Friday, January 27, 2023

Diary of John Beauchamp Jones: October 1, 1864

Raining and cold. Horrible for the troops in the trenches !

The battle, yesterday (on this side of the river), was an attempt of Gen. Lee to retake Fort Harrison, near Chaffin's Bluff, which failed, after two essays.

Gen. Lee deemed its recapture important, and exposed himself very much in the assault: so much so as to cause a thrill of alarm throughout the field. But it all would not do; the enterprise of the enemy had in a few hours rendered the place almost impregnable. Judge Lyons, who came in to-day (from a visit to the field), estimates our killed and wounded at from 700 to 1000.

But we have better news from other quarters. Generals Hampton and Heath attacked the enemy on the south side of the river, yesterday, and captured 900 men.

Gen. Early sends word that the whole force of the enemy (Sheridan's army) is in full retreat, and he is in pursuit.

Gen. Echols, West Virginia and East Tennessee, reports several successes to our arms in that region.

This has been a terrible day; a storm of wind and driving rain. Heavy guns are heard at intervals down the river.

At 4 P. M., while writing the last line, a furious cannonade has sprung up on the southeast of the city, and seemingly very near to it. It may be a raid. The firing increases in rapidity, mingled, I think, with the roar of small arms. We can hear distinctly the whistle of shot and shell, and the detonations shake the windows. It may be that the atmosphere (dampness) and the wind from the east cause some deception as to the distance; but really it would seem that from the apparent proximity of the enemy's guns, some of the shells must reach the eastern parts of the city. After thirty minutes' quick firing, it ceases in a great measure. At 5 P.M. it was resumed, and continued until dark. Some think it but a raid, others report 40,000 men engaged. If this be so, to-morrow will probably be fought the great battle for Richmond. Doubtless, Grant is eager to hold some position from which he can shell the city.

SOURCE: John Beauchamp Jones, A Rebel War Clerk's Diary at the Confederate States Capital, Volume 2p. 297-8

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