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Confederate commander determined upon a march into the enemy's country, in order to draw General Hooker away from his position. The motives which induced General Lee to take this step are stated by himself in an official despatch addressed to the Adjutant-General of the Confederate army.
He wrote as follows:
"The position occupied by the enemy opposite Fredericksburg being one in which he could not be attacked to advantage, it was determined to draw him from it. The execution of this purpose embraced the relief of the Shenandoah Valley from the troops that had occupied the lower part of it during the winter and spring, and, if practicable, the transfer of the scene of hostilities north of the Potomac. It was thought that the corresponding movements on the part of the enemy, to which those contemplated by us would give rise, might offer a fair opportunity to strike a blow at the army therein, commanded by General Hooker, and that in any event that army would be compelled to leave Virginia, and possibly to draw to its support troops destined to operate against other parts of the country.
"In this way it was supposed that the enemy's plan of campaign for the summer would be broken up, and part of the season of active exertions be consumed in the formation of new combinations, and the preparations they would require.
In addition to these advantages, it was hoped that other valuable results might be attained by military success.
This advance of the Confederate army had commenced on June 3, a fortnight before my arrival, and had been thus far very successful. The Shenandoah Valley had been cleared of the enemy; General Milroy had fled from Winchester, leaving the greater part of his division prisoners in the hands of the Confederates, besides a large amount of military stores and artillery; and the day before I reached Richmond (June 17th), the vanguard of the Confederate army had entered Maryland.
On the morning after my arrival I delivered my introductions, which were chiefly in the shape of photo
graphs, letters being considered too compromising. I met with the kindest and most cordial reception from each and all of them.
Major Norris, Chief of the Signal · Corps, Mr Joynes, Under-Secretary of War, and Mr Harrison, the President's private secretary, were especially obliging, and furnished me with letters of introduction to their friends in the army. In the evening I called on Mr Benjamin, the Secretary of State, and was fortunate in finding him at home and alone. We had a long, and, I need hardly say, a most interesting conversation. We talked about the war and the foreign prospects of the Confederacy, and the atrocities which the Yankees seem to delight in committing wherever they have a chance.
"If they had behaved differently," Mr Benjamin remarked-"if they had come against us observing strict discipline, protecting women and children, respecting private property, and proclaiming as their only object the putting down of armed resistance to the Federal Government, we should have found it perhaps more difficult to prevail against them. But they could not help showing their cruelty and rapacity; they could not dissemble their true nature, which is the real cause of this war. If they had been capable of acting otherwise, they would not have been Yankees, and we should never have quarrelled with them."
Next day I went down to Drewry's Bluff with a letter from Major Norris to Captain Lee, brother of the General, who is in command there. "The Major," my travelling companion, and a friend of his, accompanied me.
Captain Lee kindly showed us over the fortifications, which are very formidable, and would effectually bar the passage up the river against any number of ironclads or gunboats.
Drewry's Bluff is the same place as Fort Darling, where the Yankee gunboats were repulsed last summer.
At that time only three guns were there, and those not particularly large ones; but now the place is really very strong, and much more heavily armed.
After Captain Lee had shown us the fort we sat down in front of his house, and had a long conversation whilst waiting for the steamer to return to Richmond.
I thought Captain Lee spoke rather despondently about the coming campaign. He dwelt a good deal upon the difficulties General Lee has to contend with -his want of mechanical appliances, pontoons, &c.; no organised corps of engineers; the danger of exposing Richmond if he gets too far away. He gave us some interesting details of their extraordinary difficulties at the commencement of the war, which they began without any material for carrying it on except men, and without the means of supplying their most urgent necessities.
But things have greatly improved since then.
Now they manufacture their own guns, small-arms, gunpowder, clothing, and almost everything they want. The blockade-runners easily supply the rest.
He told us how little they thought at Washington that it would come to war, till the Administration treacherously, and against their repeated promises, attempted to reinforce Fort Sumter, adding, 66 But by God's mercy the fleet was detained by contrary winds, and Beauregard then took the fort before they could get there."
Before we left Drewry's Bluff we went on board the Richmond, or Merrimac No. 2, as she used to be called. She is built on the same principle as the Merrimac No. 1, and is very heavily armed. A banded "Brooke" gun was especially pointed out to us as a great beauty and triumph of art.
In the evening Mr Harrison took me to see the President, who was very courteous in his reception, and conversed some time with me.
I had also an interview with Mr Seddon, the Secretary of War, who kindly wrote me a pass to the army, so that I was now all ready to start.
Major Norris was particularly obliging in making all arrangements for my journey, which was to be by rail to Staunton, and thence by stage to Winchester, where I should learn the whereabouts of General Lee. Nobody at Richmond seemed to know anything about his movements.
