[our own correspondent.
Norfolk, Jan. 24, 1862.
Without a furious storm; warmth and comfort within.
Without the wind howls through street and alley, as if engaged in some elemental war, and the rain beats a dismal tattoo upon the casement.
The storm spirits are abroad, and one can fancy their weird and discordant voices mingling with the distant, sad, continuous roaring of the surf.
Within a bright fire burns in the grate; a comfortable warmth pervades the room; some slips of white paper lie upon the table; ‘"your own"’ has donned his smoking cap — the gift of an unknown friend — and sits before them with pen suspended over the yet unsullied page, preparatory to a quiet chat with his distant friends.
A wreath of blue and fragrant smoke curls upward, forming itself into a gorgeous, dreamy cloud.
Do you like the picture?
Go on, Old Boreas!
Work away at the chinks and crevices; whistle at the keyhole; shake the shutters; do your best, old follow; but you are impotent to-night!
This chamber bids defiance to your power.
The storm increases in vigor; a blast of unusual fierceness dashes against the windows, and it comes laden with dreamy, saddening memories of suffering in the army.
Twelve months of war has made us famillar with the exposure of camps, and one can but think with sorrow of the many, many hundreds who have no protecting room to shelter them from the chilling storm; no bright and comfortable fire; none of the sweet household music that makes life happy.
Notice well our vast army and see the men of genius, education, of moral rectitude, of chilvaric daring, that composes its rank and file; think of them leaving comfort in far off Southern homes to fight for the honor of their country, and what a picture of patriotism — of true manly heroism, is presented to the mind.
Think, too, of such men challenging death and exposure in defence of the right.
Think of them to-night, crouching beside some scanty fire, wearing the weary, stormy hours away.
What heart is there in this whole land which does not throb with sympathy at the mention of such thoughts?
Who is there in this whole land that does not ask God to protect them from the pittiless storms of winter?
Ah! comrades, there is one who would gladly share his comfort with you were it in his power; who would gladly divide your burdens and assist your troubles.
He no longer looks with pleasure upon the gleaming fire — no longer defles the pelting storm.
Old Boreas, you have conquered!
but you struck the heart, and not the body!
In bearing the hardships of severe storms there is consolation in knowing that our enemy is suffering also, and to a far greater extent.
expedition, which has been already scattered and seriously injured, is still braving the waves on a perilous coast.
Ever since the fleet sailed from Hampton Roads
there has been no settled weather, and nearly every day has been stormy.
There was a report in Baltimore
three days ago that several of the gun-boats and one large steamer had been destroyed, and there is but little doubt that this fierce Northeastern wind will drive many more of them ashore.
It began yesterday and has providentially increased up to this time, and, should it continue another day, none but the strongest ships would be able to stand it. If not entirely destroyed, our enemy will be decidedly weakened and in bad condition to make an attack upon the coast.
This morning the light-boat anchored off Cape Henry
, to take the place of the Cape light, which has been extinguished, broke from her moorings, and run ashore on Pleasure House beach.
It was discovered by a portion of the Chesapeake Cavalry
, who immediately took possession.
They captured seven persons, and, among other things, seven muskets, a quantity of provisions, and three hundred gallons of oil. The following is a list of the prisoners, composing the keeper and guard of the boat: Alex. Ruak
, Conrad Fritz
, Thomas Segernin
, Ed. Smith
, Job Thompson
, Charles Wise
, Richard Miller
They are now lodged in jail here, having come into town in a decided state of inebriation.
These light-boats are always moored very strongly, and we can therefore imagine how severe this storm must have been to have snapped the ponderous cable.
There is really very little news in town beyond what I have already sent you by telegraph.
The weather has been so bad that I have been unable to look around the city, or to visit any of the numerous camps in this vicinity.
Besides, I have felt so little like writing of late, that my attention has been given only to literary tasks that would not be neglected.
That is my excuse to correspondents; but I beg leave to say a word or two here to some of them.
--I will forward your articles immediately; send them along; have written you on the subject. B. C. L.--Many thanks; excuse my tardiness in saying so. L. M. M.--Package received by express; thank you. Several letters have been a long time delayed by being misdirected.
If addressed to ‘"Bohemian, box 178, Norfolk
,"’ letters will reach me.
In approaching the city on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, one of the first objects that strikes the eye of a stranger is the fine suspension bridge over the east branch of Elizabeth river
, terminating within a few hundred yards of the town.
