the Christmas holidays at Abingdon — Amusements at the Comps — a lucky Fisherman — an important Dispatch,&c.
[special correspondence of the Dispatch]
Camp Robertson, near Abingdon, Va., December. 26th, 1861.
I am now to describe Christmas
and Camp Robertson.
In the town proper, the usus demonstrations, involving a liberal consumption of torpedoes and pepcrackers, were indulged in, much to the annoyance of peaceably-disposed citizens and soldiers.
Besides these, and a jolly banjo picking and darky dancing frolic, during which latter performance an aged colored individual by the name of Harry DeBow
, expressed his gratification by saying, ‘"De debed in dem nigger knee,"’ the village exhibiten little or no animation until late to the afternoon.
About 5 o'clock the advance train of Gen. Floyd
's Brigade, having on board a Mississippi regiment and the baggage of the Brigade, passed through Abingdon
cheerieg and being cheered at most instills.
Their destination is Bowling Green
The ‘"war"’ is assigned as the reason for the extreme dullness of Christmas
, and it appears to be a good one, for there are few families here who have not contributed largely to the ranks of the army.
Thus this relentless invasion, while it causes the South
to become independent of Yankeedom and detracts nothing from her resources of labor, breaks a thousand tender ties and smothers the joyous mirth which is ever wont to find employment during the genial hours of Christmas
Instead of the mother smiling over all
her sons, some of whom have come from distant homes to spend the holidays around the four old family hearth, there is many a Rachel weeping tears of inconsolable sorrow over the new made graves of the loved and lost!
Even the stern manhood of the father bends before the stroke which cuts down his noble boy, and every generous heart sympathises with him as, weighed down with care, he exclaims, ‘"Oh, Absalom, would to God I had died for thee!"’
But let me leave this too fruitful theme, and pay a visit to Camp Robertson.
Let me see what the boys of the 56th are doing to kill Christmas
The means used for this purpose are found as varied as the tastes and inclinations of the men are different.
For instance, here is a fellow making a chimney, composed of pieces of wood and mortar, for his tent.
Another, who is an officer, and can afford to buy bricks is engaged in erecting the same useful appendage in a higher state of the art. Here is a squad sitting and lying on the rude benches around the fire, chatting and smoking.
There is a mess quietly discussing their frugal fare.
In the next tent some dozen have fallen asleep, and, it may be, are dreaming of home, sweet home.
Just here a fellow, who believes in supplying his lower story bountifully, is skinning an old hare which he has killed with a stone.
A party are out on scout, each man provided with a rock in his hand, and, possibly, a brick in his hat, looking for the same sort of game.
As I glide along through the encampment, the sounds of stirring music reach my ears, and I stop to listen.
Two amateurs are making the banjo and violin give forth their notes in sweet accord.
Presently the music ceases, and I hear the woodman's axe, which indicates the approach of night, and preparation for a ‘"blazing log."’ A lone rooster, cooped in a rude triangular pen, now crows his last crow, and retires for the evening.
‘"Hugh,"’ of Company A, with a lively lot of angles, has arrived, with a ‘"fine string"’ of thirty, fully in time to get his supper.
Sundry congratulations are showered on him, of which the following is a sample--‘"Hugh, you are the luckiest fisherman I ever saw. How many did you catch? "’ ‘"Old fellow, you are so lucky!--Get a few for our mess!"’ Hugh divides, the fish are served a la mode,
and a most interesting discussion follows.
Although it might be supposed that amid the temptations which Christmas
brings, drunkenness would run riot in a camp, yet, I saw no one intoxicated at Camp Robertson, which circumstance speaks well for the 56th The men were genial without being boisterous, merry without madness, and dignified without dejection.
As the last rays of the sun fell on the adjacent mountain ranges, capped with snow, while the valley below them could boast of none, a scene of indescribable beauty met the eye. It presented the appearance of a splendid, surging sea of molten gold!
A dispatch from General Marshall
, dated Dec. 22nd, to which I am permitted to have access by the popular and accommodating Quartermaster of the 56th Regiment, Dr. R. B. Patterson
, reads as follows,--‘"The enemy in front at Louisa
in large force--fifteen hundred Cavalry, and seven Regiments of Infantry and Artillery--thirty two miles from me. An army is collecting to drive me and intends to advance at once I am informed."’ As a consequence of this dispatch, there is considerable bustle in the Quartermaster's Department, and horses are being impressed rapidly.