Army of the Potomac.
[our own correspondent.]
Fairfax, Oct. 5, 1861
A few days ago the fact was announced that Colonel J. E. B. Stuart
, of the First Virginia Cavalry Regiment, had been promoted to a Brigadier-General
, and that he had been assigned to the command of the advance, the most important post of the army.
Considering this, a few words about Gen. Stuart
may not be amiss.
He was born in Partrick county, Va. in 1833, and is now but twenty-eight years of age.--He was appointed a cadet in the West Point
Military Academy, and graduated in the class of 1854.
His first commission in the United States army was as Brevet Second Lieutenant
in the mounted rifles, and was dated July 1st, 1854. On the 20th of December, 1855, he received a commission as First Lieutenant
in the First Regiment of Cavalry, and was afterwards breveted a Captain, after seven years service in the army.
This latter rank he held at the time of his resignation to join in the defence of his native State.
He immediately entered the service of the Confederate States
, was made Colonel
of the First Mounted Regiment from Virginia
, and a short time since was promoted to a Brigadier-Generalcy, and assigned to the command of cavalry.
The appearance of Gen. Stuart
is very striking and attracts general attention.
Imagine strong, athletic frame, something over six feet in height, of almost perfect mould; a head covered with dark brown hair, heavy moustache and whiskers, which hide completely the lower portion of a pleasant face; I countenance that can be called handsome, strongly marked by good nature and a genial expression, and deep blue eyes, from which beams the youthful ardor and high spirits of the man. Decisive and prompt in action, his step has the firm tread and at the same time the elasticity of an athlete.
An excellent horseman, he shows off to great advantage in the saddle, and rides with a grace that I have never seen excelled except by Captain Nolan
, who was killed at the battle of Balaklava
during Lord Cordigan's famous charge.
Having that clan
necessary to cope with a powerful enemy, and cunning enough to frustrate any strategas, he makes an admirable outpost commander, to which position he has lately been assigned.
For some months Gen. Stuart
has been in active service, and has never yet been caught napping, or failed in any plan he has attempted.
At Munson's hill he slept within 800 yards of the enemy, accompanied by Capt. Rosser
, of the Washington Artillery, an officer so similar in characteristics that one description might answer for both, watchful as a tiger, and as quick to spring from his covert at the approach of his prey.
He is Nepoleonic in his ideas of battles, and believes in rapid, decisive, and vigorous charges; in routing the enemy at one point to-day, and to-morrow at mother, miles distant.
Ignoring entirely all unnecessary military display, he believes in work, and would fight as well on three roast potatoes, served in Marion
's style on a cypress log, as upon all the delicacies that could be heaped upon a camp table.
Entirely unassuming in matters of dress, good-natured, a brave, true hearted, chivalric Southern, he is just the man to be in the advance-- the post of honor — of the Southern
It is a pity, however, that such a noble officer should be a constant mark to Yankee bullets, and that his valuable life should be imperiled by his own reckless daring.
Such is a slight pen and ink sketch of the man who at the age of twenty-eight has been made a Brigadier in the Confederate Army, and has been assigned to its most important command.
If I do not have something further to record of him before many weeks, it will greatly surprise me.
I am sorry to learn that Capt. Tanney
, of the 6th Louisiana regiment, was accidentally shot and instantly killed a day or two ago. The circumstances, as nearly as I can learn them, are these: There was a disturbance in his company, which he endeavored to quiet, and in doing so came in personal contact with the men. Drawing a revolver, he struck one of them over the head with the but, and as the same instant the pistol exploded, sending a bullet through his heart, killing him instantly.
This unfortunate and much-to-be-regretted accident has cast a deep gloom over the regiment.
It's but a step from sorrow to happiness, and a single moment may contain both pleasure and pain.
We hold a wreath of laurel and find it changed into a bouquet of asphodels while in the grasp.
From the cradle to the grave, and from old age to childhood, our thoughts revert with rapid flight.
Hardly had the first pang of grief at the death of a soldier passed away, when we were called in to witness the christening of an infant which nestled sweetly in its mother's arms, as unconscious of the world as the dead man in his grave.
