June 11, 1864
Have been reading my account of the battles around Richmond in 1862 & am very much disgusted with them. They are bald, meagre, & flat to an unaccountable degree. I knew everything that was going on so well myself & was so familiar with the name of each skirmish that I suppose I thought it useless to particularize them, but in order to remedy in some measure my own defects in the narrative of now passing events I preserve another spirited letter from an English correspondant describing the battle of Spotsylvania C H, as his first did that of the Wilderness.
Grant & Lee still confront each other, their lines of battle being but three or four hundred yds apart, but all is quiet, not a gun fired along the whole line! Grant sends in a Flag & requests an interval for the purpose of burying the dead & caring for the wounded, to which Lee replies that “none of his dead lie between the lines & that his wounded are all cared for.” Rather late in the day for Gen Grant to assume the humane. He left thousands of bloated corpses festering in the sun at Spotsylvania C H & marched off with seeming indifference as to whether they were buried or not. His proposal now is considered merely a ruse de guerre to gain time for some new change of base. All things seem to point to a crossing of the James River on his part & an assumption of Butler’s late route. An immense pontoon bridge has been floated up the James & now lies below Berkeley. Were he to attack Petersburg in force, Lee could, I think, get there & confront him on his arrival. The fortifications there are enormous, but as yet have no guns mounted upon them. There is even more than the usual amount of lying in the Yankee papers as to their successes. Lee has been driven routed from Cold Harbour, which place they now hold. Butler has defeated Beauregard so signally that the “wily Creole” has fled. Our gunboats in the James are annihilated. Grant is in the entrenchments around Richmond & many other novel inventions of their fertile imaginations dazzle the minds of the reading northern public. Do they beleive it? Or have they a peep behind the scenes and pretend to do so, so as to aid in bolstering up the Stock Market & the price of Gold? The New York World, however, illustrates the truth of the old maxim “sweet are the uses of adversity,” as since its suspension it tries to tear the veil from the eyes of its countrymen, asks “what is the use of such deceit?” & gravely announces “that here after we for one are resolved to speak the truth as regards military successes or reverses.”
Lee tells us in a dispatch of the 8th that the enemy have been unusually quiet today & on the whole extended his line. “Two divisions of his cavalry under Gen Sheridan are reported to have crossed the Pamunky yesterday at New Castle Ferry.” Signed R E Lee. So Sheridan is out on other raid — probably to prevent reinforcements being sent to Imboden in the Valley & prevent Hunter from being driven from Staunton. For bitter tho’ the pill is, we have been forced to swallow it without gilding, with the added bitterness too of the death of Gen William E Jones, a gallant & able officer, who fell at the head of his command whilst barring the advance of that bloodthirsty thief Gen Hunter down the Valley.
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