From The Constitution, Wednesday, February 17 1864 (volume 27, number 1364)
The Fortress Monroe correspondent of the Tribune, under date of Feb. 8th, gives the following account of a bold raid on Richmond by Union troops:
“The expedition having returned, we are permitted to state the following facts: On Saturday morning Gen. Butler’s forces, under command of Brigadier General Wistar, marched from Yorktown by the way of New Kent Court House. The cavalry arrived at 2 1/2 o’clock yesterday morning at Bottom’s Bridge, across the Chickahominy, ten miles from Richmond, for the purpose of making a raid into Richmond, and endeavoring by surprise to liberate our prisoners there.
“The cavalry reached the bridge at the time appointed, marching in 16 1/2 hours, 47 miles. A force of infantry followed in their rear, for the purpose of supporting them. It was expected to surprise the enemy at Bottom’s Bridge, who had for some time only a small picket there. The surprise failed, because, as the Richmond Examiner of to-day says, “a Yankee deserter gave information in Richmond of the intended movement.” The enemy had felled a large amount of timber so as to block up and obstruct the fords, and make it impossible for our cavalry to pass.– After remaining at the bridge from 2 o’clock until 12, Gen. Wistar joined them with his infantry, and the whole object of the surprise having been defeated, Gen. Wistar returned to Williamsburg. On his march back to new Kent Courthouse his rear was attacked by the enemy, but they were repulsed without loss to us. A march by our infantry, three regiments of whom were colored, of more than 80 miles, was made in 56 hours. The cavalry marched over 100 miles in 50 hours. This shows that it is possible to make a campaign in Virginia in winter.”
Two Maryland men, who were captured last month by the rebels, while in the service of the Sanitary Commission, and taken to Richmond, left that city last Sunday afternoon having been released. They brought exciting news from Richmond, which they report was in a state of the most feverish excitement from Saturday at midnight up to the time they left Sunday afternoon.
The rumors that prevailed were conflicting and wild. It was their impression that from 8,000 to 10,000 cavalry would have but little difficulty in entering the city, and liberating the Union prisoners, destroying the forts and public property, and return by the Peninsula before any sufficient force to resist them should be brought to the aid of the small garrison left to defend it. For several days previous to this alarm, the troops in and around the city, to the number of 4,000 or 5,000 had been sent off to join Lee’s army with great dispatch, the impression prevailing that a movement was contemplated by Gen. Meade. In this they were right, as during the progress of the excitement on Sunday, intelligence was received that Gen. Meade had crossed the Rapidan.
From the Potomac we have news by an officer who left Mitchel’s Station Monday morning, that about 1 o’clock Sunday night, the rebels threw a large force of infantry and artillery down toward Raccoon Ford, and opened fire with artillery upon our troops stationed there. The cannonading was kept up till late in the evening without serious loss upon our side. During the night we moved reinforcements to the front to test the rebel movement whether a feint or an attempt at a raid.
At 8 a. m. Saturday the third corps advanced to the Rapidan, and despite the resistance of the enemy, crossed, driving the enemy and capturing many prisoners. At 4 p. m. the second corps having crossed, joined the third corps, and the advance was continued, the enemy still resisting but in vain. They fought two hours desperately, but were unable to check or repulse our advancing columns.—The loss of the enemy in prisoners, killed and wounded is very large. The result of this movement is satisfactory, and other important movements will follow.
The Richmond Examiner contains the following:
Charleston, Feb. 6th.—Eighty eight shells were fired at the city to-day; there was no firing at Sumter. The enemy has been hauling ammunition all day to Gregg and Cummings Point batteries. There was a large fire on Folly Island to-day; it is supposed to have been caused by the burning of the Yankee hospitals. The city is full of rumors, and some excitement prevails, but the people generally are confident. The enemy is thirty thousand strong on Folly Island.
Soldier’s Claims.—Official documents show that during the year 1862, 13,500 claims of deceased and discharged soldiers were settled at the Treasury Department. The number settled during 1863, was 35,700, and there remained unsettled on the 1st of January last, 74,600.
Late news from Mexico give us the intelligence that Juarez’s forces have re-captured San Luis Potosi. If this be true it is the greatest success the Republic has achieved since the Empire established itself in the capital. The progress of the French has been so steady, the attempts to oppose it have been so feeble, that the friends of Mexican independence have had reason for doubting the earnestness and sincerity of its defenders. If they will show the energy and determination, not only to wrest the city of San Luis Potosi from the invaders, to capture most of the garrison and hand the renegade Mexicans, but also to make this success the basis of an immediate movement against the enemy in Guadajara, the confidence in Mexican patriotism will be greatly increased.
The Hayward Rubber Co. Mills, at Colchester, Conn., were destroyed by fire on Wednesday morning, the 10th inst. One of the many rumors as to the cause of the fire, is that the watchman in going his rounds, accidentally set fire to some loose stuff. He seized what he supposed to be a pail of water and threw it on the fire, but, instead of being water, it proved to be benzene, and in a few moments the flames spread over several hundred feet of surface. The loss is judged to be near $75,000. Gov. Buckingham was the largest owner.