It was a strange and novel sight to men in the army.
The mother, a Mrs. M., was a young and pretty woman, with jet black hair and eyes, graceful form, regular features, and a face that must have been very beautiful before its maiden roundness had been angulated by contact with the world.
Like a skillful engineer in the survey of a new country, one could but lay off the pensive face in mental angles, and read the evident marks of sorrow indicated on its surface and gaze thro' the cold eyes into the inner chambers of the heart.
It was not difficult to read the secrets laid away in store-house of memory, or to fancy the story of her life — a life of disappointed ambition, of some happiness, and much pain.
The baby was a wee bit of a thing, dressed in white, very quiet, and, during the ceremony, rolled his big black eyes around in wonder at the strange scene.
A Harrold officiated, Rev. Mr. Cameron
, of Maryland
, stood as god-father, and the little boy was christened Arthur de Beauregard
The scene was an interesting one, and was a pleasing relief to the routine of our daily life.
Baby bears the honors of his new name very quietly, and crows all day from his couch on the balcony, sucking a gold pencil, the sponsorial gift of his god-father, while we, like old babitue
at the spring, who know as little about tending babies as of calculating an eclipse, smoke our cigars beside him, and watch his infant motions as if he belonged to us all.
There is nothing new in the shape of war news, and we look at the newspapers with the greatest anxiety to hear from the Northwest
There is a rumor to-day that the Federals
have landed in some force near Matthias Point, but I cannot as certain if it be true or false.
Last evening two balloons were visible--one in the vicinity of Mason's hill, and the other in the direction of Alexandria
The latter went up some three miles, and was borne away in a northeasterly direction until it vanished from sight.
There is no immediate prospect of an advance, as far as I can see.
This evening a party of us paid a visit to the camp of the 1st Virginia Regiment, which is acknowledged to be the finest in the service.
It is on a hillside close by this village, and on the Alexandria turnpike
, immediately opposite the headquarters of Gen. Johnston
Our party consisted of Mrs.
H. and two daughters, Mrs.
M, of Maryland
, two Misses G., of New Orleans, and a few gentlemen connected with the army.
We were welcomed very heartily by Col. Fry
, who showed us around the encampment, which looked as neat and prim as some lady's parlor.
Since Dr. Harrold
was appointed chaplain, the men seem to take great interest in the services, and generally attend en masse.
A large tent has been erected for a chapel, in one corner of which stands a melodeon, and in front a desk for Bible and prayer book.
At present a large, round marquee, with the side raised so that it forms a canopy, is used for morning and evening prayers.
Everything is admirably arranged.
As we approached the chapel a choir of young men were practicing for the morrow's services, and, standing in the starlight, we listened to the grand music of the church, sung by manly voices, in a spot where one would hardly look to find anything but rude mirth and revelry.
Presently the brass band commenced playing and drowned all other sounds; for with the sweet tone of their instruments floating in the air, who could hear anything else?
This is the best band in the army, and, I sincerely believe, in the South
They played for an hour by the Colonel
's tent, while we, perfectly charmed with their music, listened to the overture from ‘"Midsummer Night's Dream"’ and ‘"Schubart's Serenade"’ with hearts swelling with memories which they called up. Imagine the scene.
The white tents of the soldiers; the distant camp fires glimmering through the dark; the bright starlight; sentinels pacing steadily their posts; the band intently playing; the groups of officers and men listening with interested, pensive faces, the whole forming a picture that cannot be easily effaced from the memory.
At 9 o'clock comes tattoo, and the drum corps, consisting of ten or twelve boys, beat around the quarters.
Then all assembled by the marquee, and listened with bowed, uncovered heads to prayers read by Dr. Harrold
Soon after comes ‘"taps,"’ and the lights are extinguished.
I must correct an unintentional error in my last letter, in which I spoke of Brigadier Gen. Smith
, when I was perfectly aware that he was a General, and commanded a corps of the ‘"army of the Potomac."’ The Commander-in-Chief
is General Johnston
; Gen. Beauregard
commands the first corps and Gen. Smith
My error was a slip of the pen. Bohemian.