From The Constitution, Wednesday, July 2, 1862 (volume 25, number 1279)
SIEGE OF RICHMOND !
Hard Fighting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Union Loss said to be 1200 Killed and Wounded.
From the Times and Herald correspondents.
Battle-field, Sunday, June 29, 1862—a. m.
A severe and most determined battle was fought on the right wing of the Army of the Potomac, on Thursday and Friday, the 26th and 27th instant, the particulars of which, as near as we can gather, are given below.
On Thursday about noon, the enemy made an attack upon Gen. Stoneman’s forces in the vicinity of Hanover Court House, probably for the purpose of accomplishing an out flanking movement on the right, and to engage our attention in that direction. Shortly afterward they commenced a vigorous cannonading from the works situated on the eminence opposite Mechanicsville, about one and a half miles distant ; also from two batteries, one above and the other below. They were replied to by Campbell’s Pennsylvania batteries, on picket duty, one on the Mechanicsville road, and another from behind earthworks at the right of a grove.
About 2 p. m. the enemy’s infantry and squadrons of cavalry crossed the Chickahominy in immense force, a short distance above the Virginia Central Railroad, making a rapid advance through lowlands and forest, toward Gen. McCall’s division, who were entrenched on a hilly woodland across a swampy ravine, about a mile in the rear of Mechanicsville.
The 1st Pennsylvania Rifles (Bucktails) and Campbell’s Pennsylvania battery were on picket duty, all of whom, except one company, fell back behind the breastworks and rifle pits, where a line of battle was drawn up.
The Bucktails who were on picket beyond the railroad, were surrounded by the enemy, and the last that was known of them they were trying to cut their way through an immensely superior force. Their fate is not known, but it is presumed that the greater portion were taken prisoners.
The enemy advanced down at the rear of Mechanicsville, on a low, marshy ground to where our forces were drawn up behind rifle pits and earthworks, on an eminence, on the northerly side of the ravine, when the conflict became most terrible. The Rebels, with the most determined courage attempted to press forward over miry ground, but the bullets and grape shot fell among them like hail, until, in the words of an officer, “they lay like flies on a bowl of sugar,” and at dark withdrew. The cannonading was kept up on both sides until about 9 p. m. when the battle ceased. Our forces were covered by earthworks and suffered but slightly.
Late in the afternoon, the enemy made a charge with cavalry. About one hundred of them came rushing down and attempted to cross the ravine when the horses became mired. A squadron of our cavalry, seeing the position in which the enemy were placed, made a charge down the hill, when the cavalrymen abandoned their horses and fled.
The infantry fight was then renewed, and continued until 7 a. m., when a retreat was ordered, very much against the will of the Pennsylvania boys, who begged to be allowed to defend their position, which they felt confident they could continue to hold. The outer forces began to fall back. Porter’s Corps were some distance below, near what is known as Dr. Gaines’s residence.
At this time heavy and continued cannonading was heard on the right wing.
Immense baggage and forage wagons, extending about four miles in length, came hurrying along. Next came a cavalcade of ambulance wagons, extending as far as the eye could reach.
This fight of to-day, therefore, cannot be described, save by a memorandum of the positions respectively held by the opposing parties at its close, and by the list of the killed and wounded. On the rebel side, however, it was characterized by the steadfast old policy for which their leaders are to be so much honored, of pouring fresh and eager troops upon our weary men, and endeavoring to crush us with superior weight of the fire and vastly superior exhibition of force. Twice all along the front did the bloody and determined attack cling to our lines of battle and our rifle pits and redoubts. Porter thundered on them with fifty cannon ; Sumner’s, Hooker’s, and Ayres guns reaped them with a very death harvest. Their loss in killed and wounded was horrible. We but debate now if our own dead, wounded and missing equal those of the Seven Pines—or exceed theirs ! In the meantime, notwithstanding the disproportion of numbers, the Union line is at every point about where it was in the morning, and the heroes behind it are in heart.
