Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/212

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184

HENRY VILLARD

[1861

zplied, “there is nothing like being always ready for the ‘damned rebs.’ ” The leer from his eyes and a certain unsteadiness in the saddle indicated plainly that he had braced himself up internally for the fight.

General Tyler went into camp near Fairfax Court-House, and I accepted shelter for the night in a wall-tent offered me by one of his staff. For the first time since my Colorado experience I slept on the ground, with a waterproof sheet under and a blanket over me, and my saddle for a pillow. The reveille was sounded before sunrise, and we were in motion again shortly after five. We expected to have a first encounter with the enemy at Centreville, a small straggling village on the Warrenton turnpike about six miles from Fairfax, but found it evacuated. The few remaining inhabitants reported that the rebel troops had withdrawn behind Bull Run, a small stream some three miles to the west. A halt was made at Centreville, and the division went into camp about the village for the day. General Tyler's orders were “to observe well the roads,” under which he felt justified in making a reconnoissance in the direction of the enemy, and, accordingly, he set out for that purpose, escorted by a company of cavalry and two companies of infantry. I was permitted to ride with him. We took a road in a southerly direction towards “Blackburn's Ford” of Bull Run. About noon, we had reached an orchard on a plateau commanding a wide view of the surrounding country, from which clear fields sloped down for about one-third of a mile to the thickly wooded banks of the stream, along which, according to our information, rebel troops were concealed. General Tyler concluded to rouse the game in the woods below by artillery, and sent orders to bring up Captain Ricketts's regular battery, supported by Colonel Richardson's brigade. The battery reached the position with its support about three o'clock, and a section unlimbered directly and commenced shelling the woods. These were the first cannon-shots fired against the rebels in front of Washington, and