In a letter to his son written on October 7, 1863, George Gordon Meade mentions reading an account of the Gettysburg battle written by “a ‘secesh’ Englishman” and appearing in “Blackwood.” The account had been written by Col. Arthur Fremantle of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards and appeared in the September 1863 edition of Blackwood’s Magazine. Fremantle had taken leave from the British army to visit the United States. He entered Texas via Mexico and then traveled through the Southern states, including a stop in Richmond to visit Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He is often quoted in accounts of the Gettysburg Campaign so I thought it would be useful to post what he wrote–and what exactly George Meade read back in September 1863. This is the article as it appeared in Blackwood’s. Fremantle later published an expanded version of his American adventures as Three Months in the Southern States: April-June 1863.
THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG AND THE CAMPAIGN IN PENNSYLVANIA.
EXTRACT FROM THE DIARY OF AN ENGLISH OFFICER PRESENT WITH
THE CONFEDERATE ARMY.
June 20 (Saturday). — Armed with letters of introduction from the Secretary-at-War for Generals Lee and Longstreet, I left Richmond at 6 a.m., to join the Virginian army. I was accompanied by a sergeant of the Signal Corps, sent by my kind friend Major Norris, for the purpose of assisting me in getting on.
We took the train as far as Culpepper, and arrived there at 5.30 p.m., after having changed cars at Gordonsville, near which place I observed an enormous pile of excellent rifles rotting in the open air. These had been captured at Chancellorsville; but the Confederates have already such a superabundant stock of rifles that apparently they can afford to let them spoil. The weather was quite cool after the rain of last night. The country through which we passed had been in the enemy’s hands last year, and was evacuated by them after the battles before Richmond; but at that time it was not their custom to burn, destroy, and devastate—everything looked green and beautiful, and did not in the least give one the idea of a hot country.
In his late daring raid, the Federal General Stoneman crossed this railroad, and destroyed a small portion of it, burned a few buildings, and penetrated to within three miles of Richmond; but he and his men were in such a hurry that they had not time to do much serious harm.
Culpepper was, until five days ago, the headquarters of Generals Lee and Longstreet; but since Swell’s recapture of Winchester, the whole army had advanced with rapidity, and it was my object to catch it up as quickly as possible.
On arriving at Culpepper, my sergeant handed me over to another myrmidon of Major Norris, with orders from that officer to supply me with a horse, and take me himself to join Mr Lawley, who had passed through for the same purpose as myself three days before.
Sergeant Norris, my new chaperon, is cousin to Major Norris, and is a capital fellow. Before the war he was a gentleman of good means in Maryland, and was accustomed to a life of luxury; he now lives the life of a private soldier with perfect contentment, and is utterly indifferent to civilisation and comfort. Although he was unwell when I arrived, and it was pouring with rain, he proposed that we should start at once—6 p.m. I agreed, and we did so. Our horses had both sore backs, were both unfed, except on grass, and mine was deficient of a shoe. They nevertheless travelled well, and we reached a hamlet called Woodville, fifteen miles distant, at 9.30. We had great difficulty in procuring shelter, but at length we overcame the inhospitality of a native, who gave us a feed of corn for our horses, and a blanket on the floor for ourselves.
June 21 (Sunday).—We got the horse shod with some delay, and after refreshing the animals with corn and ourselves with bacon, we effected a start at 8.15 A.m. We experienced considerable difficulty in carrying my small saddle-bags and knapsack, on account of the state of our horses’ backs. Mine was not very bad, but that of Norris was in a horrid state. We had not travelled more than a few miles when the latter animal cast a shoe, which took us an hour to replace at a village called Sperryville. The country is really magnificent, but as it has supported two large armies for two years, it is now completely cleaned out. It is almost uncultivated, and no animals are grazing where there used to be hundreds. All fences have been destroyed, and numberless farms burnt, the chimneys alone left standing. It is difficult to depict and impossible to exaggerate the sufferings which this part of Virginia has undergone. But the ravages of war have not been able to destroy the beauties of nature—the verdure is charming, the trees magnificent, the country undulating, and the Blue Ridge mountains form the background.
Being Sunday, we met about thirty negroes going to church, wonderfully smartly dressed, some (both male and female) riding on horseback and others in waggons; but Mr Norris informs me that two years ago we should have numbered them by hundreds.
We soon began to catch up the sick and broken down men of the army, but not in great numbers; most of them were well shod, though I saw two without shoes.
After crossing a gap in the Blue Ridge range, we reached Front Royal at 5 p.m., and we were now in the well-known Shenandoah Valley—the scene of Jackson’s celebrated campaigns. Front Royal is a pretty little place, and was the theatre of one of the earliest fights in the war, which was commenced by a Maryland regiment of Confederates, who, as Mr Norris observed, “jumped on to” a Federal regiment from the same state, and “whipped it badly.” Since that time the village has changed hands continually, and was visited by the Federals only a few days previous to Ewell’s rapid advance ten days ago.
After immense trouble we procured a feed of corn for the horses, and, to Mr Norris’s astonishment, I was impudent enough to get food for ourselves by appealing to the kind feelings of two good-looking female citizens of Front Royal, who, during our supper, entertained us by stories of the manner they annoyed the northern soldiers by disagreeable allusions to “Stonewall Jackson.”
We started again at 6.30, and crossed two branches of the Shenandoah River, a broad and rapid stream. Both the railway and carriage bridges having been destroyed, we had to ford it; and as the water was deep, we were only just able to accomplish the passage. The soldiers, of whom there were a number with us, took off their trousers and held their rifles and ammunition above their heads.
Soon afterwards our horses became very legweary; for although the weather had been cool, the roads were muddy and hard upon them.
At 8.30 we came up with Pender’s Division encamped on the sides of hills, illuminated with innumerable camp-fires, which looked very picturesque. After passing through about two miles of bivouacs we begged for shelter in the hayloft of a Mr Mason: we turned our horses into a field, and found our hayloft most luxurious after forty-six miles ride at a foot’s pace.
Stonewall Jackson is considered a regular demigod in this country.
June 22 (Monday).—We started without food or corn at 6.30 a.m., and soon became entangled with Pender’s Division on its line of march, which delayed us a good deal. My poor brute of a horse also took this opportunity of throwing two more shoes, which we found it impossible to replace, all the blacksmiths’ shops having been pressed by the troops.
The soldiers of this Division are a remarkably fine body of men, and look quite seasoned and ready for any work. Their clothing is serviceable, so also are their boots; but there is the usual utter absence of uniformity as to colour and shape of their garments and hats: grey of all shades and brown clothing with felt hats predominate. The Confederate troops are now entirely armed with excellent rifles, mostly Enfields. When they first turned out, they were in the habit of wearing numerous revolvers and bowie-knives. General Lee is said to have mildly remarked, “Gentlemen, I think you will find an Enfield rifle, a bayonet, and sixty rounds of ammunition as much as you can conveniently carry in the way of arms.” They laughed and thought they knew better; but the six-shooters and bowie-knives gradually disappeared, and now none are to be seen among the infantry.
The artillery horses are in poor condition, and only get 3 lb. of corn n a-day. The artillery is of all kinds—Parrotts, Napoleons, rifled and smooth bores, all shapes and sizes; most of them bear the letters U.S., showing that they have changed masters.
The colours of the regiments differ from the blue battle-flags I saw with Bragg’s army. They are generally red, with a blue St Andrew’s Cross showing the stars. This pattern is said to have been invented by General Joseph Johnston, as not so liable to be mistaken for the Yankee flag. The new Confederate flag has evidently been adopted from this battle-flag, as it is called. Most of the colours in this Division bear the names Manassas, Fredericksburg, Seven Pines, Harper’s Ferry, Chancellorsville, &c.
