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[278] and once the whole regiment burst out into “Columbia, the Gem of the ocean,” with all the fervor they could bring to it. It was not early when I reached the camp, but the exercise was still progressing under the vigilance of the Colonel, who threw in now and then clear and energetic counsels for the guidance of his men in the morning's work. Before midnight every thing needful had been done, and the troops were scattered to their tents for two hours of rest. The Colonel did not sleep until much later. He sat at his table completing the official arrangements which remained to him, and setting carefully before his subordinates the precise character of the duties they were to be charged with. After this he was alone, and I thought, as I entered his tent a little before he turned to his straw and blankets, that his pen was fulfilling a tenderer task than the rough planning of a dangerous exploit. He was so much a stranger. to fear, this brave little Colonel, that his friends sometimes wondered at him; but it seemed, then, that he was not insensible to the awful hazards of his station. I hope that those who were nearest to him will find a touch of consolation in the assurance that the last moments he passed alone were given to them.

For more than an hour the encampment was silent. Then it began to stir again, and presently was all alive with action. At 2 o'clock, steamboats appeared off the shore, from one of which Capt. Dahlgren, the commander of the Navy Yard, came to announce that all was ready for the transportation. The men marched forward in line, and were drawn up by companies to the beach. At this time, the scene was animated in the highest degree. The vivid costumes of the men — some being wrapt from head to foot in their great red blankets, but most of them clad in their gray jackets and trowsers and embroidered caps; the peaks of the tents, regularly distributed, all glowing like huge lanterns from the fires within them; the glittering rows of rifles and sabres; the woods and hills, and the placid river, which here meet in exquisite proportion, enfolding all — and all these suffused with the broad moonlight, were blended in such novel picturesqueness that no man among the throng could fail to be moved by it. The embarkation was rapidly conducted, and, although the spot chosen was not apparently the most advantageous, was completed in less than two hours. The entire regiment, excepting the small guard necessarily left behind, nearly one thousand men, were safely bestowed and on their way down the river by 4 o'clock, just as the dawn began to shine over the hills and through the trees.

The night had passed without any noteworthy incident. It had been thought possible that the rebels, who could by some means undoubtedly have gained premonition of the movement, might fire the bridge by which other regiments were to advance upon them, and thus diminish the attacking force for a time. Nothing of this kind, however, had been attempted, and as we steamed down the river, (very slowly, for the boats were heavily laden,) there was no sign that we were expected, or that any inroad was provided against. This seemed at first suspicious, especially as on nearing Alexandria we found it sharing the same appearance of repose. It could hardly be credited that at least a rumor of warning should not have reached them. But if it had, it would appear that their enormous self-confidence was not to be even thus disturbed, for it afterward was found that no preparations either for resistance or for evacuation had been made until early in the morning, when, if I am rightly informed, the sloop-of-war Pawnee had sent ashore a summons to surrender the town, which I believe the garrison were considering, or had partially assented to, when we arrived. It was not until our boats were about to draw up to the wharf that our approach was noticed in any way; but at the latest minute a few sentinels, whom we had long before discerned, fired their muskets in the air as a warning, and, running rapidly into the town, disappeared. Two or three of the Zouaves, fancying that the shots were directed toward them, (which they certainly were not,) discharged their rifles after the retreating forms, but no injury to any body followed. The town was thus put on its guard, but yet so early was the hour, and so apparently unlooked — for our arrival, that when we landed, about half-past 5 o'clock, the streets were as deserted as if it had been midnight.

Before our troops disembarked, a boat, filled with armed marines, and carrying a flag of truce, put off from the Pawnee, and landed ahead of us. From the officer in charge we learned that the Pawnee had already proposed terms of submission to the town, and that the Rebels had consented to vacate within a specified time. This seemed to settle the question of a contest in the negative; but in the confusion of mustering and forming the men, the intelligence was not well understood, and received but little attention. Indeed, I am quite sure that the Pawnee's officer did not seek Col. Ellsworth, to communicate with him, and that the Colonel only obtained a meagre share of information by seeking it directly from the bearer of the flag of truce himself. No doubt this omission arose from the confused condition in which affairs then stood. But it would have caused no difference in the Colonel's military plans. No attack was meditated, except in case of a forcible resistance to his progress. On the other hand, the idea of the place being under a truce seemed to banish every suspicion of a resistance either from multitudes or individuals. It was just possibly this consideration that led Col. Ellsworth to forego the requisite personal precautions, which, if taken, would have prevented his unhappy death. But I am sure none of us at that time estimated the probability of the danger which afterward menaced us. Perhaps the thought of actual bloodshed and death in war was too foreign to our experiences to be

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