Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/376

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With Burnside before Fredericksburg.—1862

HAVING, after a good deal of effort, received permission to proceed to the front, I secured an order for transportation on one of the Government boats from Quartermaster-General Meigs. I managed to get myself and belongings, including my horse, on one of the many craft loading with army supplies, on the morning of November 29. We steamed off in the afternoon, but, Acquia Creek being sixty-five miles from Washington, and the boat making only six and seven miles an hour, we did not reach our destination before midnight. The captain let me share his supper, but there were sleeping accommodations only for the officers and crew, so that I was obliged to seek rest on the floor of the small mess-room. I was up at daybreak. In the estuary were several score of vessels at anchor — gunboats, steamboats of all kinds, schooners, scows, barges, and canal-boats — all awaiting their turn to discharge at the one available wharf. It looked as if I might have to wait for days before I could get my horse ashore. The captain was rowed to the landing early, and I accompanied him to ascertain the prospect before me. Fortunately, we had some railroad material aboard that was urgently needed in repairing the section between Acquia and Falmouth of the road from Alexandria to Fredericksburg, which had been utterly destroyed at an earlier stage of the war, and we were made fast to the wharf by noon and my luggage and animal safely transferred to it shortly afterward.

The railroad was near the wharf, and a locomotive and an old passenger coach and a dozen freight cars stood upon