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[54] regiment marching away, singly or in small knots of two or three, extending for some three or four miles along the road. A Babel of tongues rose from them, and they were all in good spirits, but with an air about them I could not understand. Dismounting at a stream where a group of thirsty men were drinking and halting in the shade, I asked an officer, “Where are your men going, sir?” “Well, we're going home, sir, I reckon, to Pennsylvania.” It was the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, which was on its march, as I learned from the men. “I suppose there is severe work going on behind you, judging from the firing?” “Well, I reckon, sir, there is.” “We're going home,” he added after a pause, during which it occurred to him, perhaps, that the movement required explanation--“because the men's time is up. We have had three months of this work.” I proceeded on my way, ruminating on the feelings of a General who sees half a brigade walk quietly away on the very morning of an action, and on the frame of mind of the men, who would have shouted till they were hoarse about their beloved Union--possibly have hunted down any poor creature who expressed a belief that it was not the very quintessence of every thing great and good in government, and glorious and omnipotent in arms — coolly turning their backs on it when in its utmost peril, because the letter of their engagement bound them no further. Perhaps the 4th Pennsylvania were right, but let us hear no more of the excellence of three months service volunteers. And so we left them. The road was devious and difficult. There were few persons on their way, for most of the Senators and Congressmen were on before us. Some few commissariat wagons were overtaken at intervals. Wherever there was a house by the roadside, the negroes were listening to the firing. All at once a terrific object appeared in the wood above the trees — the dome of a church or public building, apparently suffering from the shocks of an earthquake, and heaving to and fro in the most violent manner. In much doubt we approached as well as the horses' minds would let us, and discovered that the strange thing was an inflated balloon attached to a car and wagon, which was on its way to enable Gen. McDowell to reconnoitre the position he was then engaged in attacking — just a day too late. The operators and attendants swore as horribly, as the warriors in Flanders, but they could not curse down the trees, and so the balloon seems likely to fall into the hands of the Confederates. About 11 o'clock we began to enter on the disputed territory which had just been abandoned by the Secessionists to the Federalists in front of Fairfax Court-House. It is not too much to say, that the works thrown up across the road were shams and make-believes, and that the Confederates never intended to occupy the position at all, but sought to lure on the Federalists to Manassas, where they were prepared to meet them. Had it been otherwise, the earthworks would have been of a different character, and the troops would have had regular camps and tents, instead of bivouac huts and branches of trees. Of course, the troops of the enemy did not wish to be cut off, and so they had cut down trees to place across the road, and put some field-pieces in their earthworks to command it. On no side could Richmond be so well defended. The Confederates had it much at heart to induce their enemy to come to the strongest place and attack them, and they succeeded in doing so. But, if the troops behaved as ill in other places as they did at Manassas, the Federalists could not have been successful in any attack whatever. In order that the preparations at Manassas may be understood, and that Gen. Beauregard, of whose character I gave some hint at Charleston, may be known at home as regards his fitness for his work, above all as an officer of artillery and of skill in working it in field or in position, let me insert a description of the place and of the man from a Southern paper:--

This place still continues the Headquarters of the army of the Potomac. There are many indications of an intended forward movement, the better to invite the enemy to an engagement, but the work of fortification still continues. By nature, the position is one of the strongest that could have been found in the whole State. About half-way between the eastern spur of the Blue Ridge and the Potomac, below Alexandria, it commands the whole country between so perfectly, that there is scarcely a possibility of its being turned. The right wing stretches off toward the head-waters of the Occoquan, through a wooded country, which is easily made impassable by the felling of trees. The left is a rolling table-land, easily commanded from the successive elevations, till you reach a country so rough and so rugged that it is a defence to itself. The key to the whole position, in fact, is precisely that point which Gen. Beauregard chose for his centre, and which he has fortified so strongly, that, in the opinion of military men, 5,000 men could there hold 20,000 at bay. The position, in fact, is fortified in part by nature herself. It is a succession of hills, nearly equidistant from each other, in front of which is a ravine so deep and so thickly wooded that it is passable only at two points, and those through gorges which 50 men can defend against a whole army. It was at one of these points that the Washington artillery (of New Orleans) were at first encamped, and though only half the battalion was then there, and we had only one company of infantry to support us, we slept as soundly under the protection of our guns as if we had been in a fort of the amplest dimensions. Of the fortifications superadded here by Gen. Beauregard to those of nature, it is, of course, not proper for me to speak. The general reader

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