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[328] General's horses, with those of his aids, stood saddled in the yard, with baskets of provisions slung across the saddles. Regiments were blockading the roads — moving outwards without knapsacks or baggage. Capt. Griffin's West Point battery stopped our carriage for half an hour. All these things, with sundry others which it is not necessary to mention, coupled with hints and wise nods I had received from those whose position forbid them from doing more, satisfied me that the advance of the great army was close at hand. I made up my mind, indeed, that the great body of our troops would encamp for the night at about eight miles from the Potomac — and that in the morning the first thing they would do would be to pay their respects to the rebels at Fairfax Court House.

I made all needful preparations, hired a conveyance by the day for an indefinite period, packed it with such edibles as our hosts of the National and “Leo's” better half could comfortably provide, and at 4 o'clock this morning took my departure for the sacred soil of Virginia. We crossed the Long Bridge in the gray of the morning, and pushed on for some eight miles without meeting any further evidence of an army than a body of New Jerseymen left to guard the railroad and telegraph where they are crossed by the turnpike. Soon after we came to a point where the road puzzled us by dividing; and we were fain to inquire of a small boy standing at the gate of a neighboring house which of the two would lead us to Fairfax. He told us both — but said the right hand one came first into the main turnpike, but that the troops had taken the other. We took the right, and after driving about a mile saw at our left, half a mile off, glittering among the trees the bright bayonets of our long line of troops,--while the artillery was just crossing the road by which we were approaching. We pushed our carriage into the front, and very soon overtook Gen. McDowell and his staff, Major Wadsworth and Major Brown, accompanied by Capt. Whipple of the Topographical Engineers. We learned that this was one of four columns on their march under orders to converge at Fairfax Court House. It consisted of about 6,000 men, and was led by the Second Rhode Island regiment, under Gov. Sprague. The right column, which had taken the upper road, and under Col. Tyler was to enter Fairfax from the direction of Germantown, consisted of about 12,000. To the south of us were Col. Miles with 5,700, and Col. Heintzelman with 10,000 men. We had thus a force of about 35,000 advancing from this point towards Manassas Junction. It is understood also that Gen. Patterson was to commence his advance towards Winchester yesterday, and to push Gen. Johnston, so as to prevent him from augmenting the forces in front of this wing of the army.

At half past 9 o'clock we came to a point at which the road, bordered with trees on each side, had been obstructed by trees felled across it. The axemen were ordered forward, and soon cleared the path. Passing on, the way led by an open wood, at the end of which rose what appeared to be a high square bank, on top of which we could see two or three horsemen riding backward and forward. A little further onward trees had been again felled across the road. Skirmishers were thrown out on either side, and the column moved on slowly, stopping now and then to feel its way, and being especially on its guard against surprises. Half a mile further we came to another blockade of trees, one of which had been very ingeniously turned exactly bottom upwards, so as to completely block the passage. The axemen soon took away the fence, cut down trees that were in the way, and made a side road through the adjoining field. We soon rose to the top of the hill, which proved to be what, in the distance, we had mistaken for an embankment. The house of Maj. Howard, who had gone with the confederate army, stood there, and the negroes left there told us the secession scouts had been there not half an hour before. The column stopped ten or fifteen minutes and then pushed on, coming, in half an hour, to a long embankment thrown across the road and the adjoining fields, with embrasures for cannon, and the huts of a camp in the rear, which had been abandoned with so much haste by the rebels only two hours before, that they left great quantities of meat, rice, clothes, blankets, &c., as spoils for our troops, who followed so close upon their heels. The works were extensive but not strong, and it was not very clear that any cannon had ever been mounted upon them. The embrasures were lined by sand-bags, each marked “The Confederate States,” one of which inscriptions I cut out for a trophy. Our men raised the Star-Spangled Banner on the ramparts, and greeted it with three hearty cheers. Just then we caught sight, at some three miles distant, of the long line of Col. Tyler's column, marching along the upper road, with its whitetopped baggage wagons in the rear, and the glorious Stars and Stripes flying in the van. Our column advanced rapidly, and in twenty minutes, at a quarter before twelve, raised the national flag on the Fairfax Court House, a small brick building on the left of the street. The place was entirely deserted by the rebel troops, and, indeed, by the whole male population. The rebel quartermaster's office had been abandoned in as much haste as the works we had passed, and great quantities of letters, papers, &c., were found strewn over the floor and the adjacent ground. I picked up a letter from a mother to her son, begging him if possible, to come and see them before he should be ordered off, and inclosing a lock of her hair, neatly braided and tied with white ribbon. I shall take that as a memento to one who will appreciate and sympathize with the sentiment which prompted the gift. We are told here that the rebels intend to make a stand at Centreville, seven miles further on. This I do not believe. They have unquestionably fallen

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