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The Soldiers' journal. (Rendezvous of Distribution, Va.) 1864-1865, December 07, 1864, Image 6

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Persistent link: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89038091/1864-12-07/ed-1/seq-6/

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For the Soldiers' Journal.
A Trip from Rendezvous of Distribution
to Washington City.
Having occasion recently to visit Washington
City, we noted down a few items, and those, with
some hasty observations, aro presented in the
hope that they may prove interesting to those
who have not been favored with an opportunity
of visiting the Capitol, or, visiting it, have not
had time to look around as Ailly as they would
Half a mile to the north-east of camp is the
till upon whose crest Fort Albany is built, which
affords a magnificent view of the city and sub
urbs, as well as tho surrounding country, anc
c long strip of the Potomac, dotted here anc
there with vessels. Bold, bare headlands, on
this and tho opposite side of the river—once
crowned with a stately growth of oak and pine
trees, which have been cut down in order to give
a better range to the guns of tho forts now erected
upon every commanding eminence—meet the
eye and give a striking cast to the landscape.—
Away to the right can bo seen a portion of the
city of Alexandria, Va.; directly in front the
lofty dome of the Capitol, ornamented with a
gigantic bronze statute of tho Goddess of Liberty.
Georgetown, the Patent Office, White House,
Treasury Building, Smithsonian Institute, Freed
man's Village, Long Bridge, etc., fill up the fore
ground and, altogether, give one a pleasant idea
of the Capitol of our mighty nation.
A short distance beyond Fort Albany the roa<
turns abruptly to the right, and crosses an old
fashioned wooden bridge over that poi tion o
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal between George
town and Alexandria —fallen into disuso since
the commencement of the rebellion; the water
standing in stagnant pools, and everything fast |
taking; tho impress of decay. Like the stately
old "Mother of Presidents," through whose
sandy soil it " drags its slow length along," it is
but a relic of termor power and greatness.
Passing through the inner line of fortifications j
guarding the approach to the Long Bridge and
the Washington and Alexandria railroad track,
the road turns off sharply to the loft, and tra
verses a low-lying piece of ground, with the Po
tomac on tho right and a pestilence-breeding
marsh on tho left—a splendid subject for conser
vative legislators when the weightier cares of
state have been discussed. There goes a train of
cars loaded with soldiers on their way to Ren
dezvous of Distribution —from Hospitals, Draft
ing Rendezvous, etc.—there to be assigned to
their respective regiments. They seem to be
■ the thought of a return to their corn
it tho front," and a hearty cheer greets
y rush swiftly by. Arrived at the Long
he guards, after looking at our pass,
sto proceed. How different tho scene
four years since! Then a rebel battery
threatened destruction to those who
ttempt a crossing; now, with a proper
pass ono can come and go at will. As we cross I
tho bridge, admiring the beautiful scenery on
either band, that which next strikes the eye is
the new railroad bridge on the right, which sup
plies a need long folt by the citizens of Washing- I
ton and Alexandria.
"Confound it, there is the draw up again!"
This exclamation is caused by tho draw on the
end of the bridge nearest the city having to bo
raised to allow the passage of a miserable little
Casey's Examining Board's Quarters, to the
left of the Smithsonian and right of tho Wash
ington Monument, cross a neat iron bridge over
tho canal, and halt at Willard's.
Here we find ourselves in the midst of a crowd
composed of office-hunters, business men, pleas
ure-seekers, porters, boot-blacks, American
loafers of African descent, newsboys, officers and
soldiers, ladies, ct id omne genus. "Young Amer- I
ica" predominates. There comes an ambitious
newsboy, with an armful of papers—"Philadel
phia Inquirer ; Another Great Battle; D'feat of
the Rebels !" We hear considerable about news- J
\ papers getting up "sensation stories" in order I
to increase their circulation ; but wo feel assured
that that small boy carries more general infor
mation on that head underneath his torn cap
than would at first appear, and which enables j
him to palm off upon the unwary and hasty men
who press around him his entire stock of papers,
when all the " glorious news" is contained in a
couple of small newspaper paragraphs, giving
an ambiguous report of a battle that maj r never
have occurred.
"Black your boots, sir?" asks a barefooted
little urchin, with thin pants and jacket, both a
great deal the worse for wear, a cap set awry on
his head, through which creeps a stray curl, and
a bright, restless look in the eye which certainly
denotes more than sufficient genius for a boot- 1
black. Business is business with him.
There is one thing strikes the visitor to Wash
ington, and that is the great number of officers,
soldiers and sailors constantly met with. The
officers of every grade, from the Major General
to the Second Lieutenant; the soldiers and sail
