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[313] will long be remembered by all who were in this region on that day, as one of the finest in the whole season — warm, but clear and delightfully pleasant. During the morning, our little party secured the necessary passes to carry them across the river, and at three P. M. we reached the base of Arlington Heights, on horseback, this being voted the best mode of conveyance. We were fortunately well mounted, our animals were fresh, and we passed an hour or two moving around among the camps, where all was bustle and stir preparatory to joining the march ordered “at any moment.”

Horses were saddled, baggage was stored, rations for three or four days were got in readiness, forty rounds of ball cartridges were distributed, the evening parade was dispensed with, the sunset gun boomed forth its thunder upon the still warm air, night fell upon the scene, and the soldiers slept upon their arms, in readiness to start at the sound of the drum or bugle.

It was generally expected that the forward movement would take place during the night; but few of the regiments, however, were in motion upon the march till Wednesday A. M. During the night, our men were in most excellent spirits, and only evinced a general anxiety to get started. So general was this feeling among the troops, and so universal was the desire to get a sight at the enemy, about whom they had heard so much, as being at Fairfax in force, &c., that few slept soundly, and the majority certainly availed themselves of this luxury with one eye open, your humble servant among the latter.

At daybreak, after staying overnight each in a blanket upon the tent floor in one of the camps, we rose with the lark, (or earlier,) at the sound of the “long roll,” and in a few minutes' time everybody was out. Horses were brought up, a hasty breakfast was swallowed, a little “parading” was done, orders rang forth from tent to tent, and from regiment to regiment, and it was soon ascertained that the word had gone forth to move forthwith. At eight o'clock the column was being rapidly formed, the regiments and detachments of cavalry and artillery were forming into line, and at the signal we moved briskly forward toward Fairfax Court House, simultaneously, from Arlington, from Alexandria, and from the space between those two points — leaving behind a sufficient force to protect and to operate the fortified works at all points along the line.

The sun shone brilliantly, and the fresh morning air was highly invigorating. The troops on foot started off as joyfully as if they were bound upon a New England picnic, or a clambake; and not the slightest exhibition of fear or uneasiness, even, as to what might possibly be in store for the brave fellows, (thus really setting out upon an expedition from which, in all human probability, hundreds of them will never return!) seemed for an instant to occupy any part of their thoughts for their anticipations.

The huge column fell into line at last, along the road. From an occasional elevation which we mounted, for the sake of enjoying the grand coup d'oeil, we could see this immense body of men, in uniform dress, with stately tread and glistening arms, move steadily forward,--over twenty thousand strong at one point, and nearly two-thirds as many more at another — all marching on — on “to Fairfax.”

We pushed forward with our willing steeds, keeping pace with the extreme advance, as nearly as possible, with an eye constantly ahead and around us, of course, for “breakers,” after we had passed a given point; for it had been hinted to us that a “masked battery” might open on us at any moment, from some sheltered spot along the route, and we civilians had no particular wish to smell powder in this particular style, much less to get within range of any such demonstration; being (in the abstract) peace men, and only there as “lookers — on in Vienna.”

Brig. General Tyler's column, consisting of four brigades, under command of Colonels Keyes, Sherman, and Richardson, led the van, and on approaching Fairfax, the artillery fired a cannon, which unluckily served to notify the rebels who were in the town that somebody was coming. There were between three and four thousand Confederate troops there, and they were partially drawn up into line of battle, when the gun rattled out its unfortunate note of warning. They quickly sent forth scouts, who returned more quickly than they came, informing the commander of the rebel force that “McDowell was approaching with a hundred thousand men at his heels!” A stampede followed this information, and before ten o'clock the town of Fairfax was evacuated by the cowardly rascals, who fled, leaving behind them many tents, tools, shovels, axes, grain bags, several quarters of fresh beef, cooking utensils, &c., &c. When our advance guard entered the town, there was nobody and nothing to seize or to contend with at Fairfax Court House!

Our troops entered Fairfax--ten thousand of them — at early noon, the bands ringing out with cheerful tones the “Star-Spangled banner,” and the boys cheering lustily for the Union and the Stars and Stripes. Six or seven thousand infantry blocked up the main street, for a time; the Court House building was taken possession of by the New Hampshire Second, Col. Gil. Marston, a secession flag was hauled down and the banner of the regiment run up in its place, and then the foot soldiers opened right and left, or gave way, for the entrance of the cavalry and artillery. These dashed through the town at a gallop, and down the road out into the country beyond, in search of the fugitives. After going four miles beyond Fairfax, and finding that the legs of the rebels were evidently the longest,--for they made the “fastest time on record” in this war, certainly,--our

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