quite formidable breastworks, capturing three lines of breastworks, one gun and one caisson and about one hundred and fifty prisoners, including some of their wounded.
We would have captured more of their guns and more prisoners, but for the fact that the enemy set fire to the woods in front of them, and so it was impossible for our troops to move upon the enemy.
In this engagement we drove the enemy back some five miles.
During the day the enemy in front of Fields
's division, who occupied nearly the centre of our line, attacked us at least twelve different times, but were as often repulsed.
And just before night the enemy charged up to and for a while carried the breastworks in front of Anderson
's Texas brigades, but our men rallied, whilst McCarthy
's company of Richmond Howitzers poured into them a most destructive fire of grape and canister, which compelled them to retire.
About the same time the enemy advanced on our left, and made a most vigorous and determined assault upon the line of Rodes
's division, and especially upon that part of the line occupied by Doles
's and Daniel
Such was the vim with which the assault was made that the enemy compelled these brigades to give back, and for a while no less than six pieces of artillery fell into their hands.
Finally, however, Gordon
's North Carolina
, and the Stonewall
brigades came to the assistance of Doles
, and so repulsed the enemy.
Both sides are said to have lost heavily in this conflict.
The enemy took some of our men prisoners.
Beyond this there was nothing done yesterday in front of our lines besides skirmishing, and considerable artillery firing on all parts of the line.
To-day, up to this writing, nothing of special moment has occurred.
There have been some discharges of artillery to-day, but it was prolific of no results.
Both sides are doubtless quite jaded, and very willing to take a day of rest.
Our loss thus far is comparatively small.
It is believed that ten thousand will cover everything — killed, wounded, and missing.
The impression in our lines is general that the enemy thus far have had not a man less than thirty thousand
placed hors du combat,
while some put the figures as high as forty thousand.
A scout who was in Fredericksburg
on Sunday night reports that the enemy then had some fifteen thousand wounded in the town, and had taken every available building for hospital purposes.
He also states that the enemy had then three pontoons over the Rappahannock
, and were busily constructing the bridges over Potomac
and Accokeell creeks, in Stafford county
, and over the river at Fredericksburg
As confirmatory of the severe losses which the enemy has sustained, I will mention that Ewell
buried two thousand dead Yankees in front of his line of battle at the Wilderness
This, be it remembered, was only in front of one corps, and does not include the loss in front of Longstreet
and A. P. Hill
We captured an immense number of arms at the Wilderness
battle-field, and the enemy left the trenches strewn with arms, clothing, and all manner of camp debris,
showing that they left that battle field in a good deal of haste.
A number of the prisoners captured by us concur in the statement that Meade
, at Grant
's suggestion, had issued a General Order
informing the troops of the capture of Richmond
, and thanking them for their brilliant achievements at the Wilderness
All of the prisoners further state that Grant
has resolved to capture Richmond
, and for this purpose expects to fight sixty days before accomplishing his object.
I forgot to mention that Brig Gen
. H. H. Walker
was yesterday evening wounded in the foot, so as in require its amputation Brig-Gen H. H. Haves
, of Louisiana
, was also wounded yesterday in the leg severely, not dangerously.
During these fights Maj. Hamilton
, Chief Commissary
's division, was killed, and Capt. Fontaine Barksdale
of 18th Mississippi regiment, Humphreys
's brigade, whilst gallantly fighting in the ranks with his musket, was shut and instantly killed.
And yesterday, in visiting the hospitals of McLaws
's division, I came across Rev. Mr. Owen
17th Mississippi, who was wounded on Monday whilst out on a four of observation on the front line of picket.
The enemy during this campaign now lasting eight days, have exhibited great nerve and detertermination of purpose, and have fought in most instances with an obstinacy worthy of a better cause.
Their castes have been hold and vigorous, and having stood their ground till we have had the exquisite satisfaction of staying any number of
them. It has heretofore been much debated whether there has been such a thing in this war as the use of the bayonet, but this is now well attested.--The enemy used the bayonet on Kershaw
's division, in their breastworks on Sunday last, and our men, their ammunition being exhausted, clubbed muskets with the foe, and drove them back.
A good many changes have occurred in the commands of this army since the move begun.
Major Gen. Jubal A. Early
is commanding A. P. Hill
's corps, Hill
being quite sick.
Maj. Gen. H. H. Anderson
is in command of Longstreet
's corps, and Brig Gen
. Wm. Manons
is in command of Anderson
, of Ga.
, has been promoted to Major Generalcy
, and is in command of Early
's and Stafford
's Louisiana brigades have been consolidated, and Gen. Hayes
was in charge of both until wounded.
Among the casualties of which I have heard is Col. Collins
, 19th Va cav, killed.
, 3d Va cav, wounded, leg amputated.
, cav, Early
's division, wounded, leg amputated.
's staff, leg amputated.
Our men have been fighting and marching unceasingly for the last eight days, but they are as willing as ever to stand up to the rack, and are most confident and hopeful, and nightly around the blazing camp fires the songs of praise are heard ascending heavenward.
Such an army as this, under so gallant a leader can be conquered — never, never.
Our position is not one of great natural strength, but we are well fortified, and whenever the enemy comes he will find us prepared for him.
The hospitals seem to be as well arranged as the nature of the case will admit, and I think our men are being very well cared for.
The cavalry have been quite active during this fight, and especially Rosser
I would speak of them more particularly, but I lack information.
During the march from the Wilderness
to this point, a headquarter wagon belonging to Gen. E. Johnson
, broke down, and it is supposed fell into the enemy's hands.
They will doubtless make a great hurrah over it.
For the last four or five days the weather has been intensely hot, and the dust exceedingly oppressive; a rain is now falling, however, which will doubtless cool the air and refresh the troops.
There has been no general engagement to-day, and so I must close for the present.
The raiders, however, are in our rear and there is no telling when you will receive this.
Our army though having no oats, is fortunate enough to have on hand at this time supplies enough to last until Saturday night.