|from The |
| Corps of Observation, Stones Brigade,
Poolesville Md., Aug. 29, 1861
After my hurried word of Sunday, which was so full of uncertainties, I hasten to rectify errors and inform you of our march and position. I preached in Washington on Sunday morning, not expecting to leave Kalorama until early on Monday. But on reaching the camp at one p. m., I found that the order to march had been imparted, and that the tents were then nearly ready to be struck. It was nearly 4 ½ o'clock before we took up our line of march, followed by some fifty large army wagons, 25 having been obtained for the purpose of carrying the men's knapsacks. These, with the hospital department and ambulances must have made quite an imposing appearance,
On looking back upon the regiment from Georgetown Heights, Washington and the Potomac forming the background, I drank in from the natural beauty and military scene a view long to be remembered. We passed directly through Georgetown., and camped down for the night some two miles beyond the line of the District of Columbia, in a splendid piece of woods, owned by a Mr. Center, a strong Union man, who kindly rendered all the assistance in his power for the accommodation of our force. it was about 8 P. M. when the order to halt was given, and was so dark we had to examine the woods with a lantern to find out the luxuries it contained for the repose of the night. The camp fires soon shone brightly, and the men, after their supper was over, stretched out beneath the broad canopy of the heavens for repose.
We left at about 7½ A. M. on Monday morning, and with occasional halts brought up for dinner at 1 P. M., when we proceeded to Darnstown, camping for the night about one mile beyond it. In speaking of southern towns, do not picture to yourselves the thriving pleasant ones of New England. Dirty and dilapidated placed, cleaned chiefly by the swinish herd that roam at will, no symptom of public or private enterprise. They stand as the very symbol of unquestioned decay.
We left our camp at Darnstown, for Poolesville, at 7A. M. on Tuesday, where we arrived at 111/2, marching a distance of some thirty miles. On leaving Washington we traversed the Cumberland road till re reached Rockdale, when we took a cross road bearing in a westerly direction direct to Leesburg. We are now permanently located in Gen. Stones brigade, which is not connected with either Gen. McClellan's or Gen. Bank's divisions, but stands as an independent corps of observation; guarding the fords on the river and noting the movements of the enemy on its opposite bank. The general headquarters is here at Poolesville, which is some four miles from Edwards. A part of the brigade is guarding the river some nine miles above us, uniting them with Gen. Bank's division, so that the whole river from point of Rocks to Washington is guarded with reserved forces to meet any emergencies that may arise. Leesburg where the enemies forces are encamped is directly opposite our encampment, and about the same distance from the river on the opposite side that we are from this; so that we are eight miles from Leesburg, and about five from their lines.
I went out to the encampment of the Mozart New York regiment yesterday, and while there the captain in command at Conrad's ferry, came up to headquarters of the regiment. on last Saturday they had a warm time, the enemy shelling them at intervals for some two or three hours. It was brought about in this way, some of he more daring ones made a visit from our side of the river, and left their cards tacked to some trees, stating that they had made a call, and requesting them to return it, at the same time informing them that they had selected sights for summer residences, and should probably soon come over to dig foundations for the same. They replied as above, by shelling the entrenchments, and the colonel said their firing was very good. One shell exploded close enough to cover him all over with dirt, and several of their shots found a lodgment in the house by which he stood and in the immediate vicinity of our entrenchments. One of the sad casualties on that occasion was the entire destruction of their coffee pot.
It becomes my sorrowful duty to record the first saddening event since our departure from home, and that is the death of one orderly sergeant, Mr. Melvin Howland of company K of Blackstone, a fine fellow of marked abilities, and much beloved. he died from congestion of the lungs some five hours after our arrival. His friends are residing in Millville. He was unmarried, but leaves a father mother, sisters and a brother, to mourn his departure from the ties to earth. He was buried on Wednesday, at four o'clock P. M. Services were held at the camp, and he was buried under the honors of war. His company followed as mourners, most of the company officers attending, accompanied by the field and staff officers of the regiment. He was buried in the Methodist burying ground at this place, and the men and officers will soon place a fitting stone in due position to mark his final resting place.
------------------------------------------------------------------In Camp At Poolesville Md., Aug. 28, 1861
Our regiment were ordered to " pack up and march," last Sunday morning, to join Gen. Stones brigade, encamped about thirty-five miles from Washington. Accordingly, after the usual Sunday morning inspection, we commenced our preparations for departure somewhat reluctantly, as we had just got comfortably settled in the old place. We left at half past four o'clock P. M., via Georgetown, and made about seven miles that day. Our quartermaster was fortunate in securing a lot of extra army wagons to carry the men's knapsacks, which, with our own, made a train of fifty four horse teams, the whole procession presenting quite a warlike appearance.
After leaving Georgetown nothing of particular interest occurred until we reached Taneyville, where there are several Pennsylvania regiments encamped on each side of the road, forming a part of Gen. McCall's division. As we passed through they turned out and cheered us handsomely, and the Pennsylvania sixth, the last one on the route, was drawn up in line, and presented arms. here we halted, the boy chatted, the bands played national airs, the regiments exchanged cheers, and we marched on. A few miles on we came to a plantation owned by a Mr. Dix, where we halted for the night. We had to wait some time for the teams to overtake us and bring us our supplies, so that it was nearly midnight when we got ready to sleep. Though we had no tents, we were very comfortable, as the trees afforded a good shelter. We were up early in the morning, quite refreshed, though still a little leg weary, and after a breakfast of bread and cheese and hot coffee, were ready to march onward.
There are no villages here as in New England, but occasionally a small farm house, with shanties for the blacks, and everything looks old and seedy. About eleven o'clock we reached Rockville, a place containing about eighty buildings, where we halted in a fine grove for a half hours rest. We then marched three miles further, and again halted in the woods, near an old mill, and ate our dinners. After resting here about two hours, during which time some of us spread our blankets under the trees, and took a refreshing nap, we again marched onward till we came to a grove near an old building used for a church, where we prepared to pass the night, having marched seventeen miles that day. on Tuesday morning at half past six o'clock we were again marching on, and arrived at Poolesville at noon.
Companies A and c have just been detailed for picket duty. they take two days rations with them and will have to stay out several days. We expect our turn will come next. Gen Stone has about seven thousand troops under him, his command being independent of Gen. Banks who is only seven or eight miles from here. His signal station is the top of sugar loaf mountain, twelve miles distant, and we exchange signals daily; with a glass we see their tents.
J. M. (S?)