From The Constitution, Wednesday, August 3, 1864 (volume 27, number 1388)
The arrival of some troops in the vicinity of Burmuda Hundred, July 27th, attracted the attention of the enemy, and caused them to believe that another advance on Richmond was intended by way of Malvern Hill. To counteract this the 2d corps was detached across James river, and at 6 ½ A. M., yesterday our advance met the rebel skirmishers in an open field opposite Jones’ neck, with a battery in position at the edge of the woods on the farther side of the field. A long line of skirmishers was thrown out and kept hotly engaged. A whole brigade of the 1st division moved around on the left of the enemy’s line and gathering on their flank, charged, and drove them from their guns into the woods, capturing 50 or 60 prisoners, 4 cannon, and a quantity of small arms. The enemy fell back on their entrenchments, and our troops followed, taking up positions on their front and flanks, and before this reaches you the entire force may be captured or routed. The guns taken were four 24 pounder Parrotts, marked May 29th, near Richmond, and were the same captured from the 18th corps at Drury’s Bluff last May. Our loss is only half a dozen wounded, none seriously. Gen. Grant rode to the front with Hancock and viewed the position the enemy were in. He seemed well pleased with the morning’s operations. Foster’s command had a lively time with the enemy yesterday at this place, but his force being weak fell back half a mile to a stronger position, which he held until the arrival of the 2d corps. He lost 40 or 50 wounded during the day. An attack was expected on Warren’s front yesterday, but was not made. Picket and artillery firing was indulged in to an unusual extent or was sharper than usual in front of the 18th corps.
We have news from Gen. Grant’s army by the Old Point boat, that the siege of Petersburg has had an auspicious commencement on the 30th. The siege of Petersburg opened in earnest this (Saturday) morning, and at daylight we blew up one of the principal rebel batteries, consisting of 16 guns, and had carried three tiers of rebel earthworks, before the mail steamer left City Point. Reports by officers of the Old Point steamer are to the same effect. Picket firing was kept up on both sides and when the match was applied to the mine the skirmishers were still engaged on both sides. The volume of dirt thrown up was immense, rising over three hundred feet in the air. It resembled an immense fountain of earth more than anything else. The 9th corps at once charged the works, driving the rebels to their second line of entrenchments and taking a number of prisoners, some of whom were dug out of the dirt badly bruised. These rebel prisoners state that only about a dozen remain of their regiment. They are South Carolinians.
As soon as the explosion took place, one hundred and twenty guns opened on our front while musketry blazed in one continuous line of fire along the front of the 9th corps and part of the 5th and 18th. The scene is long to be remembered by those who witnessed it.
Later.—After the explosion early this morning everything betokened a brilliant victory, but soon after matters assumed a different aspect, a part of the attacking force having given way, thus exposing the balance to an enfilading fire from both artillery and infantry. At half past 5 o’clock the charge was made, and the fort, with part of the line on each side, was carried, in the most brilliant style. The second division, which was in the center, advanced, carried a second line, a short distance beyond the fort, and rested, holding their ground with the utmost determination. It was at this time that the colored division, under Gen. White, was pushed forward and ordered to charge and carry the crest of the hill which would have decided the contest. The troops advanced in good order as far as the first line, where they received a galling fire which checked them, and although quite a number kept on advancing, the greater portion seemed to become utterly demoralized, a part taking refuge in the fort and the balance running to the rear as fast as possible. They here rallied and again pushed forward, but without success, the greater part of their officers being killed or wounded. During this time, they seemed to be without any one to manage them, and finally they fell back to the rear, out of range of the volleys of canister and musketry that were ploughing through their ranks. Their losses were very heavy, particularly in officers.
General McPherson, who was killed near Atlanta, on Friday, was engaged to be married to a beautiful and accomplished young lady of Baltimore. The dispatch announcing his death by accident fell into her hands on its arrival. It was addressed to her mother, who, not being able to see well without her glasses, passed it to the daughter, engaged to the deceased to read. Seeing it recorded his death, she instantly fainted. The scene was peculiarly distressing.
Grant wept when he learned of Gen. McPherson’s death, and said that the country had lost its ablest soldier, and he his best friend.
The Fremont Movement.
The action of the Cleveland Convention, and the letter from Fremont accepting the nomination from the convention was intended to mislead many persons, leading them to form erroneous opinions concerning the policy of the present administration. Although errors may have been committed and wrong steps taken, yet public holds strong to the belief that in these perilous times when it is necessary to take immediate action, our leaders have taken that course which, with their knowledge they have judged to be for the best. In doing so it is not strange that some seekers after office have been set aside, and left by the wayside to sustain life alone and unaided, or more unfortunate still, picked up by wary politicians and made the tool to carry out some selfish design. Such may be said of the Fremont movement. From the very first it has been evident that there was no principle or sound policy in it. The convention was composed mainly of persons who had been disappointed by the administration in carrying out some scheme of their own, are determined to throw every obstacle in the path of those who have opposed them. The first duty of the people should be to crush the rebellion, and then afterwards to arrange their various differences. In the convention were some loyal men, and it would not be strange that as time develops its hypocritical intentions, they turn away from it. The editor of the spirit of the Times at the outset espoused the cause, believing that it would have a beneficial effect in correcting errors. He how sees that the whole object was to play into the hands of the democratic party, against which he utters a manly protest. He says “no intelligent outside observer can fail to perceive that he (Fremont) and his movement have been appropriated by the copperheads and are skillfully directed in behalf of a reactionary, if not disloyal candidate; strangely enough, we now find it in practical alliance with the copperhead tacticians, and combining with them, actively, in restoring their most pernicious representatives to popular esteem.” Fremont has not the smallest chance of receiving an electoral vote. Every true man should give the concern a wide berth.
