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Illustration of the War in America

The Illustrated London News, vol.39, no. 1111, p. 357.

October 5, 1861

MUNSON'S HILL, WITH THE EARTHWORK THROWN UP BY THE
CONFEDERATES IN FRONT OF THE UNION LINES, VIRGINIA.

This is the point in Virginia at which the Unionists and the Confederates are nearest each other, and whilst our Artist was making his sketch, crouched beneath the shelter of the foliage, within hailing distance of the enemy's pickets, a continual spattering of bullets fell round the spot. More than halfway up the road towards the hill is a barricade, from behind which a Secessionist sharpshooter is having some pot shots, and, screened by the hedges in the cornfields, others are doing the same. In the foreground are the Union advanced pickets, furnished by the Michigan Regiment, one of whom is in the act of firing at two or three men beyond the barricade. A Michigan soldier just shot lies in the road. The Confederates have some rifled cannon on the earthwork, and whenever they see a number of Federalists together they send in a dose of shells.

A New York paper thus describes the Confederate position on Munson's-hill:—"Munson's-hill is probably the highest eminence within ten miles of the Potomac, immediately opposite Washington. It is about six miles from the Capitol, the intervening space being covered with a succession of gently rolling hills, crowned principally with forest trees, although here and there dotted with churches, farmhouses, and country villages. The streams are unimportant and the roads dusty. The hill presents its most abrupt side towards the national capital, and, unlike those around, has but few trees on its summit. Many of those which originally existed have no doubt been felled while the intrenchments were in progress. At present an immense Confederate flag—the red, white, and blue stripes in which are at least five feet wide each—is the most prominent object upon the top of the eminence Two of the trees which have been allowed to remain were used as an observatory. The Confederate defences are constructed entirely of earth, fifteen feet being the highest elevation. The sloping hillside in front of the fort is clear of underbrush or trees, and is sufficiently extended to allow 3000 men to parade. The distance from the cover of the woods to the summit of the hill is not so great but that a quick movement would drive the enemy from their guns with very little loss of life. The flank defences of the fort consist of three batteries. It is believed that earthworks have been thrown up on another portion of the hill commanding the road to Fairfax Courthouse. The fort is intended more particularly to command the road leading from Alexandria to Falls Church, the road from Washington to Fairfax, just mentioned, the railroad from Alexandria to Vienna, and the position of Bailey's Cross-roads."

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