6th.—We cooked our rations yesterday, as ordered, but are being still to-day. I this afternoon rode down to Alexandria, (2 1-2 miles,) remained a short time, and when I returned at 4 o’clock P. M., found the army in line, ready to march. About dark, we started, no one seeming to know whither we were going, but at 10 o’clock at night, found ourselves on the south end of Long Bridge, opposite Washington. Having crossed the river, we marched with the pomp and boldness of a victorious army up to the house of the Commander-in-Chief, (General McClellan) and inflicted many long, loud cheers; and what an infliction it must have been! Just one year before, he had in a speech to the soldiers, promised them that if “you will stand by me, I’ll stand by you, and there shall be no more Bull Run defeats.” And here we are, on a skedaddle of a most shameful “Bull Run defeat,” celebrating the anniversary of the bomastic, yet puerile speech. We are eight miles farther from Richmond than when the promise was made, and worse still, Generals Lee and Jackson have pushed us aside at the Bull Run defeat, gone past us into Maryland, and threaten Baltimore and Harrisburg. Yet, amidst all my mortification, I have been unable to restrain a laugh at the ridiculousness of our position, as we pass through Washington. For weeks, we have, by night, been stealing away from the enemy in such trepidation that the breaking of a trampled stick would startle us, lest the noise might discover our position to the pursuers. Whilst crossing Long Bridge to-night, General Hancock ordered all the music to the front, and as we marched through the streets to the tune of “Hail to the Chief who in Triumph Advances,” I could not for the life of me, restrain a laugh at the thought of some poor old dung-hill cock, whipped till feathers were all plucked and ruffled, running away from his victorious antagonist, then perched on his own ground, and peeping from behind a bush to see that no little chanticleer was in hearing, would raise himself up and perpetrate his biggest “cock-a-doodle-doo.”
“Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances.”
Having crowed this big crow on the threshhold of General McClellan’s house, we passed on through Washington and Georgetown, and as no army was endangered by our delay, we have marched all night, stopping at daylight near Tennally Town, Maryland.