I saw no stragglers during the time I was with Pender’s Division; but although the Virginian army certainly does get over a deal of ground, yet they move at a slow dragging pace, and are evidently not good marchers naturally. As Mr Norris observed to me, “Before this war we were a lazy set of devils; our niggers worked for us, and none of us ever dreamt of walking, though we all rode a great deal.”
We reached Berryville (eleven miles) at 9 A.m. The headquarters of General Lee are a few hundred yards beyond this place. Just before getting there, I saw a general officer of handsome appearance, who must, I knew from description, be the Commander-in-chief; but as he was evidently engaged I did not join him, although I gave my letter of introduction to one of his Staff.
Shortly afterwards, I presented myself to Mr Lawley, with whom I became immediately great friends. He introduced me to General Chilton, the Adjutant-General of the army, to Colonel Cole, the Quartermaster – General, to Captain Venables, and other officers of General Lee’s Staff; and he suggested, as the headquarters were so busy and crowded, that he and I should ride to Winchester at once, and afterwards ask for hospitality from the less busy Staff of General Longstreet. I was also introduced to Captain Schreibert of the Prussian army, who is a guest sometimes of General Lee and sometimes of General Stuart of the cavalry. He had been present at one of the late severe cavalry skirmishes, which have been of constant occurrence since the sudden advance of this army. This advance has been so admirably timed as to allow of the capture of Winchester, with its Yankee garrison and stores, and at the same time of the seizure of the gaps of the Blue Ridge range. All the officers were speaking with regret of the severe wound received in this skirmish by Major Von Borke, another Prussian, but now in the Confederate States service, and aide-de-camp to Jeb Stuart.
After eating some breakfast, Lawley and I rode ten miles into Winchester. My horse, minus his foreshoes, showed signs of great fatigue, but we struggled into Winchester at 5 p.m., where I was fortunate enough to procure shoes for the horse, and, by Lawley’s introduction, admirable quarters for both of us at the house of the hospitable Mrs ______, with whom he had lodged seven months before, and who was charmed to see him. Her two nieces, who are as agreeable as they are good-looking, gave us a miserable picture of the three captivities they have experienced under the Federal commanders Banks, Shields, and Milroy.
The unfortunate town of Winchester seems to have been made a regular shuttlecock of by the contending armies. Stonewall Jackson rescued it once, and last Sunday week his successor, General Ewell, drove out Milroy. The name of Milroy is always associated with that of Butler, and his rule in Winchester seems to have been somewhat similar to that of his illustrious rival in New Orleans. Should either of these two individuals fall alive into the hands of the Confederates, I imagine that Jeff Davis himself would be unable to save their lives, even if he were disposed to do so.
Before leaving Richmond, I heard every one expressing regret that Milroy should have escaped, as the recapture of Winchester seemed to be incomplete without him. More than four thousand of his men were taken in the two forts which overlook the town, and which were carried by assault by a Louisianian brigade with trifling loss.
The joy of the unfortunate inhabitants may easily be conceived at this sudden and unexpected relief from their last captivity, which had lasted six months. During the whole of this time they could not legally buy an article of provisions without taking the oath of allegiance, which they magnanimously refused to do.
They were unable to hear a word of their male relations or friends, who were all in the Southern army; they were shut up in their houses after 8 p.m., and sometimes deprived of light; part of our kind entertainer’s house was forcibly occupied by a vulgar, ignorant, and low-born Federal officer, ci-devant driver of a street car; and they were constantly subjected to the most humiliating insults, on pretence of searching the house for arms, documents, &c.
To my surprise, however, these ladies spoke of the enemy with less violence and rancour than almost any other ladies I had met with during my travels through the whole Southern Confederacy. When I told them so, they replied that they who had seen many men shot down in the streets before their own eyes knew what they were talking about, which other and more excited Southern women did not.
Ewell’s Division is in front and across the Potomac, and before I left headquarters this morning I saw Longstreet’s corps beginning to follow in the same direction.
June 23 (Tuesday).—Lawley and I went to inspect the site of Mr Mason’s (the Southern Commissioner in London) once pretty house—a melancholy scene. It had been charmingly situated near the outskirts of the town, and by all accounts must have been a delightful little place. When Lawley saw it seven months ago, it was then only a ruin; but since that time Northern vengeance (as directed by General Milroy) has satiated itself by destroying almost the very foundations of the house of this arch-traitor as they call him. Literally not one stone remains standing upon another; and the debris seems to have been carted away, for there is now a big hole where the principal part of the house stood. Troops have evidently been encamped upon the ground, which was strewed with fragments of Yankee clothing, accoutrements, &c.
I understand that Winchester used to be a most agreeable little town, and its society extremely pleasant. Many of its houses are now destroyed or converted into hospitals; the rest look miserable and dilapidated. Its female inhabitants (for the able-bodied males are all absent in the army) are familiar with the bloody realities of war. As many as 5000 wounded have been accommodated here at one time. All the ladies are accustomed to the bursting of shells and the sight of fighting, and all are turned into hospital nurses or cooks.
From the utter impossibility of procuring corn, I was forced to take the horses out grazing a mile beyond the town for four hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. As one mustn’t lose sight of them for a moment, this occupied me all day, while Lawley wrote in the house.
In the evening we went to visit two wounded officers in Mrs ________’s house, a major and a captain in the Louisianian Brigade which stormed the forts last Sunday week. I am afraid the captain will die. Both are shot through the body, but are cheery. They served under Stonewall Jackson until his death, and they venerate his name, though they both agree that he has got an efficient successor in Ewell, his former companion in arms; and they confirmed a great deal of what General Johnston had told me as to Jackson having been so much indebted to Ewell for several of his victories. They gave us an animated account of the spirits and feeling of the army.
At no period of the war, they say, have the men been so well equipped, so well clothed, so eager for a fight, or so confident of success—a very different state of affairs from that which characterised the Maryland invasion of last year, when half of the army were barefooted stragglers, and many of the remainder unwilling and reluctant to cross the Potomac.
Miss ______ told me to-day that dancing and horse-racing are forbidden by the Episcopal Church in this part of Virginia.
June 24 (Wednesday).—Lawley being in weak health, we determined to spend another day with our kind friends in Winchester.
I took the horses out again for six hours to graze, and made acquaintance with two Irishmen, who gave me some cut grass and salt for the horses. One of these men had served and had been wounded in the Southern army. I remarked to him that he must have killed lots of his own countrymen, to which he replied, “Oh yes, but faix they must all take it as it comes.” I have always observed that Southern Irishmen make excellent “Rebs,” and have no sort of scruple in killing as many of their Northern brethren as they possibly can.
I observed to-day many new Yankee graves, which the deaths among the captives are constantly increasing. Wooden head-posts are put at each grave, on which is written, “An Unknown Soldier, U.S.A. Died of wounds received upon the field of battle, June 21, 22, or 23, 1863.”
A sentry stopped me to-day as I was going out of town, and when I showed him my pass from General Chilton, he replied with great firmness but with perfect courtesy, “I’m extremely sorry, sir, but if you were the Secretary of War, or Jeff Davis himself, you couldn’t pass without a passport from the Provost-Marshal.”
June 25 (Thursday).—We took leave of Mrs ______ and her hospitable family, and started at 10 A.m. to overtake Generals Lee and Longstreet, who are 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 M’Laws’ 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 are commanded, I think, by Semmes and Barksdale,* and are 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. In rear of each regiment were from 20 to 30 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 pretence of taking wounded to the rear. The knapsacks of the men still bear the names of the Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, or other regiments to which they originally belonged. There were about 20 waggons to each brigade, most of which were marked U. S., and each of these brigades was about 2800 strong. There are four brigades in M’Laws’s division. All the men seemed in the highest spirits, and were cheering and yelling most vociferously.
