Army of the Potomac.
[our own correspondent.]
Dumfries, Nov. 21, 1861.
Last night Capt. Simms
, of the Confederate Navy, now in command of the George Page
, made a land cruise to Occoquan
, in order to destroy some property which might be made use of by the enemy.
Leaving late in the evening, he made his way into the village and thence to the mouth of the Creek
, where he found several boats belonging to the people of Occoquan
These were burned about 3 o'clock this morning, and the light of the fires flashing through the dark caused considerable commotion across the river.
Such others as were found in the vicinity, that were liable to seizure, were rendered useless.
The gallant sailor returned this morning thoroughly disgusted with his land trip, and is now safely on board his steamer, on the lookout for new adventures.
Several camps are visible on the Maryland
shore, belonging probably to Sickles
Heavy fires are constantly burning, and dense volumes of smoke are seen rising for several miles up and down the river.
There is now a battery of five mortars and a rifle opposite Evansport
, and others seem to be in the process of erection behind a slight eminence.
Information has been received that a field work is nearly completed to contain six seacoast howitzers, or mortars, and two rifled cannon; and this, together with other indications, show that great preparation is going on to raise the blockade of the Potomac
The closure of it to navigation has become a source of great annoyance, and the army in Washington
is suffering for want of transportation.
When one considers that an ordinary sized sloop or schooner will carry as much freight as eight or ten trains of cars, and that both cars and vessels have been busy in transporting army supplies and ordnance stores, the effect produced by cutting off the approach by water can be readily supposed.
To show how anxious the Federals
are to open the river, I may mention the fact that on the morning the first gun was fired from the Maryland
side, seventy-seven vessels came up to a point just out of range of our guns, and there lay to, hoping to run up the river it our batteries were crippled.
About nine o'clock yesterday morning a company of Federals appeared upon the bank of the Potomac
and commenced throwing up a fortification.
They were soon discovered and a shell sent among them, which, bursting with great accuracy, sent the Yankees
flying over the hills.
Seven shots were fired with good effect, driving the last one of them out of sight.
In the meantime their battery replied, and threw three shells across the river, two of which passed over the point and fell in the water at the mouth of the Quantico, the third exploding in the air, doing no damage.
Later in the day small parties of the enemy were soon upon the banks of the river, but never in sufficient numbers to attract fire.
The attempt at entrenching was not renewed.
At present the river is very clear of ships, none being in sight except a few tugs and a tow steamer, all in the vicinity of Cockpit Point
They lay at anchor in the middle of the stream, and for some time have not changed position.
The attempt to run the gauntlet of the batteries is rarely made except by night, and then by steamers who pass hastily by close under the opposite shore.--They rarely escape a shot, however.
The prospect of a fight at this point still continues good, although the enemy has made no decided advance.
's division, consisting of some 4,000 men, are five miles north of Occoquan
, and are, if report says truly, building pontoons and portable bridges.
A large body of men are engaged in cutting the wood between Pohick Church and Fairfax
, and in hauling it to Washington
, grain, and stock is carried off whenever found, and they are very vigilant in ferreting out anything that can be used by the army.
The superior energy displayed by the enemy was never more clearly shown than within the past few weeks.
While we have been idly waiting for an attack, the Yankees
have been vigorously pushing every preparation for the winter campaign.
On the upper Potomac they have advanced in three columns, taking every field of grain in the country, threshing it out on the spot, and shipping it immediately to Washington
In Fairfax county there is an abundance of hay, corn and wheat, and it looks to me bad policy to abandon it to the enemy, when we have so few facilities for bringing such things from the South
I am of opinion that we had better show a little more foresight in such matters, and take a lesson from our Yankee enemies in prudence and economy.
Soldiers will be improvident if their officers are and the sooner a good example is set them the better.
Yesterday morning Gen. Johnston
arrived in Dumfries
, and, accompanied by Gens. Holmes
, and staff, visited Evansport
and the batteries.
He was present during a portion of the firing.
The soldiers received him very cordially, his visit giving them both hope and confidence.
But few of the troops stationed in this division of the army had ever seen him, and they were anxious to get a sight of the commander who was to lead them through the coming fight.
In the evening he returned to Gen. Whiting
's headquarters, and this morning is probably en route
has been ordered from Evansport
to another position, but what it is I cannot say. He has now gone to Centreville
, and Gen. French
has been ordered to the command he formerly held.
has his headquarters near Evansport
The facilities for getting letters from here are not very good.
The mails leave but twice a week, and one has to depend upon a chance traveler or a courier.
The Richmond papers are seldom seen, unless three or four days old. For the past few days the weather has been fine, and McClellan
has no excuse now for not offering battle.
The general opinion is that he will advance upon this point, perhaps making a feint upon Bull Run