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Doc. 85.-evacuation of Manassas, Va. March 11, 1862.

The correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer gives the following account of his exploration of the rebel camps at Centreville and Manassas:

The fortifications at Centreville look, at a distance, formidable, extending from a point half a mile north of the town, away off to the south as far as the eye can reach. We rode up to them and found them merely dirt-trenches and sandforts. They have been evidently laid out by an engineer who understands his business, but have been constructed by men who merely wanted to put in the time. There has never been a single heavy gun mounted in them. Embrasures have been made and logs of wood run out in all of them. All were so arranged, however, that field artillery could be used in them. The floors on which they could have stood were hemlock boards, one inch thick, and would not have lasted through a single discharge, but would have let the guns down into the sand.

Some of those on the left have wicker-work around the embrasures, which has apparently been done by some old negro basket-maker. On two of them were raw-hides staked down and sand-bags around the embrasures, but these were intended to rake a storming party should we have marched up in front. The ditches around them are nicely arranged, so that our troops could have marched down and up the sides readily to make a bayonet-charge. No timber has ever been placed in front to obstruct a passage, nor were the sides dug perpendicular, but at an angle.

Five of these forts command the road to Centreville by which McDowell came in July. They extend over a line of a mile and a half, and are all connected by rifle-pits dug deep enough to allow artillery to move along behind them without being seen in front, under the protection of sand-banks from four to twelve feet thick.

No precaution appears to have been taken to prevent a flank movement in the rear of Centreville in anything like such a formidable manner as the front. The ground to the north is covered with a dense woods and stunted pines. A few dirt-banks near Centreville, behind which artillery could have been sheltered, were the only guards on their left.

A piece of dense woods, about a mile and a half from Centreville, would have afforded us protection from which, with siege-guns, we could have shelled them out in a few hours. There were a few places where they had had masked batteries in this piece of woods, and they have had a regiment in winter quarters here; but they were only on picket, and could have been easily driven into the Centreville forts.

In the rear of Centreville was a cavalry camp, and the only shelter for the horses was some cedar-trees, which had been planted so as to protect them from the cold, bleak winds that come whistling down from the Bull Run mountains. How effective it was, can be judged from the fact that in a field but half a mile to the rear lie the carcasses of over a hundred horses, some of them very fine ones, while further down were innumerable horse graveyards, but none of them have been buried. Overhead an immense drove of vultures was hovering, and the buzzards were evidently anticipating a rich feast, and appeared to be angry at the delay.

To the left of Centreville was a large number of fine cabins, made of logs, plastered with mud and roofed roughly with shingles; they were in regular rows, and none had been fired. The grounds around them were quite clean, and we should judge that these had been evacuated by the troops who went home on furloughs — to re-enlist--none of whom returned. These huts are better made than those of our own army on the Potomac, and are now filled by our troops, who are highly delighted with them.

A line of railroad has been built in nearly a direct line from Manassas Junction to Centreville, crossing Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford. It has been built right along the top of the ground, and contains some pretty sharp curves and heavy grades. The only bridge on it, which is the one at Blackburn's Ford, and which was merely a frame trestle-work, was fired and burned. The track remains, however, but is in a dilapidated condition. The cross-ties are twice the usual width apart, and laid in the sand and swamp without any ballast. Three or four cars of the M. S. R. R. are broken up and overturned by the side of the track. No cars were left on it here, and the last train passed over it on Sunday noon.

The telegraph-office here was connected by a single wire with the South, and the poles bear evidence of its having at one time been extended to Fairfax Court House. The wire and insulation are all gone, and nothing remains to tell the tale but the bare poles.

The wagon-road to Manassas has been put in good condition by the plentiful use of planks and logs; through the first piece of woods after leaving Centreville is a piece of “corduroy road,” which is in terrible condition; the bodies of half a dozen horses who had broken their legs were scattered along the side, a testimony against these wretched inventions.

The road is now in as good condition as it will be at any time for months; it has been widened for teams to pass; or two to go abreast. The turnpike road to Warrenton is in as fine condition as it ever was; the fields are in good order for moving artillery, and the side-roads, or those of but little use, are very good. The roads are [285] all good after we leave the old lines around Washington, and have been so for some time.

