Foreign and Colonial NewsThe Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1264, p. 582.
June 18, 1864
The scene of conflict in Virginia has been shifted to a point much nearer Richmond. General Grant, finding General Lee's position between the North and South Anna Rivers too formidable for assault, recrossed the North Anna on the night of Thursday, the 26th ult., and, turning his face south-eastward, marched his columns along the eastern bank of the Pamunkey River--formed by the junction of the Anna Rivers--until he reached a point opposite Hanover Town, which is said to be about twelve miles north of Richmond. On the following morning, Friday, the 27th, the two divisions of Sheridan's cavalry had crossed the river and occupied Hanover Town; and on Sunday, the 29th, the whole of Grant's army had established itself upon a line three miles south of the Pamunkey. It must also be observed that Grant has established a new dépôt for his supplies immediately in his rear. The Pamunkey flows south-eastward, and ultimately falls into the York River at West Point. From West Point there is a railway along the north bank of the Pamunkey, which again joins that river about half way to Richmond. This is White House. It was M'Clellan's dépôt during his campaign two years ago; it is now General Grant's dépôt. It is directly in Grant's rear, and therefore is not liable to be attacked; it may be reached by railway as well as by water, and therefore can readily be furnished with supplies. Lee, on discovering Grant's movement, rapidly manœuvred his forces, and took up a position north of the Chickahominy, fronting the Federal forces, and completely covering Richmond. During these manœuvres some fighting took place, in which the Federals, as usual, claim the advantage. Smith has reinforced Grant with his army corps; and Breckenridge, fresh from the defeat of Siegel, has joined Lee, and has command of the Confederate left. By the arrival of the City of Baltimore and the Peruvian we have news from America to the evening of June 4. Up to that date no general action had taken place, but the Federals were gradually closing in upon the Confederate intrenchments north of the Chickahominy. Some rumours were afloat; but the only reliable piece of news is contained in a despatch from General Grant dated June 3, in which he claims to have made an attack on the Confederate line and to have driven its defenders within their intrenchments, capturing 300 prisoners. The Federal loss is admitted to have reached 3000 in killed and wounded.
The New York World thus describes the topography of the country likely to be the scene of the next battle between Grant and Lee:--
Both armies are now in Hanover county, with the North Anna on the north and the Chickahominy on the south. Lee's army, as is announced in official despatches from General Grant, is on the Mechanicsville-road, south of the Tolopontonian River, one of the tributaries of the Pamunkey, and between that stream and Hawes's Shop, with his right resting on Shady Grove. The surface of Hanover county is hilly, and the soil sandy, but there are few natural impediments to the operations of an army. Hanover Courthouse, the county seat, is memorable as the scene of Patrick Henry's early career, and as the birthplace of Henry Clay. The object of Lee will be to preserve Richmond from the advance of General Grant, and for this reason he has selected a field which covers all the highways leading to Richmond. General Grant seems inclined to give his enemy no opportunity to move northward, and therefore has ordered the destruction of the bridges over the Little and North Anna Rivers. Lee's left--assuming that he faces to the south--is protected by the Chickahominy. The road from Hanover Town crosses this stream at Mechanicsville, which is on a turnpike-road five miles north-west of Richmond. There is another road just in the rear of this, which also leads to the rebel capital. In moving down these roads General Grant will encounter the lines of Lee's army, and the situation is so contracted that there is little probability of another flank movement being successful. If the Chickahominy is intended by Lee as the last line of defence, the position has been well chosen. The stream itself is peculiarly adapted to defensive warfare. The river is a small one, and flows sluggishly. It divides itself into half a dozen streamlets, running into and out of each other at random. These water-courses occupy a space about seventy yards in width. Immense trees grow up out of the water, and the entire stream is covered by thick woods. It is a remarkable instance of a river running through and watering a long strip of woods. From each side of this woodland a flat surface extends for about half a mile. This is nearly always overflowed, and becomes an impassable morass. It is only when the water in the river is very low that men can safely walk upon the ground bordering it. On these flat surfaces there is not a solitary tree. They are bare, and anything moving upon them can easily be discerned. From the borders of these plains huge hills, in some cases 200 and 300 feet high, abruptly rise. They are covered with thick woods, and are so steep that waggons cannot be hauled directly up their face. The few roads go down them diagonally to the bridges across the swamp and river. This Chickahominy valley, one of the strongest in America, is the outer defence of Richmond. From the tops of the hills on the one side, across the swamp to the hilltops on the other side, the distance varies from a mile to a mile and a half. The ordinary 12-pounder rifled Napoleon gun can just about throw a shell from one hilltop to the other. From the Fredericksburg Railroad, crossing down to Newbridge, a distance of eight miles, the Confederate works are all along the hills on its southern border.
An attack, apparently not a very serious one, was made on General Butler's position at Bermuda Hundred, on the 1st inst., but was, we are informed, easily repulsed.
The Federal monitors in the James River had been attacked by an iron-clad steamer, which had been driven back up the river after an engagement of two hours' duration.
The Federals, under Sherman, continue to advance in Georgia; their cavalry had occupied Altona Pass. The Richmond newspapers claim a victory by Johnston over Sherman on the 28th ult.
The Confederates, by establishing batteries on the banks, had seriously impeded the navigation of the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, and had destroyed several steamers.
The Federal gun-boats Granite City and Nyanga have been captured in the Calcasieu River by the Confederates.
The Federal Government has announced that they are prepared to pay in advance the interest on the public debt due on July 1. They have also raised the interest on temporary deposits to 6 per cent.
The Cleveland Convention has nominated Fremont for President and Cochcrane for Vice-President, on the platform of universal freedom, the maintenance of a free press, free speech, the habeas corpus, and the Monroe doctrine.
Gold has reached 92 premium.