Army of the Potomac.
[our own correspondent.
A few days ago the talk was that unless there was a storm to render the roads in bad condition the enemy would advance upon Centreville
Friday there was a heavy rain and I believe now it is allowed that it would be almost impracticable to move artillery of provision trains.
Even if the butteries could be carried over the roads the fields would be in no condition to fight on, and, after a few shots the guns would sink into the soft soil, destroying the range and accuracy of fire.--Yesterday I role over to Fairfax
again, and found the turnpike very bad and in some places broke away considerably.
What the by roads must be can be easily supposed.
The prospect is that there will be another storm in a day or two making matters still worse.--taking all things into consideration, I believe that for the present there will be no advance of the enemy towards Bull Run
, and consequently no fight upon this line.
There was nothing new in or around Fairfax
, the place still presenting the desolate, deserted appearance noticed in a previous letter.
Up to this time the enemy have been to sight but once, and that was on the morning after our retreat from the place.
Just as the last of the infantry were leaving a regiment, deployed as skirmishers, came up as far as W house, about a mile and a from the town, and immediately retired.
Captain T. L. Rossel
, of the second company of the Washington Artillery, advanced toward them to make a reconnaissance; and, after satisfying himself of then strength, returned to get permission to attach them with his battery, or at least with a section of it. This was refused, and be turned its company toward Centreville
The enemy soon got out of sight, and since that time none of them have been near the town, not even their scouting parties venturing up to the surrounding hills.
The little affair as mentioned before of the firing of one of our scouting parties upon the pickets, produced great excitement among the people, they supposing the Yankees
had ready come.
In the morning, many were afraid to venture out of door, not knowing exactly into whose hands they had fallen.
The mistake, which might have proved a serious one had it not been in sensory dark, was utterly unnecessary, and had the scouts taken a single thought might have been avoided, for the enemy does not picket with cavalry, while we do; the Yankees
use infantry alone.
The deserted and lonely condition of the people of Fairfax
is really sad. Situated between the lines they are not allowed to communicate with either side and have no means of obtaining letters, papers or provisions.
The army having foraged upon the country for some time one can imagine there was but little left behind them.
All the flour has been used up, the bacon, all kinds of luxuries and very many of the necessities of life.
There is no salt, for one thing, and soap for another, and coffee and tea, and so on through the long list of household comforts.
These people are not allowed to go to mill with their corn, nor to pass the lines for wood or grain.
One can hardly imagine a condition more undesirable, and I sincerely hope something may be done for their relief before many days.
About the plans of the enemy we know very little and only get an occasional rumor of their designs.
A day or two ago it was reported that Federals were marching down the river, on the Maryland
side, (in three columns,) with a large force.
It was said, too, that Helaizaman
's division had been reinforced by the Cocoquon and that there were a number of men-of-war and transports above and below our Evansport batteries.--From all these signs, I am inclined to believe that the blockade of the Potomac
is now attracting the attention of the Yankee
army. --It is very pressurable to suppose that McClellan
is about to change his front of battle, and instead of marching again upon B if Run, will open a new one in come other point.
If this supposition be take there are two places at which it might be done, although neither of them offer any extraordinary prospects of success.
The one might be between Great Falls
, somewhere in the vicinity of Ganaspring, advancing between Broad and runse, leaving Manassas
in the rear.
The objections to this are, that the army would be little to be cut off, and the serious one of leaving a powerful and fortifies enemy in the rear, which no General has unless with a vast and well organized force.
The others might be along the Potomac
, by Fredericksburg
, crossing one division of the army by Point, engaging our batteries by counter works on the Maryland
shore, and of advancing from Alexandria
towards the Cocoquon.
These are specification merely, and are based upon no positive information, and however improbable they may be, it will be won the plans are not impossible.
I have heard that several mortars have been placed in batteries on the Maryland
side, about a mile and three quarters from this shore of the river, and that there was a prospect of their opening fire upon our works.
Whether this or not, I am strongly of the opinion that as attempt will soon be made to raise the blockade of the Potomac
, and to dispossess us of the batteries.
Yesterday the 7th Virginia regiment, Col. Kemper
, went on picket near Germantown
, relieving the 1st Virginia, which has returned to The 7th will have a serious time of the weather is severe, and but little fire is showed on the outpost.
For several days the wind has been blowing a perfect sale, and it sweeps over the plains beyond this place in very disagreeable gusts.
Yesterday and day before it was laden with sleet and rain, and blew across the valley bitter, bitter cold.
Several tents have been blown down in the immediate vicinity of my own, and I have watched the poor occupants struggling to raise them again.
The fores's have all been levelled for firewood, and now there is an unbroken sweep from the bills of Aldea to the Centreville heights
Yesterday morning, for the first time for several winters, I saw the distant mountains covered with snow.
Their white and shining tops mingling with the clouds presenting a beautiful appearance.
The sight was truly enjoyed by the Southern
troops, and I heard several wish it were nearer, so they could walk in it and handle it. They will have opportunities enough before the winter is over, unless the season is a remarkable one.
The roads between Centerville
are very bad indeed, and it is with great difficulty the provision wagons can be driven over them.
It the army remains east of Bull Run
some better route will have to be opened to transports, or the men will suffer for commissary stores.
The road by Blackburn's ford is very poor the greater portion of the way, and hundreds of men are constantly employed in repairing it. With all the trouble it improves but little, and wagoners begin to dread the trip for fear of accidents to wagons or horses.
The bridge across Mitchell's ford has been carried away and the ford is dangerous.
If half the labor expended on the two roads had been put upon one, it would have been much better.
I learn that the intention is to build a railroad from Gainsville
, on the Manassas Gap road, thus avoiding the Bull Ran heights
That route would make the distance between Manassas
about eighteen miles. Such a road would be not only a matter of great convenience, but it would seem almost a necessity at the present time.
Visitors to Manassas
have been pouring in by hundreds and have met with a poor reception.
A general order
has been issued permitting no civilians to pass the infantry pickets, unless by a special pass, and I believe the Provost Marshal
has ceased entirely to issue them.
Nothing remains for a stranger but to lounge around the Junction
, taking up such quarters as can be found.
During the cold weather there has been a great deal of suffering, and every house in the vicinity has been taken possession of, strangers being glad enough to get a fire to sit by through the night.
It is now a poor place for those who have no business with the army.