Manassas Junction.

About noon Gens. McClellan and McDowell, with their staffs, and two thousand cavalry for an escort, came up and took the road to Manassas. We fell in with them and followed on down to Manassas. All along to the left of the road was one continuous string of huts, tents, and forts, all empty now — not a human being or animal showed themselves — not a sound save the clatter of the horses' hoofs, the shrill tones of the bugles, or the loud orders of the officers.

At Blackburn's Ford we saw the old battle-field of July eighteenth. The Butler House, which was between the two forces and had been riddled with shot and shell, has been repaired. It was here Beauregard was dining, and made such a narrow escape at the time. The tree-tops bear the evidence of the way the shot and shells flew around. Large limbs were cut off, and tree-tops twisted in a hundred directions, as though struck by lightning. The woods in which the New-York Twelfth, the First and Second Michigan, and the Massachusetts First went down has all been cut away, and we can now see where the rebels had their artillery, upon the bank of Bull Run, behind a breastwork of logs and dirt.

The Washington artillery, of New-Orleans, and three South-Carolina regiments, have been encamped near the Butler House for the winter, but started away some time ago. The artillery left a quantity of harness, etc. None of their tents were destroyed. Further down are the tents of a whole division, all pitched, as though the occupants had gone home to recruit and reenlist, but had not yet returned.

The plains of Manassas are really what their name implies. The time was when there were objects which obstructed the range of vision, but they are all gone now; for miles around we have an unbroken view. On the hills around are the camps still left, and a column of smoke away off to the right indicated that Manassas was on fire. Our cavalry had gone there during Monday night, and found the rear of the enemy still there; but they were firing the remaining property. A captain, by whose side we rode, told us of piles of new secesh clothes, swords, flags, etc. Galloping ahead of the rest, we reached the Junction.

The sight here cannot be portrayed; the large machine-shops, the station-houses, the commissary and quartermaster store-houses, all in ashes. On the track stood the wreck of a locomotive, and not far down the remains of four freight-cars which had been burned; to the right five hundred barrels of flour had been stove in, and two hundred barrels of vinegar and molasses had been allowed to try experiments in chemical combinations. Some fifty barrels of pork and beef had been scattered around in the mud, and a few hundred yards down the track a dense cloud of smoke was arising from the remains of a factory which had been used for rendering up tallow and boiling bones. About a thousand good hides were stretched in a field close by, upon stakes, and remain uninjured.

A car upon the track, which ran to Centreville, a short distance up, had on it the whole effects of a printing-office, types, cases, all that is needed in an office; a large lot of paper and a Washington press. The forms had in them blanks for muster-rolls and furloughs. This car will be a great prize for the regiment into whose hands it falls. An infantry regiment soon came in and commenced to ransack the tents and remaining stores, for plunder and relics, but the printing-office remained untouched.

Leaving the Junction, we all rode up to the Bull Run battle-field. The different positions occupied by the different forces were explained by Gen. McDowell. They are the same now as when we stood there on that memorable Sabbath. All was quiet through that now peaceful dale. The roar of the murderous artillery, the flash of the musketry, and the groans of the wounded and dying seemed to be still ringing in our ears; but the chirping of the tree-frogs, or a solitary bird perched upon a sheltered bush, was all that really broke the stillness.

As we halted for a moment we noticed on the hill-tops a number of empty huts, along the ravines were the strong natural defences so lately garrisoned by the rebel hordes; but they have all gone now. Near the field where Col. Cameron fell are long and broad trenches, only distinguished as graves by the new-made earth, on which the grass this last summer has refused to grow. The hill-side where Schenck led his division under the murderous fire, the ravine where the rebel cavalry outflanked us, the little old negro hut and other buildings they used as hospitals, are still there; the blood-stained floors covered with dirt. The stone bridge has been blown up, and is now a heap of ruins. We rode across the field where our Parrott guns were lost, picked up a cannon-ball, and pushed on to Centreville, reaching here at dark.

