[from our own correspondent.]
This has been an eventful week.
May I not say, without fear of successful contradiction, the most eventful in the history of the war and of the Southern Confederacy--certainly no such general engagement as that of Thursday last has ever occurred between the armies of the Potomac
and of Northern Virginia
I propose now to speak briefly in regard to it. During Wednesday skirmishing occurred all along the lines, but no general engagement.
As early on Thursday morning as the first crack of daylight the enemy's artillery opened fire upon us, and very soon thereafter the enemy, having massed in extraordinarily heavy force upon our right centre, which was held by the division of Maj Gen Ed Johnson
, advanced upon us. The first point of assault was the Virginia
brigade of Brig Gen
J M Jones
The enemy attacked this point of the line most furiously.
The brigade of Jones
broke and gave back.
The enemy at once pressed in and over our breastworks, causing the two other brigades of Johnson
's division — Stuart
's and the Stonewall
, under the gallant Hayes
—— to fall rapidly back.
Just at this moment Major Gen Ed Johnson
rode up to his line.
Considerable confusion had by this time ensued, and in obedience to the suggestion of his aid he dismounted, supposing that dismounted he would be loss a target for the enemy's sharpshooters, who were pouring minnie balls thick and last around.
So soon as Gen
J was dismounted he ran hastily to one of the guns of Cutshaw
's artillery, in order to fire it upon the enemy; before, however, he had succeeded the enemy had closed thickly around him and he was a prisoner in their hands, as was also Brig Gen
G H Stuart
of the Maryland
line, with some twenty five hundred officers and men from this division, and some twenty pieces of artillery; twelve of which were from Page
's and the rest from Cutshaw
This temporary success greatly elated the Yankees
, and they pressed on with increasing numbers and a zeal intensified by their temporary success.
, with Early
's division, however, quickly come to the assistance
of the remnant of Johnson
's division, now under command of Col Williams
, of La, and fought the enemy for some time, but were gradually pressed back to our second line of works, when Rodes
came to the assistance of Johnson
and Karly, whilst further on to the right Lane
's brigade, of Hill
's corps, was also forced back some distance until Gen
L was enabled to reform his line, when portions of all of Hill
's divisions became warmly engaged, resisting the enemy's desperate assaults, and repelling their furious onsets.
For ten mortal hours the contest raged with unabated fury, and so deadly and destructive was the fire of musketry that trees were cut down.
Again and again did the enemy, inspirited by the little success of the morning, their whiskey rations, and Grant
's braggadocio and lying, assault our line of works; each time did they waver, and give back, until finally, at nightfall, the Yankee
wounded and dead strewed the field "thick as autumnal leaves in Vallambross." Their obstinacy and courage on this field cannot be gainsaid.
They fought with a courage and devotion worthy of a better cause; whilst our men, safe behind breastworks, rejoiced in their ability to deal death to the accursed foe with such slight loss.
It is a fact beyond controversy that the enemy bayonetted our men in the breastworks — The cannonading of Gettysburg
is, of course, unsurpassed in the history of the war, but I know of no field during the war in which there has been so much continuous and deadly musketry firing as this.
Night did not end the fight.
Long after nightfall, even until after midnight, the fighting between the pickets continued with occasional discharges of artillery.
This grew out of the fact that the guns lost by us were left at nightfall by us between the pickets, and the enemy kept up the light in order to get possession of the guns, which they succeeded in doing.
The attack in Ewell
's front was the most persistent, and to some extent successful.
That night the enemy held the breastworks where Johnson
's division was forced back.
And that night General Lee
drew in his lines at this point some three or four hundred yards in order to straighten it. The line that morning formed almost a V. with the point turned towards the enemy.
That night our line was made almost straight.
During the day two charges occurred which deserve to be mentioned.
About two o'clock, whilst the enemy were heavily pressing our right centre, Mahone
's Virginia and Lane
's North Carolina brigades were ordered to charge the enemy in their front in order to relieve the line thus heavily pressed.
This was most gallantly executed.
The result was that we captured some two of three hundred prisoners and four stands of colors.
Later in the day Lane
's brigade was ordered to take the assaulting column and a battery in flank as a diversion.
Led by their gallant General, the noble brigade, under a concentrated galling fire, charged the battery of six 12- pounder Napoleons, shooting down the cannoniers and capturing the pieces.--The fighting was in several instances hand to hand, one officer having a tassel with a Yankee captain for his sword.
The acts of indvidual bravery in this fight, as in that of the morning, were numerous.
