Cold Harbor Campaign - 1864
News Reports

Daily Dispatch: June 16, 1864 Post-Cold Harbor

--Grant's change. Of base — Sheridan's raiders — fighting near Petersburg — the movements near Lynchburg, &C.

The only report we have to make from "the front" this morning is a confirmation of Grant's sudden charge of base to Westover, on James river, coupled with the additional fact that he has sent a portion of his troops to the White House, with the view of shipping them from that point to same place hereafter to be developed.--Westover is in Charles City county, about eight miles below City Point, on the north side of the river. It was formerly the residence of Col. Wm. Byrd, who figured conspicuously in Virginia in colonial times. --sharing the first revolution it was several times occupied by the British, in the summet of it served as a place of seinge for the unlucky McClellan, after the severe he received in front of Richmond, and is now the asylum of the equally Unfortunate Strategist Grant, who flies to protecting shades from before the vet of. Gen. Lee. The White House is the point at which the York River Railroad the Pamunkey, twenty four miles below Richmond. There is now no doubt that Grant proposes to cross to the south side of the James, and indeed it is reported this the movement has already commenced.

The following official dispatch from Gen. Lee, received at the War Department at a on Tuesday night, gives a comprehensive account of the flight of Grant's army.

Headq'rs Army Northern Virginia,
June 14, 1864.--9 P M. Secretary of War.

The force of the enemy mentioned in my dispatch as being on the Long Bridge road, disappeared during the night. It was probably advanced to cover the movement of the main body, most of which, as far as I can learn, crossed the Chickahominy 34 Long Bridge and below, and James river, at Westover and Wilcox's Landing.

A portion of General Grant's army, upon leaving our front at Cold Harbor, is reported to have proceeded to the White House and embarked at that place.

Everything is said to have been removed, and the depot at the White House broken up.

The engine, railroad iron, and bridge timber that had been brought to that point have also been shipped.

Very respectfully, &c,
R. E. Lee, General.

The fact that Grant is endeavoring to so Gen Lee as to place the river between his left and our right — that he has broken up his depot at the White House and moved away everything collected there in the last few weeks — is a virtual acknowledgment of failure; and though he may not confides defeat, it is more than likely that it will so be regarded at the North. We, therefore, look with confidence to his early recall, and the appointment of some General in his plage who has not yet trodden the hazardous path that leads "on to Richmond."

Legislated that for several days past the Yankees have been engaged in repairing Wheen's wharf, in Charles City county, and also the wharf known as Swinyard's, on James river. The distance between the two is about a half mile, and the enemy's operations indicate that a continuous wharf into the built the entire distance. These are nearly opposite Flour de Hundead in Prince George, and afford water of sufficient depth for vessels of the heaviest draft. Information has also been received that the enemy have had a large number of negroes busily employed for several days past in throwing up breast works to the west, facing Richmond. These works extend for a distance of four or five miles, and are a few miles east of Malvern Hill. They are probably intended as a blind to cover Grant's real purpose and destination.

We have nothing further from Sheridan's gang of raiders, save a report, seemingly well authenticated, that they have crossed the Pamunkey at Piping Tree Ferry, and Stone to look for Grant. The pressure of Hampton's cavalry was more than they could stand, and the "most beneficial expedition of the war," alluded to by the Northern papers, has probably been given up.

The enemy's abandoned fortifications in Hanover.

When the enemy crossed the Pamunkey at Hanover Town and New Castle Ferry, it was supposed that they meditated an advance upon Richmond by the Meadow Bridges, and consequently fortifications were thrown up by our troops on the south of Potatomay creek, to intercept such a movement; but instead of that, they stretched their line in a southerly direction, their right wing reeling on the creek above named, and their left on Cold Harbour. A gentleman who has been over the ground occupied by the enemy since their departure informs as that their fortifications consisted of six paralleled lines, intersected in some places by transverse lines, as if they expected an attack in all directions. These fortifications were strengthened by legs, and the timbers, doors, windows, and even furniture of houses they had sacked and torn to pieces. In erecting the breast works the negroes of the vicinity were pressed into service, their operations being superintended by Yankee officers.--Wherever there was a create of a hill or a clump of woods, the circumstance was taken advantage or, the fortifications being so constructed as to wind around for the purpose of protecting their front. The fields in advance of the fortifications are full of pits dug for the protection of sharpshooters. Even of these pits is of sufficient dimensions for one man to ensconce himself in, the front and flanks being guarded by breast works of earth and fence rails. In the farm kitchen numerous excavations are to be seen, and these were also used by the sharpshooters. In fact, everything shows that it was Grant's purpose to "fight it out" on that line, relying upon reinforcements from Butler's army; but the "lion in his path" and the demoralization of his men compelled another change of base, and hence the strong works were abandoned. This, however, seems to have been accomplished very leisurely, the enemy taking away every moveable thing with them, and barricading the roads in their rear as they proceeded.

