Withdrawal of Troops from Camp Bartow--Severe Weather--Rumors of an Approach of the Enemy.


CAMP ALLEGHANY, Nov. 24, 1861.

Day before yesterday our forces at Camp Bartow withdrew eastward, part stopping here on top of the Alleghany mountains, and the rest taking up quarters in Crab Bottom and Monterey.

It is snowing; the wind is blowing a hurricane; it is as cold as the North Pole; and of all the dreary and desolate places on earth, this is entitled to be the palm. Yet, the boys are in spirits, their loud halloo, jocund laughter, and occasionally the enlivening sound of the fiddle bravely throwing off Dixie to the echo of these hills, break on my ears above the flapping of tents and the whistling of the tempest.

Yesterday a report flew threw camp that the enemy were in pursuit of us and within a mile. The troops, though wholly unexpecting an attack, speedily formed in line-of battle eager for the fray. Two companies of the 44th were sent down the turnpike, and noticed Hansborough's battalion of gallant Northwestern boys filing over the hill through the woods, a near cut to a bend in the road, to get first crack at the assailants. But it was a false alarm. A scouting party of the enemy had followed us, and came within half a mile of our camp, and then retired, on learning our proximity.

The withdrawal from Camp Bartow was well planned, but badly executed, so far as concerns the loss of considerable baggage and camp equipage, on account of the enfeebled condition of the teams. The retirement of our forces was not caused by any apprehension of attack by the enemy--such attack we had vainly awaited for weeks, and were confident it would never come. It was occasioned solely by considerations of winter quarters, and hauling of provisions over almost impassible roads. Only one fault was committed--the withdrawal was done in too much haste. Instead of taking a week to perform, (which would have been proper, in view of bad roads and impoverished teams,) it was executed in a day; baggage was burnt, camp equipage thrown by the wayside, wagons broken and laid on the road, horses, falling dead in the harness, tossed over the bank--everything wearing too much the appearance of a hurried retreat before our enemy. I was on main-guard duty that day over the river next the enemy. At daybreak, a number of us went down to the western branch of the Greenbrier, under the command of Colonel Hansborough, (how was officer of the day) and burnt the bridge right in the face of the Yankees. They fired several shots at us, but double-quicked out of sight when our guns were brought to bear on them in return. I did not reach this camp till after dark, in the rain, being one of the rear guard, composed of the squads of that and the previous days, in number about three hundred, under the command of Colonel Hansborough.

The mud was ankle-deep and cold and we could scarcely find our quarters, which were generally tents, but occasionally unfurnished log-huts. Several hundred men had been detailed for weeks in this mountain to build cabins; but they had done comparatively little for our comfort. I understand Gen. H.R. Jackson has gone to Georgia to assume a command there. Col. Johnson will command here. Col. Taliaferro will command at Monterey. A bleak and disagreeable winter we will have here, after a hard and unfortunate campaign. But it is sweet to suffer, as well as to die, for one's country--[se viva latrael? illegible] And yet the country is full of censure or of contemptuous pity, for the army of the Northwest, because, forsooth, it has gained no brilliant victories like those of Manassas, Leesburg, and Springfield. Well, it matters not, so our independence be gained, who gets the praise. I will, if the ink does not all freeze up, someday give you an intelligible description of this waste place in nature, the Alleghany region, and the horrors of its winter storms and the ills of life amidst them.


Richmond Daily Dispatch, 30 November 1861.