previous next

Army of the Potomac.

[our own correspondent.]
Manassas, Nov. 25th.
The village of Occoquon must have been beautiful in its day, although its present appearance is far from inviting. It is very compactly built, and has some neat and handsome dwellings. The streets are narrow, but regular, running parallel with and towards the river. The houses are placed close upon the streets, leaving no room for sidewalks, and as in some of the narrow lanes of Naples, one has to tramp along the carriage way through the mud and dirt. Formerly, I should say the place was of some importance; but now, nothing is doing, and, in fact, little has been done since the attempt to raise and abolition party in the town during the last Presidential canvass in the United States. At the upper portion is a stone mill, built for a cotton factory, and below it two or three others, devoted to different manufactures. The factory seems to be in good repair, the dam and raceway, the wheel, and the machinery inside, for spinning cotton being now just as they were some five or six years ago, when the business was suspended. In the centre of the village is a machine and blacksmith shop. with water power, and at its lower extremity, a tannery, if I may judge from a number of hides hanging upon its wall.--There is one flouring mill in operation but little business is done in it on account of the difficulty of procuring grain. Before the war the occupations of the citizens of Occoquon were various. Some cultivated small farms in the vicinity others get a living by fishing, by furnishing manufactured articles to the nearer markets, and in making barrels. The town was built up principally by Northern artizans and mechanics coming with small capital to set up business for themselves. In 1860 a party sprung up headed by a man by the name of Underwood, calling itself ‘"the Union party,"’ but which was only a band of Abolitionists, principally of Northern birth. Underwood was a justice in Prince William county, but by his freely expressed sentiments made himself obnoxious to his associates, and they refused to sit in court with him. Thinking a mild course would reclaim him, the people offered terms of settlement, which he refused, and became more bitter in his error and more open in his expressions of hostility to the South. Finally Underwood got a few adherents, and being a man of some means soon organized a party that came out in open rebellion to the loyal people of the section. A Lincoln flag was raised and threats made to shoot any person who attempted to remove it. This was too great an outrage to be borne, and the citizens got together and cut it down, the first blow being struck by the martyr Jackson. After this the matter was settled by the State's proceeding against them, and the ‘"Union party"’ went out of existence. The men composing it have now left the town, and are either in Washington or fighting against us in the Lincoln army. Their houses are now deserted, except in a few instances, where some true Virginia woman has refused to go with her husband into the lines of the enemy.

The scenery around the village of Occoquon is very fine, reminding one of some of the small Swiss valleys in captons Berne or Zurich. The creek comes tumbling over a rocky bed, while its banks on either side are precipitous and rocky. In one place, a single boulder rises above the stream to a height of near one hundred feet. Beside the river, running up it about three- fourths of a mile, is the flume which carries water to the mills, and beside it a fine path, where one can walk and enjoy the scenery and the roaring of the water. The opposite bank of the creek is steep and rugged, a single road winding down it towards the shore at a point where there was formerly a bridge, but which is now destroyed. Immediately at the rear of the village, and rising abruptly above it, is a high hill from which a fine bird's-eye view of the surrounding scenery can be had. Below lies the village, and beyond it the Occoquon run winding towards the Potomac, whose blue hue can be seen for several miles.

Two miles below Occoquon village, on the opposite side of the run, is Colchester. There the steep hills end, and the road passes over a comparatively level country to the ferry.--It is at this point the enemy will cross the main portion of his force, fortifying, probably, the nearer hills, and then crossing under cover of the batteries. The river is about one hundred yards wide. The only other place for a passage would be a ford about a mile and a half above the village, where the water is quite shallow. The roads here are very bad and might be obstructed so as to retard the advance for some time. But it is yet problematical whether McClelland intends to advance in that direction, or whether he will choose to come further into the country and cross at Wolf Run Shoals, near Bacon Race Church.

For sometime the people of Occoquon have been cut off from mail facilities, and the arrival of one on Saturday evening produced quite a stir. A crowd collected around the carrier and asked eagerly for news. Half a dozen questions were asked at once, and he was soon hemmed in by an anxious band so that his progress was entirely stopped.--‘"Have you a Dispatch?"’ said a dozen voices, and as soon as it was ascertained he had the desired paper, there was no peace until one of the party had it in his hands. The village miller was the fortunate person, and followed by an audience, went into the hotel to read ‘"the news."’ Seating himself in a chair, he was soon surrounded by a circle of heads that pressed around him with listening ears. I sat in the corner and watched the proceedings, both interested and amused. The best part of all was the rustic comments made upon the various paragraphs as they were read.

Late in the evening a courier from ‘"Hampton's Legion"’ came in with the news that the enemy were advancing from the vicinity of Accotinck, and for the pickets to be on the alert. This frightened the citizens, who had no idea of falling into the hands of the Yankees, and several of them made preparations to leave at daylight.--During the night a company of our cavalry came into the village and drew up in line through the principal street. Supposing them the enemy, three or four men left without waiting for daylight. My landlord hastily packed his saddlebags, and, stealing out of the back window, took to the woods, where he remained until morning.--Discovering his mistake, he came in about sunrise nearly frozen by the cold night air.

Sunday morning the sun rose clear, and shone brilliantly upon the frosty earth, making it seem as if covered with brilliants, After breakfast I went out to take a look at the town, and soon returned to make preparations for departure. Sitting around the fire in the parlor of a house in which I called, were some women who were lamenting the sad state of things brought about by the war.--One sad-eyed wife, with a babe in her arms, had a husband in the Federal army, another a dear friend on the other side, while the third, a fat girl, who must have been pretty when she weighed about two hundred pounds, lamented in general. Her frequent sighs and dejected appearance attracted my attention and sympathy.

‘"Perhaps you, too, have a husband on the other side?"’ said I.

‘"No indeed,"’ was the reply.

‘"I may presume he is a sweetheart, then, and husband in futuro esse."’

‘"I've got no sweetheart either."’

‘"Undoubtedly, then, you have some dear friend you fear will be killed?"’


‘"Well, why does the war affect you so much?"’ said I, sympathizingly.

‘"Because it make snuff so consarned high, and such hard work to git any at all,"’ was the maiden's tender response.

Your ‘"Own"’ subsided, and springing into the saddle soon left Occoquon behind him. Should it ever be his good fortune to visit the village again, he intends taking a package of good Macaboy or Rappee, and a bunch of Althea twigs, in order to make his standing good, and to keep from getting his hair pulled for ‘"telling tales out of school"’

The road to Manassas was exceedingly bad, being a greater part of the way filled with the muddiest of mud, the dirtiest dirt, and most abominable slush. Both horse and rider were bespattered from head to foot, and presented a neat but by no means gaudy appearance when they reached their journey's end, and turned into the farm house of a friend. Bohemian.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Underwood (3)
McClelland (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1860 AD (1)
November 25th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: