From The Constitution, Wednesday, July 8, 1863 (volume 26, number 1332)
Accounts of the great battle at Gettysburgh will be found in another part of this paper.
There is important news from Tennessee. Gen. Rosecrans had crossed the Elk river with a portion of his army, and was in close pursuit of Gen. Bragg, with every prospect of capturing the wagon train and rear guard of the rebels. Gen. Sherman had occupied Winchester. The enemy is entirely out of Tennessee.
The latest from Vicksburg is that everything is going on cheeringly.
THE GREAT BATTLE.
Our forces passed through Gettysburg at 10 o’clock Wednesday morning, when a quarter of a mile west of the town encountered Generals Longstreet and Hill, who attacked the corps of Gen. Reynolds, which was in the advance. This corps stood the force of the attack until it was relieved by the Third corps and a commanding position secured. The rebels made a strong attempt to flank the position we had gained but were repulsed in the attempt. Gen. Reynolds and Gen. Paul fell under a volley from the rebel infantry. Both officers were wounded and at the head of their troops. In the course of the conflict we fell back before superior numbers to a stronger position, and the fight ceased for the day at 4 o’clock. At the close of the evening the whole Army of the Potomac had reached the field and Major-General Meade had all the corps strongly posted for a renewal of the battle this morning. The loss of the enemy was considered fully equal to ours. The Army of the Potomac is in fine condition and very enthusiastic. Our loss of officers is severe. Colonels Wistar and Stone were wounded when they fell into the hands of the rebels. Our army is regarded as better concentrated than that of the rebels for the events of to-day.
THE BATTLE OF THURSDAY.
The correspondent of the New York Times thus describes the battle of Thursday :
At about 4 1/2 o’clock P. M., the enemy sent his first compliments by a salvo of artillery, his first shells falling uncomfortably near Gen. Meade’s Headquarters. From this hour forth to 8 1/2 o’clock, occurred by all odds the most sanguinary engagements yet chronicled in the annals of the war, considering its short duration. The artillery attack which was made by the enemy on the left and centre was rapidly followed by the advance of his infantry. The Third corps received the attack with great coolness. The rebels at once made for our flank, and kept moving heavy columns in that direction. This necessitated support, which was quickly given by the Fifth Corps. The division of Gen. Barnes being sent to the right, and that of Gen. Ayres regulars, to the left, with Gen. Crawford in reserve.
The battle now became perfectly fearful.—The armies engaged each other at very short range, and for three long hours the war of musketry was incessant. I have heard more noise, louder crashes, in other battles, but I never saw or heard of such desperate tenacious fighting as took place on this flank. The enemy would often bring up suddenly a heavy column of men, and force our line back, only to be in turn forced back by our own line of glittering steel. Our gallant columns covered themselves with glory over and over again. They fought a superior force in numbers. The dispositions of the enemy were very rapid, for look where you would on that field a body of rebels would be advancing. Our dispositions were equally rapid, and the enemy found more than their equal in such gallant veterans as Sickles and Birney and Humphreys. At half-past six Gen. Sickles was struck in the right leg by a piece of shell, and borne from the field. The injury was so great that amputation became necessary, and it was performed successfully—the limb being taken off below the knee.
The struggle grew hotter and hotter. The Second corps was called on for aid, and though its own position was strongly threatened, yet the First division, formerly Gen. Hancock’s, flung themselves into the fight with desperation, and after a long and obstinate conflict the enemy slowly and sullenly gave way. In this last charge the brigade of Gen. Caldwell, Second corps, and that of Col. Switzer, from the Fifth corps, won great honors. The charges made by our men deserve mention, but want of time forbids. The rebels made frequent attempts to capture our artillery, and at one time had Watson’s battery in their possession, but it was retaken in a furious charge by Birney’s division.
The battle lasted till fully 8 1/2 o’clock, when the enemy fell back to his old position, and left our veterans the ensanguined victors of that field. Our pickets were thrown out, and our lines covered most of the field, including a great number of the enemy’s dead and wounded.
