Foreign and Colonial IntelligenceThe Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1267, p. 26-27.
July 9, 1864
We have intelligence from New York to the 25th ult. The reported capture of Petersburg, referred to in our last Number and stated to require confirmation, is so far from having been confirmed that (as we were able to state by telegram last week) Grant has been driven from it with terrible loss. What, doubtless, gave rise to the statement was the capture by the Federals, under General Smith, of the outer line of defences of Petersburg, which were then thought to be its main line. This occurred on the 15th of June. On the 17th, General Grant's whole army was before Petersburg, and on that day severe fighting was reported; on the 18th a general assault on the town was three times made and repulsed with a loss to the Federals estimated at not less than from 6000 to 8000 men.
The Confederate works were arranged in a semicircle south of Petersburg, the flanks resting on the Appomattox River. The Federal army advanced against them on the 18th in three divisions, the Second Army Corps on the right, the Ninth in the centre, the Fifth on the left. Hancock, being wounded, was unable to lead his men, and General Birney commanded the Federal right. The assault was directed towards the line of the City Point Railroad. The men were led forward to the certainty of defeat or death. After getting over a fence they had to cross a wide field exposed to a cross fire from the Confederate breastworks. As soon as they were seen they were met with deadly volleys of musketry, grape, and canister from the Southern defences. Hundreds fell, many were taken prisoners, the rest retreated in disorder. Reinforcements having been obtained, the Second Corps formed another storming party. They tried another point of the works, but it was worse than the other. Infantry and artillery met them with a terrific fire, and the heads of the columns were "lost in clouds of smoke." It was a forlorn hope. Those in front were mown down and scattered; the remainder broke and fled. While this was the fate of the Second Corps, the Fifth Corps, on the Federal left, fought with equal obstinacy, but found the earthworks in front of it impregnable. The ground over which these troops advanced had evidently been long prepared, for it was strewed thickly with an abbattis of felled timber. The Ninth Corps, in the centre, was utterly routed by a fierce attack of the Confederates, who rushed into the camp through a terrible artillery fire, fought the Michigan sharpshooters hand to hand, and drove them from all their positions. The Southern troops were again withdrawn during the night to their own impregnable defences.
After these unsuccessful attempts to force the Confederate position, Grant appears for some days to have done little or nothing. With his right flank resting on the Appomattox River, and his left on the plank-road connecting Petersburg with Graysville, he seems to have
Page 27pushed forward his outposts as near as he conceived prudent to the Confederate intrenchments. On the 19th and 20th there was some slight skirmishing, in which the pickets and their supports were alone engaged; and it was not until the night of the 21st that Grant resumed active operations. Intending, apparently, to seek a weaker point in the Confederate lines than that against which the assaults of the 17th and 18th were directed, the two corps which formed the right of the Federal army were moved on the night of the 21st across the front of the Federal left, in the direction of the Petersburg and Norfolk Railway. The ostensible motive was to cover this line of railway and more completely invest the city of Petersburg, but the ultimate object was to enable the Federal army to attack the Confederate position at a point almost due south of the town of Petersburg. For this manœuvre, however, the Confederates were fully prepared. A strong force under Hill intercepted the advancing columns of the Federal right wing and repulsed them with heavy loss both of men and artillery. The following day, inspirited by this success, General Hill again resumed the offensive, and, having managed to separate the Second from the Sixth Army Corps, attacked the former in the rear and drove it in confusion to its intrenchments, with an estimated loss of three thousand men. On the 23rd Grant drew up his entire army in order of battle, and on that day a general engagement was expected. Heavy firing in the direction of the position of the rival armies was heard at City Point on that day, but the results of the battle are not known, or not published.
President Lincoln visited Grant at City Point on the 21st ult.
General Hunter is said to have been repulsed in an attack upon Lynchburg, but there is no very definite news respecting his movements.
General Sheridan has been defeated during his raid with heavy loss. He claims, however, to have seriously injured the Virginia Central Railroad, south of Gordonsville, and to have defeated the Confederates at Trevellion Station.
The attitude of General Sherman was not materially changed.
New Orleans advices say that the State of Arkansas is overrun with guerrillas. The Federals, however, still hold Little Rock and Pine Bluffs. General Banks was at New Orleans.
The Federal papers state that General Scott has just attained his seventy-eighth year, and has also just completed the memoirs of his life.
The bill repealing the Fugitive Slave Law was passed in the Federal Senate by a vote of 24 against 7. This bill, having passed both Houses, now simply awaits the President's signature.
In the House of Representatives the Loan Bill was passed. This bill authorises Secretary Chase to borrow 400,000,000 dols. from time to time upon six per cent bonds redeemable in five to forty years. The interest payable in coin semi-annually.
A resolution had been offered in the Federal Senate requesting the President to inform Congress whether the recruiting in Ireland and Canada for the Federal army was authorised.
The Constitutional Convention of Maryland has abolished slavery in that State by a large majority. The New York Tribune of June 25 announces the fact in the following terms:--
Maryland has wheeled into line, and another undimmed star shines out in the constellation of Free States. Her constitutional Convention, in Session at Annapolis, passed yesterday the following article of her Bill of Rights:--"Hereafter in this State there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; and all persons held to service or labour as slaves are hereby declared free. In every church in the land there ought to-morrow to be offered solemn prayers of thanksgiving to God that to the people of that State He has given grace, at length, to obey His mandate to 'Let the oppressed go free.' A new prosperity will, in due season, follow that obedience, and her children rejoice that the curse that has rested so long upon her labour and hindered her growth is removed for ever.
Since the passing of the Gold Bill gold had gone up to 230, but had declined again to 210. It stood at 219¾ on the evening of the 25th ult.