The battery horses not being at hand, the guns could not be brought off, but some four hundred prisoners and three stand of colors were captured and brought back to our lines.
During the melee Gen Lane was ordered by some score of Yankees to surrender; but, unarmed as he was, he commanded them to throw down their arms as his prisoners.
not readily complying, the General
quietly remarked, "Very well, wall a moment, till my line comes up," whereupon they quickly threw down their arms, and the General
made his escape.
The extreme right and left of the lines were not engaged during this day, but from nine until twelve o'clock in the day of Thursday the enemy made repeated assaults in Fields
's front, of Benning
's, and Gregg
Each time, however, this gallant division repulsed the enemy with fearful slaughter to the enemy, and with a loss of a mere handful of our men.
During the day on other parts of the line there was more or less skirmishing.
In this fight we lost many brave officers and men, among them Brig Gen Petrin
, of Alabama
, was shot dead whilst gallantly leading his brigade is the thickest of the fight — a nobler spirit of braver man has not been offered a sacrifice to this war; Brig Gen Daniel
was wounded Thursday, and died to day; Brig Gen Stuart
, of Stonewall brigade, was also wounded.
His arm has been resected, and he is doing well; Brig Gen McGowan
was wounded, but is better.
The following are a few more of casualties in staff officers of which I have heard: Col Baker
, 16th Miss
, killed; Lt Col Felters
, do do, do; Col Harding
, 19th Miss
, killed; Lt Colonel Shuter
, 1st South Carolina, killed; Colonel McGreary
, wounded in throat; Lieut Col McArthur
, 61st Ga wounded mortally, since died; Col Skinner
, 52d Va, wounded severely, not mortally; Lieut Col Mcmeyer
, 61st Va, killed, and Col O D Groner
, same regiment, slightly wounded, whilst riding at the head of his regiment in a grand charge; Col Casey
, 58th Va, severely, not dangerously wounded; Col Fields, Mahone
's brigade, severely, not dangerously wounded; Col J M Hall
, 5th Ala, arm amputated; Col Lightfoot
, 6th Ala, arm broken; Lt Col Hobson
, 5th Ala, thigh; Maj Proskrauer, 12th Ala, head; Adj't Pegues
, 5th Ala, neck; Gen Ramseur
, slight, did not leave the field; Col T M Garrett
, 5th N C, Johnston
's brigade, killed; Maj J S Brooks
, 20th N C, do do; Capt Jacob Brookfield
, 5th N C, do do; Capt Willong
, 12th N C, do do; Lieut E S Smedes
, Adj't 5th N C, do do; Brig Gen
R D Johnston
, slight flesh wound; Col H E Coleman
, 12th N C, slight wounds in face.
I have taken pains to ascertain our losses in the fights of Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday last, and skirmishing before and since until this time, and my estimate of it is 3,500 wounded and 500 killed, and perhaps we have lost 3,000 prisoners. The losses of the enemy in these three days fights are put down, at the lowest estimate, at thirty thousand men. The enemy surely must be well high exhausted; but it is certainly true, as it is said Gen Lee
has expressed himself, that Grant
's men are whipped, but Grant
is himself not whipped.--Grant
has two or three lines of strong fortifications behind which to retire if pressed.
is well fortified, as Grant
knows by sad experience.
Yesterday there was nothing of interest and to day there is nothing but skirmishing.
Our men are firm in their convictions of ultimate success, and sing cheerfully around their camp fires at night.
stands the fatigue well, and his friends say he is most cheerful and buoyant.
I could write almost indefinitely, but time presses. X.
Sunday Morning, May 15th, 1864.
The enemy yesterday threw a force of infantry on our extreme left and engaged our cavalry, protecting that flank.
Our cavalry (Chambliss
's brigade) fought them a considerable time, when they were reinforced by infantry, driving the enemy back and capturing from him some seventy or eighty prisoners. Everything is quiet at 12 o'clock today.
The bearing of most of our troops was superb on Thursday last; but Harris
's, Mabone's, and Lane
's, and Pegram
's brigades I have heard specially commended, as also the whole of Rodes
's and Field
Early and Anderson
, as commanders of corps, have shown extraordinary abilities and fitness for their positions.
The roads are deep in mud, thus enbancing the difficulties of transportation.
Their need, however, he no apprehensions on the score of rations, forage or ammunition.
The wounded are being sent off as rapidly as possible.
Yankee Generals Robertson
are certainly killed, and rumor says several others. X.