Amazing articles on just about every subject...

Across The Potomac

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

ON the thirteenth of June, Ewell and the Second Corps forded the Potomac.

From the thirteenth to the twenty-first they bivouacked on and near the battle-field of Sharpsburg. By now they were used to revisiting battle-fields. Kernstown — Manassas — many another stricken field; they knew them once, they knew them twice, they knew them times again! On the twenty-first, Ewell had orders from Lee to march northward into Pennsylvania, then eastwardly upon Harrisburg on the Susquehanna. "Old Dick" broke camp at dawn of the twenty-second.

South of the Potomac waited Lee with the First and Third Corps. He waited watching "Fighting Joe Hooker," willing to give him battle in Virginia if he so elected. On the twentieth he sent a dispatch from Berryville to Richmond, to Mr. Davis.

MR. PRESIDENT: — I have the honour to report, for the information of your Excellency, that General Imboden has destroyed the bridges on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad over Evarts's Creek, near Cumberland; the long bridge across the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal below Cumberland; the iron bridge across the North Branch of the Potomac, with the wooden trestle adjoining it; the double-span bridge across the mouth of Patterson's Creek; the Fink's patent iron bridge across the mouth of the South Branch of the Potomac, three spans of 133 I-3 feet each, and the wooden bridge over Little Cacapon.

All the depots, water tanks, and engines between the Little Cacapon and the Cumberland are also destroyed, with the block-houses at the mouth of the South Branch and Patterson's Creek.

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, about two miles above Old Town, where the embankment is about forty feet high, has been cut, and General Imboden reports that when he left it the entire embankment for about fifty yards had been swept away.

A similar crevasse with like results was also made in the canal about four miles from Old Town.

Lieutenant-Colonel White, of the cavalry, has also cut the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, east of the Point of Rocks.

General Milroy has abandoned the south side of the Potomac, occupying Harper's Ferry with a picket, and holds the Maryland Heights with about eight thousand men.

General Ewell's corps is north of the Potomac, occupying Sharps-burg, Boonsborough, and Hagerstown. His advance cavalry is at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

The First Division of General A. P. Hill's corps will reach this vicinity to-day; the rest follow.

General Longstreet's corps with Stuart's cavalry still occupy the Blue Ridge between the roads leading through Ashby's and Snicker's Gaps, holding in check a large force of the enemy, consisting of cavalry, infantry, and artillery.

The movement of the main body of the enemy is still toward the Potomac, but its real destination is not yet discovered... .

If any of the brigades that I have left behind for the protection of Richmond can, in your opinion, be spared, I should like them to be sent to me.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General.

Several days later, Ewell being now so advanced that support for him was absolutely necessary, Longstreet was withdrawn from the edge of the Blue Ridge. With the First Corps he crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. A. P. Hill and the Third followed, crossing at Shepherdstown. At Hagerstown the two corps united and the resulting column moved northward into Pennsylvania.

Now Jeb Stuart's only fault was that he too dearly loved a raid. He applied to Lee for permission to take three brigades, thread the Bull Run Mountains, attain the enemy's rear, pass between his main body and Washington and so cross into Maryland, joining the army somewhere north of the Potomac. Now Lee's only fault was an occasional too gracious complaisance, a too moderate estimate of his own judgment, a willingness to try for what they were worth the suggestions of subordinates. With entire justice he loved and trusted Stuart and admired his great abilities. He permitted the deflection of the cavalry — only the cavalry must keep him cognizant of every move of the enemy. If Hooker finally crossed the Potomac, he must know it at once, and at once Stuart must fall in upon the right of the grey army of invasion.

Ewell at Sharpsburg broke camp at dawn of the twenty-second. Followed a week of, on the whole, tranquil progress. "Old Dick's" marches were masterly done. Reveille sounded at dawn. An hour later the troops were on the road. Unhurrying and undelayed, they made each day a good march and bivouacked with the setting sun.

How fair seemed the rich Pennsylvania countryside! The Valley of Virginia had worn that aspect before the war. It, too, had had yellow wheat-fields and orchards and turning mill wheels. It, too, had had good brick country-houses and great barns and peaceful towns and roads that were mended when they were worn. It, too, had had fences and walls and care. It had had cattle in lush meadows. "Land of Goshen!" said Ewell's soldiers. "To think we were like this once!"

"Well, we will be again."

"Listen to old Cheerfulness! And yet I reckon he's right, I reckon he's right, I reckon he's right!"