The rebel army of the Potomac, from all appearances, has been at times strong in numbers and well entrenched. They may have had one hundred and fifty thousand men, but we much doubt if they have had over one hundred and ten or one hundred and twenty thousand. Whether they could have been cut off last fall or this winter, or could have been driven from Manassas in confusion at any time, is not for us to decide. Such as they were, they have gone hence. Contrabands coming in tell us that they said they will make a stand at Warrenton for the present, but will not fight this side of Gordonsville, and will force us to come to their mountain fastnesses to meet them.

The rebel Gen. Stuart was at Gainesville last night, with the rear of his army, moving swiftly on, impressing all the slaves and driving them on to work on the new fortifications. Numbers of men suspected of Union sentiments have also been carried away. Posted on a door of a log-house, where everything had been abandoned in confusion, was the following notice: [286]

To the gentlemen(?) of the North, the champions of freedom.

We abandon these quarters to you, expecting to return in a month or two. Assure yourselves they are not a gift, but are merely lent, with the scriptural injunction: “Occupy till I come.”

We feel constrained to burn our wearing apparel, with the exception of what will be found left as legacies — our beds and comforts only — for fear of acting treasonably, for by leaving them we would be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Look out for another Manassas when we meet again.

Yours, very truly,

A Retired but Not Cowed Adversary. Crescent Blues, La. Vols. for the War.

New-York world account.

Centreville, March 11.
At a late hour this (Tuesday) evening, I sit down to write you what the grand army of the Potomac has done and learned within the last twenty-four hours. For in so brief a time, now seeming longer than a month of common life, the entire front of this long Virginia campaign has changed its complexion. The grand army has passed its grand climacteric, and who shall guess at the story of its life to be? Not I, for one; since what we know of future plans is forbidden us to tell; and the quick changes now upon us are so radical that even the commanding general cannot yet have measured them in their length and breadth.

To begin at the beginning. All the North by this time knows that Centreville and Manassas are evacuated; furthermore, that Gen. McClellan's vast column is in motion — was, at least — and apparently following upon the rear of a retreating foe. Now, of what the writer has personal cognizance; more than this much I cannot attempt to tell.

Sunday afternoon it was known in Washington that Gen. McClellan had crossed the Potomac. During the day, also, other important matters had occurred, such as the rapid sending of regiments up the river, apparently with the view to strengthen Geary at Leesburg, and complete the junction of our right and centre. A “movement” of the grand column was expected to commence on Monday; one based on the plans of weeks, and not on the as yet unconfirmed flight of our enemies. So when it eventuated, and, after all, from the latter cause, and in different form and direction from the old strategic plan, no, one was surprised, though great excitement prevailed in Washington. An excitement increased throughout Monday by the sight of Long Bridge, crowded from sunrise to sunset with the, ceaseless stream of “reserve,” regular artillery, and cavalry pouring over into the Old Dominion. An army is like a snake; its head cannot move without dragging body and tail after it, and by this movement of the rear, all experts knew that the van, like John Brown's ghost, was a-marching on. An excitement intensified by the belief that Hooker, after occupying the Cockpit Point batteries, was throwing his whole division over the Potomac, below the Occoquan; by the meeting and departure of all McClellan's staff; by the hundred other symptoms which proved the arrival of a moment long hoped for, looked for, or demanded by the variously interested parties of the North.

It was five o'clock in the afternoon yesterday before I found myself in the gradually “slowing” current, of which you here have so faint an idea. Uncertain how much of the army had moved, where it was going, or where the general staff rendezvous would be, I intuitively selected Fairfax Court-House as the latter point, and resolved to reach it before bedtime. Of the labors resulting in that end let me spare your readers a description. But you have heard for weeks of the Virginia mud. Starting late, (experience has taught all army reporters to get and keep in the van,) the horseman had the benefit of all the furrowing, ploughing, ditching, and miring accomplished by the march of thousands and thousands, mounted and foot, preceding him throughout the day. It was the great central route of the army. Teams, trains, cannon, caissons, cavalry, choked the way. By them my horse pushed on, floundering as best he might, until, in the evening, Benton's tavern was reached, and the smooth, hardened Fairfax turnpike. From that time forth no mud, though much desolate country, ruined estate; nor any mud to seriously retard the transit of an army even to Bull, otherwise Bloody Run. There the clayey loam again is found, and from thenceforward to the Rappahannock region I learn that roads are nasty.

