May 14, 1864
Strange to say the first news we have had from Northern Va in more than a week came on the 12th in the Charleston paper, having been flashed along the wires in the interior of this state Via Danville, Greensboro, Charlotte, & Columbia. An official dispatch of Gen Lee’s under date of May 6th tell us that “Early this morning as the Divisions of Gen Hill engaged yesterday were being releived, the enemy advanced & created some confusion. The ground lost was recovered as soon as fresh troops got into position & the enemy driven back to his original line. . . . Afterwards we turned the left of his fresh line & drove it from the field, leaving a large number of dead & wounded in our hands, among them Gen Wadsworth. A subsequent attack forced the enemy into his entrenched lines on the Brook Road. Every advance on his part thanks to Almighty God has been repulsed. I greive to announce Gen Longstreet severely wounded & Gen Jenkins killed. General Pegram badly wounded yesterday.” Signed R E Lee.
Additional accounts tell us that the fighting was very severe, principally with musketry, the ground being unsuited for artillery. They attempted to turn our right & to get between Lee & Richmond. The North Carolina troop behaved most gallantly. “Cooks Brigade fought well & loses heavily.” This announcement has added to poor Patty’s anxiety, for the 27th is in that organization. Longstreet had turned the enemy’s left & was pressing them back steadily when he was severely wounded in the shoulder by Mahone’s Brigade. Think what a blunder! To be shot by the enemy is not enough it appears. Our generals must fall by our own hands too! The same unfortunate Brigade also wounded Gen Jenkins of So Ca mortally. He has since died of his wounds. We hear that this is the third time that that Brigade has fired on our own troops, never before, however, at so shinning a mark. God grant that Longstreet may recover. He is Lee’s right hand! The battle field is about twenty five miles below Orange Court House, in the Wilderness above Chancellorsville, & will be called the battle of the Wilderness.
The enemy are retreating towards Chancellorsville & Fredericksburg. On the 8th Lee again telegraphs to the Sec of War, “General Gordon turned the enemy’s extreme right yesterday evening & drove him from his rifle pits. . . . Gens Seymour & Shaller captured. The enemy has abandoned the Germanna Ford road & removed his pontoons toward Ely’s. . . .” R E Lee. A second dispatch of the same date from Spottsylvania Court House also to Mr Seddon says, “After a sharp encounter with the fifth Army Corps & Warren’s and Torbert’s division of Cavalry Gen R H Anderson with the advance of the army repulsed the enemy with heavy slaughter & took possession of the Court House. I am the more grateful to the Giver of all victories that our loss is small.” R E Lee. On the 9th he again telegraphs, “After repulsing the enemy from Spottsylvania Court House that morning they received reinforcements & renewed the attack on our position but were again handsomely driven back.” R E Lee. On the 10th a further official dispatch dated Spottsylvania Court House, May 10th, says Grant has entrenched near that place, frequent skirmishing along our line resulting favorably to us, our casualties small, among the wounded Brig Gen Hayes & H H Walker. This is all official intelligence so that it can be relied on, but it is a mere skeleton & affords little comfort to those anxious hearts who have friends in the front of the battle.
A telegram from brother tells us that up to Sat night the 8th his son Thomas was unhurt, for which God be thanked. We hear of the death of some of our young friends — W H Heywood, jr., Mr Walker Anderson, – & that Mr Wm Saunders is again wounded in the face. Bad for a bridegroom, as he is. Messrs Heywood & Anderson are the second members of their respective families who have been killed in this bloody war, Mr Duncan Heywood having died on the field before Richmond & Gen Anderson fell mortally wounded at Sharpsburg. The news from the enemy in James River is meager. On the 9th they shelled our works at Drury’s Bluff but without effect. On the 8th they were repulsed with a loss of one thousand killed & wounded from Chester, a point on the R R between Petersburg & Richmond. On the 10th they renewed the attack & were again repulsed. Smith & Gilmore are in command & even Butler, it is said, has adventured his precious person to the dangers of War, but this I doubt even tho four of our pickets report that he narrowly escaped them at City Point. From the Weldon and Petersburg R R we have but rumours & they are to the effect that the raiders have retired with heavy loss after destroying the bridge over Stoney Creek.
Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979).http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html