From Virginia Into Maryland
Chapter 17 (June 26, 1863 – June 27, 1863)
After the shooting of the deserters, we returned to camp and remained for seven days. During this time General Hooker was watching the movements of General Lee closely and had the Army of the Potomac so distributed along the Potomac River as to give the best protection possible to the City of Washington, should an attempt be made in that direction by General Lee.
During our stay here we had our regular routine of camp duty. Picket duty was very severe, owing to the fact that a heavy line of pickets was required for the safety of the camp. We were placed about three miles from camp for three successive days.
On the 26th of June the army was again in motion. Crossed the Potomac River on a pontoon bridge at Edwards Ferry. We now turned our backs upon old Virginia and entered the State of Maryland. We passed thru Poolsville and encamped at Monocacy Aqueduct at the mouth of the Monocacy River.
Marched 12 miles. Hundreds upon hundreds of the soldiers went in bathing, and the sight was very amusing, for after a day’s march thru the dust and the heat of the day this bath was both refreshing and necessary.
When the army left camp at Leesburg, the writer, with a number of the members of Company G, whose names I have forgotten, was on picket three miles away, but we knew nothing about the army having moved until pretty late in the day, when we were relieved by the officer of the day and were compelled to march very hard to catch up to our company, which was in camp long before we arrived. The marching for us was very hard owing to the fact that the army wagon train occupied the road and we had to walk at the side as best we could.
While on picket duty we noticed several fine shoats running at large beyond our line and although strict orders were given forbidding foraging, the desire for fresh pork became stronger with each longing look at the animals and then, of course, we feared being bitten by one of these porkers. A council of war was held and we decided, if possible to capture one of these shoats.
We were not allowed to do any shooting on the picket line, so we made up our minds to charge without guns. Outside of our lines was a creek with very steep banks, beyond which was an open field. This field was to be the battleground, and we started to surround the porker, which we had selected as the one best suited to our purpose and tastes. We formed a line of battle with the creek with its high banks on one side and the open field on the other. We got around this fellow in a sort of friendly way and drew in our lines closer and closer until Mr. Shoat began to cock his ears and wonder what was going to be done. Now, my dear reader, did you ever help to catch a live pig? If you did you may know something of the fun connected with it. Well, we charged and the pig charged. The first dive he made was for a fellow’s legs, then you would see someone on his back with his feet in the air, but by sharp maneuvering we kept him between us and the steep bank and finally, when the pig and we were about played out, one of the boys picked up a stone, threw it, hit the pig back of the ear and knocked him over the high bank into the water. We jumped into the creek after him. Meanwhile the porker, being only slightly stunned, revived and you may well imagine the splashing until finally we got him on land and killed him.
While skinning and getting him ready for use, we saw the officer-of-the-day approaching. We hurriedly threw our porker into the bushes, covered him with a few limbs, washed our hands, took our places and looked as innocent as if we had killed a sheep and when the officer-of-the-day arrived we were ready to receive and to salute and to report to him: “All’s well at this post.” After he left we had our pork steaks broiled in grand style, and we thought we never ate any pork that tasted any better.
Saturday, June 27th, broke camp, crossed over the aqueduct at the mouth of the Monocacy River, crossed the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and canal at Point of Rocks. Marched on tow path to Catoctin Station where we passed thru a tunnel or culvert under the canal. We marched beyond Petersville and encamped about two miles from town. Traveled 23 miles. While we were crossing the aqueduct, an officer on horseback, rather nicely dressed rode down to water his horse. He rode down to the stream where the wagons had forded and coming out had deep ruts in the mud. He threw his rein on the horse’s neck and, in going into the water he got into a rut and down went the horse’s head into the river and for a little while scarcely anything could be seen of either of them. The boys on the aqueduct yelled: “There he goes! Watch him! Hit him with a brick! Keep an eye on him.” While the officer did not enjoy his unexpected dump into the river. I am sure the boys did.