Another Great Battle Before Richmond.
OUR LOSS ESTIMATED AT THE THOUSAND — REBEL LOSS UNKNOWN.
WASHINGTON, July 1.
A severe and most determined battle was fought on the right wing Thursday and Friday, which is claimed by some of our officers as a successful strategic movement, into which the enemy had been unwittingly drawn; and which will soon result in the capture of Richmond and the entire rebel army. The attack was made by the enemy in immense force, who crossed the Chickahominy near the railroad above Mechanicsville, on Thursday afternoon, and fought desperately, but were unable to drive our men a single rod, though they were ten to our one. The only force engaged that day was McCall's division — the battle lasting from 1 till 9 P. M., when the division was ordered back.
General McClellan was on the field, expressing himself satisfied with the result.
Thursday about noon the enemy made an attack upon Gen. Stoneman's forces, in the vicinity of Hanover Court House, probably for the purpose of accomplishing an outflanking movement on the right and to engage our attention in that direction. — Shortly afterwards they commenced vigorous cannonading from their works on an eminence opposite Mechanicsville, about one and a half miles distant; also from two batteries — one above and the other below. — They were replied to by Campbell's Pennsylvania batteries, on picket duty on the Mechanicsville road, and another from behind earthworks at the right of a grove.
About 2 P. M. the enemy's infantry and squadrons of cavalry crossed the Chickahominy in immense force, a short distance above the Virginia Central Railroad, making a rapid advance towards General McCall's division, who were intrenched on a hilly woodland across a swamp ravine, about a mile in the rear of Mechanicsville. The First Pennsylvania Rifles (Bucktails) and Campbell's Pennsylvania battery were on picket duty, all of whom, except one company, fell back behind the breastworks and rifle-pits, where a line of battle was drawn up. Company K, of the Bucktails, who were on picket beyond the railroad, were surrounded by the enemy, and the last that was known of them they were trying to cut their way through. It is presumed the greater portion were taken prisoners.
The enemy advanced down at the rear of Mechanicsville, on low marshy ground, to where our forced were drawn up behind rifle-pits and earthworks on an eminence on the north side of the ravine, where the conflict became most terrible. The rebels, with the most determined courage, attempted to press forward over the miry ground, but the bullets and grape shot fell among them like hail, literally mowing them down. This continued till dark, when they withdrew. The cannonading was kept up on both sides until about 9 P. M., when the battle ceased.
Our forces were covered by earthworks, and suffered but slightly.
Late in the afternoon the enemy made a charge with cavalry. About a hundred of them came rushing down and attempted to cross the ravine, when the horse s became mired. A squadron of our cavalry, seeing their position, made a charge down the hill, when the cavalry men abandoned their horses and fled. The infantry fight was then renewed, and, according to the statement of my informant (Surgeon Humphrey, of the Bucktail Regiment), continued until about 7 P. M., when a retreat was ordered, very much against the will of the Pennsylvania boys, who begged to be allowed to hold their position. The outer forces then began to fall back. Porter's corps was some distance below Dr. Gaine's residence.
Of next day's battle, a correspondent says the cannonading and musketry were terrific. Duryee's gallant Zouaves were lying on the ground for two hours, while our batteries were shelling the woods over them. Finally, the enemy attempted to break the centre line in front of Duryee's Zouaves. The musketry fire became terrific, lasting 30 minutes. Shortly an attempt was made to break through the right, which was repulsed, and a half-hour later another attempt was made on the left, with the same result.
The battle had then been raging for some hours, without any apparent change or advantage on either side. Reinforcements of artillery and infantry then came steadily along the bridge to the field of battle. The enemy then seemed to make their last desperate, determined effort, and came, forcing our men between the hill and the bridge, where they could have been slaughtered by tens of thousands before they could have reached that long and narrow bridge. Wagons, artillery, ambulances and men were hurrying towards the bridge, and a panic was almost inevitable, when a strong guard was placed across the bridge.
At the time when the enemy had almost reached the main hospital, half a mile from the river, Thomas Francis Meagher's Irishmen came over the hill, stripped to the bare arms, and were ordered to "go in." — They gave a yell and went to work, and the result was that the enemy fell back to the woods, and thus matters stood up to about 11 o'clock yesterday (Sunday) morning.
At dark an attack was made along the front of the center line, and was renewed at 2 A. M., in front of Generals Hooker, Kearney and Summer, without any material result.
Another correspondent says of Friday's battle:
Twice all along the front did the rebels attack our lines, our rifle-pits and our redoubts. Porter, with 50 cannon, and Sumner's, Hooker's and Ayer's guns, mowed them with a death harvest. Their loss in killed and wounded was horrible.
Under date of Friday midnight, the same correspondent says:
Ten guns were taken from us by a sudden flank attack, covered by the thick smoke which hung around. Count De Paris captured a rebel Major, who belonged to Jackson's army. He said he had been in the Shenandoah all winter, and came here yesterday with a part of Jackson's army. The rest of it arrived this morning. The whole of it is here. He said that in the attack on our right the rebels had from 60,000 to 80,000 troops. This explains the enormous fire under which our men were borne down and swept away, precisely as some of the regiments were swept away at Fair Oaks.
