back at Manassas — Heary firing heard — improved
State of health--‘"Our Own"’ Serenaded--Professor Lowe's balloon, &c.
Manassas, Sept. 18, 1861.
Living on the outposts may be very interesting and very exciting, but a man will occasionally need a change of linen, and will have a desire to go to bed in the usual manner, without the certainty of being obliged to get into the saddle in precisely four minutes from the time he is roused from sleep by a volley of musketry.
He will also desire to read a newspaper before it is four days old, and be gratified to walk about a little without having minute halls singing about his ears.
As pleasant as idleness and ease may be, however, there is a charm, about the wild life of the advance that binds an adventurous spirit to it, and I must confess that only the lamentable fact of being reduced to the last clean shirt brought me, again to Manassas
, and to the task of enduring its present daily routine of dullness:
On leaving Fairfax
yesterday morning, every heavy firing was heard in the direction of Arlington
, which some supposed to be from Fort Corcoran and others from a point lower down the river.
I listened attentively for some time to hear the reports of our field guns, could not distinguish them, and concluded that the Federals
were either firing a sa or were engaged in their usual morning occupation of firing at a target.
After a time the rumors began to come in, and the number, variety, improbability, impossibility, and the magnitude of them was truly astonishing.
One man said the Yankees
were shelling Hall's hill
from Arlington Heights
— that was good, since we do not hold Hall's hill
.-- Another said we had been driven from Munson's hill and had lost all our artillery; another, that he distinctly heard the sound of musketry since six in the morning. It was evident to every one that a great fight was going on and that somebody had been ‘"cut to pieces."’ If was plain those heavy guns meant something.
On inquiry at headquarters I could not learn anything unusual, and so proceeded on my journey.
On reaching Centreville
, I was told-by a man, who said he had just come from Fairfax
, that he could hear the rattle of small arms distinctly in the morning, and that fifteen thousand men were engaged in fighting fifty thousand Yankees.
‘"Is that reliable?"’
said a fussy-looking by-stander." "Certainly it is," was the reply; "I have just come from the Court-House
, and heard it myself." Off pops "fussy-little by stander," and in two minutes the village knows the alleged, fact as generally as if the town crier had repeated it in the street after a sonorous ‘"o yes."’
It was, useless to contradict the story, for one only received a look which repeated plainly enough Mr. Samuel Weller
's, ‘"you're a green un"’ for his trouble.
What the tale was when it reached here can be better imagined than described; but there is one pleasing fact connected with it, and that is that the veracious ‘"passenger on the train from Manassas
"’ did not carry the immense falsehood to Richmond
As there have been no skirmishes to record, and as there is a general dearth of matter to write about, I must fall back on items, and give you what few the wet condition of the streets will allow me to pick up.
The health of the companies is very much improved, and the daily trains come in filled with volunteers who have recovered from sickness, owing to the country air and the tried attention of the good people who have nursed them in the farm houses.
All the regiments are filling up rapidly, and unless some epidemic breaks out like the measles, I see no reason to suppose there will be more sickness this winter than is usual where so many men are collected.
It is a mistaken idea that our troops cannot stand the cold weather, for if they have proper tents and comfortable clothing, they can stand it as well-as the United States
soldiers did the severe cold of Utah
three winters ago.
I learn that the 8th Louisiana Regiment which has been so long stationed near the depot to do picket and police duty, has received orders to choose another encampment.
They will be relieved by a fresh regiment to-morrow, which will take the same old camping ground with its many nice improvements in the way of hospitals, outhouses, bakeries, etc.
The cars come in loaded with freight every evening, bringing hundreds of boxes for the soldiers, sent by their kind friends at home.
I regret to hear so many things fail to reach their destination, but hope the railroad company will take measures to prevent any further losses.
A few nights ago your ‘"own,"’ in connection with his friend ‘"Personnel,"’ were the recipients of a serenade, but unfortunately were from home on the interesting occasion.
The Vicksburg Southrons, from whom the honor came, have their hearty thanks, and they are proud to say that the ladies who-heard their delightful music, speak of them in highly complimentary terms.
The latter has a nice little speech prepared a should a nother occasion offer for its delivery, while your ‘"own"’ is studying a book of poetical quotations to bolster him up in case he should break down.
I stepped into the general hospital this morning and was gratified to find two or three of the rooms entirely empty.
Considering the crowded state in which I saw them for a month after the battle, the changed appearance was very pleasing, A few cases only are now under treatment, and they are all convalescents.
A few nights ago, Prof. Lowe
's balloon went up so high that it could be distinctly seen at Fairfax C. H. A great crowd soon collected to stare at it, and opera-glasses
and telescopes were in as much demand as bits of smoked glass during an eclipse.
The weather to-day has been exceedingly capricious, and since morning we have lingered between smiles and tears.
Sometimes the rain fell in torrents, and beating heavily against the window panel and under the door sills, made little rivulets on the floor.
The garden walks were miniature runs, and everything was exceedingly wet. In a few moments the sun would appear through the dark masses of clouds, and, sparkling upon the rain drops, covered the grass plots with gems as brilliant as diamonds, emeralds or pearls.
The moon is now shining brightly, in the sky, and the night gives promise of fair weather to-morrow.
Rain or shine, I shall take the saddle again at the first appearance of daylight. G. N.