The War News.

For two or three nights past the quiet on the lines in front of Petersburg has been interrupted by heavy and rapid cannonading. On Saturday night, in particular, a fierce artillery duel took place, continuing for an hour or more. We learn that our batteries opened upon the enemy's mortar lines, and it is presumed that the fire had some effect, for on yesterday the Yankees were perfectly docile, and desisted in a great measure from their accustomed practice of shelling the city.

It was currently reported yesterday that Grant was again "changing his base" by making a movement to the North side of James river; but we have been unable to learn that it has any foundation in fact. The only thing known with certainty is that some movement has been in progress in the enemy's camp, but the people of Petersburg seem to be as much mystified in regard to its nature as those living at a greater distance from the scene of operations. It is stated on what is deemed good authority that Grant is moving his forces on the two rivers — the Appomattox and the James. The scar city of water in the interior doubtless had something to do with this movement; but the more probable solution is that it was done for the convenience of removing the troops to any particular locality on the north side of the James, or the Chesterfield side of the Appomattox, where they may be needed. It is no doubt true that some portion of the "Army of the Potomac" has crossed the river, but not in sufficient force to indicate an abandonment of the present line of operations.

The train last evening brought over a dozen or so Yankee prisoners, who allowed their zeal to move "on to Richmond." to get the better of their discretion, and thus fell into the hands of the Confederates.

Affairs down the river.

We learned last night, from a perfectly reliable source, that the enemy crossed a small force of infantry on their pontoons to the north side of James river on Friday night, but none since. This intelligence completely explodes one of the current rumors of Sunday.

Victory at Atlanta — large capture of artillery and prisoners.

Twenty-two pieces of artillery, seven stands of colors and two thousand prisoners captured in one engagement, and five hundred wagons in another, form a very good nucleus for a wreath of laurel. Such is the intelligence from Atlanta, official and unofficial. It appears that when Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee he did so with an arrangement of his forces intended for the investment of Atlanta. Our army faced due north.--Gen. Thomas's corps crossed the river above the railroad bridge and in front of Gen. Hood's right, and remained there. McPherson's corps crossed above Thomas and moved around our right to flank it, reaching the Atlanta and Augusta railroad at Stone Mountain Station, thus cutting one communication. Here they were joined by Dodge and Blair's corps, (16th and 17th). Logan's corps is at Decatur, six miles east of Atlanta and nine miles from the force at Stone Mountain. It was apprehended that McPherson's corps, strongly supported, would swing around to their left still further and strike East Point, the junction of the Atlanta and West Point and Macon and Western railroads, which join about ten miles south of Atlanta. It was doubtless while making this movement that Hardee attacked him on the 22d. To cover this movement it appears that the enemy made heavy demonstrations on our extreme left against the corps of Lieut. Gen. Stewart and Gen. Cheatham, which had been placed in line of battle around Atlanta, but were handsomely repulsed.

The following is Gen. Hood's official dispatch, received at the War Department:

Headquarters Atlanta, July 23d, 1864.
Hon. James A. Seddon, Secretary of War:
The enemy shifted his position on Peach Tree Creek last night, and Gen. Stewart's and Cheatham's corps formed line of battle around the city.

Gen. Hardee's corps made a night march, and attacked the enemy's extreme left today. About one o'clock he drove him from his works, capturing sixteen pieces of artillery and five stands of colors. Gen. Cheatham attacked the enemy, capturing six pieces of artillery.

During the engagement we captured about two thousand prisoners.

Gen. Wheeler's cavalry routed the enemy in the neighborhood of Decatur to-day, capturing his camp.

Our loss is not yet fully ascertained.

Major Gen. Walker was killed. Brig Gens. Smith, Gist, and Mercer were wounded.

Prisoners report that Gen. McPherson was killed.

Our troops fought with great gallantry.

J. B. Hood, General.

The "Associated Press" dispatch is very muddy, though we presume that the Gens. Smith and Giles mentioned in it are Gens. Smith and Gist mentioned by Gen. Hood. Had the enemy captured East Point that would have completely invested the city, and Sherman could have commenced his siege.