"Of course he's right! I could n't be low-spirited if I tried. Hallelujah /"

The Second Corps did not try. No more did the First nor the Third. The Army of Northern Virginia was in good spirits. Behind it lay some weeks of rest and recuperation; behind that the victory of the Wilderness. Worn and inadequate enough as it was, yet this army's equipment was better to-day than it had been. It had the spoils of great battle-fields. Artillery was notably bettered; cavalry was fit and fine; infantry a seasoned veteran who thought of a time without war as of some remote golden age. The Army of Northern Virginia was now organized as it had not been organized before for efficiency. It numbered between sixty and seventy thousand men. It had able major- and lieutenant-generals and a very great commanding general. It was veteran, eager for action, confident, with victories behind it. There was something lifted in the spirit of the men. Behind them, across the Potomac, lay a devastated land, — their land, their home, their mother country! Before them lay a battle, a great battle, the greatest battle yet, perhaps! Win it — win it! and see a great rainbow of promise, glorious and bright, arch itself over the land beyond the river, the land darkened, devastated, and beloved! . . . Before them, as they marched, marched a vision of dead leaders : Shiloh and Albert Sidney Johnston — Port Re-public and Ashby — Chancellorsville and Stonewall Jackson — of many dead leaders, and of a many and a many dead comrades. The vision did not hurt; it helped. It did not weaken their hearts; it strengthened them.

The Stonewall Brigade found itself in good heart and upon the road to Greencastle. It was a sunny June day and a sunny June road with oxheart cherry trees at intervals. Corps, divisions, brigades, regiments, companies — one and all had orders, calm and complete, not to plunder. "The Commanding General," ran Lee's general order, "earnestly exhorts the troops to abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property, and he enjoins upon all officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject." To the credit of a poorly clad army, out of a land famished and fordone, be it said that the orders were obeyed. The army was in an enemy's land, a land of plenty, but the noncombatant farming-people of that land suffered but little in purse or property and not at all in person. "I was told," writes a good grey artilleryman, "by the inhabitants that they suffered less from our troops than from their own, and that if compelled to have either they preferred having the `rebels' camped upon their land. I saw no plundering whatever, except that once or twice I did see branches laden with fruit broken from cherry trees. Of course it goes without saying that the quartermasters, especially of artillery battalions, were confessedly, and of malice aforethought, horse-thieves!"

The Sixty-fifth Virginia admired the Cumberland Valley. "It looks for all the world like the picture of Beulah land in a `Pilgrim's Progress' I got as a prize for learning the most Bible verses! "—"This landscape makes me want to cry. It looks so - so — so damn peaceful." — "That's so! They don't have to glean no battle-fields. They're busy reaping wheat." — "Cherries! Those cherries are as big as winesaps. I'm going to have cherry pie tonight, —

"Can she make a cherry pie,
Billy boy, Billy boy?
Can she make a cherry pie,
Charming Billy?"

"Did you hear Early's boys tell about `Extra Billy' at Winches-ter?" — "No." — "Well, 't was the artillery going by at a gallop to occupy a work they had just taken, going by the lying-down infantry, and Milroy's other batteries blazing against them from the other hills, and the Yankee sharpshooters just as busy as bees. And the lying-down infantry just cocked its eye up from the earth and said, `Go it, boys!' But ex-Governor William Smith ain't made like that. He stood up before his regiment just as graceful and easy as if he was going to make a speech, with the blue cotton umbrella over his shoulder, and when that artillery came thundering by, by jingo! he began bowing to every man and some of the horses! He just stood there and beamed and bowed —good old Governor! Everybody knew that he'd just forgotten and thought that he was at a political meeting." — "Probably he did. War's an awful intensifier and a kind of wizard that puts a year in a day, but if a man 's been habituated one way for fifty years he'll slip back into it, cannon balls not-withstanding." — "There's a spring-house and a woman churning! Buttermilk 1 "— "Reckon she 's got any cherry pies ? Reckon she'd sell them to us ? Colonel says we've got to pay — pay good Con-federate money!"

