Marching to Warrenton Junction
Chapter 25 (July 20, 1863 – July 26, 1863)
Monday, July 20th, broke camp, marched to Snickersville and pitched our tents, marched 10 miles. We remained in this camp July 21 and 22.
Thursday, July 23rd, broke camp, passed thru Snickersville, Upperville, and Paris. Marched until one o’clock at night and encamped, traveling 25 miles.
Friday, July 24th. We left camp this morning, passed thru Markham, also the Rebel General Ashby’s beautiful Southern home. The General had been killed in one of the engagements in Western Virginia. We were marching toward Manasses Gap when we counter-marched, came to Markham, passed General Ashby’s home and encamped near Piedmont. Traveled 15 miles.
At Snickersville some of the boys went out on a hillside field to get a few blackberries. While walking along in the bushes, they spied a Johnnie Reb, also eating berries. They ordered him to surrender, which he did. But he said he had been in the Gettysburg campaign and as the Confederate army was going south and marching so close to his home he thought he would go and see his old mother. He said, “Just in yonder house she lives. Had I not stopped to eat blackberries I could have seen her, but now I am a prisoner and must go with my captors.” Such keen disappointment as this is the cruel price of war.
General Ashby’s home was one of the finest we saw in all Virginia. The house stood on an elevation with a lawn of several acres surrounding it. The soldiers thought that home might be a good place from which to get something to eat. Quite a number of us managed to get into the lawn, when five large, full grown blood hounds came dashing for us, and just then we believed we would have been just as safe in the midst of a battle as on General Ashby’s lawn without a gun. But each of us had his rifle loaded and when those dogs came near enough we fired and five dead blood hounds lay before us. Whether or not these dogs were purposely set upon us we had no way of finding out, but we claimed the advantage of the doubt and acted accordingly. Plenty of edibles were taken but nothing was maliciously destroyed.
Today we passed over the battlefield where General Pleasanton whipped the rebel cavalry previous to the battle of Gettysburg, and while resting, one of Company C’s boys went to a stone fence to light his pipe, Powder had been spilled here during the fight and when he lighted his pipe he carelessly threw down his match, which ignited the powder, seriously burning him. The surgeon applied some remedy to his face, which turned it as black as a negro’s. He was placed in an ambulance and sent to the rear.
Some troops just ahead of us got into a little fight and captured an entire rebel battery. These men were brought in under heavy guard, each batteryman occupying his accustomed place. Some were sitting on caissons, while others were riding their horses. We were highly pleased to have them come in this way and only wished that all the rest might come in the same way.
Saturday July 25th, broke camp, passed thru Rectortown, and encamped in Thoroughfare Gap, traveling 15 miles. On this march we were commanded to carry a full canteen of water owing to the scarcity in the gap, but we found full and plenty of the best.
Sunday, July 26th, broke camp, passed thru Thoroughfare Gap, Greenwich and Catlett’s Station on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Went into camp near Warrenton Junction. Marched 25 miles.
Today we passed over what is called the White Plains, which was the poorest section of country we met with in Virginia. We had been again commanded to fill our canteens as water was very scarce, but because we had received the same order the day before and had found water in abundance of the best quality, we did not obey the command, and tent day we got into a country that was about dried up and our canteens were empty. The town of Greenwich used nothing but cistern water gathered from tar roofs, which was not fit to drink, and all along by Catlett’s Station and Warrenton Junction we could scarcely get water enough to quench our thirst. The heat was intense and everything dry and dusty. We scoured the country far and near to find water locating here and there a small spring or run and these were soon dipped dry by the hundreds of thirsty boys. We remained in this camp until July 31st.