To the gentlemen(?) of the North, the champions of freedom.We abandon these quarters to you, expecting to return in a month or two. Assure yourselves they are not a gift, but are merely lent, with the scriptural injunction: “Occupy till I come.” We feel constrained to burn our wearing apparel, with the exception of what will be found left as legacies — our beds and comforts only — for fear of acting treasonably, for by leaving them we would be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Look out for another Manassas when we meet again. Yours, very truly,
A Retired but Not Cowed Adversary. Crescent Blues, La. Vols. for the War.
New-York world account.
Centreville, March 11.At a late hour this (Tuesday) evening, I sit down to write you what the grand army of the Potomac has done and learned within the last twenty-four hours. For in so brief a time, now seeming longer than a month of common life, the entire front of this long Virginia campaign has changed its complexion. The grand army has passed its grand climacteric, and who shall guess at the story of its life to be? Not I, for one; since what we know of future plans is forbidden us to tell; and the quick changes now upon us are so radical that even the commanding general cannot yet have measured them in their length and breadth. To begin at the beginning. All the North by this time knows that Centreville and Manassas are evacuated; furthermore, that Gen. McClellan's vast column is in motion — was, at least — and apparently following upon the rear of a retreating foe. Now, of what the writer has personal cognizance; more than this much I cannot attempt to tell. Sunday afternoon it was known in Washington that Gen. McClellan had crossed the Potomac. During the day, also, other important matters had occurred, such as the rapid sending of regiments up the river, apparently with the view to strengthen Geary at Leesburg, and complete the junction of our right and centre. A “movement” of the grand column was expected to commence on Monday; one based on the plans of weeks, and not on the as yet unconfirmed flight of our enemies. So when it eventuated, and, after all, from the latter cause, and in different form and direction from the old strategic plan, no, one was surprised, though great excitement prevailed in Washington. An excitement increased throughout Monday by the sight of Long Bridge, crowded from sunrise to sunset with the, ceaseless stream of “reserve,” regular artillery, and cavalry pouring over into the Old Dominion. An army is like a snake; its head cannot move without dragging body and tail after it, and by this movement of the rear, all experts knew that the van, like John Brown's ghost, was a-marching on. An excitement intensified by the belief that Hooker, after occupying the Cockpit Point batteries, was throwing his whole division over the Potomac, below the Occoquan; by the meeting and departure of all McClellan's staff; by the hundred other symptoms which proved the arrival of a moment long hoped for, looked for, or demanded by the variously interested parties of the North. It was five o'clock in the afternoon yesterday before I found myself in the gradually “slowing” current, of which you here have so faint an idea. Uncertain how much of the army had moved, where it was going, or where the general staff rendezvous would be, I intuitively selected Fairfax Court-House as the latter point, and resolved to reach it before bedtime. Of the labors resulting in that end let me spare your readers a description. But you have heard for weeks of the Virginia mud. Starting late, (experience has taught all army reporters to get and keep in the van,) the horseman had the benefit of all the furrowing, ploughing, ditching, and miring accomplished by the march of thousands and thousands, mounted and foot, preceding him throughout the day. It was the great central route of the army. Teams, trains, cannon, caissons, cavalry, choked the way. By them my horse pushed on, floundering as best he might, until, in the evening, Benton's tavern was reached, and the smooth, hardened Fairfax turnpike. From that time forth no mud, though much desolate country, ruined estate; nor any mud to seriously retard the transit of an army even to Bull, otherwise Bloody Run. There the clayey loam again is found, and from thenceforward to the Rappahannock region I learn that roads are nasty. Fairfax Court-House at nine P. M. And here one learns, first, that the whole army moved at sunrise; second, that all the divisions, except Heintzelman's, converged like the feathers of a fan toward the handle, and are now encamped in exact, compact, most beautiful and formidable order, within a radius of two miles about the Court-House; third, that Gen. McClellan and staff are here, and all the foremost division leaders; fourth, that one can find plenty of friends, and good quarters on a hard floor for the first night of the second march to Richmond. The regiments — at least such dozens of them whose camp-fires I could see — were mostly snugly covered by the French tentes d'abri--“shelter-tents” --of which each marching soldier carries a portion, and is thus sure of protection against any delay of trains. Late at night came positive tidings to Fairfax, confirming the rumored evacuation of Centreville and Manassas. Gen. Kearney, of Franklin's division, had, in fact, boldly pushed into the former famous town, with only a small portion of his brigade; had found it desolate, though frowning in fortified grandeur. Still later, we learned that the last of the rebels had fled from Bull Run, and even Manassas Junction ; that a daring squad of Federal cavalry — hearing of this from contrabands leaving the plains, and looking not behind them — had swooped into the latter point, first fording the Run, and found a great conflagration