August 3, 1864
No mail today which creates a vague uneasiness. Visions of Raiders, burnt bridges, & torn up tracks fill our minds. We learn officially from Petersburg that at 5 A M on Sat. the enemy sprung a mine under one of our salients & immediately opened his batteries upon one whole line & on the city. In the confusion he obtained possession of the salient but in half an hour was driven out with immense slaughter, we capturing 12 stand of Colours, 74 officers, including Brig Gen Bartlett, & 855 men. It is supposed that 118 of our men were in the salient at the time it was blown up. The negro troops immediately after the explosion rushed into our lines shouting out “No Quarter! Remember Fort Pillow,” where they were met with such determination by their old masters & granted to the full what they so earnestly clamoured for that in spite of the Yankee bayonetts behind them they turned & ran incontinently. One of them recognizing in a Mississippi Co his young master, rushed up to him in the thickest of the fight & throwing his arm around him cried out, “You shall not hurt my young Master,” when a ball struck & wounded them both, happily not mortally! His return to his allegiance probably saved his life, for but few of his companions were left to tell the tale of their encounter.
The scene in the pit made by the explosion after the battle was over & our line re-established, it is said, beggars description. It was ghastly! On our side, sad to say, we lost Gen Elliot of S C mortally wounded. We fear it is Gen Stephen E the gallant defender of Ft Sumter, a man whom we can ill spare.
Grant had thrown heavy bodies of his troops over to the north bank of the James. The night of the explosion he recrossed them with great rapidity. It now appears that he intended the movement as a blind to mislead Gen Lee, hoping that he would so weaken himself before Petersburg so that when he sprung his grand mine the city would be at his mercy, but Gen Lee is to old a bird to be caught with chaff. He threw men enough over the river to confront Grant at Deep Bottom & give him the repulse I mentioned on Monday & yet maintained himself intact in his trenches. The labour Grant has been at is enormous. The explosion has revealed his burrows. I do not trust the newspaper dimensions of the excavation, so refrain giving them, but it must without exaggeration have been a stupendous work. Most of it was, we learn, performed by negroes, our own stolen negroes working at the point of the bayonette against us. Poor deluded oppressed people!
The U S have distinguished themselves by a solemn act of banishment of two British subjects, Mr & Mrs Christie, sometime resident in a boarding house in Baltimore, for the heinous crime of throwing away a small U S flag. On 4th of July last Mrs C took from the window of a room occupied by an U S officer a small U S flag & threw it away. Her husband is charged with being an accessory to the action of his wife upon which a tempest arises in the U S teapot & they are banished! Where! O where has liberty fled?
Early is, it is beleived, over the border again. At any rate Lincoln thinks so, as he clamours for loyal citizens to rush to the defence of the Capitol. This time we think his destination is Penn, and we hope ‘ere his return that he will set the Coal mines on fire & let those Dutch Yankees understand feelingly what Retaliation means.
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