Army of the Potomac
[our own correspondent]
Cainsville, Nov. 14.
One of the most frequent questions asked here is, "Do you hear any talk of going into winter quarters?" Every one seems to be of the opinion that within a few weeks military operations will have to be suspended on account of the severe weather, and that our army will desire to Richmond
or behind the Rappahannock
, and go into more comfortable quarters until spring.
The great expectations if a fight have gradually given way, until now but few entertain any hopes of one or, at least, believe the advance of the enemy exceedingly problematical.
Arguing upon general principles it is difficult to imagine how McClellan
, occupying the position he does before the Northern
people, can avoid living battle before the season closes I have seen, by the extracts from the Northern
press that public opinion is strongly urging the army on, and it remains to be seen whether McClellan
is strong enough to resist the tide that is bearing him towards Bull Run
He has publicly boasted that the next fight will prove a victory to his arms, and that there shall be no more Bull Run
As long, then, as he can command confidence it is natural to suppose the people are anxious for him to advance, and if he does not do so without showing good cause for delay, it will be naval to his reputation.
Another consideration presents itself.
The Yankee Congress meets in December, and some report is necessary from the General
in command of the army.
may imagine that if he can put off a battle until bad weather comes, that will be a sufficient cause for not fighting this winter, and in the meantime Congress will settle the war, leaving him in command of the army with reputation.
As for myself, I believe there will be a battle here, or above here, within a short time, provided there occur no heavy storms to put the roads in bad condition.
At this season of the year a slight rain makes the roads almost impossible for a train of baggage wagons, the foremost cutting on and enlarging the bad places until these in the rear cannot move through them of course the artillery could not be used over them, and if only design of to advance infantry, no transport or provision wagons could be taken along.
There will be portions of the season, however, when active warfare can be carried on, and I presume, if there be no general battle, the Yankees
will take advantage of such periods to make sorties upon our outposts; and, possibly, in such force as he give as trouble.
It will be remembered that some of the most terrible battles of the world have been fought in the dead of winter, and that at no time during the winter campaign do hospitalities entirely cease consequently, some excitement may be expected here until the two armies are withdrawn or until an armistice is declared.
Yesterday eight prisoners were brought into headquarters by a party of scouts.
One of them is a captain, the remainder privates.
I have not bad an opportunity of converse with them of learning from what regiments they are or the of their capture.
I hear, however, that the officer says we shall have fighting enough before this month is out, and that it will be at this point.
He states the opinion that prevails in the Yankee
The prisoners leave this morning for Manassas
en route for Richmond
The increasing improvement in the health of the army is a matter of much gratification if there was no other reason for the retreat from Fairfax
, the better locations of the camp, and the more desirable positions as regards the health of the men, would be amply sufficient.
Notwithstanding the hygienic regulations and the careful policing of the camps in the advance, there was a large amount of sickness, and the army was nearly defeated.
This was observable also while near Manassas
Since the removal east of Bull Run
on the high ground by Centreville
and Union Mills
, the general health has increased at least per cent.
This is observable among all the troops and not confirmed to those from any particular States.
Possibly the weather has as much to do with it as any thing; but whatever the cause, it is as I have said above, a gratifying fact.
The train from below come up loaded with men who have been on the sick list in the country, and an increased number is seen on dress parade and at battalion drill.
I only hope it will continue as healthy as at present.
Yesterday there was a cavalry review by Brig-Gen. Stuart
, and in the presence of the Generals
and their staff.
Everything went off very well, and to the satisfaction of every one. Gen. Stuart
is still the commander of the outposts, and has his headquarters a short distance this side of German town.
He is seen frequently in Centreville
, and every day or two has a batch or Yankee prisoners to turn over to the authorities here.
After the cavalry review a section of the third company of the Washington Artillery under Lieut. John Garnett
, went out to practice and to test some projectiles.
The firing was excellent, every shot but one going near the target, the shells exploding with great accuracy.
A tree, distant about a thousand yards, was completely riddled with spherical case shot, and others fired at showed upon examination the effect of the projectiles.
The faulty shot spoken of above was caused by a bad fuse, the shell exploding a few yards from the gun. Had the shot been fired at an enemy advancing in column the have would have been terrible.
Several companies of artillery were out practising yesterday, some firing at a target, some drilling their batteries, and others firing with blank cartridges, to give the men practices in loading and firing.
The work of reorganizing the army as regards States, is still going on, and several changes have recently been made.
These I shall make a note of as soon as the full facts can be obtained.
The idea of having the different brigades composed of regiments from the same State, seems to me a good one, and I believe is generally regarded with favor.
The change does not necessarily apply to officers, although thus far, many of them have been changed with the regiments.
Some objection has been made to the system, but only in such cases, I believe, where some favorite officer has been transferred, as in the cases of Gens. Walker
The latter had become very popular with the Alabamans, three regiments of them being in his brigade, and they of course were unwilling to loose him. Gen. Ewell
now has a brigade of Virginians
, and is stationed near Centreville
Notwithstanding there has been no preparations for the winter, or orders to the effect issued from headquarters, the boys are beginning to make themselves comfortable in various ways, and are fortifying their tents against the winter storms and cold.
Many of the tents have fire- places in them, the flue running under ground, as I have described in a previous letter, terminating in a stone and mud chimney, topped by a barrel.
Some of the officers have built little cottages that look very cosy and comfortable.
Among these, of Major Walton
is the best I have seen, a small board house with three windows, and large enough for all practicable purposes.
It contains a dining table
, a stove, writing desk, bed, chairs, camp stools, &c. If allowed to remain here any length of time, several plans for amusement will be put in operation in the artillery camps.
I understand that a Thespian Association is being formed, and that Sergeant L. M. Montgomery
is engaged in writing a suitable drains upon the current events of the war. As soon as it is known the army will remain here any length of time, there will be amusements enbuga, in while away the tedious hours of camp life.
On doubtedly clubs and literary associations will be formed that will be very pleasant.
In this connexion, I may mention the fact that our army abounds in literary and educated men, and it is remarkable to notice the extent to which the press is represented Scarcely a regiment here is without one of more professional writers, and nearly every company I believe has a newspaper editor or reporter.
I am told that, In the immediate vicinity of Centreville
, no less than fifty men can be found from the editorial corps — men who have lain down the pen to take up the sword in defence of the country.
Since I have been writing, a shower has sprung up, and it is raining in fine style.
This is extremely unfortunate at the present time, for the roads were getting in a good condition again.
There is a prospect of a rainy night.