previous next

From Petersburg
explosion of one of Grant's mines.

repulse of the enemy-large captures of prisoners, colors &c.

The Breach retaken!

[from our own Correspondent.]
Petersburg, Va., July 29, 1864.
The whole of the spring and two thirds of the summer have past and neither Petersburg nor Richmond have fallen yet.--Grant, as you know, still maintains a show of force along our entire front at this place, but it is very evident that the bulk of his force is elsewhere. A part of it has gone to the Valley and to Washington to confront Early. Another part is on the other side of the Appomattox, in front of Bermuda Hundred, and still another has crossed to the north side of the James. It is impossible to say where the hard fighting of the next three months will occur, but front the stupendous breastworks which both sides have constructed it is hardly possible that there will be any more serious fighting just here, nor am I much inclined to the belief that there will be any very severe campaigning on the north side of the river.

The valley of the Shenandoah and the plains of Manassas, so often baptized in blood, and so fruitful of victory to the Southern arms, are more apt to witness the close of this year's strife ere yet the "seer and yellow leaves" shall tinge the hues of autumn. Grant's campaign for Richmond, by the confession of the Yankee newspapers and by the knowledge of Lee's veterans, is a grand failure; but let none lay the unction to their hearts that the fighting is over.--Grant is a believer in Lincoln, and that Great Tycoon of Yankeedom long since announced his determination to keep "pegging away" at the rebellion until it should be crushed. Like master, like man.

Since Mr. Trenholm's installation into office the quartermasters have been provided with funds, and the troops paid up to the first of May. This has beer a perfect godsend to the mulatto wenches who vend ice cream and pies.

Considerable complaint exists now throughout the army in regard to the corn meal which is on issue. It is mostly unbolted, and in some instances musty. Somebody is at fault, and whoever he is he should be made to do better. Corn is too plentiful to give soldiers unbolted musty meal.

Much to the joy of the troops, some of Early's beef cattle arrived to-day, and will be issued to-morrow. It is said to be excellent beef, and many will no doubt sing "Maryland, my Maryland," while eating it.

For three or four days there has been little or no shelling of the city, and very little of active hostilities along the lines. To-day reconnaissances lead to the impression that Grant is holding the front here with a very slim force, and is merely "mixing pretence, " whilst a heavy movement is on foot against the north side or some other point.

There is a profound quiet at this writing on this front, and the heat and dust are both intolerable. The troops in the trenches have many improvised comforts which persons at distance little dream of — though, of course, soldiering is not the most pleasant business in the world, even under the most favorable circumstances. X.

Petersburg, Va., July 30, 1864.
At length there is an and to the lull in the battle storm hereabouts, and Grant, tired of the indiscriminate slaughter that has attended his efforts to destroy Gen. Lee's army by assaulting its breastworks, having some time since betaken himself to sapping and mining, to-day sprung a mine near the centre of our lines, in Bushred Johnson's front, on the Boxter road, about one and a half miles below town. Our officers were not taken altogether by surprise, and yet the men on whose line the explosion occurred were considerably demoralized. As early as 2 o'clock this morning Gen. Lee sent word around his lines that the enemy were making demonstrations along the lines in front of Bermuda Hundred, but that it was by no means unlikely-that the real attack might be made somewhere else. In obedience to this suggestion everything in the department of the Army of Northern Virginia was on the qui vive.

About five o'clock this morning the mine was sprung on the Baxter road. The explosion caused a loud, deep noise, and the fragments of earth were at once flying in every direction, making a rent in the lines of some thirty or forty yards, just at one of these, to us, fatd sattents. This sudden explosion scattered the guns (four pieces of Pegram's battery, Branch's battalion, of this city,) in every direction, and tore lifeless and limbless some of its gunners, and buried others in the earth, along with many of us supports, the poor fellows of Evans's S. C. brigade, commanded by temporary Brigadier-General Elliott, who, I regret to say, received a wound in the melee which is reported to be a mortal one.

No sooner had the explosion occurred and the fragments reached the earth than Burnsides minions--"black spirits and gray"--bounded forward with a hellish yell, pressing back our astonished; and, for a while, discomfited troops, gaining, possession of the salient, the four guns, and a number of prisoners. The enemy now held some two hundred yards of our lines, and could be distinctly seen hurrying up troops from the rear and forming their lines with the view of pushing forward and pressing their advantage. A crisis was now undoubtedly upon us. A brief space and we might be undone. General Mahone was at once apprised of the disaster by Lieutenant General Hill, who, fortunately, was on the spot.--General M. was directed by General H. to bring his own and Wright's brigade to the scene of the disaster, and to endeavor, it possible, to regain the lost works and to retrieve the disasters of the day. With lightning speed the Virginians and Georgians, moving by the left flank, came to the rescue, under the lead of their gallant commander, who, be it known, was utterly unacquainted with the configuration of the lines or the nature of the ground. Barely had Gen. M. placed his old brigade in position when the Yankee hordes, with a fresh yell, bounded for ward. Mahone's men, like Putnam's at Bunker Hill, reserved their fire until they saw the whites of their adversary's eyes — not a difficult matter since many of the combatants were contraband of sooty hue. At the word fire the Yankees would stagger and begin to fire back. The order to charge is given, and the men dash forward and the Yankees give back in their sui generis rabid style into and beyond the line of breastworks. Our men pursuing, mount the breastworks, and bestow upon the enemy a plunging fire, which tells with great success upon their ranks. Besides driving the enemy back, Mahone's men captured and brought off ten colors, forty officers, including Col. White, 31st Maine, and Col. Wills, 56th Massachusetts, and four hundred and six prisoners, including twenty negroes. In this charge Col. Weisiger, commanding Mahone's old brigade, was wounded whilst leading his brigade with conspicuous gallantry. The conduct of Capt. J. B. Girardey, A. A. G. to Gen. Mahone, on this as on a dozen other battle fields of the war, gave unmistakable evidence of cool courage and self possession and the highest qualities of the skillful officer.

