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[569] those who are now marching before us, look as though they might keep on to the Mississippi, by way of pastime, and feel no weariness. With faces browned by exposure, yet expressing in every lineament confidence in their new leader, trust in the result of this sudden movement, and hope of success; with their blue uniforms soiled and dusty, they press on. And now their places are filled by men wearing the habiliments of soldiers, and with muskets, and bayonets affixed, in their hands. There were none like these here two years ago, for these men are negroes. But wherein do they differ from those around them? These are dressed as well — indeed the same; they look as strong, they step as firmly, they move as orderly, and there is only one difference — their faces are black. But the cruel ban which we have placed on them for this has been washed away in blood, at Port Hudson, at Wagner, at Petersburg, and now they are among the regenerators of the land. Let them be honored for what they have done! They come not in companies or detachments, but in regiments. They are full of humor and good will, and, as they march along, give utterance to expressions which are alive with mirth and significant in meaning. One little wiry-looking fellow says: “Ise bin yere 'fore, I is. My ole mars'r live jist little piece ove'yere. I'se gwine t'see yim.”

The cavalry's steady tramp attracts our attention, as they march from the plain and down the bank, on to the bridge, an endless troop. Across they go; a hardy, tough, wiry-looking set, up the southern bank and out of view, yet still coming, tramp, tramp, over the plain, and we cannot see the end of them. With breeches stuffed into their boots, with soiled and dusty yellow-trimmed jackets, some with blue caps, some with black felt hats, and some with straw hats, with sabre-shield clanking against their stirrups, and carbine slung over their backs, with canteen hanging from saddle-pommel, an odd and picturesque looking company indeed. Some of them were here a few weeks ago, when Sheridan led them on their wonderful raid, and many of them bear the marks of their sometime contested march. One had his shoeless bandaged foot in the stirrup; another's face is half covered with his handkerchief, stained with blood; a third has his jacket-sleeve hanging by his side, while his arm is held in a sling. Talking and laughing, they pass on, and after a seemingly long while are all over. A great drove of cattle follow them, running here and there, plunging and rearing, and crowding the narrow bridge till it would seem as though the half of them must go overboard. But safely they all cross over. And now the fighting corps of General Hancock are filling the plain and moving upon the bridge. Again the long line of regimental and commissary wagons, with sweating horses and noisy drivers; the ambulances, some empty, and some with wounded stretched at full length on the cushioned seats; the wagons and other vehicles of the Sanitary Commission, telling, as they do so plainly, of comfort and succor, and assistance; horses, mules and cattle, the long line bearing a general likeness to that which has gone before it, and yet so different in many features and points that you readily see and draw the line of separation.

The artillery and infantry and cavalry succeed each other, all of them veterans; you see it in their brown and scarred faces, in their carriage, tone and manner. They have been here before, with McClellan, but then a half-defeated, discouraged, broken army; now they come, so far at least, victorious. They are now not sallow and cheek shrunken from fever, debilitated with swampy miasma, and worn out with working in the trenches; but with strong arms and buoyant hearts, their faces flushed with health, and their march inspired with the promise of victory.

But the day was almost gone, and we weary with this scene, ever-changing, yet continually the same; it will be a relief to step on the bridge and cross with the soldiers, and on the summit of the southern bank we can overlook the plain across the river and witness the host as it winds on its way to us.

And now, what a magnificent view! The plain before us is dotted with groups of wagons and soldiers and horses and mules, while through them comes tramping on the long endless army column. The sun, only a few feet above the tops of the trees, shines full upon them, and the polished musket-barrels and glistening bayonets flash and sparkle in the light, till it looks like a silver serpent winding over the dusty road.

The evening twilight brings no end, and not until in the night is the ceaseless tramping stopped. The morning witnesses the “forward march,” as though there had been no cessation. Till mid-day it is continued, when the accumulation of steamers, on either side of the bridge, compels a passage, and in seven minutes it is made. The whole corps of General Smith pass on transports through the opening, and up to Bermuda Hundred, where they disembarked, as they did at that same place five weeks ago that very day. Nineteen transports, supply and mail steamers, pass down, and the river, jammed with steamers as Broadway is with teams, is again relieved, the bridge is once more closed, and again the march is taken up.

A few miles up the river we move to City Point, and all along on the water and on the land, it is one endless, busy, bustling scene.

Standing by the roadside, and a little away from the wharf, are General Grant and General Meade, in conversation. The stern, placid, yet impenetrable and unreadable face of the former, is in strong contrast with the fixed, Roman, steel-like countenance of the latter. Both are dressed roughly, with pantaloons tucked in their boots, neither wearing device or ornament of any kind. Their black, broad-brimmed hats are pulled over their faces to shield them from


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