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.
Dear Sir:
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.

Arrival of more prisoners.

On Saturday forenoon, a guard of Capt. Winfield's Sussex cavalry arrived with a batch of five Yankee prisoners, taken near Hood's, in Prince George county. They were immediately conducted to headquarters at the Custom-House, and from thence to Petersburg Jail, where they are now confined. They give the following as their names:

Benj. Luche, 1st Excelsior, Sickle's brigade.

Samuel Hammond, 69th Penn.

Wm. Rowland, 71st Penn.

Wm. Carlisle, 106th Penn.

Samuel C. Snyder, 100th Penn.

These prisoner state that in company well going 45 or 52 others, they had seized upon small boats and fled across the river. They express themselves as literally disgusted with the war, and signified

their willingness to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederate Government. They state that thousands would cross the river could they find means of transportation, but the boats are not to be had. They know that McClellan's losses have been heavy in killed and wounded. They say too, that disease deal! terribly with the army, and reduced their ranks fearfully, before the casualties of battle helped to swell the number of ineffective. The member of Gen. Sickles's Brigade states that but a few months since this command numbered five thousand men, the very pick and choice of New York, but he is now satisfied, that upon call of the roll, not one thousand would answer to their names. These men say, that McClellan has been reinforced at Berkeley, and that the transports seen there brought troops from Shield's division, who have been heretofore actively engaged in the Virginia Valley.

Later in the day, Saturday, two other prisoners reached here from Prince George county, who gave their names as follows; G. L. Curtis, 5th Vermont; B. C. Basbauld, 49th New York. These men tell the same story about great dissatisfaction in the Yankee army, and a great disposition to desert, if the men could get off. They knew that McClellan has been reinforced, and that he has no idea of surrendering. He declares it is his intention ‘"to fight on, fight ever. "’

Heavy firing Saturday.

A gentleman of the highest respectability, and widely known in Petersburg, left Shirley Saturday morning at 8 o'clock, and reached here during the forenoon. He says he was aroused at early dawn Saturday by heavy cannonading, the sound appearing to be about six miles distant, in a northeasterly direction. He could hear occasional volleys of musketry, but they were very indistinct. The discharges of cannon were incessant, and could be heard distinctly by our informant. They commenced at day dawn, continued without intermission up to the hour our informant left, and were heard by him some time after he reached Bermuda Hundred, on this side of the river, and was far advanced on his route to Petersburg. Upon the reception of this information here, the impression prevailed that a heavy battle was raging, but up to the hour of the present waiting we have been unable to hear anything from it by way of Richmond. Its results would be likely to reach Richmond first, as the constant passage of gunboats up and down James river renders crossing exceedingly dangerous.

The gentleman above referred to states, that the Confederate pickets entered Shirley Saturday morning, and the place is now within our lines. We captured over 100 of the enemy, who had been left at Shirley very badly wounded. Could a small force of Confederates have visited Shirley on Wednesday we would have secured five or six thousand of the vandals, who would probably have surrendered without resistance, as they were much discomfited and disorganized.

Hill Carter, Esq., the proprietor of the beautiful Shirley estate, has suffered greatly from this visit of the invaders. The first night they got there they killed one hundred of his hogs, seized all his sheep, and stole every cow, calf, and steer on the place.--The fences were all burned and the half famished creatures devoured their stolen cattle in an almost entirely raw state. Other persons in the vicinity suffered in a similar manner. Several defunct Yankees were buried on Mr. Carter's place, and from the condition of several of the wounded now there, it is thought that many more will find-their last resting-place at Shirley.

Persons who went down to a point opposite Berkeley, Saturday, and returned on the evening of that day, report that many of the vessels which had been lying there for two or three days, were departing. Many of the wagons there were also thought to be leaving, and other movements of the enemy indicated a change of affairs at this rendezvous.

Latest.--We made repeated inquiries yesterday and last evening, from everybody likely to know, but could get no information explanatory of the heavy firing heard in the direction of Shirley Saturday morning. Several persons residing in the vicinity of the river, report heavy firing heard again yesterday, but whether from contending forces or the enemy's gunboats, we have been unable to learn.

Four more prisoners were brought in yesterday, and consigned to the Petersburg jail. Alexander Jackson and Wm. Suther were brought in during the forenoon. They are from McClellan's command, but we could not learn the name of the company or regiment to which they were attached. Richard Becket and James Sayer, of Company K, First Ohio Artillery, were brought in yesterday afternoon. These men state that they left McClellan's Army Saturday night. They say his headquarters are at Westover, and that he still has an effective force at Berkeley, is in a strong position, and anxious to fight. His force is represented to be now 80,000 or more men, he having been reinforced by Shield's Division. The greater portion of Burnside's forces are said to have been in the fight of the early part of the past week.

Our scouts in late last evening from the section of country opposite Berkeley, report hundreds of vessels in the river in that vicinity, including every description of craft. As one expressed it, ‘"there is a perfect bridge of vessels for two miles."’ Balloons were sent up Saturday and yesterday, which were plainly seen on this side of the river, and the country for miles around is dotted with tents. Hundreds and hundreds of wagons are still to be seen, although many are known to have retired from the locality which they occupied during last week.

It is now known that the retreating army have made a half at Berkeley, where, flanked by Herring Creek, Berkeley Mill Pond, and with the river and his gunboats in the rear, McClellan will make a stand.

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