From General Lee's army.
Army of Northern Virginia.
Spotsylvania C. H., May10, 1864.
Spotsylvania C. H., May10, 1864.
I have written you regularly since my arrival at the headquarters of the army, but tear that some of my letters have not reached you. The Federal cavalry have been in our rear, and may have captured some of our mail carriers. But little is known here of the operations of the raiding party that passed down the telegraph road towards Beaver Dam Station, on the Central railway; we have heard that they destroyed the houses at the station and a large quantity of army supplies, and that they recaptured 300 prisoners and a few hundred muskets on the way to Richmond. It is a matter of surprise here that the party was able to pass to the rear without the knowledge of our own cavalry.
|Gen. Robert E. Lee|
We have had more bloody work to day, and again, as at the Wilderness, our losses are miraculously small. It has been a singular battle, not only in its results, but especially in regard to the manner in which it was delivered by the Federal commander. The greater part of the forenoon was consumed by him in an attempt to make Gen Lee developed his plans and position. Artillery was used freely, and skirmishers and sharpshooters were pushed forward along the lines, and vigorous efforts made to provoke Lee to unmask his batteries and show his hand. At length Grant seemed to grow weary of this kind of work, and ordered an assault to be made. His infantry came up to the work in handsome style, and yet they seemed to have no stomach for the fight; for three separate assaults upon Anderson's corps (late Longstreet's) were repulsed by his skirmishers and sharpshooters alone. The result was not dissimilar in front of Ewell. The heavy masses of the enemy were pushed back with the case with which one puts a drunken man away from him. The Confederates fought behind field works thrown up hurriedly, and they appeared to relish the run amazingly. The last assault made upon Anderson's position was late in the and was headed by a regiment of the old United States army. The enemy succeeded after a hard struggle in gaining a salient shale occupied, I am told by Gregg's brigade, but of who cleared the entrenchments not one lived to return; they were all either killed or taken. They met with a temporary success also in front of division, corps, where they captured a portion, it not all, the guns belonging to the Third company Richmond Howitzer, of Gen Alexander's artillery command. The guns were soon recovered, however, and the off with heavy loss.
Towards noon it was ascertained that the enemy were moving upon our left and centre with cavalry and infantry. Early was sent with Heth's division to drive them off and repossess us of the bridge over the Po, one of the branches of the Mattaponi. He accomplished the object of his mission in his own gallant manner. Heth's men were glad of an opportunity to prove to all that the temporary confusion into which they were thrown at the Wilderness was the result of accident rather than of a lack of spirit. The enemy were well punished and driven entirely from that part of the field.
I have spoken of our casualties to-day as miraculously small. They were less than one thousand; and including the loss resulting from the heavy skirmishing yesterday, they will not exceed 1,200. The enemy's loss, on the contrary, since our arrival here, is estimated as high as 15,000, and at the Wilderness as high as 30,000, including prisoners. These figures are probably too large, though they reflect the opinion which obtains in high official circles here. The calculation rests upon the number of the enemy whom we have buried--2,700 --and the 4,000 prisoners who fell into our hands.--It is proper to add that papers have been captured since the battle of the Wilderness which admit a loss there of 20,000. These papers contain a confession also that Grant was beaten badly on his right, (our left,) where Ewell commanded, and that Cordon in his night attack inflicted heavy loss; but they claim that he was successful on his left, (our right.) the first is true, but the latter is not. Our victory was complete on every part of the field.
It is reported that Grant, just before opening the battle this morning, issued an order in which he announced to his troops that Butler had taken Petersburg, and was then investing Richmond, with every prospect of reducing it at an early day; also, that Johnston had been defeated at Dalton, leaving his dead and wounded in the hands of Sherman. We have not heard from Dalton for some days, but we know that the order utters a falsehood when it claims that Butler has occupied Petersburg and invested Richmond. The courage of Grant's army, however, like that of the man in the play, is oozing out at their fingers' ends, and it requires to be stimulated.
Wednesday, May 11th.
Unbroken quiet has reigned to-day. The two armies still confront each other, lashing their sides and glaring upon each other like lions about to engage in mortal combat. A report prevailed in high quarters this afternoon that Grant was retiring in the direction of Fredericksburg and Germanna Ford, but it is probably without foundation. He is not the man to yield so easily. Some things that have come to my knowledge to-day satisfy me that he did not mean to offer battle yesterday, but rather sought to feel of our lines, and ascertain their direction and strength, with a view to a real attack to morrow or next day, and that the great battle is still to be fought. There can hardly be any doubt but that he has made up his mind to fight us here. The chief danger to be apprehended arises from the impaired morals of some of the brigades, which lost heavily in officers at the Wilderness, and which occupy the weakest part of our line of entrenchments, embracing the salient angle that was lost temporarily yesterday. It has been Gen Lee's opinion for the last two days that the real attack will be made on the right wing, and all Grant's maneuvers and demonstrations on the left have failed to create any diversion from the right.
shipBrigGen H H Walker, of this State, commanding a brigade in Wilcox's division, received a painful wound in the foot yesterday.