"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Monday, November 3, 1862, To Camp Vemont via Fairfax Seminary

"Monday 3d. Ordered at 12M to have every thing packed & be ready to march at 2 P.M. Struck our tents at 2 and left Camp Seward with the other Regts.  Passed by Fairfax Seminary & then down in the direction of Alexandria to within 2 miles or so of the City. Our tents were not brought so we are stopping among the bushes for the night." ~ Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 9, 1862

"We marched from our second camping ground between two and three P.M., each man taking with him half of one of the misnamed shelter tents, and a little after dark were halted in the bushes and told to pitch our tents and make ourselves as comfortable as we could, and accordingly we stuck up our canvas, set fire to the bush, bundled up, laid down, and went to sleep. Some of the boys slept more and some less, just as they happened to be situated." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 9, 1862
"Monday the 3rd iwe had orders to strike tents and be ready to march in an hour to this camp, situated about 2 miles south west from Alexandria, and some 10 or 12 miles from the Capitol.  As a natural consequence we were very tired after our march, and what was worse had to encamp at night beside the road, on the ground; the baggage trains containing tents, &c, not having come up with us.  The weather, however, was favorable, being warm and pleasant.

"On our march here we passed no places of importance with the exception of Fairfax Seminary formerly a theological institute but now used as a hospital.  This seminary situated on an eminence about 2 miles west of Alexandria contains some splendid buildings surrounded by beautiful grounds and shade trees having the appearance of once being a splendid place, but now, as everything does where the all devastating hand of war goes, looks lonely, dreary and desolate.  We saw a few but convalescents, physicians, their attendants &c.  

"On either side of the seminary is a large graveyard, where many poor soldiers who volunteered their services and their lives, as it were, for the support of our country have been laid, with nothing to mark their last resting place, save a small board at the head of the grave with the inscription painted upon it." ~ E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane", letter of November 7, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times, published November 14,1862.

"Monday at 2 p.m., we started from Camp Seward on notice of an hour and a half and left the south corner of Alexandria at the corner of the ten miles square constituting the original District of Columbia for our present camp below “Hunting Creek” about a mile west of the Potomac and about 8 miles northwest of Mt. Vernon. I think you can find about our locality on the map. We marched a somewhat circuitous route about 10 miles, passing Fairfax Seminary, naturally one of the loveliest places I ever saw, now despoiled of much of its beauty by a year and a half occupation by our troops. 

"The buildings stand on an eminence that overlooks a panorama from N. W. To S. E. Fifteen to twenty miles distant including Washington, Alexandria, Georgetown, and numerous small villages and the Potomac with its fleet of vessels and streamers. The buildings are in good order and consist of a large central edifice, finer than any building in Vermont except the Capitol, three large halls for dormitories or boarding houses, a chapel twice as fine as the Episcopal chapel at Brattleboro and other out buildings. The cupola of the main building is 150 to 175 feet high and command a magnificent prospect, and is itself a landmark for a circle 30 to 40 miles in diameter. 

"These buildings are in a fine grove of oaks covering 50 or more acres, in which is a large Episcopal church, the old Fairfax mansion and etc. The Fairfax Estate at one time contained, I believe from 10,000 to 20,000 acres and the Fairfax family was one of the “F.F. V’s” and the special friends of Washington. The seminary is now used as a hospital for our sick soldiers. 

"Trees here been cut down, the slopes masked by encampments and two graveyards containing the dead bodies of more than 300 of our men speak in strong but silent language of the unwritten horrors of this accused rebellion. On the estate an encamped at least 15,000 troops and perhaps many more." Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 4. November 8, 1862

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