Army of the Potomac.
[our own correspondent.]
Centerville, Nov. 5th.
It is now certain that the enemy has fallen back from his advanced position, and either gone into his entrenchments or taken a new shute towards our position.
The latter seems hardly probable.
A strange rumor is in circulation, one of those tales traceable to no particular origin, and yet believed on account of its probability, that McClellan
has attempted an advance upon three different occasions, but retired each time because his men did not come up to the mark.
Now, the rumor goes, he has given up entirely until the success of the armada shall inspire his men with confidence.
Possibly this may be true; out, if so, only by accident.
One thing now seems evident — McClellan
does not intend to advance until the fleet is heard from, or until the Southern
troops, hearing of the invasion of the Cotton States
, shall have gone home and left Bull Run
at his disposal.
Yesterday a scouting party of about sixty Federal cavalry came up near Fairfax
, and, Her making a reconnaissance, retired Our lines run about a mile this side the town, and upon a hill commanding a view of a large tract of country are a number of our cavalry pickets, Upon an eminence commanding the approaches is a battery of light artillery, supported by just infantry enough to prevent surprise.
At no time since our force abandoned Fairfax
, has it been held by the enemy.
No person is allowed to pass beyond our lines into the town except by a special pass signed in person by the Commanding General
Last night the trains on the Londoun and Hampshire
road were running continually, and at all hours the scream of the steam, whistle, and the rumble of heavy trains was heard.
The citizens who remained in Fair fax became badly scared, supposing the Yankees
were about to advance upon the town.
Several took refuge in our lines, and some ladies asked protection from our officers.
Instead of an advance, it is more than probable there was a retreat.
For some time there has been a large force between Lewinsville and Vienna
, and I am of the opinion that this force has been taken back, and that the trains at last night were top the purpose.
As there are no indications of an advance, but, on the contrary, every sign of a retreat, that seems the most plausible solution of the activity observable last night.
This morning the 2d company of the Washington Artillery returned from picket duty on the outposts, and the 1st company, Captain
squires, was sent to take its place.
The 3d company, Captain Miller
, has returned from Leesburg
Several changes have been made within a few weeks which have not been noticed in the public prints.
Gen. Kirby Smith
sold brigade, composed of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Alabama
and one regiment from Mississippi
, is now under Gen. Wilcox
, one of the newly made Brigadiers.
Before the promotion of Gen. Smith
the brigade was under J H Forney
Commanding, Col. Forney
is a North Carolinian by birth, but has become an Alabamian by adoption, and was appointed a cadet to West Point
from that State.--July 1st, 1852, he entered the United States army as brevet Second Lieutenant in the 7th Infantry.
He was made a First Lieutenant
on the 25th of August, 1855. If I am correctly informed, he was at one time a tutor in the military Academy.
At the beginning of the present troubles, Lieut. Forney
was among the first to send in his resignation, and to offer his services to Alabama
He was made a Colonel in the State
service and sent to Pensacola
, where he was second in command, of. Forney
there became very popular with the troops under his command, and by constant drilling got them in a very efficient state.
He built the first battery opposite Fort Pickens
When the Provisional Army was formed, Col. Forney
entered the service as Colonel
of the 9th Alabama Regiment.--Being the ranking Colonel
of the brigade, he was put in command while Gen. Smith
was at Richmond
suffering from the wound received in the battle of the 21st.
A short time ago, as is well known, Gen. Smith
was made a jor General, and immediately after the command of the brigade was taken from Col. Forney
and given to Col. C. M. Wncox
, of the 10th Alabama, who was commissioned a Brigadier.
Gen. Cadmus M. Wilcox
is a resigned U. S. officer, born in North Carolina
, is a citizen of Tennessee
, and was appointed to West Point
from that State.
He entered the army as brevet 2d Lieutenant
in the 4th infantry, July 1st, 1846 He was brevetted 1st Lieutenant
Sept. 13th, 1847, and received his commission in full August 24th, 1851.
Having no personal acquaintance with General Wilcox
I cannot speak of his qualifications as an officer, or of his characteristics He was the second Colonel
in rank in the brigade, the third being Col. Sydenham Moore
, of Alabama
, a man well known in the South
I am told that Col. P. T. Moore
, of the 1st Virginia regiment, has been placed in command, temporarily, of Gen. Longstreet
This is a fitting recognition of the merit and gallant conduct of Col. Moore
, who bravely won his spurs in the battle of Bull Run
The 17th Georgia regiment, Col. Henry
, has elected Wesley Hodges
, of Columbus, Georgia
The regiment is now attached to Gen. Toombs
is a gallant and meritorious young man, universally popular, and is a fine drill officer.
