Army of the Potomac.
[our own correspondent.]
Dumfries, Nov. 22, 1861.
Lying in a small valley which stretches to the Potomac
and nearly surounded by a range of hills, is what remains of the old colonial town of Dumfries
, the point from which your correspondent is now writing.
Entering on the Brentsville
road, one passes over a sandy and rolling tract of country, and comes to a terrace, if one may so call the ridge that rises abruptly from the valley, which completely overlooks the town, and gives a good panoramic view of the stream upon which it is situated.
Stretching out in a southerly direction, widening gradually in its course is Quantico creek
, and beyond it the Potomac
, a silver-like thread of water, just visible between the headlands at the mouth of the bay. Still farther on, the shore of Maryland
is visible, dotted here and there with farm-houses and patches of woodland, its line of hills forming the distant horizon.
The land around Dumfries
is generally poor, and covered with a dense growth of young pines, or with forests of stinted oak, showing it has at sometime in its history been cleared land.
Coming in from the North
, winding between the hills and dashing over the rocks in hundreds of ministure cascades, the Quantico enters the town, and passes out of it through a marsh, or meadow, half a mile in length.
From this point it grows wider and deeper, until it runs into the Potomac
The town itself is built upon a side hill, which slopes gradually to the water.
Coming into it, the first house visible is upon an eminence called ‘"Rose Hill
,"’ from which a splendid view is obtained.
It is an old house that has been for some time deserted, a legend hanging about it of a poor suicide, who blew his brains out within its wills, and whose ghost still lingers around the place.
Every old town has its haunted spot — the point of interest to strangers and its bugbear for children — and Dumfries
is no exception to the rule.
Unfortunately, the army was in need of boards, and this house has been stripped completely, and now little but the framework remains to hold the dead man's spirit.
It was near sunset when I rode up the hill, and standing beside the haunted building got an idea of the scenery which I am trying to express in words.
The evening wind sighed through the bare ratters like the moaning of some restless spirit, and a night own flew out of a broken window and flitted into the dark shadow of some neighboring pines.
Built by a man of wealth and influence,
"The house remained awhile,
Silent and tenantless — then went to strangers" --Since then it has passed through years of neglect, and has now gone to ruin and decay.
To those who are fond of relies of the past the spot was of interest, and one could imagine more old wives' tales hanging about it than pine cones in the forest.
Standing beside it, many a delicious memory floats through the mind like the dream of some long-forgotten melody, and the brain is filled with weird and mystical recollections of long ago.
About a thousand yards below ‘"Rose Hill
,"’ the village commences.
A single street bordered on either side by houses in every stage of dilapitation — half ruined stores and toppling barns, that only maintain their equilibrium by the aid of sundry rails propped against them; solitary chimneys standing up like ‘"sacred to the memory;"’ broken stone fences; half a dozen substantial brick buildings that have been elegant in their day; fifteen or twenty wooden ones almost in ruins, a number of sheds whose roofs have fallen in are about all the village can boast.
There is scarcely a house entirely covered with weatherboarding or shingles; the s sh is broken, and in the place of glass a bundle of rags or old clothes stores one in the face at every step.
But few of the former residents remain in their houses, nearly all of them being occupied by sutlers or some kind of tradesmen.
Love's hotel, a two story brick building with a basement, is the largest house in the place, and decidedly the most modern of all — in it are General Wigfall
's headquarters, the officers of his staff, and the departments of his family.
In an upstairs, corner room, is the telegraph office, where the click, click, click of the busy instruments can be heard from morning until night.
At the opposite end of the town is the court-house, or what was the court-house before the county site was removed to Brentsville
It is a structure of peculiar architecture, built of imported brick, with granite corner-stones and cornices.
The floor is formed of quadrangular flag stones nicely fitted together, most of them worn away by the shuffling of many feet, and the benches and the bar, constructed of heavy oak, have grown rotten and worthless with age. Near by this is the old Colonial court
-house, a small one story cottage, now occupied as a residence by the only person born in town now living in it.
The date of this house I cannot ascertain; no one here remembers to have heard but I presume the town records will tell.
That it is old enough, there are sufficient indications — the weather-boards have grown thin under the storms of many winters, and its sides and roof are covered with moss.