*Barksdale was killed, and Semmes wounded, at the battle of Gettysburg.
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 is supposed to be more Unionist than Southern; however, many of the women went through the form of cheering M’Laws’s division as it passed. I daresay they would perform the same ceremony in honour 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 is most dangerous, for the Confederate soldier, in spite of his many virtues, is, as a rule, the most incorrigible horse-stealer in the world.
June 26 (Friday).—I got up a little before daylight, and, notwithstanding the drenching rain, I secured our horses which, to my intense relief, were present. But my horse showed a back rapidly getting worse, and both looked “mean” to a degree.
Lawley being ill, he declined starting in the rain, and our host became more and more surly when we stated our intention of remaining with him. However, the sight of real gold instead of Confederate paper, or even greenbacks, soothed him wonderfully, and he furnished us with some breakfast. All this time M’Laws’s division was passing the door, but so strict was the discipline, that the only man who loafed in was immediately pounced upon and carried away captive. At 2 p.m., the weather having become a little clearer, we made a start, but under very unpromising circumstances. Lawley was so ill that he could hardly ride; his horse was most unsafe, and had cast a shoe; —my animal was in such a miserable state that I had not the inhumanity to ride him ;—but, by the assistance of his tail, I managed to struggle through the deep mud and wet. We soon became entangled with M’Laws’s division, and reached the Potomac, a distance of nine miles and a half, at 5 p.m.; the river is both wide and deep, and in fording it (for which purpose I was obliged to mount) we couldn’t keep our legs out of the water.
The little town of Williamsport is on the opposite bank of the river, and we were now in Maryland.
We had the mortification to learn that Generals Lee and Longstreet had quitted Williamsport this morning at 11 o’clock, and were therefore obliged to toil on to Hagerstown, six miles farther. This latter place is evidently by no means Rebel in its sentiments, for all the houses were shut up, and many apparently abandoned. The few natives that were about stared at the troops with sulky indifference.
After passing through Hagerstown, we could obtain no certain information of the whereabouts of the two generals, nor could we get any willing hospitality from anyone; but at 9 p.m., our horses being quite exhausted, we forced ourselves into the house of a Dutchman, who became a little more civil at the sight of gold, although the assurance that we were English travellers, and not Rebels, had produced no effect. I had walked to-day, in mud and rain, seventeen miles, and I dared not take off my solitary pair of boots, because I knew I should never get them on again.
June 27 (Saturday). — Lawley was so ill this morning that he couldn’t possibly ride; I therefore mounted his horse a little before daybreak, and started in search of the generals. After riding eight miles, I came up with General Longstreet, at 6.30. A.m., and was only just in time, as he was on the point of moving. Both he and his Staff were most kind, when I introduced myself and stated my difficulties; he arranged that an ambulance should fetch Lawley, and he immediately invited me to join his mess during the campaign ; he told me (which I did not know) that we were now in Pennsylvania, the enemy’s country—Maryland being only ten miles broad at this point; he declared that Bushwhackers exist in the woods, who shoot unsuspecting stragglers, and it would therefore be unsafe that Lawley and I should travel alone.
General Longstreet is an Alabamian—a thickset man, forty-three years of age: he was an infantry major in the old army, and now commands the 1st corps d’armée: he is never far from General Lee, who relies very much upon his judgment. By the soldiers he is invariably spoken of as “the best fighter in the whole army.”
Whilst speaking of entering upon the enemy’s soil, he said to me that although it might be fair, in just retaliation, to apply the torch, yet that doing so would demoralise the army and ruin its now excellent discipline. Private property is therefore to be rigidly protected.
At 7 a.m. I returned with an orderly (or courier, as they are called) to the farmhouse in which I had left Lawley, and after seeing all arranged satisfactorily about the ambulance, I rode slowly on to rejoin General Longstreet, near Chambersburg, which is a Pennsylvania town, distant twenty – two miles from Hagerstown. I was with M’Laws’s division, and observed that the moment they entered Pennsylvania the troops opened the fences and enlarged the road about twenty yards on each side, which enabled the waggons and themselves to proceed together: this is the only damage I saw done by the Confederates.
This part of Pennsylvania is very flourishing, highly cultivated, and, in comparison with the Southern States, thickly peopled. But all the cattle and horses having been seized by Ewell, farm labour had now come to a complete standstill.
In passing through Greencastle we found all the houses and windows shut up, the natives in their Sunday clothes standing at their doors regarding the troops in a very unfriendly manner. I saw no straggling into the houses, nor were any of the inhabitants disturbed or annoyed by the soldiers. Sentries were placed at the doors of many of the best houses, to prevent any officer or soldier from getting in on any pretence.
I entered Chambersburg at 6 p.m. This is a town of some size and importance: all its houses were shut up, but the natives were in the streets, or at the upper windows, looking in a scowling and bewildered manner at the Confederate troops, who were marching gaily past to the tune of Dixie’s Land.
The women (many of whom were pretty and well dressed) were particularly sour and disagreeable in their remarks. I heard one of them say, “Look at Pharaoh’s army going to the Red Sea.” Others were pointing and laughing at Hood’s ragged Jacks, who were passing at the time. This division, well known for its fighting qualities, is composed of Texians, Alabamians, and Arkansians, and they certainly are a queer lot to look at. They carry less than any other troops; many of them have only got an old piece of carpet or rug as baggage; many have discarded their shoes in the mud; all are ragged and dirty, but full of good-humour and confidence in themselves and in their general, Hood. They answered the numerous taunts of the Chambersburg ladies with cheers and laughter. One female had seen fit to adorn her ample bosom with a huge Yankee flag, and she stood at the door of her house, her countenance expressing the greatest contempt for the barefooted Rebs; several companies passed her without taking any notice, but at length a Texian gravely remarked, “Take care, madam, for Hood’s boys are great at storming breastworks when the Yankee colours is on them.” After this speech the patriotic lady beat a precipitate retreat.
Sentries were placed at the doors of all the principal houses, and the town was cleared of all but the military passing through or on duty. Some of the troops marched straight through the town, and bivouacked on the Carlisle road. Others turned off to the right, and occupied the Gettysburg turnpike. I found Generals Lee and Longstreet encamped on the latter road, three-quarters of a mile from the town.
General Longstreet and his Staff at once received me into their mess, and I was introduced to Major Fairfax, Major Latrobe, and Captain Rogers of his personal Staff; also to Major Moses, the Chief Commissary, whose tent I am to share. He is the most jovial, amusing, and clever son of Israel I ever had the good fortune to meet. The other officers on Longstreet’s Headquarter Staff are Colonel Sorrell, Lieutenant – Colonel Manning (ordnance officer), Major Walton, Captain Gorce, and Major Clark, all excellent good fellows, and most hospitable.*
*Having lived at the Headquarters of all the principal Confederate Generals, I am able to affirm that the relation between their Staffs and themselves, and the way the duty is carried on, is very similar to what it is in the British army. All the Generals—Johnston, Bragg, Polk, Hardee, Longstreet, and Lee—are thorough soldiers, and their Staffs are composed of gentlemen of position and education, who have now been trained into excellent and zealous Staff officers.
Lawley is to live with three doctors on the Headquarter Staff: their names are Cullen, Barksdale, and Maury; they form a jolly trio, and live much more luxuriously than their generals.
Major Moses tells me that his orders are to open the stores in Chambersburg by force, and seize all that is wanted for the army in a regular and official manner, giving in return its value in Confederate money on a receipt. The storekeepers have doubtless sent away their most valuable goods on the approach of the Confederate army. Much also has been already seized by Ewell, who passed through nearly a week ago. But Moses was much elated at having already discovered a large supply of excellent felt hats, hidden away in a cellar, which he “annexed” at once.
