Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/377

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the track, but I was told that the section to the front would not be opened for traffic for several days. Accordingly, I saddled my horse, and, with my valise in front and my roll of bedding strapped behind me, started for Falmouth. There had been a severe frost followed by a thaw, and the thousands of army wagons that had passed over the road for several days had reduced it to a very bad condition, so that I could only walk my horse. It took me over four hours to reach the first camps, about a mile from the Rappahannock. The ravages of war were visible all the way. The country seemed to have been burned over. The scrub timber was coal-black, and, in the frequent clearings where farming had been carried on, there was nothing to be seen but half-destroyed fences and the ruins of dwellings and outhouses without any inhabitants.

I had letters of introduction to General John G. Parke, the chief-of-staff, from a regular-army friend in Washington, and to General Hooker from Mr. Smalley, who had been with the General in the Antietam campaign. I also knew General E. V. Sumner, and General Daniel Butterfield, who had set out from New York as colonel of the 12th New York Militia, a three months' regiment. As night was approaching, and it was evident that I should not be likely to find any of these officers except with difficulty in the dark, it occurred to me to ask a division sutler, whose tent showed a large display of goods, whether he could not accommodate me for the night. I told him who I was, and he readily consented to do the best he could for me and my beast. I had a really luxurious supper and a good night's sleep on a camp-bed, for which my generous host, whose name I have forgotten, would not accept any compensation.

The next day was brisk and clear — just right for my first sight of the Army of the Potomac. A short ride brought me to an elevated point commanding a wide view of the surroundings. There was a large plateau, forming several plantations with commodious brick mansions — one