The house of P. T. Barnum in Bridgeport, was burglariously entered Saturday, but before having an opportunity to steal anything, the robbers were frightened off by the watchman, who discharged several guns well loaded with buck shot after them.
Washington’s Birthday.—This National Holiday will be celebrated with more than usual spirit by the Wesleyan University next Monday. We learn that all the classes unite in the exercises this year. Mr. Thompson of the Senior Class will deliver the Oration. Mr. Rust of the Junior Class will read extracts from the Farewell Address. The College Glee Club, under the direction of Mr. Harriman, will furnish the music. Dr. Cummings will preside, and an Address may also be expected from him. The public exercises will take place in McDonough Hall, commencing at half past seven, P. M. The public are invited, and we advise our friends, who recollect the celebration of 1862, to go early if they wish to secure a good seat.
Wm. B. Ward, an old resident, and for many years a prominent shoe dealer in this city, died on Saturday last. He was a member of the Methodist E. Church, of this city.
Fire in Portland.—On Thursday afternoon, at about five o’clock, a fire broke out in a dwelling house in Portland, owned by George Hall, and occupied by two families. The building, together with all the furniture in the second story, and part of that on the first floor was consumed. It is said the fire originated by a child, while playing with matches, setting shavings on fire. No insurance.
The 14th Regiment, C. V.—We publish the following letter from a member of the “fighting 14th regiment, C. V.” They behaved nobly in the late advance, and although they suffered terribly, not a man wavered or deserted his post. They well deserve the name as the “fighting regiment.”
Camp Near Stevensburg, Va., Feb. 7th, 1864.
Dear Mother: Our heavenly Father has again conducted your son through another battle, and one of the worst kind, it having taken place in the night. Yesterday morning about five o’clock, we were aroused from our slumbers by the order “to pack up and fall in.” We took up our line of march for the river Rapidan at about nine o’clock in the morning, and reached the river about an hour after. We crossed the Rapidan about noon by fording it. It was nearly up to our breasts. It is a very rapid stream, so much so that if we had accidentally slipped, we should probably have been carried down the stream, and have stood a good chance of having found a watery grave. But as far as I am aware there was no accident of that kind. Occasionally one would slip as he was crawling up the bank, which was very steep, but no serious harm was done to my knowledge, with the exception of giving them a good ducking and wetting their cartridges. The water was very cold, and it made ones feet and limbs ache, but the command was given and we must obey. One regiment, however, known as the Garibaldi Guards, a New York Regiment, composed of foreigners, refused to wade across because, they said, the water was too deep, but Gen. Hayes jumped from his horse, without saying a word, leaving his horse by this side of the river, waded across to the other side, picked out good footing and then returned and mounted his horse. This example was sufficient, and without further hesitation they waded across, and landed safely on the other side. I suppose that you have heard of fighting Elleck, this is the name he goes by; he is our division commander. I tell you, he is a regular tiger. He rides along the lines of skirmishers, with his hat in hand, cheering them on. He thinks the old 14th is about right; he is always praising us. He was with us in the thickest of the fight, the balls all the while flying about his head like hail-stones. He did not flinch in the least. We marched to a hollow facing the rebel breastworks, and remained there until about five o’clock, within rifle shot of their rifle pits. They sent a few shells over to us, but most of them passed over our heads, and done us no harm, with the exception of two or three which took effect, killing two or three and wounding several. They only fired a few shots, when it was ascertained that they had a strong line of battle advancing on us. We were all then ordered to advance, the bully 14th taking the lead. We charged on at a double quick time. They met us half way, and poured an everlasting fire into our ranks, which caused us to wave for a moment, and then with deafening yells we made a rush, pouring a volley of blue pills into them, which made an evacuation in their ranks, and which they won’t soon forget. We then pressed them hard, and drove them to their rifle pits. By this time it was dark. We could not discern our foe until we met them face to face. Some rushed on to one another, and knocked their brains out with the butts of their muskets. We were fighting in squads most of the time, each man for himself. Co. B. and G. were at the left, and met a strong party of rebel skirmishers, but we charged on them with our rifles, and with deafening yells rushed on and loaded and fired and drove them back to their rifle pits. We then, under cover of the darkness, skulked to within a few rods of their rifle pits, and popped away at them until we were sent for to go to the support of our boys on the right, for the rebs were trying to flank us. We went at a double quick, over fences, over ditches, and charged on a cluster of houses which were full of rebels. They swarmed in great numbers around the building, firing from the windows and around the corners of the houses, but we made a rush on them, driving them like sheep, they taking their wounded with them; the houses were full of the gray-backs. A squad of us smashed in the doors, which were closed and fastened. As we rushed in some of the rebels grappled with us, but we soon overpowered them. We only succeeded in taking one prisoner, they making their escape by one of the back windows before we were aware of it.—They afterwards retired behind their breastworks, and we stretched out a long line of pickets and remained so until we were relieved, which was about one o’clock a. m., by the 1st division. We then re-crossed the Rapidan on a sort of a bridge, which was built for us. The rest of the troops re-crossed the river again soon after. They were not molested.—