He served with distinction in Mexico
, and was among the first to volunteer in the Georgia
He was First Lieutenant
of the Columbus Guards, Capt Ellis
, of the 2d Georgia regiment, from which position he has lately been transferred.
Lieut. Col. Tom Taylor
of the 1st Kentucky, has been promoted to a Colonelcy, and continues in command of the regiment Major Johnston
(son of Gen. A. S. Johnston
) has been promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel
, and Captain Jo. Desha
of company C, son of Gen. Lucius Desha
, of Kentucky
, has been appointed Major
, Col. Taylor
, of whom I have frequently spoken in my letters, has now one of the finest camps at this post, and his men are progressing wonderfully in drill.
As much has been said about the carelessness of the Kentuckians in matters of military discipline, I am inclined to believe there are few more orderly or better disciplined regiments here.
is anxious to have his teachings put to some practical use in the field, and I hope he may have an opportunity before winter sets in From the well-known character for bravery the Kentuckians have made for themselves since their State was blazed out by Daniel Boone
, we are accustomed to expect a great deal from them.
feels that great dependence is put upon his deadly r fles, and takes good care to keep his powder dry and his regiment in good fighting condition.
Well, good luck to him!
Many a worse man has passed through wars unharmed, and he has my best wishes to carry him safely through this.
A new way for warming tents has been put in practice here, and which is becoming quite common.
At the rear of the tent a trench, some two feet wide, and as many deep, is dug, running beneath the wall, and to a distance of three or four feet outside.--This is covered over with flat stones and earth, leaving a small fire place inside the tent.
The flue is made by placing a barrel over the farther end of the trench.
When the wind is the right way these fire-places are very comfortable, but when it is not they smoke terribly.
Another objection to them is that the trenches are apt to wash away during rains, Just fire enough to look at is better than none at all, and if is does smoke one can bear it passably well.
Army of The Potomac, Manassas, Nov. 6th.
The past twenty-four hours has been so quiet that I am in doubt whether an item can be extracted from them or not. I have heard nothing new, and, therefore, how can I be expected to tell any news?
Unless the army furnishes facts, how am I to publish facts about the army?
St. Cecilla herself could not have played the organ if there had been nobody to blow the bellows for her. As the are sight of a fire seems to give warmth, so, I am conceited enough to believe, a letter containing nothing in particular, and considerable of it, would be more pleasing to my numerous circle of readers than no letter at all. The best I can do is to have a quiet chat, hoping that if no one is instructed, some one may be helped to while away a few idle moments.
I said everything was quiet — everything but the wind.
The rain of last night was followed by a furious blast, which, even as I write, is whistling dismally over the bills: You remember the first book of the Enead, and the description of how Eolus turned loose the winds from the ocean cave, to destroy the hostile ships?
Well, he has repeated the operation to-day; wish the addition of some gentle aids, suggested by modern art and modern skill.
The storm fairly raves.
Patches of dark clouds scud through the sky like ships under bare poles.
The trees away to and fro, and scatter their leaves in every direction, as the nor-wester whistles through the branches.
Talk about whistling, the steam whistle is nowhere beside the key-hole of the door near me. Even the fire-place whistles as it smokes.
Everything whistles, while sundry bits of straws and paper perform miraculous jigs through the air to the varied tunes.
Did you ever sit at the window on a windy day and watch the many strange sights, the leaden-colored clouds, the swaying trees, the falling leaves, the clothes dancing on the line, the chickens trying to walk across the yard, the disconsolate air of the cats, and anxious endeavors of the house dog to seek a shelter?
Amuse yourself the next windy day, and see the endless variety of pictures, as changeable as the figures in a Kaleidoscope, that pass before your window.
Imagine, tent, at the opposite side of you a thousand tents containing dreamy looking, homesick soldiers, carefully wrapped up in blankets, trying to fancy themselves at home while listening to the similar sound of the storm.
Unfortunately for us, the rain has began again, and we see before us only the prospect of a dismal, night, Never mind; sunshine comes to-morrow!