Major Carrington telegraphed to Staunton to secure me a place on the stage, and gave me a letter to the quartermaster there. He came down to the train to see me off at six o'clock in the morning, and got me a seat in the ladies' car, and told the conductor to take care of me. Everybody seems to take pleasure in doing all they possibly can to oblige a stranger. It is enough to know that you are a foreigner, and all will do their utmost to assist you.
We rattled along a very good railroad, up hill and down hillthe steepness of the grades_rather astonishing me through a beautiful country, till we reached Staunton in the afternoon.
The little town was crowded with all sorts of people "hurrying up "to the army, and I thought myself fortunate in getting a room to myself in the hotel.
I had made the acquaintance of several officers on the road, and we strolled about the little pleasant place, and passed away the time agreeably enough till supper and an early bed-time.
It was lucky that my place on the stage had been taken by telegraph, or I should not have got off next morning. The coach was crowded both inside and out, and many who wanted to go on with us
were left behind. It was not particularly pleasant travelling, as we sat squeezed up on the top of the coach amongst sharp-edged boxes and baggage, with scarcely room to turn round; but we were only too glad to get on at all.
We reached Woodstock that night, and slept there, going supperless to bed, as the landlord's provisions had been exhausted before we arrived.
In the afternoon of the next day we reached Winchester. There was no room to be had at the hotel; but a young Baltimorean, Mr Crane, who had been a very pleasant companion during our uncomfortable journey from Staunton, immediately took me under his protection, and brought me to a very comfortable boarding-house, where a number of officers were boarding. My next care was to try and find some further means of conveyance towards the front; and I began to feel some misgivings on this score, when I discovered that several of my travelling companions, amongst whom was a member of General Lee's staff, had already applied in vain to the quartermaster for assistance.
When I presented myself with my passport for the same purpose, Captain Thomson soon relieved my apprehensions, and, welcoming me cordially, placed a Government waggon at my entire disposal, which I might keep as long as I liked till I reached General Lee's headquarters.
The evening passed very pleasantly; also there were some very agreeable young ladies, who told us of their sufferings under Yankee rule, and hoped and prayed they might never return. The officers talked of the late battle and capture of Winchester.
It seems the Yankees were taken entirely by surprise. They had built a strong fort outside the town, towards Martinsburg, which they flat
tered themselves was impregnable, and which was intended to overawe Winchester, and keep the whole valley of the Shenandoah in subjection. Well, one fine morning there was some skirmishing in the valley, and the garrison of the fort, from which there is an extensive view, turned out upon the ramparts to see what was happening. Suddenly General Early opened upon them from some higher ground behind, which they had overlooked when they built their fort, and began knocking the place about their ears in a very disagreeable way. A Federal account of what passed that day describes the scene as follows:
heavy skirmishing was going on. Every Away down the valley in front eye was turned that way, when, on a sudden, came a boom of cannon and a rush of shell, as if hell itself had burst its bolts and bars, and was bringing fire and tempest on the world. Every eye was turned west. Twenty rebel cannon were throwing shot and shell into the regular battery. In less than five minutes the roar of cannon was exchanged for the sharp rattle of musketry, and we saw the fort stormed, taken, and the rebel flag floating over it. If an angel had descended from heaven, and told us of this five minutes before, we should not have believed it," &c. &c.
They held out in the other works till nightfall, and then the same writer continues:
"Every one knows what followedwith everything left behind except men the retreat in the darkness of the night, and animals; hundreds of waggons, immense commissary and Government stores, all the private baggage, books, and papers of both officers and men; in a word, provisions enough to feed ten clothing enough for the same number, thousand men for two months, and
for six months."
General Ewell captured, besides this, a large number of guns, an enormous amount of ammunition, and nearly all General Milroy's "folk."
The following morning I left Winchester in a neat Pennsylvania spring-waggon, which had just been sent down from the advance of the army. As companion I had a young fellow carrying despatches to General Longstreet. The driver was a German Jew.
When we reached Martinsburg we found the hotel crowded, and there was no hope of getting any accommodation there for man or beast. I had not time to lament the circumstance, however; for a gentleman immediately stepped up, and, introducing himself as Captain Ehrhardt, Chief Quartermaster to General Ewell, offered to take me to Colonel Faulkner, whose residence is just outside Martinsburg. Colonel Faulkner is Chief of the Staff to General Ewell, as he formerly was to Stonewall Jackson. Under Buchanan's administration he was ambassador at Paris.
The Colonel received me very kindly; and as I was advised not to attempt to get on to Hagerstown that night, the road being blocked up by Ewell's waggon-trains, I accepted his hospitable offer of staying till the next morning. I was duly presented to Mrs Faulkner, and spent a very pleasant afternoon.
One remark of Colonel Faulkner's struck me as not quite in accordance with the view of the treatment of slaves which Abolitionists indulge in.
