battery and the Rebels were retreating. We then proceeded up the river as fast as possible, taking the flags off the forts, and hoisting our own. When we got up to the city, they were just setting fire to it. We chased two steamers that were running off, but one of them was fired before we could get to it. The other we took, with about a dozen sailing vessels. It was the most exciting scene I ever saw in my life,—people running and fires starting up in every direction. In an hour the bridge was burned down, cutting off our army entirely from the town, and we thought the city would certainly be burned to the ground. But we soon found that the fires were pot so bad as they seemed; for they had set fire to the cotton and tar on the wharves, which made a tremendous smoke and blaze. So we set the negroes to work; and as fortunately there was no wind, by night the fires were all out.Soon after this, Robeson's eyes being much inflamed, he was compelled to leave the signal service and rejoin his regiment in Virginia. The Second had been employed, meantime, in severe guard and picket duty and reconnoissances, and during its winter encampment near Frederick had perfected itself in drill and discipline to a remarkable degree; and in the spring had taken part in movements upon Winchester and Jackson, at which latter place it was engaged with the enemy. The following extracts from his letters give some account of his earlier experiences after returning to his regiment.
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