- Change of base. -- Crossing of the Shenandoah. -- fights in Loudoun and Fauquier. -- Crossing of the Rappahannock. -- fights in the region between the Hazel and Rappahannock rivers. -- headquarters near Culpepper Court-house. -- my departure for Richmond. -- fights at the Pothouse and Aldie. -- reception at Middleburg.
General McClellan, the Federal Commander-in-Chief, having largely reinforced his army with regiments from the new levy of 300,000 volunteers called out for nine months, and having brought it to a strength of 140,000 men, well equipped in every respect, had at last determined upon a forward movement, all unknowing at the time that the supreme command was soon to be taken from him by the Government at Washington. The right wing of the Federal forces, by a strong demonstration towards Harper's Ferry, made a show of invading Virginia from this point, but the great bulk of the army crossed the Potomac about fifteen miles lower down, near the little town of Berlin. General Lee, having been opportunely informed by his vigilant cavalry of the enemy's operations, had commenced, in the mean time, a movement on the opposite side of the Blue Ridge, in a nearly parallel direction towards Front Royal, being about a day's  march ahead. Longstreet's corps was in the advance, Jackson's troops following slowly, covering the rear, and still holding the passes of the Blue Ridge, Snicker's, Ashby's and Chester Gaps. The cavalry under Stuart had orders to cross the Ridge at Snicker's Gap, to watch closely the movements of the enemy, retard him as much as possible, and protect the left flank of our army. So we rode quietly along in the tracks of our horsemen, who, before the Staff had left “The Bower,” had proceeded in the direction of Berryville. Our mercurial soldiers were as gay as ever, and even the most sentimental members of the Staff had rallied from the despondence incidental to departure from our late encampment, when during the afternoon we reached en route the little town of Smithfield, where, under Bob Sweeney's direction as impresario, we managed to get up a serenade for the amiable widow who had entertained me with such hospitality. Meanwhile the rain, which had been falling when we rode off from “The Bower,” had ceased, a keen north wind had set in, and it had begun to freeze hard, when, late at night, we reached Berryville, chilled, wet, and hungry. The provisions of the country had been more or less consumed by the troops who had preceded us on the march, and it was therefore regarded as exceedingly apropos that we were invited to supper by a prominent citizen, at whose pleasant house we greatly enjoyed a warm cup of tea, a capital old Virginia ham, and afterwards a pipe of Virginia tobacco before a roaring wood-fire. Our troops bivouacked about two miles from town; and as on a march, for the sake of the example, we never took up our quarters beneath a roof, we left our hospitable entertainer about midnight, and established ourselves in an open field under some old locust-trees, near several large fodderstacks, which furnished us with abundant food for our  horses. It was a clear, cold, starlight night, and as we had no protection from the frost but our blankets, we kept in lively blaze several tremendous fires, the wood for which each and every one of us had assisted in collecting. General and Staff were all fast asleep, when, on a sudden, we were aroused by a loud crash, which startled even the feeding horses and mules. One of the old hollow trees, against the trunk of which our largest fire had been imprudently kindled, after smouldering for hours, had at last yielded to the force of the wind and fallen heavily to the ground, fortunately without doing any damage whatever. In the early morning, when we awoke to the reveille, the fires had quite burnt out, a white hoar-frost lay thickly over every object around us, and the shivering officers of our military family expressed in every feature their ardent desire for a good warm breakfast. As we were discussing the probabilities of such a thing, we were most agreeably surprised by the kind invitation of a neighbouring planter to satisfy ourselves at his hospitable board, an invitation which we did not hesitate to accept. To provide against a future want of breakfast, when a good Samaritan might not be so near at hand, our careful mess-caterer, the portly doctor of our Staff, availed himself of the opportunity of purchasing a quantity of hams and bacon, which, being deposited for safety in an army-waggon, were stolen before two hours had elapsed by some of our rascally negro camp-followers. The sun shone down with the warmth and glory of the soft Indian summer, a season of peculiar loveliness in America, when we reached the Shenandoah, our passage of which was extremely picturesque. The banks of this beautiful stream are often bold, and sometimes even majestic, the current breaking through gigantic cliffs which rise to the height of several hundred feet on either side, or flowing placidly along between wooded shores, whose stately trees, where the river is narrowest,  almost intermingle