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Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
New York Times Articles - May 14, 1864

THE GREAT CAMPAIGN.; Gen. Grant's Decisive Battle.


The Glorious Work of Thursday. Grant Finds the Rebels in the Last Ditch.

Great Captures of Prisoners and Artillery.

The Trophies of Victory a Whole Rebel Division and Thirty Guns.


Communication With Lynchburgh Severed.THE OPERATIONS OF GEN. BUTLER.

His Army Moving on Fort Darling. The Condition of the Wounded at Washington.


WASHINGTON, Friday, May 13 -- 5.30 A.M. Maj.-Gen. Dix: Official dispatches just received by this Department dated yesterday, 8 A.M. at the battle-field, near Spottsylvania Court-House. They state that during the night, Gen. HANCOCK marched frown his previous position on our right and occupied the ground between Gens. WRIGHT and BURNSIDE; at daylight he attacked with his accustomed impetuosity, forcing the first and then the second line of the enemy's works, capturing the whole of Gen. EDWARD JOHNSON's Division and part of EARLY's, together with Maj.-Gen. JOHNSON, Gen. GEO. H. STUART, and from thirty to forty cannon. The number of prisoners is not given, but it is to be counted by thousands. Gen. BURNSIDE on the extreme left opened at the same time with Gen. HANCOCK, and advanced with comparatively little opposition. His right has formed a junction with Gen. HANCOCK, and his left is now actively engaged. Gen. WRIGHT's troops attacked at seven fifteen o'clock, and are now at work. Gen. WARREN is demonstrating to hold the enemy in front of his lines. The rebel works at that point are exceedingly strong. A dispatch has been received from Gen. BUTLER, dated "In the Field, near Chester Station, Va., May 12 -- 3:30 P.M. It states that he is now pressing the enemy near Fort Darling, and has before him all the troops from North Carolina and South Carolina that have got up. BEAUREGARD's courier was captured this morning going to Gen. HOKE, in command of Drury's Bluff. He had a dispatch stating that BEAUREGARD would join them as soon as the troops came up. Gen. GILMORE hold the intrenchments, while SMITH demonstrates upon Drury and the enemy's lines. Gen. KAUTZ, with his cavalry, has been sent to cut the Danville Railroad, near Appomattox Station, and can perhaps advance on James River. We have had no telegraphic communication with Gen. SHERMAN since Wednesday. EDW. M. STANTON, Secretary of War. WASHINGTON, May 13, 1864 -- 2:30 P.M. To Maj.-Gen. Dix: A dispatch from Liuet.-Gen. GRANT has just been received, dated near Spottsylvania Court house, May 12, 6:30 P.M. It is as follows: The eighth day of battle closes, leaving between three and four thousand prisoners in our hands for the day's work, including two General officers, and over thirty pieces of artillery. The enemy are obstinate, and seem to have found the last ditch. We have lost no organization, not even a company, whilst we have destroyed and captured one division, (JOHNSON's,) one brigade, (DOBBS',) and one regiment entire of the enemy. E.M. STANTON, Secretary of War. WASHINGTON, Friday, May 13 -- 6 1/2 P.M. Maj.-Gen. Dix: The following dispatch from Mr. DANA has just reached this department: SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE, VA., May 13 -- 8 A.M. Hon. E.M. Stanton, Secretary of War: "LEE abandoned his position during the night, whether to occupy a new position in the vicinity or to make a thorough retreat, is not determined. One division of WRIGHT's and one of HANCOCK's are engaged in settling this question, and at 6 1/2 A.M. had came up on his rear guard. Though our army is greatly fatigued from the enormous efforts of yesterday, the news of LEE's departure inspires the men with fresh energy. The whole force will soon be in motion, but the heavy rains of the last 36 hours renders the roads very difficult for wagons and artillery. The proportion of severely wounded is greater than on either of the previous days' fighting. This was owing to the great use made of artillery." (Signed,) EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War. WASHINGTON, D.C., Friday, May 13 -- 6:55 P.M. Major-Gen. Dix, New-York: The Acting Surgeon-General reports that of five hundred patients from the recent battle-field, admitted into the Harwood Hospital, not one will require any surgical operation, and that in his opinion two-thirds of the whole number will be fit for duty in thirty days. Reinforcements are going forward to the Army of the Potomac EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.



HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, NEAR SPOTTSYLVANIA COURT-HOUSE, Friday, May 13. The terrible pounding which the rebels received yesterday, has compelled them again to fall back, which they did during the night. Reconnoissances this morning develop nothing but a skirmish line on their front. The operations of yesterday brought our lines so closely up to theirs, that they could hardly have hoped to hold their position to-day. It is not expected that they will fall back far, but will make another stand at the first defensible position. Should they not find such until they come to the North Anna, they will undoubtedly dispute the passage of that stream. This army holds them with the crasp of a bull-dog, and will never let go while life remains. WILLIAM SWINTON.


Lee's Army.

The terrible series of battles which, during the last ten days, have tried the mettle of our army, and the remarkable succession of victorious bulletins which have thrilled the nerves of the nation, seem to be reaching their consummation. The great army of the rebellion, which has held its ground against the power of the United States for three long years, which has fought more great battles than any army that has existed in the world for the last half century, which has twice crossed to this side of the Potomac, and four times driven back mighty armies led by four Generals in succession -- the veteran army of ROBERT E. LEE is breaking up. Or rather, it is being defeated, demolished, crushed and annihilated by the courage of our soldiers and the masterly generalship of their Commander. So much at least is not fancy, but joyous fact -- grim, solemn, terrible, sanguinary fact. It is a fact that the nation will be slow to realize, though proud to believe. All patriotic men possessed of faith in Heaven and in America, have always felt that the huge armies whose bayonets have so long sustained the slaveholding and sectional Confederacy would ultimately be crushed. But only the other day -- those armies looked so formidable and defiant -- the walls of the Confederacy were so high and its towers and bulwarks so tremendous -- that they can hardly conceive it possible that even the mighty enginery which this nation has organized, could all at once make such progress in battering them into ruins. We say not that the work is done -- by no means. We would not rejoice prematurely -- not certainly after the experience of the last three years. But can any one read the history of the past fortnight, as written in blood by Gen. GRANT, and as sent to the country by the Secretary of War and the faithful correspondents of the press, without acknowledging that we have never had such battles nor such successes, that the rebellion has never gotten such staggering blows, and that it never gave such, signs of reeling to its fall as now. In addition to the great actions of Thursday and Friday of last week, the heavy fighting of Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the great action of Tuesday, and the heavy fighting of Wednesday, we this morning present in other columns an account from our correspondent of another great battle on Thursday last -- a battle which was more decisive and victorious in its issue than any of those on either of the seven days' struggle that immediately preceded it. The battle opened in the early morning, by an assault of HANCOCK upon the rebel position at Spottsylvania Court-house, which soon swelled into a general struggle, lasting all day, between nearly the entire force of the two armies; and the Lieutenant-General, whose every sentence will be universally believed, even though he seems always to underrate the greatness of his own successes, himself says of the issue of the day: "The eighth day of battle closes leaving between three and four thousand prisoners in our hands for the day's work, including two General officers and over thirty pieces of artillery. The enemy are obstinate, and seem to have found the last ditch. We have lost no organization, not even a company, whilst we have destroyed and captured one division, (JOHNSON's.) one brigade (DOBBS') and one regiment entire of the enemy." With previous captures, the losses to LEE's army during the eight days' fight must surely have amounted to fifty thousand men -- 30,000 killed and wounded, 10,000 prisoners, and 10,000 stragglers. This, we should certainly think, comprises a half of LEE's entire force, and it is impossible to believe, after such losses, that his army is not in fair process of demolition. We hardly see how our army any more than that of the rebels can much longer sustain themselves under such exhausting destructive work as that of the last fortnight. But their spirit is indomitable, and their physique of iron. Our correspondent, writing at the close of Thursday's death straggle, from Gen. GRANT's headquarters, says: "Whatever may be the determination of the enemy, there will be no change or let up in the resolve of this army, of its Commander and of the head of all the armies of the United States. That resolve is to put the matter through, cost what it may. In doing this we shall add to the already appalling list of losses we have experienced in this unparalleled battle of eight days' duration, but we shall end by crushing the enemy to powder." This is the Army of the Potomac! The latest telegrams report LEE's retreat from Spottsylvania Court-house. Even if this had not been necessitated by the terrible punishment his army has received, it would have been rendered necessary by the fact that nearly all its communications, as well as the communications of Richmond with the South and West have been cut by our cavalry. The Norfolk railroad is worthless to them; the Petersburgh railroad has been cut at Stoney Creek Bridge; the Danville railroad has been, or will presently be, cut at the Appomattox Bridge; the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad has been torn to pieces by SIGEL between Charlottesville and Lynchburgh, and SHERIDAN has operated on the lines in the immediate rear of LEE's army that connect it with Richmond. We need not speculate on what the next movements will be. We are glad to learn that reinforcements are being sent forward to the Army of the Potomac from Washington. Let every available man be pushed to the front of action, that the nation may now, by one tremendous effort, crush this accursed rebel army, fighting for a thrice accursed cause.

