by John Beauchamp Jones

            SEPTEMBER 29TH.—Bright and beautiful.

            As I walked down to the department, heavy and brisk cannonading below assailed the ear. It was different from the ordinary daily shelling, and to my familiar senses, it could only be a BATTLE. The sounds continued, and even at my desk in the department the vibrations were very perceptible.

            About 10 o’clock, when walking down Main Street (the cannon still heard), I met Robert Tyler and Mr. Foote, member of Congress, the latter in some excitement, denouncing the management of affairs by the Executive. He said if Richmond were lost, he should move that the people take matters in their own hands, and proclaim a DICTATOR. Mr. Tyler, commanding his temper, banteringly told him that he ran some risk of being arrested, tried by drum-head court-martial, and shot—before night. Mr. Foote whirled away, repeating his desperate purpose; and Tyler repeating, more gravely, that he might be arrested for treasonable language—and ought to be.

            Mr. Tyler then invited me to join him at breakfast at a neighboring restaurant, where we had each a loaf of bread, a cup of coffee with milk (but brown sugar), and three eggs. The bill was sixteen dollars!

            When I returned to the department, information came that the enemy had captured Fort Harrison (Signal Hill), near Chaffin’s Bluff, and were advancing toward the city. From that moment much excitement sprung up (the greatest I have ever known here), and all the local organizations were immediately ordered out. Not only this, but squads of guards were sent into the streets everywhere with orders to arrest every able-bodied man they met, regardless of papers; and this produced a consternation among the civilians. The offices and government shops were closed, and the tocsin sounded for hours, by order of the Governor, frightening some of the women.

            At 2 P.M. the fight was nearer, and it was reported that the enemy were at the intermediate fortifications—three miles distant.

            From the observatory on the War Department we could see the puffs of white smoke from our guns; but these were at the intermediate line, several miles distant, and the enemy were, of course, beyond. We could see our cannon firing from right to left at least a mile in length; and the enemy had evidently made much progress toward the city. The firing then ceased, however, at 3 P.M.., indicating that the enemy had withdrawn from that point; but the booming of artillery was still heard farther to the right on or near the river. And this continued until the present writing, 5 P. M. We have no particulars; but it is reported that the enemy were handsomely repulsed. Clouds of dust can be seen with the telescope in that direction, which appears to the naked eye to be smoke. It arises no doubt from the march of troops, sent by Gen. Lee. We must soon have something definite from the scene of action.

            Half-past five P.M. Gen. Ewell dispatches that the enemy’s attack on Fort Gilmer (five miles below the same we saw) was handsomely repulsed.

            A dispatch from Gen. Pemberton, on Williamsburg Road, says there is no immediate danger there.

            Another dispatch from Georgia says Forrest has captured 800 more men somewhere in Alabama, on the railroad.

            At night, distant cannon heard. Gen. Ewell said in his last dispatch that as soon as certain reinforcements came up he would take the offensive, attacking the enemy. The conflict recedes, and I presume he is driving the enemy back.

            Mr. Foote intimates that the President will not return to Richmond, and did not intend to return.

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