11 P. M.—There is a council of the three of four best minds in the army, at this late hour of the night. If they decide that we are not strong enough to maintain our position against the long accumulated numbers of the enemy, and that we must retreat to-morrow, on whom shall rest the grievous responsibility of resisting or refusing McClellan’s appeals for reinforcements?
Later—12 1/2 A. M.—Count de Paris took prisoner a rebel Major, who belonged to Jackson’s army. He said he had been in the valley of the Shenandoah all winter, and came here yesterday with part of Jackson’s army. The rest of it arrived this morning. The whole of it was here. He said that in the attack on our right the rebels had from sixty to eighty thousand troops. This will explain the enormous fire under which our men were borne down and swept away precisely as some of the regiments were swept away at the Seven Pines.
The regular 11th infantry is about annihilated. Nearly every officer in it killed or wounded. The 14th suffered also severely. Major Rosselle, of the regulars, a kinsman of General McClellan’s, is killed. Colonel Pratt of a New York regiment, is also killed, and Lieut. Cols. Black and Sweitzer.
Our loss in officers is very marked. Indeed the disproportion in numbers was so extraordinary, and the obstinacy of our troops so unyielding, that our losses were inevitably large. The artillery in both Porter’s and Smith’s divisions piled the rebels in heaps. The fire was horribly effective.
The Very Latest
Below is the very latest news received in this city up to the time of our going to press, Tuesday noon.
New York, June 30.—The West Point (Va.) correspondence of the Post, dated the 27th, says that it is reported there that our pickets were driven in on the afternoon of the 26th, at White House, and the shipping and vessels have all been sent to West Point from White House.
A rebel mail captured states that Beauregard has arrived at Richmond with a main portion of his army, and that 30,000 men have been sent to reinforce Jackson, and that the latter would at once attack our right flank while Lee would make a desperate attack in front.
The Phila. Inquirer states that soldiers by the State of Maine report that when they left the White House, Thursday, it was believed that the advance guard of Jackson had driven in our pickets five miles off while his main body was 10 miles in the rear. A Union regiment and all the sick at White House able to bear arms were at once ordered out. Word was sent to Casey’s division and all trees on the river were cut down to give play to the batteries of the gunboats. All stores and munitions were sent on board the transports which anchored out in the stream under the protection of the gunboats. …
General Pope has been placed in command of the armies of Generals Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. These forces have been consolidated into one grand army, which will be known as the Army of Virginia. It is to be divided into three corps, which are respectively to be under the command of the three Generals above named. General Pope has the reputation of being one of the most successful Generals in the war. He has certainly been more successful than any other in capturing rebel leaders and rebel armies, and it is presumed he is wanted for just such service in Virginia. There is Stonewall Jackson needs a master hand to put a stop to his depredations in the Shenandoah Valley, and Gen. Pope is just the man to make a final disposition of him. After Jackson has been “bagged,” Jeff. Davis and the rebel army at Richmond may need the attention of General Pope. There is no fear but that Gen. McClellan will go to Richmond ; but it is feared that Davis and his army wont be there when McClellan visits the city. It is rather necessary that they should be “at home” at that supreme moment so as to save any further trouble of chasing them over the country.
Resignation of General Fremont.
Upon the appointment of Major General Pope over the army of Virginia, General Fremont tendered his resignation, and General Rufus King was appointed in his place. Whether Fremont intends to leave the service is not known. It may be that he will accept some other command.
The President’s offer to help the slave states emancipate their slaves is now engaging the attention of Missouri more seriously than at first. The late State Convention, which rejected the offer by a large vote and with great discourtesy, was elected in the spring of 1861, before the rebellion broke out, and was at its last session not fresh from the people. But Gov. Gamble afterward sent a special message to the Convention, calling the President’s proposition one of “unexampled liberality,” and asking that body to give it careful thought, out of respect to the source whence it came. The subject was thus re-opened, eliciting a grave discussion, and ending in a series of resolutions, adopted by a vote of 32 to 27, declaring that the people ought to give heed to the subject, but that the Legislature did not feel authorized to act upon it. Later than this, however, a large and influential body, which the newspapers have called the Emancipation Convention, assembled at Jefferson City, and after a thorough review of the state of the country, and a discussion of the true interests and policy of the state for the future, heartily approved of a scheme of gradual emancipation.—Independent.
