[Special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Headquarters Johnston's Army, Winchester, Va., July 9, '61.
A desire to write news, an old habit of mine, has come over me this morning, so I have concluded to give your readers the benefit of the rumors, facts and speculations afloat here, at the headquarters of Gen. Johnston
's army, as picked up by a private in the army.
Well, you have heard from ‘"reliable gentlemen"’--news carriers in these times are always ‘"reliable,"’ according to the papers — how Johnston
's whole army, when the armies were seven miles apart — all about the Yankees crossing
; but you didn't hear how gallantly 380 (and some of them sick,) of Col. Harper
's Fifth Virginia Regiment repulsed 7,000 of the enemy three times, and kept them back two and a half hours, a feat even General Jackson
was surprised at Lieut; Col. Harman
counted 20 dead bodies of the enemy carried off the field in blankets, as he ordered the regiment to retire.
Some of the companies fired 40 rounds, coolly and deliberately.
tenen just from Hagerstown
say that the enemy have buried 178, and their wounded and killed must have been 300. Capt. Pendleton
's Artillery fired one round through and through the whole of the enemy's column, killing a great number.
Lieut. Col. Harman
, of Augusta
, acted with the greatest coolness and bravery, as did Col. Harper
and the whole regiment, Gen. Jackson
was as cool as a cucumber, writing orders, on his horse, while the balls flew around him like hail.
That was all the fight.
Our men retired in good order, losing only two and taking five prisoners from the enemy.
's lying dispatch to Washington
makes it out that he gained a tremendous victory; but, bah ! Yankees can't help lying; it is born in them and nourished by education.
Our forces here were ordered out as soon as the news of the enemy's movements reached us, on Tuesday, July 2d. That evening they marched to Bunker's Hill
, twelve miles, and camped until the following morning, when they marched to Darksville
, six miles, and took a position to meet the Yankees
, who were reported to be approaching with 30,000 men, but who were snugly quartered in Martinsburg
Our troops were frequently drawn up in order of battle, and always ‘"fell in"’ as joyfully as the bridegroom hastens to the wedding; but each alarm proved false.
Once our pick were fired on, and all thought the fight at hand, but the enemy dared not approach, though double our numbers.
The enemy entrenched themselves at Martinsburg
, and our troops were eager to attack them, uncaring for odds; but Gen. Johnston
held them back.
So, there was no fight, though we offered battle to double our numbers four days.
On Sunday, the 17th, Gen. Johnston
issued a proclamation to the army, in which he said he knew it to be the desire of his command to march upon the enemy and drive them from Martinsburg
; he had no doubt that the attempt would be successful, but the loss of life would be greater than the object to be gained would warrant.
He had for four days offered battle to the enemy, greatly superior in force, but the enemy declined, and there was no prospect of an attack.
He concluded by hoping, and knowing, his brave command would see the justice of his movements and obey his orders promptly, as they had always done.
The proclamation, of which I give only the substance, gave pretty general satisfaction, but it was with sad hearts that our gallant boys came back to old quarters here, which they did Sunday evening last.
The men stood the march and sleeping in the open air, without tents, finely, and but few are sick from it. Hundreds of the sick, with imprudent bravery, deserted the hospitals and went out to join in the fight.
Thus ended this expedition to whip Patterson
, and various are the opinions of it. All think Johnston
acted prudently, but all regret that we had no fight.
And here we are stationed, all around this place, in what positions and in what numbers it is not policy to state.
The Yankee prisoners — some sixty--work daily in the ‘"trenches."’ They are a hard looking set, but work well.
They say the first bread they got to eat since leaving home was here.
Old Abe fed them on spoiled herrings and wormy sea crackers.
They complain greatly of the heat; say they were going home on the 4th, as their time was out, and they will never fight against the South
What liars they are ! Gen. Carson
has the militia out. They are generally fine looking men, and most of them have been armed.--The 35th Regiment, under Col. Robert Baldwin
, is rapidly becoming perfectly organized and well drilled.
He is untiring in his exertions to make them good soldiers, and deserves great credit.
The army here is going to ‘"fall back"’ no further without a fight.
Voices not loud, but deep, proclaim it. Southerners from Georgia
, Kentuckians, Marylanders and Virginians
, are not going to leave the kind, the generous, the beautiful ladies of Winchester
, who have exhausted every device in kindness to them, while sick or well, to the mercies of old Abe's minions, without a fight.
The soldiers now in the hospitals receive every attention from the citizens, especially the ladies.
Some of the sick are in private families, who treat them like brothers and sons.
The sick are generally improving, but it is evident there have been too many young M. D.'s ‘"provided for"’ at the expense of the poor soldier's life.
This should be remedied, by having a strict examination of all surgeons, and recording some hundreds to the ranks and a musket.
of Charity are here nursing the sick, from Emmettsburg, Pa., and untiring in their endeavors to make the sick soldier's lot endurable.
, the Maryland
line, and some Virginia
companies, are without tents, and it is a shame that they are not provided by the Government
It would save valuable lives and have many more soldiers ready for action by providing for their comfort.
Can't you stic the question a little?
The troops of this command are splendidly drilled, and very little complaint is made, if any, of their conduct.
They are gentlemen and act as such.
Can't a plan be fixed to give us better bread?
Suppose a requisition is made for all the good bakers in the army, then one for bricklayers.
Bricks are plenty, ovens are soon put up, and the bakers are numerous enough to give us an abundance of eatable bread — Requisitions are made for carpenters and blacksmiths.
Are not our digestions as worthy of ‘"requisition" ’ as horses hoofs and wagon wheels ? By stirring this matter up and having this plan adopted, you will help to promote both the health and efficiency of the service.
But my letter is too long.
The enemy, it is rumored, are approaching.
Their pickets are at our late camp, (Darksville
,) 10 miles from this place.
It is said he is 30,000 strong.
Let them come; we are ready for anything but the everlasting ‘"fall back."’
, who was hurt by the explosion of the artillery wagon, is rapidly recovering, and will get well.
All quiet here, and nothing but drill, forever drill.
All pray for one grand fight.