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[288] blood-enriched acres than any portion of the day's previous journey. There were the same hills, the same valley, the same lowering and murderous forests, the same blue sky and gleaming sun. Absent the din of battle, the big-voiced cannon, the victory, the repulse, the terrifie riot and murder. Slowly and sadly we passed by the deep gorge where the ruins of the just-shattered bridge lay piled in the swollen torrent; thence a mile down the stream to the fords, where Schenck endeavored fruitlessly to cross. The current was so high from recent rains that our horses were almost swimming before we gained the opposite shore. Once on dry ground, we rode on, and over the arid Manassas hills toward the Junction, still six miles ahead. Everywhere more camps, hut-villages, the graves of soldiers, the desolation of deserted Russia, the vague, unrestful loneliness of a land where nothing is save shadows and recollections, and the empty shells of what was dense life and desperate strength and purpose.

On the way to the Junction, we dined at a planter's house, (now tenanted by a dependent Scotch family,) where Gen. Gustavus A. Smith was to have taken headquarters this week. Corncakes and bacon, and a stupefied ignorance of the purposes and numbers of their late surrounders, were the results obtained from these honest, bewildered people.

Far in the distance, along the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad, we could see the blue smoke arising from burning bridges. But close at hand, a denser cloud guided us to the Junction. As we approached it, we met Gens. McDowell and McClellan taking their first reconnaissance of the late rebel quarters, and — more significant — galloping by the opposite road to the battle-field. There was something dramatic in the pageant thus sweeping by. Three thousand cavalry attended and guarded the two chieftains. The commander who was guiding the commander who is to the field of Bull Run, and pointing out to him the haps and mishaps which are history for evermore. On they went, and late at night had completed the circuit, were again in Centreville, and perhaps en route for Fairfax. But four loyal civilians had revisited the battle-field before these, or any less distinguished Federalists. We were the first Northerners, high or low, who succeeded in accomplishing that feat.

After passing the generals, we speedily reached the still-burning ruins at Manassas Junction. I send you maps of that locality, and of the whole region around Centreville, which will give the World readers an exact understanding of the position of affairs. My letter is long; it is now almost Wednesday morning, and I must hasten to a close. Suffice it to say that at Manassas Junction everything was ruin and ravage. The torch had been applied to the machine-shop, depot, other buildings, and camps thereabout, and all were levelled to one smoking, flickering mass. Locomotives and cars had shared the common fate. Two camps, however, had been evacuated so hastily, that arms, hospital-stores, tents, and baggage, were left behind unharmed, but strewn in infinite confusion. Stragglers from the advanced cavalry and infantry regiments had found their way hither, and were plundering huge acquisitions of confederate “loot.” Seeing a pair of holsters in my path, I placed them across my saddle-bow, and rode along.

The earth-works of the Junction were chiefly built last summer. They are turfed by nature, and well ditched, but are generally of an inferior character. They have evidently not been relied upon for defence since the battle of Bull Run, and later fortification of Centreville heights. The extreme advanced range, however, is of a pretty substantial and scientific structure, but could never have resisted the skilful investment of a trained army in force. Through it we rode again for Centreville, seven miles distant, this time over a corduroy road, parallel with the railroad branch which the rebels have this winter laboriously constructed on a bee-line from the Junction to Centreville. This route passes across Blackburn's Ford, the spot near which the minor battle of the eighteenth July was fought. At the Ford we found still existing Butler's house, in which Beauregard was dining at the commencement of that action; and in the roof of the house was visible the very hole made by the shell which Lieut. Babbitt (of Tyler's artillery) aimed so skilfully as to disturb the rebel engineer at his noontide meal. I saw again the same thicket in which the Massachusetts skirmishers were enveloped by so murderous a fire. Forsan meminisse olim hoec juvabit. And so we kept on, until, three miles beyond the Ford and battle-valley, Centreville again received us. And here, in Grigsby's deserted house, by the side of a fire improvised for the occasion, we are writing our rapid recurrences of this fatiguing but exciting day.

We do not know yet whether the army will go any further, and, if we did, should have no right to tell. Only the advance guard occupies Centreville to night. This the rebels will have known long before my letter reaches you.

But of the results demonstrated by to day's reconnoissance I can properly speak.

I. The rebel army has made the most successful, complete, and handsome evacuation — the most secure and perfect retreat, of which history furnishes an example. It has safely escaped, with its entire right and left wings, from Centreville, from the Upper and Lower Potomac, from every point threatened by our lines.

It has securely carried off its every gun, all its provisions and munitions, and three fourths of the populace, black and white, along its route. Gen. Stuart threatened to come back to-day and swoop off the remaining people and houses, and nothing but his sudden pursuit by our army has perhaps prevented him from doing it.

It has blown up or otherwise destroyed every bridge and culvert on turnpike and railroad along its route.

It has swept clean every camp, except the few at Manassas Junction, whence its rear-guard evidently

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E. B. Tyler (1)
David Stuart (1)
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