Army of the Potomac. [our own correspondent.]
Manassas, Dec. 27th.
Today our whole army is engaged in building log houses for winter quarters, or in moving to sites already selected.
Several brigades will remain where they now are, near the fortifications in Centreville
, and the remainder will fall back a mile or two upon Bull Run
. --Gen. Kirby Smith
's brigade is at ‘"Camp Wigfall,"’ to the right of the Orange
road, near the Run
Near by, the whole of Van Dorn
's division are making themselves comfortable in their little cottages which rise rapidly day by day, under the diligent hands of the soldiers.
A few brigades are scattered down towards the Occoquan
, where wood and water is plenty, the farthest being by Davis's Ford.
The artillery, with the exception of Walton
's battalion, has already been located between Cub Run
and Stone Bridge
The cavalry has fallen back a little and they are now building stables and houses near Centreville
will remain in the advance.
It is probable that Gen. Johnston
will occupy the Lewis House
, on the battle field, and Gen. Beauregard Wier
's, his old headquarters before the 18th and 21st.
's division will, if I am correctly informed, occupy the advanced position, and will remain near where it is at present.
The artillerists, detailed to man the guns in the batteries, will also remain by the fortifications.
In case of an attack by the Yankees
, it will take about two hours to get the main strength of the army across Bull Run
Information of an approach would be given at least two hours before an enemy could come up, and in that time we could be well prepared to resist any force that can be brought up. That is about the situation of affairs for the winter, and it remains to be seen whether our men are to have an opportunity of a brush with the Yankees
, or whether they will be allowed to enjoy their new houses in quietness.
When I say all are ready for an attack.
I express but feebly the feeling which pervades the army.
Yesterday I rode over the battle-field of the 21st for the purpose of making sketches and gathering relics for a fair friend.
The day was clear but cold, and the wind blew across the plains as sharp as Shy lock's knife.
What a scene of desolation was spread out to our view.
have wrought many changes.
The trees are bare and leafless, the golden-rods flame no longer by the wayside; the ice-bound streams are slumbering in their beds; the birds sing no more, and even the lazy buzzard has ceased to wheel his circles over the deserted fields.
The Henry House
still stands, although more than had; destroyed; beside it the fatal field — silent, solemn, cold, the befits the tomb of more than two hundred men. How full of recollections was the spot to me!. The rose bushes by the floor, the corn stubble in the garden, the withered grass, the shattered house, all were aids to my memory, and assisted in busying the mind with retrospection.
What trivial things bring back the acts and scenes of former life!. A simple flower, noteless to others, brings up vivid recollections of some bygone bale or bliss; a single glance at alien cornfields recalls the form and features of the fair Ruth
of our boy hood.
Ah! how well do I remember the hour spent upon this same spot upon the evening of that bloody day, when the ground was strewn with dead and dying men who had fallen in the fight; when poor, wounded, suffering beings moaned in the agonies of death, and called upon God for mercy and pronounced the name of some far-off mother, perhaps even then praying for the safety of her absent son. The gibbous moon rose clean above the horizon, and for an hour shone as if in mockery upon the pale and ghastly features of the dead, then plunged into the black masses of clouds, whose dark battalions chased each other along the sky. Soon after, thick darkness covered the scene and closed the tragedy of the day — a day the pen of history will recall when those who saw it have lain is century dead.
How terrible is war!
How terrible to think even of the loss of life that war entails!
But yet, where is the man who would not prefer death to dishonor, or the manly heart that would not hazard its life-blood to maintain the honor of his country?
The day grew chill and blustering, and as sketching with fingers stiffened and benumbed with cold is a difficult task, that part of the expedition was abandoned, and we turned our horses towards camp.
I would like to give a description of the present appearance of the battle- field, but mere words would fail to give the correct idea of it to be gained by accurate maps and drawings.
Up to this time none have been issued worthy a glance, or that are not better calculated to mislead than to instruct.
I am happy to learn, however, that a book, with maps to fold in it, is now in press, and will be issued at an early day. Messrs. Warder
, both practical surveyors of this vicinity, are preparing for publication maps of the battle grounds of Bull Run
and Manassas Plains.
They have both spent many days in taking the bearings and distances of all the roads, the meanders of the streams, the position of every piece or body of woods, and the location of every house.
To this is added the position of the troops during the battle, given in conventional signs.
A competent draftsman was employed to give an exact delineation of the surface of the grounds in hill and valley.
The context is compiled from the reports of officers.
If this book and the maps prove correct, it will meet with a ready sale, and I shall take the earliest opportunity after its publication of examining it and of giving my opinion to those who choose to receive it.
Christmas eve I made a flying trip up the country, and spent a few hours with some friends at Front Royal
Starting late in the evening, we arrived at nine o'clock, and after spending a few happy hours, returned by the train at three.
Riding entirely in the night, I was unable to learn much of the country or the town, but fancied it very pleasant.
The journey back by moonlight was delightful, and I was reminded of a little German poem which I have translated, and beg to introduce here.
The Midnight ride.
‘ I ride
the cold and dark night through.
No moon, or stars, to point the way--
The bleak winds whistle wildly, too.
How oft this lonely road I've made.
When golden sunshine round me played,
And sported with the zephyr gay!
I leave the garden far behind;
O'er dead and fallen leaves I ride,
While through the branches howls the wind.
How oft this spot, when decked with flowers,
And love held court within it bowers,
Has seen a fair maid by my side?
Gone, now, is Phœbus's golden light;
Low lie the roses on the ground;
And one loved soul has taken flight.
I wander through the land again.
Through winter storm, and dark, and rain.
With my thick cloak wrapped well around.
Yesterday a Marylander came through our lines, having left.
Washington the day previous.
He brought some noticeable information as to the disposition of the Yankee
It is the opinion in Washington
that our commissioners will be given up.
As your Norfolk
correspondent says, ‘"War news scarce."’ Bohemian.