From Frederick out the whole road was lined with stragglers. I have heard General Patrick highly spoken of as an efficient Provost-Marshal General for the Potomac army; but if he is responsible for permitting such scenes as were witnessed to-day in the rear, his successor is sadly needed. Take a worthless vagabond, who has enlisted for thirteen dollars a month instead of patriotism, who falls out of ranks because he is a coward and wants to avoid the battle, or because he is lazy and wants to steal a horse to ride on instead of marching, or because he is rapacious and wants to sneak about farm-houses and frighten or wheedle timid countrywomen into giving him better food and lodging than camp-life affords — make this armed coward or sneak or thief drunk on bad whisky, give him scores and hundreds of armed companions as desperate and drunken as himself — turn loose this motley crew, muskets and revolvers in hand, into a rich country, with quiet, peaceful inhabitants, all unfamiliar with armies and army ways — let them swagger and bully as cowards and vagabonds always do, steal or openly plunder as such thieves always will — and then, if you can imagine the state of things this would produce, you have the condition of the country in the rear of our own army, on our own soil, to-day. Of course these scoundrels are not types of the army. The good soldiers never straggle — these men are the debris, the offscourings from nearly a hundred thousand soldiers. There is no need for permitting these outrages. An efficient Provost-Marshal, such as General Patrick has been called, would have put a provost-guard at the rear of every division, if not of every regiment and brigade, and would have swept up every man that dared to sneak out of ranks when his comrades were marching to meet the enemy. The rebels manage these things better. Death on the spot is said to be their punishment for straggling, and in the main it is a just one. The army itself had done surprisingly little damage to property along their route. Breaking off the limbs of cherry trees to pick the ripe cherries, seemed to be about the worst of their trespasses. I have never before seen the country so little injured along the line of march of a great army. But every farm-house was now filled with drunken loafers in uniform; they swarmed about the stables, stealing horses at every opportunity, and compelling farmers to keep up a constant watch; in the fence-corners groups of them lay, too drunk to get on at all. As we neared the army a new phase of the evil was developed. A few mounted patrols seemed to have been sent out to gather up the stragglers, and some of them had begun their duty by getting drunk, too. In one fence-corner we passed a drunken trio in fierce altercation with a gay-looking, drunken patrol, with a rose jauntily worn in his buttonhole, and a loaded and cocked revolver carelessly playing in his hand. “These fellows are d-dr-drunk,” he explained to us, “and ac'ly talk about sh-shootina me for or'rin 'em to go to camp.” One of the stragglers had his musket cocked and handsomely covering the red rose on the patrol's breast. A few yards further on was another drunken party under the trees. A patrol, trying to get them started, was just drunk enough to be indiscreetly brave and talkative. “You're cowardly stragglers, every rascal of you,” he roared, after a few minutes' unavailing efforts at coaxing. “You're lyina scoune'rl,” was the thick-tongued response; and the last we saw of the party as we galloped on, two of the stragglers were rushing at the patrol, and he was standing at a charge bayonets, ready to receive them. They probably halted before they reached the bayonet-point. As we stopped at a farm-house by the roadside to feed our horses and get dinner, we passed a party of stragglers in the yard. After dinner, to our amazement we discovered that my luckless “rebel look,” and an indignant reply about straggling to some impertinent question they had asked, had well-nigh got us into trouble. The rascals, drunk enough to half believe what they said, and angry enough at being called stragglers to do us any mischief they were able, had held a court on our cases while we were eating, had adjudged us rebel spies, and had sentenced us to — have our horses confiscated! Luckily my companion strolled down to the stable after dinner, just as the fellows were getting the horses out to make off with them! They announced their conclusion that we were spies, and their sentence, and insisted on the horses, but a judicious display of a hearty disposition on his part to knock somebody down, induced them to drop the reins, and allow him to put the horses back in the stable. We had small time, as we galloped through, to appreciate the beauties of Taneytown, a pleasant little Maryland hamlet, named in honor of the Chief-Justice of the United States, (who has a country-seat in the vicinity,) and like him now somewhat fallen into the sere and yellow leaf. Army trains blocked up the streets; a group of quartermasters and commissaries were bustling about the principal corner; across on the hills, and along the road to the left, far as the eye could reach, rose the glitter from the swaying points of bayonets, as with steady tramp the columns of our Second and Third corps were marching northward. They were just getting started — it was already well on in the afternoon. Clearly something was in the wind. Half a mile further east, splashed by the hoofs of eager gallopers. A large, unpretending camp, looking very much like that of a battalion of cavalry — we turn in, without ceremony, and are at the headquarters of the army of the Potomac. At first all seems quiet enough, but a moment's observation shows signs of movement. The slender baggage is all packed, every body is ready to take the saddle at a moment's notice. Engineers are busy with their maps; couriers are
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