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Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
New York Times Articles - May 12, 1864

News from Gens. Grant and Meade Pursuit of the Rebels

Capture of Prisoners The Stubborn Fight on Sunday A List of Wounded.


WASHINGTON, Wednesday, May 11 -- 8 A.M. Dispatches have been received from Gens. GRANT and MEADE giving an account of operations up till dark on Monday. At that time our army was closely pressing LEE'S retreating columns, Every inch of ground was stubbornly contested by the rebels. We have captured many prisoners. The loss on both sides is very heavy. The fight on Sunday, near Spottsylvania, was desperate, and at its beginning was decidedly against us. Reinforcements, however, came up in time to save the day, and the enemy were handsomely repulsed. The prisoners captured are about equal on both sides. In our present position artillery can be used with effect, which was impossible while we were in the Wilderness. Heavy and continuous cannonading, beginning at daylight on Monday, was heard at Fredericksburgh, in the direction of Spottsylvania Courthouse -- an evidence that the battle had been renewed. The fighting up to noon yesterday had continued with vigor in the neighborhood of Spottsylvania Court-house. Our forces have intrenched themselves at that point, and though having fought five days and nights, aside from performing heavy marches under a broiling sun, they exhibit not the least willingness to give up, but encouraged by the successful termination of the battles in the Wilderness, from which they drove the enemy with great loss, and encouraged by the presence of Gen. GRANT and a determination to push to Richmond, they have thus far baffled all efforts of the enemy to drive them back or turn our flanks. On Sunday morning, at 11 o'clock, the head of a column of ambulances and army wagons reached Fredericksburgh by the plank road from Chancellorsville. They comprised men who had been wounded in the battle in the Wilderness on Tuesday and Wednesday, and most of whom had lain in the field hospitals. The cases embraced mainly gunshot wounds in the lower limbs and body, the rebels having fired unusually low in this engagement.



The Battle of Monday Evening Hancock Crosses the River Po Lee's Position and

Line of Battle Signs of Despondency on the Part of the Rebels No Signs of Weariness in

Grant's Army Lee Out of Rations Six thousand Prisoners Captured.

WASHINGTON, Wednesday, May 11. The latest news received here from Gen GRANT'S army relates to the operations of Monday and yesterday. The fight on Monday evening was very severe, inflicting a loss on our side of over two thousand men killed and wounded. It was brought on by HANCOCK, who, in his effort to take Spottsylvania Court-house, accomplished the crossing of the River Po under cover of a tremendous artillery fire, and established himself on the south bank. LEE's army forms a line of battle immediately north of the Court-house. His left extends to Glady Run, and is protected by the block-house, curving northward. His centre occupies the high ground on the banks of the branch of the Po, with his right sweeping in similar curve north of this branch, and protected on its flank by the Ny River. His line presents the curves of capital letter B, with convex curves toward GRANT. On yesterday morning SHERIDAN's cannon were heard away to the southward. Although GRANT's losses are heavy his army presents no sign of weariness. All agree that he has handled his troops in a masterly manner. LEE's men give unmistakable signs of despondency. They no longer cheer and fight, but charge or retreat in dogged silence. LEE's losses begin to tell on him. He finches from direct assault, and has lost spirit. In an order to his army Monday, found on prisoners taken, he notified them that his communication with Richmond is broken, and no rations can be drawn from there. He advises efforts to capture supplies from GRANT. So far his men have been unable to comply with this suggestion. They have not captured a pound of provisions. GRANT, up to yesterday, had taken about 6,000 prisoners. A whole regiment was taken, the greater part of which was composed of men who had but a few weeks since been exchanged.

The Very Latest form the Battle-field The Situation on Tuesday

at 12 o'clock Monday a Day of Quiet Crossing of the Po by

Hancock Warren Advances His Line The Prisoners Rebel Dispatches Averill's Raid.

