Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1228, p. 431.
October 31, 1863
The long-expected advance of the Confederates under Lee once more towards Washington has commenced, the Federals retreating before them without any general engagement.
On the 8th inst. General. Lee's whole army crossed the Rapidan, moving towards Madison Courthouse, to turn General Meade's right. Having massed troops at this point on Friday night and Saturday morning, the Confederates advanced in a northward direction. A Federal force, under General Kilpatrick, immediately proceeded towards Robertson River to reconnoitre, but was encountered by the Confederates under General Stuart and driven back with heavy loss towards Culpepper. The Confederates then continued their march from Madison Courthouse, and gained a position considerably in the rear of the Federal right, the result of their strategy being that the Federals evacuated Culpepper, burning everything which could not be readily removed, and that General Meade withdrew his whole line to the north bank of the Rappahannock.
It is believed that, before making his advance, Lee was rejoined by General Longstreet's corps, which had been detached to reinforce Bragg and to take part in the late battles of Chicamauga.
Several severe but partial engagements--chiefly of cavalry--occurred between the advancing Southerners and the retiring Northerners. In one of these, which took place at Bristow station on the 14th, the Federals seemed to have gained a temporary advantage, taking five guns, two colours, and 450 prisoners, and repulsing the Confederates. On the evening of the 14th Lee, having crossed the Rappahannock, attempted to flank Meade by way of Chantilly, and get in his rear through Fairfax Courthouse. To avoid this the Federal General had to fall back still further--to Fairfax. On the night of the 15th the Federals were in line of battle at Centreville, and the Confederates occupied the old battle-field of Bull Run. All the passes and gaps were held by Confederate troops. A corps of the Southern army, under Hill, had been moved from Meade's front in the direction of Leesburg, and a Federal reconnaissance was sent to that quarter, but no general action had occurred. The following is the latest despatch from New York on the evening of the 17th:--"It is officially announced that General Lee has not crossed the Potomac. There is no further news from Virginia."
The news from Chattanooga is scarcely less important.
From the opposing armies of Rosecranz [i.e., Rosecrans] and Bragg come reports of harassing movements by the Confederate cavalry. General Bragg had withdrawn his artillery from Lookout Mountain, which, however, he still held, and concentrated it upon Missionary Ridge, some two miles distant, but equally near to Chattanooga. His cavalry is still operating on Nashville, Chattanooga, and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, to prevent reinforcements or supplies reaching Rosecranz. It is reported that no western reinforcements have yet reached Chattanooga. The Confederates are intrenching themselves in force on Burnside's left, and Bragg has thrown a force across the Kiawashee River upon Burnside's right, compelling him to fall hack to beyond Athens, which the Confederates occupy, thus isolating Burnside from Rosecranz. It is, however, also stated that General Burnside has been successful in a sharp action with a considerable body of Confederates at Blue Spring.
The Times' correspondent says:--"It is believed to be the plan of the Confederates to keep a powerful army in front of Chattanooga, and, without making any general assault upon General Rosecranz, continue to harass him with their artillery in front, while strong detachments of cavalry are thrown in his rear to break up his communications, which will ultimately compel him to capitulate or retreat upon Knoxville and Nashville."
During the last week a train of upwards of 300 waggons, containing ammunition and supplies for the Federals, was destroyed near Anderson, in Alabama. The teamsters were made prisoners, and the mules either driven off or shot.
Railroads and telegraph-lines are continually interrupted at different points between Chattanooga and Nashville.
It was affirmed that on the 11th inst. all was ready for a general attack on the defences of Charleston; but at the date of the latest telegrams none was known to have been made, and it was even said that Charleston Harbour was "effectually closed against the entrance of the ironclads."
On the 6th inst. a torpedo, attached to a raft, was floated down from Charleston, and exploded under the Ironsides. A great quantity of water was thrown into the vessel, and Ensign Howard was killed and two seamen wounded. According to one account the Ironsides was so badly injured that she would probably have to be sent to the North for repairs.
Two "devils," for removing the harbour obstructions, had arrived from the North.
In Kansas, Missouri, and along the Mississippi, fighting is reported with varying results.
The repulse of the Federals above Port Hudson is confirmed. They lost 480 prisoners. General Dana has since advanced against the Confederates, who retreated.
Shelby's guerrillas have been defeated in Missouri, losing all their artillery, baggage, and numerous prisoners.
The steamer Sir Robert Peel (a blockade runner) was captured on the 11th of September; near the mouth of the Rio Grande, by the Federal cruiser Seminole. The Captain has protested against the seizure, on the plea that she was in Mexican waters at the time of her capture.
The steam-transport Union captured the English blockade-running steamer Spaulding, on the 11th, with a valuable cargo from Nassau. The captured vessel had a crew of twenty-five men and four Confederate Colonels on board, all prisoners.
A large steamer, deeply laden with cotton, had run the Wilmington blockade on the night of the 29th ult. A Confederate privateer was receiving her armament there, and would soon run out.
President Lincoln has, it is stated, called for 300,000 volunteers.
There has been a draught riot in New Hampshire.
Admiral Milne left New York in the flag-ship Nile, on the 14th inst., for Halifax.
Earl Russell's Blairgowrie speech has been favourably received in the North. The press attributes his confirmation of England's neutrality to the great display of Federal resources.
The elections in Pennsylvania and Ohio had resulted in a victory of the Republican party--Mr. Curtin, the Republican candidate, having been elected Governor of Pennsylvania, while Mr. Vallandigham was defeated in Ohio by a majority of more than 100,000 votes.
The Federal General Santon has placed a lien upon the North Carolina cotton crop, until all the claims of the plantation labourers are paid.
Secretary Chase, who was making a tour in the Western States, had not confined himself, in his public speeches, to a vindication of his financial measures. In one of his addresses he declared that "the English aristocracy and French despotism would like to see the Union destroyed," and that a foreign intervention was prevented only by the great display of Federal strength. "He foresaw," he said, "a grand future of power for America; and the time would arrive when England would regret her friendship with America's enemies. He felt certain that England, after calm reflection, would conclude that it was best to pay the American merchants for the damage done by the Alabama." As for a Mexican empire, he did not believe that it could endure.
The New York Times speaks with satisfaction of the fact that the Federal Government has entered the third year of the war with "only" twelve hundred million dollars of debt.
The naval contractors in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Portsmouth have received orders to prepare for the construction of twelve fast steam-corvettes of over 200 tons burden, each carrying fifteen or twenty guns, and built with a view to great speed.
Another Russian vessel has arrived at New York, and more were expected. The English and French Admirals had visited the public institutions in New York, the Russian officers absenting themselves on the occasion.
A volunteer rifle brigade has just been organised in New Jersey, United States. The men are armed with the Springfield rifle, and are instructed in the Hythe system of musketry. It is said that a detachment proposes to enter the lists at the next Wimbledon meeting against one of the London regiments.
President Davis is making a tour of inspection in the South. The British Consul at Savannah has been calling the Governor of Georgia to account for the enlistment of British subjects. This has given rise to another demand for the expulsion of all the present British Consuls in the South, on the ground that they are accredited to President Lincoln. The Richmond Despatch is irate at the detention of the steam-rams at Liverpool, and declares that, "if England would stop the Irish emigration, the war would end in three months."