Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1213, p. 58.
July 18, 1863
An engagement extending over several days has been fought in Pennsylvania between the picked armies of the rival federations. According to accounts previously received the Confederate Commander-in-Chief was reported to be massing his troops on the line of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, between Chambersburg and Carlisle, and at the same time the Northern army, under the leadership of its newly-appointed chief, General Meade (General Hooker having resigned), was known to be advancing by way of Frederick and Middleburg towards the Pennsylvanian frontier. From this intelligence it was apparent that the meeting between the two armies could not be far distant, and that it would probably take place on the confines of Pennsylvania. Such has proved to be the case. The divisions forming the advanced columns of the Federal army were met by a subdivision of the Confederate army on the morning of Wednesday, the 1st of July, on the western side of the small town of Gettysburg. An engagement followed, which resulted in the defeat of the Federal troops. So far as we can gather from the telegraphic summary but two divisions of the Northern army were engaged--one commanded by Reynolds and the other by Howard. The former, having taken up a position on a wooded ridge to the west of Gettysburg, was, whilst thus placed, attacked by the Confederates. The Federal troops were in the first instance successful. But after a short time fortune changed sides. The right wing of the Federals was turned, and when, after two hours' fighting, Howard came to the aid of Reynolds, he found it impossible to regain the position on the right which had been taken by the Confederates. He, however, brought his troops to the front, when General Ewell came up with a force of 25,000 men, and succeeded in placing the Federals under a cross fire. Both flanks were then turned, and the Federal troops retired through Gettysburg after having sustained considerable loss. The Confederates took possession of the town, and so terminated the engagement of the 1st of July. It was, however, but the prelude to a far more terrible one on the succeeding day. It is described as having been one of the bloodiest battles of the war, and, even judging from the meagre details which have reached us, we can readily believe in the justice of the description.
On the morning of the 2nd the main body of the Federal army, under Meade, joined the divisions which, after the battle of the preceding day, had taken up a position to the south of Gettysburg. In the course of the forenoon of that day Meade arranged his troops far the battle which he knew to be imminent. His right wing rested on a cemetery to the south of the town, and was composed of the first and eleventh corps of his army. The left wing, which was commanded by Sickles, rested on the crest of a hill, and the battle front of the army had a north-western aspect. In the afternoon General Sickles made a reconnoissance in force, which brought his troops into collision with the Confederates, and shortly afterwards the engagement became general. The Southern forces rushed to the attack with their usual impetuosity. On the right the Federals were obliged to retire, but it was only for a time. They rallied and recovered their previous position. On the left the Confederates drove their opponents over the crest of the hill on which they were placed, and down the opposite side. But the left wing of the Federal army, like the right, again succeeded in regaining its previous position. When the sun set the battle-field was covered with slain; but the relative positions of the two armies remained unaltered. In the course of the night the Confederates renewed the engagement, but with little result. At eight o'clock on the evening of the 3rd the Federal General reported that the Confederates had opened a heavy fire against his left and centre, which they maintained for three hours without intermission; and that subsequently they had twice assaulted the Federal position, but with ill success. No later intelligence had been received in New York when the mail left.
The New York Tribune gives some particulars of Major-General G. S. Meade, promoted to the chief command of the army of the Potomac, in room of General Hooker, who was relieved from the command at his own request, being "impressed with the belief that his usefulness as a commander was impaired":--
"General Meade was born in Spain in 1816[i.e., Dec 31, 1815]; entered the Military Academy at West Point from the district of Columbia, and was graduated there in 1839[i.e., 1835], and appointed second Lieutenant in the 3rd Artillery; resigned his commission, October 26, 1836; was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Topographical Engineers, May 19, 1842; was breveted First Lieutenant for gallantry at Monterey, in 1846; became First Lieutenant in August, 1851; Captain, May 19, 1856; and Brigadier-General of Volunteers, August 31, 1861. In June, 1862, he was promoted to a majority in the Engineer Corps, which rank he still holds in the newly-organised Engineer Corps of the regular army. Few officers have performed more arduous duties or rendered more distinguished and faithful service to the country since the commencement of the war. In the seven days' fight before Richmond General Meade was struck by a ball, which entered his side and passed through his body, making a severe and painful wound. Under tender and skilful treatment he rapidly recovered, and it was scarcely known that he had left his couch when he was in his saddle, ready to take part in the sanguinary battle of South Mountain and Antietam. In these engagements he commanded the Pennsylvania Reserves--a corps whose reputation for courage and discipline has been surpassed by none. He was with that corps in the battles at Drainsville, on the Chickahominy, and in Maryland. When General Hooker was wounded at Antietam General M'Clellan placed General Meade in command of the corps which had just been deprived of its heroic leader. During the action General Meade received a slight contusion from a spent grapeshot, and had two horses killed under him. He distinguished himself greatly during the battle, being in the thickest of the fight, encouraging his men by his deeds of daring and valour. At Fredericksburg he maintained his reputation for coolness, courage, and skill, winning the unstinted applause of the army and the hearty congratulations of a grateful and appreciative people."