The Sixty-fifth marched on upon a sunshiny road, beneath blue sky, between crimson-fruited cherry trees. Beyond swelled the green and gold countryside, so peaceful. . . . Butterflies fluttered, honeybees hummed, birds warbled. Dinner was good meat and wheaten bread, taken in cheerful meadows, beneath elms and poplars. Village and farmer people showed themselves not tremendously hostile. Small boys gathered, happy and excited; Dutch farmers, anxiety for their red barns appeased, glowered not over-much. Women were stiffer and took occasion to hum or sing aloud patriotic Northern songs. Southerners are a polite people, and the women of the Cumberland Valley met with no rudeness. At a cross-roads, the Sixty-fifth passing with jingle and tramp, a Pennsylvania carriage horse, that had never snuffed the battle from afar, took fright at the grey men or the gleam of rifle barrels or the sanguine fluttering colours. Ensued a rearing and plunging, and, from the phaeton behind, a scream. Lieutenant Coffin sprang to the rescue. — The horse stood soothed, though trembling a little still. "Thar now! thar now!" said Billy Maydew at the reins. The twelve-year-old urchin in the driver's seat glued his eyes to the marching Sixty-fifth and gasped with delight. The sprigged muslin and straw bonnet in the embrace of the phaeton made a gallant bid for the austerity of a marble monument.

"You wish to cross the road, madam ? Or can you wait until the column has passed ?"

"Oh, wait, please, sister! Golly! Look at that blue flag!"

"No, I cannot wait. I wish to cross now. I am going to a funeral."

The last of the Sixty-fifth passed with jingle and tramp. The Fourth was seen looming through the mist. Sergeant Maydew at the horse's head, Lieutenant Coffin beside the phaeton — across the highroad was conducted straw bonnet and sprigged muslin. The two soldiers stood back, Lieutenant Coffin making a courtly bow. It was answered by a stately inclination of the bonnet. The boy reluctantly said, "Get up!" to the horse, and the phaeton slowly climbed a flowery hill.

The lieutenant and the sergeant strode after their regiment. "She was mighty sweet and fine!" volunteered Billy. " I like that dark, soft kind, like pansies. I'll tell you who I think she air like. She air like Miss Miriam Cleave at Three Oaks."

Coffin considered. "I see what you mean. They are a little alike. ... Three Oaks!"

"I used to think," said Billy, "that I'd be right happy if I could kill you. That was before Port Republic. Then I used to think I'd be right happy when Allan Gold had beat spelling into me and I'd be made sergeant. And after Chancellorsville I thought I'd be right happy if General Jackson got well. But I've thought right along, ever since White Oak Swamp, that I'd be right happy if the Sixty-fifth had back the only colonel I've ever cared much for, and that air Richard Cleave!"

In the afternoon the Sixty-fifth came to the town of Greencastle. It looked a thriving place, and it had shops and stores filled with the most beautiful and tempting goods. Back home, the goods were all gone from the stores, the old stock assimilated and the new never appearing. The shop windows of Greencastle looked like fairyland, a hundred Christmases all in one. "Look-a-there! Look at that ironware!" — "Look at them shirts and suspenders! Coloured handkerchiefs." — "Fancy soap and cologne and toothbrushes!" — "I wish I might send Sally that pink calico and some ribbons, and a hoop." — "Look at that plough — that's something new!" — "Figured velvet waistcoats." — "Lord have mercy! this is the sinfullest town of plutocrats!" — "Try them with Confederate money." — "Sure Old Dick said we might n't take just a little?" — "Oh, me! oh, me! there's a shoe-store and a hat-store and a drug-store." — "Say, Mr. Storekeeper, would you take for that pair of shoes a brand-new fifty-dollar Richmond Virginia bank note with George Washington and a train of cars on it?"— "He won't sell. This gilded town's got so much money it does n't want any more — tired of money." — "Disgusting Vanity Fair kind of a place! Glad the colonel is n't going to halt us!" — Don't straggle, men ! — "No, sir; we aren't!"

Camp was clean beyond Greencastle — a lovely camp quite re-moved from Vanity Fair. Apparently the quartermasters had been able to buy. There was coffee for supper, real coffee, real sugar; there were light biscuits and butter and roast lamb. A crystal stream purled through the meadows; upon the hilltops wheat, partly shocked, stood against the rosy sky. The evening was cool and sweet and the camp-fires for a long way, up and down and on either side the road, burned with a steady flame. The men lay upon the earth like dusty acorns shaken from invisible branches. At the foot of the hills the battery and wagon horses cropped the sweet grass.

The good horses! — their ribs did not show as they did on the Virginia side of the Potomac. They were faring well in Pennsylvania. Rank and file, men and horses, guns and wagon train, the Second Corps, Rodes and Jubal Early and "Alleghany" Johnson, and "Dear Dick Ewell" at the head, — the Second Corps was in spirits. To-night it was as buoyant as a cork or a rubber ball. Where there were bands the bands played, played the sprightliest airs in their repertory. Harry Hays's Creoles danced, leaping like fauns in the dying sunset and the firelight, in a trodden space beneath beech trees.