The great battle of Friday—the third in the series—proves to have been by far the most desperate one of the war, and to have resulted in the complete discomfiture of the enemy. At daylight Lee’s right-wing batteries opened upon our left, and shortly afterward those of his centre followed, but little damage being done by his fire. Soon afterward an impetuous infantry attack was made upon our right, which was repulsed after a sharp struggle—the enemy leaving a considerable number of prisoners in our hands. There was then a lull of several hours, and at 10 o’clock Lee, having massed about 80 pieces of artillery, opened a terrific cannonade upon our centre, but their range being imperfect, it did comparatively little damage to us, and was replied to by our artillery with the best effect.—Under cover of this fire, Lee advanced his columns of infantry, and made several desperate attempts to carry our lines by assault, but each successive charge was repulsed with terrible havoc in the rebel ranks. About 4 1/2 o’clock P. M., the fire of the enemy’s artillery slackened, and at 5 it had entirely ceased, and their infantry had withdrawn to cover. We captured upwards of 3,000 prisoners, and lost but very few. Longstreet is very positively stated to have been mortally wounded, and to have fallen into our hands. Gen. Hill is said by prisoners to have been killed outright during the battle.
After the battle of Friday, General Hill sent a flag of truce to General Meade asking the privilege of burying his dead, and removing the wounded; to which General Meade replied that he would take care of the wounded, the dead would take care of themselves.
A reconnoissance showed that the rebels were retreating to the mountains. Pleasanton’s cavalry were immediately dispatched, a strong reserve following, which sent the whole rebel army skedaddling.
We have captured from 12,000 to 20,000 prisoners, and the battle field shows a loss to the enemy in the engagement of Friday of 20,000 to 30,000.
General Meade had been heavily reinforced from various sources.
From high official sources we are assured that this is the most terribly contested engagement and signal success of the war.
The rebel pontoon bridges across the Potomac at Williamsport have been captured, with the guards, and thus, it is said, General Lee’s retreat is cut off.
At 11 o’clock Sunday, three thousand of the prisoners captured by General Meade were marched through the streets of Baltimore on their way to secure quarters.
The Grand Triumph.
Within the last week, the greatest battle has been fought, and the noblest victory has been achieved which has ever been witnessed on this continent. If we look at the vast number of the combatants, at the important interests involved, and the deadly energy with which it was carried on on both sides, we are ready to acknowledge that the Battle of Gettysburgh will take its place among those great battles of history on which the destiny of nations have hung. Less than one week ago darkness and gloom overspread the country. The rebellion had shown an unexpected energy, and had succeeded by military strategy in placing an immense army in the heart of a loyal state, and in a position to endanger the national capitol. Gen. Lee had crossed the Potomac, had traversed Maryland and penetrated Pennsylvania with floating banners and with language of defiance. His men expressed contempt for a foe which they said they had repeatedly beaten. On the other hand our army was in the hands of a man of whom the public knew but little. We knew the men were brave, and that they were invincible in the hands of a skilful leader. But Gen. Meade had yet to fight his first battle at the head of an army.
If the month of July commenced in gloom and uncertainty, the 4th of July, 1863, was destined to be among the most glorious days in the annals of the republic. The liberties transmitted us by the martyrs of 1776, were on that day confirmed and made perpetual. After a fiercely contested battle which lasted three days, the army of Gen. Lee was completely defeated and sought safety in flight. The rebel losses are immense in killed, wounded and prisoners. It is yet too early to give these with accuracy ; but the result is such as must have gone beyond the anticipations of the most hopeful. Those banners which the rebels insolently flouted in the face of the Pennsylvanians are to-day the deserved trophies of our soldiers.
We cannot speak of the effect which this victory will have upon the war, except to express our belief that it will be followed by the capture of Richmond, and the crushing out of the rebellion in Virginia. But of this hereafter. At present the country will turn with gratitude to the loyal men of Pennsylvania who nobly rallied in defence of the state and nation, to the army of the Potomac which has crowned itself with the imperishable laurels, to Gen. Meade, its gallant leader, whose genius and skill pointed the way to victory, and to Him in whose hands are the destinies of all nations.
