From our army on the Rappahannock — interesting diary — Executions on the route.
As late news about the movements of our army is very properly ‘"contraband,"’ even if the press were able to get hold of it, we give some interesting extracts from the diary of ‘"Personnel,"’ published in the Charleston Courier
--Army crossed the Rapidan
, the water thigh deep.
Scene exciting and amusing.
Nearly whole day thus occupied.
--The enemy in close proximity, and we have to move cautiously.
's corps is in the front.
From a hill on the other side of the Rapidan
we have a magnificent view for miles.--Three columns — long, black winding lines of men, their muskets gleaming in the sunshine like silver spears, are in sight, moving in the direction of Fredericksburg
, or down the opposite bank of the river.
More skirmishing in front.
Good many straggles by the wayside, but they are generally broken down soldiers, and trudge slowly along in the tracks of their comrades.
An attractive part of the procession is the baggage trains, wending their way in the rear of the army.
Thousands of wagons are in sight, and between the stalling of trains, the shouting of drivers, and the chaotic confusion which emanates from the motley mass, no man can complain of the ennui
of a march.
Nothing can be more picturesquely beautiful than the bivouac at night.
Thousands of troops line the woods on both sides of the road for miles.--Camp-fires are glimmering in the trees, muskets are stacked along the edge of the forest, and the men are disposed in every conceivable manner.
Some are rolled up in their blankets, and already dreaming away the fatigues of the day; some are sitting around the camp-fires watching the roasting ears, and discussing the ‘"coming events which cast their shadows before,"’ and some are among the trees, moving to and fro in the gray film of smoke that has arisen from the myriad fires and rests upon the earth.
Between the dusty figures of the soldiers, the various occupations in which they are engaged, the road filled with wagons and guns, the appearance of the illuminated trees and bushes, forming against the deep gloom of the night a fantastic back ground, and all the details combined with the almost unnatural beauty, the spectacle resembles one vast embroidered transparency that has been worked by goblin hands.
Art, with her most opulent tents and fixtures, arrayed in her richest trappings, can never hope to equal those of the curious and careless efforts of nature.
We live on what we can get — now and then an ear of corn, fried green apples, or a bit of ham broiled on a stick, but quite as frequently do without either from morning until night.
We sleep on the ground without any other covering than a blanket, and consider ourselves fortunate if we are not frozen stiff before morning.
The nights are both damp and cold.
--To-day, another busy scene.
The army resumed its march at daylight, Longstreet
's twelve brigades moving toward the Potomac
on the right, and Jackson
on the left.
The latter has passed the Rapidan Station
on the Virginia Central Railroad, and is pressing on northeast of Culpeper
Several small skirmishes have taken place on the front, and eighty or ninety prisoners went by on their way to the rear.
Among the Yankees
captured by Jackson
were two won, who, as soon as they fell into our hand, commenced to ask after their old comrades in an artillery company.
An inquiry being instituted, they confessed that eight months ago they were soldiers in our army, but that being tired of service they had deserted and joined the ranks of the enemy.
Without further ado, the General
ordered them to be hung to a tree, which was done in the presence of a large portion of his army.
's division there has also been active work.
The enemy several times attempted to check our advance, but were signally repulsed.--Pickett
's, and Pryor
's brigades were severally engaged at different periods of the day, and lost a few men killed and wounded.
At Mountain Run
, a small branch which joins the Rappahannock
, a Federal battery of six pieces commenced this afternoon to throw shells by way of diversion, but were promptly engaged by the Donaldsonville battery, (Louisiana,) Capt. Mora
, and soon after retired.
In this affair Gen. Roger A. Pryor
had a narrow escape.
While sitting on a fence by the roadside, a shell burst immediately over his head, and the fragments dashed into the ground around him on every side, but fortunately without doing injury.
As he wears a light felt hat, and was plainly in sight of the artillerists, the presumption is that he was made their mark.
, likewise, received similar attention.
He was riding in advance of the army, attended by a single trooper, when the latter discovered one of the Yankee
pickets peeping over the top of a boulder.
‘"Shall I bring him down?"’ said the soldier.
‘"No,"’ replied the General
, ‘"better not waste your powder, the distance is too great."’ Hardly were the words out of his mouth, before ‘"whiz"’--a Minnie ball flew
within three inches of the General
's ear, and lodged in the bank behind him. Subsequently he was wounded in the arm.
Among the incidents of the day which have kept the men in good humor, and eager for a fight, was a charge by a regiment of cavalry upon two companies of the 12th Mississippi regiment.
Thinking they had the Confederate
surrounded, the Yankee Colonel
demanded a surrender.
‘"Surrender be d — d,"’ was the response, ‘"Mississippians don't know how."’ In a moment more the cavalry were dashing forward at full speed.
Our men allowed them to come up within short ranges, and then opened.
Thirty or forty saddles were emptied in less time than you can tell it, and without waiting for a repetition of the does, the regiment took to its heels, and, amid the cheers and jeers of the boys, got out of sight in the most industrious manner possible.
To-day has been further signalized by the hanging of a spy — a man named Charles Mason
, of Perrysville, Pennsylvania
It appears that as one of the couriers of Gen. Longstreet
was carrying an order, he was met by this man, who inquired ‘"whose division do you belong to?"’ ‘"Longstreet
's."’ The courier then asked, ‘"whose division do you belong to?"’ ‘"Jackson
's,"’ was the reply.
A gray Confederate uniform favored this idea, and a conversation ensued.