The next morning Rodes and Johnson pursued the road to Chambersburg, but Early's division took the Gettysburg and York road, having orders to cut the Northern Central Railroad running from Baltimore to Harrisburg, and to destroy the bridge across the Susquehanna at Wrightsville and rejoin at Carlisle. Ahead went Gordon's Georgia brigade and White's battalion of cavalry.

The town of Gettysburg, where they made boots and shoes, lay among orchards and gardens at the foot of the South Mountain. It numbered four thousand inhabitants, a large place for those days. It lay between the waters that drain into the Susquehanna and the waters that drain into the Potomac and commanded all the country roads. On the outskirts of this place, a place not marked out on that day from other places on the map, White's cavalry encountered a regiment of militia. The militia did not stand, but fled to either side the macadamized road, through the midsummer fields. A hundred and seventy-five were taken prisoner. On through Gettysburg marched Gordon and the cavalry, the people watching from the windows, and took the pike to York. Behind them came "Old Jube," marching in light order, having sent his trains to Chambersburg, "excepting the ambulances, one medical wagon for a brigade, the regimental ordnance wagons, one wagon with cooking-utensils for each regiment, and fifteen empty wagons to gather supplies with."

It came on to rain. The troops bivouacked somewhat comfortlessIy a mile or two out on the York road. Two thousand rations were found in a train of cars. When they had been removed the cars were set afire, and in addition a railroad bridge hard by. These burned with no cheer in the flames seen through a thick veil of chilly rain. "I don't care if I never see Gettysburg again!" said the division.

At dawn rang the bugles. The rain was over, the sun came up, breakfast was good, the country smiled, the division had a light heart. All this day they made a good march, through a pleasant country, leading to York. The cavalry was on ahead toward Han-over Junction, destroying railroad bridges. Gordon and his Georgians acted vanguard for the infantry. Of the main body, Brigadier-General William Smith with the Thirty-first, Forty-ninth, and Fifty-second Virginia headed the column. By reaped wheat and waving corn, by rich woods and murmuring streams, under blue sky and to the song of birds, through a land of plenty and prosperity, the grey column moved pleasantly on to York, and at sunset bivouacked within a mile or two of that place.

Out to Gordon's camp-fire came a deputation—the mayor of York and prominent citizens. Gorton, handsome and gallant, received them with his accustomed courtesy. "Their object," he reports, "being to make a peaceable surrender, and ask for protection to life and property. They returned, I think, with a feeling of assured safety."

The next day was Sunday — a clear midsummer Sunday, the serene air filled with church bells. Gordon's men, occupying York, found well-dressed throngs upon the sidewalks, in the doorways, leaning from the windows. Confederate soldiers had always to hope that the inner man could not be hidden, but shone excellently forth from the bizarrest ragged apparel. Sunburnt, with longish hair, gaunt yet, despite a fortnight with the flesh pots of this Egypt, creature of shred and patches and all covered with the whitish dust of a macadamized road — it needed some insight to read how sweet and sound, on the whole, was the kernel within so weather-beaten a shell. Now Gordon was the Southern gentleman at his best. "Con-federate pride, to say nothing of Southern gallantry," reports Gordon, "was subjected to the sorest trial by the consternation produced among the ladies of York. . . . I assured these ladies that the troops behind me, though ill-clad and travel-stained, were good men and brave; that beneath their rough exteriors were hearts as loyal to women as ever beat in the breasts of honourable men; that their own experience and the experience of their mothers, wives, and sisters at home had taught them how painful must be the sight of a hostile army in their town; that under the orders of the Confederate Commander-in-Chief both private property and noncombatants were safe; that the spirit of vengeance and rapine had no place in the bosoms of these dust-covered but knightly men; and I closed by pledging to York the head of any soldier under my command who destroyed private property, disturbed the repose of a single home, or insulted a woman."

Gordon made no tarrying in York, but moved on toward Wrightsville, with orders to burn the long railroad bridge crossing the Susquehanna. A few hours later marched in Early's advance brigade — General ex-Governor William Smith on a fine horse at its head. Now this brigade had a very good band, as bands went in the Con-federate service, and this band proposed to enter York playing "Dixie"! Indeed, they had begun the familiar strains when an aide appeared, "General says you `tooting fellows' are temporarily to lay that air in lavender. When you are in Rome, play what Rome likes, or, in other words, Virginians, take your manners along! He says come up front and play `Yankee Doodle."

