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Army of the Potomac

reported advance of the Federals--Sketches of Capt. Messrs. Lieuts. Slocomb and Dearing--the Washington Artillery--Skirmishing — Promotions. &c.

[special correspondence of the Dispatch.]

Fairfax, Oct. 14, 1861.
Friday night it was reported that a large force of the Federals had advanced on Springfield, and were taking possession of the place in force. General Longstreet's brigade, consisting of the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 17th Virginia and 20th Georgia regiments, were ordered under arms to march against them. The second company of the Washington Artillery was also ordered to be ready for action, and in a short space of time two rifles and two howitzers were reported for duty. This was about 5 o'clock in the evening. The weather was very cold and chilly, and, to make the evening still more disagreeable, a thick mist arose, which was very near a shower. About dark a courier came in stating it was a false alarm. The men were ordered once more to their quarters, and had the pleasure of sleeping through a stormy night in their tents, instead of a bivouac on the outposts.

Yesterday morning the brigade was again under arms, but has returned without action. Later in the day, Capt. Rosser's battery passed through the village, and as usual attracted a great deal of attention. This battery is again put in the advance, and is under Gen. Stuart, the new commander of the out-posts. For some time this section of the Washington Artillery has had a brilliant and successful career, and deserves especial praise for many daring exploits. A slight sketch of the men composing it, and their manner of life, may not be uninteresting.

Commencing with the Captain, then, we had a strong, well-made, athletic man, something over six feet in height; a naturally dark complexion, browned by exposure; dark hair, eyes and whiskers; a full, expressive face; broad, massive shoulders, and limbs that show by their roundness and perfect development, the military training that has shaped them. The dead is covered with a black felt hat captured from the Yankees, a navy blue sash belted around the waist, the light blue pants of the corps, with red cord, and heavy top boots, completes the simple costume. The tout exsimble of the man is decidedly picturesque. Imagine the blending of a Texas hunter with an Italian bandit--one of those glorious, noble-looking fellows Murillo has made famous — and you cannot form a very bad mental picture of him who is stalking with manly Stride before me. As I have stated previously, his characteristics are very similar to those of General Stuart, his present friend and commander. Sagacious, vigilant, attentive to duty, well skilled in his profession, he is said to be the best artillery officer in the service, of his age.

Such is a slight sketch of T. L. Rosser, Captain of the 2d Company of the Washington Artillery. He was born in Campbell county, Virginia, in the year 1838, and is now only twenty-three years of age. Emigrating to Texas at an early age he was appointed a cadet in the West Point Military Academy in the year 1856, and, owing to a change in the course, graduated with the last class just in time to cross the lines. The class was ordered to Washington to report for duty, but Rosser and a few companions preferred to report at Montgomery, and hurried to that point as fast as steam would carry them. He received a Lieutenant's commission in the Confederate army, was soon after chosen Captain of his present command, and has been since engaged in active service on picket, a singular position for artillery. Some days since the President promoted Captain Rosser for meritorious services, making him a Captain in the regular as well as the provisional army. So much by way of introduction merely to the history of the exploits I shall write hereafter of this young and gallant officer.

The second officer is Lieutenant Slocomb, of New Orleans, also a young man, of perhaps twenty seven or twenty-eight years. Although not a military man by profession, he is said to be a brave and efficient officer, gentlemanly at all times, and perfectly cool and self possessed in the hour of battle. A man of medium height, with a handsome Saxon face, light hair, deep blue eyes, and well trimmed side whiskers. His dress is all times neat and appropriate. Put him where you will, he is always a gentleman, and, as such, is much admired and respected by his men. Like Chevalier Bayard, he maintains the character, and does his whole duty, even in the face of a cannon. At home, Lieutenant Slocomb is one of the wealthiest young men in the city, and lives in all the elegance and refinement of a polished and traveled gentleman. At the beginning of the war he en sted in the corps as a private, but was elected Lieutenant by the men, which position he now holds. Since coming to Virginia, the corps has had many testimonials of his regard for them, for he has contributed liberally from his private means to make the men comfortable. The last act is worthy of record. There are now on the way from New Orleans ninety-eight heavy winter overcoats which he ordered for the company as a present to them, enough to supply every man that is not already provided for. This is but a single incident of the many that have been told me by the men.

