From The Constitution, Wednesday, May 25, 1864 (volume 27, number 1378)
A dispatch from the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac, dated at 5 o’clock Wednesday morning, says: “The struggle has this moment begun, with skirmishing on our right. We fully expect a great, and, we trust, a decisive battle to-day.” A dispatch from General Butler’s Department, dated Bermuda Landing, Monday morning, says: “Our forces still hold the long line of earthworks, which were captured last Thursday from the enemy. There was no general engagement yesterday, but all along our lines the skirmishers were firing briskly. The second line of rebel works is about three-quarters of a mile in advance of our position, and the belief is that there the enemy will make a firm stand. Whether General Butler will attack these fortifications, or content himself with holding, for the present, the large tract of country from which we have driven the rebels, I am unable to say. We now have the district between City Point and Bermuda Landing to within three miles of Petersburg on the South, and to within nine miles of Richmond on the North side. Drury’s Bluff, whereon the guns of Fort Darling frown, is scarcely two miles and a half beyond our pickets. This morning there has been heavy firing on the James River, some distance above this point. It probably comes from our gunboats, who have been carefully feeling their way toward Fort Darling. Yesterday the enemy’s iron clad Richmond came down below Fort Darling to reconnoiter. Our advanced gunboats threw a few shot at her, and she returned up the river. The Evening Transcript, a disloyal paper, was suspended yesterday, at Baltimore, by order of Gen. Wallace, for publishing a dispatch saying that the loss of the Army of the Potomac was not less than 70,000 men, and crediting the same to the Associated Press. It was proved that the paper did not take the Associated Press dispatches, and that the dispatch in question did not emanate from any agent of the Associated Press. Correspondence from Gen. Butler’s department gives a detailed account of the late attack and repulse of Gen. Beauregard’s forces upon our troops at Proctor’s creek. Gen. Heckman had a narrow escape from being captured by the enemy. The rebel loss was between three and four thousand. Our loss is estimated at about 2,500 in killed, wounded and prisoners. Gen. Butler’s forces retired, and before midnight, were all behind their entrenchments.
Secretary Stanton’s official dispatch of Saturday evening conveys, in distinct terms, the very important intelligence that on Friday Gen. Grant commenced a flank movement for the purpose of compelling Lee to abandon his position at Spottsylvania Court-house; that, although all the details cannot yet be given, the movement is thus far a success; that the gallant Hancock is once again in the vanguard—an hour and a half ahead of Longstreet, on the march to Richmond, and probably twenty-four hours ahead of Ewell; that the rebels are making for the south bank of the North Anna River; that although Lee has received reinforcements, Grant, in effecting his movement, has thus far suffered no severe losses; and that the advance of the national army is now at Guinney’s and Milford Stations, south of the River Mattapony.
From Gen. Butler’s army there is intelligence through a dispatch from Secretary Stanton up to Friday night, that there had been hard fighting all that day, the rebels endeavoring to close in our lines, but Butler says, “We shall hold on.” He announces the capture of the rebel Gen. Walker, of Texas. The official dispatch of Sunday night brings nothing later.
From Gen. Sherman there is news that he had secured at Kingston, two bridges and one ford across the Etowah River, that the railroad and telegraph were in working order, and that he would stop two days to replenish supplies and fit up. At Rome seven fine foundries and machine shops has fallen into our hands, besides considerable quantities of provisions.
U. S. Steamer “Mackinaw,”
Up James River, May 12th, 1864.
Editor of the Middletown Constitution:
Sir: On leaving Fortress Monroe, Va., to join in this expedition, I opened what is termed by the sailors a log, for the purpose of taking note of incidents seen by myself, and of news important relative to the movements of the Army and Navy. If you find anything in this little Diary worthy of your attention, accept with the best wishes of your friend and correspondent.
Fortress Monroe, May 4th, 1864.
