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[254] hit it exactly to-day, when the rain was added to overflow the measure of our discomforts.

Being still alive, however, and as yet practically unacquainted with the traditionary horrors of Libby Prison, we have no right to complain. Nevertheless, we “are not happy.”

Sunday, November 22.--Another quiet day has passed. Prayers were held in one or two of the churches, and, altogether, it has been a solemn day. Certainly the circumstances by which we are surrounded, are sufficiently well calculated to furnish material for serious reflection to any who may be so disposed. The rain has ceased. Slight skirmishing on our front and left has been kept up all day. The mud scarcely permits more important movements, if any were intended. An occasional shot from the twenty-pounders in our front, replied to by Benjamin's battery, sums up the battle news. The enemy's shell seldom burst, and have as yet done no damage. A courier came through this evening from the Gap, bringing to General Burnside news of the safety of General Willcox and his command, and also the welcome intelligence of the advance movement of General Grant. It inspires us with hope of present relief and probable ability to bring condign retribution upon the daring and impudent foe, who have so boldly threatened an inglorious terminus to the grand army of occupation. We await, as we must, with what patience we can. We are somewhat powerless to mould circumstances to such shapes as we would, just now; so we submit to necessity, call it inexorable fate, and are resigned. We retire every night in anticipation of an assault in the morning; and each day drags its weary, monotonous length along, only more dull and dreary than the last. At one time it is reported that Longstreet has gone to Tazewell, on his way to Kentucky, having previously gobbled Willcox and the Gap on his road. Then, that he has built pontoons and is crossing eight miles below town, with the intent to march on to our works on the south bank, and thence shell each individual house in Knoxville seriatim, or until his supposed thirst for Yankee blood is in some degree sated. Anon we learn that his whole force, except a few remaining to scare our pickets, is en route for Virginia, or crossing the river to join Bragg, who, being whipped, is falling back on Dalton. Whatever portion, if any, of these rumors may prove to be true, it is certain that the camps of a division, at least, are visible with a glass from the cupola of the college, situated on our left, other camps on our right, and a certain big gun occasionally warns us of its continued presence in our front. Pickets are easily found by any enterprising individual who may possess a curiosity to explore that peculiarly vigilant arm of the service by showing himself beyond our lines. Their sharp-shooters have not permitted us to doubt their presence for a moment, day or night. A little girl was killed to-day in her garden, and the streets in the west end are not safe a moment during the day from random shots. They are extending their works on our left, and, masked by a wood, are believed to be erecting works and planting batteries. True, all these known things may be done by a comparatively small force, and we are inclined to believe are, but still the doubt and suspense grow eminently disagreeable.

Monday, Nov. 23.--General Shackleford made a reconnoissance in force with cavalry, last night, to Boyd's Ferry and Connor's Ford, on our right, and found no enemy along the river. Hearing that a raft had been prepared to send down the river with a view to break up our pontoon, he sent a party to destroy it, but it had gone. It came down upon the bridge during the night, but Captain Poe, who does nothing by halves, and is never caught napping, had not forgotten the probability of such a contingency, and the chains placed there across the river for the purpose arrested the progress of the raft, which made very good firewood for us to-day. The pontoon was uninjured. Captain Poe completed a fort on the south bank to-day, and Colonel Cameron made quite a jubilee over the raising of a large flag-staff, surmounted by the Stars and Stripes. General Hascall made a patriotic speech. The boys shouted and cheered, and the affair seemed quite a small Fourth of July. Skirmishing to-day along the left was light, and there was more on the right. Toward evening, skirmishing in front became quite sharp, and about six o'clock the rebels made a dash upon our lines and forced our pickets to fall back. The rebels were probably inspired to this sudden emeute by the sight of some twenty of our wagons loading coal near the depot. Our wagoners, true to the instincts of their class, of course, fled as usual and deserted their teams. Our pickets, however, rallied in time to save them, and Hoxie, the Railroad Superintendent, finally got the cowardly mule-drivers back and the teams away. The most disastrous and lamentable result of the temporary panic was the destruction of some fifteen or twenty houses fired by our men. The pickets had received orders to fire the buildings if compelled to fall back, and it became necessary to uncover concealed rebels. In this case the retreat of our pickets was but momentary. Our lines were immediately advanced, and neither real nor prospective necessity was manifest for such an act of wanton and unmitigated vandalism.

Nearly all the buildings on the plain below the city are destroyed. The splendid round-house of the Georgia Railroad, the arsenal, machine-shop, Humphreys' hotel, dwellings, etc., etc., of incalculable mischief to our own interest, and of no possible injury to the enemy. Such conduct can excite no emotion but disgust and indignation. Nothing is sacred; destruction rides on the wind, and pillage and carnage go hand in hand. It is safe to assert that East-Tennessee has been more vitally damaged since the entree of our army, than by the rebel occupation during the war. This is an unpleasant charge to make, but I can prove what I say; and as it is a state of things for which some one is responsible, and not altogether irremediable, it should be ventilated


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