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Doc. 87.-occupation of Winchester, Va.

New-York times account.

the army of the advance--Gen. Banes' division, Friday, March 14, 1862.
En avant. With plans fully matured, the vast army of the Union, numbering over five hundred and ninety-five thousand men, equipped in every respect, and each man filled with the enthusiasm that belongs to a just and holy cause — that of a good Government — advance now from every point, not like the “anaconda,” as some are fond of comparing the force to, but rather like the lordly eagle, at one swoop, falling on every point, and triumphing everywhere. Here at Winchester, we conquer to restore, and most joyously have we been received by the people. On our entrance, the old flag, which in many a house had been hidden for many a weary month of delay, waved from balcony and house-top; ladies applauded, too, and under a perfect canopy of white banners, we enter the old town. Our joy was saddened with the thought that the night before over two hundred Union Virginians had been carried off by Jackson's troops, and as many homes were left sad and desolate in consequence. Winchester cast a strong vote against secession last spring, and many of the people, at any and every hazard, have remained true to the flag.

I inclose a rough diagram, showing the order of the advance:



First came a squadron of Michigan cavalry, followed by two batteries, Captains Mather's and Hampton's, Parrott and field-guns. These were followed by our New-York Ninth, Col. Stiles, and the Third Wisconsin, Col. Rutger, who acted as skirmishers on the right, along the Winchester hills. To the left, on the other side of the railroad and turnpike, were the Thirteenth Massachusetts, while the Twelfth Indiana and the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania acted in the open field on either side, being drawn up in companies. This was the regular order of the immediate advance, and after them followed the rest of the vast army, who now throng the Winchester streets almost as thick as ants.

We found that the most infamous stories had been circulated here as elsewhere all along the route, of the “Lincoln horde;” of their intention “to ravish women, murder children, and arm the slaves against their masters,” etc. General Banks will not stop here. Strasburgh is only eighteen miles off, and that place will succumb ere many days. At Charlestown the women still remain bitter and intense foes of the, Union, while nearly all the men are off, enrolled in the confederate States army. To show the enmity of the fair there, I will mention that one of the Press Brigade craved a room at the house of a lady on Main street. She met him at the door with flashing eyes, said that if he was hungry she would give him something to eat, but that she would sooner die than allow one of the vile mercenaries of the North to pollute her hearthstone for the night. She pointed to her boy of fourteen: “This is the last that is left at home. Six of his brothers are with our army, and every one of my male relatives who is capable; and I live in the hope that when this last one is old enough, he too will go forth, and I hope that he will plunge his sword deep into your hearts.” With a grand air, this tragedy-queen slammed the door. Such is the madness of our Southern brethren, fearfully deluded by their infamous leaders. A strong instance of this occurred, just before General Banks entered Charlestown. Several members of his staff rode up to R. M. T. Hunter's house, and stated that the General had requested them to state that he wished to make the mansion his headquarters. The ladies, refined and intelligent, burst into tears, and sobbed forth that they hoped “they would not be injured, that their sex would be respected,” etc.; yet all along the route the most rigid care has been taken of property, and excesses of all kinds severely punished.

The table before which John Brown's judges sat is now used by the Army Telegraph Corps. while the famous jail is occupied by Col. Maltsby, the Provost-Marshal. Here I saw a most touching picture. A female contraband had just been brought in. She was almost white. With her were two little children, both under three years. She stood awaiting her fate in an attitude of exquisite grace, her heart wildly throbbing, yet with an air of deep dejection, filled with sorrow, and the memories, perchance, of repeated degradation. One could see by her unstudied grace of attitude and statuesque air that in her blood coursed some of the best white blood in the State; yet she was only a slave — a mere “chattel.” At Harper's Ferry, the once famous engine-house in which the old man defied all Virginia, there are now some thirty secession prisoners — a curious change to those who once howled at the Union, because one old man made a mad stroke for the freedom of the slaves. There are now only thirty families left, where there were, a year ago, five thousand people. The day before our troops crossed the Potomac, a messenger came to town in hot haste, demanding that all the citizens should shoulder a musket, and join the militia, for active service against the “Yankees.” The next day, in six hours the pontoon-bridge of forty strong boats was built; and ere the sun set, eight thousand men — horse, foot, and artillery — had passed over in perfect safety. The old bridge will be finished next week, and by the first of April the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad will be running again.

The numerous graves on the crest of the hill at Harper's Ferry, show how busy death has been in the confederate ranks during the winter. Around are seen the lofty ridges of the Blue Mountains, pierced at one bold point by the Potomac and Shenandoah. Nature has lavished a wild beauty over the whole scene, and man has degraded it by the basest treason. As our thick ranks passed the lonely cemetery, a meadow-lark, perched on an oak, sent forth her lute-like notes, which whispered to many a one of the homes they had left behind. It was a trifling incident, but it was noticed that many were affected by the melody.

When our troops passed through Berryville, they found one side of the Berryville Conservator all ready for the forms, stuffed, of course, with secession. Some typos of the First Minnesota immediately went to work, and printed the other side strong Union, of course. I enclose a copy.

A very funny incident happened near Martinsburg. As a general rule, the army has found that many Virginians have deserted, or voluntarily thrown down their arms, alleging that they had no heart in the fight, but were forced to enlist. This is not the case with many of the Gulf troops, however; they are dogged and obstinate, and very bitter. A son of Erin captured one of the “Mississippi tigers,” and while bringing him to camp, the “Tiger” --an immense fellow — managed to free himself and run. The Hibernian disdained to use his musket, but chased him. At last seizing him, at it they went, rough-and-tumble. The “Tiger,” maddened by the heavy blows, basely bit him, nearly severing his thumb. The Celt dropped the soldier then, and retaliated in the same style. Finally he conquered him after a tremendous punishment, which dislocated his shoulder. The next day he visited the son of the “Repudiation State,” in the hospital, went up to him, and shaking his well arm with a [293] hearty grip, observed: “I haven't a bit of a grudge against ye; be jabers, ye are almost as good as meself.” Such is some of the side-play of war.

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Virginians (2)
N. P. Banks (2)
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