ors, both non-commissioned officers and pri
vates, from the different Union armies and fleets. I
■ Most of them dressed in the "true blue"—some 1
sporting citizens' hats, coats or pants—all that
can afford it luxuriating in white "chokers" and
" biled shirts." Four gay young fellows, who
have had their drafts on the Treasury cashed,
and are bent on " seeing the elephant," pass by
in a splendid cab. There is a poor fellow getting
off the street cars who has lost his right leg and
three fingers of his right hand. His dress un
mistakably denotes him a soldier, and a " Vet
eran," as is shown by the two red stripes, bor
dered with gilt lace, on the forearm. If those
young men in the cab would devote the one-half
of their foolishly spent money (for which they
receive no substantial pleasure) aiding their
maimed comrade, in tbe generous, take-no-re
fusal manner which all soldiers know so well
bow to assume, how quickly would the sad, care
worn expression vanish from his pale face, and
what pleasure would they themselves experience
at the commission of one good act. Or, if they
did not feel inclined to personally distribute any
of their contributions, several organized channels
of relief are open, and a little may be made to do
considerable good. And what soldier that has
visited Washington, but would decide in a mo
ment where he would go. The " San. Com."—as
most of the boys have abbreviated the words
Sanitary Commission—the greatest and best or
ganized institution of which the loyal North can
boast, stands ready to greet those "on charitable
thoughts intent." If any of the readers of the
Journal have a leisure hour, and wish to observe
the workings of one of the Relief offices, let them
take a stroll around to 389 H street, between 13th
and 14th streets, about twelve o'clock. There
the tall fellow from Maine jostling against fcis
comrade in arms of oqual height from Wisconsin;
an lowa man, minus an arm, procuring his one
leggod neighbor from Pennsylvania a dinner
ticket; some discharged, or about to be die
charged, and waiting for their papers and pay ;
others with furloughs, or passes from camp or
hospital, and, without money to pay for meals
and lodging, are furnished with both gratuitous
ly. Attached to the establishment is a dining
room, a kitchen, a large sitting-room provided
with a stove, and a lodge—the last supplied with
good, comfortable beds, a table covered with
books and papers of undoubted loyalty and mo
rality, well warmed, lighted with gas, and unrit r
charge of gentlemanly and efficient persons who
make the comfort of the soldier their first car*.
Paymaster's, Surgeon's, Special Reliof, Dis
charge, Pension and Transportation offices—
where tho papers, pay and transportation of
soldiers aro attended to, without charge, by com
petent persons—make up the sum total of what
is an honor to those who conceived it, and ar*>
consecrating their time and labor to the promo
tion of the comfort and well-being of all defend
ers of the flag.
Squads of rebel deserters are often seen, going
up or down Pennsylvania Avenue ; their dress,
an admixture of grey and butternut, being well
patched and pretty dirty in most cases. General
Grant's order is inducing a groat many to leave
the waning fortunes of tho "Confeds," and re
sume their rights, privileges and immunities a*
Undo Sam's children. The first advantage
acquired under the now order of things is tho
right, Ac, to wear a good pair of shoes, a new
pair of which can bo considered as an infallible
indication that the wearer is a rebel deserter.
Contrabands of every size and condition in life
are to be met with everywhere. Indeed, Wash
ington City does not differ materially from any
other in this feature; but the Washington dar
keys are "right smart" generally, and will be
found "up to snuff" in all matters of business.
From the "gentleman "—dressed in the latest
style, sporting his cigar, fancy cane and kids,
and taking advantage of the " Colored Persons
Admitted" which greets the eye from the side
walk as some of the Georgetown, Capitol ami
Navy Yard cars pass—down to the little boot
black, who casts -a reproachful look at your
" shining understandings," and gladly takes ad
vantage of your permission to give them a "real
patent leather shine;" exhibiting a remarkable*
dilatoriness in finding change for your " quar
ter "if he sees you are in a hurry; perhaps
looking up with a sly glance of his black eyes,
" Mister, wasn't that a twenty-five cent job?"
To see Washington thoroughly, it will be neces
sary to tako along, in addition to the usual
luggage, at least "eight days' rations," (tho
wherewithal to procure it will do as-well,) and
visitors can spend all this time pleasantly and
profitably, in taking a look through and over
tho various public institutions. They will go
away fully satisfied that Washington is one of
the groat places—a " curiosity shop" well worth
a visit. We thought so. W. P. G.
m « p» '
It is said that there are thirty-four generals in
the Union army who profoss the Roman Catholte
faith. Tho most prominent are Generals Mead-*,
Roseerans, Shoridan, Meagher, Sickles, Ord and
An Irish guide told Dr. Sam Johnson, who
wished for a reason why Echo was always of thf
feminine gender, that " Maybe it was because
sho always had the last word."

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