New York Herald, June 8, 1864

June 8, 1864 The New York Herald


THE CONTEST ON SUNDAY. Mr. S. Cadwallader's Despatch. COAL HARBOR, June 6-6 A.M.


Another week has closed upon the Army of the Potomac-a week of unparalleled excitement, labor and hard
fighting. Victory has perched on our banners in every instance, and the discomfited legions of General Lee have been driven slowly and steadily from their strong positions on the North Anna and Pamunkey beyond Hanover Junction and the Tolopatomcy creek to their line of entrenchments in front of Richmond on the Chickabominy. Much hard work and hard fighting was necessary to secure this glorious result; but the labor has been performed without a murmur. The fighting has gone on from day to day with the energy and spirit that alone inspire freemen; and a cordon of lines and military works is gradually tightening around the beleaguered city that will eventually compel its evacuation or surrender. From the moment that Gen. Lee abandoned all expectations of compelling the retreat of this army from the Wilderness to Washington, until the present, or advances have been a series of triumphal marches and his a succession of humiliating
retreats. Unlike all former commanders of the Army of the Potomac, Generals Grant and Meade have manifested no nervous concern for the safety of their line of communication with Washington, but have boldly cut loose from everything that impeded the celerity of their movements, and confined themselves to the double object of defeating the army of Gen. Lee in battle and of closing in on the rebel capital-the grand objective point of the campaign. They have succeeded in both to the full extent of their expectations. Whenever the rebel general has risked a column of troops in open battle it has been fairly and signally defeated, and whenever he has attempted a strategic movement it has either been thwarted in its very inception or made to subserve our own designs. On the contrary, whenever the rebel army was found so intrenched that an assault was dangerous or uncertain, the disposition and movements of our troops have been marked and masterly, and the enemy entirely deceived until powerless to interfere with successful accomplishment.


Yet it cannot be denied that our great success has been mainly due to superior generalship. We have won no victories that could in any sense be considered decisive. Whenever the rebels have hazarded an engagement they have been terribly cut up and driven from the field of battle; but their wary commander has never allowed his army to be entrapped into a position where all would depend on a single battle. Ever since the second day's contest in the Wilderness he has tacitly acknowledged the fighting superiority of this army and avoided battle on equal terms. His stands have since been made behind intrenchments, and when
these were turned he retreated to others. His plan has evidently been to oppose and delay the advance of this army as often and as long as possible.


The movements of the Army of the Potomac have been rapid and brilliant through out this campaign; but the time approaches when these must assume another phase. Within a month it has traversed many miles of difficult roads forced the abandonment of many strong military positions, and won several hard fought battles. It was alert, active and constantly in motion; but the character of its operations will henceforward be materially changed. THE ENEMY has been driven into his outer line of intrenchments defending Richmond. The city is between six and eight miles distant from our nearest points of occupation, in the vicinity of Coal Harbor and Gaines' Mill. Every rod of intervening ground is probably being put in the best possible condition of defence. The rebels are reinforced by every available man, and may number as high as eighty-five thousand troops. To destroy such well constructed works, defended by a powerful foe, will consume more time than the pubic at large may expect, and is by far, the most gigantic undertaking of the war. To this all the energies f the commanders are now bent.

THE RICHMOND AND YORK RIVER RAILROAD is being rebuilt by the government, under the supervision of Mr. Henry, the original contractor for most of the bridges on the line, including the present one over the Chickahominy. Over three miles of iron was towed to the White House on barges, to be used in its reconstruction, and on Saturday a force of eight hundred men commenced putting down the track. A few days will suffice to extend it to Savage station, from which place the army can be easily supplied by wagons.


The arrival and location at General Grants headquarters of General Barnard, one of the finest engineers of the United States army, is looked upon as another evidence that a speedy entry into Richmond need not be anticipated. 'Me rebels have the temporary destiny of Richmond in their own hands; but if discord creeps in among their commanders, or popular discontent be sufficiently powerful to enforce its demands, its resistance may be computed by days instead of weeks or months. We shall see.

THE FORMATION OF OUR LINE has also been somewhat changed since the date of my last despatch. It is now running nearly parallel to the Chickahominy in its main direction, but is exceedingly irregular and zigzag throughout its entire length. The right is formed by Burnside's corps, the right centre by Smith's corps, the left centre by Wright’s corps, and the left by Hancock's. Warren's corps was moved last night from its old position on the right of the line to a new one in rear of the centre, as a reserve. The line is compact and mobile.