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Woburn Weekly Budget - March 14, 1862


Camp Wilson
22d Reg. Mass. Vols.
Fairfax Court House, Va.
March 14, 1862

When my last was written, I had no idea that we should leave our old home at Hall's Hill for appearances seemed to indicate that we should remain there. One "straw" alone pointed onward, and that was this; on dress parade Sunday evening an order was read stating that "laundresses would not be permitted follow the army in its contemplated advance". About ten o'clock Sunday evening, orders came to have three days rations in readiness, and be prepared to start by daylight. The news was very acceptable, and although we packed knapsacks, and made such preparations as were necessary it hardly seemed as if we would go, as we had not forgotten the disappointment of last week. Having got everything ready, those of us who were not detailed about camp, turned in again about 12 o'clock. By daylight the movements convinced the most skeptical that the army was advancing, and the camps presented a lively appearance. Our brigade (Gen. Martindale), fell into line about 8 o'clock and moved off in heavy marching order. Many of the men were very heavily loaded, and we had not gone far before the march began to tell on them, and we were not out of sight of the hill before blankets were thrown away to lighten the load. Our course lay about west through the camps of the 9th Mass. and 62d Penn., to Fall's Church village, across the Leesburg turnpike, and down the road in the direction of Bull Run. Morell's Brigade was ahead of us, moving in the same direction. We proceeded slowly, with frequent rests, and at noon had marched about ten miles. Just as we left camp, it began to rain, and it continued drizzly until noon. We halted in the meadow near the house of a man named Moore, who furnished meals for the officers (for a consideration), but did not seem to feel very cordial towards the troops. On the way a great many soldiers in the regiments in advance of us threw away knapsacks and blankets, and our boys who were lightly loaded picked up the latter. If they will throw away their property as recklessly as we saw them do on Monday, it is no wonder that on a retreat like that last July, arms and equipment were scattered right and left. The road was very heavy, and in many places we were obliged to wade through mud and water knee deep, but our boys stood it remarkably well, and all came into the halting place in good shape. All but twelve of the Union Guard marched with us; two were sick in Washington hospital, four were cooks, and six were sick in quarters.

After a rest of about an hour, the brigade moved on again towards Centerville. The road was very hilly, beside being muddy, and the march was much more fatiguing then the forenoon. I noticed, however, that those who carried their stuff through the forenoon, continued to do so through the afternoon, and nothing of value was thrown away.


Fairfax Court House - 1862

About four o'clock the column reached Fairfax Court House, five miles from Moore's, passed through the town and halted on a hill just outside on the Winchester turnpike. The ground was damp, and a cold wind springing up, made it very uncomfortable. There were but seven tents with us - six were occupied by the line officers and part of the "non coms" and one by the staff. The rest of us gathered some boughs, and made up places for sleeping on the ground. It was very cold during the night, the camp fires which were made proved very comfortable. Many of us bivouacked on that night for the very first time, and we could have hardly had a more unfavorable time, fatigued with our (to us) long march and no covering but our blankets, but no one caught cold, and next morning the surgeon had no patients.

The regiment was all up before "reveille", and warming themselves at the camp fires. The wind went down at daylight, and the sun rose warm and pleasant. Just over the turnpike, a small brook furnished water for washing and cooking and it was used pretty freely. We all expected to move on in the morning, but as the forenoon wore away and no signs of leaving, I got a pass and went into the village. Fairfax seems to have been quite a good looking town. It is built on a hill, pleasantly situated, and the houses being mostly of brick, are very fine residences. The county buildings are of brick, except the jail, which is built of timber, very strong. There are two churches, very neat structures, one wooden and the other brick. The latter is now used as barracks for cavalry. While I was looking about the jail, some 5th Maine boys came in, and examining a pile of knapsacks, found the identical knapsacks worn by them at Bull Run, and which was taken from them at Centerville. Going into the Court House, I met Mr. E. P. Stone, formerly of Woburn, now chaplain in the 6th Vermont. His regiment is in Smith's division, which is encamped here. There are four divisions about here, under the command of Gen. McDowell, comprising about 50,000 men. Gen. McClellan has his headquarters in a house formerly occupied by Beauregard when his army was here. There was formerly a newspaper printed in the town, and I visited the printing office. The press was removed and the type knocked into pi, the office presenting a very confused appearance. There were no copies of the paper in the office, but among the rubbish I found a piece of one from which I learned that the name of the paper was Fairfax County News. The town in mostly deserted, and all tradesman have left. The few citizens who remain are of secession proclivities.

The hill on which we are encamped was occupied last fall by Georgia and So. Carolina regiments, and vestiges of their camps still remain. A little to our left is a burial place, belonging to the citizens, and near it rebel soldiers are buried. If we can judge of the size of the rebels by their graves, they must be giants, as all are long, and one is nine feet in length. The first night we were here; all slept on the ground with no cover. The next night, about half of us built little booths for shelter. Yesterday we were threatened with rain, and the men made small tents by fastening their rubber blankets together. In this way quite comfortable quarters were secured. This morning we have received a supply of the small "Poncho" tents, and will hereafter be more comfortable. We brought three days rations of hard bread and meat with us, but our supply of coffee was rather slim until yesterday, when we got a supply from Hall's Hill. Last night our cooks came in, and we shall now have cooked food for us. We got some beef on Wednesday, and cooked it on pointed sticks before the fire. There was some stray hens about here when we came, but I don't see anything of them now. I have seen several exciting pig races, but piggy always had to suffer. Yesterday morning, three regiments turned out and chased a pig. One active soldier hitting him with his boot, knocked him over, but Mr. Pig rallied, and started in a new direction, when he was brought up by a blow from a club, wielded by a Maine boy, and his throat cut in a twinkling. They carried him into the woods, and in a short time his skin was off and the carcass divided among the captors. Soldiers will not starve if there are any provisions near them, whether they have clear claim on them or no.


Lieut. W. H. White

When we came here, there was no flag flying in the vicinity. Lieut. White of Co. D, having an American flag with him, his company procured a flag pole, soon after reaching this place, and the 22d Regiment had the honor of raising the first Union flag in Fairfax Court House, since its evacuation by the rebels. The rebels left here on Sunday, having heard of our advance by some unknown means. We are seven miles from Ceneterville, and about twelve from Bull Run. Many of our regiment have been out there, and if we are here tomorrow I expect to do the same. The report at Centerville as very strongly fortified, and it is a wonder of all that the rebels retired from it. We are drilling here, the same as at home. Wednesday we had a brigade drill and about sundown, Gen McClellan reviewed all the brigade about here. We stand this life better than could be expected and the health of the regiment is excellent. We are expecting to move from here in the morning, but may remain some time. Wherever we are you may expect to hear from.

John Lord Parker

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