It is a splendid structure, and is so pleasing in appearance and so symetrical in contour, that I venture to give a slight description of it. Commencing at the bottom, then, I will say the extreme depth of the water, at mean tide is twenty-five feet. The foundation is of piles driven through a soft stratum of mud — say twenty feet in thickness — to a solid bottom.
Upon these piles are built three massive piers, and two abutments of hown granite, each block of stone having been laid with a diving bell.
The extreme length of the bridge is six hundred and sixty-three feet, consisting of three spans, each of two hundred and six feet, and one drawbridge of forty-five feet. The superstructure is of iron.
This rests upon three cut granite pillars, from twenty-five to thirty-five feet hight, attached by the cast iron suspension truss.
The whole is a combination of cast iron bars and wrought iron braces, arrayed in a manner only to be understood after careful examination.
The drawbridge is somewhat peculiar in construction: instead of the usual counter-balance, the centre of the bridge resting upon a pier, this swings on a pivot near one end, and is supported by a gallows, which rises above it, the whole being anchored some distance beyond.
The advantages of the plan are several.
It will be readily seen that it gives an uninterrupted channel, the expense of a middle pier is done away with, there is greater lightness and increased mobility.
It is, besides, less liable to get out of order than the ordinary counterbalance bridge.
This is Frink
's patent, and was erected in the years 1855 and '56.
The beauty, lightness, and, at the same time the solid appearance of this bridge is a subject of general remark, and is an example to what perfection the science of bridge building has been brought.
One need scarcely look into the writings of ancient authors on engineering for a description of primitive bridges, for their origin is easily discovered in the teachings of modern times.
The stepping-stone lying upon the bottom of shallow streams, with planks stretched from one to another, demonstrates the principles of piers and arches which science has brought to such a degree of perfection.
In deeper rivers an accumulation of stones forms a larger and stronger pier, and when these were built close enough together the ancients were accustomed to form a roadway with long slabs of stone, after the manner of the Virtruvian architrone of the primitive Tuscan temple.
seem to have known very little of bridge building, but the Romans carried the science to a great extent.
To them alone, of all the ancient nations, belonged the power of rearing the lofty, massive arch and
the magnificent dome.
The construction of the numerous sewers and aqueducts of Rome
, the many public edifices, the cupola over the Pantheon, the Colliseum, and the bridge over the Tiber are all evidences of their skill in architecture and masonry.
The Roman bridges were built entirely of stone, and were not distinguisable for size, but for solidity and durability.
The first record of a wooden bridge is that thrown across the Rhine
Cæsar, and described in his commentaries, over which description many a schoolboy has puzzled his brain in futile efforts to comprehend.
Timber is undoubtedly the most ancient and most ready material, but less durable.
Probably the best specimen of a wooden bridge now existing is that over the Rhine
, at the fall of Schaff
The best collection of bridges is across the Thames
, for Black friars, Westminster
, and Southwark
, are all splendid examples of different classes.
The construction of metal bridges is particularly owing to the skill of British architects.
They are found to be durable, safe, and less expensive than others,--the only objection laying in the expansion and contraction of the material by being exposed to different extremes of temperature.
Modern skill has, however, overcome this difficulty, and now they are looked upon as the best and most desirable bridges in use. This science, which has been brought to such perfection in these latter days, is by no means as simple as many suppose.
The construction of a small bridge may be an easy process, while that of a larger one may be extremely difficult; for the strength of the material does not increase with its weight, and there are limits beyond which no structure could be carried and withstand its own gravity.--But, enough of this, as I am not writing an essay on bridge-building, but merely putting down a few random thoughts which presented themselves while standing before Frink
's patent suspension bridge over the east branch of the Elizabeth river
The news of the defeat at Somerset
was received here with a great deal of sadness and hints of mismanagement on the part of general officers were freely bruited about.--As no definite information, beyond that contained in the Yankee
account, had been received, it was generally conceeded the better plan to wait for further intelligence before condemning any one.
It seems to be a settled opinion, however, that something was wrong, for no one doubts the bravery of the soldiers engaged.
The distance of the locality of the battle causes less interest than if it had been in Virginia
or nearer by; still a disaster to our arms is keenly felt, no matter in what part of the Confederacy
it may occur.
I find a great deal of anxiety in Norfolk
regarding the army of the Potomac, and everyone is lamenting the absence of any reliable news from that line.
There is a universal expression of confiddence in General Beauregard
, and Generals Smith
, and others, every one feeling satisfied that if not bound down by the doubtful plans of higher authorities, they will lead our daring soldiers to a glorious victory before many more weeks roll away.