Foreign and Colonial IntelligenceThe Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1270, p. 82.
July 23, 1864
The Confederates are not acting wholly on the defensive. An advance--by some termed an invasion, by others a raid for horses, forage, and other plunder, but at all events an advance--has been made into Maryland by a Confederate force. Our information respecting this movement is confused and conflicting; and all that can he safely said is that a body of Southern troops, estimated by Mr. Lincoln at from 15,000 to 20,000 (according to other accounts 30,000) strong, and represented to be led by General Ewell, had taken possession of Harper's Ferry and Hagerstown in Maryland, throwing out in various directions what are described as marauding parties. No opposition appears to have been offered to the progress of the invading column, which must have slipped quietly along the Shenandoah Valley until it reached Martinsburg, which was occupied by General Siegel. At this point some severe fighting took place, but the Federals were obliged to fall back to Harper's Ferry, which they in turn evacuated, apparently without striking a blow for its defence. General Siegel retired to Maryland Heights, and the Confederates are reported to have been preparing to attack that position. Our present advices throw as little light upon the subject as upon the strength of this expedition; but Mr. Lincoln had called upon the States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts to send about 30,000 militia into the field to meet this unexpected movement on the part of the Confederates. General Hunter is moving northwards to attack the invaders. Great alarm, it is said, was felt along the Pennsylvanian border respecting the position of General Hunter, to whose force the people of the North had been looking for protection against the Confederate invasion. A New York telegram of the 8th stated that Hunter had reached Parkersburg, and that he was hurrying on to Maryland. A telegram dated the 9th affirms, on the other hand, that the latest accounts from that officer's command left him at Charlestown, with his army dispirited and weakened by long marches. Governor Seymour is said to have instructed the General commanding the militia of New York not to allow any of his men to leave the State for Washington until further orders.
From the neighbourhood of Petersburg there is no news of importance, although it was expected that General Grant was nearly ready for another demonstration. General Smith on the 30th ult. made an attempt on one of the Confederate works; but owing, it is stated, to a misunderstanding of his orders, the troops were so disposed that the enemy's artillery cut them up and they were obliged to retire. Next day the Confederates made an attack on a position where the Federals were planting a new battery, but they were repulsed with great loss. General Wilson had succeeded in rejoining the army of the Potomac, but with the loss of a considerable number of men and twelve pieces of artillery. He is said to have destroyed sixty miles of the Danville Railway.
Turning to the campaign in Georgia, we find that General Johnston evacuated Kenesaw [i.e., Kennesaw] Mountain and Marietta on the 3rd, and that General Sherman was following him.
At New York the dispute between the Federal and the State authorities was not closed. The President, it is said, had ordered General Dix to disregard the civil actions against him in respect of the seizure of the New York World and the Journal of Commerce. Governor Seymour, on the other hand, was reported to be resolved on enforcing the civil actions and ordering General Dix's arrest. The Governor had called for 75,000 additional militia, probably to secure the State against any possible attack of the Confederates.
President Lincoln has appointed the 8th of August for a day of humiliation and prayer.
Martial law has been proclaimed and the Habeas Corpus Act suspended in Kentucky.
On the 3rd inst. died, at the venerable age of ninety-three, the Hon. Josiah Quincy, of Boston, Massachusetts, a distinguished statesman, a true patriot, born a British subject, five years older than the Declaration of Independence, which his countrymen celebrated on the 4th inst. for the eighty-eighth time, and sixteen years older than the Union and the Federal Constitution.
Mr. Fessenden has definitively accepted the secretaryship to the Treasury at Washington.
At the last accounts gold was quoted at 275.
An English gentleman who left Richmond on the 1st. inst., having previously visited Petersburg, and who, passing uninterruptedly into the Federal territory, accomplished the journey between Richmond and Queenstown in the remarkably short time of sixteen days, gives the following particulars of the military situation in and around the Confederate capital:--
The troops detached by way of the Shenandoah Valley towards Maryland consisted of the whole of Ewell's corps (late Stonewall Jackson's) under the personal command of that General, and numbered 25,000 men.
It was believed that another smaller detachment, with heavy artillery, would be or had already been directed towards Acquia Creek, with a view of creating powerful batteries on the Potomac, blockading that river, and thus interrupting the water communication with Washington, at the same time that Ewell's corps would destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and thus cut the main line of communication with the capital.
Ewell's force was considered amply strong enough to cope with any troops which the North in its present denuded condition could oppose to it, and it was believed that as soon as the offensive movement of the Confederates became developed in its true proportions the Federal Government would recal [sic] recall Grant's whole army. No corps of observation which Grant might leave behind on embarking could hold its ground against a combined land and naval attack from Richmond.
Nearly 3000 prisoners had been brought in from Wilson's corps, so that his entire loss could not be less than between 4000 and 5000. He had lost all his artillery trains and stores; in fact, only just escaped total destruction. About twenty miles of the track of the Danville Railroad was destroyed by him; but as there are no important bridges on that portion of the track, the "Corps of Constructions"--a corps of railway engineers and labourers specially formed for such purposes--would be able to repair the damage in less than two weeks.
The balance of prisoners in favour of the Confederates during the Virginia campaign alone was estimated at no less than 10,000. A great portion of the prisoners are stragglers, who voluntarily came into the Confederate lines and surrendered themselves. They report that in Grant's army so frequent had become the practice of self-mutilation, generally by shooting or cutting off a finger, that an order has been issued severely punishing the men as soon as their self-made wounds are healed, and then sending them as labourers under guard into the trenches. Besides malarious fevers, very malignant bowel complaints, caused by the bad water and the pulverised sand with which the atmosphere is surcharged, had appeared, and threatened to become epidemic in the Federal army.
Grant was leisurely shelling Petersburg at a distance of about two miles, but doing little damage. Communications between that city and Richmond were perfect and not in the least disturbed. No scarcity was apprehended of provisions. The army was healthy and in excellent spirits. At no time had the Confederates been more sanguine. It was generally considered that General Lee was indisputably master of the situation and that the war could not be prolonged much beyond the present campaign.
There was no distress, but also no excitement, in Richmond. A solemn earnestness and calm confidence pervaded all classes. The theatres had been closed. The churches were constantly open for prayer, and thronged day and night with soldiers and civilians. The houses of the wealthier citizens were so many open private hospitals, and the ladies unremitting in their care of the sick and wounded. Mr. Davis's health was good. Foreign exchange had fallen to 1500, but was little in demand. The prices of most commodities had declined, owing to the gradual absorption of the redundant currency by taxes and the funding system.
The Confederate Congress, previous to its adjournment on the 14th ult., had, in view of the contemplated offensive movements, issued a manifesto, chiefly, though not in express terms, addressed to the people of the North. In this the earnest desire of the Confederate States for peace is set forth in eloquent language; the war is declared to be one only of self-preservation, and all intentions of conquest or of impeding the happiness and development of the Northern States is most distinctly disclaimed.