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[24] whose brigade of Kearney's division had come to Hooker's support, had discovered the enemy's departure, and placed his men in the abandoned forts. These works were of the same character as those on the right, fitted for four, six to ten guns each. They had been occupied by light artillery, which, as from the others, had been removed, I believe the siege-gun found in Fort Page the only one of that character used by the enemy during the day.

Where Hooker had fought the signs of slaughter were abundant. Though many of the bodies had been buried, there were enough yet exposed to show the terrible effect of his shot. Bramhall's horses were thickly scattered over the ground, a certificate to his precarious position. That he managed to escape with his life is a wonder of the day. Here, too, we saw where Massachusetts and New-Hampshire men and the Sickles brigade had met the enemy, and where the Jerseymen, under the younger Patterson, had proven worthy their fathers of Monmouth and Trenton. The acres of felled and tangled trees had greatly impeded our progress, and held many of our brave fellows under the enemy's galling fire. This was by far the best defended portion of his lines, and would probably have been held much longer but for Hancock's coup de maitre.

All over the battle-field our inquisitive troops were exploring the enemy's defences — now examining the forts, now measuring the rifle-pits, and anon surveying the stockades and parallels. Many and original were the criticisms passed upon the enemy's manoeuvres. An Irish soldier thought the rebels would never forget the Sickles brigade. A Dutchman, smoking his long pipe, wondered if Jeff Davis expected to escape the halter after such vast and bold preparations for resisting the Government. A brawny Yankee, with his arm in a sling, said the “mudsills and greasy mechanics” had been heard from, and would be again. The sentiments expressed, touching the vanquished, were generally more in pity than in anger, and the wounded rebels left on the field received only the kindest treatment.

From the main range of forts, which must be about a mile from Williamsburgh, that old town could be plainly seen. An open but desolate field extended to its leading street, and was in continuation of a road leading from Fort Page. Jameson's brigade, leaving at daylight, entered and garrisoned the city; Gen. McClellan and staff determined to advance and inspect it. Fearing the planting of torpedoes in the road, as at Yorktown, they proceeded across the field, passing an earthwork near to the city, and several rebel cabins, from which the groans of wounded men, who had crawled there from the bloody field, were painfully audible.

The most conspicuous building in the city, the State Lunatic Asylum, displayed hospital flags from its tall towers, which are modelled after those of the Abbey of Westminster, and towered loftily among the low white dwellings surrounding them.

It was about eleven o'clock when the General and his staff, with their cavalry escort, and Gen. Heintzelman and his body-guard, entered the main street of the ancient city of Williamsburgh. Few white persons were to be seen, save those in the uniform of our army. White flags were hoisted on many of the houses, and the yellow bunting freely displayed, indicating what we soon found to be the fact, that the city was filled with the enemy's dead, wounded, and sick. The shops and stores were, with scarcely an exception, closed, and seemed to have been abandoned for some length of time. On several of them were notices to the effect that they had been closed for want of goods, probably a correct announcement.

The condition of the streets was such as to defy description. Generally lower than the side-walks, they had been the receptacle of the flood of the previous night, which, with the hasty movement of the retreating army, with its artillery and stores, had made them almost impassable. Prairie roads in spring were never worse. Our horses floundered about as though in an extended quagmire, and the mud flew in every direction. For much of the way, even in the best street, we were obliged to drive upon the side-walks, and their condition was far from inviting.

Negroes of every shade and size gazed at us from the streets and yards, and carefully watched our advent. There was much bowing and scraping on the part of the dusky spectators, and an evident relief at our occupation of the town. I entered into conversation with several of the intelligent, and found their knowledge of the war and its causes very clear and complete, while their confidence in our purpose to do them no harm was constantly manifested. One yellow fellow assured me that he waved a white flag from the window of his cabin a long time, hoping it would induce us to hasten on. He claimed to have told the frightened rebels the night before that he hoped the Yankees would come, as he had been too badly used by his master and was sure of good treatment from the Northern people. When I suggested to him that many of his folks thought freedom preferable to bondage, he replied that “nobody liked to be a slave.” He said that needing money and fearing the effects of the war, his master had taken him and two of his brothers South to sell. That the brothers had been disposed of, but he, probably owing to a defect in his eyes, found no market, a result with which he was evidently gratified. He asked many questions about the North and the means of getting there, and when I afterward looked for him to make me a hoe-cake he could not be found. I doubt not that, like hundreds of his companions, he has started for a taste of the free air and independence to which he has so long eagerly looked forward.

By carefully comparing the various reports, I concluded that the enemy's forces evacuated the forts at midnight and Williamsburgh at daylight, and that they numbered from thirty to forty thousand. The Generals in command during the

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Joseph Hooker (2)
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