Received orders this afternoon at 2 p. m., to get under way and proceed to Newport News to join in the expedition under the command of Major General Butler, and Acting Rear Admiral S. P. Lee, Flag Steamer “Malvern.” The distance from Fortress Monroe to Newport News is about ten miles. We had a pleasant run up the roads, arriving off the encampment at 8 p. m. Off Newport News, 5 p. m. We are anchored near the flag-ship “Malvern.” Several iron-clads and gunboats have already arrived; transports filled with troops are coming in every hour. We expect to move during the night. Everything bids fair at the start, and I hope that the prize ahead may be captured, (Richmond.) 7 p. m., Thursday 5th. When I awoke this morning I felt the motion of the steamer, and found on getting up that we were under way, having started at 5 a. m. this morning. The following is a correct list of the gunboats in this expedition. “Onondaga,” “Canonicus,” “Saugus,” “Tecumseh,” and “Atlanta,” the latter was captured by the iron-clad “Wehawkin,” and has since been repaired, and is now one of our most efficient iron-clads. Here continues the list of gunboats. “Mackinaw,” “Eutaw,” “Oseola,” (double enders) “Commodore Morris,” “Commodore Jones,” “Commodore Perry,” “Delaware,” “Stepping Stones,” “Shokokon,” and “Sawsheen.” The vessels are under the command of Admiral Lee, Flag-ship “Malvern.” We have in tow the iron-clad “Canonicus,” therefore we cannot move as fast as the other steamers. Friday, 2.30 p. m. A most shocking accident has just happened. The U. S. steamer, “Commodore Jones,” formerly a ferry-boat, was moving slowly up the river, had passed ahead of us about 1/4 a mile, when a shock (which shook our steamer as if she had struck a rock) startled us. I turned in an instant, and what I saw is too horrible to describe. The steamer in passing over a torpedo was blown into the air fifty (50) feet high, came down a mass of ruins, with dead and wounded men. The torpedo was fired just as the steamer was midway the river; it struck midships, therefore blowing up the middle of the steamer, while the ends were broken and submerged in the river. The Paymaster and an Engineer are the only two persons killed upon the spot; the Captain and Executive officer were both severely wounded, and a great many of the men. Several were brought on this steamer who were badly wounded; all assistance was rendered them to alleviate their sufferings. Saturday morning, 8 a. m. The wounded men have been sent to the Portsmouth Hospital; everything was quiet during the night; the camp fires of Gen. Butler’s army can be seen all night; he has gone in the direction of Petersburgh.
Sunday afternoon. We had general muster this morning, and religious services were read by the Captain’s clerk. It has been a day of rest which I am sorry to say does not often occur, as far as my experience goes I have been on more expeditions on Sunday than any other day of the week, I do not think it is intentional, but it so happens that Sunday is a day of work rather than rest. It is a beautiful sight on a vessel of war on Sunday when the men have a day to idle. You walk forward on the spar deck or berth-deck you will find the men employed in writing to their friends or reading some book. I notice that a great number have Bibles, though it is thought by many, that sailors do not read that precious book, because their minds are employed in desecrating rather than revering the Sabbath day. You must excuse this wandering from what I have been attempting to describe of our movements &c. As we are now quiet and I have dropped war to have a little chat, it is now a good opportunity to describe to you our steamer, its officers, men, armament &c. The steamer Mackinaw, is one of a class of twenty-three gunboats (double enders.) The Eutaw whose notoriety not long since was a subject of much comment by men in the commercial world is one of the same class. Assistant Secretary Fox, challenged any steamer of her tons and size to beat her, which was never accepted, she is now with us on this expedition. The Mackinaw is 974 tons, carries four (4) nine inch—2 100 lbs. Parrotts and four 24 lb. howitzers. We have 22 officers 170 men and 17 marines. The accommodations are very fine. Monday 9th. We got under way and steamed down the river and returned in the afternoon to our station. 11th. One of the bodies, from the steamer Commodore Jones, floated down the river this morning, it was taken on shore and buried with all the honor of war.
I close with this, if any thing important transpires I will send you the particulars.
Wm. F. Whitmore, A. A. P.
Soldiers’ Voting.—The amendment to the State Constitution, authorizing soldiers in the field to vote, came up in the Senate on Thursday and received 18 out of 20 votes. Bennett of the 10th, and Fowler of the 18th, (this district) voted against it. Kendrick of the 5th, dodged the question.
A correspondent who calls himself a New Jersey democrat, requests the New York Evening Post to urge upon the government to call for volunteers from among the democrats of the Eastern States. He mentions particularly Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and to call out General McClellan.
General Sheridan some years ago, while acting as civil engineer, surveyed a large portion of Virginia over which he has just raided.
Three boxes said to contain “eggs,” were seized on a steamer at St. Louis the other day. On the boxes being opened, the “eggs” were found to be 204 pound cans rifle powder, ten thousand gun caps and three bags of shot. These articles were packed in boxes, and covered with layers of eggs. They were destined for Memphis and thence to the rebel lines.
