[special Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.]
Army of Northern Virginia,
Dec. 21st, 1863.
It cannot be any longer a matter of concealment, I suppose, that Major General Early
has been assigned to the command of the Valley
Department of Virginia, with his headquarters at Staunton
In his absence the command of Gen.
E.'s division will devolve upon Senior Brigadier Harry H. Hayes
, of the Louisiana
is peculiarly fitted for this position, and will doubtless discharge the duties of his new place with credit to himself and acceptability to the country.
, Chief Quartermaster
of this army, is now absent on a sixty days furlough.
C. is a most excellent and efficient officer, and has been constant, in season and our of season, in the discharge of the duties of his position.
In his temporary absence Major Harmon
, of Gen. Ewell
's corps, is Acting Chief Quartermaster
of the army, and Capt. A. M. Garber
, of Staunton
, assistant to Major Harmon
, Chief Quartermaster
's corps, is now Acting Chief Quartermaster
of that corps.
Congress, I am told, will, in all probability, at its present session, create the office of Provost Marshal General
for this army.
If such be its action, I trust I shall be pardoned for speaking favorably of Major Bridgford
, of Richmond
, who has been acting in that capacity for the last ten months. He will be a candidate for the post, and is recommended by Gens. Ewell
, A. P. Hill
, and other leading Generals
and officers of the army.
The Chaplains of this army held a meeting at Orange
C. H on Friday.
Most interesting reports were made, which show a high state of religious feeling throughout the army.
To that sainted hero, the immortal Jackson
, is due much, if not all, of the present system by which the Chaplains in our army are enabled to do so much good.
And, by the way, let me say, that my firm conviction is, that the great success of this army is due to the religious element which reaches every corner of it; whilst, on the other hand, I am very much disposed to fear, from what I have been told by officers who have served in the Army of Tennessee, that the lack of success of that army is due in a large measure to the want of religious influence upon the troops.
, of Marmaduke Johnson
's battery, from Richmond, Va.
, was executed at noon Friday by shooting, for the crime of desertion.--His wife came up and took charge of his body and took it to Richmond
Another sad warning to those who leave their country and standard without permission.
The time was when Gen. Lee
was disposed to look leniently on this kind of conduct.
That time has now passed, however, and I believe that every sentence will be rigidly carried into execution.
An amusing incident occurred yesterday at the Provost Marshal
's office. Four Quakers were brought in as conscripts from Loudoun
They were ordered to fall in the ranks, in order to be marched to the command to which they were to be assigned.
They refused, saying "We will not fall in, but will follow whither soever thou leadest."--A few persuasive arguments, however, in the shape of thrusts with bayonets, changed their opinions, and they fell in and marched off to camp.
There is a comparative full in all military operations, and but little likelihood of any active operations very shortly. X.