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[88] coming in with reports; the trustiest counsellors on the staff are with the General.

In a plain little wall-tent, just like the rest, pen in hand, seated on a camp-stool and bending over a map, is the new “General Commanding” for the army of the Potomac. Tall, slender, not ungainly, but certainly not handsome or graceful, thin-faced, with grizzled beard and moustache, a broad and high but retreating forehead, from each corner of which the slightly-curling hair recedes, as if giving premonition of baldness — apparently between forty-five and fifty years of age — altogether a man who impresses you rather as a thoughtful student than as a dashing soldier — so General Meade looks in his tent.

“I tell you, I think a great deal of that fine fellow Meade,” I chanced to hear the President say, a few days after Chancellorsville. Here was the result of that good opinion. There is every reason to hope that the events of the next few days will justify it.

A horseman gallops up and hastily dismounts. It is a familiar face — L. L. Crounse, the well-known chief correspondent of the New-York Times, with the army of the Potomac. As we exchange hurried salutations, he tells us that he has just returned from a little post-village in Southern Pennsylvania, ten or fifteen miles away; that a fight, of what magnitude he cannot say, is now going on near Gettysburgh, between the First corps and some unknown force of the enemy; that Major-General Reynolds is already killed, and that there are rumors of more bad news.

Mount and spur for Gettysburgh is, of course, the word. Crounse, who is going too, acts as guide. We shall precede headquarters but a little. A few minutes in the Taneytown tavern porch, writing despatches to be forthwith sent back by special messenger to the telegraph office at Frederick; then in among the moving mass of soldiers, and down the Gettysburgh road at such speed as we may. We have made twenty-seven miles over rough roads already to-day; as the sun is dipping in the woods of the western hill-tops, we have fifteen more ahead of us.

It is hard work, forcing our wavy among the moving masses of infantry, or even through the crowded trains, and we make but slow progress. Presently aids and orderlies begin to come back, with an occasional quartermaster or surgeon, or commissary in search of stores. C. seems to know every body in the army, and from every one he demands the news from the front. “Every thing splendid; have driven then five or six miles from Gettysburgh.” “Badly cut up, sir, and falling back.” “Men rushed in like tigers after Reynolds's death, and swept every thing before them.” (Rushing in like tigers is a stock performance, and appears much oftener in the newspapers than on the field.) “Gettysburgh burnt down by the rebels.” “Things were all going wild, but Hancock got up before we were utterly defeated, and I guess there's some chance now.” “D — d Dutchmen of the Eleventh corps broke and ran like sheep, just as they did at Chancellorsville, and it's going to be another disaster of just the same sort.” “We still hold Gettysburgh, and every thing looks favorable.” “Wadsworth's division cut to pieces; not a full regiment left out of the whole of it; and half the officers killed.” “We've been driven pellmell through Gettysburgh, and things look bad enough, I tell you.”

This is the substance of the information we gain, by diligent questioning of scores. It is of such stuff that the “news direct from the battle-field,” made up by itinerant liars and “reporters” at points twenty or thirty miles distant, and telegraphed thence throughout the country, is manufactured. So long as the public, in its hot haste, insists on devouring the news before it is born, so long must it expect such confusion and absurdity.

Riding through the columns became more and more difficult as we advanced; and finally, to avoid it, we turned off into a by-way on the right. We were fortunately well supplied with maps, and from these we learned that but a few miles to the right of the Taneytown road, up which we had been going, ran the great Baltimore turnpike to Gettysburgh; and a Dutch farmer told us that our by-path would bring us out, some miles ahead, on this pike. It was certain to be less obstructed, and we pushed on.

Across the hills to the left we could see the white-covered wagons slowly winding in and out through the forests, and the masses of blue coats toiling forward. In either direction, for miles, you could catch occasional glimpses of the same sight through the openings of the foliage. The shades of evening dimmed and magnified the scene till one might have thought the hosts of Xerxes, in all the glory of modern armor, were pressing on Gettysburgh. To the front and right lay broad, well-tilled farms, dotted here and there with mammoth, many-windowed barns, covered with herds and rustling with the ripening grain.

Selecting a promising-looking Dutch house, with a more than usually imposing barn in its rear, we stopped for supper. The good-man's “woman” had gone to see the soldiers on the road, but whatever he could get for us “you pe very heartily welcome to.” Great cherry trees bent before the door under their weight of ripe fruit; the kitchen garden was crowded with vegetables; contented cattle stood about the barn; sleek horses filled the stables; fat geese hissed a doubtful welcome as we came too near them ; the very farm-yard laughed with plenty.

We put it on the ground of resting our horses and giving them time for their oats; but I fear the snowy bread and well-spread table of the hearty farmer had something too to do with the hour that we spent.

Then mount and spur again. It was dark in the woods, but our by-path had become a neighborhood wagon-road, and the moon presently cast us occasional glances from behind the clouds. The country was profoundly quiet; the Dutch farmers seemed to have all gone to bed at dark,


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