WASHINGTON, Wednesday, May 11. Your correspondent, WM. SWINTON, sends the following to this Bureau: IN FRONT OF SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE, Va., TUESDAY, May 10, 1864. The military situation at this hour (Tuesday, 12 M.) finds the line of the army drawn around Spottsylvania Court-house in the arc of a circle, the concave toward us. The enemy is in force at that point, and seems determined to dispute the passage. I mentioned in my letter of yesterday that the two armies ran a race from the Wilderness for Spottsylvania, but unfortunately the enemy won the race. This should not be interpreted as conveying any censure on the Army of of the Potomac, which has marched with a new inspiration and a rapidity never before seen in its history. But the very necessities of our condition as the invading party, with our old base abandoned and a new one not yet opened, obliges us to take immense trains, which, of course, retard the general movement of the army; the rebels constantly falling back on their base, and favored by their very poverty, can readily beat us on an equal start. It would certainly have been a great point gained had we been able to make Spottsylvania Court-house in advance of the enemy. An inspection of the map will show you that it is an important strategic point, being the point of divergence of the roads leading southward, both to the right and left. The enemy's command of it enables him to cover the withdrawal of his trains and at the same time bars our further advance, unless on the condition of an assault -- which, in the country in which we are now fighting, is very destructive of life -- or of a turning movement. It is probable that to-day will decide the question; and if, as we hope, it gives us Spottsylvania Court-house, we shall then be out of the Wilderness, and have a clear road on to Richmond. Yesterday was intended to be a day of quietude, during which the army, fatigued by five days incessant marching and fighting, would have an opportunity to recuperate and renew the supplies of rations. Little occurred to interfere with this programme, although the rebels made an attack on WILCOX's Division of BURNSIDE's Corps, early in the afternoon. They were, however, handsomely repulsed, and BURNSIDE has the extreme left of our line, within a mile and a half of the Court-house. About 6 o'clock last evening, Gen. HANCOCK, holding the right of our line, crossed Po Creek and seized the Block House Road, the direct line from Parker's Store to Spottsylvania Court-house. Immediately afterward, WARREN, who now has centre, advanced his line of battle, drove the rebels for half a mile, and took up a strong position. Up to the present hour, the situation remains as here described. The rebels have as yet shown no disposition to assume the offensive at this point. It was confidently expected on Sunday night that an attack would take place on HANCOCK's front, toward the Catharpen Road, and on a line with the Brock Road. The troops showed great diligence in throwing up breastworks, and a brigade was advanced out for a mile or more from the main front over some cleared land. About an hour before sunset this attack was made. Immediately upon the retirement of the advance brigade, the enemy charged toward our line, but never reached it. They put a few guns in position, and shelled the woods for a while, but did no harm. A small number of Gen. BIRNEY's troops, on whom the attack was principally made, were wounded by the enemy's musketry before they withdrew, having received more harm than they had done. Before this attack, our advance could see HILL's Corps marching south to join the main body, opposing our progress in front on the branch of the Po. As it was necessary to hold this position until it was certain the enemy were gone, Gen. HANCOCK did not stay the progress of the men engaged in forming breastworks, but added another line in the open ground around Todd's Tavern, a regiment of heavy artillery working all night to finish them. It was a very pretty sight. The lanterns of the workmen hung to the blossoming cherry-trees, and picturesque groups of soldiers digging and erecting the works, while batteries stood harnessed up, their cannoniers lying on the ground around the carriages, in wait for any emergency. At sunrise scouts advanced and found the enemy in small force; and about noonday Gen. HANCOOK left Gen. WARD's brigade to hold the position, and advanced with his corps toward the River Po, which by night he had, after considerable resistance, passed. Gen. BURNSIDE pushing out on the extreme left, advanced to a place in front of SEDGWICK's (now WRIGHT's) corps. A reconnoissance by two regiments was made. These advanced some distance without meeting much resistance. At the same time the cannonade along some portions of the front was quite brisk between ours and the rebel artillery. The prisoners we have are in apparent good condition. One fellow, who was taken with much trouble, explained his determined efforts to avoid capture, on the ground that it was currently reported that we should massacre all our prisoners, in revenge for the slaughter of our negro soldiers. We have fewer stragglers than usual, though not