Fairfax Court-House at nine P. M. And here one learns, first, that the whole army moved at sunrise; second, that all the divisions, except Heintzelman's, converged like the feathers of a fan toward the handle, and are now encamped in exact, compact, most beautiful and formidable order, within a radius of two miles about the Court-House; third, that Gen. McClellan and staff are here, and all the foremost division leaders; fourth, that one can find plenty of friends, and good quarters on a hard floor for the first night of the second march to Richmond.

The regiments — at least such dozens of them whose camp-fires I could see — were mostly snugly covered by the French tentes d'abri--“shelter-tents” --of which each marching soldier carries a portion, and is thus sure of protection against any delay of trains.

Late at night came positive tidings to Fairfax, confirming the rumored evacuation of Centreville and Manassas. Gen. Kearney, of Franklin's division, had, in fact, boldly pushed into the former famous town, with only a small portion of his brigade; had found it desolate, though frowning in fortified grandeur. Still later, we learned that the last of the rebels had fled from Bull Run, and even Manassas Junction ; that a daring squad of Federal cavalry — hearing of this from contrabands leaving the plains, and looking not behind them — had swooped into the latter point, first fording the Run, and found a great conflagration [287] in full flame, bridges and machine-shops just blown up, other incendiary fires gleaming in the distance; in short, a rapid, utter, and utterly successful evacuation of the Bull Run defences, town, forts, bridges, huts, railroads, and all!

This morning, then, after breakfast with hospitable artillerists, and a resort to first principles in the currying of horses — that is, each man to take care of his own steed — we of the press had something to stimulate us on a forced ride to Centreville, seven or eight miles yet ahead. I say we, for by this time four newspaper men found themselves together. And what a glorious morning ride! Skies warm and bright, air deliciously reminding us of the last time we went over this same road; of last July, and the march to Centreville, the old skirmishing, the gleaming foe ahead, the quick, warning bugle order to halt or go forward. Was it a year ago? Say rather yesterday, we thought, and that McDowell, not McClellan, was still leading the onset. Had the battle of Bull Run been fought, or did we dream of such a contest and defeat, and were we now going to test those fastnesses again, and make the actuality have more noble ending than the dream? For even now, as such thoughts would occur at sight of every familiar creek and grove, we met McDowell, stern and courtly, just as he rode a year ago, riding back toward Fairfax at the head of his staff. He had been thus early forward, to make assurance of the evacuation doubly sure, and was rejoining his division — most of which we had left behind, now being at last on the front of our lines, and eagerly dashing onward to the first glimpse of those high, sandy, strongly-defended Centreville ridges, which had kept the grand army so long at bay.

On the route we met picturesque groups of contrabands, who had all night been facing toward the free northern star. Uncle Toms, Georges, and Topseys, bundle-laden and kerchief-turbaned, escaping from vassalage, refusing to believe the fearful stories told them of the cruelties of the Lincolnites, and trusting, good-hearted, kindly children, to find rest and comfort somewhere out of the Old Dominion and on the soil where all who tread are henceforth, thank heaven, forever free.

On the route, too, we began to thrid long open fields, where a year ago those dense thickets of pine and oak were standing, and to see here and there the outmost rebel winter quarters. And now to perceive great changes and encounter real surprises. The rebel army has been housed far more comfortably than our own. The advance camps we passed were deserted little villages, with tidy streets, lined with neat, substantial, weather-proof huts. From the outpost camps, and, in fact from all except those in the extreme rear, every vestige of late occupation had been skilfully swept away.

Centreville at last! There it lay, completely fronted and flanked by the earthworks of which so much has been rumored; there it lay, on the long ridge before us, and a long, dangerous natural glacis stretching a mile betwixt our standpoint and the parapets. There were five or six forts, directly in sight, with yawning embrasures, and interconnected by rifle-pits and covered ways, extended along the very height which I weeks ago indicated, from recollection, as the probable location of these defences. Up the opposite hill we dashed, cheering the Stars and Stripes, which a Federal soldier was at the moment waving from the nearest structure.