General French has abandoned Maryland Heights, destroying all the fortifications, and has moved to co-operate with General Meade. The city of Carlisle, a few miles from Harrisburg, had been shelled by a small Confederate force. Business in Philadelphia is entirely suspended, and the Pennsylvanian collieries are closed. General Dana has issued a proclamation stating that the Confederate strategy was sufficiently understood to make it certain that Philadelphia was their object, and urging the people to arm for defence. The Mayor of Philadelphia has called upon the people no longer to close their eyes to the startling danger and disgrace hanging over the State and city. The defences of Baltimore are manned by 10,000 citizens, and all arms have been taken from private persons. Martial law has been proclaimed in Baltimore and Western Maryland. The Governor of New Jersey has again called out the militia to go to the aid of Pennsylvania.
The War Department issued an order on the 28th ult., offering a bounty of 400 dollars, and one month's pay of thirteen dollars in advance, to all the volunteers between the ages of eighteen and forty-five whose term of service has expired or is about to expire, and who will re-enlist for three years or the war.
The bridge across the Susquehannah at Columbia, burnt by the Federals to prevent the Confederate advance, is said to have cost 1,000,000 dollars.
General Dix, who had assumed the command of the Federal army on the peninsula, had taken possession of White House and sent out a cavalry force. This force had cut the railway bridge over the South Anna, and had penetrated to within nine miles of Richmond. They captured several prisoners, including General Fitzhugh Lee, who was lying ill at a private house.
In Kentucky and Ohio much alarm existed in consequence of the advance of Generals Pegram and Marshall, with 15,000 men, through Cumberland Gap.
In Tennessee General Rosencranz [i.e., Rosecrauns] had commenced a forward movement, and had driven the Confederates to Tullahoma. Bragg's forces had retreated in a demoralised condition from Tullahoma to Winchester, leaving behind them a large quantity of provisions and some guns.
The news from the Mississippi is of a doubtful character. The defenders of Vicksburg are said to be showing great activity, and General Johnston had advanced to within a short distance of Grant's army. Johnston is said to have received reinforcements from Bragg, and to be perfecting arrangements to attack General Grant. The bombardment of Port Hudson continues. The place, however, was considered impregnable; and it was believed that the siege would have to be raised. The Confederate Generals Marmaduke, Price, and Kirby Smith have got possession of several points along the banks of the Mississippi, and would probably attempt to seize Milliken's Bend and obstruct the navigation. The Confederates were very active in the neighbourhood of New Orleans, which was evidently in jeopardy. In Louisiana the Confederates were gradually reoccupying the places taken not long since by the Federals.
President Davis has called upon the Confederates for troops for home defences, to replace Lee's invading army.
The story of the Tacony and her crew is one of romance. Lieutenant Read was detailed early in May from the Confederate steamer Florida, formerly the Oreto, one of the Liverpool built war-steamers, to take command of the brig Tacony, with an armament of one howitzer and a crew of about twenty-five men. Sailing close along the northern coast, he captured and burnt vessel after vessel, many of them of value. He lured them sometimes to approach him by a signal of distress. The ravage he committed was great, and a fleet of war-vessels was in pursuit of him. At length he captured a schooner, which he thought would better answer his purpose, and, transferring his armament to her, burned the Tacony. Thus he hoped longer to elude his pursuers. But a still bolder project occurred to him, the seizure of a revenue cutter, the Caleb Cushing, which lay in the harbour of Portland, Maine. He accomplished this owing to a favouring accident on the night of the 26th ult., and put to sea. The loss of the Cushing being discovered the following morning, the citizens hastily manned two steamers, started in pursuit, and succeeded in overtaking her. After a few shots had been exchanged Lieutenant Read set fire to the Cushing and returned to the Archer, which was afterwards captured by the steamers. All the ransom bonds of prizes released by the Tacony were found on board.