[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Yorktown,June 1st, 1861.
I have been purposing to drop you a line for a day or two, but such has been the uncertainty of our movements that it has been almost impossible.
Our regiment has been employed this week in making some very formidable entrenchments in this region, behind which it would be very safe to meet any enemy.
Others are being erected by large bodies of negroes in proper locations.
In one I counted 125 slaves at work.
Some of our regiment, it seems, had come to the conclusion that, as we had helped to erect a formidable fort, it would be our pleasant duty to defend it. But this will not be the case.
One thing is certain and satisfactory, that the men who will defend it will be worthy of the place.
There is but one spirit that animates us all. We will try to die cheerfully, if necessary, in defence of our parents and sisters.
Such is the strength of the conviction upon all minds that ours is a righteous cause, that no man seems scarcely to think of a defeat.
Our regiment come here from Williamsburg
on Thursday morning last.
The march was fatiguing, but borne without a murmur.
We left Williamsburg
at 2 A. M. I visited Yorktown
10 or 12 years ago and examined its defences, but not with the same interest as on yesterday.
Be not uneasy about us if a second battle of ‘"Yorktown
"’ shall be fought presently.
It made my blood almost boil a day or two ago when I met fifty or more wagons, carriages, and all sorts of vehicles, bearing old age and infancy, as fugitives from their dear homes How long shall we suffer this?--Though slow to take vengeance, nevertheless the day of vengeance will assuredly come.
We are pleasantly situated in some respects.
It does one's soul good to stand upon the truly noble York
, and drink deep down into his lungs the fresh, invigorating air that comes across its waters.
Then the fish and the oysters!
I believe all our men are fattening. --Certainly most of them are. We have had very bad quarters, but to-day they have been very satisfactorily exchanged.
The house just vacated, and from which I, as the last man to quit, now write you, is about 40 by 20 feet, one-story high, with a small garret-- It has also a cellar.
It is occupied thus: In the cellar 70 negroes engaged upon some heavy work; in one of the principal rooms above, some carpenters, and in the other room and the garret are the 72 members of the Life Guard
Your correspondent, night before last, preferred to occupy one of the open wagons, with three of the men, rather than in one of the crowded rooms, and he has not yet repented of his choice.
He slept pretty well until summoned at 3½ A. M. to ‘"march."’ Last night, the wagons not being on hand, I sought for the hospital recently occupied by two of our men, (now well,) and slept admirably.-- It is a smoke-house.
When I entered it last night with a light, camp-stool and Dispatch
in one hand, and my bed in the other, it had but one aperture, and that was, of course, the door.
It is but 10 by 12 feet, and was rather close with the door closed.
Before I arose, however, a second opening was made just above my head by some negro men who were in search of kindling wood.
This would have been a decided improvement but for its proximity to my head.
Now, we are not complaining.
We are cheerful and happy — happy in our hearts and consciences, and with plenty good, wholesome food for the body.
But I write with a view more to the future comfort, not of our little band simply, but with a hope of lessening the privations of others who may come after us. As I said before, our new quarters are charming, and if we had not secured them, we would certainly have dispossessed the negroes and the two carpenters today, so as to have the whole house.
No man in our regiment is unwilling to work.
and every officer has gone willingly into the trenches.
It is glorious to labor for such a cause as ours.
No man fears that his respectability is so superficial as to be rubbed off by handling a shoveler pick.
The true life (happiness) of a man does ‘"not consist in the things that he hath,"’ or the work he may engage in, but consists in the aims and inspirations of his life.
God truly makes the wrath of man to praise him. Many noble virtues are being cultivated — many beautiful sympathies are being developed in this struggle for independence and manhood.
The French motto is, ‘"to die for one's country is a lot the most beautiful and the most worthy of envy. "’ To labor voluntarily, freely, cheerfully for this one high purpose of independence, is glorious.
How superior to the selfish accumulation of wealth, to be spent in vanity and show — in idleness and vice!
A friend said to me last night, ‘"This war will make men
of some of you that never would have been men without it."’ This is true.
Let every volunteer in the ranks, who has left a home of ease and plenty, remember that he has not been ‘"drafted
"’ and forced into the ranks, but that, with a willing heart, he has taken his humble position, and that that position is more honorable to him
than any position in the army.
This is the true position.
In the sight of men I know it is not the most honorable; but in Reason's eyes, and in the eyes of the Author of Reason, it is the most beautiful.
Thank God, I took my place there, and it will be one of the happiest recollections of my life.
I have said but little about army movements, because I do not think it prudent.
In our Colonel
we have a kind friend, a cool and brave commander, and in our Captain
the tenderest of fathers.
P. S.--As we may take the field soon, we will greatly need tents.
Can they be had?
They would save the life of more than one man in my company.
Twelve will do for a company.
Headquarters young Guard,
Yorktown, June 4, 1861.
Everything is quiet at this camp.
Last night we had a heavy rain, which lasted about an hour, and, being camped in ‘"pine huts,"’ constructed by the ingenuity of our boys, which were not water proof, we obtained a considerable ‘"ducking."’ We are sorry to say that, in the whole of Col. August
's regiment, there are only four
Can not something better than this be done?
To-day the whole camp is engaged in burnishing arms and drying blankets, which will prove to be a good day's work.
On Saturday morning last a detachment of the ‘"Young Guard,"’ under command of Lieut. Vannerson
and Sergeant Wade
, mounted without saddle or bridle, save a short piece of rope, proceeded down the road leading to Hampton
, about twenty miles, and took possession of a large lighter capable of carrying three hundred men; and after encountering much danger and trouble, at seven o'clock on Sunday morning landed the prize safely at the wharf at Yorktown
This party were in much danger during the whole of Saturday night, being within range of the guns of the blockading steamer, which lies below this point.
Several spies have been captured at this place, and will be examined to-day.
There have been various rumors of an attack upon this place for several days past.
Last night the blockading steamer threw up signal lights during the whole of the night, but no attack was made.
Strange to say, there is not a female in the place — not even a negro woman to wash our shirts and gloves.
More anon. W.