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A reminiscence of the Christmas of 1861.

By W. F. Shippey.
It was Christmas day in the year 1861. A party of officers and soldiers of the old First Virginia Cavalry, then encamped near Bull Run, had assembled to celebrate the day at Stuart's Tavern, on the Little River Turnpike. The party was composed of Captain Jas. H. Drake, Captain Irving, Lieutenant Larrick, Dave and Gash Drake, Wm. Guy, Wm. Meade, and the writer of this; if there were others I cannot, at this distant day, recall their names. The day was ‘cold and dark and dreary,’ but the bright fire from the old fashioned fire-place, shining upon the polished and-irons, sanded floor and cheerful faces of ‘mine host’ and his guests in their gray uniforms and their burnished side arms leaning conveniently in the corners of the room, gave an air of comfort and snugness to the scene which contrasted favorably with the out-door gloom, and gave something like a home feeling to the soldiers who, for several months, had known nothing better than a fly-tent, or a cross-roads bivouac.

Our horses were picketed at the front fence, ready to mount and away should any foraging party of the enemy happen along and disturb us in our festivities, but we trusted to the inclemency of the weather and proximity of our infantry pickets, to prevent any such interruption, but the rule of our lives in the front under ‘JebStuart, was vigilance, and on this occasion it was not relaxed.

With song and jest and story interspersed with occasional libation to the Shrine of Bacchus, (represented by a large bowl of punch and an egg-nog on the center-table,) the hours passed merrily away while the landlord busied himself with preparations for dinner, and the odor of roast turkey and other good things from the kitchen, sharpened the already keen appetites of the hungry soldiers-such appetites as we had twenty years ago.

In the midst of this scene of enjoyment, a ‘solitary horseman’ rode up to the house, dismounted and entered—a tall soldierly looking man, in uniform of a Captain of Infantry. Seeing that we were a private party and believing himself to be an intruder, he was about to beat a retreat, but we pressed him to join us, and after some hesitation he consented to do so. He introduced himself as Captain Atkins, of Wheat's battalion, and told us that the battalion was on picket duty, and he on the grand round, and had come out of his way to warm himself by the hospitable fireside of the

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James H. Drake (4)
Wheat (3)
J. E. B. Stuart (2)
W. F. Shippey (2)
William Meade (2)
Larrick (2)
Jeb (2)
Irving (2)
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Bacchus (2)
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