[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Fairfax, Oct. 14th, 1861.
There is nothing in the shape of war news to employ my pen. Everything is very quiet.
The Federals have not advanced beyond the line of hills we evacuated a short time since, and which they are now fortifying.
As I have previously stated, Fort Walton on White's hill
, has been extended to Taylor
's cross-roads.--The woods have been burned, and from the observatory in this place we have a good view of the field works they are engaged upon.--The ‘"stars and stripes"’ are still waving from Upton's hill
, and one or two signal flags have recently been raised within our sight.
Running along the horizon for several degrees, the yellow line of earth constituting their batteries is plainly visible.
My own observation leads me to believe the heaviest portion of the Federal
force this side the Potomac
is being concentrated on our left, above Falls Church
If an attack is made upon us, I have little doubt it will come from that direction.
A wounded Yankee, who has been for some days under treatment in the hospital, escaped this morning and has not yet been recaptured.
He was allowed the liberty of the yard as his health seemed to demand fresh air and sunlight.
Taking advantage of the kindness shown him, he escaped the vigilance of the guard and struck for the woods.
In all probability he will be brought back to-night.
Two Californians are now in the Provost-Marshal
's office, brought in by our cavalry pickets.
I have conversed with one of them, Mr. J. F. Welsh
, of Auburn, California
The two left San Francisco
on the 11th of September, and arrived in New York on the 4th of this month.
They then proceeded to Washington
with the intention of getting to Richmond
The following is a copy of the forged pass which enabled them to cross the river:
"Headquarters, Oct. 13th, 1861.
"Pass Mr. Glass
across bridge and ferries to Gen. King
's brigade on important business.
"By order of Gen. King
, A. A. Gen
With this they managed to pass the pickets, and went to Ball's house.
Then watching an opportunity, the two struck into the woods and came into our lines.
They state their intentions to join our army, although in what capacity I do not know.
They will probably be sent to Richmond
to-morrow morning, unless identified by some man in the army.
Both are gentlemanly, fine looking men, and complain bitterly of their detention here.
Col. S. B. Paul
, the Provost Marshal
, has done all in his power to render their condition as bearable as circumstances will permit.
A new police regulation has been adopted within a day or two at this post.
All the avenues leading to and from the village are carefully guarded, in order to prevent a crowd of soldiers and citizens from filling up the streets.
Sentinels are seen on every side.--One can hardly walk a thousand yards without meeting a gen darme,
who very politely demands the countersign or a pass.
If any unfortunate happens to have neither, all he has to do is to ‘"right about"’ and travel the same road he came.
The regulation applies principally to soldiers, although it effects the community at large.
It stops all anonymous and illegal traveling, and is a decided restriction upon the liberties of deserters.
A certain number from each regiment are allowed to enter the town upon special passes of a short duration.
This number executes any commissions, and makes such purchases as their companions desire.
Speaking of purchases reminds me of a recent visit to Centreville
, and the way I saw some soldiers swindled.
While waiting for the smith to tack a loose shoe upon my horse, fancy led me into one of the bazaars that adorn the lively town.
It was a dark, filthy-looking room, and so low that one involuntarily stooped to keep from bruising his head upon the blackened beams above.
An odor, hardly as agreeable as Patchouly, caused by a combination of old clothes, new boots, ginger cakes, and tobacco, pervaded the atmosphere.
A few soldiers were leaning over the counter, behind which the honest shopkeeper kept an eye upon the main chance by carefully gauging his prices according to the bulk of a customer's ‘"pile."’ On the shelves around were ranged the wares.
Imagine one of those shops in the outskirts of a city where you buy a shoe-string and half a nutmeg for one cent, a pawnbroker's shop, a Jewish ‘"old clo's"’ store, and a cross-road grocery, all united in one, and you have some idea of the place I am speaking of. Every imaginable no-account article was spread out in a tempting manner.
Buttons, pins, needles, tobacco, paper and envelopes, and beside them russet shoes, bright yellow shirts, bright red cravats, seal-skin
caps, and blue bandannas.
The prices were variable, but all four or five hundred per cent. above an immense profit.
Boats, worth ordinarily $3.50, cost $10. Paper, from forty to fifty cents per quire; envelopes, two cents each.
Overshirt of some worsted material, costing probably $1, were offered at the modest price of $3.50 and $4 according to the brilliancy of colors.
Tobacco, 15 cents per paper; and so on through a long list of worthless goods that had the dust of half a century upon them.
With the soldier it is Hobkin's choice, for they cannot have leave of absence to purchase elsewhere, and are forced to suffer or be outrageously swindled.
, once an excellent Alderman
of London city, made a remark in regard to capital punishment, that ‘"the very worst use to which you can put a man is to hang him;"’ but that was said before the day of these army vultures, that have no more conscience than the Neapolitan
beggars, who hold out one hand to receive your aims and rifle your pockets with the other.
There are several store and sutler shops that are well patronize, which should be abated as nuisances, and I am glad to hear that attention is being drawn to them.
If there is any crime that deserves being brought before the tribunal of ‘"Judge Lynch
,"’ it is the crime of imposition upon soldiers.
A few days since, a man was arrested here for buying honey at ten cents per pound and selling it in the camps for forty cents. There are many such cases that ought to be reported; and, if some one would take the trouble, the dishonest speculators would meet their deserts.
As I write, one company of the Washington Artillery, under Lieut. Garnett
, is returning from target practice.
The appearance of any of this fine corps in our streets always attracts universal attention.
In the distance the music of the 1st Virginia band can be heard at the head of the regiment, which is on its way to brigade drill.
Their new uniforms were received to-day.
At this point, having ran entirely out of facts, I am forced to say that ‘"this is all."’ Not to stop too suddenly, we will imagine the farce over; the green curtain descending, and as it unrolls the author steps before it; he advances towards the footlights; inserting one hand in his rear pocket, the other between two buttons of his vest, he bows with all the blandness of the amiable Mr. Pickwick
; he thanks the audience for their kind attention, and with innumerable bows retires.
But here the illusion ends; for fancy tells him there are no clapping of delicate hands, no shower of bouquets, no rows of sparkling eyes, to encourage him on to future effort.
For the moment, like the mountebank, he dons the ‘"cap and bells"’ and attracts attention; the next, both himself and his labor are forgotten.
Perhaps, however, some one
--never mind, I have forgotten what I was about to say.