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From Norfolk.

probable engagement near Newport News--the escape of Baker to Fort Pickens--Lincoln's message — appointment — measures taken in Portsmouth for the relief of the Poor, &c.

[special Correspondence of the Dispatch.]

Norfolk, Dec. 7, 1861.
Discharges of heavy ordnance were heard here yesterday, in the morning, and indeed during the greater part of the day. Persons who came up last evening from Old Point, in the steamer that went down with a flag of truce, state that the firing was in the direction of Newport News, and that it was continued until night. There were loud and quick reports of musketry as well as of cannon. The beating of the drum was also distinctly heard.

Some half a dozen steamers are actively employed in running between Fort Monroe and Newport News, and it is not improbable that a fight took place not far from the latter place yesterday.

It is stated that Lieut. Adam Baker, who was in the Confederate service, left his command a short time since, and escaped to Fort Pickens.

Baker, who is a native of South Carolina, is quite well known in our city, where he lived when hostilities commenced, having had charge of a corps of marines at the Navy-Yard. He resigned in April and subsequently went South. His conduct, if the statement is true, is mysterious, and if the case is one of real desertion, his conduct is in a high degree traitorous and perfidious.

The message of Lincoln is regarded here, by intelligent men, as a labored attempt to deceive everybody; as a deliberate misstatement of the condition of affairs North and South, and, altogether, as a tame affair — a combination of falsehoods, bunglingly put together by the vulgar despot, and varnished over by the cunning third-rate Yankee statesman, Seward.

Mr. James A. Farmer, of this city, has been appointed by Commodore Forrest, master workman in the blacksmith department of the Navy-Yard.

I doubt not the selection will prove highly judicious, and of great advantage to the Government. Mr. Farmer is a very experienced and ingenious skillful mechanic, of great industry, decision and firmness of character, and will doubtless exert himself to the utmost of his ability in advancing the interest of the Government, in all matters in any way connected with his important department of mechanical operation in the great national establishment over the river. In this particular branch of the public service the veteran Commodore will find in Mr. F. a valuable and faithful coadjutor, and he has evidently consulted the interest of the service in making the appointment.

The sound of drum and fife is heard in our streets to-day; beautiful Confederate flags are waving in the breeze, and troops are moving about; but the particulars I withhold, as is my custom.

Our sister city of Portsmouth has set a noble example to other cities in regard to supplying the people with wood. The Council has directed the purchase of 500 cords of firewood for distribution among the needy; and authorized the purchase of 1,000 cords, to be retailed to the citizens at four dollars per cord. One of the citizens, too, has contracted for the purchase of a large quantity of wood, which he intends to sell at a very moderate advance upon the cost. These means will put a stop to speculation by hard-hearted money-lovers, supply the people with wood at a reasonable price, prevent much suffering and distress, and afford great relief at a time when it is most needed.

The good people of Norfolk and Princess Ann counties send in plentiful quantities of superior poultry, vegetables, &c. The market to-day is well supplied with turkeys, geese, chickens, eggs, wild fowl, oysters, vegetables, &c.--for all of which they get good prices from the crowds in attendance at the market place in search of good things for dinner.

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