I was told this evening the numbers which have crossed the Potomac, and also the number of pieces of artillery. We have a large train of ammunition, for if the army advances any deeper into the enemy’s country General Lee cannot expect to keep his communications open to the rear: and as the Staff officers say, “In every battle we fight we must capture as much ammunition as we use.” This necessity, however, does not seem to disturb them, as it has hitherto been their regular style of doing business.
Ewell, after the capture of Winchester, advanced rapidly into Pennsylvania, and has already sent back great quantities of horses, mules, waggons, beeves, and other necessaries; he is now at or beyond Carlisle, laying the country under contribution, and making Pennsylvania support the war, instead of poor, used-up, and worn-out Virginia. The corps of Generals A. P. Hill and Longstreet are now near this place, all full of confidence and in high spirits.
June 28 (Sunday).—No officer or soldier under the rank of a general is allowed into Chambersburg without a special order from General Lee, which he is very chary of giving; and I hear of officers of rank being refused this pass.
Moses proceeded into town at 11 A.m., with an official requisition for three days’ rations for the whole army in this neighbourhood. These rations he is to seize by force, if not voluntarily supplied.
I was introduced to General Hood this morning; he is a tall, thin, wiry-looking man, with a grave face and a light-coloured beard, thirty-three years old, and is accounted one of the best and most promising officers in the army.
By his Texan and Alabamian troops he is adored; he formerly commanded the Texan Brigade, but has now been promoted to the command of a division. His troops are accused of being a wild set, and difficult to manage : and it is the great object of the chiefs to check their innate plundering propensities by every means in their power.
I went into Chambersburg at noon, and found Lawley ensconced in the Franklin Hotel. Both he and I had much difficulty in getting into that establishment—the doors being locked, and only opened with the greatest caution. Lawley had had a most painful journey in the ambulance yesterday, and was much exhausted. No one in the hotel would take the slightest notice of him, and all scowled at me in a most disagreeable manner.
Half-a-dozen Pennsylvanian viragos surrounded and assailed me with their united tongues to a deafening degree. Nor would they believe me when I told them I was an English spectator and a noncombatant: they said I must be either a Rebel or a Yankee—by which expression I learnt for the first time that the term Yankee is as much used as a reproach in Pennsylvania as in the South. The sight of gold, which I exchanged for their greenbacks, brought about a change, and by degrees they became quite affable. They seemed very ignorant, and confused Texans with Mexicans.
After leaving Lawley pretty comfortable, I walked about the town and witnessed the pressing operations of Moses and his myrmidons. Neither the Mayor nor the corporation were to be found anywhere, nor were the keys of the principal stores forthcoming until Moses began to apply the axe. The citizens were lolling about the streets in a listless manner, and showing no great signs of discontent. They had left to their women the task of resisting the commissaries—a duty which they were fully competent to perform. No soldiers but those on duty were visible in the streets.
In the evening I called again to see Lawley, and found in his room an Austrian officer, in the full uniform of the Hungarian Hussars. He had got a year’s leave of absence, and has just succeeded in crossing the Potomac, though not without much trouble and difficulty. When he stated his intention of wearing his uniform, I explained to him the invariable custom of the Confederate soldiers, of never allowing the smallest peculiarity of dress or appearance to pass without a torrent of jokes, which, however good-humoured, end in becoming rather monotonous.
I returned to camp at 6 p.m. Major Moses did not get back till very late, much depressed at the ill success of his mission. He had searched all day most indefatigably, and had endured much contumely from the Union ladies, who called him “a thievish little rebel scoundrel,” and other opprobrious epithets. But this did not annoy him so much as the manner in which everything he wanted had been sent away or hidden in private houses, which he is not allowed by General Lee’s order to search.
He has only managed to secure a quantity of molasses, sugar, and whiskey. Poor Moses is thoroughly exhausted, but he endures the chaff of his brother officers with much good-humour, and they make him continually repeat the different names he has been called. He says that at first the women refused his Confederate “trash” with great scorn, but they ended in being very particular about the odd cents.
June 29 (Monday).—We are still at Chambersburg. Lee has issued a remarkably good order on non-retaliation, which is generally well-received; but I have heard of complaints from fire-eaters, who want vengeance for their wrongs; and when one considers the numbers of officers and soldiers with this army who have been totally ruined by the devastations of Northern troops, one cannot be much surprised at this feeling.
I went into Chambersburg again, and witnessed the singularly good behaviour of the troops towards the citizens. I heard soldiers saying to one another, that they did not like being in a town in which they were very naturally detested. To any one who has seen as I have the ravages of the Northern troops in Southern towns, this forbearance seems most commendable and surprising. Yet these Pennsylvania Dutch* don’t seem the least thankful, and really appear to be unaware that their own troops have been for two years treating Southern towns with ten times more harshness. They are the most unpatriotic people I ever saw, and openly state that they don’t care which side wins provided they are left alone. They abuse Lincoln tremendously.
*This part of Pennsylvania is much peopled with the descendants of Germans, who speak an unintelligible language.
Of course, in such a large army as this, there must be many instances of bad characters, who are always ready to plunder and pillage whenever they can do so without being caught: the stragglers, also, who remain behind when the army has left, will doubtless do much harm. It is impossible to prevent this; but everything that can be done is done to protect private property and non-combatants, and I can say, from my own observation, with wonderful success. I hear instances, however, in which soldiers meeting well-dressed citizens have made a “long arm” and changed hats, much to the disgust of the latter, who are still more annoyed when an exchange of boots is also proposed: their superfine broadcloth is never in any danger.
General Longstreet is generally a particularly taciturn man, but this evening he and I had a long talk about Texas, where he had been quartered a long time. He remembered many people whom I had met quite well, and was much amused by the description of my travels through that country. I complimented him upon the manner in which the Confederate sentries do their duty, and said they were quite as strict as, and ten times more polite than, regular soldiers. He replied, laughing, that a sentry, after refusing you leave to enter a camp, might very likely, if properly asked, show you another way in, by which you might avoid meeting a sentry at all.
I saw General Pendleton and General Pickett to-day. Pendleton is Chief of Artillery to the army, and was a West Pointer; but in more peaceable times he fills the post of Episcopal clergyman in Lexington, Virginia. Unlike General Polk, he unites the military and clerical professions together, and continues to preach whenever he gets a chance. On these occasions he wears a surplice over his uniform.
General Pickett commands one of the divisions in Longstreet’s corps.* He wears his hair in long ringlets, and is altogether rather a desperate-looking character. He is the officer who, as Captain Pickett of the U.S. army, figured in the difficulty between the British and United States in the San Juan Island affair, under General Harney, four or five years ago.
*M’Laws, Hood, and Pickett are the three divisional commanders or major-generals in Longstreet’s corps d’armée
June 30 (Tuesday).—This morning, before marching from Chambersburg, General Longstreet introduced me to the Commander-in-Chief. General Lee is, almost without exception, the handsomest man of his age I ever saw. He is fifty-six years old, tall, broad-shouldered, very well made, well set up — a thorough soldier in appearance; and his manners are most courteous and full of dignity. He is a perfect gentleman in every respect. I imagine no man has so few enemies, or is so universally esteemed. Throughout the South, all agree in pronouncing him to be as near perfection as a man can be. He has none of the small vices, such as smoking, drinking, chewing, or swearing, and his bitterest enemy never accused him of any of the greater ones. He generally wears a well-worn long grey jacket, a high black felt hat, and blue trousers tucked into his Wellington boots. I never saw him carry arms;* and the only mark of his military rank are the three stars on his collar. He rides a handsome horse, which is extremely well groomed. He himself is very neat in his dress and person, and in the most arduous marches he always looks smart and clean.**
*I never saw either Lee or Longstreet carry arms. A. P. Hill generally wears a sword.
**I observed this during the three days’ fighting at Gettysburg, and in the retreat afterwards, when every one else looked, and was, extremely dirty.
In the old army he was always considered one of its best officers; and at the outbreak of these troubles, he was Lieutenant-colonel of the 2d cavalry. He was a rich man, but his fine estate was one of the first to fall into the enemy’s hands. I believe he has never slept in a house since he has commanded the Virginian army, and he invariably declines all offers of hospitality, for fear the person offering it may afterwards get into trouble for having sheltered the Rebel General. The relations between him and Longstreet are quite touching—they are almost always together. Longstreet’s corps complain of this sometimes, as they say that they seldom get a chance of detached service, which falls to the lot of Ewell. It is impossible to please Longstreet more than by praising Lee. I believe these two generals to be as little ambitious and as thoroughly unselfish as any men in the world. Both long for a successful termination of the war, in order that they may retire into obscurity. Stonewall Jackson (until his death the third in command of their army) was just such another simple-minded servant of his country. It is understood that General Lee is a religious man, though not so demonstrative in that respect as Jackson; and, unlike his late brother in arms, he is a member of the Church of England. His only faults, so far as I can learn, arise from his excessive amiability.
Some Texan soldiers were sent this morning into Chambersburg to destroy a number of barrels of excellent whisky, which could not be carried away. This was a pretty good trial for their discipline, and they did think it rather hard lines that the only time they had been allowed into the enemy’s town was for the purpose of destroying their beloved whisky. However, they did their duty like good soldiers.
We marched six miles on the road towards Gettysburg, and encamped at a village called (I think) Greenwood. I rode Lawley’s old horse, he and the Austrian using the doctor’s ambulance.
In the evening General Longstreet told me that he had just received intelligence that Hooker had been disrated, and that Meade was appointed in his place. Of course he knew both of them in the old army, and he says that Meade is an honourable and respectable man, though not, perhaps, so bold as Hooker.
I had a long talk with many officers about the approaching battle, which evidently cannot now be delayed long, and will take place on this road instead of in the direction of Harrisburg, as we had supposed. Ewell, who has laid York as well as Carlisle under contribution, has been ordered to reunite.
Every one, of course, speaks with confidence. I remarked that it would be a good thing for them if on this occasion they had cavalry to follow up the broken infantry in the event of their succeeding in beating them. But to my surprise they all spoke of their cavalry as not efficient for that purpose. In fact, Stuart’s men, though excellent at making raids, capturing waggons and stores, and cutting off communications, seem to have no idea of charging infantry under any circumstances. Unlike the cavalry with Bragg’s army they wear swords, but seem to have little idea of using them—they hanker after their carbines and revolvers. They constantly ride with their swords between their left leg and the saddle, which has a very funny appearance; but their horses are generally good, and they ride well. The infantry and artillery of this army don’t seem to respect the cavalry very much, and often jeer at them.
I was forced to abandon my horse here, as he was now lame in three legs, besides having a very sore back.
July 1 (Wednesday).—We did not leave our camp till noon, as nearly all General Hill’s corps had to pass our quarters on its march towards Gettysburg. One division of Ewell’s also had to join in a little beyond Greenwood, and Longstreet’s corps had to bring up the rear.
During the morning, I made the acquaintance of Colonel Walton, who used to command the well-known Washington Artillery, but he is now chief of artillery to Longstreet’s corps d’armée; he is a big man, ci-devant auctioneer in New Orleans, and I understand he pines to return to his hammer.
Soon after starting we got into a pass in the South mountain, a continuation, I believe, of the Blue Ridge range, which is broken by the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry. The scenery through the pass is very fine.
The first troops, alongside of whom we rode, belonged to Johnson’s division of Ewell’s corps. Among them I saw, for the first time, the celebrated “Stonewall Brigade,” formerly commanded by Jackson. In appearance the men differ little from other Confederate soldiers, except, perhaps, that the brigade contains more elderly men and fewer boys. All (except, I think, one regiment) are Virginians. As they have nearly always been on detached duty, few of them knew General Longstreet except by reputation. Numbers of them asked me whether the general in front was Longstreet, and when I answered in the affirmative, many would run on a hundred yards in order to take a good look at him. This I take to be an immense compliment from any soldier on a long march.
At 2 p.m., firing became distinctly audible in our front, but although it increased as we progressed, it did not seem to be very heavy. A spy who was with us insisted upon there being “a pretty tidy bunch of bluebellies in or near Gettysburg,” and he declared that he was in their society three days ago.
After passing Johnson’s division, we came to a Florida Brigade, which is now in Hill’s corps, but as it had formerly served under Longstreet, the men knew him well. Some of them (after the General had passed) called out to their comrades, “Look out for work now, boys, for here’s the old bull-dog again.”
At 3 p.m., we began to meet wounded men coming to the rear, and the number of these soon increased most rapidly, some hobbling alone, others on stretchers carried by the ambulance corps, and others in the ambulance waggons; many of the latter were stripped nearly naked, and displayed very bad wounds. This spectacle, so revolting to a person unaccustomed to such sights, produced no impression whatever upon the advancing troops, who certainly go under fire with the most perfect nonchalance: they show no enthusiasm or excitement, but the most complete indifference. This is the effect of two years almost uninterrupted fighting.
We now began to meet Yankee prisoners coming to the rear in considerable numbers: many of them were wounded, but they seemed already to be on excellent terms with their captors, with whom they had commenced swapping canteens, tobacco, &c. Among them was a Pennsylvanian colonel, a miserable object from a wound in his face. In answer to a question, I heard one of them remark, with a laugh, “We’re pretty nigh whipped already.” We next came to a Confederate soldier carrying a Yankee colour, belonging, I think, to a Pennsylvanian regiment, which he told us he had just captured.
At 4.30 p.m. we came in sight of Gettysburg and joined General Lee and General Hill, who were on the top of one of the ridges which form the peculiar feature of the country round Gettysburg. We could see the enemy retreating up one of the opposite ridges, pursued by the Confederates with loud yells.
The position into which the enemy had been driven was evidently a strong one. His right appeared to rest on a cemetery, on the top of a high ridge to the right of Gettysburg, as we looked at it.
General Hill now came up and told me he had been very unwell all day, and in fact he looks very delicate. He said he had had two of his divisions engaged, and had driven the enemy four miles into his present position, capturing a great many prisoners, some cannon, and some colours; he said, however, that the Yankees had fought with a determination unusual to them. He pointed out a railway cutting, in which they had made a good stand; also, a field in the centre of which he had seen a man plant the regimental colour, round which the regiment had fought for some time with much obstinacy, and when at last it was obliged to retreat, the colour-bearer retired last of all, turning round every now and then to shake his fist at the advancing rebels. General Hill said he felt quite sorry when he saw this gallant Yankee meet his doom.
General Ewell had come up at 3.30, on the enemy’s right (with part of his corps), and completed his discomfiture.
General Reynolds, one of the best Yankee generals, was reported killed. Whilst we were talking, a message arrived from General Ewell, requesting Hill to press the enemy in the front, whilst he performed the same operation on his right. The pressure was accordingly applied in a mild degree, but the enemy were too strongly posted, and it was too late in the evening for a regular attack.
The town of Gettysburg was now occupied by Ewell, and was full of Yankee dead and wounded.
I climbed up a tree in the most commanding place I could find, and could form a pretty good general idea of the enemy’s position, although, the tops of the ridges being covered with pine woods, it was very difficult to see anything of the troops concealed in them.