It was a daring undertaking in landing this division into such a nest of rebels. I don’t see why that we were not all captured, for we only numbered Three Thousand men. The rebels undoubtedly were ignorant of our real strength after dark, or they might have taken advantage of us, and drove us into the river, and cut us all to pieces, but we escaped remarkably well. I think they felt the weight of our bullets before we parted with them. We had no artillery to support us on that side of the river. Our killed, wounded and missing amounted to one hundred and fourteen. Our color sergeant’s body was brought into camp and buried by the regiment with the band. He was a noble fellow and fell doing his duty. One of my tent mates was shot through the breast, and it is thought he will not recover. One or two other tent mates of mine were severely wounded. James Ingles, of Middletown, was wounded in the leg. Albert Crittenden also got a slight wound. Our Major was slightly wounded in the leg. Capt. John C. Broatch, of Co. A., had his finger blown off by a ball, and is detailed to go after recruits. Lieut. [Robert] Russell, the present commander of our company, is all right, and acted with great bravery throughout the fight. I will write to you soon again, and therefore will conclude by subscribing myself Your affectionate Son,
L. E. B. [Lucius E. Bidwell?]
Co. B. 14th Regt., C. V.
The Weather.—There were great variations in the atmosphere last week, ranging from two degrees to thirty four at sunrise. The week was free from storms, and a high wind generally prevailed in the afternoon. It arose suddenly on Sunday and became a hurricane for a few moments. The average temperature of the week at sunrise was 8 degrees.
“DAVID LYMAN’S ROAD”
Middlefield, February 13, 1864.
Mr. Editor: In justification of the petitioners for the new road from my house to Durham, I wish to state some facts contradicting the vague and incorrect statements published in the papers, and circulated upon the streets in relation to it.
1st. The proposed road is about 303 rods long, about 53 rods being in the town of Durham, and about 245 rods being in the town of Middletown.
3d. The distance saved is about 180 rods, and two heavy hills are avoided.
4th. I do not see how the whole expense to the town of Middletown can reach four thousand dollars, probably it will be nearer three thousand dollars. The tax payers of Durham will have to pay about the same per cent tax for the road as those of Middletown, the cost of the road in the different towns being about in the proportion of the “Grand Levys” of each.
5th. The mail stage passes over the road each way daily. Almost all the coal made in Durham, Killingworth, &c., is carted over this road; besides all this, the other travel is greater than on almost any road outside the city. We know that the public ought to have the road, and are willing that it should be built and given to posterity as a monument of our wisdom or our folly.
6th. The committee gave a most careful and patient hearing, walked over the proposed road twice (once to examine the bottom by digging, for they were all total strangers to the premises) and then unhesitatingly decided to lay out the road.
7th. Some years ago I united with others in calling out the County commissioners to lay out a new road, because the selectmen refused to. No opposer of the first road would now be willing to have any one know he had opposed such a reasonable petition. The opposers of this road will regret their course after the road shall have been built.
8th. We are not aware that the road has been defeated. We suppose the course of the committee has been legal, and expect to see the sanction of the courts to their proceedings. David Lyman.
Nova Scotia.—Recent reports announce that gold has been discovered in Nova Scotia. The gold districts have been explored, and the products of the mines are represented as having been within a fortnight several thousand dollars. In times like these, when the cry is gold, gold, and there is no gold, Nova Scotia, if she answers expectations, will hold a prominent portion in the public mind, and the consequence will be, that gold on the brain will become an epidemic. California, with the El Dorado provinces, quickly became the home of civilization. Nova Scotia, with her yellow mines, will attract enterprise in a new quarter. With Nova Scotia as a rich gold district, the copperheads can rest easy on the paper currency. But it will not do to raise their expectations too high, for they may wake up some foggy morning and find themselves adrift.
A democratic member of the Maryland Legislature voted in favor of a motion to adjourn sine die, because he thought it meant “until after dinner.”
A man on Monday purchased a military overcoat from one of the second hand clothing stores in Detroit, sewed inside the lining of which was $150 in United States money. He paid $10 for the coat.
The school books lately published by the Austrian government are printed on paper made of “corn shucks,” or the leaves which protect the ear of maize. This material gives the paper a yellowish color, which medical men hold to be less fatiguing to the eye than our snowy pages.
It has been said that the will of Madame de Lamartine is informal, and consequently that the poet will lose the property bequeathed to him by his wife. The poet is about to assuage his grief by espousing a Russian princess, with money.