A ride of a mile from right to left of the defences skirting the village evolved the facts that the site of their line was well chosen; that the works, though neither casemated nor bomb-proof nor neatly finished, are almost as well adapted to their intention as our own on the Potomac, and that their natural advantages are superior. The five forts within sight of the turnpike are lunettes, and double lunettes, stockaded inside, and with fascine and sand-bag lined embrasures. Not a gun was visible in any of them. From information furnished by Centreville residents, I am confident that no heavy siege-guns have ever been trained in these defences; but that the regular field-batteries of the rebels were placed inside them, ready for action or removal at a moment's notice. The range of these outer defences continues at intervals until Union Mills is reached, eight miles to the south, on the Occoquan. Here night before last the rebels blew up the railroad-bridge, (on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad,) and the explosion was heard by our pickets at Sangster's Station, and understood as indicative of what has since taken place.

Without much delay, wishing to see as much as possible in this one day, I rode through Centreville, making brief enquiries of the few people left. First I stopped at the house of Mr. Grigsby, who had bet, on the evening of the twenty-first of last July, that I would not come back within a year. Poor fellow! He was not in his quaint old mansion to pay his lost wager. The rebels, retreating after plundering almost all his personal property, had forced him to evacuate with them — sorely against his will, as a faithful old slave assured me.

Still onward, and now down the Warrenton turnpike — that route of the ever-memorable re treat — to revisit the battle-field of Bull Run.

A ride of four miles, not as of old, between fenced and fruitful wheat-fields, but between bar ren stretches, covered with interminable rebel huts, brought our party to the gorge where Tyler fired his first gun on the morning of that Sunday battle. We were now far ahead of the army's vanguard. Cols. Davies and Kilpatrick, of the Harris light cavalry, had indeed assured us of their last night's presence at Manassas Junction, and of the departure of the “last of the rebels.” So excitement and curiosity got the better of caution, and we pushed forward to the Stone Bridge, intending to go as nearly as possible over the path of the never-forgotten contest — though not having time to follow the extreme flank movement executed by Hunter's column as the chief portion of that day's drama.

Well, the battle-field was before us and around us; less changed in the appearance of its thousand [288] blood-enriched acres than any portion of the day's previous journey. There were the same hills, the same valley, the same lowering and murderous forests, the same blue sky and gleaming sun. Absent the din of battle, the big-voiced cannon, the victory, the repulse, the terrifie riot and murder. Slowly and sadly we passed by the deep gorge where the ruins of the just-shattered bridge lay piled in the swollen torrent; thence a mile down the stream to the fords, where Schenck endeavored fruitlessly to cross. The current was so high from recent rains that our horses were almost swimming before we gained the opposite shore. Once on dry ground, we rode on, and over the arid Manassas hills toward the Junction, still six miles ahead. Everywhere more camps, hut-villages, the graves of soldiers, the desolation of deserted Russia, the vague, unrestful loneliness of a land where nothing is save shadows and recollections, and the empty shells of what was dense life and desperate strength and purpose.

On the way to the Junction, we dined at a planter's house, (now tenanted by a dependent Scotch family,) where Gen. Gustavus A. Smith was to have taken headquarters this week. Corncakes and bacon, and a stupefied ignorance of the purposes and numbers of their late surrounders, were the results obtained from these honest, bewildered people.

Far in the distance, along the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad, we could see the blue smoke arising from burning bridges. But close at hand, a denser cloud guided us to the Junction. As we approached it, we met Gens. McDowell and McClellan taking their first reconnaissance of the late rebel quarters, and — more significant — galloping by the opposite road to the battle-field. There was something dramatic in the pageant thus sweeping by. Three thousand cavalry attended and guarded the two chieftains. The commander who was guiding the commander who is to the field of Bull Run, and pointing out to him the haps and mishaps which are history for evermore. On they went, and late at night had completed the circuit, were again in Centreville, and perhaps en route for Fairfax. But four loyal civilians had revisited the battle-field before these, or any less distinguished Federalists. We were the first Northerners, high or low, who succeeded in accomplishing that feat.