their branches. The forests skirting the course of the Shenandoah were now glowing with the gorgeous hues of the American autumn, which the landscapepainter cannot adequately reproduce nor the writer properly describe. The light saffron of the chestnut-trees was in effective contrast with the rich crimson of the oaks and maples, while the trailing vines and parasites displayed every tint from the palest pink to the deepest purple. Upon the opposite shore, at a distance of only a few hundred yards from the margin of the river, rose the mountain-range of the Blue Ridge thickly covered with forest, within whose depths the head of our column was just disappearing as we arrived at the bank. The main body was passing the stream, while here and there a single trooper might be seen watering his horse or quietly examining his weapons. On the summit of the mountain we found a portion of our Maryland cavalry, which, having been stationed there to guard Snicker's Gap, had been engaged in a sharp conflict with a party of Federal cavalry that disputed its possession, and had driven back their opponents with severe loss. Dead bodies of men and animals, lying still unburied along the road, gave evidence of the obstinacy of the fight on both sides. The Federal army in its forward movement had meanwhile made but slow progress, the main body having proceeded no farther than Leesburg and its immediate neighbourhood, only a few detachments of cavalry having advanced beyond that point. So we continued our march wholly without interruption all the beautiful autumn day through the smiling county of Loudoun, one of the fairest and most fertile regions in Virginia, passing many fine estates with extensive corn-fields and large orchards, until we arrived in the evening in the vicinity of the little village of Upperville, where we bivouacked, and without difficulty obtained abundant provisions for our men and forage for our animals.  The counties of Loudoun and Fauquier had known but little as yet of the devastations of the war, and abounded in supplies of every description, which were eagerly offered for sale by the farmers at moderate prices, and might have subsisted our army for six months. Instead of being permitted to profit by this plenty, we had been compelled for the past two months, through the mismanagement and want of experience of the officials of the Quartermaster's Department at Richmond, and against the earnest remonstrances of General Lee, to draw all our supplies from the capital, whence they were sent by rail to Staunton, there to be packed into waggons and deported beyond Winchester, a distance of more than one hundred miles after leaving the railroad. The subsistence which was so near at hand was thus left for the enemy, by whom it was afterwards used to the greatest advantage. The importance, nay the necessity, in a war of such magnitude, carried on over so vast and thinly-populated a territory, of establishing great magazines for the collection and storage of provisions for the army, very often occurred to me during the struggle in America, and I have, on several occasions, expressed my opinion with regard to it. Had the Confederate authorities, following Napoleon's example, established at the beginning of the war (when it might easily have been done) large depots of army-supplies at points not exposed, like Richmond, to raids of cavalry, I am convinced that it would have had a material influence on the final issue of the great conflict. The difficulties that were experienced during the last two years of the war in supporting the army, and the terrible privations to which men and animals were subjected in consequence of early maladministration and neglect, can be known only to those who were eyewitnesses of the misfortune and participants in the suffering. Having sent out a strong cordon of pickets from our place  of bivouac near Upperville, General Stuart yielded to the urgent solicitations of Dr Eliason, our staff-surgeon, to ride with him to his home in the village, and spend the evening and night at his house. As I was included in the invitation, I bore them company. We were received very cordially by the ladies of the doctor's family, and many others, who, as soon as our arrival was known, had flocked to the mansion. I very quickly secured for myself the friendship of Dr Eliason's little daughter, a child of ten years of age, who suffered under the sad infirmity of blindness. With the most eager interest she listened to the words of the foreign soldier, whom she required to give her an exact description of his personal appearance; and I was deeply touched as I looked into those tender, rayless blue eyes which gave back no answering glance to my own, and which were yet bent towards me with such seeming intelligence. How little I thought, as I enjoyed the hospitality of these kind people, that nine months later I was to be brought to their house prostrated by a wound which the surgeons declared to be mortal, and that I was to be received by them with an affectionate sympathy such as they could only be expected to manifest for a near and dear relative!