As the two traveled together, the courier, observed that there was a disposition on the part of his companion to drop behind, and finally he was astonished by a pistol presented at his breast, and a demand for the delivery of the papers he carried in his belt.
Having no other resource, the latter surrendered the documents when the spy deliberately shot him in the back and ran. Soon afterwards the courier was found by some of his friends, and narrated the particulars of the affair, describing the man so minutely, that when subsequently arrested, he was known beyond a peradventure.
He had, for instance, undo defective front teeth, was a pale faced, determined looking, and quick spoken person.
A search was at once instituted, but fortunately he fell into our hands by his own foolishness.
It is stated (but I do not vouch for this) that this morning the spy rode up to Gen. Jones
, who was at the head of his column, and said:
"General, I am the chief courier of Gen. Jackson
He desires me to request you to order your column to be reversed at once."
The order was of course given, and the pretended courier rode away.
His next exploit was to ride up to the Colonel
of one of our regiments, and give him the same command he had given to Jones
was a shrewd officer, however, and remarked:‘"I am not in the habit of receiving my orders from Gen. Jackson
."’ ‘"Well, sir, those were my orders from him to you."’ ‘"What cavalry are you from?"’ The courier hesitated a moment, and said, ‘"from the Hampton Legion
."’ ‘"In whose division and brigade is that?"’ asked the Colonel
.--This confused him still more, and he could only reply, ‘"I don't know; I have forgotten."’ Being then taken into custody and examined, several papers were found upon his person written in short hand, and an abbreviated long hand, embracing the information he had obtained.
A pair of lieutenant's shoulder straps were also concealed in his pocket — These discoveries being made, the man confessed that he was a Yankee, and belonged to the Union
army, but in the capacity of an independent scout.
He admitted further, that he had observed and reported the movements of our army, but denied having killed the courier.
He claimed that it was done by a party of Texas
with whom he was traveling.
These various facts being conclusive, the court-martial by which he was tried had little hesitation in finding him ‘"guilty,"’ and sentencing him to be hung.
The execution took place this afternoon, under the direction of Gen. Evans
, in the presence of his brigade and a large number of soldiers.
The prisoner was mounted on a horse, his hands tied behind him, and he was driven beneath a tree.
The rope, which was little larger than an ordinary bedcord, then being adjusted, he was ordered to stand upon the saddle.
As he did so, a soldier gave a sharp cut to the animal, and in a second more the spy was jerking convulsively from the limb above him. He met his fate with great stoicism, and appeared perfectly satisfied with what he had accomplished, but to the last denied al participation in the act of shooting Longstreet
He said that he had an uncle and aunt living in Clarke county, Virginia
, and that the latter had made him the Confederate
uniform which he wore.
— once a fine old sober Virginia
village, but now deserted, dilapidated, and as rough as if it had been evolved up from a lot of second-hand rubbish.
The ancient burg has evidently been awakened from a long coma,
and while I write is alive with a cosmopolitan humanity.
Ascending the hill in the suburbs, we have one of the handsomest views in the country.
Around the edge of the horizon is the Blue Ridge
, hanging like a misty veil dropped from the clouds; the huge tops illuminated by the sunlight.
Between here and there spreads out a broad plain, broken at intervals by hills and patches of woods.
Four miles to the left of our line of travel is Culpeper Court-House. Four miles ahead is Brandy Station
, on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and already there is filling away in that direction a train of a thousand wagons.
In the meadows at your feet are camps of other wagon trains, containing ordnance, quartermaster and commissary stores, for the use of the various divisions of the army.
Several brigades are also bivouacked here, while others are in motion, filing across the country.
Roads in superb condition for marching, and weather bracing.
The head of Longstreet
's corps is now upon the banks of the Rappahannock
still to the left.
Gen. R. H. Anderson
's division has just come up from Richmond
, and is hurrying forward to the front.
It is soon after sunrise and the camps are in a state of bustle — men cooking rations, eating breakfasts, and preparing to resume their march.
Near here is where a part of Col. Ashby
's old command attacked the enemy's rear guard day before yesterday, and drove them back.
Several killed and wounded on both sides.
Some twenty Yankee prisoners, captured within the last two days, are confined in the town.
They are generally a miserable, low-lived set of fellows, but evidently glad they are out of tribulation.
Not one of them will acknowledge that he belongs to the army of Gen. Pope
They swear that they are Gen. Burnside
's men. I asked one of them where the army appeared to be going.
He replied, ‘"Some to Warrenton Junction, and some towards Alexandria
."’--Citizens who live here report that they moved off evidently in great haste and confusion, and were terribly annoyed by our advanced cavalry.
It is probably their intention to make a stand on the other side of the Rappahannock
, and endeavor to prevent our crossing.
is pressing them with great pertinacity.
August 23, Saturday.
--Twenty-eight miles from Manassas
Four miles from the Rappahannock
.--It is now half-past 6 o'clock A. M., and heavy cannonading has commenced upon the front.--Jackson
is reported to have sent word to Lee
that he is in possession of Warrenton Springs, fifteen miles to the left of Longstreet
is also said to have crossed the river above the enemy.
across Cedar Run
and the Rapidan
having been burned by the enemy, we cannot use the railroad until they have been rebuilt.
One of the prisoners states that the iron and materials for the purpose are always near them, and it is understood that the work of reconstruction is rapidly going forward.
If this be true, the army can soon be subsisted more conveniently even than at Manassas
.--There are no fortifications around Warrenton
, but the position is naturally strong for either friend or foe.