Progress of the War.the advance fighting at Suffolk — nor-combatants leaving — Arrest of Confederate citizens — Preparations of the Yankees for an Evacuation, etc.
The correspondent of the New York Herald, writing from Suffolk on the 11th instant, gives a description of the scenes at the town when the first fighting commenced. The Confederate accounts from there are so meagre that even the Yankee letter contains matter of interest. The writer says: ‘ A few minutes ago we received information that the rebels were advancing in force. It seems they proceeded slowly along until they came within one mile of our advanced pickets, when they made a charge and captured the most advanced one of all, while another party of rebel cavalry took a blind path to another road, got below our cavalry picket station, and cut off them at title last named point. A Lieutenant his among those thus taken. Our patrols and pickets below the station mare for town, and arrived at our advanced signal station just as a negro reaches here bringing information of the enemy's approach in force, Through the extraordinary promptness of the signal officer there--Lieut. Theyer--who signalized from his station the enemy were firing at him and his assistants, the news was communicated to Gen. Peck by Lieut. Tumblin, also of the signal corps, and by the use of the instruments of this corps the whole force — infantry, artillery, and cavalry — was got ready for immediate action. The attacking force, as usual, was cavalry. In an incredibly short space of time our whole force was under arms, manning the defences, and our cavalry out on the roads, on a trot march, to give the enemy the benefit of a hasty but warm reception. Gen. Feck was out, too, from his headquarters, to the execution of his orders, and thereby those who saw him as he rode here and there the ascending clouds of dust — for you must know that the mud has disappeared with the and snow. The firing commenced at about 6 P. M. The streets are alive with excitement. The people of the town are in a wild state of trepidation. Women are running here and there, from one house to another, and others are hugging their children to their breasts as if to them from harm. The enemy have attacked us on General Terry's front. A prisoner has just new been brought in. He says they left Franklin this morning; that the rebel forces crossed in several places; that they commenced their march at daylight; that General Jenkins's division is moving on in one direction and Gen. Hood's in another, and other forces in directions he knows not of. He says it is the intention of the enemy to try and get between us and Norfolk and Portsmouth, and thereby cut off our telegraphic and railroad communication and prevent us from receiving reinforcements. As I write this more prisoners are passing. They express gladness at being taken, for they anticipate something good to eat. Col. Spear has advanced with his cavalry brigade to a point one mile on the Blackwater road, which is to the right of the place where the Franklin and Petersburg railroads cross each other. The enemy is now in a straight line, about four miles from here. Col. Spear has opened with his howitzers, for the enemy is advancing skirmishers forward to the edge of the woods. A few shots have been fired from Fort Fosscrans, by order of Gen. Terry, in order to get the range and let the enemy know that we are important for an attack. The Provost Guard have been engaged in arresting all the men in town to be rank succession sts, and connecting them to jail. This is to prevent them from escaping during the night, for the purpose of carrying information to their brother secessionists. The women are greatly indignant about this proceeding, and are on the streets crying, lamenting, scolding and damning the Yankees, as best suits their degree of feeling. A large number of ladies, some of them Northern ones, are at the Franklin Railroad Depot, sitting around waiting for a train to convey them to Portsmouth, whence they will proceed to Norfolk. All the houses in town were searched during the day for fire arms and ammunition. An impression is prevailing in town that the enemy's attack on Gen. Terry's front it but a feint, to cover a surprise movement in some other direction. At half past 8 o'clock the people of the town were startled by the sound and incident to what may be formed a expiration. It was caused by the blowing up of the bridge over the Nanzement river. The explosion, though so forcible in its character, did not fully accomplished its work, and next to powder we had to resort to the one. The bridge is now a total wreck; and of the enemy ever expected to make a dash to and over it, and then get into Suffolk, he has been completely At the chief Quartermaster's office (that is, Major Dodge's, late Captain Dodge's the scene is different. Trunks are piled high up with officers' goods and "bads" to be transported forthwith to Norfolk, in case it should become a military order " At half-past 9 o'clock we had to abandon our outmost signal station, the enemy having advanced close enough to pick off our men while engaged in signalizing. This was done immediately after a portion of cavalry on the Blackwater road were heavily fired upon and driven The signal station thus abandoned is a very curious affair and an ingenious one, too. It consists of nothing more nor less than a huge true, with the top sawed off and a platform on it. The reader must know that we have what is known as the "Union City or Abraham's Calamity" here, being a settlement — extensive, too — of contrabands. The city has got to be quite a large place, ting some forty or fifty or one story In these buildings live many families of blacks. In many of them live two or three families. Just now the "nigs" are awfully scared. They appear as though halt wild, running here and there without purpose, and almost without intention, home are frantically hugging their "little black human natures" and going through all the piteous actions of feeling as though they expected--'Massa was a good but, oh, if he catches me now. Dat's what's the matter.' Many negroes living just out of town are skedaddling off towards Portsmouth "right lively, so I reckon." The town at eleven o'clock to night is in a most astonishing state of quietude for an occasion like the present. This is allowing to the fact of having the right man in the right place. Our Provost Marshal, Major Smith of the 112th New York, has done more good by firm persuasion in less than a few hours than ever was accomplished by the firing of a militia company into an impromturiotous crowd. The citizens are all quiet. Their houses are closed, though light may be seen burning brilliantly within. it is quite a treat to see these proud people — these chivalrous F. F. V. --who but a few hours age were defiant and scorning, now so terrified, humble, and suppliant. The fathers, and sons are in jail, a motley set of would be rebels, and within these wall closed houses are, indeed, "weeping, willing, and a hing of teeth." The man, in their snug little quarters in jail, are worse than the women. They are crying and stamping, and smoking and swearing, and cutting up more ridiculous capers than over graced a monkey show. ’