But the work was not ended yet — only a

portion of the lines had been retaken; the salient and the rent produced by the explosion still remained in possession of the enmy. Wright's Georgia brigade was formed and moved forward, but from some failure or misapprehension of orders, as in alleged, failed to retake the remainder of the works. This ended the fighting, save skirmishing, and a heavy fire of grape and shrapnel, which the enemy poured into our lines.--Even this ceased about 9 o'clock, and from then until 2 o'clock there was profound quiet. About this time General Mahone, having ordered up Sanders's Alabama brigade, sent it forward to recapture the rest of the works. Led by their gallant Brigadier, they moved forward in splendid style, making one of the grandest charges of the war and recapturing every vestige of our lost ground and our lost guns, and capturing thirty five commissioned officers, including Brigadier General Bartlette, commanding first brigade, first division, ninth corps; three hundred and twenty-four white and one hundred and fifty negro privates, and two stands of colors.

The enemy made but slight resistance to this charge, whilst our men swept everything before them, even as the stream that feeds the cataract bears irresistibly forward everything on its bosom.

The Yankee negroes and their white coadjutors came forward, exultant with pride and hope, mainly produced by strong potations of whiskey, crying "No quarter! Remember Fort Pillow!"

‘ "But Linden saw another sight,
When the drum beat at dead of night,
Commanding fires of death to light
The darkness of her scenery."

The rifle pits, and the ground in front of the battle field bore testimony to the efficiency of our fire, and the many ghastly forms of negroes and whites, in death laid low, showed how the cry of "Remember Fort Pillow!" was responded to by our Spartan braves.

The rent made in the earth by the explosion is one of the most ghastly, unsightly objects I have ever witnessed. The ground is torn as if by an earthquake, and great boulders of earth are scattered here and there, with ever and anon the mangled form of some lifeless Confederate protruded beyond.

Among the brave in battle slain are the gallant Colonel Evans, 64th Georgia, and Captain Rush, commanding 22d Georgia regiment. Lieutenant-Colonel Williamson, 4th Virginia, had his arm resected, and Major Woodhouse was severely wounded.--Captain Broadbout, commanding sharpshooters, Mahone's brigade, and Captain McCrea, commanding 3d Georgia, were also wounded.

The following is a list of the battle flags captured: Four large United States flags; one battle tattered flag belonging to 11th N. H. V., and inscribed "Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Jackson;" another marked.--regiment infantry; another belonging to 57th Massachusetts; another belonging to 31st regiment infantry; 58th Massachusetts regiment, flag staff broken; 20th regiment Michigan infantry; one guidon and one regimental flag. And finally, but by no means least, a very handsome flag belonging to 28th regiment colored infantry. Among our captures are to be mentioned about two thousand stand of small arms.

The loss of the enemy at the lowest calculation is at least three thousand five hundred, whilst ours cannot be over eight hundred. Mahone's division lost about four hundred in all.

The enemy's prisoners say they have been mining for over three weeks. This mine of the enemy was about twenty-five feet below the surface of the earth.

The prisoners all say that they have other mines, which they will spring in a few days.

Whilst the contest was going on in Johnson's front, the enemy made a demonstration in front of Harris's Mississippi brigade, demanding its surrender, inasmuch as they had broken our lines at another point and were carrying everything before them.--General H. replied that he would never surrender the works, but if the enemy wanted the works they might come and take them, provided they could.

Among the anecdotes of the day it is related of a Capt. Richards of Pennsylvania, that finding himself about to be taken he threw himself in a suppliant attitude, and cried. "Take my watch, my coat and purse, but for God's sake save my life!"

Sunday, 31st.
All quiet to-day. Our wounded are being cared for, and the dead of both sides in our lines are being buried.

Still they come. Saunders has just sent in another battle-flag, thrown away by the enemy yesterday, and picked up by General S's men this morning.

General Saunders reports that he has buried in the mine alone fifty four negroes and seventy- eight Yankees, exclusive of men buried in trenches. X.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Mahone (16)
Grant (7)
Gen Lee (5)
Wright (4)
Bushred Johnson (4)
Evans (4)
Woodhouse (2)
Wills (2)
Williamson (2)
White (2)
Weisiger (2)
Saunders (2)
Sanders (2)
Rush (2)
Richards (2)
Putnam (2)
R. G. Pegram (2)
McCrea (2)
Linden (2)
Jackson (2)
A. P. Hill (2)
Harris (2)
J. B. Girardey (2)
Elliott (2)
Early (2)
Burnsides (2)
Broadbout (2)
James R. Branch (2)
Bartlette (2)
Trenholm (1)
Lincoln (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 30th, 1864 AD (2)
January, 5 AD (1)
July 29th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: