Extract from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge

October 16. I rode to the farthest outpost of the army at Lewinsville, where we found a captain and twenty men. About two rifle-shots from us was a wood where the enemy’s pickets were placed. On our right we could see ten or twenty men approaching the wood. The captain informed us that they were scouting. We reached General Wadsworth about three in the afternoon. He occupies Upton’s Hill and is building a fort called Buffalo a little further, on Taylor’s Hill. The view was beautiful: on our left, Munson’s Hill, held by Blenker’s division and strongly fortified; on our right, Porter’s division, covering several hills with their white tents; in front, about a mile off, the village of Falls Church and Secessia. Through his telescope Wadsworth showed me the white horse which I have seen mentioned in the papers so often. It belongs to some rebel officer on picket. In company with Captain Smith we rode down to Falls Church, a little old building said to be two hundred years old. The village was entirely deserted. The woods all over Fairfax County were cut down by thousands of acres, partly to get abattis, but more to allow range for cannon. Death itself seemed to have passed over the country. At the outpost we were informed that one of our pickets had just been shot by the enemy and lay mortally wounded some distance out of the lines. This led the captain and myself with Powell Mason and a New York colonel to ride further and we reached the farthest pickets half a rifle-shot from the enemy, one of whose fires we could see plainly on our left. I fully expected a ball or two, but none came. We reached Washington long after dark after a most interesting ride.

Published in The Autobiography of T. Jefferson Coolidge, 1831–1920 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1923), 31–32.