From Camp Cooper.
interesting letter from a soldier's wife — Centreville — the presence of a lady Creaces a Stir among the soldiers — a live Yankee &c.
[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Camp Cooper, Oct. 26, 1861.
Thinking you might like to hear something of camp life from a feminine point of observation, I thought I would jet down my experience of a few days in camp, on a visit to my husband.
My place of a journal is with the 1st Regiment Cavalry Virginia Volunteers, so well known as Suart
It is now, as it always has been, on the out-post serving as the advance guard.
Of the battle ground, the scenery, and country generally, It will be scarcely worth while for me to write, as since the 21st of July you have had it served up la Brestli,
and in every other style.
But I must speak of our encampments.
The view they present from a hill, on the other side of Centreville
is the most beautiful I ever beheld.
Every upland, glade, and glen, for miles, is covered with the white tents of our brave Southern men, and the Confederate
flag floating freely to the breeze.
With the beautiful frost-tinted autumn woods for a background, and the ascending smoke of the camp fires, floating like a mist over them, the scene is beautiful beyond description.
are the fortifications — good, substantial affairs, as the Yankees
will and to their sorrow it they approach too near.
The country, never very rich, now presents from Centreville
here the most desolate, dreary aspect.
Scarcely a panel of fencing is left, and the houses for miles are deserted.
Here and there a deserted camping ground, occupied first by the Yankees
on their triumphal march, and then by the Confederates
as they followed up their retreat to Munson's Hill, adds greatly to the dreary appearance of this devastated country.
After leaving the pike, a road through a dense pine wood leads to this encampment — Of course a lady coming in while on the out-posts was something of a curiosity, and it was soon rumored abroad that there was a lady in camp.
A great many ladies had been down, but left as soon as the army commenced falling back.
It was after the dinner hour when I arrived, but a hearty meal was soon prepared, consisting of bread and butter, sweet potatoes, beefsteak, and coffee; and I partook of my first meal in camp with quite a relish, after a ride of ten miles, and thinking camp fare not at all bad. A tent (a Yankee one) was soon fitted up for my accommodation, with one of the improved fire-places, made by digging a small trench commencing inside and running under the tent.
It is then arched over with stove plates, sheet-iron
pipes straightened out, or anything of the kind that can be procured easily.
It is then covered with mud out to the extreme end of the trench.
where a small bole is left and a barrel set over it for a flue.
They draw well unless the wind is blowing, and make the tent almost as warm as a stove room.
As great many acquaintances and friends, and a good many of the officers called on me, and I soon began to feel quite at home in the tented field.
I was much amused at the culinary department and the cooking arrangements, as I sat watching the preparations for supper.
I saw a great Washington
of hands, and heard a great demand for soda — extra preparations, as a lady was to be served out of the mess.
The huge, camp-fires in front of the tents, with merry groups gathered around, with song and jest echoing from lip to lip; the sentinel, in his lonely path, and the deep notes of the bugle, with its distant echo, were all objects of interest to me.
The next morning I was awakened at an early hour with the pattering of "the rain upon the roof," which was quite a damper
upon my anticipations for awhile; but as the roof did not leak, and I was very comfortable, I brought needle and thread into requisition to help pass the day, and was soon busily engaged with the delinquent buttons, and sewing lures
The next morning was clear, but windy.
I was introduced to General Stuart
, whom I found quite pleasant and agreeable; but I should never have recognized him from the description of his personal appearance given by your "own correspondent."
I took ride of some two miles to the camp of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, Col. Field
, to visit the Clarke Cavalry
They withdraw from this regiment upon the promotion of Col. Stuart
In both camps I find the greatest cheerfulness prevailing.
I have not yet seen a sad or discontented face, although all express a great desire to visit home and friends.
I have seen nothing of vice, and heard very little swearing.
Yesterday orders come for everything to be packed but the tents ready for a move; that the pickets had come in and the enemy were advancing.
I was mounted and started out of camp in "double quick," although Capt. Patrick
expressed himself willing to keep the enemy at bay with his last man, until I should be safe.
I went as far as Col. Field
's camp, where some other ladies had just got in with boxes from home and we had a delightful dinner with our friends and brothers of Clarke
We returned to the First Cavalry in the evening, having heard the report was a false alarm Returning we met a squad of four men, and the gentleman with me began to inquire, to my astonishment, "Where did you get him, boys?" "Who is he?" "At the Court- House
," was the reply as we passed in full speed.
I then for the first time found out I had seen a real, live Yankee, a prisoner the pickets had brought in.
I rode out this morning to see the drill — a very interesting sight.
The whole regiment was not out — only four or five companies.--They were on the side of a hill, and a Mississippi battalion temporarily attached to this regiment on the other side.
I can scarcely say which are the best riders.
I think the Mississippians ride more erect than the Virginians.
No one can wonder at the Yankees
running, after seeing our cavalry charge; see them riding up in perfect order, on their well-trained horses, with clanking spare and glistening bare, and at the command "charge," darting forward with yells and shouts perfectly deafening.
They were drilled by Lieut.Col. Lee
a fine looking officer, and handsome, agreeable, intelligent gentleman.
He rides one of the horses I have seen horses ...... One phase of camp life I do not admire very much, and that is windy weather.
The cook had to hold the oven on the fire the other night to keep it from blowing away with the supper, and the dishes — tin cups and plates — never stopped goring until they got in among the forage wagons.
's headquarters are in a house just outside of this encampment.
The only charge of cavalry which broke the enemy's lines in the battle of Manassas
was made by this 1st regiment, led by Gen. Stuart
. Capt. Carter
's company, of Loudoun
, were in front, and met with serious losses.
cavalry were next, but lost only one man, the gallant Lieut, Allen
There is great shouting in camp to-night, the soldiers applauding Mr. Blandell
, the celebrated bugler of Martinsburg
The music is very beautiful.
Excuse mistakes, as camp life does not afford every convenience for letter-writing.
I am writing on a table left behind by the Yankees
in their retreat, with a bayonet for a candle- stick. B. C. L.