The great composer, Myerbeer, died at Paris on the morning of May 2d. He was in his 70th year. His death—resulting from an intestinal disease—was calm and painless, and sensible to the last, leaving all necessary directions for the disposition of his remains.
There were twenty-nine Yankee prisoners in the Libby prison on the 11th inst.
The Richmond Dispatch of the 14th says that Gen. J. E. B. Stuart’s funeral occurred on the 13th in Richmond.
Senator Pomeroy, who returned from Fredericksburg Sunday, reports that he conversed with many rebel officers; one of them said that Lee every day announced that he had whipped Grant, but every night they had to fall back before our army.
A Troy paper states that at the very moment when Gen. Wadsworth fell on the field of battle, extensive preparations were being made to celebrate the marriage of his only son with a lady of that city.
Advices from North Carolina state that the rebels are evacuating that state and moving into Virginia to reinforce Lee.
A rebel spy was captured inside Gen. Grant’s lines on Monday, tried by drum head court-martial and shot.
A Baltimorean, temporarily residing in Boston, invited five friends to dine with him, a few days since, but they noticed just before they seated themselves a small secession flag topping a piece of ornamental pastry, and without a word all instantly left the room and the house.
Major Gen. N. Lewis is now stopping at the United States Hotel, Hartford. He is rapidly recovering from the terrible wound received at Port Hudson.
Nathaniel Hawthorne died at Plymouth, N. H., on Thursday last, in his 61st year. He was a graduate of Bowdoin College in 1825, in the same class with the poet Longfellow. Mr. Hawthorne had acquired celebrity as an author. In purity and elegance of style he had no superior. His first elaborate work was the “Scarlet Letter,” followed by “The Blithedale Romance,” “The House of Seven Gables,” and “The Marble Faun.” From 1853 to 1857, he held the office of American Consul at Liverpool.
At the city school meeting held at the Town Hall Monday evening, S. C. Hubbard chairman, after a full discussion on the subject of the call published last week, it was voted to adjourn two weeks with a view of collecting further information on the condition of the schools.
The Weather shows a near approach to summer. With some exceptions the days are only moderately warm; the north wind has not yet relented. Saturday, at noon, the thermometer stood at 84 degrees. Average temperature of the week at 6 a. m. was 58 degrees.
The shower on Saturday evening was accompanied by hail and high winds, causing considerable damage to early vegetation.—David Strong, of Portland, engaged in the seed business, estimates his loss at $1000. The fine mansion, owned by F. W. Russell of Portland, was unroofed. A large tree at the foot of Ferry st., in this city was blown down.
“That Comical Brown.”—This irrepressible son of Momus, who goes about provoking the buttons off peoples clothes, persuading the postage currency out of their pockets, and driving the blues out of their heads, announces one of his unique, mirth-provoking, musical treats at McDonough Hall, this Wednesday Evening, May 25th, when he will be assisted by Miss E. A. Marsh, one of the finest Contralto Vocalists in the country. She created a great sensation in musical circles in Boston on the occasion of her debut at Tremont Temple last winter, being called before the curtain six times in one evening, to respond to as many encores. The entertainments given by Mr. Brown and Miss Marsh are exceedingly popular, and wherever they go a crowded house greets them, and it not infrequently happens that they are obliged to turn people away for want of room. The selections on the programme are good and the entertainment strictly first class. Those who want seats should go early.
Slaymaker & Nichols’ Great Circus.—This establishment comes to us endowed with the encomiums of the press all over the country, and its performances are described as being of a first class character in every respect. The company is composed of the very best artists, including Messrs. William Nichols, Mr. George Derius, the wonderful Snow Brothers, whose acrobatic performances are the theme of universal admiration, and whose great Troupe of Acting Dogs and Monkeys is pronounced the best and most amusing corps in America. It is worthy of liberal patronage, and we hope it will receive it. Look for the procession.
A lady correspondent of the New York Times, says she approves the movement for reducing extravagance in dress, but cannot say she will not wear any imported goods, for herself and family are supplied for more than a year to come! but she recognizes the importance of discouraging the inordinate love of dress, and display of finery, that marks the present day. The New York Express properly remarks—
“One real cause of heart burning, envy, jealousy, and uncharitableness, is the fact that young ladies, whose fathers have a small income, compared with the very rich, demand as many dresses as those who count their profits in the thousands. It is no doubt true that parental indulgence is the cause of much of this extravagance. About the hardest thing to do, is for a loving father or mother to say no to a child—but it is a duty, nevertheless, and tenfold a duty, when extravagance is ruining the country as well as those who indulge in it.”