e air-balloon which the Yankees had sent up for reconnoitring.
General Stuart, who commanded our outposts, was constantly in motion, and we were seldom out of the saddle.
Our rendezvous and momentary halting-place was near a small farmhouse standing peacefully among hickory and oak trees.
Turned into an hospital, the ghastly features and mutilated limbs of the wounded men stretched upon their beds of pain within the building, formed a dreadful contrast to the cheerful exterior.
On the 5th everything was quiet again.
On the 6th General Stuart changed his headquarters, and we removed with bag and baggage to a farmhouse about four miles distant, inhabited only by an old man named Waddle.
This place, standing at some distance from the highroad, was surrounded by copses and thickets, and afforded us a capital opportunity of recovering from our fatigues.
We had to provide our own food, which, in consequence of the prevailing scarcity, was scanty and bad; a little bacon and maize-
ed by Brigadier-Generals Hampton, Fitz Lee, and Robertson, with three batteries of horse-artillery, amounting in all to about 15,000 well-mounted men.
On the 4th of August the trumpet sounded again for the march, as a reconnaissance in force was to be undertaken in the direction of Port Royal and Fredericksburg.
With four regiments and one battery we pushed on all day until we reached the village of Bowling Green, about twenty miles distant, where we made a bivouac for the night.
On the 5th, the hottest day of the whole summer, we continued our march, and arrived at Port Royal at eleven o'clock in the morning, just after a squadron of the enemy's cavalry, already apprised of our approach, had retreated lower down the Rappahannock.
The joy of the inhabitants at our coming was touching to witness.
The ladies, many of them with their cheeks wet with tears, carried refreshments around among our soldiers, and manifested, with the deepest emotion, their delight in seeing the grey un
combatants, for one of Hood's men had his leg broken, one of McLaws's men lost an eye, and there were other chancewounds on both sides.
This sham-fight gave ample proof of the excellent spirits of our troops, who, in the wet, wintry weather, many of them without blankets, some without shoes, regardless of their exposure and of the scarcity of provisions, still maintained their good-humour, and were ever ready for any sort of sport or fun that offered itself to them.
On the morning of the 5th, General Stuart and myself, with several other members of the Staff, again set out for Port Royal, where some of the Federal gunboats were renewing their demonstrations.
The day was bitterly cold, and the road exceedingly slippery from the frost, so that the ride was anything but pleasant.
All along our route we found our troops, chiefly those of Jackson's corps-Old Stonewall having established his headquarters midway between Fredericksburg and Port Royal, at the plantation of James Parke C
, with violent winds, continued all the evening and a great part of the night.
Meanwhile General Lee had determined to assault the enemy in their strong position.
McLaws's and Anderson's divisions had already approached United States Ford on the 5th, by a circuitous march, thus menacing the left flank and line of retreat of the Federal army; and at earliest dawn on the 6th Jackson's corps received orders to advance, Rodes's division taking the lead.
My own instructions from General Stuart haned to withdraw his troops to the other side of the Rappahannock, the waters of which were rapidly rising, and threatened to carry away the pontoon-bridges, and render retreat impossible.
The retrograde movement was commenced at about dusk on the 5th, and was conducted with considerable order; the bridges had been covered with layers of twigs and small branches, in order to deaden the rumbling sound of the artillery and trains passing over them, while the heavy fall of rain during the evening,