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1864 August 20: First News of the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, and Other News

August 20, 2014

The following is the weekly summary of war news from The Polk County Press and The Prescott Journal of August 20, 1864.

The item about General Winfield S. Hancock refers to the Second Battle of Deep Bottom (also known as Fussell’s Mill, New Market Road, Bailey’s Creek, Charles City Road, and White’s Tavern).  It was fought August 14-20, 1864, during the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign.  During the night of August 13–14, a force under the command of General Hancock crossed the James River at Deep Bottom.  They wanted to threaten Richmond and to attract Confederate forces away from the Petersburg trenches and the Shenandoah Valley.  What is mentioned here is just that initial move across the James River.

From The Polk County Press:

The News.

— The official report of Admiral Farragut [David G. Farragut] gives the particulars of the capture of the rebel iron-clad Tennessee and the passage of the forts.  They are not materially different from previous accounts.

— Official intelligence has also been received of the surrender of Fort Gaines and the abandonment of Fort Powell.  Both are now occupied by our forces and General Canby [Edward Canby] is besieging Fort Morgan, Mobile Harbor.

— The rebels under Col. Johnson¹ crossed the Ohio near Shawneetown, Ill., on the 13th, and captured five steamers,² which were saved from destruction by the payment of several thousand dollars each.  Some of the steamers were loaded with fat cattle belonging to the government.

— Grant [Ulysses S. Grant] by a sudden movement has placed his army on the north bank of the James River, and it is announced that his advance is within seven miles of Richmond.  On the 12th inst., Gen. Hancock with 2d corps made an advance, carried two lines of the enemies’ works, capturing six guns and four mortars.—The 23d  Mass. Regiment captured 70 prisoners.  It is expected that severe fighting will soon take place.  Thus far the movement is reported to be a success.

— From Sherman’s army [William T. Sherman] we have the news that a raid is being made on his communications by the rebels.  It is said that the old General has made preparations to meet them.—Meanwhile the siege of Atlanta goes on with vigor.

— Gen. Butler [Benjamin F. Butler] is operating against Fort Darling.  He is digging a canal.

— Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan] is making good headway up the Shenandoah Valley. It is said he has found the rebel General Early [Jubal Early] entrenched at Strasburg and that a battle is imminent.

— It is rumored that Gen. Sully [Alfred Sully] has been defeated by Indians on Knife River, Idaho Territory.

From The Prescott Journal:

The News.

— The rebel General Wheeler [Joseph Wheeler] has made an attack on Dalton, 30 miles below Chattanooga. The fight was going on at last accounts.

— Hancock has moved his forces within seven miles of Richmond, and is making  havoc with the enemy’s works.  Grant and Meade [George G. Meade] are directing operations.

— It is rumored that Grant has removed his siege guns from Petersburg, and is making preparations to besiege Richmond from the north bank of the James.

— It is said that Gen. Sully had met the Red Skins at Knife River, and had been terribly defeated.

1.  Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson (1834-1922) was born in Kentucky and moved to Texas in 1854 where he became a noted Indian fighter and supplied Butterfield Overland Mail stations. When the Civil War started, he returned to Kentucky and joined Nathan B. Forrest’s cavalry. He later received a promotion to colonel of a regiment of Partisan Rangers that often operated deep behind Federal lines in Kentucky, harassing Union supply lines and isolated garrisons. He received his nickname by using two joints of stovepipe to simulate a cannon when he and 12 men raided Newburgh, Indiana. In 1863, Johnson assumed command of a brigade in the cavalry division of General John Hunt Morgan and Johnson participated in Morgan’s Raid. Following the Confederate’s defeat at the Battle of Buffington Island, Johnson led nearly 350 men to safety across the Ohio River. On August 21, 1864, he was blinded by an accidental shot from one of his own men. Subsequently Johnson was captured by Union troops and imprisoned for most of the rest of the War. Despite being blind, he returned to Texas where he founded a town, established a company, and worked to harness the water power of the Colorado River.
2.  The steamers were the Kate Robinson, Jenny Perkins, Nightingale, Famine, Brandon and Clara Hall.  They were all aground and were captured with a large amount of stock on board. The boats were compelled to pay several thousand dollars each to save them from destruction.

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