The War news.
Though Saturday morning found the ground covered with two inches of snow and sleet, the touch of winter had no effect in preventing military operations.
For the first time in several months, the initiative was taken by our troops.
Between 3 and 4 o'clock A. M., General Longstreet
, with a heavy force of infantry, cavalry and artillery, made a reconnaissance down the Charles City
roads, and in the course of the morning advanced as far as New Market Hill
, four miles cast of Fort Harrison
, without meeting any serious resistance.
In fact, until reaching the point named, he found nothing but a thin picket line of the enemy.
The objects of the reconnaissance having been fully accomplished, General Longstreet
returned to his original position, which he reached on Saturday night. We killed a few of the enemy's pickets and took a few of them prisoners.
Our loss was one man killed and several wounded.
During the forenoon and part of the evening, our mortar batteries shelled Fort Harrison
furiously, causing great excitement amongst the negro soldiers.
By this reconnaissance the actual position of the enemy's line of heavy defences on the north side of James river
Instead of running northwest from Fort Harrison
and hugging our line even to the Charles City
road, as had been believed, at least by civilians, it runs from the Harrison due east to New Market Heights, which is at least four miles further distant from the city than the former point.
Between New Market
and the left of our line there is no fortification or entrenchment of consequence, and as we have stated, was found on Saturday to be held only by a picket line.
Though our troops, both in going out and returning, traveled over the ground from which the Yankees
have been threatening to shell Richmond
, they discovered no big guns and no preparations for mounting them.
Attack on our lines South of Petersburg — the enemy driven back.
During Friday morning it became evident that the enemy was preparing for an attack on our extreme right, south of Petersburg
; and about the middle of the day a considerable force of cavalry and a division of infantry drove in our cavalry pickets and advanced across the Vaughan
road and took a position, from which they were driven back on Saturday morning. The following official report of the affair was received at the War Office on Saturday evening:
Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, "December 10, 1864.
"Hen. James A. Seddon
, Secretary of War
"About noon yesterday the First division of the Second corps of the enemy, supporting their cavalry, forced back our cavalry pickets on the Vaughan
road, south of the Appomattox
, and advanced towards Dinwiddie Courthouse.
"To-day, our cavalry, reinforced by infantry, drove them back across Hatcher
's run, capturing a few prisoners and re-establishing our lines.
The enemy on the Weldon railroad.--
they are Refused at Bellfield.
It is now ascertained that the column of the enemy who started for Weldon
, along the line of the Petersburg and Weldon railroad, has been ascertained to consist of the Fifth corps, part of the Second and a considerable force of cavalry.
They started out well supplied with subsistence and ammunition, driving their own beeves and those of every one else that they could steal along their route.
There being no communication except by couriers with our forces operating against them, intelligence of their operations comes to hand tardily; but what we have received is of a highly satisfactory character.
On last Thursday evening, the enemy's column being then a short distance beyond Jarratt
's, some thirty-five miles south of Petersburg
, General Hampton
, who had gotten ahead of them, attacked their advance, consisting of cavalry, and drove it back upon the main body, killing and wounding a number and capturing thirty prisoners. General Hampton
then fell back to Bellfield
, on the Meherrin river
, forty miles south of Petersburg
, to await the attack of the enemy.
The enemy attacked Bellfield
on Friday evening, but were repulsed.
We have no particulars of the fight.
sends the following dispatch to the Secretary of War
, which covers Hampton
's operations on Thursday and the attack upon Bellfield
on the next day.
, after driving the enemy's cavalry upon his infantry, on the afternoon of the 8th, recrossed the Nottoway
and reached Bellfield
at daylight yesterday.
"In the afternoon the enemy attacked the position, but were successfully resisted.
This morning the enemy is reported retiring and Hampton
"The bridge over the Meherrin
Our loss, as far as known, is small.
The garrison, under Garnett
and the reserves, behaved well.
The latest news from Sherman
is, that on Saturday he was at Bloomingdale
, on the Central
Georgia railroad, fifteen miles west of Savannah
It was not absolutely certain whether it was in his programme to attack the city, to slide away down to the coast, or endeavor to force a passage of the Savannah river en route
for Port Royal
Our position at Savannah
is difficult, as involving the necessity of protecting both the city and some ten miles of the Savannah and Charleston railroad, which, leaving the city on the west, curves to the north and crosses the river eight miles above.
, since he left Millen
, has been felling timber behind him and otherwise obstructing the roads to protect his rear from the remorseless ravages of Wheeler
, who has hunted and hung upon him like a bloodhound.