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Text for Page 242 [05-15-1862]

              211
	        Letter to the Tribune.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
The Position�Our Gunboats�The Early
  Investment of Richmond�The Untiring
  General Stoneman�Skirmishes with the
  Enemy�Belated Rebels in the Woods�
  Destitution and Desperation of the
  Foe.
From a Special Correspondent.
  LILY POINT, 32 Miles from Richmond, Va., May 15, 1862.
  I address you still with the bulk of the army in
my rear, our advance being, perhaps, six miles
ahead, a position only accomplished at noon to-day.
As I write, nothing belligerent is transpiring, the po-
sition being as follows:
  On Sunday the army rested, and the soldiers fared
but poorly in consequence of the delayed commissa-
riat.  Since then it has moved forward with as much
celerity as its enormous proportions and impediments
admit of.  I suppose it will still keep progressing
onward to Richmond.  It is said that our gunboats
have already penetrated within six miles of the
Rebel Capital, up the James River.  They encoun-
tered obstructions in the shape of sunken schooners,
but blew them up with torpedoes, and the silent
highway is now unimpeded.  The country people
here talk of a submerged stone wall blockading the
harbor; but knowing the difficulties, not to say im-
possibilities, of such an undertaking, we place little
faith in their representations.  Within ten days we
expect to invest Richmond by land and water.
  The Rebels, hotly pursued by our advance under
the untiring Gen. Stoneman, and leaving a devas-
tated country behind them, have risked two skir-
mishes since that occurring at Slatersville on the 9th,
but of still less importance.  The last occurred on
the 13th, when, Gen. McClellan�s baggage train get-
ting by mistake into a wrong road, the enemy opened
a fire of two Parrott guns upon it, from a masked bat-
tery of six flying artillery in the woods, protected by
a squadron of cavalry on the left flank, necessitating
a hasty retreat on the part of the teamsters and their
charge.  We occupy the valley up to the Richmond 
and York River Railroad, and the brow of the hill,
from which the pickets of the enemy were driven
backward this morning.  All beyond is actively hos-
tile Secessia.  The woods between our advance and
the Chickahominy (a narrow, shallow stream, run-
ning, south-east into the James River, and said to be
partially dry in Summer) are full of Rebel soldiers, 
cut off from the direct retreat to Richmond by the
burning of the railroad bridge over the Pamunkey
River (at the White House, the ex-residence of the
Rebel General Lee) by their own party.  By that
railroad their luckier comrades were hurried to the
Rebel Capital in jut 57 minutes, express time, the
trains running incessantly.  Our advance, then a
mere handful of 6th Cavaltry skirmishers under
Lieut. Kerin, heard them going from 3 a. m. until
daybreak, and through the major portion of the next
24 hours.  With the Rebel artillery and cavalry oc-
cupying the adjacent hills and woods, five miles in
advance of our army, supported only by the infantry

[newspaper clipping: second column]
and gunboats on the river, the daring 32 troopers
sat in their saddles all night, watching the site of the
wedded home of Washington.  They were so near
to the enemy that one of their videttes, discovering
their artillery in the woods, reported it as ours.
Apropos of the gentleman in command on this occa-
sion, I may mention that to him belongs the honor of
having captured the Rebel Captain Frank Lee,
during the skirmish of the 9th, and not to the officer
accredited in The Herald.
  The White House, or rather the grounds adjacent,
will form the basis of future operations; our advance
is now about three miles beyond it.  We have re-
ports that the rebels have fortified Bottm Bridge
10 miles further, intending to make a stand there; 
also that our gunboats have destroyed it, but 
nothing definite in either respect, though deserters
come in every day.  They say that thousands of
their comrades are starving in the woods, afraid to
follow their example�that for seven miles on this
side of Richmond the country is one huge disorgan-
ized camp of desperate men, savagely determined to
fight to the last, and that they propose neither to give
nor to take quarter.  The taking of the Rebel
Capital must prove a mercy to both sides.  All articles
of food are at famine prices there, having risen no
less than 200 per cent during the past three months.
Nobody believes in the Confederate notes; very few
in the success of the Rebellion; yet they are resolved
to try a final bloody issue.  Our men are growing
savage�too, and with reason.  Only yesterday I
heard a trooper swear solemnly, by his Creator, that
he would neither become nor take a living prisoner;
and when I heard that the man�s comrade had been
shot through the head, in cold blood, after capture,
I could hardly wonder at it.
  You know all about the Lee-Custis property, of
course, and its historic associations.  Washington,
when a young soldier, was ferried across the river
to do two days� courting here, previous to his march-
ing to share Braddock�s defeat.  He was subse-
quently married at the Church of St. Peter�s, and,
report says, ate his wedding breakfast off a little
table still on view in the house.  But the house
itself (despite the fine writing that will be got off on
the occasion) is modern, its predecessor having been
burned at least twenty years ago.  The property
seems to have been leased a good deal, always re-
maining in the possession of the descendents of
Mrs. Custic Washington.  It was once regarded as
the finest estate in Virginia, but, like everything
hereabouts, it has deteriorated.  It comprises over
2,000 acres, and is cultivated by 100 slaves, under
the superintendence of an overseer who remained
to become an informal prisoner, to attempt to run off
to the enemy, and who would gladly see the throat
cut of every Union man in or out of the army, in
which respect he differs, wide as the poles asunder,
from the negroes, who always accord us a welcome.
  I cannot give you an idea of the misery and pri-
vations of the people of this country.  They were
Secessionists, active or involuntary; they are starv-
ing.  They have nothing but the wretched Confed-
erate rags for money, even if food were to be pur-
chased, which is not the case.  There will begin a
dreadful famine in Virginia, if they be not relieved.
		���������������

[Gunn�s diary continued]
much of Southern life, at one time getting               
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