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Important from the North.

Petersburg, Dec. 22.
--Norfolk dates to the 26th are received by the Express, furnishing Northern dates to the 18th and 19th.

The New York World concedes the most terrible defeat of the war at Fredericksburg, and says the loss will rather exceed than come under 15,500, previously stated. Meagher's brigade went in 1,200 strong, and but 200 could be found the next morning. Other brigades suffered as much. The World says, editorially:

‘ "Heaven help us. There seems to be no help in man. Our cause is perishing — hope after hope has vanished — and now the only prospect is the very blackness of despair. Here we are reeling back from the third campaign upon Richmond--15,000 of the Grand Army sacrificed at one sweep, and the real escaping only by a hair's breadth."

’ The World says the army will now go into winter quarters, because it can't go anywhere else.

A telegram from Cairo says that the iron-clad ram Cairo was blown up, 30 miles from the mouth of the Yazoo, on the 12th, by a rebel torpedo, and sunk in forty feet of water in fifteen minutes. Vessel a total loss. Crew saved. Two other gunboats in the rear escaped.

Additional particulars of the battle of Prairie Grove, Ark., show that the Abolition loss in killed and wounded was 995, and the rebel loss 2,700.

Several vessels of Banks's fleet put into Hilton Head, short of coal, disabled, &c. The troops on board had suffered much.

The Confederate steamer Alabama was heard from on the 28th of November, when she was at Dominica, West Indies, whether she had gone in pursuit of a schooner which had taken refuge at Dominica. The San Jacinto had been at Point Petre only a few days before, but had sailed for St. Thomas.

Gold closed in New York on the 18th at 132½ @ 132¼; Exchange 145½ @ 146½.

Congress has appointed a committee, who left Washington Monday for the Rappahannock, to inquire into the facts of the late terrible disaster at Fredericksburg.

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