The dispatches from Grant's army yesterday were a much more favorable aspect for the federal causes. For the first time in the series of battles, our troops had succeeded in driving the rebels from intrenched positions, and when night fell, on Tuesday, Grant's men occupied the rebel intrenchments. The fighting is represented as being the most desperate of the war, artillery being used, for the first time since we crossed the Rapidan. Our loss in prominent officers is heavy, and Gens. Rice and Stevenson are reported killed. We give now a brief resume of the operations of the army since the movement began:
The battle of Thursday last, fought partially in the Wilderness near Chancellorville, four miles from the Rapidan and ten east of Orange Court House by two corps of our army, was what may be justly termed a drawn battle. Neither side gained anything in ground or position that they did not lose; so that, at dark on Thursday, both armies were in the same line of battle that opened on each other in the morning. Friday morning Lee opened the attack instead of Grant, but was handsomely foiled during all of the forenoon, but during the afternoon the enemy gained some advantages, but not of enough importance, except on the right for a short time, to cause any fear. A temporary success over the extreme right of the 6th corps was repulsed by desperate fighting of Wright's division.
Friday night showed that we held considerable of the enemy's line of battle of the morning, but it was not doubted, as Lee seemed to remain in position as late as 9 o'clock of that night, but that Saturday would witness another battle. On the morning Grant did not attack, and the rebel line on our let seemed weaker, but in the afternoon Hill appeared in heavy force on our right as if intending it to turn it, but seeing that if he did so it would be at a great risk, he fought briefly and retired.
It then became evident that Lee had commenced to move eastward in a semi-circle, the right end of which would have brought him up near the Ny river and gave him not only the advantage of a railroad to Richmond, but one of the very best positions for another battle that could be well selected.
The battles in the Wilderness were fought most of the time in the woods where officers could not ride their horses, nor where any artillery could be used. It even excelled the fight in the woods at the first battle of Pittsburg Landing.
On Sunday our movement commenced, and with the exception that Lee had gained some time with Ewell's corps a little ahead, both armies were moving almost parallel, our army moving in a straight line towards Spottsylvania, while Lee's marched toward our left. The result was that, on Sunday afternoon, Warren on our left and Ewell on Lee's right had a very severe skirmish, both corps fighting closely and stubbornly. It was too late, however, for it to merge into a general battle, though between the two corps very hard fighting occurred.
Monday morning both armies faced each other, but not near enough for a general battle unless one or the other advanced. Ewell took possession of a ridge at the northeast of Spottsylvania and Hancock attacked him. This was about three o'clock in the afternoon. In the forenoon sharpshooters were rapidly firing at our artillerymen who had been brought up for action for the first time since Grant emerged from the Wilderness, and it was during this that Gen. John Sedgwick was shot by a rebel sharpshooter. He was killed instantly. In the meantime Hancock and Ewell had a terrible musketry fight, lasting until after dark.
Birney's division on the right, Gibbon's in the centre, and Bartol's on the left, stood the most furious of the rebels' fire. The enemy maintained their ground on Monday night, contending for every inch, but on Tuesday Ewell, without renewing the battle, fell back, which gave us the command of the river Po on the left, and also prevented Lee from reaching the Frederiskburg & Richmond Railroad.
On Tuesday afternoon, after skirmishing during the entire portion of the day, a general assault was ordered along the whole line, and from half past six to nine o'clock the fighting is represented as being truly awful. At its close Burnside occupied the intrenchments which has been held by Longstreet and Lee's army was contracted in a sort of horse shoe from in and about the village of Spottsylvania Court House.
The battle was renewed on Wednesday morning, with what result has not yet been telegraphed, but Grant's superior numbers must succeed in the end. Our correspondent estimates our losses up to Monday at 3,000 killed, 18,000 wounded, and 6,000 missing — total, 27,000. The losses on Tuesday and Wednesday will very probably increase this to 50,000. Only think of it!
The rebels have established a battery on Red river, twelve miles below Alexandria, with which they destroyed three transports and two gunboats. It has blockaded the river. Banks is still at Alexandria, and is said to be secure against any attack.
Forrest, with other rebel cavalry officers, is at Tupelo, Mississippi, where he had a grant review on Saturday last.
The rebel cavalry are said to be moving on Fort Smith, Arkansas, and a rebel force is reported in the vicinity of Pine Bluff.
News from Sherman is of the most favorable character. The enemy has been driven back to Rocky Ridge and Buzzard Roost mountain.