Fire.—On Wednesday night, or rather on Thursday morning, soon after two o’clock, the alarm of fire was given, and in a few moments the city and surrounding country were lighted up in a way to indicate that there was a large fire in the neighborhood. It proved to be the barn and store adjoining on the corner of Water and College street, belonging to Evan Davis, dealer in coal. The fire was first discovered in the barn, and had progressed so far as to preclude all hope of saving the building. Two valuable horses were stabled in the barn, one of which was saved, but the other was so much bewildered that he could not be got out, and was left to his fate. The horse was valued at nearly $200. The flames communicated at once from the barn to the store, and both were burned to the ground. Mr. Davis’s books were saved. The firemen and citizens, who were quickly on the ground, found all they could do in preventing the fire spreading any further. The shed of Hubbard Brothers filled with lumber was close to the barn, and took fire, and came very near going. By great effort it was saved, after suffering damage with its contents to the amount of two or three hundred dollars. The house of Capt. Marthen on the west side of the street was in great danger, and was much injured. The roof was burnt through, windows broken, and much damage was suffered on the inside. The injury to the building is estimated at not far from four hundred dollars. The house was occupied by Mr. Seabury Belden and Mr. Darius Carpenter. Their furniture, &c., was hastily thrown out into the street and very much injured. Mr. Davis’ loss is not far from $1700, for which he was insured $1000 at the Middlesex Mutual. Capt. Marthen was insured at the same office. Hubbard Brothers have an insurance at Ætna office in Hartford.
At about seven o’clock, Thursday evening, the fire alarm was rung, and the firemen rushed to quarters, when they found that their services were further needed at Davis’ coal yard to put out what fire was left and which threatened to be troublesome during the night. They went down and put on an extinguisher.
The Messrs. Hubbard Brothers with their accustomed generosity and public spirit have given fifty dollars to the Fire Department as a token of their appreciation of services rendered at the late fire. Below is the letter conveying the gift.
E. G. Chaffee, Esq.
Dear Sir : We enclose you our check for Fifty Dollars, which please accept for the benefit of the Fire Department, of which you have the honor to be Chief.
Please divide equally ($10 each) between the two Engine Companies, the two Hose Companies, and the Hook and Ladder Company.
We do not intend this small amount as in any degree a remuneration to them, but simply as a token indicating our appreciation of their valuable and almost inestimable services, rendered to us in our time of trial and danger. We shall not forget them or you.
Middletown, June 27, 1862.
Curtiss S. Clark, of this city, is reported among the killed on James Island. He belonged to the 7th Connecticut.
Col. Pride.—We learn with regret that Col. Pride, son of Dr. Pride of this city, and brother-in-law of Rev. Mr. Taylor, has been taken prisoner by the enemy. He was on a train of cars on the 25th inst., proceeding to Corinth from Memphis, and about 12 miles from the latter place, in company with several other officers, including Col. Kinney and Major Sharpe. The train was attacked by a large force of rebel cavalry, who destroyed the locomotive, burned the cars, killed ten men, and captured several officers among whom were those mentioned.
Col. Pride was a member of Gen. Halleck’s staff, and was engaged on his duty as Superintendent of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad at the time he was taken.
For the Contrabands.—There was collected in this city for the contrabands eleven barrels of clothing and one barrel of books, which have been sent to their proper destination.
The Fourth.—We are to have a quiet 4th of July in Middletown. If people want to celebrate the day they must go out of town, perhaps to Hartford where they are to have a parade, balloon ascensions and fire works. Our Griffin’s band is going to Hartford.