Manassas Junction, Va., May 28, 1862.
Editor of the Gazette
Dear Sir. – You will perceive that our Brigade is back to the Junction. At 4 o’clock, on the 25th inst., we left Falmouth for Acquia Creek–marched all night over a break-neck road, and bivouacked in a field formerly occupied by a rebel Battery. Their Barracks were still standing. We found good log huts.
26th. A fine morning. Marched to the landing at Aquia Creek; looking at the busy scene before me. On my right is the camp of the 35th New York Regiment, on my left the wagons are wending their way towards the transports, containing rations, &c., while on my front may be seen Aquia Creek and also the Potomac, which here makes a broad spanse of water. Schooners, steamers, and water craft, look very natural, being the first we have seen for ten months. The most busy scene occurred at Aquia Creek landing; two or three sutlers being present, and most of the boys having a little money, it put one in mind of a pleasure day at home. Cider, lemonade, nuts and oranges were in demand. This is the first time the 13th Regiment has received the benefit of a steamboat or railroad travel since leaving home. Never did a body of men bid adieu with more pleasure to an old camp, than did our Regiment bid good-bye to Falmouth. While there we were worked and drilled almost to death. There are no pleasant associations connected with the old camp; although no cheer greeted either McDowell or Abe Lincoln, when they reviewed the troops, a cheer did greet Col. Leonard when he informed us of our leaving the camp for good. By the way, Col. Leonard is almost worshipped by his command.
After dinner we embarked on board steamer John Brooks for Alexandria and Washington, the day was pleasant, the sun rather warm; the shore opposite my position on the boat is studded with earth works, and we are steaming past those batteries which constituted the famous blockade of the Potomac last winter. I could scarcely realize that this was the same river over which we had stood guard for nearly ten months. Truly, the Potomac is a grand stream.
Opposite Fort Washington may be seen that time-honored and ever to be held sacred spot, Mt. Vernon. The house is mostly hidden by the trees, and American taste and money should be freely used towards its adornment. We reached Alexandria at 5 o’clock in the afternoon–remained on board the steamer until next morning. At one o’clock, the long roll aroused us from our beds of hard pine plank, and after tumbling about a little while, we turned in again to be turned out again at three o’clock, for the purpose of taking the cars for Manassas, instead of Washington; never mind, we have had a view of the dome of the capital. At day light we started for the cars–a dark dirty disagreeable morning. At quarter past five o’clock, away we go. The cars into which we are crowded consist of baggage, cattle and other cars of the meanest description. I think by the time we have become a little darker complexioned we shall be thought almost as much of as the darkies who are attached to the Regiment. After stops, too numerous to mention, we arrived within a short distance of the old camp. Troops continued to arrive, and at present writing McDowell’s Division is said to be near by. There are all sorts of rumors afloat in regard to the defeat and retreat of Gen. Banks, and it certainly does look bad. Some lay it to one cause and some to another. If part of a preconceived plan, all right; if otherwise, a tremendous responsibility rests upon some one in the War Department. Curses, bitter and deep, have been showered upon some heads, whether deserved or not, time will show.
The men, for the most part, are still in good spirits. We have a rain storm to-day. Hoping all things are for the best, and that friends at home will endeavor to be cheerful and happy.
I remain yours truly, Azof.
(Roxbury City Gazette; Jun 5, 1862; pg. 2, col. 5.)