Cambridge Chronicle - December 7, 1861
22d Reg't Mass. Vols.
Hall's Hill, Near Falls Church, Va
December 7, 1861
Mr. Editor - After a two day sojourn at the picket's outposts, I have returned to camp in season to get a severe regimental skirmish drill. It is rumored that we are to be used as skirmishers, the known ability of our Colonel rendering him an excellent drill master in this important branch of the service.
The boys seem to take naturally to the drill and the battalion bids fair to stand second to none in this department.
In addition and in connection with this course of discipline the commissioned officers and sergeants of the regiment are drilled for an hour each morning, by Lieut. Col. Griswold, in the bayonet excercise, - with the view of putting the regiment on good footing in this respect; and from the manner in which the men profit by lessons, the officers predict that this will soon be accomplished.
At the outposts there is nothing new or startling, although the usual thousand and one rumors flying round, and considerable excitement temporarily created, but after each report, we settle down into the old calm, and on a whole matters were quiet.
Yesterday morning a force of some 2,000 infantry from the Michigan Fourth and Pennsylvania Sixty-Second were sent forward in the direction of Fairfax Court House, as a reconnoitering party; and the prevailing opinion is that their expedition will end in the extension of our pickets to a line nearer Fairfax Court House, at present about six miles beyond them.
Scouts from both parties are constantly dodging round this neutral ground, and have all the fun to themselves
Frank N. Scott - Sergeant Co. D and correspondent to the Cambridge Chronicle
Image as Lieutenant in 38th MVI
The first night of my stay was marked by a little episode, in this wise: Lieut. Symonds, of our company, who was in our reserve, in one of his rambles around the posts discovering some strange lights in the woods, which he considered to be signals, as they were outside our lines and in the direction of the house of a citizen, supposed to be slightly tainted with secesh - thought it best to investigate, and accordingly, Corporal Bently, with a squad of twelve men were detailed to accompany us.
On reaching our lines at a point nearest the suspected spot, we halted, and taking two men with me, I pushed forward up a hill to get into position on the top, where I could command a view on both sides, as Lieut. S. inferred that the signals were made for parties in a piece of wood on our left. Just as we struck out of the wood, one of our pickets spied us and challenged. Here was a dilemma. If we answered his challenge; our expedition was at an end, as our voices would be heard by those we were watching; and, on the other hand, if we did not, he would fire at us, as pickets are ordered to fire after one challenge. However, we chose to run the latter risk. I directed the men to drop, and sent one of them back to Lieut. S. who was with the main party at the lines, and he despatched a messenger to the picket, and explained the matter.
After a tedious watch of two hours, we made out the light and made for it. The result of all this was that we traced it down to a house which stands just outside our lines, searched the out buildings, and found nothing; but the owner is now a marked man, and will be narrowly watched.
The next night, Lieut S., accompanied by George F. Tyler, of Boston, brother to the Auctioneer, now one of our best scouts, went on a voyage of discovery, whcih they extended to a point so near the enemy's pickets at Fairfax Court House, that they could hear them talking among themselves, and could plainly make out what they said.
They were challenged three times and fired at once, the ball passing between them, and so closely, that they barely escaped being struck, and finding maters were getting serious, they left for home.
The house of the father of Frank Williams, the rebel scout who has shot so many of our pickets, was visited, and everything that would serve as relics, taken away. An envelope bearing his address, fell to my share.
The richest piece of booty found on that occaison fell to the share of Capt. John F. Dunning, and was by him entrusted to the care of Hon. A. H. Rice, for transportation to Boston, to be presented to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
It is the original record Book of Expenditures of the Old Revolutionary Virginians, and contains the record of the organizations of all the different regiments raised at that time, when to be a Virginian was to be a patriot and a hero.
Such names as Patrick Henry, and such dates as 1776, it would seem, should of themselves be sufficient to keep true to their allegiance men privileged to see them; but no, the book was found in possesion of a man who has done as much mischief to our cause as any man in his position could, and may the day be near when the retribution shall be dealt him he so richly merits.
It is a glorious addition to the collection of valuables in the posession of that Society, and will no doubt be greatfully received.
Corporal B. and myself took a stroll to Falls Church Village. In my next, I will tell you what we found.
Frank N. Scott