Lee's Retreat Becoming a Rout The Rivers; Swollen The Wounded.

WASHINGTON, Friday, May 13 -- 10 o'clock P.M. Dispatches just received from one of your correspondents at the front, dated Headquarters, eight o'clock last night, say that the rebels are in full retreat to North Anna River, with fresh troops in hot pursuit. LEE's retreat is becoming a rout -- thousands of prisoners being captured. The streams in his rear are very much swollen by the recent rains. Supplies are reaching the army rapidly. Our wounded are coming in very fast, and being sent to Washington, many of them, without stopping at Fredericksburgh. The rebel cavalry drove in two companies of the Twenty-second New-York Cavalry, and two of the Third New-Jersey, last evening, near Fredericksburgh. Some of our men are missing. They made no attack on Fredericksburgh, however. They are evidently after our trains, and all their movements seem for that object. We have as yet lost nothing in the way of wagons, except four ambulances captured on the field. Our losses in killed, wounded and missing are estimated at 45,000, many of whom are absent without sufficient reason, and cannot be counted among the losses. Gen. GRANT will crush LEE before he gets to Richmond, if he has to use his teamsters to do it. We captured over six thousand prisoners yesterday and near 40 guns.

The Battle of Thursday The Glorious Work of Hancock and Burnside.

WASHINGTON, Friday, May 13. The extra Republican, has the following highly important intelligence: "Gen. GRANT, sends a dispatch to the President, received last night, announcing, in terms of characteristic modesty, that he moved on the enemy's work, again at Spottsylvania Court-house, on Thursday morning, 12th, at daylight. Gen. BURNSIDE and Gen. HANCOCK made grand and impetuous charges with the bayonet by corps, surprising the enemy, producing the wildest consternation of his ranks, crushing LEE's right and centre, and hurling his entire line back with awful slaughter a distance of several miles. Gen. GRANT remained master of the field, with all the rebel dead and wounded. Besides, we captured thirty pieces of cannon, one whole rebel division, with its commander, Maj.-Gen. NED JOHNSON, and his brother Brig.-Gen. JOHNSON, and Brig.-Gen. GEORGE STUART. The route of the enemy was complete. Details hereafter. The capture of Gen. JOHNSON's rebel division, embracing 4,000 men, is exclusive of LEE's killed and wounded left on the field." Requisition for Militia -- LEE's Army Insubordinate from Lack of Food -- Arrest of Shirkers. WASHINGTON, Friday, May 13. The Government this afternoon made a requisition on Gov. BRADFORD for the immediate service of 2,000 Maryland militia for 100 days, on the terms on which the Governors of the different Western States have recently placed their militia in the field. They are to relieve the other troops now doing guard and post duty in Maryland, who are to go at once to the front. The prisoners captured yesterday morning in HANCOCK'scharge upon JOHNSON's division report that the rebel army is in a state of almost total insubordination on account of the want of food. One hundred and fifty skedaddlers from Gen. GRANT's army, who were taken from the boats which arrived at the Sixth-street wharf late last night, were this morning sent to the Provost-Marshal's office. Not one of these men were wounded, but some represented that they had been sun-struck. They were placed on garrison duty in the various forts around the city.