Yesterday, the Pennsylvania reserve drove the attacking regiments of Jackson's command. To-day they were overpowered by the same troops reinforced. Syke's Regulars, called up, moved unequal to the task of stopping them, and Slocum's command had to be added to them.
The Count de Paris testifies to the remarkably good conduct of all the regiments they sustained, the unequal attack on Porter. They gave way indeed, but not one of them ran. Their losses are enormous. The 11th Infantry is about annihilated. Nearly every officer in it is either killed or wounded. The 14th suffers also severely. Major Roselle, of the Regulars, a kinsman of McClellan, is killed, Col. Pratt, of a New York regiment, is also killed, and Lieut. Cols. Black and Sweitzer. Our loss in officers is very marked indeed.
The disproportion in numbers was so extraordinary, that our losses were inevitably large. The artillery in both Porter's and Smith's divisions piled the rebels in heaps. The fire was terribly effective.
NEW YORK, June 30.
The Herald's report, dated the 27th, states. Our killed, wounded and missing, on that day reached 1,200.
The object of the movement was to bring Porter's other divisions into more close connection with the rest of the army; in fact changing the whole front of the whole of our forces, with our center and left pressing on Richmond itself, which would be done, as was thought, Saturday, causing a virtual surrender or the evacuation of the long line of defence heretofore kept up to Mechanicsville.
In order to have the whole force within more effective distance, also to allow the rebels to follow up, if possible, and bag them. McClellan ordered Porter to withdraw to two miles this side of James' Mills early Friday morning, which was done, the enemy following, thinking they had gained a victory over our troops, who were slowly moving back in order, fighting as they went, crossing the Chickahominy, and reaching the position designated for their occupation by McClellan. The rebels followed in great confusion.
By 2 P. M., a general heavy engagement here took place, lasting till 7, when a lull took place, but the rebels again renewed it with greater ferocity, having been reinforced. Our brave men stood the unequal combat like heroes. Canister, shell, grape and musketry did fearful havoc.
Our forces were increased by Generals Slocum's Palmer's and Meagher's brigades, and the rebels were badly beaten.
Meagher's brigade went into the fight with coats off and sleeves rolled up, fighting like tigers.
The ground McClellan ordered Porter to occupy and hold he occupied and held. — The first part of the day Porter's corps only contended against the rebels. Subsequently reinforcements swelled the number to forty-five thousand. The rebels had sixty thousand under Lee, Anderson and Branch.
Among the killed was Col. Grove, 22d Massachusetts, and Colonel Roberts, 1st Michigan.
WASHINGTON, July 2.
Latest advices from McClellan are up to 2 o'clock Saturday P. M. Up to that time he had successfully carried out the plan he pointed out some time ago, which plan was to swing his right wing towards the rear, which included all the forces north of and half way between Bottom's Bridge and New Bridge, and at the same time advance his left wing towards James River, opening communication with the gunboats.
The attack of the enemy last Thursday in great force necessitated the strategic movement, and in changing his base, of course, White House Landing was abandoned. All the sick and wounded, ordnance and commissary stores, troops and property there were embarked under Gen. Casey, and on Monday were at Turkey Island, on James River, 8 miles below Fort Darling, and 15 below Richmond.
After an interruption of communication between McClellan and Washington of 48 hours, his left wing touched James River yesterday, near Turkey Island bridge. He immediately opened communication with Com. Rodgers, of the Potomac flotilla, and, through him, with Washington. The result may be that the steam transports may relieve his soldiers of the fatigue of marching on Richmond by landing them near the rebel capital after the gunboats have cleared away the obstructions.
Our army is now extricated from the malarious swamps of the Chickahominy, and is on the high ground of James River.
A movement was made at 8 o'clock by the 1st Massachusetts, acting as skirmishers, across an open field, driving in the rebels, when the 1st was reinforced by the remainder of Grover's brigade, and the Excelsior and Jersey brigades, driving the rebels out of the woods, which our troops took possession of. This was occupied till 11, when two guns were brought up, doing great execution.
Between 12 and 1 we again advanced, receiving and returning several heavy volleys of musketry, when the rebels fixed bayonets and started at double quick towards the 1st and 11th Massachusetts and 26th Pennsylvania, who were ready for them. On came the rebels with a yell, but the firm front of our boys alarmed them, and they broke, retreating in great disorder, our troops driving them more than a half-mile at the point of the bayonet, the rebels falling in heaps — more of them falling in this charge than at Fair Oaks. — They were driven from their rifle pits, and we occupied them until reinforced. Gen. Sickles had two horses shot under him.
In answer to queries to-day Secretary Seward stated that General McClellan was in communication with our fleet on James River.
The Secretary also declared that there was no truth in the report published this morning that two European governments had given notice that the war should cease.