Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 10, 1863 (Friday): A Spy Reports

Richmond Defenses (mdgorman.com)

April 10, 1863.

P. H. WATSON, Esq.,
Assistant Secretary of War:
MY DEAR SIR: Mr. G. S. Smith, whom you sent down to me, has made his report, and his explanations are consistent, and appear satisfactory. I have sent him to General Hooker's headquarters, and submitted his case to that officer. He gives some points of information that seem to be important for you to know:
1. The rebel force on the Rappahannock has not been diminished. Two divisions of Longstreet's troops have returned to Fredericksburg.
2. The rebels are fortifying the fords of the Rapidan, and intend to fight on that stream and at Fredericksburg.
3. There are no works or troops on the railroad from Culpeper to within 3 mile of Richmond. All the heights around Richmond are fortified. He saw three of these works, viz: One on the Williamsburg road, with ten heavy guns mounted-very formidable; one on Murray Hill, with eight heavy guns and two light ones-mounted; one between Murray Hill and the river, with three light guns.
4. * * * The Merrimac Numbers 2 and one gunboat are at Fort Darling. Two new iron-clads now building, on model of Merrimac Numbers 2; no iron on yet; one planked, the other not quite. The iron appears to be ready. No troops to be seen near Richmond, except in the fortifications.
5. * * * The bread riots in Richmond were gotten up by Union men, of whom there are as many as ever. There is much suffering among the citizens in the South, but the soldiers are well supplied and are in good heart and spirits. Everybody has been conscripted. The troops have 22 ounces per day of flour, one-fourth pound of meat, with some sugar and rice occasionally. The rebel officers at Culpeper
appear to think it is not the intention to hold that country if pressed, but to fight on the Rapidan and at Fredericksburg.
6. * * * The blockade-rummers ship their goods by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to Long Creek Station, and from thence pass down the Valley through Brock's Gap to Staunton.
7. * * * There is a brigade of cavalry near Winchester, under Jones. White's battalion is between Jones and Culpeper. Cobb's Cavalry Legion is near Madison, at Wolftown.
8. * * * The rebels are seizing all the able-bodied negroes north of the Rappahannock and taking them south.
     Please acknowledge the receipt of this.
     I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


    P. S.-The rebels have [arrested] numbers of Northern men, under the plea of their being spies.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 196-197.

Reports from spies were often a varied lot.  In this case the informant in wrong about Longstreet's men returning to Lee.  As to the provisions for Lee's army, these two are overestimated.  In fact, at the time of this writing scurvy was present in the army due to poor nutrition.  However, the descriptions of the ship building underway at Richmond are mostly accurate.  And the Murray Hill battery described is probably Battery #11 of the Richmond defenses. 

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