After passing the generals, we speedily reached the still-burning ruins at Manassas Junction. I send you maps of that locality, and of the whole region around Centreville, which will give the World readers an exact understanding of the position of affairs. My letter is long; it is now almost Wednesday morning, and I must hasten to a close. Suffice it to say that at Manassas Junction everything was ruin and ravage. The torch had been applied to the machine-shop, depot, other buildings, and camps thereabout, and all were levelled to one smoking, flickering mass. Locomotives and cars had shared the common fate. Two camps, however, had been evacuated so hastily, that arms, hospital-stores, tents, and baggage, were left behind unharmed, but strewn in infinite confusion. Stragglers from the advanced cavalry and infantry regiments had found their way hither, and were plundering huge acquisitions of confederate “loot.” Seeing a pair of holsters in my path, I placed them across my saddle-bow, and rode along.

The earth-works of the Junction were chiefly built last summer. They are turfed by nature, and well ditched, but are generally of an inferior character. They have evidently not been relied upon for defence since the battle of Bull Run, and later fortification of Centreville heights. The extreme advanced range, however, is of a pretty substantial and scientific structure, but could never have resisted the skilful investment of a trained army in force. Through it we rode again for Centreville, seven miles distant, this time over a corduroy road, parallel with the railroad branch which the rebels have this winter laboriously constructed on a bee-line from the Junction to Centreville. This route passes across Blackburn's Ford, the spot near which the minor battle of the eighteenth July was fought. At the Ford we found still existing Butler's house, in which Beauregard was dining at the commencement of that action; and in the roof of the house was visible the very hole made by the shell which Lieut. Babbitt (of Tyler's artillery) aimed so skilfully as to disturb the rebel engineer at his noontide meal. I saw again the same thicket in which the Massachusetts skirmishers were enveloped by so murderous a fire. Forsan meminisse olim hoec juvabit. And so we kept on, until, three miles beyond the Ford and battle-valley, Centreville again received us. And here, in Grigsby's deserted house, by the side of a fire improvised for the occasion, we are writing our rapid recurrences of this fatiguing but exciting day.

We do not know yet whether the army will go any further, and, if we did, should have no right to tell. Only the advance guard occupies Centreville to night. This the rebels will have known long before my letter reaches you.

But of the results demonstrated by to day's reconnoissance I can properly speak.

I. The rebel army has made the most successful, complete, and handsome evacuation — the most secure and perfect retreat, of which history furnishes an example. It has safely escaped, with its entire right and left wings, from Centreville, from the Upper and Lower Potomac, from every point threatened by our lines.

It has securely carried off its every gun, all its provisions and munitions, and three fourths of the populace, black and white, along its route. Gen. Stuart threatened to come back to-day and swoop off the remaining people and houses, and nothing but his sudden pursuit by our army has perhaps prevented him from doing it.

It has blown up or otherwise destroyed every bridge and culvert on turnpike and railroad along its route.

It has swept clean every camp, except the few at Manassas Junction, whence its rear-guard evidently [289] departed in hastened alarm at the sudden approach of our army. Never was an evacuation more complete.

II. Gen. Jackson has escaped from Shenandoah Valley, burning bridges between himself and Gen. Banks. This is positively stated by escaped contrabands coming in to night.

III. The number of camps and barracks scattered far and wide would afford, even as they stand now, accommodation for near seventy thousand men, and this only refers to those within eight miles of Centreville.

IV. A large portion of this evacuation must have been gradually accomplished during the past two months. But nearly fifty thousand rebels were here and at Manassas within the last week, of whom ten thousand went off by the Warrenton turnpike and forty thousand by railroad to Warrenton Junction and beyond. Trains were running day and night. Gen. Johnston left on Thursday night; Gen. Smith on Saturday, and Gen. Stuart on Sunday evening. I am now writing in the room lately occupied by all these worthies in succession.

V. We believe that the enemy has now fallen back to Warrenton, but will make his stand at Gordonsville, and give us battle there, or not at all. Echo: Not at all.

