The other remarkable manifestation took place at Brightwood, a sleepy little town composed of four houses and a lamp-post, and situated not far from the city, on the Fourteenth-street road. A distressed cow came bellowing into this town just at daylight, with her head and tail erect, and driving the pickets before her. The antics of this otherwise kindly animal caused a great scattering among the gallant defenders of Fort Stevens. Indeed, I have good authority for saying that they evacuated that stronghold more suddenly than had ever been done before, scampering down the Fourteenth-street road at a rapid pace.
In short, my son, they mistook this wayward animal for Early’s advance guard, and came to the very wise conclusion that a fort was not a pleasant place to stay in when an enemy outside was throwing shells into it.
The good people of Brightwood betook themselves to packing up their traps, and pondering over the question as to whether they had been disloyal enough during the war to claim Mr. Early as a friend when he arrived. It was a trying time with the good people of Brightwood.
When, however, the gallant defenders of the defenses found that it was only a cow that had so disturbed them, they went boldly back to their guns, and were as full of courage as could be for the rest of the day.
As the morning wore on, the evidences of trouble outside increased. Scattering contrabands, some with bundles on their backs, some with chairs, buckets and wash-tubs on their heads, others with the family table on their heads. There was an interesting group of three—two male and one female member of the African family. One of the former had brought his banjo, the other his fiddle. The female had a tub well down on her head. These poor frightened people came trotting into the city over the Tenallytown and Brightwood roads, seeking a place of safety inside of the forts.
Then the roads became blocked with all manner of rickety vehicles, many of them of the most primitive description, filled with the families and furniture of peaceable farmers, who had left their homes in fear of the approaching rebels. A more grotesque picture than was presented by this anxious train it is impossible to conceive.
The government gets agitated, and the great commander-in-chief takes the field.
This, my son, is a portrait of General Auger, a dashing, handsome officer, and a courteous gentleman. He commanded the department of Washington during the memorable siege I am describing.