New York, June 11, 1864. No very important military event
has taken place before Rich- mond since the date of my last letter, but the steamer which carried it was not out of sight of land when news reached us of a battle almost serious enough to be called a general engage- ment. It took place on Friday of last week, and was brought on by a grand reconnaissance to test the strength of the enemy's entrenched line upon the Chickahominy. It lasted but about one hour, but came very near putting General Grant in posses- sion of the whole of the rebel position, yet ended leaving the enemy driven entirely within his entrenchments, and the Union army much advanced, but without the gain of any de- cisive advantage. No small sensation and surprise were caused here by a very detailed account of this affair which appeared in the New York Times, according to which this affair was a deliberately planned attack intended to be de- cisive, which failed, not on account of the ability of the Army of the Potomac to beat the insurgent army out of its entrenchments, but because "the key-point of the position," to use the writer's own words, was " not appreciated " by General Grant. But it was soon discovered that the letter in question was the fruit of a very great desire to display a very little knowledge, and people did not trouble themselves about the matter. Since that affair there has been little fighting of consequence before Richmond. Had my letter announcing the opening of the campaign reached you in time for publication, my readers would have known that, without sanguine expectations of speedy success on the part of General Grant, I was prepared not to be disheartened by long intervals of apparent inaction on his part. He is above all things patient, and willing to bide his time ; exceedingly careful, too, in avoiding any needless exposure of his men. When he was before Vicksburg he told a friend of mine six weeks before the place capitulated that he could take it any day he chose to order the assault. " But," he added, " that would cost many lives, and I am sure of it by waiting." So do not suppose him foiled because he is quiet. He has gained his point of driving Lee into Richmond, involving necessarily, by the same movement, the entire security of Washington, and now he will begin to draw his toils close around the insurgent army. Lee may be strong enough to break through them, but we shall see.
General Hunter, who relieved the incompetent Sigel in Wes- tern Virginia, has already achieved an important victory, the rebels losing their general, six guns, many prisoners, anci immense stores of supplies. More than this, the victory puts Grant's co-operating army at Staunton, far up the Shenandoah Valley, farther than ever we have reached before. It shows also how desperate Lee is at Richmond that he should have called Breckenridge and his men thither away from guard over the gate in his rear. Hunter will soon be reinforced and be able to move onward.
In speaking of the army which compelled Lee to abandon the lines of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House, the Spectator (May 28) says, " It is an Ameriaan force, oue•half its rank and file and three-fourths of its non-commissioned and commissioned officers being native-born Americans." Passing by the word " American " merely with the remark that in this rela- tion it is absolutely without meaning, as I hope to show at some future time, I take the liberty of correcting your estimate, which is far out of the way. When the war first broke out the propor- tion of foreign-born soldiers in the Union ranks was very much larger than it is now, and yet at that time, according to an esti- mate made by the Sanitary Commission, the number of foreigners was less than three-fifths of the rank and file of the army. In a letter published in the Spectator as long ago as October, 1863, I drew your attention to the fact that "the con- duct of the war bad passed almost exclusively into the hands of Yankees." I should have said more than the conduct, I meant the actual fighting. The conduct is of course entirely in our hands. But the foreign element, which at first was large, owing to the facts that the least stable and only uneducated inhabi- tants of our country are of foreign birth, and that large numbers of them were thrown out of employment by the troubles pre- ceding the actual opening of hostilities, has been gradually but greatly diminished in the progress of events political, economical, and military, and now we are fighting this battle with a Yankee army. There are of course many foreigners yet in the ranks, Germans, Irishmen, and also some negroes, who, having been born on this side of the Atlantic, are "Americans" just as
Esquimaux and Patagonians are, and having been born on the territory of this republic are " Americans" just as are the Indians and some Chinese. A careful examination and analysis of the recent lists of killed and wounded has led me to the conclu- sion that the proportion of foreigners to natives in the armies in Virginia is 1 to 711- of the rank and rile As to the officers, they are in still greater proportion of Yankee blood. Look a moment at the names of those who have gained distinction enough to have been heard of in Europe,—Meade, Wadsworth,
Warren, Hancock, Sedgwick, Sherman, Hunter, Avail, Talbot, Torbett, Gilmore, Smith, Thomas, Butler, Burn- side, Canby, Franklin, Wilson. If Grant and M'Clellan are
Scotch, what call you Colin Campbell, and what Arthur Welles- ley ? Rosecranz is the only German, and Sheridan the only Irishman, though not born in Ireland, who have risen to a share in this distinction.
