horses--Mr. R.'s and our own — were watered, by a servant; but the reported conversation did not take place. A short distance from that inn, Mr. Russell put spurs to his animal, and, riding furiously, left us behind; he picked up ample material for misrepresentation, however, as he went. We point out the greatest falsehood, if one falsehood can be greater than another, in the columns that he has devoted to the vilification of our troops:
Washington was still 18 miles away. The road was rough and uncertain, and again my poor steed was under way, but it was of no use trying to outstrip the runaways. Once or twice I imagined I heard guns in the rear, but I could not be sure, in consequence of the roar of the flight behind me. It was most surprising to see how far the foot soldiers had contrived to go on in advance.It must have been surprising indeed! From the moment of meeting the First New Jersey regiment, of which we have spoken, not a soldier, unless one of a baggage, or a picket-guard, did we see on the road — not one. The wagons going in were few, and their progress was not such as to indicate that they were making a retreat. We faced train after train going out with supplies, without guard, and without suspicion that the army was beaten and in flight. The defeat was not known to any on the road, not even to Mr. Russell, who informed us that our army would fall back and encamp for the night, only to renew the battle the next day. The “roar of the flight behind me” is a stretch of the imagination. We were “behind me,” and heard the guns, and marked the time as 7:15; but save our poor old thick-winded steed, there was not another horse on the road within our sight. A few carriages with wounded, a few retiring civilians — none making haste, none suspecting the finale that was reached — soon passed us; but not an armed man, trooper nor footman, was anywhere near. Mr. Russell in the next paragraph confesses as much:
It was a strange ride, through a country now still as death, the white road shining like a river in the moonlight, the trees black as ebony in the shade; now and then a figure flitting by into the forest or across the road — frightened friend or lurking foe, who could say? Then the anxious pickets and sentries all asking, “What's the news? ” and evidently prepared for any amount of loss.The truth is probably this: The imaginative correspondent left the battle-ground before any confusion occurred, and when the retrograde movement was ordered. Hearing the exaggerated stories of what came to be a flight, after he got into Washington, on Monday, while the excitement was at its height, he wove them into his letter as facts of his own observation. The rout was disgraceful enough to make any man's blood cold in his veins; but it was not what Mr. Russell describes. As we have asserted, he did not see it.