LET THE SOLDIERS VOTE.
On the 15th of this month, the people are to vote upon the proposition to amend the constitution so that the soldiers may vote. We have some information that the copperheads are silently organizing to vote it down, and that the amendment can only be carried by every Union man going to the polls next week and depositing his ballot in favor of the amendment. DO NOT LET IT BE DEFEATED BY YOUR STAYING AWAY FROM THE POLLS.
The Journal of Commerce has published a list of twenty one of the largest of the fires which occurred in the northern States during the month of July, in which property to the amount of $4,500,000 was destroyed.
The Superior Court recently in session at Hartford, granted any number of divorces. Parties make new marriage contracts, then go into court to kill the old!
Fast.—A National Fast is appointed by the President of the United States on Thursday next. In this city the Episcopal church will open at the usual hour for appropriate religious services. The Methodist, Baptist and South Congregational will unite at the Baptist church. No appointment for public services at the old North Congregational and Universalist churches.
Substitutes.—John G. Crosby is now prepared to receive orders for substitutes at the lowest market prices, and his facilities for procuring men are not excelled by any. Those intending to be represented previous to the draft will do well to consult with Mr. Crosby.
Trot.—The Match for $200, two miles and repeat between C. Douglas, names, br. m. Kate Kearney, and C. Smith, br. m. Milkmaid, to have come off on Tuesday last, resulted in forfeit being paid by C. Smith. This (Tuesday) a match for $200, at Douglas Park, between C. Douglas, names br. m. Gipsey, and C. Smith, br. m. Milkmaid, takes place.
Pic-nic.—The annual pic-nic of St. Vincent de Paul’s Society of this city will be held on Thursday next. The procession will be formed after services at St. John’s church, when it will proceed to Hall’s grove, just west of the depot. Music will be provided.
The Weather for the season is very fine, quite summer-like. The mercury the past week has walked upward each day to a high figure on the thermometer, until on Monday it found 99 to 100. Tuesday noon, yesterday, no rain for the week. Farmers have had a capital time to secure harvests of grain and the grass crop. The country for miles around Middletown looks well. A capital summer.
The Richmond Examiner of the 23d inst. gives the following report of cases coming before the Mayor’s Court:
Jerry, a slave of Mary Hanlon, with a rogue’s “mug,” was charged with stealing a piece of beef from the second market. The lash was made to count twenty upon his back.
Dick, a slave of J. B. Anderson, was charged with the theft of a lot of brass castings, the property of the Virginia Central railroad. The case was continued.
Joe, a slave boy of Edward D. Eacho, was charged by officer Moore, with making war with sling and stone, and sending a miniature rock in close proximity to that officer’s head. He was ordered fifteen lashes.
Martha, slave of Wm. B. McCarthe, taken up as a runaway, was ordered to be whipped and returned to her master.
This last case exhausted the docket, and the old pub. func. too. He leaned back in his judicial seat, wiped away the falling tear that extra portions of good old “Bourbon” always extorts, when imbibed overnight, and looked straight along his nose to its illuminated end, snapping an eye, ejecting the liquid essence of tobacco all the while.
A curious rebel visitor came stealthily into our lines at Petersburg one night during last week. He was invited to remain and partake of a bountiful repast—coffee, pork and “hard tack.” Consent soon followed the request. While refreshing his inner man our guards were regaled with many a story, diverted with many quiet drolleries and quaint sayings. There is something strange in these meetings, where those who but the day before cursed each other in the heat of battle, and before early dawn, at the sound of bugle horn may slay each other when full of the bread eaten sociably together. This man came by night, not to gain information, but to eat his supper. Soft bread, sour kraut and potatoes had just been issued. The rebel would not believe this to be a “true bill.” Hence this man’s visit. No one in imperfect health could relish food with so much gusto. He had brought with him that excellent sauce—of late years grown unfashionable—hunger. After staying his inordinate appetite with a marching ration, he took his departure.
A young exquisite, innocent of any hair upon his face, went into Phalon’s last week, and seating himself in one of the chairs told the operator to shave him. The barber lathered his face, and then sat down on another chair, and began to read the Tribune.
“Hallo, fellaw,” says the dandy, “what are you waiting for?”
“I have done all that I can, sir,” replied the other, “and I am waiting for your beard to grow!”
Torture applied to extort confession, was discontinued, it is said, in the public courts of Portugal, in consequence of the following circumstances: A conscientious judge, having observed the effects of the rack upon supposed criminals, in making them confess anything, to the sacrifice of their lives, to get released from the torture, determined to try an experiment. It is a capitol crime in that country to kill horse or mule; and he had one of the former which he much valued. He took care one night to have all his servants employed, so no one but the groom could go into the stable. When all were fast asleep in their beds, he stole thither himself, and cut the horse so that he bled to death. The groom was apprehended and committed to prison. He plead not guilty; but the presumption being strong against him, he was ordered to the rack, where the extremity of the torture soon wrung from him a confession of the crime. Upon this confession he had sentence of hanging passed on him, when his master went to the tribunals and there exposed the fallibility of confessions obtained by such means, by owning the fact himself, and disclosing the motives which had influenced him in making the experiment.