The firing ceased about dark, at which time I rode back with General Longstreet and his Staff to his headquarters at Cashtown, a little village eight miles from Gettysburg. At that time troops were pouring along the road, and were being marched towards the position they are to occupy to-morrow.
In the fight to-day nearly 6000 prisoners had been taken, and 10 guns. About 20,000 men must have been on the field on the Confederate side. The enemy had two corps d’armée engaged. All the prisoners belong, I think, to the 1st and 11th corps. This day’s work is called a “brisk little scurry,” and all anticipate a “big battle” tomorrow.
I observed that the artillerymen in charge of the horses dig themselves little holes like graves, throwing up the earth at the upper end. They ensconce themselves in these holes when under fire.
At supper this evening, General Longstreet spoke of the enemy’s position as being “very formidable.” He also said that they would doubtless intrench themselves strongly during the night.*
*I have the best reasons for supposing that the fight came off prematurely, and that neither Lee nor Longstreet intended that it should have begun that day. I also think that their plans were deranged by the events of the first.
The Staff officers spoke of the battle as a certainty, and the universal feeling in the army was one of profound contempt for an enemy whom they have beaten so constantly, and under so many disadvantages.
July 2 (Thursday).—We all got up at 3.30 a.m., and breakfasted a little before daylight. Lawley insisted on riding, notwithstanding his illness. Captain and I were in a dilemma for horses, but I was accommodated by Major Clark (of this Staff), whilst the stout Austrian was mounted by Major Walton.
Colonel Sorrell, the Austrian, and I arrived at 5 a.m. at the same commanding position we were on yesterday, and I climbed up a tree in company with Captain Schreibert of the Prussian army.
Just below us were seated Generals Lee, Hill, Longstreet, and Hood in consultation — the two latter assisting their deliberations by the truly American custom of whittling sticks. General Heth was also present; he was wounded in the head yesterday, and although not allowed to command his brigade, he insists upon coming to the field.
At 7 a.m. I rode over part of the ground with General Longstreet, and saw him disposing M’Laws’s division for to-day’s fight. The enemy occupied a series of high ridges, the tops of which were covered with trees, but the intervening valleys between their ridges and ours were mostly open, and partly under cultivation. The cemetery was on their right, and their left appeared to rest upon a high rocky hill . The enemy’s forces, which were now supposed to comprise nearly the whole Potomac army, were concentrated into a space apparently not more than a couple of miles in length.
The Confederates enclosed them in a sort of semicircle, and the extreme extent of our position must have been from five to six miles at least. Ewell was on our left; his headquarters in a church (with a high cupola) at Gettysburg; Hill in the centre; and Longstreet on the right. Our ridges were also covered with pine woods at the tops, and generally on the rear slopes. The artillery of both sides confronted each other at the edges of these belts of trees, the troops being completely hidden. The enemy was evidently intrenched, but the Southerns had not broken ground at all. A dead silence reigned till 4.45 p.m., and no one would have imagined that such masses of men and such a powerful artillery were about to commence the work of destruction at that hour.
Only two divisions of Longstreet were present to-day—viz., M’Laws’s and Hood’s—Pickett being still in the rear. As the whole morning was evidently to be occupied in disposing the troops for the attack, I rode to the extreme right with Colonel Manning and Major Walton, where we ate quantities of cherries, and got a feed of corn for our horses. We also bathed in a small stream, but not without some trepidation on my part, for we were almost beyond the lines, and were exposed to the enemy’s cavalry.
At 1 p.m. I met a quantity of Yankee prisoners who had been picked up straggling. They told me they belonged to Sickles’s corps (3d, I think), and had arrived from Emmetsburg during the night.
About this time skirmishing began along part of the line, but not heavily.
At 2 p.m. General Longstreet advised me, if I wished to have a good view of the battle, to return to my tree of yesterday. I did so, and remained there with Lawley and Captain Schreibert during the rest of the afternoon. But until 4.45 p.m. all was profoundly still, and we began to doubt whether a fight was coming off to-day at all. At that time, however, Longstreet suddenly commenced a heavy cannonade on the right. Ewell immediately took it up on the left. The enemy replied with at least equal fury, and in a few moments the firing along the whole line was as heavy as it is possible to conceive. A dense smoke arose for six miles, there was little wind to drive it away, and the air seemed full of shells—each of which seemed to have a different style of going and to make a different noise from the others. The ordnance on both sides is of a very varied description.
Every now and then a caisson would blow up—if a Federal one, a Confederate yell would immediately follow. The Southern troops, when charging, or to express their delight, always yell in a manner peculiar to themselves. The Yankee cheer is much more like ours; but the Confederate officers declare that the rebel yell has a particular merit, and always produces a salutary and useful effect upon their adversaries. A corps is sometimes spoken of as a “good yelling regiment.”
So soon as the firing began, General Lee joined Hill just below our tree, and he remained there nearly all the time, looking through his field-glass — sometimes talking to Hill and sometimes to Colonel Long of his Staff. But generally he sat quite alone on the stump of a tree.
What I remarked especially was, that during the whole time the firing continued, he only sent one message, and only received one report. It is evidently his system to arrange the plan thoroughly with the three corps commanders, and then leave to them the duty of modifying and carrying it out to the best of their abilities.
When the cannonade was at its height, a Confederate band of music, between the cemetery and ourselves, began to play polkas and waltzes, which sounded very curious, accompanied by the hissing and bursting of the shells.
At 5.45 all became comparatively quiet on our left and in the cemetery; but volleys of musketry on the right told us that Longstreet’s infantry were advancing, and the onward progress of the smoke showed that he was progressing favourably; but about 6.30 there seemed to be a check, and even a slight retrograde movement. Soon after 7 General Lee got a report by signal from Longstreet to say “we are doing well.”
A little before dark the firing dropped off in every direction, and soon ceased altogether.
We then received intelligence that Longstreet had carried everything before him for some time, capturing several batteries, and driving the enemy from his positions; but when Hill’s Florida Brigade and some other troops gave way, he was forced to abandon a small portion of the ground he had won, together with all the captured guns, except three.
His troops, however, bivouacked during the night on ground occupied by the enemy this morning.
Every one deplores that Longstreet will expose himself in such a reckless manner. To-day he led a Georgian regiment in a charge against a battery, hat in hand, and in front of everybody. General Barksdale was killed and Semmes wounded; but the most serious loss was that of General Hood, who was badly wounded in the arm early in the day. I heard that his Texans are in despair. Lawley and I rode back to the General’s camp, which had been moved to within a mile of the scene of action. Longstreet, however, with most of his Staff, bivouacked on the field.
Major Fairfax arrived at about 10 p.m. in a very bad humour. He had under his charge about 1000 to 1500 Yankee prisoners who had been taken to-day, among them a general, whom I heard one of his men accusing of having been “so G—d d—d drunk that he had turned his guns upon his own men.” But, on the other hand, the accuser was such a thundering blackguard, and proposed taking such a variety of oaths in order to escape from the U. S. army, that he is not worthy of much credit. A large train of horses and mules, &c., arrived today, sent in by General Stuart, and captured, it is understood, by his cavalry, which had penetrated to within six miles of Washington.
July 3 (Friday).—At 6 A.m. I rode to the field with Colonel Manning, and went over that portion of the ground which, after a fierce contest, had been won from the enemy yesterday evening. The dead were being buried, but great numbers were still lying about; also many mortally wounded, for whom nothing could be done. Amongst the latter were a number of Yankees dressed in bad imitations of the Zouave costume. They opened their glazed eyes as I rode past in a painfully imploring manner.
