Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Countdown to Gettysburg: June 25th 1863 -- Arthur Fremantle Travels With General Ewell's Corps Into Pennsylvania

25th June, Thursday.--We took leave... and started at 10 A. M. to overtake Generals Lee and Longstreet, who were supposed to be crossing the Potomac at Williamsport. Before we had got more than a few miles on our way. we began to meet horses and oxen, the first fruits of Ewell's advance into Pennsylvania. 

  The weather was cool and showery, and all went swimmingly for the first fourteen miles, when we caught up McLaws's division, which belongs to Longstreet's corps. As my horse about this time began to show signs of fatigue, and as Lawley's pickaxed most alarmingly, we turned them into some clover to graze, whilst we watched two brigades pass along the road. They were commanded, I think, by Semmes and Barksdale, and were composed of Georgians, Mississippians, and South Carolinians. They marched very well, and there was no attempt at straggling; quite a different state of things from Johnston's men in Mississippi. All were well shod and efficiently clothed. 

Brigadier General William Barksdale

Brigadier General Paul Jones Semmes

  In rear of each regiment were from twenty to thirty negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the ambulance corps;--this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men falling out on pretense of taking wounded to the rear. The knapsacks of the men still bear the names of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, or other regiments to which they originally belonged. There were about twenty wagons to each brigade, most of which were marked U. S., and each of these brigades was about 2,800 strong. There are four brigades in McLaws's division. All the men seem in the highest spirits, and were cheering and yelling most vociferously.

  We reached Martinsburg (twenty-two miles) at 6 P. M., by which  time my horse nearly broke down, and I was forced to get off and walk. Martinsburg and this part of Virginia are supposed to be more Unionist than Southern; however, many of the women went through the form of cheering McLaws's division as it passed. I dare say they would perform the same ceremony in honor of the Yankees to-morrow.

  Three miles beyond Martinsburg we were forced by the state of our horses to insist upon receiving the unwilling hospitality of a very surly native, who was evidently Unionist in his proclivities. We were obliged to turn our horses into a field to graze during the night. This was most dangerous, for the Confederate so dire, in spite of his many virtues, is, as a rule, the most incorrigible horse-stealer in the world.

(to be continued...)

Read more about the James Fremantle and the Gettysburg campaign my new book for teens just published by Sky Pony Press, Gettysburg: The True Account of Two Young Heroes in the Greatest Battle of the Civil War, available at Amazon and BN.com.

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