Our informant says that the report that Gilman's mill and Bethesda-church were burnt is erroneous; but Pole Green church and another were set on fire and destroyed, as were also the houses of several citizens.--Many buildings were failed down, and all the inhabitants suffered more or loss from the depredations of the Yankees. The whole country has been rendered a desert, the crops destroyed, fruit trees cat down, and the people stripped of everything they possessed in the shape of provisions. The Yankees displayed their natural greed in searching for money, and we are told that, guided by negroes, they succeeded in finding a considerable amount of buried specie in various localities. As an excuse for robbing the inhabitants of their provisions, Grant's men alleged that they were hard pressed for something to eat, which was no doubt the truth.

Another Demonstration against Petersburg.

Various rumors, were in circulation yesterday relative to another advance of the enemy upon Petersburg. We learned last night that at an early hour yesterday morning a force approached Petersburg by the City Point road; were engaged during the day with our troops at Dearing's farm, two miles distant from the city, and were driven back. On application at headquarters to learn the situation of affairs, we failed to obtain any information whatever; but though it lacks official confirmation, the reader may rely upon the correctness of the above statement. Rumor magnified this affair into a direct attack upon Petersburg, the capture of the second line of fortifications, and gave a high coloring to the picture generally; but rumor in this instance was decidedly at fault. We may receive further information by telegraph before the hour of going to press.

It is stated that the enemy's transports, numbering ten or twelve, ascended James river on Tuesday, and landed troops at Bermuda Hundred. If this be so, the troops were probably a portion of Baldy Smith's force, shipped from the White House back to Butler.

Affairs around Lynchburg.

The only information received yesterday from this quarter was a report that the enemy had burnt the Court-House of Campbell county, which is confirmed by the letter which we give below:

[from our own correspondent.]
Concord Depot, June 14--2 P. M.

I left Lynchburg this morning at 9 o'clock, and reached this place, which is on the Southside Railroad, thirteen miles from Lynchburg, at noon. A raiding party, about 154 strong, crossed James river last night, a short distance below Gall's Mill, which is fourteen miles below Lynchburg, and reached this depot at two o'clock this morning. They burned the depot here, commissary building, and the Agent's office, water tanks, wood-house, and a train of cars loading with blacksmiths' tools, &c. They also destroyed the locomotive attached to the train, cut the telegraph wire, and tore up and burned fifty or sixty yards of the track. The track is now repaired and trains passing over it, and the telegraph wire will be connected in a short time, and an office established at this place. No private buildings were burned, nor any private property destroyed, with the exception of the store-room and contents belonging to Mr. J. L. Arrington, the Depot Agent at this place.

The party left here this morning about daybreak, and went to Campbell C. H. and burned the Court-House. Their object in visiting the Court House, was to capture Gen. Longstreet, who has been sojourning there since he was wounded. The General, however, left that place during the day yesterday for a place of safety.

The general situation about Lynchburg may be summed up in a few words. Our forces are in line of battle, and the enemy are making reconnaissances, and sending out small raiding parties in every direction.--Averill's party from Lexington, or a portion of it, had crossed the James river, and camped last night a few miles from Buford's Depot, on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, 37 miles distant from Lynchburg. The raiding party, after burning Campbell C. H. it is supposed, will endeavor to effect a junction with Averill's command west of Lynchburg. Averill's force is estimated at 6,000, and prisoners who were captured in Amherst say that they belong to Stahl's command, which is the left wing of Averill's command, and 2,000 strong. Hunter is reported to be moving on Lynchburg via Lexington, but he will necessarily have to move slow, as his infantry and wagon trains cannot be brought over the mountain road with celerity. Of the movement of our troops it is needless to speak, as a few days' developments will render it unnecessary. I shall probably remain at this place until communication is securely and permanently established, as my facilities for sending you the news from this quarter will be as good here as in Lynchburg. B.

The late Lieut. Oen, Polk.

The following official announcement of the death of this officer was received by the President yesterday:

Marietta, June 14, 1864. To His Excellency Jefferson Davis.

The army and the country this morning had the calamity to lose Lieutenant General Polk, who fell by a cannon shot directed at one of our batteries.

J. E.Johnston.

Posted By: Joe Elia
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