The Lines, &c.
The comparative quiet and peace so long reigning at our lines have not been disturbed for the past few days by any event worthy of more than passing mention; skirmishing has been constant daily at divers points but in no instance have these encounters in timber resulted in anything more than the capture of a few prisoners and the extinction of the enemy's hopes to advance.
Great boldness have characterized the doings of our men in those daily adventures — some few have been rash though to penetrate the outer camps of the foe and having driven everything before them returned trophies of every imaginable description.
Brave and characteristic as these episodes were, they have all been discountenanced by officers, and properly so; for picket duty is dangerous enough in it self, and does not call for or need (save by orders) any of these dashing feats commendable and common on the battle field.
But not only in the infantry arm of the service have our men proved themselves superior to the foe — the artillery have amused themselves greatly, and practiced with much accuracy and effect upon the numerous breast, field, and born works thrown up on the Federal
Since Capt. Dabney
's efforts on Friday last, with heavy pieces, which caused a indecorous stampede from Federate artillery and infantry camps it was surmised that their obnoxious presence would no longer disgrace the lovely face of the landscape on the north bank of the Chickahominy
yet, numerous and impudent as ever, they again appeared in working parties on Saturday and Monday, presenting fair scope and practice for some artillerists, who, moving deliberately to the front, near Garnett
's farm, shelled the enemy from their excavations, and expedited their departure from the knolls and woods with much effect.
Shell from our pieces could be plainly seen bursting among the enemy, and although they bravely withstood our for some short time, expecting the arrival of U. S. artillery, no relief came, and they laudably imitated the race of their friends on Friday last.
The artillery of the enemy, though admirably worked and served when not face to face with ours is handled with uncommon willness and imprecision when any of our batteries appear to dispute the ground.
Hence little damage is usually done, and the cost or results is merely a useless expenditure of powder.
Brisk artillery fire was maintained by the foe upon our outposts on the Mechanicville
road yesterday, but, although the range of some half dozen shells was determined with great mathematical nicety, a few fell harmlessly, unexploded, while the fragment of another slightly wounded a negro employed upon some one of our works.
Two shells damaged one of our breast works slightly, but more than this no damage was done in this quarter.
Dense columns of smoke were ascending over the enemy's position yesterday — various reasons when assigned for this unusual spectacle, but the true cause is best known to those of our chiefs in commend.
It would not be wise in us, perhaps, even to hazard a conjecture.
We are informed that some of our officers, detailed on picket service, have shown themselves negligent and blameworthy, insomuch that either from carelessness or ignorance of the grounds, picket parties from different regiments have fired at each other and in one instance with loss.
Any faur pas
of this nature, within the immediate neighborhood of the enemy is worthy of comment and punishment.
If the topography of the place is not known to officers encamped within gunshot, for weeks together, and useless mortality ensue from want of this requisite information, how can it be expected that these came officers will successfully handle or manœuvre forces — If only companies — on these same grounds, should exigencies require it at any moment of night or day ? It is time such negligence should cease.
Our loss was more than necessary at Yorktown Lines
, from this same cause.--Lives are too precious to be uselessly sacrificed in this manner, and any mal-administration of officers should be severely punished.
Indications of activity and liveliness prevail in all our camps — bustle, good humor, and buoyancy it seen in every action, and marked on every feature — orderlies dash to and fro: solemn and dusty Colonels
, and others, are all found at their posts, and while all is industry beyond the city, what a reproach is this to the tinselled butterflies, gandy in color and braid, lounging about at pillar and post frothy in warlike speech, but loth to manly action?
A few days,--nay, a few hours, perhaps,--are brought with the fates of centuries.
Let all be men and manly in the days to come — of our noble army nought need now be said — but it is of those worthless harpies we wish to add a word — of those reprobates who inveigle the unsophisticated soldier into gambling hells, and fleece from them the last few peace of hard-earned money.
Shall the noble youths of our gallant Southern army shed their blood freely on the battle field, and these disreputable be allowed to infect hotels, disgrace the side walk, and keep open gambling holes under the very nose of all civil and military law?
They have cast their lines in pleasant places, but were all such marched to the Lines
, of which we daily speak, it would be far more profitable to morality and the public weal.