A Great Battle at Richmond.
On Saturday morning last, between nine and ten o’clock, the great battle was opened near Richmond, by an attack in force by Gens. Hill and Longstreet’s divisions, and most desperate fighting was kept up from that time until Sunday evening, when Gen. McClellan, who commanded the Yankees in person, asked for an armistice until Thursday morning at 8 o’clock, to bury his dead, which was agreed to by Gen. Johnston.
The Examiner estimates the enemy’s strength engaged in the fight on Saturday at 60,000, and ours at 30,000. On Sunday the enemy’s strength at 50,000, and ours about the same. Our loss, says the Examiner, in the two days’ battle, was not less than 1,000 or 1,200. The enemy’s loss was as great, if not greater, besides several hundred prisoners. One N.C. Regiment alone took one hundred and sixty-five prisoners and sent them to the rear.
While we have, no doubt, lost many gallant officers and brave soldiers, whose memories will ever be revered by us, we feel rejoiced to believe that in this terrible struggle for independence, during Saturday and Sunday, our army got decidedly the better of the fight. And we fondly hope, that when the battle shall be renewed this (Thursday) morning, we will achieve a glorious victory over our wicked enemies.
We have copied in another column the telegrams which were sent fromRichmondwhile the battles were progressing; and we subjoin from the Richmond Whig of Monday morning, its additional account of the conflict, as follows:
The battle of Saturday, 31st May, took place this side of Laurel Grove, between the York river rail road and the Williamsburg stage road, about seven miles from Richmond. Gen. Hill’s Division commenced the attack about eleven o’clock in the forenoon. The Yankees were strongly entrenched, and had every advantage, but our brave troops were not dismayed by the difficulty of the undertaking before them. According to our information, the first assault upon the enemy’s entrenchments was made by Gens. Rhodes’ and Garland’s brigades, which, in conjunction with those commanded by Gens. Reins and Hatton, bore the brunt of the fight for two hours before reinforcements arrived. These troops displayed great intrepidity, charging the enemy and driving them from their batteries and rifle pits. The Yankees fought well, and our men suffered severely from their stubborn resistance, but the enemy was compelled to give way before the impetuous charge of the Confederates.
Our information is too limited and fragmentary to enable us to give anything like a detailed account of the engagement, this morning. Gen. Longstreet’s Division reinforced that of Gen. Hill’s and aided effectually in driving the enemy from their position. Three batteries were captured and the guns turned and used against the foe. Later in the day, a portion of Gen. Huger’s Division participated in the fight. The Yankees were constantly bringing up reinforcements, but they could not withstand the valor of our troops and though, it is reported, they recaptured one of their batteries, after a desperate struggle, they were compelled to fall back at least a mile beyond their entrenchments, leaving their camp, cannon and stores in possession of our troops. About seven o’clock, a flank movement was attempted on our left, but the enemy was handsomely repulsed by Gen. Whiting’s Division.
It is not definitely known how many Yankees are engaged, but the estimated number 40,000. The report early in the day was, that three Divisions were this side of the Chickahominy, and that the swollen condition of the stream in consequence of the heavy rain the night before, would prevent reinforcements from arriving, but it was afterwards reported that a pontoon bridge had been thrown across the stream, and fresh troops sent over. Gen. McClellan directed the movements in person.
On our side Gen. Jos. Johnston had command. President Davis and Gen. Lee were on the ground, and their presence served to increase the enthusiasm of the soldiers.
Gen. Rhodes received a slight wound in one of his shoulders.
Gen. Hatton, of Tenn., was killed. He was only appointed Brigadier General, last week, as successor to Gen. Anderson, of S.C., who resigned on account of impaired health.
A large number of staff and company officers were killed and wounded. Gen. Pettigrew of N.C., and Adj’t. L. S. Meem, ofVa., were killed. Lieut. Col. Otey, of Bedford was killed, and Lieut. Col. Johnson, of N.C., was badly wounded, and is at the American Hotel.
Major Maury received a musket ball through his right arm, but the wound, we are happy to learn, is not serious. He commanded the 24th Virginia—theCol.And Lieut. Col. Not having recovered from the wounds received at Williamsburg.
Col. Maurice Langhorne, ofLynchburg, was badly wounded in the right thigh.
Major Phillip T. Sutton, on Gen. Rhodes’ staff, was wounded in the left arm, and we regret to learn that the arm was amputated yesterday, above the elbow.
Among the regiments, which from all accounts suffered most severely, were the 5th Alabama, 12thMississippi, 1st, 24th and 25th North Carolina. The total number of casualties was heavy, but no reliable estimate has yet reached us. The Yankees left a large number of dead and wounded on the field. Their loss is said to be double that of the Confederates. Several stands of colors were captured. Among the stores which fell into possession of our troops was a large quantity of lemons, which are so much needed for the hospitals.
About four hundred prisoners were taken representing the 35th, 81st, 85th, 87th, 92d, 68th, and 100thNew York; the 23rd, 52d, 61st, 85th, 93rd, 102d, 104th, and 105th Pensylvania; the 5th and 30thMichigan, 11thMaine, 8thIllinois, (cavalry,) etc. The only field officers among them are Lieut. Col. George C. Speer, and Major George F. Smith, of the 61st Pa., which regiment was almost annihilated.
Yesterday morning, at an early hour, the combat was renewed by Generals Pickett’s and Mahone’s brigades, in the vicinity of the railroad. The fighting was kept up until 2 o’clock in the afternoon, but was not continuous. There was cannonading and skirmishing at other points along the line, but the principal fighting was at the place indicated, and, from all accounts, was conducted with desperation on both sides. The reports agree in representing the Confederate casualties to have been heavy, and sad confirmation of this statement was afforded by the constant arrivals of ambulances and other vehicles with wounded soldiers. The first of June, ’62 will be long remembered for the distressing scenes presented on our streets. We cannot dwell upon them. There must be a day of retribution. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”
The accounts from the field varied somewhat as to the results, but the prevailing report was that the enemy had been badly worsted. In the absence of definite information, we shall not attempt to put into shape and consistency the various reports which have reached us. Our troops still occupy the position from which the invaders were driven yesterday. The fighting will probably be resumed today. If so, let all business be suspended, and the entire population devote itself to the patriotic duty of providing for and taking care of the wounded.
Source: Greensborough Patriot, June 5, 1862 as found in Confederate Newspaper Project