the speculators — find weather — close proximity of the Yankees — Unexplained firing--Col. ‘"Porte Crayon"’ Strather.
[correspondence of the Richmond' Dispatch.]
Charlestown, Jefferson Co., Va., December 9, 1861.
Having read in your paper several articles upon the extortion practised on the Southern
people by speculators, I must add a few words to the general condemnation which these selfish and rapacious men undoubtedly deserve.
It is a lamentable fact that in all times of public distress such characters are always to be found, and who, in seeking their own advantage, and striving to gratify their inordinate passion for wealth, become hardened, until they are proof against all natural feeling, and can with easy consciences make victims alike of rich and poor, citizens and soldiers, forgetting how these last have come from their homes in every part of the South
and offered themselves, with their strong arms and stout hearts, in defence of their country's rights and interests.
Our community is not exempt from such characters.
There are many engaged in the very laudable enterprise
of enriching themselves at the expense of their neighbors and fellow citizens — some, too, whom Providence
has already blessed with abundance, but who show more eagerness to add to what they have than those in moderate circumstances, with large families depending upon them.
Now we all know that in times like the present the prices of many things must necessarily be advanced, not only on account of their scarcity, but also owing to the difficulty of transportation.
To these necessities we are prepared to submit cheerfully; but there are impositions practiced upon us which try our patience and other Christian virtues most sorely — such as the suspicion that goods which were on hand at the commencement of the war have been concealed, not to be brought forth until our wants oblige us to pay any price for them that those who own them have the conscience to ask.
Salt is an article which is an absolute necessity, both to rich and poor; but the prices now asked for it places it far above the reach of the latter.
It is brought here sometimes in considerable quantities, but appears and disappears with the rise and fall of the market.
A review of these facts is painful, but it is our duty to put the stamp of a stern reprobation upon this passion for acquitting wealth at the expense of every right and honorable feeling.
It is a sad thing, too, that even patriotism is not proof against self interest; happily, as an offset to this, we have a few men amongst us who are deserving of all the honor we are glad to accord them — men who, exercising an almost Fabian
virtue, are resisting the temptation now offered to them of accumulating riches; but should peace ever again be ours, and we have the pleasure of seeing the banner of our young Confederacy hoisted with patriotic strains of music, and hear a national salute, proclaiming in thunder tones that our liberty and independence has been declared, then we will have it in our power to show our appreciation of their disinterestedness.
Instead of the cold and dreary weather we usually expect in December, we have the soft and balmy air of early spring; and, under different circumstances, we should enjoy it; but the withdrawal of all the troops in this county has consigned us again to a state of insecurity and uncertainty.
The enemy are still occupying the other side of the river, and on the apex of the Mary
land side of the mountain, they have an encampment and an observatory, from which they can overlook a wide extent of country; and, seeing our unprotected state, we have reason to fear they will take advantage of it to supply themselves with food, of which they are said to be very much in need.
We are in daily anticipation of hearing of a fight at Manassas
, or somewhere in that direction, but we feel no fear of the result, having in the past a sufficient guarantee of the manner in which our soldiers will perform their duty.
The greater part of Banks
's army is said to have moved up to Williamsport
, and all the military under Col. Ashby
's command have gone up to Berkeley county
A good deal of firing was heard in that direction yesterday morning, but we have received no information in regard to it.
One more item of news which we have heard, may, perhaps, be interesting to the public; it is, that the arch-traitor, Daniel
, has been seen in Frederick City, flourishing quite extensively under the title of Colonel
, no doubt conferred upon him as a rewarn for his treachery to his native State.