The battle-field of Bull Run.

Centreville, Va., March 12, 1862.
A correspondent gives the following account of the appearance of the battle-field of Bull Run after the occupation of Manassas:

I have been rambling this glorious afternoon over the fatal field of Bull Run, and roaming through the country hereabouts. The weather has all the sweetness and temper of a pleasant summer-day, and the coy and bracing breeze that comes down from the mountains sends new life into the veins, and buoyancy into every nerve. Those mountains! distant, dim and blue, they trace their rugged and ragged peaks along the horizon, and seem nature's type of calm sublimity. Who does not love these cloud-wrapped homes of freedom? In all ages of the world, the mountains and the mountaineers have preserved independence and civilisation and religious liberty, and wherever, in this glorious Republic, these majestic peaks exist, liberty and loyalty exist among them. The heights of Centreville are but the commencement of a series of hills, which roll and swell until they reach the high mountain-ridges. The view is comprehensive and magnificent, until it abruptly terminates in the forests and fastnesses near Manassas. We pass down the old road, along which the centre of McDowell's columns advanced, and by which the retreat of the panic-stricken teamsters took place. On the left, at the top of the hill, are Beauregard's old Headquarters — deserted and lonely. A little further on is a small frame house, where a negro family resides. The father beckons smilingly from his door, as we pass along; the children gambol and romp over the grass, shouting heedlessly. Most of the fences have been demolished. The race of fences, in this part of Virginia, seems to have expired — some are in a primary state of decay, some are in a secondary state, while most of them have passed away, and left no token.

We ride along the ascending and descending road. It is covered with evidences of the haste and waste attending the retreating rebel army. Shattered pots and kettles, half-burned-out equipages, torn cartridge-boxes and haversacks, remnants of old clothing, hats, shoes, pipe-heads and stems, bones and biscuit, horse-shoes and tattered harness, strew the road in great profusion. There are long lines of rebel encampments. Whatever may be said of the rebel soldiers, it must be admitted that they passed the winter in a very comfortable manner. Their quarters are commodious and compact, and consist of log-walls and partitions, densely plastered with mud and mortar.

Inside berths were erected, and furnaces were buried in the earth. Large chimneys projected from the roof, and in most of the buildings there were one or two windows. Many of the encampments are in the middle of a forest, occupying picturesque positions. They were left in great haste, but, with the exception of those around Manassas, none were burned. I should think, from my own hasty observation, that there are buildings enough now standing, and in good order, to accommodate fifty thousand men. Indeed, from Centreville to Bull Run, the line of encampments was continuous. I expressed some surprise to a Virginian, with whom I rode part of the way, at the huts being left unharmed. He replied by saying, that when the retreat was ordered, on Saturday, express orders were given by Gen. Johnston, not to destroy anything, as he intended to return again very soon. “But I guess he changed his mind when he got to Manassas,” said my companion, very quietly; “for then he commenced burning, and he keeps it up all the way along.” It was painful to see the number of dead horses lying around. In every field they were festering away. They had died from over-work, from a want of food and attention, and from brutality. The sight was extremely painful, and it was always present.

I stopped at the hospital-cottage. It was here where the dead and wounded were brought during the battle. The former owner had moved away, and it was now occupied by a family of negroes. A number of our soldiers were sitting on the porch, sunning themselves, and eating a lunch of biscuit and bacon. The well, whose waters soothed the thirsty agony of many of our brave soldiers, in their dying hours, was still there, but very much dilapidated. At Cub Run the bridge had been destroyed by fire, and we were compelled to ford the water to reach the other side. Cub Run is a narrow, shallow and insignificant stream, which empties into Bull Run. Beyond this, the Ohio troops had held a position on the day of the fight. To the right Sherman's battery was planted. When we came to Bull Run, we found the massive stone bridge, which had been the scene of a fierce conflict in the early [290] part of the contest, blown up. The timbers were shattered, broken, and scarred with powder. The stream is deep, rapid and impetuous. On the opposite bank a high bluff arises, covered with scanty foliage, and overhung in some places with trees and shrubbery. Crossing a broad and open field, we came to Blackburn's Ford. We can see traces of the conflict in shattered trees, broken trunks, limbs and boughs. The grass is long and rank, the ground is uneven and marshy, and in some places traversed by streams of water. Crossing the ford, we go over the Manassas road. Here the rebels were strongly intrenched, and along this road came the reenforcements of Gen. Johnston, which turned the fortunes of the day. At this point of the field Beauregard was stationed, and a house was shown where a stray cannon-ball passed over the table while he was eating his dinner. The wall of the house is broken, and although this story, like many others, may be apocryphal, the building evidently suffered from the fire of the Union artillery.

