He therefore went into camp for the night, pitching his headquarters in a clump of wood near Rock Creek, and not far from Crystal Spring. And here let me record that the general had not even a camp guard. To make the matter worse, there was no forage for the horses, and nothing for supper. Never was general so much to be pitied. The two orderlies, however, were willing fellows, and soon had a fire lighted. They then proceeded to a neighboring house, and got refreshments for the general, without which he must have gone hungry to bed.
As the night advanced, the discomforts of the situation increased. In short, it may as well be confessed, the general’s headquarters were besieged long before midnight, and that sleep was a thing not to be enjoyed. You may have made up your mind that the besiegers were an advance guard of the rebels; but they were not. They were nothing less than an army of fierce musquitoes, who made such a persistent attack on the general and his staff as to make his position almost untenable. In truth, they so harassed the corpulent engineer, in rear and flank, that he mounted his horse and returned to the city, where he spent a comfortable night at Willard’s Hotel, and went back in the morning refreshed. My authority for this is the distinguished engineer himself.
A little after midnight, the two orderlies became seriously alarmed (I ought to mention that one was recently from Cork, and the other from Kerry), and reported to the general that a conversation was being carried on in an unknown language by two persons in the woods beyond, and whom they verily believed to be spies of the enemy. The general was not a little perplexed at this intelligence, for the better informed orderly declared, that while one shouted in very bad Irish, the other seemed to answer him in Dutch. The general listened attentively for a minute or more, when the noise was again heard. It turned out, however, that the intruders were only a pair of owls, who had perched in some trees near by, and were exchanging hootings for their own entertainment.
The kind of reinforcements we had to defend the city.
This is an exact portrait of General Jubal A. Early, who was sent to capture Washington, but arrived a little too late.
There was great excitement in the city during Sunday, the 10th of July, and strange stories were set afloat concerning the arrival of General Early, and his rebel army. There was also great excitement in and around the forts north of the city. The hundred-day men did not feel themselves safe in the forts, and those outside were making a desperate effort to keep their courage up.
We had heroes enough in the city, but the great question was, how we were to get them organized, provisioned, armed, and sent to the front in time to be of service. The District militia, which we have all heard so much of and seen so little, was not enrolled, and, of course, could not be made available. It was said there would be some desperate fighting done if the Treasury Guard only got to the front. This valuable body of distinguished heroes was composed of nice young men, who wore fine linen and patent leather boots, and in appearance were unexceptionable.