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1864 May 14: Mostly Rumors That “Need Confirmation Before They Can Be Believed”

May 14, 2014

Following is The Polk County Press’ summary of the week’s war news from its May 14, 1864, issue.  The “grand advance” is Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, which began the spring campaigning on May 4, 1864.

The News.

The following is a summary of the dispatches which appeared in the St. Paul dalies [sic] of Thursday morning the 12th, which is the latest we are able to lay before our readers this week.  Thus far the grand advance promises great and glorious results.

From the St. Paul Pioneer of the 12th.

— From the varying statements of operations on Monday and Tuesday,¹ we judge that both armies rested on Monday through most of the day, and that only partial engagements were had.  On Tuesday another battle was fought, the advantage at night seeming to be with our army, the rebels having been driven three quarters of a mile and behind their field works, loosing an advance line of rifle pits.  There are other reports, which do not seem to be more than rumors, that Grant’s headquarters are beyond Spotslvania—that Lee’s line [Robert E. Lee] is behind the Po river—that Lee has gone to Richmond to meet Smith, leaving Longstreet [James Longstreet] to resist the advance of Mead [sic: George G. Meade]—and others of that kind which need confirmation before they can be believed.

— From Sherman [William T. Sherman] or Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] there is no later news than given yesterday.  The New York Herald’s correspondent thinks it probably that Butler had a severe battle on Tuesday,² and also that a naval engagement took place on the James river the same day.

— Four thousand of our slightly wounded have arrived at Washington.

— The rebel ram Albemarle last made a raid upon our fleet in Albemarle Sound resulting in her being driven back into the river, where our boats could not follow her.  The double-enders, lately sent out from New York, had their first fight there and the Sassacus, in trying to run down the Albemarle, lost her nose or ram and had a shot put through he boilers.  The gunboat Bombshell, lost at Plymouth, was recaptured by our fleet, with her rebel crew.

— From Hilton Head we have a report that the rebels have increased the defences of [Fort] Sumpter, have seven iron clads afloat, and are likely to early assume the offensive.

1.  May 9 and 10—the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
2.  May 10—Battle of Chester Station. Both sides fought gallantly and fiercely, including hand-to-hand combat, but the end result was inconclusive.

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