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[316] occupants. Sacks of flour, meat, clothing, arms, equipments, and camp utensils were everywhere scattered over the ground, and the camp fires, probably prepared for the noon meal, were still brightly burning. The main body of this force had left with haste only about two hours before the arrival of the head of our column. The fortification itself was rudely constructed. It bears no comparison to the splendid works, scientifically planned and erected by the Union volunteers on the banks of the Potomac. It could have been easily taken by a flank movement, for which there was abundant opportunity, without exposing the assailants to the fire of the guns in position behind the intrenchments.

As the head of the division was approaching the intrenchment, sharp firing was heard on the left, which was afterwards ascertained to have been occasioned by a skirmish between the advance of Col. Miles' division and the Alabamians, who were in position there about two miles from the Court House.

The intrenchment encountered by Colonel Hunter's division was erected upon the farm of Mr. Seegur, an emigrant to Virginia from New York. When it was first discovered a halt was called, and the advance brigade, under Colonel Burnside, was formed in close column and ordered to load. This was done with alacrity, and the men, when ordered forward, pressed on eagerly, singing “Dixie” and “The Star Spangled banner.” It was cheering to observe the enthusiasm exhibited by these volunteers, and quite amusing to hear their remarks, such as, “We are going to open a mail route from Washington to Richmond;” “We have come to Virginia to find a place to settle;” “We mean to bag Beauregard and Jeff Davis;” “We are the pacificators;” “They won't wait for us,” &c.

From the inside of this fortification the village of Fairfax Court House was plainly in sight; thither the command proceeded. At the outskirts of the village a small American flag, used as a guide mark by the Fourteenth New York Regiment, had been planted. It was saluted with cheers by the passing regiments. The rebel flag was still flying at the Court House when the advance of the division, with the band of the First Rhode Island Regiment playing national airs, entered the village. It was taken down by some of the men of the Second Rhode Island Regiment, and handed to Governor Sprague, who was with the brigade. It was transmitted by him to General McDowell as a legitimate trophy.

Soon afterwards Colonel Marston, at the suggestion of one of the correspondents of the Herald, sent a detail of the Second New Hampshire Regiment, with their regimental flag, to give its folds to the breeze from the belfry of the Court House. Your correspondent aided in this demonstration, and the Court House bell, and all the tavern bells in the village rung forth a merry peal, and the thousands of Union soldiers already collected shouted a glad greeting as the glorious old Stars and Stripes waved gracefully over the spot rendered infamously familiar as the Headquarters of a band of traitors.

It was evident that the rebel force recently stationed in this neighborhood had been completely stampeded, and that those who sympathized with them had run away at the same time for fear of the consequences of their treason. The proofs of the haste with which they had decamped were everywhere visible. Many stores and dwellings were tenantless. The few inhabitants who remained had a frightened appearance.

The advancing column was accompanied by a number of Union men, who had recently, with their families, been driven by the rebels from their homes in this vicinity, and despoiled of their property. These men, burning with a desire to avenge their wrongs, incited the soldiery to various acts of outrage upon the property of rebels, which they pointed out. In this way a number of stores and dwellings that had been deserted by their occupants, were ransacked and pillaged; but not a single occupied house was entered without leave, or in any way despoiled. Guards were placed wherever requested by the citizens, and stringent measures were taken by the commanding officers to prevent depredations. Eight men of different regiments were arrested by the Provost Marshal for pillaging, and were sent back under guard to Alexandria.

At Germantown, and also in the vicinity of Fairfax Court House, several houses were set on fire and burned to the ground.

One of the houses belonged to a man named Ashley, said to be a Union man, driven from that neighborhood by the rebels soon after the fatal sortie into the village by Lieut. Tompkins. It was not ascertained whether these buildings had been set on fire by the soldiers wantonly, or by the Union men who desired to avenge their injuries, or by rebels who took this means to cast a stigma upon the Union forces; but General McDowell declared that the first soldier proved to have set fire to any building should be summarily shot. It is natural that men who have been driven from their homes by a vandal horde of traitors should be infuriated with a desire for vengeance, but such outrages as these should be prevented by our commanding officers for the honor of the Government and the people they represent.

In the village of Fairfax Court House a large amount of tents, muskets, equipments, flour, bacon, and hospital stores belonging to the rebel army was captured.

Immediately upon the arrival of the central division at this point, General McDowell sent word to the divisions of Colonels Miles and Heintzelman, composing the left wing, to halt, and himself and staff, escorted by a squadron of United States dragoons, proceeded to Germantown, where the division of General Tyler was halted. It was the purpose and desire of

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Irwin McDowell (4)
Dixon S. Miles (2)
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Sprague (1)
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