He assured me that though he was a large slaveholder himself, and had always lived amongst slaveholders, yet he had never in the course of his life even heard of a grown-up slave being whipped. He said, too, that a man guilty of cruelty towards his slaves would incur such odium as he would never survive.
He spoke very feelingly of Jack son, and with great admiration of his high qualities. He attributed his death, not so much to his un
fortunate wounds, as to a severe attack on the lungs, brought on by exposure on the night of Friday.
Next morning I continued my journey, and crossed the Potomac into Maryland at Williamsport.
The road was getting very lively. Hundreds of soldiers on foot and on horseback, in large and small parties and squads, were hurrying up towards the front, each in a costume of his own, anything but uniform. Some of the horsemen had sabres, some pistols, and all of them some sort of rifle, long or short. The cavalry here is very differently organised from the same branch of the service in Europe. They are, in fact, mounted infantry. man's horse is his own property, and that may be one reason why they prefer fighting on foot, as if a man loses his horse, and cannot get another, he has forthwith to join the infantry. Besides, there has been no time to put them through a regular cavalry drill, and teach the efficient use of the sabre-the true arm of real cavalry-whilst with the use of the rifle they have been familiar from their earliest youth. To handle a rifle efficiently, of course, a man must dismount. On the whole, I think they have acted judiciously in taking their men as they found them, and not trying to establish the European system. Besides, the country is so wooded and broken up with high fences that opportunities for a regular cavalry-charge on a large scale seldom occur. Their horses are generally good, some exceedingly so, but not large. I understand they are very enduring, and will go through any amount of rough work.
The men's shoes are good, and so are their clothes, though they look very coarse, being made of a yellowish-brown homespun. Very few carry a knapsack, but most of them have a haversack, and almost all a blanket. Many of the blankets
are made out of old carpets with very gay colours, and all have a hole in the middle, through which the man inserts his head when the weather is cool, or when it rains, as it has been doing occasionally to-day, and the effect is marvellously picturesque, especially when you see them lying or squatting down in groups round a fire cooking their meals.
Beyond Williamsport we stopped, and turned our horse out to graze in a field by the side of the road. A number of horsemen were committing the same trespass. Amongst them was a handsome jolly fellow, singing songs to his horse, whom he had christened "Abe Lincoln." We made friends with him, and when we went on he joined us and rode by the side of our waggon, singing songs and making all sorts of funny observations. Besides the soldiers going forward to the army, the road was crowded with waggons and horses and droves of cattle and sheep, the spoils of Pennsylvania-all being sent to the rear. Some of the waggons were of the most extraordinary size, drawn by six or eight horses. Our merry companion remarked on one of them, “Why, I thought somebody told me Noah's ark had been broken up and burnt long ago, but here it is." " How many horses do you mean to get in Pennsylvania?" we asked, 'Oh, I shall only take one, sir. I intend to trade equal. I mean to take one and keep this one here that I've got." We offered him a 66 drink," which he refused—he was not going to drink any whisky again till the war was over. Teetotallers will rejoice to hear that none of the Confederate soldiers ever touch spirits, and they get on very well without. Wherever the army marches, the bar-rooms in the sur
not recollect ever to have seen a drunken private soldier in the South, though perhaps once or twice I may have seen an officer a little "tight.”
When we got to Hagerstown we found the shops all closed, and all the people were looking very glum. Lee left here yesterday, and it is said will be in Chambersburg today. The town is crowded with stragglers, amongst whom there is some little excitement, as five thou sand Federal cavalry are said to have left Frederick City this morning with the intention of harassing Lee's rear.
The main army has now cast itself nearly loose from its base of supplies, carrying with it all that is absolutely necessary for the campaign, and intending to subsist chiefly on the country it passes through. There is some anxiety about an ammunition-train, I hear, which has not yet come up, and is of course of great importance.
It is surmised that the Yankees, reported on their march from Frederick, intend to attack this train; and the stragglers are, I be lieve, being organised in some sort of way to protect it. Altogether, there is a good deal of commotion. But of all places in the world, the rear of an army is the place for all sorts of conjectures and rumours; and I daresay the five thousand Federal cavalry will turn out to be fifty, and marching in an opposite direction. We pushed on ourselves towards Greencastle, intending to sleep there. As soon as we got out of Maryland and into Pennsyl vania the road became abominable, and we had to walk. We passed through several villages, where the inhabitants came out of their doors and stood and stared at the crowds of soldiers and waggons passing rounding towns and villages are along. They were not in the least closed by the authorities, and no molested, of course, and seemed to one is allowed to sell intoxicating have got over their first "scare" at liquors to the soldiers. Of course, the strange sight. All were ready a great many do drink whenever to talk, and groups would gather they can find an opportunity, but together, especially around the wells and pumps, where the soldiers
opportunities are very rare.