Lieut. James Dearing is the third officer, a young man only twenty-one years of age, and but lately assigned to the command. He is a Virginian by birth, and was appointed a cadet to West Point in 1858, where he remained until the resignation of the Southern students at the beginning of the present war. He was made a lieutenant in the Confederate army, and has lately been appointed to the present corps. He is a tall, slight-built man, with a fair face and a good-natured, boyish expression that is decidedly winning. Since joining the battery he has had his metal tested in three or four skirmishes, and is said to be as brave as a ton, and perfectly regardless of personal safety. He is also a favorite with the men.

Next comes the privates, and here I hesitate about a description. In some respects they are very similar; in others as variable as a Camanche Indian and an Italian Prince. Let a person go about the city and gather seventy-five of the young men of society; men he has met at the club, seen riding behind fine stock, met at the opera with white kids on, danced with at levees, dressed in the height of style, traveled with up the Rhine or over the Alps, met in London, Paris, or in some elegant shooting box in the country; men known as merchants, scholars, artists, amateurs, loafers and loungers around town in its Bohemian sense! men of wealth and social position, and collect them in one company, send them off for a month's sport to the Peaks of Otter, and go along himself to watch the fun. After being there long enough to get himself into a high state of excitement, and having adventures enough to make a second volume to Robinson Crusoe, he can imagine precisely what the second company of the Washington Artillery is, as I see it today. A party of good-natured, jovial, rollicking, devil-may-care fellows, who have come on to Virginia for a little sport, they enjoy every hour with a gusto that is decidedly catching. Sometimes under roof, and sometimes under the wettest kind of rain, they sleep without a murmur, and wake in the morning with the same cheerful faces and happy hearts. Whenever they have food, all eat and grow fat; when they have none, they smoke cigarettes and fight just as well. Accepting the advice of Horace, (Ad Thaliarchees, carmen IX., book ,) they do not ask of the morrow, but enjoy the blissful moments as they fly, and take gratefully the gifts the gods bestow, in contentment and peace. Ah, well! I cannot say all I wish to of these noble fellows, for fear I should spin out my letter to a wearisome length, and so a word as to their hospitality and I am done. If any person whose eye glances over these words should visit them, and if, when he returns and warms himself before his own fire, he does not feel like About Ben Adham, in love with all mankind; and does not feel as if he had gained several friends, and picked up twenty useful scraps of knowledge, and does not have a better opinion of himself, then write me down as one who speaks falsely. Try it, O. reader!

The camp of the artillery is always picturesque. The guns are ranged in order with the caissons in the rear, the horses picketed near, by, and the men lounging about in groups, chatting, smoking cigarettes, playing ‘"eucre,"’ cribbage, or chess; the whole forming a picture that would grace the pencil of Tenniers. At present the battery consists of two rifle and two howitzers; but it is soon to be remodeled and enlarged, and will be probably by the time this letter is in print.

Yesterday there was a slight skirmish near Annandale. A party of Federals came up within sight, killed a beef and returned with him. A party of our men pursued them, and suddenly came upon an encampment but a few hundred yards distant. They immediately fired on the camp, and kept up a brisk fire of musketry for some time. It was returned by the enemy who was hidden behind trees and fences. It is supposed that several were killed on the Federal side, as fifteen were seen to fall during the firing. None were injured on our side, and after harassing them for a time, they were left to enjoy their stolen beef. For some time they have been rather saucy, and have crowded considerably on our line of pickets.

It is with pleasure that I can record a report current here that Brigadier General Longstreet has been made a Major General, and that he has been assigned to an important command. Although entirely unacquainted with General Longstreet, I hear him spoken of in terms of great praise. His command of the advance will probably devolve upon General Stuart.

A reorganization of the army, as regards States, is now going on, which bids fair to be a very important move. Whether intended or not, it meets with the evident probably of the men. Cha es are constantly going on, but they are not of a nature that would interest the public. This morning the 20th Georgia Regiments, Colonel Smith was attached from General Longstreet's brigade and attached to General Early's. Au revoir.


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