so few as might be. It is not easy to straggle in a country where there is no communication, and guerrillas loaf around the army to pick up any waif or estray sleeping in the woods. The Provost-guard has all it can do, to keep the lingerers up to their duty. Gen. PATRICK had quite a brigade of them one day, and I believe had serious thoughts of making a charge with them. The same intolerable heat which we have had ever since this movement commenced still continues, and numerous cases of coup de soleil happen every day. It is, however, one compensation for the heat that it keeps the roads in excellent traveling conditions, saving and excepting the dust, which is here of a most malignant type. Gen. WRIGHT, who formerly commanded a division of the Sixth, is now in command of that Corps so grievously deprived of its head by the death of the beloved SEDGWICK, the details of which I yesterday sent you. The grief at this sad event intensifies as it becomes known throughout the army. An effort was at first made to keep the sad fact from the knowledge of his men. Gen. WRIGHT is an excellent soldier, and will command the Sixth well. The road which our troops faced runs from Orange Court-house to Fredericksburgh, and is forty-one miles long. It crosses no river. Proceeding from Orange Court-house, we come at a distance of ten miles to Verdiersville; ten miles further brings us to Parker's Store; six miles further to Wilderness; five miles further to Chancellorsville; ten miles more to Fredericksburgh The following is published in the Richmond Dispatch, of the 7th inst., as the dispatch of its special correspondent, "Sallust," and gives an account of the second day's -- Friday's -- engagement: ORANGE COURT-HOUSE, Friday, May 6. The enemy renewed the attack this morning with great violence, attempting to turn our right and get between us and Richmond. Every attack of the enemy was repulsed. We have driven him some distance on the left, but he is very stubborn on the right, but is now giving way. Lieut.-Gen. LONGSTREET had turned the enemy's left, and was steadily pushing him back, when he was severely wounded. He was shot by Mahone's Brigade through mistake. Gen. LONGSTREET is doing well. He and his command saved the day on the right. The artillery took but little part on either side on account of the woods and the nature of the ground. Our loss is very severe, including many valuable officers. Gen. WADSWORTH, of the Yankee army, was killed. The battle was fought in the wilderness, and will probably be designated as "the battle of the Wilderness." The enemy has been pushed back toward Chancellorsville and Fredericksburgh. Everything looks well for our success. To complete all the rebel material illustrations of the battle of the wilderness, I append a copy of a dispatch from Gen. JOHN PEGRAM to Gen. JEB. STUART, which was obtained by the capture of the courier carrying it, and which shows the important fact that LONGSTREET, after fighting our right under SEDGWICK in the morning, made a rapid march, united with A.P. HILL, and assisted in the tremendous effort made to roll up HANCOCK's left on the afternoon of the same day, all the circumstances of which I have detailed in former letters: GENERAL: I learn from Gen. R.E. LEE that the enemy attacked EWELL early this morning, and were repulsed as usual. There was some confusion in HILL's Corps, but as soon as LONGSTREET came up, he commenced driving the enemy, and has been doing so up to this time, 7:20 P.M. Gen. LEE says you can render him very essential service by a vigorous attack on the enemy's left. PEGRAM. Oddly enough, the attack was made near Toad's Tavern, but STUART was badly whipped by our cavalry, and the essential service was not rendered. In regard to BUTLER's operations, the latest we have received here is from a dispatch of Gen. PICKETT, which I inclose: The movement of the enemy on the south side are as yet but little known, with the exception of a general intention to flank Drewry's Bluff. A gentleman, who left City Point Thursday, about 8 o'clock, says that on that afternoon, about 4 o'clock, the enemy landed a force of some two-thousand at City Point. The main bulk of the enemy's force proceeded to Bermuda Hundred, about three miles higher up James River, where they landed a force variously estimated at from ten to fifteen thousand men. Bermuda Hundreds is near the mouth of the Appomattox River, on its western bank, and but ten miles from Drewry's Bluff. It is also within two or three hours march of the Richmond and Petersburgh Railroad. The following telegram was received here last night: PETERSBURGH, May 6, 1864. Our forces were skirmishing with the enemy forces near Port Walthall Junction, at 6 o'clock th evening. G.E. PICKETT, Major-General Commanding. In regard to AVERILL's progress, the same journal gives the following: LYNCHBURGH, Friday, May 6. The Virginian has information that AVERILL has concentrated 8,000 cavalry and infantry at Kanawha Valley, with the intention of making a raid on the salt works in Washington County. Just as I close this letter a heavy cannonading has commenced in the front, for which I leave immediately.

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