From our own correspondent.
Writing under Difficulties--Richmond Papers in Demand — The ‘"Old Lady"’ and Your ‘"Own."’--A Reprimand for an Interview with Federal Soldiers — Fine Horses, &c., &c.
Fairfax C. H., Sept. 20, 1861.
Having just returned from a long and very interesting ride, a description of which would prove quite readable did not prudence forbid it, I seat myself to give you an item or two, which is all the present quiet will afford.
Stern necessity will compel me to write with steam-engine speed to the conclusion of this letter, and to cut it extremely short, or else be left in darkness.
On going to our room this evening it was found that our landlord had run completely out of candles, and that there were none for sale in the village of Fairfax
From this predicament we were relieved by a lieutenant in the army, who kindly gave us four inches of his own. While this short piece is rapidly wasting away, I take advantage of its feeble illumination and improve the time.
For some time this village has been quite lively, owing to the number of men, horses, and vehicles of every description and variety, which have through its streets.
Early in the morning, when the crowd is greatest; when the heavy wagons keep up a continuous rattle; when soldiers are shooting, mules braying, dragoons riding by with clanking sabres, drums beating, and there is a constant Babel of strange noises, one could easily fancy a market day in Armagh
, or that, by some hocus pocus,
he had been suddenly dropped into the midst of Donny brook
From morning until night the main street is filled with busy men, who gather around the stores — where there is nothing to buy — or around the Post- Office, where a sentinel stands to prevent confusion and a crowd, or walk the streets in search of the Richmond papers, now in great demand, and hard to get at a dime each.
From the balcony of Hubbal's hotel a strange scene of busy life is visible, and the many curious and amusing pictures one sees would demand the lifetime of a Hogarth to delineate.
Just off the principal thoroughfare the people live very quietly in their houses, and seem to enjoy the comforts of home as happily as if the army was a thousand miles a way.
I am happy to record still further evidences of the improved health of the army, and of the return of a great number of those who have been on sick leave.
The cars never fail to bring in more or less, and I believe the regiments can now turn out more men to battalion drill or dress parade than at any time for the past two months. Contentment, order, and quiet now reign in the army, and one sees no signs of disorderly conduct or of insubordination.
I learn that several men belonging to the 9th South Carolina regiment were sent back to their camp a day or two ago from the advance post.
They were on picket duty, and, animated with the best of intentions, desired to stop the picket firing which is kept up so constantly; but in doing so they violated a rule of the army, and were ordered to report themselves under arrest.
One morning the Yankee
pickets came out with white flags along their line, which was soon responded to from our side, and in a short time visits were exchanged between them.
This, of course, could not be allowed, and our men were consequently reprimanded.
Their endeavors to stop the barbarous practice of pickets skulking behind fences and laying in rifle-pits, in order to get a shot at the guards opposite, was certainly laudable, but it might have been done possibly without a meeting or an exchange of compliments.
I regret that something cannot be done to stop a warfare so inhuman and so profitless, and one that cannot fail to stir up the worst passions of the human heart.
It is a singular fact in the war that the ladies are foremost in everything, and that their patriotism and vigilance in guarding the interests of the Government
A short time ago a well-known newspaper man, who has been for years a severe fire-eater and strongly in favor of opening the slave trade, was arrested at the instigation of a female custodian of the public welfare as a suspicious character.
It was with difficulty he escaped imprisonment, although he showed a clear record, and proved that he had made Secession speeches ever since he was first elected to the Legislature of his native State, many years ago. With this circumstance in mind, I was much amused at an old lady a few miles below this place, who evidently kept a sharp look-out on all strangers who might prove emissaries of the Round heads.
The locality, for convenience sake, may be called Bristow
Scene — the parlor of a hotel.
--party of gentlemen conversing in one corner; ladies in the other, who continually cast side glances at a newspaper reporter who is writing out his notes at the centre-table.
Act 1st.--Reporter oblivious to all about him. Old lady walks back and forward, casting sundry glances on the strange hieroglyphics.
Gents still conversing.
Old lady whispers significantly to her companions, when the party put their heads together and converse in an under-tone.
Reporter still oblivious.
Finally, the work is completed, the notes go into a side pocket, the book is folded, pen wiped, and inkstand put away.
Reporter prepares to leave the room by side entrance, but is intercepted by old lady, in behalf of community.
--‘"Have you been taking down what we've been saying?"’
--‘"Certainly not, madam."’ (Aside
"‘"what an old"’--
(interrupting).--‘"Well, then, mister, be you a spy or anything?"’
Reporter very suddenly subsides, but immediately draws sundry papers containing his record, which he spreads upon the table.
To make matters still stronger, he claims relationship with Jeff. Davis
, has known Aleck Stephens
from his boyhood, went to school with Beauregard
, was by Johnston
's side at the taking of Chepultepec
, and fought in the battle of Bull Run
Smiles of satisfaction gradually creep over all faces.
Play concludes by finding all parties satisfied, old lady having introduced pretty black-eyed daughter to the roving Bohemian
and suspected spy.
One of the principal features of the village of Fairfax
is the great number of beautiful horses that daily pass through it. Standing in front of the main hotel, one sees from five hundred to a thousand daily, some of them the finest animals that Virginia
It is true, the cavalry is encamped not many miles away, and are frequently seen in the village; but, aside from it, everybody seems taken with the strong desire of having a fine horse.
The finest and best, probably, are those owned by gentlemen from the extreme South
, who have expended large sums in order to get good animals.--Many of them are blooded horses, or racers of known reputation.
This evening I met a Georgia Major
riding a racer well known on the Southern
turf, and another mounted on one of Vixen
's finest colts.
, and Lieutenants
vie with each other in the character of their stock; and so universal has the furor become, that the newspaper correspondents have been drawn into it. One of these has purchased a beautiful black mare, for which he gave two hundred and fifty dollars--wonder where he got it!
Your ‘"Own"’ has a fine bay, on which, like a modern Atlas
, he carries about with him, from place to place, in the process of dispensing and collecting news, the little world of intelligence which you daily see in the correspondence from the Army of the Potomac.
I believe there are none of the mounted kin of London Times
Russell at this point, who, however well mounted, will make so good time after a day of battle.
The necessity of being well mounted at this place is evident from the fact that we have very long journeys to make sometimes to gain matter enough for a single paragraph.
The camps being sometimes twenty miles apart, it will be seen at a glance that it is no easy task to visit them.
After a journey on horseback, over roads by no means inviting, it will not be strange if I give you occasional letters remarkable for dullness, or that I should not write at all. If any battle occurs, or any facts that it is proper to give to the world can be had, depend upon it you shall get them as soon as the post will allow.
For the present, hope for something better soon.