The evacuation of Hampton.
--This movement on the part of Butler
's forces seems to have taken the Northern
journalists by surprise.
Judging from their own accounts, the place must have been evacuated through fear of an attack from the Confederates
, though General Magruder
is doubtless fully aware of its purpose, and will govern himself accordingly.
, it appears, had been led to believe that there was about to be an advance movement; but, after everything was ready for a start, they were informed that the troops would be withdrawn from the post.
We do not doubt that this announcement was received with secret joy by the majority of them.
It appears, from a statement in the Philadelphia Enquirer, that the troops became panic-stricken in consequence of an apprehension of a ‘"flank movement of the enemy,"’ and made good time from Hampton
to the Fortress.
The writer proceeds:
The panic which had seized upon the troops was quickly noticed by the blacks, throngs of whom have been pouring into Hampton
, and collecting from all parts of the surrounding country.
They believed that the rebel army was coming upon the village, and that our soldiers were leaving in anticipation of the attack.
Their demonstrations and expressions of alarm were of the most enthusiastic order imaginable.
‘"To de Fort!
To de Fort!
De 'Sectshers' is comin'!"’
--was the cry that, like a whirlwind, filed the colored population with terror, and passed from one to another, until they grabbed their children, their chickens, and their bundles, and fled in caravans toward the garrison.
It was not long before the little village just outside the Fortress seemed like one great auction-room and the streets were with difficulty kept passable.
All the old buildings around were appropriated, and before night the tide was reflected back toward Hampton
, and while I write every little hut is almost completely tenanted with blacks.
Friday evening, orders were issued by Gen. Butler
that, should Hampton
be attacked during the night, our troops should render as formidable a resistance as possible; but, if over powered by a superior force, they should fire the village and retreat.
To this end, inflammable and kindlings and explosives were kept ready for the torch at a moment's notice and scattered all through the village.
The absence during the night not only of attack, but even alarm from the enemy, probably preserved the village from laying in ashes to-day.
This morning, however, a column of black, lurid smoke was seen from the fortress, and the report soon came by telegraph that the village had been fired.