July 4, 1861
From the Seat of War
The Selma Reporter
publishes a letter, the writer of which, it says, is well known in Dallas and
the adjoining counties, from which we extract the following:
June 20, 1861
Dear Sister: We are now in camp
about twenty-five miles from Washington
City. Our Regiment is honored with the extreme
outpost. Our camp being at a bridge on
the turnpike leading from Washington to Manassas, we have to sleep
with one eye open, to be ready at a moment’s notice. A large body of Lincoln’s men are encamped within ten miles
of us. Lincoln’s spies and scouts are
captured daily by our different Regiments.
I can only conjecture what the chances for a big fight are, but we have
an immense army in this section. I
reckon about 50,000 within ten miles square.
Gen. Beauregard’s quarters are only about ten miles from our camp.
idea of the issue is this. Lincoln’s Congress meets
on the 4th of July, and if they sustain his invasion policy a great
battle will be fought in this vicinity.
The preparations on our side for defense are on a large scale, and we
can repulse an army of Hessians twenty times our actual force. I think that the fighting before that time
will be skirmishes. Scouts from the
different camps meet daily. Day before
yesterday a considerable force was sent down from Alexandria
by Lincoln to
repair the bridges and railroad which had been demolished and torn up by our
side. When they got within eight miles
of Manassas a
scouting party sent out by Gen. Beauregard attacked them and succeeded in
routing them. We got several, but they
managed to get their engine in motion and escaped with the larger portion of
their men. In fact we get the advantage
everywhere the scouts meet.
21—I missed the mail yesterday and open this letter to add an important P.
S. We have just received orders to march
in the morning for Fairfax Courthouse—fifteen miles from Washington
City and about 10 from Alexandria. The enemy have about 5,000 men within five miles
of that point. We will have about
3,000. We have to leave all baggage
except what we are able to carry. All
extra baggage will be sent back to Richmond.
[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]