We joined Generals Lee and Longstreet’s Staff: they were reconnoitring and making preparations for renewing the attack. As we formed a pretty large party, we often drew upon ourselves the attention of the hostile sharpshooters, and were two or three times favoured with a shell. One of these shells set a brick building on fire which was situated between the lines. This building was filled with wounded, principally Yankees, who, I am afraid, must have perished miserably in the flames. Colonel Sorrell had been slightly wounded yesterday, but still did duty. Major Walton’s horse was killed, but there were no other casualties amongst my particular friends.
The plan of yesterday’s attack seems to have been very simple— first a heavy cannonade all along the line, followed by an advance of Longstreet’s two divisions and part of Hill’s corps. In consequence of the enemy’s having been driven back some distance, Longstreet’s corps (part of it) was in a much more forward situation than yesterday. But the range of heights to be gained was still most formidable, and evidently strongly intrenched.
The distance between the Confederate guns and the Yankee position—i.e., between the woods crowning the opposite ridges—was at least a mile,—quite open, gently undulating, and exposed to artillery the whole distance. This was the ground which had to be crossed in to-day’s attack. Pickett’s division, which had just come up, was to bear the brunt in Longstreet’s attack, together with Heth and Pettigrew in Hill’s corps. Pickett’s division was a weak one (under 5000), owing to the absence of two brigades.
At noon all Longstreet’s dispositions were made; his troops for attack were deployed into line, and lying down in the woods; his batteries were ready to open. The General then dismounted and went to sleep for a short time.
Captain ______ and I now rode off to get, if possible, into some commanding position from whence we could see the whole thing without being exposed to the tremendous fire which was about to commence. After riding about for half an hour without being able to discover so desirable a situation, we determined to make for the cupola, near Gettysburg, Ewell’s headquarters. Just before we reached the entrance to the town, the cannonade opened with a fury which surpassed even that of yesterday.
Soon after passing through the toll-gate at the entrance of Gettysburg, we found that we had got into a heavy cross-fire; shells both Federal and Confederate passing over our heads with great frequency.
At length two shrapnel shells burst quite close to us, and a ball from one of them hit the officer who was conducting us. We then turned round and changed our views with regard to the cupola— the fire of one side being bad enough, but preferable to that of both sides. A small boy of twelve years was riding with us at the time: this urchin took a diabolical interest in the bursting of the shells, and screamed with delight when he saw them take effect. I never saw this boy again, or found out who he was. The road at Gettysburg was lined with Yankee dead, and as they had been killed on the 1st, the poor fellows had already begun to be very offensive. We then returned to the hill I was on yesterday. But finding that, to see the actual fighting, it was absolutely necessary to go into the thick of the thing, I determined to make my way to General Longstreet. It was then about 2.30. After passing General Lee and his Staff, I rode on through the woods in the direction in which I had left Longstreet. I soon began to meet many wounded men returning from the front; many of them asked in piteous tones the way to a doctor or an ambulance. The further I got, the greater became the number of the wounded. At last I came to a perfect stream of them flocking through the woods in numbers as great as the crowd in Oxford Street in the middle of the day. Some were walking alone on crutches composed of two rifles, others were supported by men less badly wounded than themselves, and others were carried on stretchers by the ambulance corps; but in no case did I see a sound man helping the wounded to the rear, unless he carried the red badge of the ambulance corps. They were still under a heavy fire; the shells were continually bringing down great limbs of trees, and carrying further destruction amongst this melancholy procession. I saw all this in much less time than it takes to write it, and although astonished to meet such vast numbers of wounded, I had not seen enough to give me any idea of the real extent of the mischief.
When I got close up to General Longstreet, I saw one of his regiments advancing through the woods in good order; so, thinking I was just in time to see the attack, I remarked to the General that “I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.” Longstreet was seated at the top of a snake fence at the edge of the wood, and looking perfectly calm and unperturbed. He replied, laughing, “The devil you wouldn’t! I would like to have missed it very much; we’ve attacked and been repulsed: look there!”
For the first time I then had a view of the open space between the two positions, and saw it covered with Confederates slowly and sulkily returning towards us in small broken parties, under a heavy fire of artillery. But the fire where we were was not so bad as further to the rear; for although the air seemed alive with shell, yet the greater number burst behind us.
The General told me that Pickett’s division had succeeded in carrying the enemy’s position and capturing his guns, but after remaining there twenty minutes, it had been forced to retire, on the retreat of Heth and Pettigrew on its left.
No person could have been more calm or self-possessed than General Longstreet, under these trying circumstances, aggravated as they now were by the movements of the enemy, who began to show a strong disposition to advance. I could now thoroughly appreciate the term bulldog, which I had heard applied to him by the soldiers. Difficulties seem to make no other impression upon him than to make him a little more savage.
Major Walton was the only officer with him when I came up—all the rest had been put into the charge. In a few minutes Major Latrobe arrived on foot, carrying his saddle, having just had his horse killed. Colonel Sorrell was also in the same predicament, and Captain Goree’s horse was wounded in the mouth.
The General was making the best arrangements in his power to resist the threatened advance, by advancing some artillery, rallying the stragglers, &c I remember seeing a General (Pettigrew, I think it was) come up to him, and report that “he was unable to bring his men up again.” Longstreet turned upon him and replied with some sarcasm, “Very well; never mind, then, General; just let them remain where they are: the enemy’s going to advance, and will spare you the trouble.”
He asked for something to drink: I gave him some rum out of my silver flask, which I begged he would keep in remembrance of the occasion ;—he smiled, and, to my great satisfaction, accepted the memorial. He then went off to give some orders to M’Laws’s division.
Soon afterwards I joined General Lee, who had in the meanwhile come to the front on becoming aware of the disaster. If Longstreet’s conduct was admirable, that of General Lee was perfectly sublime. He was engaged in rallying and in encouraging the broken troops, and was riding about a little in front of the wood, quite alone—the whole of his Staff being engaged in a similar manner further to the rear. His face, which is always placid and cheerful, did not show signs of the slightest disappointment, care, or annoyance; and he was addressing to every soldier he met a few words of encouragement, such as, “All this will come right in the end: we’ll talk it over afterwards; but, in the mean time, all good men must rally. We want all good and true men just now,” &c. He spoke to all the wounded men that passed him, and the slightly wounded he exhorted “to bind up their hurts and take up a musket” in this emergency. Very few failed to answer his appeal, and I saw many badly wounded men take off their hats and cheer him.
He said to me, “This has been a sad day for us, Colonel—a sad day ; but we can’t expect always to gain victories.” He was also kind enough to advise me to get into some more sheltered position.
Notwithstanding the misfortune which had so suddenly befallen him, General Lee seemed to observe everything, however trivial. ,When a mounted officer began licking his horse for shying at the bursting of a shell, he called out, “Don’t whip him, Captain, don’t whip him. I’ve got just such another foolish horse myself, and whipping does no good.”
I happened to see a man lying flat on his face in a small ditch, and I remarked that I didn’t think he seemed dead; this drew General Lee’s attention to the man, who commenced groaning dismally. Finding appeals to his patriotism of no avail, General Lee had him ignominiously set on his legs by some neighbouring gunners.
I saw General Willcox (an officer, who wears a short round jacket and a battered straw hat) come up to him, and explain, almost crying, the state of his brigade. General Lee immediately shook hands with him and said, cheerfully, “Never mind, General, all this has been my fault—it is I that have lost this fight, and you must help me out of it in the best way you can.”
In this manner I saw General Lee encourage and reanimate his somewhat dispirited troops, and magnanimously take upon his own shoulders the whole weight of the repulse. It was impossible to look at him or to listen to him without feeling the strongest admiration, and I never saw any man fail him except the man in the ditch.
