Army of the Potomac.
[from our own correspondent.
Fairfax, Sept. 21, 1861.
After a heavy storm, which can be put down as the equinoctial, the weather has become very cool and pleasant.
The nights, however, are beginning to grow cold, and indicate the approach of winter.
The mornings are also cold and frosty, the skies grow many colored and hazy; the deciduous trees are beginning to change their summer green; the maples and dogwoods are red and yellow, and the forests show by their mottled tints of green and brown and gold, with here and there a patch of crimson, that we have seen the exodus of summer and the genesis of autumn.
Farmers are beginning to gather their corn and to fallow their land for another crop of wheat.
Preparations are being made on the plantations for the approaching winter, and also in the army; for the requisitions for warm clothing and for heavy blankets grow more frequent.
The health of the troops gradually improves under the kindly influences of the genial weather, and the hospital beds, which have so long borne the weight of anxious sufferers, are being rapidly vacated.
The indications are now very cheering, and we can but hope the next two months may be as propitious to our cause as the past two weeks have been.
Nothing of particular importance has occurred in the village of Fairfax
or in its immediate vicinity.
Matters are remarkably quiet, especially when we consider that this is the centre of the Confederate army, and that within a short distance are the headquarters of both our commanding Generals
For a few days we have been deprived of the usual number of rumors and reports, which, by the way, has deprived newsmongers of their useful occupation, and saved the correspondents many miles of hard riding to ascertain the truth of them.
Along the outpost all is quiet.
The pickets do not fire with their usual alacrity, and the officers spend the days in gazing at each other through their glasses.
To give a word of consolation to the people, who are not satisfied with a letter from the army, unless it contains some record of a fight, or at least a preparation for one, I will surmise that this extraordinary calm may be but the prelude to a storm, and leave them to do the speculating as to where and when it will take place.
Visitors are generally very much struck by the appearance in our streets of a number of Yankee vehicles, some of them still retaining the original name and device with perhaps a little addition by the present owner.
For instance, every morning a covered wagon, very nicely and strongly constructed, with good springs and an elegant cover, is seen standing before our hotel, waiting for the passengers for Manassas
It was a present from the "New York Defence Committee" to one of the regiments from that State, and was captured July 21, 1861, on the "Plams of Manassas
." A fine ambulance marked "Second Rhode Island Regiment," is also frequently seen together with others taken from the Massachusetts
, Vermontland Connecticut
volunteers in the fight at Bull Run
A number of the old forage wagons of the United States Army are in use here, to which horses are attached with U. S. branded upon their haunches.
These wagons and ambulances are now in constant use, and are very much admired by our men, as McDowell
's legacy to them.
By his kindness in furnishing such a goodly number, we have been spared many of the evils that occur from want of sufficient transportation.
Among the many encampments in Virginia
, there are none more beautiful or more delightfully situated than the headquarters of Brigadier Gen. Ewell
and the regiments under his command.
Located upon an eminence covered with an oak grove, in a small unpainted house, containing three or four rooms, are the present quarters of the General
Beyond it, and but a few yards distant, are the tents of the staff, and a little farther on, fastened to the trees, are the horses used by the officers.
himself, with a choice that marks the soldierly habits of the man, lives in a tent in front of the building, in which he messes and transacts the ordinary business of the post.
On an opposite hill, about half a mile distant, is the encampment of Col. Leibal
's rifle regiment, from Alabama
, and a little farther on, but concealed by a thick wood, is the 12th and the 5th Alabama.
The latter is now away on special duty, but their tents are still standing, and their encampment kept up. Scattered around in the thickets are several troops of cavalry, some of which have made themselves well known and dreaded by the valiant Yankees
, who sleep with nightly visions of "BlackHorse Cavalry" and flashing sabres, and instinctively keep as far out of their way as possible.
, about whom very little has been said, is a medium-sized, spare man, with heavy moustache and whiskers.
His massive head is partially bald, with a heavy brow and deep-set eyes of light blue.
He is apparently about forty years of age, lithe and active frame, and with a brave, determined look that one cannot fall to observe.
His motions are prompt and energetic, and his constantly roving eye takes in all about him, and scans everything stirring about him, no matter how trivial.
His dress is exceedingly simple and unostentatious, and one could hardly imagine from its appearance that he was in the presence of the commander of the most efficient and important brigade in the army.
A blacks touch hat, set firmly upon the head a coat that was used probably when a cavalry officer, dark blue military pants with a buff cord down the seam, thick boots and heavy brass spurs complete the outward appearance of the man. In conversation Gen. Ewell
is blunt and deals in very few useless words.--With friends he has a hearty, cordial manner, but with strangers a reserve habitual to those who have their time continually occupied.
An occasional smile and merry twinkle of the deep-set blue eye indicates a naturally jovial disposition and a keen appreciation of genuine wit and humor.
is by no means striking, still one observes at a glance the marks of decided ability and of considerable talent.
Heretofore Gen. Ewell
has been placed in extremely difficult positions and has had no opportunities afforded him for displaying those qualities for generalship which no one doubts he possesses.
As a commander he is constantly at his post, attentive to duty, and is much respected and beloved by his men. The Alabamans
especially, speak of him in highly complimentary terms; and have entire confidence in his military knowledge and skill.
He is a Virginian by birth, was educated for the United States army, served a long time as a cavalry officer, and is now in the front rank of the Confederate army guarding the advanced posts opposite Alexandria
Among the many reports of the battle of the 21st there are none which do justice to Gen. Ewell
, the fault of the writers being entire ignorance of the true facts of the case.
I have made careful inquiries as to the movements of his brigade that day, and, without going into detail of the facts elicited, unhesitatingly say that he acted throughout the fight entirely under instructions, and that he obeyed every order that was sent him, or that was forwarded to him from the commanding General
When the report of the battle is given to the public, it will give additional light upon the mysteries which busy brains have hatched up about remissness in duty, couriers killed, failure of orders, and other points which have for two months been thoroughly canvassed.
But enough for the present.
I have several things on my note-book — facts gleaned while on a visit to this brigade — which I shall reserve for another letter.
Something about the cavalry, the arrangements of the camps, the police regulations, the excellent bakery of Col. Leibal
, and the daily detail of camp life, may prove interesting matter for a future communication.
Yesterday a map seller — a man with a decided Hebrew cast of countenance — came into camp with maps of the battle of Manassas
At the first glance one could hardly tell what the engraving represented; but the publishers have kindly added the title to one corner, that there need be no mistake.
The whole is inaccurate and false, and in withal badly executed.
Any one who was in the battle, and who witnessed the different positions, can easily point out its errors.
To whom the blame of this untrue map is attached, I cannot say; the little gentleman with the Hebrew cast of feature places it on the engraver, and says he made the drawing correct; but not only the sketch, but the text had been altered from the original.
This map may do, however, to get some idea of the field to those who know of it only through the published accounts, and will probably meet with ready sale.