Two or three yards from the house is the old jail, a small building made of heavy oak timber, still well preserved, with one window and a strong double-door.
The original bolts and hinges and grating across the single window still remain as evidences of its an iquity.
Near by this is a brick mansion now used as a hospital.
It is owned by a man from New Jersey
who has been some seventeen years in Virginia
, an ignorant and not very brilliant individual, who spends his time in general loafing and in swearing at Lincoln
Hearing me making inquiries about the town he came forward and offered his service.
Taking us around the house he pointed to a base-stone supporting one of the pillars of the porch--
‘"There's a curiousity,"’ said he, ‘"come from the theatre."’
It was a square block of granite, upon which was the following inscription:
‘"There's the name of the man who built the theatre,"’ said our intelligent Cicerone; ‘"Waite Fecit."’
‘"I knew a family of them Fecits in New Jersey
,"’ continued he.
‘"What became of them?"’ asked the Doctor
‘"Some of them are buried around here; I've seen the names on the stones."’
Smiling at the absurdity, we copied the inscription and bid our guide adieu.
Several of the buildings in the village have been taken for hospitals, and all that are suitable, I believe, have been put to that use. The Surgeon
of the post is Dr.
A. S Garnett
, of the Confederate Navy, formerly in the United States
service as a medical officer.
He has all the hospitals under his charge, and now has them organized and in very good condition.
Half a mile beyond the town is a mill which was begun a few years since and never completed.
This has been fitted up, and is now known as the ‘"Mill Hospital."’ It is under the immediate charge of Dr. Wm. Geddings
, of Charleston, S. C.
, assisted by Drs
. De Wilton
.--Two floors of the building are now in use, and the third is being prepared, and will soon be ready for the reception of the sick.
The beds are arranged very conveniently, with one row around the outside and two down the middle leaving space enough for aisles.
In both rooms there are about sixty beds, all of which are constantly filled.
The basement is used as a kitchen, but a small house is being built, detached from the mill, and near by another, to be used as a dead-house.
The water-power is used in various ways — in washing, bathing, cleansing sinks, and in carrying off all offensive matter.
Taken all in all this is one of the best hospitals I have seen, and it reflects great credit upon the surgeons who have planned it.
Hospital No. 1
is under the charge of Dr. W. R. Johnson
It is in the brick-house already mentioned, and contains about forty-five beds.
The arrangements of this is also very fine, there being every convenience for the sick that could be expected in such a place as Dumfries
Hospital No. 2
Church hospital,) is under the charge of Dr. Wm. P. Hill
It has about forty beds, and these also are constantly filled.
Other minor buildings in the vicinity are used as dispensaries and mess-rooms, or kitchens, when the cooking is done.
I have seldom seen more perfect arrangement for the care of sick and wounded men, and being in charge of skillful and energetic physicians, everything is done that is possible to do.
The principle diseases which come under the charge of the surgeons are measles, and their sequels; camp fever, of a typhoid character, the result of exposure to the damp and melarious atmosphere of Dumfries
; intermittent and remittent fever, and pneumonia and pleurisy have lately commenced to appear.--There have been a few surgical cases, the result of accidental shooting, treated successfully in these hospitals.
The per centage of death, as I have been informed, is quite small, not above four or five per cent of the number entered.
Thus far the hospitals have received but little support — there being but one lady who has sent in any contributions, and that one Miss Virginia Tayloe
, late of Washington
, but who now resides in Fredericksburg
This evening, about sunset, a large schooner came up the river, and sailed slowly by our batteries.
They opened fire upon her vigorously, but still she continued in her course.
battery commenced throwing shells this side, each one bursting with great accuracy, but fortunately doing no damage.
Some fifteen or twenty shots were sent at the schooner, but they either failed to hit her, or at least did not stop of affect her sailing in the least.
The shooting was very bad, and not half as good as the Yankees
I have seen but few good shots made here, and have often wished for Capt. Rosser
, or some other man known to be a good artilleryist, to handle the guns at Evansport
I cannot understand such poor shooting.
The weather is very fine, and no better day for fighting could be desired.
The enemy are in force at Pohick Church, but show no signs of an advance.