Beyond the ford the rebel cavalry were stationed, and over these broad fields they made the charge, which completed the panic of our troops, and captured Mr. Ely, Col. Corcoran, and a number of prisoners. On a knoll to the right, at the edge of a rock, the battery of the rebels was placed, which commanded the road, and raked our retreating forces. The way was narrow, straight, and for a mile or two very even, affording a sure aim for the guns. The effect of a few rounds from heavy cannon could easily be conceived, and the loss of life must have been fearful. The spot where Col. Cameron fell was pointed out, but in the mind of my informant there was some doubt as to the exact location of the death-scene. The extent of the battle-field was very large and intricate. It is impossible to form any definite idea of the nature of the field. The scene of the action changed from one part of the ground to another, varying and shifting, advancing and receding, according as the tide of battle went with us and against us. I fancied I could trace, from the open field near the ford, where the feigned attack was made early in the day, the course of our army, as it slowly pressed the enemy back. On the right, where it is said the regulars, the New-York Sixty-ninth, and the regiment of Burnside were engaged, the trees are broken and shattered. One heavy cannon-ball passed through the trunks of two large trees, and shivered them into splinters. The limbs still remain brown and decayed. I was curious to see if any trace of the far-famed masked batteries existed, but nothing was covered. The position of the enemy was naturally a strong one. They had the devious, intricate, and heavily-wooded banks of Bull Run as a natural defence; they commanded every ford and every bridge. For a great part of its course it reminded me of the scene along the banks of the lower Wissahickon, although the grandeur and majesty surrounding that beautiful stream were wanting. Nature was the strongest bulwark of our foes, and in failing to surmount it, we were vanquished.

In an open field, from which the fences had been torn away, immediately beyond what is known as “Lewis's House,” where the rebel General Stuart had his headquarters, our dead lie buried. There are no distinctive marks to designate the names of the fallen, but there they lie, “in one red burial blent.” It was some days after the battle before the dead soldiers of the Union army were placed in their graves, and I am sorry to say that, from what I heard, all the stories of the indignities heaped upon their remains, the plunder and rapine, were true. They were huddled into a common grave, and over their resting-place the deep ruts of wagons and teams were marked. It seemed so strange, on this bright summer afternoon, with nature bursting into spring; the songs of birds ringing merrily through the air; the distant humming of the noisy stream, coming like a murmuring cadence upon the ear; with all the realities around, beautiful and romantic, to ride over this sacred ground. My companion had gone on his errand, and I came back alone. Everything was calm and subdued, and so far as the outward seeming went, there could be no more attractive place than the battle-field of Bull Run. An occasional soldier passed along the road on his pilgrimage, an occasional officer rode quietly and curiously along the Manassas road. There were the woods, the fields, the streams, the heights, the lonely encampments of huts, as silent as the city of the dead; no longer the roar of cannon, as on that sad Sunday in July; the contest of angry and infuriated men; the wounded and the dead, they were constantly carried along to the nearest hospital; the rattle of musketry; the noise and the shouting; the long-continued strife; the sudden lull, and the shameful retreat in the shadows of the evening hour; the panic and utter rout.

Two scenes — the summer day in July, the spring day in March. Very different — very distinctive. Each with its great lesson, each the moral of a nation's history. We come over the hill and Centreville appears. Over its heights the Union flag is floating, and the Union musicians fill the air with sweet and patriotic sounds. I think the lesson of Manassas has been learned.

J. R. Y.

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