In the list of casualties at Gettysburg, we notice the following names of Connecticut men : Dr. Dudley, 14th Connecticut, wounded in the arm ; Capt. James Quoit, 14th, face ; Lieut. Col. Merwin, 27th, killed.
The Fourth of July in this city passed off more quietly than usual. There was no public celebration. In the morning at sunrise the bells were rung, and various demonstrations were made with small guns and swivels, and everybody was duly informed that the 4th of July 1863 had dawned. It was felt through the day that the question was being decided in Pennsylvania whether we were to have any more 4ths of July. Men were anxious rather than enthusiastic. Our brothers were fighting and bleeding and dying to maintain our independence, and few felt like celebrating what might no longer be theirs. Most of the stores through the city were closed, the banks of course were shut, the post office was only opened on the arrival of the mails, and business generally was suspended. There was a pic nic at Alsop’s grove. In the evening at sunset, the bells were rung. As soon as it was dark crowds began to collect in Main street and a miscellaneous exhibition of fireworks commenced. Each one went “on his own hook,” and sent up rockets, fired off Roman candles, squibs, crackers, torpedoes, &c., as he pleased. This annual demonstration lasted till nearly 10 o’clock, when the crowd went home. We have heard of no accident or any untoward event which happened during the day.
For Gettysburgh.—Mayor Warner and Mr. Samuel C. Hubbard left here last evening for Gettysburgh, and will make such provision as is necessary for the soldiers from this neighborhood.
The Weather has been warm and dry during the week. The mercury this, Tuesday, morning at 6 o’clock stood at 68 degrees, yesterday at 65, Sunday at 64, Saturday and Friday at 66. We have had no rain of consequence in the city, though showers are reported in the neighborhood. The ground has become very dry, and gardens and crops are suffering.
Bangor, Me., Tuesday, June 23.
Yesterday officer McKinney, of Belfast, was shot by two deserters named Grant and Knowles, whom he was endeavoring to arrest for horse stealing. The citizens then turned out to arrest the desperadoes, and while attempting to secure them, they fired on another officer and killed him. Finding that escape was impossible, and determined not to be taken alive, the two deserters then deliberately shot and killed themselves.
From Oregon.—Late Oregon advices say that government commissioners have concluded a treaty with the Nesperus Indians of Idaho, granting them a reservation 70 miles long by 25 wide, situated north of Clearwater river, and commencing at only nine miles from Lewiston, their present home. Two-thirds of the tribe are now on the land guaranteed them. The government is to survey a portion of the reservation into twenty-acre lots, and each male Indian is to reserve one lot. The government is also to expend $150,000 within four years in plowing ground and fencing in the lots. Some buildings for the use of the Indians, such as school houses, etc., are also to be erected. Farming implements are also to be purchased for their use. The whole expense of starting the Indians in agricultural life it is estimated will be $260,000.
Rev. Dr. E. O. Haven, editor of Zion’s Herald, has been elected President of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor. It is probable that he will accept the appointment, though his friends are strongly urging him to remain in New England. Dr. Haven is a graduate of Wesleyan University, of the class of 1842.
Opticians and Oculists.—Mr. P. H. Morris, of the firm of Lazarus & Morris, of Springfield and Hartford, well known as successful opticians and oculists, will be in this city the present week from Tuesday until Saturday. Many persons find it difficult to obtain spectacles such as they need to see clearly, and are constantly subject to many inconveniences for the want of well adjusted glasses. It is fortunate for such if they can obtain the aid of a good optician, who can see and obviate their difficulties, and fit for them just such a pair of spectacles as they need. A good opportunity is now offered to such as are laboring under these disadvantages. Mr. Morris is skilful in his profession, and will satisfy all reasonable demands. He will be in this city only until Saturday. His rooms are at the McDonough House.