Marching to Gettysburg
Chapter 18 (June 28, 1863 – June 30, 1863)
Sunday, June 28th, struck tents and were again on the march. went back thru Petersville and thru the towns of Cherry Grove, Centreville and Jefferson and encamped about one mile from Frederick city.
Traveled 12 miles. Here General Pleasonton, with the entire cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac, passed us to go to the front. This was a grand sight.
Our corps, the 12th, under General Slocum, was to march to Harper’s Ferry, there to concentrate with General French, who had under his command 11,000 troops. Slocum was to be joined by this garrison and the united force under command of General Slocum was to threaten the Confederate rear by a movement toward Chambersburg, Pa. This plan of General Hooker’s failed, because General Halleck, at Washington, did not approve of General Hooker’s plan of abandoning Harper’s Ferry.
Finding himself deprived of that freedom of action on which, in so large a degree, the success of military operations depends, General Hooker requested, on the 27th of June, to be relieved from command of the Army of the Potomac. On the following morning a messenger reached Frederick from Washington with an order appointing General George G. Meade, commanding the fifth army corps, as Hooker’s successor.
Monday, June 29th, broke camp, passed thru Frederick City, Walkersville, Woodsboro, Ladiesburg, crossed Pipe’s Creek, passed the towns of Marysville and Bruceville, and encamped about one mile from the last named town, having traveled 20 miles. While passing thru Frederick we first learned that General Hooker had been relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac. While marching along rumors were afloat that General McClellan, the idol of the Army of the Potomac, was again recalled to take command. Cheer after cheer was given for Little Mack, as he was familiarly called. Every one seemed to look to him to lead the army on to victory. We learned later on of the appointment of General Meade. All knew of General Meade’s sterling worth as a soldier and all had confidence in him as a leader.
The entire army had concentrated at Frederick City and so far as we know General Hooker’s plans were not changed in the least by General Meade. While passing thru Frederick many of the soldiers managed to get something to drink and of course many became unmanageable. We remember of an artilleryman who became so abusive against his officers that they were compelled to place a gag in his mouth and to lash him to the spare wheel (an extra wheel was carried on the rear portion of every caisson), placing him on the hub with his hands and feet tied to the outside of the wheel. There he sat in the hot sun, crazed with drink, cursing his officers until they had to tighten the gag, so that the blood ran down his chin.
Along the roadside we came across a goodly number of cherry trees which were loaded with the precious fruit and we ate many quarts in a very short time. While resting, some three or four ladies came along in a carriage, singing “Maryland, My Maryland.” The boys cheered them all along the line as it certainly was inspiring to hear this song as we were nearing old Pennsylvania. A large, long-haired, yellow dog came to our company from one of the Maryland homes, became a pet and stayed with us on the march.
Tuesday, June 30th, broke camp, passed thru Taneytown and shortly came to a tree upon which was posted, “Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland.” Just beyond the line in Pennsylvania, an old man stood at the gate in front of his large white house. Someone in Company G said, “Now we are in old Dutch Pennsylvania and I am going to ask the old man in German about the exact place of the line separating the two great States.” When we got a little closer someone yelled out in Dutch, “Dauty, wu gade de line do dorrich?” [“Daddy, where does the line go through?”] The old gentleman turned around and pointing to the chimney on his house replied in German, “Graude dorrich de mit fun seller shonshta.” [“Right through the middle from that chimney.”] Then we all yelled and gave three hearty cheers for our good old German Pennsylvania.
Nearing Littlestown we received word that the Rebel cavalry occupied the town, when a courier was sent back for Knapp’s battery of artillery, which was farther in the rear, and but a short time elapsed until we could see the battery coming at breakneck speed, and until they reached us their horses were white with foam. The battery halted but a few minutes, when the order for an advance was given. Here we expected a fight but the Confederates, hearing of our advance, retreated toward Hanover. As we passed thru Littlestown, the ladies came out and greeted us in true Pennsylvania style giving us water, cakes, pies and bread. Someone noticed a sign, “James Crouse, Druggist,” as we passed thru town when someone in Company G proposed three cheers for Jimmie Crouse and three cheers were heartily given because he had his namesake living in old Selinsgrove.