The Virginia Campaign.

The present campaign against Richmond will probably be a series of most stubborn and bloody battles, across every ravine and stream and river between Spottsylvania Court House and the rebel capital. The country is a most difficult one, intersected with streams, on whose high banks artillery and riflemen can have the strongest positions. Still, by far the most arduous part of the way is already passed, now that the "Wilderness" is in the rear of our army, and probably the most stubborn fighting is over. The Southern army is not one for disaster and continued retreat; the conscripts will fall away; the officers will lose heart; and supplies, wih perhaps ammunition, may fail. LEE himself must see that he could never again have such a position for attack as he had on the outskirts of the "Wilderness," and he probably even now fights for existence. If any of the roads behind him are cut by our cavalry -- as is the case -- he is in a most perilous position for supplying his men. Still, all his difficulties might be overcome, and he retreat in good-order toward North Carolina, whither it would be impossible for us to follow, except by arranging a new campaign, with a new base at Weldon. But, like ourselves, he has the heavy burden of the Capital upon him, and BUTLER's disturbing movement on it and on his rear. It is this necessity of guarding Richmond, which so weakens LEE's campaign. The loss of Richmond would be a terrible loss of prestige, as well as of very important materiel of war. To abandon Richmond, would be to abandon Virginia, and perhaps send back fifty thousand Virginian soldiers, disgusted, to their homes. Richmond, accordingly, is almost as much of a necessity to him as Washington is to us. And it is this double attack which will finally paralyze the rebel General, skillful as he is. It is in this especially that GRANT's campaign differs from any our armies have yet made against the rebel Capital, as well as in the enormous numbers GRANT wields, and the indomitable tenacity and pluck he displays. It is well understood in army circles that the credit of the James River attack on City Point is due to Gen. BUTLER. Lieut.-Gen. GRANT is understood to have adopted it, as soon as it was fairly presented to him, though he had before inclined to the rear attack by North Carolina. Gen. SMITH was equally in favor of it. It is no disparagement to Gen. BUTLER, to say that we only fear the execution of the whole plan may not be as vigorous as was the inception. As it is not once in centuries that a man educated as a civilian has the nerve and the peculiar talent for great military operations. Certainly this war has presented no exceptions to this statement. Still, even if BUTLER never reaches Richmond, he has produced a profound effect on this campaign. No reasonable man could have ever looked forward to anything like a rout of Gen. LEE's army any more than to that of our own. When such veteran corps as LONGSTREET's and BURNSIDE's meet, as they have done on many a bloody field, there is no thought on either side of a rout or a flight, as a thing which could possibly happen. It is so with other veteran corps in both armies. When they are beaten they simply withdraw so much of their men and artillery as they can save, and retreat to the next commanding position where they can make a stand. In such a country as Virginia, an army can never be entirely broken up by one defeat. There is no opportunity for such a pursuit by cavalry as we read of in European battles. Artillery, and the strong positions peculiar to the country, can always retard the pursuing enemy, until the defeated army can reorganize itself. It is only by some fortunate double attack, like that which is the peculiarity of this campaign, that a large retreating army in America can be broken up. Unless BUTLER should be peculiarly fortunate on the James, we may expect weeks of stubborn contest between the gradually failing army of LEE and his increasingly strong and tenacious opponent; for it must be remembered that GRANT has yet to add to his right wing the important corps under SIGEL, from the Valley. No immediate or startling end of such a struggle can be expected. It may be a long and tough contest of pluck and endurance. Northern tenacity will be on trial against Southern ardor. Disasters and delays must frequently occur; the difficulty of supplies for GRANT's enormous army must be exceedingly great. Yet the question will be narrowed down to an absolute and final struggle on an equal field between the resources and the spirit of the North and the South. It is well that the great contest between the two civilizations should be thus finally settled. Who can doubt the issue?

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