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[285] all good after we leave the old lines around Washington, and have been so for some time.

Manassas Junction.

About noon Gens. McClellan and McDowell, with their staffs, and two thousand cavalry for an escort, came up and took the road to Manassas. We fell in with them and followed on down to Manassas. All along to the left of the road was one continuous string of huts, tents, and forts, all empty now — not a human being or animal showed themselves — not a sound save the clatter of the horses' hoofs, the shrill tones of the bugles, or the loud orders of the officers.

At Blackburn's Ford we saw the old battle-field of July eighteenth. The Butler House, which was between the two forces and had been riddled with shot and shell, has been repaired. It was here Beauregard was dining, and made such a narrow escape at the time. The tree-tops bear the evidence of the way the shot and shells flew around. Large limbs were cut off, and tree-tops twisted in a hundred directions, as though struck by lightning. The woods in which the New-York Twelfth, the First and Second Michigan, and the Massachusetts First went down has all been cut away, and we can now see where the rebels had their artillery, upon the bank of Bull Run, behind a breastwork of logs and dirt.

The Washington artillery, of New-Orleans, and three South-Carolina regiments, have been encamped near the Butler House for the winter, but started away some time ago. The artillery left a quantity of harness, etc. None of their tents were destroyed. Further down are the tents of a whole division, all pitched, as though the occupants had gone home to recruit and reenlist, but had not yet returned.

The plains of Manassas are really what their name implies. The time was when there were objects which obstructed the range of vision, but they are all gone now; for miles around we have an unbroken view. On the hills around are the camps still left, and a column of smoke away off to the right indicated that Manassas was on fire. Our cavalry had gone there during Monday night, and found the rear of the enemy still there; but they were firing the remaining property. A captain, by whose side we rode, told us of piles of new secesh clothes, swords, flags, etc. Galloping ahead of the rest, we reached the Junction.

The sight here cannot be portrayed; the large machine-shops, the station-houses, the commissary and quartermaster store-houses, all in ashes. On the track stood the wreck of a locomotive, and not far down the remains of four freight-cars which had been burned; to the right five hundred barrels of flour had been stove in, and two hundred barrels of vinegar and molasses had been allowed to try experiments in chemical combinations. Some fifty barrels of pork and beef had been scattered around in the mud, and a few hundred yards down the track a dense cloud of smoke was arising from the remains of a factory which had been used for rendering up tallow and boiling bones. About a thousand good hides were stretched in a field close by, upon stakes, and remain uninjured.

A car upon the track, which ran to Centreville, a short distance up, had on it the whole effects of a printing-office, types, cases, all that is needed in an office; a large lot of paper and a Washington press. The forms had in them blanks for muster-rolls and furloughs. This car will be a great prize for the regiment into whose hands it falls. An infantry regiment soon came in and commenced to ransack the tents and remaining stores, for plunder and relics, but the printing-office remained untouched.

Leaving the Junction, we all rode up to the Bull Run battle-field. The different positions occupied by the different forces were explained by Gen. McDowell. They are the same now as when we stood there on that memorable Sabbath. All was quiet through that now peaceful dale. The roar of the murderous artillery, the flash of the musketry, and the groans of the wounded and dying seemed to be still ringing in our ears; but the chirping of the tree-frogs, or a solitary bird perched upon a sheltered bush, was all that really broke the stillness.

As we halted for a moment we noticed on the hill-tops a number of empty huts, along the ravines were the strong natural defences so lately garrisoned by the rebel hordes; but they have all gone now. Near the field where Col. Cameron fell are long and broad trenches, only distinguished as graves by the new-made earth, on which the grass this last summer has refused to grow. The hill-side where Schenck led his division under the murderous fire, the ravine where the rebel cavalry outflanked us, the little old negro hut and other buildings they used as hospitals, are still there; the blood-stained floors covered with dirt. The stone bridge has been blown up, and is now a heap of ruins. We rode across the field where our Parrott guns were lost, picked up a cannon-ball, and pushed on to Centreville, reaching here at dark.

The rebel army of the Potomac, from all appearances, has been at times strong in numbers and well entrenched. They may have had one hundred and fifty thousand men, but we much doubt if they have had over one hundred and ten or one hundred and twenty thousand. Whether they could have been cut off last fall or this winter, or could have been driven from Manassas in confusion at any time, is not for us to decide. Such as they were, they have gone hence. Contrabands coming in tell us that they said they will make a stand at Warrenton for the present, but will not fight this side of Gordonsville, and will force us to come to their mountain fastnesses to meet them.

The rebel Gen. Stuart was at Gainesville last night, with the rear of his army, moving swiftly on, impressing all the slaves and driving them on to work on the new fortifications. Numbers of men suspected of Union sentiments have also been carried away. Posted on a door of a log-house, where everything had been abandoned in confusion, was the following notice:

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