Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1211, p. 2.
JULY 4, 1863
The rumours which had for some time been current that General Lee's army was about to act on the offensive were, it turns out, well founded. The Confederate General has advanced with great rapidity northwards, pushing a portion of his troops, consisting of cavalry and mounted infantry, far forward, so as actually to enter the State of Pennsylvania. General Lee's advance commenced on Saturday, the 13th ult., and the total force with which he is making his combinations is estimated to be but a little short of 100,000 men, of whom 30,000 are said to be cavalry. They were divided into three bodies, and seem to have made but slight work of the opposition that was offered to their advance. At Winchester, General Milroy attempted to arrest their progress, but the outworks which he had constructed were stormed, and, after spiking his guns, he retired upon Harper's Ferry. An attempt was made to cut off his retreat, but this he seems to have surmounted with a loss of 2000 men, and eventually made good his way to Harper's Ferry, to which point the Federals at Martinsburg and Berryville also made their way in retreat. At one time Harper's Ferry was abandoned, but the Federals have resumed possession of it. All this was on the Saturday and Sunday, and on Monday morning the Confederates had crossed the Potomac, and were at Hagerstown, in Maryland, with a large force, of which it was said 15,000 were cavalry, divided into three columns of 5000 men each. On the Tuesday they advanced to Greencastle, and then to Chambersburg, in Pennsylvania, where, according to one report, a force of 2000 Confederates rested at twelve o'clock that night. The Nova Scotian brings a few hours' later news to the evening of June 20, to the effect that the Confederates had advanced to Centreville and defeated the Federals there. Longstreet was threatening Leesburg, and Hill was at Dumfries. On Thursday night, the 18th, the Confederates transported their stores across the Potomac to Hagerstown, and it was said that they intended to make it their head-quarters for raids into Pennsylvania. One important rumour is mentioned in the news brought by the Nova Scotian. It is that the Unionists in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina had raised a powerful force to hold that region against the Confederates.
At Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, distant but fifty miles from Chambersburg, there was naturally consternation, and the State archives and all public property of value were removed. The Governor issued his call for troops for State defence, and the President united in this by summoning 100,000 men to be mustered into the military service of the United States to serve for six months. Of these, 50,000 are called for from Pennsylvania, 30,000 from Ohio, and 10,000 from Maryland and West Virginia respectively. The volunteering for a short period has been generally warmly supported, but in Pennsylvania it has been necessary to assure the men that they were only called up to resist invasion. New York has raised fourteen regiments in four days for service in Pennsylvania, and Harrisburg and Pittsburg [sic] have both been strongly fortified.
Hooker meanwhile has abandoned his position opposite Fredericksburg, and is moving on a line parallel with that Lee has taken northwards. His base at Acquia Creek is also abandoned, and his supplies have been removed to Alexandria, his new base. At Warrenton, about the same distance from Washington as Fredericksburg, a little west of north of the latter place, he has his headquarters. Lee is supposed to be at Front Royal, twenty-five miles north-west of Warrenton.
It is a moment as critical as any in the war. As to Lee's plans nothing, of course, is known--whether he will turn towards Western Pennsylvania, supposing he eludes Hooker's main forces, or whether he will direct his way eastward towards Baltimore or Philadelphia. Hooker divined the intention of his adversary to make this advance, and had for some time held his forces in instant readiness to follow. The Government, too, made such preparation as they could by creating two military departments for East and West Pennsylvania and appointing officers of high rank to command.
On the Yorktown peninsula there are signs of Federal activity, as we learn from Richmond accounts. The Federal gunboats have pushed up the Chickahominy, within fifty miles of Richmond, and a considerable force is co-operating with them. General Keyes's command, which has for some time been posted at West Point, has lately advanced to New Kent Courthouse, about forty miles from the Virginian capital, and, in face of these demonstrations, the Confederates have retired behind the Chickahominy. It is said that Richmond is very strongly defended and fully garrisoned.
From Vicksburg we have news to the 18th ult., at which time affairs were, according to Northern accounts, favourable to General Grant. The Federals had pushed their approach within twenty yards of the bastion, whilst Pemberton is said to receive reinforcements and supplies, during the night, from the other side of the Mississippi. The Federals yet hold possession of Black River Bridge, and their opponents are declared to be at least thirty miles from the rear of Grant. One despatch stations a body of Confederates, to the number of 5000, at Jackson; another of 5000 at Yazoo City; and a third of 15,000 at Canton. The Richmond papers state that General Johnstone had cut his way through Grant's army, and that the siege would in consequence be raised. This report, however, was not credited. The besieged appear to be reduced to short rations.
In Tennessee there are said to be signs of Confederate movement. Contrary to the general opinion, Bragg has been reinforced, whence is not stated, but he is believed to be about joining with Buckner to invade Kentucky.
The Indiana enrolment excitement continues. A general disinclination to submit to the draught is apparent all over the country.
A military board has been appointed to settle this claims of Generals Butler, Fremont, M'Clellan, Banks, and Dix for military precedence of rank.
President Lincoln had sent a reply to the committee who forwarded him the resolutions passed at the Albany Vallandigham meeting. The President says that the ordinary law courts are inadequate to the emergency. He continues:--" Military arrests and the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act are constitutional wherever public safety demands it. Mr. Vallandigham was arrested by the military because he was warring against the military, by labouring to prevent the raising of troops and encouraging desertion." President Lincoln states that he does not know whether, in his own discretion, he would have arrested Mr. Vallandigham, but he thinks commanders in the field better judges of particular cases. He will discharge Mr. Vallandigham as soon as he can by any means believe that public safety will not suffer by it.
There are now about 30,000 coloured troops in the Federal army and 5000 coloured men in the Federal navy.
The New York Herald says:--"Since July, 1862, 57 steamers and 91 sailing-vessels left Nassau for the rebel ports. Fifty-one of the former and 45 of the latter landed their cargoes, affording immense aid to the rebels and realising vast sums for the speculators. Forty-four steamers and 45 sailing-vessels reached Nassau from the Confederacy during the same period."
The privateer Clarence, the tender of the Florida, has captured seven brigs and schooners off Virginia Cape. The captain of the Clarence transferred his guns to the barque Saxony, which he had captured, and burned the Clarence. Twenty-five Federal vessels have left Northern ports to capture the Saxony and the Coquette. The privateer Japan has captured the ship Dictator.