Speaking of storms reminds me of horses.-- Strange enough, maybe, but did you ever sit in a circle of story-tellers and notice how one story reminds your neighbor of another entirely foreign to the subject?
An old artillery horse, with U. S. on his shoulder, is trying to keep off the rain by standing beneath a tree down in the meadow.
He looks very quiet, but the time has been when there was life enough in him.-- War is not as good for horse flesh as ‘"Mexican Mustang Liniment,"’ and the old fellow, who has some scars to show if you look closely between the projecting booes, proves my assertion.
A word is to his history.
Originally of good family, he was enlisted in the service, and for a number of years took his daily rations and performed his duties well.
Daily exercises made him acquainted with artillery drill, and he soon became as familiar with the word of command as the cannoniers.
Finally he was taken into the field, and acted nobly through the fight, but through the cowardice of his masters, fell into the hands of the enemy.
On account of his jaded appearance and his many wounds, he was turned out to graze.
There he stands beneath the tree in the meadow trying to shelter him self from the rain.
Some time ago a party of young fellows got the old horse for a short ride in the country.
Procuring a wagon, they hitched up and started off as merrily as possible.
A Richmond boy, who had seen the horse perform on the 21st, determined to play a trick, and so stationed himself behind a tree on the road where they would pass, Along came the old horse at the top of his speed, drawing the rattling wagon with its merry load until opposite the tree where the trickster was bidden.
Stepping out, he shouted ‘"Halt"’ In a loud tone.
The horse ‘"halted"’ as suddenly as if stopped by a cannon ball, and instantly wheeled to the left to unlimber.
Over went the wagon, and over went its load, measuring their length in the dirtiest kind of mud. No injury was sustained beyond a few broken shins and skinned neses, and the unfortunates picked themselves out of the mud, to the great amusement of the commanding officer
behind the tree.
The wagon went home in pieces.
One more horse story and I am done.
Last year, Clark Mills
, the sculptor, purchased a fine mare for a model.
She was a beautiful little creature and had a form Praxiteles
might have copied.
After finishing the status upon which he was engaged, the sculptor presented the horse to Capt. Mason
, of Mason's Hill.
When the Yankees
came up the first time the mare was stolen from the stable.
A short time since Capt. Mason
saw her in the possession of a brigade quartermaster and immediately identified her as his property.
It seems a Yankee officer rode her in the battle of Manassas
, and she was there captured by our men.
I understand that General Dick Taylor
, the Brigadier
recently appointed to General William Henry Walker
's brigade, has arrived and taken command.
There is no disguising the fact that the men are very much dissatisfied at the change.
They are not half the fighting men they were two weeks ago I know nothing about the qualifications of Gen. Taylor
for the position, and do not feel it liberty to take sides in the quarrel until acquainted with both.
, former aid to General Walker
, has been appointed his Adjutant General
. Captain Anderson
, Adjutant to General Walker
, has been ordered to Fernandina
On account of the inclemency of the weather, but few people came out to the polls to vote for President
and members of congress.
This precinct has its box at the Medical Director
's Office, formerly known as Carmon's Store. One hundred and fifty-two votes were cast for President
and Vice President
, and all for Davis
The soldiers voted at their regiments, and the result has not yet been given.
At this precinct the vote for member of Congress stood: Smith
From a gentleman who came from Fairfax
this evening, I learn a box was opened there, and that Smith
received a majority of the votes cost for Congressman
Of course the Presidential vote was a unanimous thing.
There has been none of the usual excitement and electioneering, every one taking it for granted that Davis
were the unanimous choice of the people of the Confederate states
The only other box open in this vicinity was at the 49th Virginia, but I am unable to give the result of the vote.
The good news brought in the Dispatch
concerning the damage to the armada, and the dissensions among the Yankees
, has produced every happy effect upon the army.
The soldiers forget their hardships in reading of the difficulties of the enemy, and begin to think, that after all everything has turned out for the best, Just let them alone, and they will whip themselves as effectually as we could do it.
My concluding paragraph is apologetic, Having but a small stock of facts on hand, I am forced to husband them as Dick Swiveller
did his similies.
They are too precious to waste.
A few everyday or two will not surfeit the public and I shall endeavor to deal them out as carefully as possible.
Lest there be fears of running completely out, I will say that I have a fine old castle In Spain,
in which are many rude but convenient manuscripts, from which I shall occasionally draw ‘"to point a moral, or adorn a tale."’