The brilliant movement of Wheeler, who is now, it appears, operation on the enemy, 'instead of covering our retreats, if correctly reported, is very damaging to Sherman's army. The supplies for the Yankees are brought across the Chattahoochee, and then wagoned to Decatur, a distance of about 15 miles, and this interruption of rations in the rear, coupled with the disastrous fighting in the front with Hardee, is likely to cause a change of position in Sherman's whole force — probably to the extent of falling back to the line of the Chattahoochee. Farther than that he cannot go without destruction, nor can he stay where he is without whipping Hood's army.

From the Valley of Virginia.

The enemy achieved a small success in the vicinity of Winchester on the 22d, which will be duly magnified by the Northern papers into a brilliant victory. It appears that, misled by information in regard to the enemy's strength, a Confederate force marched out to attack them, when they suddenly found themselves in the presence of Averill's and Crook's entire commands. In the fight which ensued we lost some two hundred and fifty men captured, and four pieces of artillery. The force engaged was not a portion of the command which entered Maryland, but simply a party stationed at Winchester as a guard.

All the property captured by our "army of invasion" has reached a place of security, and will speedily be rendered available to the Confederate cause.

All accounts received of the engagement at Snicker's represent that the Yankees were badly whipped on that occasion. It is stated that some fifteen hundred of the enemy fell to rise no more, and only six were made prisoners. It is probable that a considerable number were drowned in their attempt to recross the Shenandoah.

Yankee deserters.

A private letter from Maryland, dated the 11th of July, states that the country below Washington swarms with deserters from the Federal army, endeavoring to make their way to their homes. So numerous are the desertions that it has been found necessary to employ a large force of detectives to hunt up the fugitives.

Affairs at Charleston.

The enemy are still shelling Fort Sumter, and on Monday last threw as many as 196 shells into it. On Morris Island the Yankees are building a shed house, intended, it is supposed, for the confinement of the Confederate General officers under fire. Recent high tides have a good deal damaged the Yankee works on the island. To show the magnitude of the recent movements on Charleston, we copy the following circular, issued by Gen. Foster upon the inauguration of the expedition:

Confidential circular.

Headq'rs Dep't of the South, sHilton Head, S C, June 29, 1864.
The following instructions will govern commanding officers in the conduct of their troops on board transports, and in disembarking the same:

  1. I. The men composing each company will be kept together at all times. Upon approaching land, or going up a narrow river, the company commander will give the command "Attention!" when the company will immediately form, facing outward, and stand under arms, the men being fully equipped, and ready to disembark without breaking ranks. Company commanders must remain at all times with their companies, except when out of sight of land, when they may retire to the cabins.
  2. II. Proper means of exit on each transport must be prepared, to facilitate the disembarkation; strong stairs must be ready to be placed at each gangway, forward and aft, at a moment's warning.
  3. III. Two non commissioned officers must be placed at each gangway, to assist in disembarking the troops, and to pass to them their muskets and knapsacks. Strong gangplanks must be prepared, and placed near each gangway, ready for immediate use.
  4. IV. The signal for starting will be the American Flag, under the Union Jack, at the fore, on the steam transport Sylph, the flagship of Brig Gen. Jno P. Hatch.
    Each brigade headquarters will repeat the signal for sailing immediately after being hoisted on the flagship. The transports will sail in the following order:
    Brig. Gen. John P. Hatch, on transport Sylph, followed by transports containing the Hilton Head troops.
    Brig. Gen. W. Birney, on transport N. P. Banks, followed by transports containing the Florida troops, with the 34th U S C T.
    Brig Gen. R. Saxton, on transport Flora, followed by transports containing the Beaufort troops.
    The several brigades must keep together as much as possible, also the vessels comprising each brigade, in order that they may be distinguished.
    The speed of the vessels to correspond with the slowest sailing transport of each brigade.
  5. V. The thole-pins of the small boats must be secured by lanyards underneath; trail lines must be fitted to secure the oars when dropped over — painters new and strong.
  6. VI. The flag of the Major General commanding will be blue, with white castle in the centre.
By command of Major Gen. J. G. Foster.
Official: W. L. M. Burger,
Assistant Adjutant General.

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