York was out of doors for this brigade as it had been for Gordon's. In the sunny mid-afternoon, the column swung into its main street, "Extra Billy" riding at the head, beaming like the sun. Hero of a hundred hustings, he always took his manners with him; and indeed, as they came from his heart, he could not do otherwise. At the head of town he took off his hat, kept it in his hand, and began bowing right and left, always with his hearty, beamy smile. Behind him rode his smiling staff, and behind staff came the band, horns and drums giving "Yankee Doodle."

The citizens of York upon the sidewalks—and they were crowded — developed a tendency to keep pace with the head of the column. It presently arrived that General William Smith, like a magnet, was carrying with him a considerable portion of the population. Before the procession opened the public square, bathed in a happy light. The band, having come to an end of "Yankee Doodle," played "Dixie," then slipped again into the first, then happily blended the two. Staff was laughing, regimental officers broadly smiling, the troops behind in the best of spirits. All poured into the sunny square, where were more of the inhabitants of York. "Tell 'em to halt," ordered the ex-Governor, "and tell those tooting fellows to stop both tunes. These are nice people and I am going to give them a speech."

He gave it, sitting very firm on his fine horse, to an open-mouthed and-eyed crowd, behind him the troops at rest,. the whole throng, invaded and invaders, filling the square and the street. He spoke in his geniallest fashion, with his mellowest voice and happiest allusions. The warm, yellow, late June sunshine flooded the square, lighting the curious throng, and that worn, grey, citizen soldiery, making a splendour of the brass instruments of the band and wrap-ping General William Smith in a toga of airy gold. "Ladies and gentlemen (and York has such beautiful ladies)," spoke "Extra Billy," "as you see, we are back in the Union! May we not hope that you are glad to see us ? I assure you that we are glad to see you! I wish that we were dressed for visiting, but you'll excuse us, we know! What we all need on both sides is to mingle more with each other, so that we shall learn to know and appreciate each other's good qualities. Now —"

From behind arose a murmur. The aides looked over their shoulders and beheld a pushing to the front on the part of some person or persons. Whatever it was, cavalry squad trying to pass, aides, or couriers, general officer, and staff—there was difficulty in attracting the attention of the grinning, absorbed troops sufficiently to let the party by.

"Now," continued General William Smith, "we are n't at all the villains and cut-throats that you've been seeing in your dreams! Clothes don't make the man, and we 're better than our outfit. When this little rumpus is all over and you come visiting us in the Confederacy of the South (and I hope that the beautiful ladies of York will come often and come in summer-time, for we want to have a tournament and crown them all Queens of Love and Beauty) — when this little border war is over, I say —"

The party from the rear had now got to the front. 'A thin, stoop-shouldered man, with a long, thin beard and glittering, small black eyes, rose in his stirrups, leaned forward, and brought a vehement hand down upon "Extra Billy's" shoulder. His voice followed — Jubal A. Early's voice — a fierce sing-song treble. "General Smith, what the Devil are you about? — stopping the head of this column in this cursed town!"

"Extra Billy's" smile, manly and beaming and fearless, stayed with him. "Why, General, just having a little fun! Good for us all, sir; good for us all!"

Smith's brigade moved on, to be followed by Hoke's and Harry Hays's. Camp was pitched a mile or two out of town, "Old Jube," however, resting with Avery's command in York. "I made," he re-ports, "requisition upon the authorities for 2000 pairs of shoes, r000 hats, 1000 pairs of socks, $100,000 in money, and three days' rations of all kinds. Subsequently between 1200 and 1500 pairs of shoes, the hats, socks, and rations were furnished, but only $28,600 in money, which was paid to my quartermaster, the mayor and other authorities protesting their inability to get any more money, as it had all been run off previously, and I was satisfied they made an honest effort to raise the amount called for."

