The chimney stacks, being of brick, are the sole remains of the few good houses in the village. Here our driver made a mistake, which was the rather persisted in, that a colored chattel informed us we could get to Centreville by the route we were pursuing, instead of turning back to Germantown, as we should have done. Centreville was still seven miles ahead. The guns sounded, however, heavily from the valleys. Rising above the forest tops appeared the blue masses of the Alleghanies, and we knew Manassas was somewhere on an outlying open of the ridges, which reminded me in color and form of the hills around the valley of Baidar. A Virginian who came out of a cottage, and who was assuredly no descendant of Madame Esmond, told us that we were “going wrong right away.” There was, he admitted, a byroad somewhere to the left front, but people who had tried its depths had returned to Germantown with the conviction that it led to any place but Centreville. Our driver, however, wished to try “if there were no Seseshers about?” “What did you say?” quoth the Virginian. “I want to know if there are any Secessionists there.” “Secessionists!” (in a violent surprise, as if he had heard of them for the first time in his life.) “No, sir-ee, secessionists indeed!” And all this time Beauregard and Lee were pounding away on our left front, some six or seven miles off. The horses retraced their steps, the colored youth who bestrode my charger complaining that the mysterious arrangement which condemns his race to slavery was very much abraded by the action of that spirited quadruped, combined, or rather at variance with the callosities of the English saddle. From Germantown, onward by the right road, there was nothing very remarkable. At one place a group of soldiers were buying “Secession money” from some negroes, who looked as if they could afford to part with it as cheaply as men do who are dealing with other people's property. Buggies and wagons (Anglice, carriages) with cargoes of senators, were overtaken. The store cars became more numerous. At last Centreville appeared in sight — a few houses on our front, beyond which rose a bald hill — the slopes covered with bivouac huts, commissariat carts and horses, and the top crested with spectators of the fight. The road on each side was full of traces of Confederate camps; the houses were now all occupied by Federalists. In the rear of the hill was a strong body of infantry--two regiments of foreigners, mostly Germans, with a battery of light artillery. Our buggy was driven up to the top of the hill. The colored boy was despatched to the village to look for a place to shelter the horses while they were taking a much required feed, and to procure, if possible, a meal for himself and the driver. On the hill there were carriages and vehicles drawn up as if they were attending a small country race. They were afterwards engaged in a race of another kind. In one was a lady with an opera-glass; in and around and on others were legislators and politicians. There were also a few civilians on horseback, and on the slope of the hill a regiment had stacked arms, and was engaged in looking at and commenting on the battle below. The landscape in front was open to the sight as far as the ranges of the Alleghanies, which swept round from the right in blue mounds, the color of which softened into violet in the distance. On the left the view was circumscribed by a wood, which receded along the side of the hill on which we stood to the plain below. Between the base of the hill, which rose about 150 feet above the general level of the country, and the foot of the lowest and nearest elevation of the opposite Alleghanies, extended about five miles, as well as I could judge, of a densely wooded country, dotted at intervals with green fields and patches of cleared lands. It was marked by easy longitudinal undulations, indicated by the form of the forests which clothed them, and between two of the more considerable ran small streams, or “runs,” as they are denominated, from the right to the left. Close at hand a narrow road descended the hill, went straight into the forest, where it was visible now and then among the trees in cream-colored patches. This road was filled with commissariat wagons, the white tops of which were visible for two miles in our front. On our left front a gap in the lowest chain of the hills showed the gap of Manassas, and to the left and nearer to me lay the “Junction” of the same name, where the Alexandria Railway unites with the rail from the west of Virginia, and continues the route by rails of various denominations to Richmond. The scene was so peaceful, a man might well doubt the evidence of one's sense that a great contest was being played out below in bloodshed, or imagine, as Mr. Seward sometimes does, that it was a delusion when he wakes in the morning and finds there is civil war upon him. But the cannon spoke out loudly from the green bushes, and the plains below were mottled, so to speak, by puffs of smoke and by white rings from bursting shells and capricious howitzers. It was no review that was going on beneath us. The shells gave proof enough of that, though the rush of the shot could not be heard at the distance. Clouds of dust came up in regular lines through the tree-tops where infantry were acting, and now and then their wavering mists of light-blue smoke curled up, and the splutter of musketry broke through the booming of the guns. With the glass I could detect, now and then, the flash of arms through the dust-clouds in the open, but no one could tell to which side the troops who were moving belonged, and I could only judge from the smoke whether the guns were When necessary, that will be done by the proper person. By command of Gen. McDowell:James B. Fry, Assistant Adjutant-General.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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