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enemy took advantage of the shade to fire the building. Even then the undaunted braves refused to surrender, and it was not till the blazing roof fell in, that they yielded. Glory to the fallen heroes. General Kelley pronounces it one of the most gallant affairs of the war.
RELATED BY AN EYE-WITNESS.
On the 11th of April, 1862, at five o'clock P. M., an event, both thrilling and amusing, occurred at our camp in front of Yorktown. The commander-in-chief had appointed Fitz-John Porter to conduct the siege. He was a soldierly New Hampshire gentleman, of the regular army, had fought gallantly in Mexico, was forty years of age,---handsome, enthusiastic, ambitious, and popular. He had made several ascensions with Professor Lowe, and learned to go aloft alone.
One day he ascended thrice, and seemed as cosily at home in the firmament, as upon the solid earth. It is needless to say that he grew careless, and on this particular morning, leaped into the car, and demanded the cables to be let out with all speed. I saw, with some surprise, that the flurried assistants were sending up the great straining canvass with a single rope attached.
The balloon was but partially inflated, and the loose folds opened and shut with a crack like that of a musket. Noiselessly, fitfully, the yellow mass rose into the sky, the basket rocking like a feather in the zephyr; and just as I turned to speak to a comrade, a sound from overhead, like the explosion of a shell, and something striking me across the face, laid me flat upon the ground.
Half-blind and stunned, I staggered to my feet, but the air seemed full of cries and curses. Opening my eyes ruefully, I saw all faces turned upward, and when I looked above-the balloon was adrift. The treacherous cable, rotted with vitriol, had snapped in twain; one fragment had been the cause of my downfall, and the other trailed, like a great entrail, from the receding car, where Fitz-John Porter was bounding upward, upon a Pegasus that he could neither check nor direct. The whole army was agitated by the unwonted occur
From battery No. 1, on the brink of the York, to the mouth of Warwick river, every soldier and officer was absorbed. Far within the Confederate lines the excitement extended. We heard the enemy's alarm-guns, and directly the signal flags were waving up
and down our front. The General appeared directly over the edge of the
He was tossing his hands frightenedly, and shouting something that we could not comprehend.
“Open the valve!" called Lowe, in his shrill tones: “climb-to--the-- netting- and reach the valve
“The valve!—the valve!” repeated a multitude of tongues, and all gazed with thrilling interest at the retreating hulk, that still kept straight upward, swerving neither to the east nor the west.
It was a weird spectaclethat frail, fading, oval, gliding against the sky, floating in the serene azure. the little vessel swinging silently beneath, and a hun.
dred thousand martial men, watching the loss of their brother-in-arms, but powerless to relieve, or recover him. Had Fitz-John Porter been drifting down the rapids of Niagara, he could not have been so far from human assistance. But we saw him directly, no bigger than a child's toy, clambering up the netting, and reaching for the cord.
“He can't do it," muttered a man beside me; wind blows the valve-rope to and fro, and only a spry, cool-headed fellow can catch it."
We saw the General descend, and appearing again over the edge of the basket, he seemed to be motioning to the breathless hordes below, the story of his failure. Then he dropped out of sight, and when we next saw him, he was reconnoitring the Confederate works, through a long, black spy-glass.
A great laugh went up and down the lines, as this cool procedure was observed, and then a cheer of applause ran from group to group. For a moment it was doubtful that the balloon would float in either direction; it seemed to faulter like an irresolute being, and moved reluctantly southeasterly, toward Fortress Monroe. A huzza, half uttered, quivered on every lip. All eyes glistened, and some were dim with tears of joy. But the wayward canvass now turned due westward, and was blown rapidly toward the Confederate works. Its course was finally direct, and the wind seemed to veer often, as if contrary currents, conscious of the opportunity, were struggling for the possession of the daring navigator.
The south wind held mastery for a while, and the balloon passed the Federal front, amid a howl of despair from the soldiery. It kept right on, over sharp-shooters, rifle-pits, and outworks, and finally passed. as if to deliver up its freight, directly over the heights of Yorktown.
The cool courage, either of heroism or despair, had seized upon Fitz-John Porter. IIe turned his black glass upon the ramparts and masked cannon below, upon the remote camps, upon the beleagured town, upon the guns of Gloucester Point, and upon distant Norfolk.
Had he been reconnoitering from a secure perch at the tip of the moon, he could not have been more vigilant; and the Confederates probably thought this some Yankee device to peer into their sanctuary, in despite of ball or shell.
None of their great guns could be brought to bear upon the balloon; but there were some discharges of musketry that appeared to have no effect, and finally, even these demonstrations ceased. Both armics in solemn silence were gazing aloft, while the impurturable mariner continued to spy out the land.
The sun was now rising behind us, and roseate rays struggled up to the zenith, like the arcs made by showery bombs. They threw a hazy atmosphere upon the balloon, and the light shone through the net-work, like the sun through the ribs of the skeleton ship, in the “ Ancient Mariner." Then, as all looked agape, the air craft "plunged and racked and veered," and drifted rapidly toward the Federal lines again.
The hallelujah that now went up shook the spheres, and when he had regained our camp-limits, the General was seen clambering up again, to clutch the valve-rope. This time he was successful, and the balloon fell suddenly, so that all hearts once more leaped up, and the cheers were hushed.
Cavalry rode pell-mell from several directions, to reach the place of descent; and the General's personal staff galloped past me like the wind, to be the first at his debarkation. I followed the throng of soldiers with due haste, and came up to the horsemen in a few minutes.
The balloon had struck a canvass tent with great violence, felling it as by a bolt, and the General, unharmed, had disentangled himself from innumerable folds of oiled canvass, and was now the
cynosure of an immense number of people.
While the officers shook his hands, the rabble bawled their satisfaction in hurrahs, and a band of music marching up directly, the throng of foot and horse gave him a vociferous escort to his quarters.
INCIDENTS OF THE BATTLE OF CHANCELLORVILLE.
FROM Captain William D. Wilkins, (of the staff of General A. S. Williams, commander of a division of the Twelfth Army Corps,) who was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Chancellorville, and subsequently paroled and returned to Detroit, the Free Press learned some interesting particulars.
The captain was placed in charge of a squad and taken to a plank road in the rear, where he met General Jackson and staff. Jackson had at this time formed a column of attack on the plank road, with the design of flanking our army, and obtaining possession of the