The persistent continuity of the struggle and the endurance of the men seems to attract much of your attention. Let me tell you of one fighting march for the facts of which we have trust worthy evidence. It was just before the engagement which secured Grant Cold-Harbor last week. (Cold-Harbor, by the way, is a station fifteen miles inland.) On Monday, one corps, the 6th, marched all day without rations, and at night formed line of battle, threw up entrenchments, and afterwards had rations served, and got what sleep they could, which was little or none. The next day they were under arms from morning till night, and fighting moat of the time. At midnight of this day they marched at half an hour's notice, and kept on all night, all Wednesday morning, and through the afternoon until 4 o'clock, when they halted and entrenched ; and after this tough work for three days and two almost sleepless nights, with the weather so warm that we in New York suffered with the heat, their trenches were hardly dug when they went
again into battle with an élan that carried all before them, carried themselves farther indeed than they could well receive support. It is about such work as this I suppose that the London Times remarks that " it is hard to conceive how nature could have supported the exhaustion and the strain," and the Spectator, "How the armies on either side endured the inevit- able fatigue of so protracted a contest is almost inconceivable." Well, the solution of the question is so very simple that I wonder. it has not occurred to some of you. It is to be found in that, marked moral and physical degeneracy of the English race in this country which for so many years has been the theme of so many British writers. Or perhaps the difficulty may be solved as I heard a gentleman wearing Her Majesty's uniform solve that of the conflicting accounts of the battle fought and won by General Grant at Shiloh. He " didn't believe either story, but believed that both sides ran away, as the d—d Yankees always did."
The nomination of Mr. Lincoln for the next Presidental term by the Union Convention at Baltimore surprised no one, although the most strenuous and untiring efforts were made to prevent it. The unanimity of the nomination was nevertheless remark- able. Every State gave its full vote for Mr. Lincoln, except one, Missouri, which named General Grant, only, however, to with- draw his name afterwards, and make Mr. Lincoln's nomination absolutely unanimous, not in mere compliment, but in fact. It would seem that his re-election is certain, and it is not improb- able that he will receive the largest vote given in the Free States this many a year. But the hostility to him among the Copper- heads, among some honest petrified Democrats, and among the Radicals who have nominated General Fremont, is so intense as to be a common bond between them which may possibly even unite them to work together for Mr. Lincoln's defeat. There are not a few Democrats who are opposed to this war, opposed to the abolition, and even to the restriction of slavery, and bitterly opposed to Mr. Lincoln from sheer prejudice, blind and inveter- ate. They are not Copperheads or traitors, but merely "old fogies." (Do you know that slang, or' is it, like the fight- ing and marching above mentioned, an incomprehensible " Ameticaniam ? ") I met a friend the other day, an old gentleman of this class, whose name if I should mention it would be read with respect by every British reader, who told me that he would vote for Fremont,—Fremont whom he hitherto has looked upon with horror,—if he thought that he could thereby help to defeat Mr. Lincoln. The democratic politicians have not lost all hope of nominating Grant on the coming 4th of July, when their Convention will be held at Chicago. There is no knowing in these times what a mouth may bring forth, but I have trustworthy information that General Grant has written letter, to be produced if there should be occasion for it, which will make it as impossible for the pro-slavery Democrats or the peace men to vote for him as it would be for them to vote for Mr. Lincoln. The Union platform is briefly the absolute integrity of the Republic, the absolute freedom of all its inhabitants, no terms with rebels but unconditional surrender.
A Colonel Lawrence M. Keitt, of the insurgent army, was killed last week before Richmond. Entirely unknown to you, I suppose, he was notorious here. The Richmond Examiner, noticing his death, says :—" Colonel Keitt will be remembered in the old Congress of 1857-8 as the colleague of the lamented Preston Brooks." This eulpgy brings to mind that it was Keitt who stood by armed with a revolver to prevent any interference while " the lamented Brooks " beat Charles Sumner senseless on the floor of the Senate Chamber. The Richmond paper adds :- " He was a fit type and model of the Palmetto State."