[for the Richmond Dispatch.]
a lady's Recreations in Camp — pleasant Incidents.
June 26, 1861.
To the Editors of the Dispatch:
I am well aware that you have had letters innumerable from Manassas Junction
and its vicinity, but I do not think that you have as yet received any account of the hospitalities so liberally displayed towards ladies and other chance visitors.
We are a party of refugees, whose favorite amusement is to drive down to battalion drill and dress parade towards sunset, and afterwards to take tea in the different tents.
You would be amused to see the unique entertainments to which we have several times been invited.
In the charity of my heart.
I only wish that some of the other girls in Virginia
could participate in these festivities.
Imagine a party of ladies in flounces and fluttering ribbons, and gentlemen in uniform, grouped around a rough board table, drinking coffee from tin-cups, with pewter spoons, and doing justice to a heterogeneous collection of edibles heaped thereupon in picturesque confusion — glass jars of preserves and tin plates of broiled chicken, in loving juxtaposition, with beef-tongue and pound cake — the whole scene lit by a solitary candle, in a wooden block for a candlestick!
I must say, however, in justice to the amateur Soyers
, that the bread, etc., which I have seen on such occasions was quite worthy of the kitchen of a first rate Virginia house-wife, while the profusion with which we were entertained was only equalled by the cordiality of our reception.
The novelty, of course, is decidedly agreeable to young ladies wearied out with ball-room and town gaieties, who for some time past have sighed for ‘"fresh fields and pastures new. "’ And then entre nous
the ample allowance of epauletted admirers --which belleship, unfortunately for us, is, I fear, chiefly owing to the rarity
of such ‘"angel visitors"’ in the camp — and the distinguished attention paid us by the dignitaries, combine to make our visits to Camp Pickens among the most pleasant episodes of our lives.
One evening last week was spent at the marquee of the chivalrous Colonel
We enjoyed it immensely, I can assure you; and afterwards the band out in the moonlight discoursing exquisite opera melodies until a late hour; gave an added charm to the pleasures of the entertainment.
One would think that this is not a time for merry-making or enjoyment, and indeed before we found ourselves in the vicinity of Manassas
, nothing could have equalled the lugubrious expression of our faces and our general down-heartedness; but, once here, fear and depression avaunt!
It is utterly impossible not to be cheered by the beaming faces we meet on every side, or not to be infected by the general spirit of confidence and certainty of success which animates our soldiers.
There is something so irresistibly attractive, too, in being arrested at every turn by a severe-looking sentinel, with his bayonet pointed in one's face, and in having to be escorted out of camp after night by ‘"a friend with the countersign!"’
I never thought, in my frequent passings by the Junction
, that old Manassas
would ever assume so delightfully warlike an exterior.--One never-failing source of amusement, is our conversations with the different soldiers stationed as a guard in our vicinity.
We were much edified, a few nights since, by the patriotic outburst of an Irishman, who seemed to be the acknowledged wit of his party.
His brogue was of the broadest description, and we could not but smile at the unction with which he gave the toast, ‘"May the Confederate
agile pick out the eyes of the baste Lincoln
!"’ In accordance with their respectfulty urged request, we sang the ‘"Marseillaise"’ for a group of them; and, as the last words rang out upon the midnight air, ‘"Liberty or Death, "’ there was an enthusiastically responsive cheer, and one man sprang to his feet, exclaiming, ‘"If you could sing that to us as we go on to battle, there is not a man who would not only cut his way-through the Yankees
, but would eat them, too!"’
But, seriously speaking, it is the most inspiring thing imaginable to see the determined front presented by our men, one and all, and to witness the unquenchable hatred of the North
, and the burning desire to avenge the wrongs of the South
, which has become a fixed principle with them.
We hear sometimes a sign, and see a tearful eye, as the thought of home and loved ones rises before them; but there is a manful putting aside of private griefs, and a steady resolve to do or die, which makes the sympathetic blood course in our veins and causes us to realize more than ever before what we women of Virginia
owe to these men whose lives are imperilled in our defence, and in whom, next to God and our glorious commanders, Davis
, we trust to restore to us the homes from which we have been forced to fly.