The armies below Richmond.rumors of yesterday — Situation of affairs, &c., &c.
The present remoteness of the scene of active operations has greatly enhanced the difficulties of obtaining anything approaching an accurate account of the movements of the two armies. So long as the immediate vicinity of Richmond was the theatre of battle, we bad daily opportunities of acquiring information from which we are now cut off. The policy of the Government — whether wise or injudicious we will not now attempt to discuss — has been to prohibit all persons unconnected with the army from visiting the lines; hence, at a distance of thirty miles the newspaper reporter finds himself as much embarrassed in obtaining correct intelligence as the anxious public for whom he catena. Our latest published advices from the army were to noon on Saturday, at which time an engagement seemed imminent. The position of the contending forces gave currency to the belief that an action would not be long delayed. During Saturday and Sunday, however, matters remained quiet, and the fight that was so confidently anticipated, as early as Friday afternoon, did not occur. Early on Sunday a portion of the forces of the enemy were evidently in motion, but what their movement indicated was more matter of conjecture — some supposing that they were endeavoring to continue their retreat from Berkeley further down the river, and others suggesting that they were trying to work round to the left of our position. In either event, we feel confident that our Generals are prepared to anticipate them. Yesterday, throughout the day, we had in circulation an abundance of rumors, but it is needless that we should entertain the public by giving them further publicity. Early in the day it was asserted, with apparent confidence, that a most desperate and determined fight was in progress, and that three of our divisions were engaged in the struggle.--From the known position of the two armies, and the positive expectation that a fight was inevitable, this rumor was readily received as reliable, and the street retailers of army intelligence found no difficulty in creating the belief that the bloody tragedies of last week were about to be re-enacted. As might have been expected under the circumstances, the public anxiety was intense, but there was not so much as the slightest-manifestation of want of confidence in the result. The prevailing opinion was that our forces had attacked the enemy, only to achieve another brilliant success, and to complete the dismay of the routed and discomfited enemy. We endeavored to trace this rumor to a source entitled to give it the sanction of authenticity, but were soon convinced that it originated more from confidence in the expectation of a collision than from any information that had reached the city from the army. There are statements to the effect that the enemy has been largely reinforced in his new position. These may or may not be so, but we think, from the best information we have, that it is not at all improbable. It is an unquestionable fact, that they have the men and the means of transportation; and it is equally undeniable that they have the determined disposition to put forward every exertion for the reduction of the Confederate capital. This feat, however, may now be regarded beyond the range of probable events. An army like ours, flushed with successive victories, with the reinforcements that may be easily brought into the field, will present an insurmountable barrier to the ‘"onward to Richmond"’ march of the young Napoleon. Indeed, it is plausible to apprehend that the Northern army will find it no mean undertaking to save their own capital within two months time. It can scarcely be expected that our Government will permit such advantages as we have gained within the past few days, through the resistless valor and intrepidity of our troops, to pass unimproved. To return to the present condition of affairs below Richmond, we can only state what we have heard, but from parties whom we believe to be entitled to the fullest credit. Up to noon yesterday there had been no engagement. A most vigilant watch was kept upon the movements of the enemy, and it was not thought that his position was such as to render an attempt at escape entirely successful. He has either to offer a manly fight to the forces confronting him, or suffer severe loss in a further retreat. If he offers fight, he will meet with certain defeat; if he attempts to retreat, he will be closely pursued by an army that will disregard every inconvenience to make our triumph complete and the rout of the enemy effectual. It was reported yesterday that Gen. Stuart, with a thousand cavalry and one piece of artillery, had forced his way into the enemy's rear, on his right, and opened fire upon a Federal transport, with good effect, putting a number of shot through her.
From the South side.[From the Petersburg Express of yesterday] The movements of the enemy about Berkeley continue to attract much attention from spectators on this side, who cannot but regard them with interest. They are busily employed down there about something, and the congregation of so many wagons, and so many vessels at that point is significant. The wagons, the tents, the steamers, the sailing craft, the tugs, the arks, etc., were all there Saturday morning, and there was much commotion among the water craft. The width of the river at Berkeley is too great to enable observers on this side to distinguish with accuracy what the enemy really are about, but still much can be seen that the enemy would no doubt like to conceal. We are indebted to a gentleman, whose position for observation is a good one, for the following note:
James River July 4, 1862.I send you an imperfect list of the transport steamers, loaded with reinforcements, which on Tuesday afternoon and night passed up the river to Berkeley and Westover, where'd presume the right wing of the enemy rests, as it is there covered by Herring Creek and the Berkeley Mill Pond. The mill is owned by a gentleman named Roland. The following large steam passenger transports were distinctly recognized: The C. Vanderbilt, South America, Commodore, City of Troy, John Tucker, John Brooke, Georgia, Louisiana, State of Maine, Gretna Green, J. A. Morgan, A. B. Arrowsmith, Metamora, Herald, Knickerbocker, John A. Wimick, Daniel Webster, George Washington, Portsmouth, Express, and Conestoga, and seventy tug boats, with transport arks and schooners, all laden with troops. But one steamer has passed down since Monday, flying the yellow flag. The Monitor and six or eight steam gunboats are seen from Westover to Berkeley, accompanied by from sixty to seventy schooner, laden, as far as can be seen, with hay, plank, and other articles, which are covered with canvas. Large quantities of canteens, letters, writing paper, lemons, boxes, etc., have washed ashore here, and are found daily along the south shores of James river. These are supposed to have been thrown away at Shirley by the panic-stricken Yankees. From the present aspect of affairs on the river, it is my opinion that McClellan has been reinforced by at least 15,000 men. The wagons and tents at and about Berkeley cover the fields as far as the eye can reach. There is no warlike firing to-day, nor was there any yesterday, save a few shells, or rather signal guns, I suppose. Some fifty guns were fired to day at Westover, as a Fourth of July salute, and the vessels all displayed the Stars and Stripes. The troops landing are believed to be Burnside's division, from the character of some of the vessels towed up by the tugs. I write on a sheet of Yankee paper, drifted from the other side.
Yours, &c.The drifting of canteens, letters, writing paper, lemons, boxes, etc., from the north side of the river, indicates thane panic must have occurred recently among McClellan's army in the vicinity of Shirley. In no other way can we account for this apparently reckless squandering of army valuables. The unusually long list of transports, too, points to something more than the carrying of supplies. The Yankee army has evidently been reinforced, but to what extent no one can say. Judging from the number of vessels, we think it safe to estimate the number at 15,000 or 20,000.