Camping at Harper’s Ferry
Chapter 24 (July 9, 1863 – July 19, 1863)
Thursday, July 9th, we broke camp, passed thru Burgetsville and encamped near Rohersville, traveling 10 miles.
Friday, July 10th. Struck tents, marched thru Rohersville, Keedyville, and encamped about a half mile from Bakersville. Marched seven miles.
Saturday, July 11th, broke camp, passed thru Bakersville and Fairplay. When we entered the town of Fairplay a Rebel flag, which the citizens had raised on a pole, was floating in the breeze. Only a short time elapsed until this was lowered and Old Glory took its place. At this place we found a spring of water such as we had never seen before. The water was of the best, and gushed forth in a great volume. Just below the spring a large grist mill was run by its water power. The boys made good use of the water while in this vicinity.
At this place we expected a battle. The rebels were in sight, but orders were given that not a shot should be fired. Our entire regiment was placed upon the skirmish line, in open fields during the extreme heat of the day. On the 8th, just three days before this, we entered Frederick City. We were almost drowned by the heavy rains, and today almost burned up by the scorching rays of a July sun.
John Reed managed to get away from the company and bought a pie from a lady and he was coming toward the company when the Colonel rode up to him, gave him a few cuts over the knapsack with his riding whip, reprimanding him, and telling him that he wanted him to remain with his company. But John, like the good soldier that he was, held on to his pie, and made good use of it later on.
During the day some rebels drove off 10 or 12 head of cattle within gunshot of us, but we were not allowed to shoot. This was galling to us, but the orders had to be obeyed. We remained here during the night, marched only two miles.
Sunday, July 12th, everything quiet in camp all day.
Monday, July 13th, a line of breastworks was thrown up about one mile from Fairplay. Large fields of grain had been harvested and stood on shock. The fences surrounding beautiful fields were torn down, a sort of cribbing made with the rails, then the grain that was standing on shock, gathered and placed in the cribbing, and ground thrown on the grain which made us a real good breastwork. In our regimental front was a large field of grain, and when ordered to use it, for breastworks, it took only a little while until every sheaf had been gathered. We now felt pretty secure should we be attacked.
Tuesday, July 14th, remained all day in our breastworks.
Wednesday. July 15th, the expected did not happen, and we left our breastworks without a battle. We discovered that the rebels were retreating and nearly the entire rebel army was now south of the Potomac River. We left our breastworks, passed thru Fairplay, Bakersville, and Sharpsburg, marched over the Antietam Battlefield, passed Antietam iron works, crossed Antietam Creek, and encamped near Maryland Heights, on the Potomac. Traveled 17 miles.
Thursday, July 16th, broke camp, passed thru Sandy Hook and encamped about a half mile from town. Marched three miles.
Friday and Saturday, July 17th and 18th. Remained in camp. While in this camp Lieutenant B. T. Parks was hit on the calf of his leg by a spent minnie ball, and while the ball did not penetrate the skin yet it was very painful. This was only the beginning of the Lieutenant’s troubles, which we will relate further on.
Sunday, July 19th, struck tents, marched thru Sandy Hook, Maryland, crossed the Potomac River on a pontoon bridge at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, passed thru the town, crossed the Shenandoah River near the town on a wire bridge, encamping near Hillsboro old Virginia, traveled 12 miles. We marched in three States today: Maryland, West Virginia and old Virginia. When we entered Harper’s Ferry, the boys soon smelled in the air that a bakery was not far off. By a little maneuvering it was found that a large bakery was close by us. This place was enclosed by a high board fence, but unfortunately the proprietor left the gate open.
The baker, seeing trouble ahead, rushed off for a guard from the troops, who were stationed there, but before he returned a charge was made upon the bake ovens and the hot pies were taken out of the oven, and such a time for a little while, it was amusing. Someone would grab a hot pie (these pies were made out of what the Snyder county Dutch would say dried apple snits). He would soon find out that it was too hot to hold, or someone would snatch it out of his hand. Finally the pies were so far back in the oven that some venturesome fellow would get near the opening of the oven and reach back and get out the red-hot pies. Soon they became reckless and pushed one of the soldiers into the oven. When he yelled like a Comanche Indian, they pulled him out and the others all took warning and kept away. When the baker arrived with his guard all looked as innocent as little lambs, but the baker’s pies had disappeared.