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[199] roads through ploughed fields, no signs of husbandry, no shocks of corn fodder standing — all is gone. First came our forces, then came the confederates; away they go, and then our forces again. All these troops must be fed, and the consequence is, the whole country is skinned completely out. As most of the other armies passed in the summer, very little fire was used by the troops, consequently very few rail fences were destroyed. Now it is quite different; the cold snap has made a fire very agreeable; and as the rails make a quick and hot fire, they are used by thousands, much to the chagrin and discomfiture of the secesh farmers. Last night bright lights could be seen for miles, looking not unlike to a large city with all the street-lamps and stores lit up.

The day opened on Sunday morning with a dull and heavy sky, giving evidence that a storm was brewing. By noon it cleared up somewhat, and the sun came out, warming the chilled atmosphere. Late in the afternoon it again clouded up, the weather becoming quite cold and raw.

The weather all day yesterday was threatening, and quite cool. In the morning a very heavy fog impeded observation, and drops of it fell like rain. Once or twice during the morning it attempted to rain, but did not succeed. Late in the afternoon, the sun partially made his appearance. We all hope there will be no rain until the whole army is en route for its destination. Up to to-day the roads have been very good for the passage of an army, but one severe rain of a day or two will make them impassable. The soil is clayey in some places, while in many others it is very sandy and gravelly.

The road here and from the Junction runs on a ridge, and is almost a desert, so far as water is concerned. What few streams there are running seem to be nothing but muddy pools. Water is very scarce, and the troops, after the long march, were suffering for the want of it. At the Headquarters of Gen. Sumner there is a well of good water. The advance guard placed a sentry over this well, ordering him to allow no one to get water from it except an officer from headquarters. When Gen. Sumner heard of this order he went to the sentry at the well, in person, and gave him instructions to let all get water who wanted it, at the same time stating that he would rather go without water himself than to let his men go thirsty.

Some of the inhabitants of this almost deserted region have been in mortal fear of the “Yankees” for some time past, as they had been told our troops kill women and children, and burn all dwellings. A female at the house used as Headquarters, near the Spotted Tavern, implored us not to kill her or the children, and was most agreeably surprised when she learned that that was not our line of business. She had heard we had been burning and destroying all within our reach.

A number of our troops, while overhauling a wheelwright shop, some miles from the tavern, found an Alabama ambulance, and some twenty-five shot-guns, with patterns for gun-stocks, etc. The guns were rather roughly handled, and the remnants left as mementoes of the past.

It is said upon good authority that there are five Mississippi regiments and Major Crutch's rebel cavalry brigade in Fredericksburgh to dispute our crossing. The Thirtieth Virginia, Col. Carey, is also supposed to be there, or ready to come, as houses have been cleared to be used as barracks for them. This regiment has lost a great many men by desertion, as the mass of them are conscripts, who invariably leave at the first opportunity-preferring to live in the bush rather than be soldiers. The mass of the Virginia troops say they will not go out of Virginia to go into winter quarters.

Falmouth is a very old town, some of the houses dating as far back as 1717, and some claim a greater antiquity. A portion of the town has a neat; air about it, while the mass of the houses are old and ill-shaped. There is not a public house in the whole town, or any place for strangers to stop. The best houses are white frames, while the old antiquities are the old-fashioned bricks, with heavy garret-windows. Very few men are to be seen, but there are an abundance of women and children.

During the silencing of the batteries across the river the utmost consternation prevailed among the inhabitants. The children seemed very much frightened.

During the early part of yesterday morning a ferry-scow, belonging to Mr. Fichler of Falmouth, was destroyed by the rebels to prevent our crossing. The river is fordable in many places, and this will have very little effect in keeping back the troops of Gen. Hancock's division, and the remainder of the column.

This morning has opened again threatening rain, but our army is safe, the mass of it having got over the roads; in fact, the roads have been first-rate for the artillery and teams.

During the march to this point our troops were in the very best spirits ; their merry, echoing voices rang through the forests, raising the spirits of the weary ones in the rear, all hurrying on to-ward this point. The “Philadelphia brigade,” known as Burns's, now commanded by Colonel Josh. Owens, of the gallant Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania, were in the left column during the march. They are in General Howard's division.

Col. Baxter's regiment of Fire Zouaves have been consolidated, and now have ten companies instead of fifteen, as formerly.

Yesterday morning one of the teams belonging to one of our batteries was out foraging for fodder, and got within a hundred yards of the enemy's cavalry pickets, they not observing the rebels. The teamster drove into a corn-field, the enemy not interfering in the least. The only reason we can give why they did not capture the whole party is, they feared it was a trap set to catch them.

Our army has made a very sudden change of base. But the other day Harper's Ferry was the centre of attraction, then Warrenton, and now Fredericksburgh. In one of our letters we dated

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E. V. Sumner (2)
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