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Affairs in Petersburg.

[correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Petersburg. Va., March 26, 1862.
Sojourning for a while at this place. I know no way of employing a few hours to more advantage than in giving you a few items "by the wayside." What a contrast between this city and busy, bustling Richmond! All the difference in the world. It is true, the Barbarian arm of martial law is alike extended over both places. Armed squads of soldiers parade the streets; but here they are reward far between. The work to be performed is limited. No extensive programme of daily arrests is so be seen as with you; but the steady, onward, tranquil move of both military and civil affairs distinguish the face of Petersburg. Not that the visitors or citizens excel those of Richmond in moral culture or enlightened behavior, is it to be reckoned that reckoned that this variance in the local items of the two places exist; but amply from the fact that Richmond is thronged, "full to overflowing," with hangers on around the official functionaries of our land; with staunch civilians from every hamlets, city, and town of the South; with the proud and chivalrous soldiery composing our army, who, having bid good-bye to friends and acquaintances, are fleeing again to the banner of freedom on the field of action.

To one just entering Petersburg, fresh from the stir of the great Southern Metropolis, the first task of the mind is that of digesting the vivid differences of color between a land deluged with the ring of war steel and one wrapped in the pinions of peace. It is true, Petersburg is folded in the mantle which enshrouds the whole South. Yet the tranquil, quiet nature of the place is strikingly consentaneous with the general died of our cities and towns ere this holy conflict began. Hence we are more forcibly reminded of the blessings of former days, on tasting the balm of seeming case and cheerfulness emanating from this place, after a rest in Richmond; still the tide of business is dull and turbid, compared with that surrounding you. The streets are, however, occasionally emended with the heavy tramp of martial legions --the militia — hastening on to meet the further issuance of order, under the direct supervision of General Huger. The militia of Franklin and Halifax counties came down yesterday.

Our militia force is numerous, and will render important service to our cause, if properly disciplined. War is purely a science. Any corps of men may be taught to fight. The militia have ever been regarded as of inferior grid; but the sole and principal cause of their conduct on many occasions, heretofore, is attributable to the limited extent of discipline attached to them. To make them an effective arm of defence, they must be drilled, and interested in the art of war. It is not reasonable to expect that a farmer, fresh from the plow, placed in the capacity of a physician, will discharge the duties of his new position with success. Norther is it reasonable, or even presumable, that the militia, unacquainted with the usages of war, will make as good soldiers as the well-trained volunteers, until instructed in that art. Our authorities will no doubt look well to that important subject, and see that they are allowed an opportunity to become disciplined.

The entire spirit of confidence in our final success, characteristic of the Southern people, with some few exceptions seems to pervade the mind of the citizens here.

A. Jay E.

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Halifax county (Virginia, United States) (1)
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March 26th, 1862 AD (1)
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