He continues: "A short time before night, I rode out in the direction of Columbia Bridge, to ascertain the result of Gordon's expedition, and had not proceeded far before I saw an immense smoke rising in the direction of the Susquehanna, which I subsequently dis-covered to proceed from the bridge in question. This bridge was one mile and a quarter in length, the superstructure being of wood on stone pillars, and it included in one structure a railroad bridge, a pass-way for wagons, and also a tow-path for the canal which here crosses the Susquehanna. The bridge was entirely consumed, and from it the town of Wrightsville caught fire, and several buildings were consumed, but the farther progress of the flames was arrested by the exertions of Gordon's men. . . . On the evening of the twenty-ninth, I received through Captain Elliott Johnston, aide to General Ewell, a copy of a note from General Lee which required me to move back so as to rejoin the rest of the corps on the western side of the South Mountain, and accordingly, at daylight on the morning of the thirtieth, I put my whole command in motion. . . . I encamped about three miles from Heidlersburg, and rode to see General Ewell at that point, and was informed by him that the object was to concentrate the corps at or near Cashtown, and I received directions to move next day at that point. . . . After passing Heidlersburg a short distance, I received a note from General Ewell informing me that General Hill was moving from Cash-town towards Gettysburg, and that General Rodes had turned off at Middletown and was moving toward the same place, and directing me also to move to that point. I therefore continued to move on the road I was then on toward Gettysburg. . . ."

From Greencastle, Rodes and Johnson, Ewell riding at the head of the column, had marched to Chambersburg and thence to Car-lisle. They reached the latter place on the twenty-seventh. On this day Robert E. Lee, with Longstreet and A. P. Hill, the First and Third Corps, bivouacked near Chambersburg.

With the grand patience which he habitually exercised, Lee waited for tidings from Stuart. There was room for intense impatience. His cavalry leader, who was to keep him informed of the least move upon the board of the other colour, had failed to do so. Four days in the enemy's country, and no news of Stuart and no news of the blue host south of the Potomac! Was it still south of the Potomac? Surely so, or Stuart's couriers, one after the other, would have come riding in! Surely so, or Stuart himself would be here, falling in on the right as ordered! With entire justice the grey commander loved and trusted the grey cavalry leader. He waited now, in the green Pennsylvania country, with a front of patience, but perhaps with an inner agony. Was Hooker yet in Virginia? Lee sat still in his small tent, his eyes level, his hand resting lightly on the table; then he rose, and said to the adjutant-general that the army would advance, next day, upon Harrisburg.

But that same night, the twenty-eighth, there was a movement at the door of the tent. "Captain from General Longstreet, sir, with the scout, Harrison."

A short, lean, swarthy man in citizen's dress, came forward and saluted.

"You are," said Lee, "the scout General Longstreet sent into Washington ? "

"Yes, General. Three weeks ago from Fredericksburg." "Very well. Give me your report."

"General Longstreet gave me money, sir, and orders to make my way into Washington and to stay there until I had something important to report and could get out. I only managed the last, sir, five days ago. Since then I've been travelling at night and what parts of the day I could without observation. I knew, of course, that the army had crossed or was crossing, and from Washington I struck out toward Frederick. There was talk in Washington that General Hooker would certainly be superseded, and last night I heard that he had resigned and General Meade was in command."

"I have been looking for that. General Hooker was a good fighter, and so is General Meade. But it is of the whereabouts of that army that I want to know."

"I had to hide at Frederick, sir. Three corps were already there. As I left I saw the dust of a fourth."

"Al Frederick !"

"Yes, sir. I understood from a farmer that they crossed at Edwards's Ferry the twenty-fifth and sixth."

"Have you seen or heard of General Stuart ?"

"An ambulance driver told me there was a report that what he called the rebel cavalry had crossed the Potomac and were cutting the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal."

"And the enemy's line of march from Frederick ?"

"Toward South Mountain, sir."

"That is all of consequence you have to report ?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. You have done well, Harrison. Good night!"

The scout and the aide departed. In the tent there was a some-what heavy silence. Lee drew the map upon the table closer and sat, his forehead upon his hand, studying it. Two candles stood beside him, and the white light showed the beauty of the down-bent head and face. His expression was very quiet, but the adjutant, watching him, ached for the ache that he read there, the ache of a great general who was yet mortal, with a mortal's equipment; of the leader of brave men who were yet mortal with a quiverful of the arrows of mistake and random aim. The hopes of the South hung upon this campaign. All knew it; the adjutant-general knew it; the man bending over the map knew it. . . . Hooker — no, Meade! — was across the Potomac, and advancing. By now he would be some-where south of Gettysburg. . . . The candles burned clear; Lee sat, very still, his gaze level, his hand upon the map.

Colonel Taylor ventured to speak. "The orders for Harrisburg —"

"Yes, Colonel. We must countermand them. These people are closer than I thought. I wish we had our cavalry. But I make mistakes myself." He rose, moving out of the clear light into the dusk of the tent. "The orders are that all three corps concentrate at Cashtown a little to the west of Gettysburg."

Home | More Articles | Email: