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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 13, 1862. The Sixteenth pushes past Centreville. On picket with the dead.

 "Slept well ... and ... at 8 A.M. we started again for Bull Run where we arrived at 4 P.M.  Through some mistake we were marched in the wrong direction making the distance further, but by the mistakes we had the privilege of seeing the battlefield of Chantilly where Gen. Kearney was killed. 

"We passed Centerville little after noon.  There we saw where some 50 or 60 thousand Rebels sheltered last winter.  It was here that McClellan found those big guns which scared him so last spring.  This place of which we have all read much is about half as large as S. Reading but must have been very strongly fortified.  

"On arriving within 1/2 mile of Bull Run 28 men were to be detailed to go on picket.  The men were tired almost to death.  The Capt. tired out before arriving.  I had command.  I called on them to volunteer to go, instead of compelling them to go.  The number required came forth and I went with them as officer of the picket guard.  

"I posted my men at ten o'clock that night.  The first six at Bull run bridge where so many were killed as the first battle of Bull Run commenced.  I scattered the men along beside that stream for about a mile.  I passed over the ground where the Black Horse Cavalry was cut up so, and lots of places of interest which I will not mention now.  I got off duty the next morning at 8 o'clock.  

"There is now men laying there now partially buried.  Their heads and arms lying out of ground.  It made me feel a little skittish as I passed up and down that stream that night all alone thinking of the events that had transpired." E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of December 23, 1862

"We halted for rest on the famous heights of Centerville, so long the stronghold of the Rebs. The position to an unpracticed eye, seems strong indeed, a long slope at last half a mile, crowned with earthworks whose guns could sweep every inch Of the declivity and quite a space beyond. From Centerville we marched about a mile and a half and again halted near the spot where we finally pitched our camp, but by mistake we were marched about a mile and a half further, while the colonel was absent looking for a better camping ground. 250 men were detailed to go on picket and the rest, myself among them, went beak to our last resting place and set up our fly tent, made coffee, roasted salt heavy (?), and made ourselves as comfortable as we could generally." ~  Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of December 18, 1862

"[Fairfax Courthouse] December 13th. A very mild and pleasant day. Have been over to all the regiments with orders. The 16th  has gone to Centreville. All the others remain at present. Gen. Slocum has just arrived in town. Called on General Stoughton, took lunch, and cracked a little wine. He is a very impressive man. Wears an old blouse and felt hat and does not look so well as some of the priests. He is going to take quarters in some of the vacant houses, of which there are a great number for so small a place. ... Gen. Slocum’s division passed through this place this afternoon on their way to Frederick. Their artillery and baggage train was five miles long."  Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment.

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