Bailey's Cross Roads


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, October 5, 1861

Below we present another in our collection of Civil War Harper's Weekly newspapers. These original documents allow you to develop a better understanding of the war, by watching the war unfold in real time. Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the day, and it contained stunning, eye-witness illustrations of the war.

(Scroll Down to see entire page, or Newspaper Thumbnails will take you to the page of interest.)


Berdan's Sharpshooters

Berdan's Sharpshooters


A Civil War Parody


War in Kentucky

Bailey's Cross Road

Gun Boats

Federal Hill

Federal Hill, Baltimore

Woodstock, Virginia

Woodstock, Virginia

Rebel Prisoners

Rebel Prisoners

Men of War

North Carolina

Map of North Carolina

General Joe Johnston

General Joseph Johnston


Cynthiana, Kentucky

Jack Frost Cartoon

Jack Frost





OCTOBER 5, 1861.]





WE illustrate on this page MUNSON'S HILL, the advanced outpost of the rebels on the Potomac, and BAILEY'S CROSS ROADS, where the nearest Union picket to Munson's Hill is stationed. A correspondent of the Charleston Mercury thus describes the former:

Munson's Hill is a conical mound rising up abruptly some eighty feet above the surrounding level, and over-topping all its hilly neighbors on the front and rear. A regiment of Virginia troops, from General Longstreet's brigade, occupies this position, and near the top of the hill a circular breast-work, with a dry ditch, has been thrown up for their protection. Unless artillery were employed in the attack their force could hold the post against five times their number. The country in front is too level for the use of mortars with any success, as an attempt to shell the place could be promptly thwarted by bringing up a few light rifled cannon, whose plunging fire would easily command the plain beyond. The enemy does not seem inclined, however, to dispute our possession, and has acquiesced, apparently without a murmur, in our Commander-in-Chief's decision, that they shall keep within their

lines, immediately on the river, until we are ready to advance. By the time this reaches you the compliance will be a forced one, for dispositions are now being made to prevent reoccupation by the United States army of the advanced line, which has been selected as the base of our future operations.

  A correspondent of the Tribune thus writes of and from Bailey's Cross Roads:

I always find Bailey's Cross Roads the most attractive point of the long line of army outposts, not because of the proximity of that wretched and innocuous bugbear, Munson's Hill, but because of the brisk picket work that is generally carried on there. Our picket guards at this post are really of the first quality. They come from Michigan, and the best compliments I could frame for good spirits and sunshiny courage I would bestow upon them. I do not speak with any claim to military judgment, and, for aught I know, the strict martial sense would criticise more rigorously; but to the unfettered " civil" appreciation, nothing could be better worth enjoying than the handsome, manly, and sometimes droll and eccentric manners and behavior of these Michigan men. Let us look at them from this place. The first point of observation is a deserted blacksmith's shop, well ventilated with windows and rifled cannon-shot holes, the latter inflicted some time ago by the rebels as a warning to Michigan men not to play

improper tricks. The Michigan men had erected a furious looking piece of ordnance in the middle of the road, consisting of a stove-pipe and a set of wagon-wheels. The Confederate camp was thrown into consternation, and Bailey's Roads were shelled vigorously until the real nature of the structure was discovered. The blacksmith's house was thus perforated in such a manner as to afford excellent opportunities for observation on every side.

Just over the way, upon the piazza of a little dwelling-house, the Captain in command of the outpost sits serious and thoughtful. That is easy to understand. Of all the little force spread around he is the only really responsible man. His men are not under his eye, are not within call, and a good part of them can only be reached by messengers. The most remote pickets are nearly a quarter of a mile away, and who knows what may any moment happen to them? When the firing gets a little heavier than seems to him necessary, he becomes impatient, and sends out orders for less waste of ammunition. The answer always comes that the rebels fire on us, and we fire only in self-defense, which, if it does not convince, is hardly deniable, under the circumstances. Near the captain sits the surgeon, who is stationed here to attend to any wounded that may be brought in ; but the wounded are not numerous, and there is a prevailing conviction that the attention of the surgeon has to be more frequently directed to corn, and its abuses, than to fractures or blood.

For the corn-fields are very rich hereabout, and the men

can not possibly resist their seductions. Cookery is practiced with neatness and dispatch in secure retreats. Corn is boiled and roasted in ample quantities. The biggest ears are gracefully eliminated from the pot, and presented in form to the captain, who as gracefully accepts, and munches with dignity. Other ears, smaller, but not less sweet, are bestowed upon subordinate officers. Smoking pailfuls are then taken to the outermost lines, and are welcomed with enthusiasm. The pickets at this station do not suffer for luxuries. "The chickens from the deserted farm-houses," says a lieutenant, " are very aggressive. They attack and bite our men, and our men are bound to resent it." So the odor of hot corn is not the only perfume that sometimes charges the atmosphere at Bailey's Cross Roads.

There is a certain hole in one side of the blacksmith's house which affords a comprehensive view of all the enemy's operations. The work on their defenses appears to have ceased for good, and the rebel soldiers do nothing but saunter and lie about upon the banks, until sent down to their picket work. Then they rattle down the hill as bold as you please while beyond range; but at a certain point they become cautious and adapt themselves to the irregularities of the ground. Nothing more is seen of them until they show furtively at the little huts on the boundary of their corn-field—for they, too, have a corn-field as well as we. They are very indistinct at this distance, and look much better at a nearer view.


Munson's Hill
Bailey's Cross Roads



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