It is difficult to exaggerate the critical state of affairs as they appeared about this time. If the enemy or their general had shown any enterprise, there is no saying what might have happened. General Lee and his officers were evidently fully impressed with a sense of the situation; yet there was much less noise, fuss, or confusion of orders than at an ordinary field day: the men, as they were rallied in the wood, were brought up in detachments and lay down quietly and coolly in the positions assigned to them.
We heard that Generals Garnett and Armistead were killed, and General Kemper mortally wounded; also, that Pickett’s division had only one field-officer unhurt. Nearly all this slaughter took place in an open space about one mile square, and within one hour.
At 6 p.m. we heard a long and continuous Yankee cheer, which we at first imagined was an indication of an advance, but it turned out to be their reception of a general officer, whom we saw riding down the line, followed by about thirty horsemen.
Soon afterwards I rode to the extreme front, where there were four pieces of rifled cannon almost without any infantry support. To the non-withdrawal of these guns is to be attributed the otherwise surprising inactivity of the enemy.
I was immediately surrounded by a sergeant and about half-a-dozen gunners, who seemed in excellent spirits and full of confidence, in spite of their exposed situation. The sergeant expressed his ardent hope that the Yankees might have spirit enough to advance and receive the dose he had in readiness for them. They spoke in admiration of the advance of Pickett’s division, and of the manner in which Pickett himself had led it. When they observed General Lee they said, “We’ve not lost confidence in the old man: this day’s work won’t do him no harm. ‘Uncle Robert’ will get us into Washington yet; you bet he will,” &c.
Whilst we were talking, the enemy’s skrimishers began to advance slowly, and several ominous sounds in quick succession told us that we were attracting their attention, and that it was necessary to break up the conclave. I therefore turned round and took leave of these cheery and plucky gunners.
At 7 p.m., General Lee received a report that Johnson’s division of Ewell’s corps had been successful on the left, and had gained important advantages there. Firing entirely ceased in our front about this time, but we now heard some brisk musketry on our right, which I afterwards learned proceeded from Hood’s Texans, who had managed to surround some enterprising Yankee cavalry, and were slaughtering them with great satisfaction. Only eighteen out of four hundred are said to have escaped.
At 7.30, all idea of a Yankee attack being over, I rode back to Moses’s tent, and found that worthy commissary in very low spirits, all sorts of exaggerated rumours having reached him. On my way I met a great many wounded men, most anxious to inquire after Longstreet, who was reported killed; when I assured them he was quite well, they seemed to forget their own pain in the evident pleasure they felt in the safety of their chief. No words that I can use will adequately express the extraordinary patience and fortitude with which the wounded Confederates bore their sufferings.
I got something to eat with the doctors at 10 p.m., the first for fifteen hours.
I gave up my horse to-day to his owner, as from death and exhaustion the Staff are almost without horses.
July 4 (Saturday).—I was awoke at daylight by Moses complaining that his valuable trunk, containing much public money, had been stolen from our tent whilst we slept. After a search it was found in a wood hard by, broken open and minus the money. Dr Barksdale had been robbed in the same manner exactly. This is evidently the work of those rascally stragglers, who shirk going under fire, plunder the natives, and will hereafter swagger as the heroes of Gettysburg.
Lawley, the Austrian, and I, walked up to the front about eight o’clock, and on our way we met General Longstreet, who was in a high state of amusement and good-humour. A flag of truce had just come over from the enemy, and its bearer announced among other things that “General Longstreet was wounded, and a prisoner, but would be taken care of.” General Longstreet sent back word that he was extremely grateful, but that, being neither wounded nor a prisoner, he was quite able to take care of himself. The iron endurance of General Longstreet is most extraordinary: he seems to require neither food nor sleep. Some of his Staff now fell fast asleep directly they got off their horses, they were so exhausted from the last three days’ work.
Whilst Lawley went to headquarters on business I sat down and had a long talk with General Pendleton (the parson), chief of artillery. He told me the exact number of guns in action yesterday. He said that the universal opinion is in favour of the 12-pounder Napoleon guns as the best and simplest sort of ordnance for field purposes.* Nearly all the artillery with this army has either been captured from the enemy or cast from old 6pounders taken at the early part of the war.
*The Napoleon 12-pounders arc smooth-tore brass guns, with chambers, very light, and with long range. They were invented or recommended by Louis Napoleon years ago. A large number are being cast at Augusta and elsewhere.
At 10 a.m. Lawley returned from headquarters, bringing the news that the army is to commence moving in the direction of Virginia this evening; this step is imperative from want of ammunition. But it was hoped that the enemy might attack during the day, especially as this is the 4th July, and it was calculated that there was still ammunition for one day’s fighting. The ordnance train had already commenced moving back towards Cashtown, and Ewell’s immense train of plunder had been proceeding towards Hagerstown by the Fairfield road ever since an early hour this morning.
Johnson’s division had evacuated during the night the position it had gained yesterday. It appears that for a time it was actually in possession of the cemetery, but had been forced to retire from thence from want of support by Pender’s division, which had been retarded by that officer’s wound. The whole of our left was therefore thrown back considerably.
At 1 p.m. the rain began to descend in torrents, and we took refuge in the hovel of an ignorant Pennsylvanian boor. The cottage was full of soldiers, none of whom had the slightest idea of the contemplated retreat, and all were talking of Washington and Baltimore with the greatest confidence.
At 2 p.m. we walked to General Longstreet’s camp, which had been removed to a place three miles distant, on the Fairfield road.
General Longstreet talked to me for a long time about the battle. He said the mistake they had made was in not concentrating the army more, and making the attack yesterday with 30,000 men instead of 15,000. The advance had been in three lines, and the troops of Hill’s corps who gave way were young soldiers, who had never been under fire before. He thought the enemy would have attacked had the guns been withdrawn. Had they done so at that particular moment immediately after the repulse, it would have been awkward; but in that case he had given orders for the advance of Hood’s division and M’Laws’s on the “right. I think, after all, that General Meade was right not to advance — his men would never have stood the tremendous fire of artillery they would have been exposed to.
Rather over 7000 Yankees were captured during the three days;— 3500 took the parole; the remainder were now being marched to Richmond, escorted by the remains of Pickett’s division.
It is impossible to avoid seeing that the cause of this check to the Confederates lies in the utter contempt felt for the enemy by all ranks.
Waggons, horses, mules, and cattle captured in Pennsylvania, the solid advantages of this campaign, have been passing slowly along this road (Fairfield) all day: those taken by Ewell are particularly admired. So interminable was this train that it soon became evident that we should not be able to start till late at night. As soon as it became dark we all lay round a big fire, and I heard reports coming in from the different generals that the enemy was retiring, and had been doing so all day long. M’Laws reported nothing in his front but cavalry videttes.
But this, of course, could make no difference to General Lee’s plans: ammunition he must have—he had failed to capture it from the enemy (according to precedent); and as his communications with Virginia were intercepted, he was compelled to fall back towards Winchester, and draw his supplies from thence.
General Milroy had kindly left an ample stock at that town when he made his precipitate exit some weeks ago. The army was also encumbered with an enormous waggon-train, the spoils of Pennsylvania, which it is highly desirable to get safely over the Potomac.
Shortly after 9 p.m. the rain began to descend in torrents. Lawley and I luckily got into the doctors’ covered buggy, and began to get slowly under weigh a little after midnight.
July 5 (Sunday). — The night was very bad—thunder and lightning, torrents of rain—the road knee-deep in mud and water, and often blocked up with waggons “come to grief.” I pitied the wretched plight of the unfortunate soldiers who were to follow us.
Our progress was naturally very slow indeed, and we took eight hours to go as many miles.
At 8 a.m. we halted a little beyond the village of Fairfield, near the entrance to a mountain-pass. No sooner had we done so and lit a
fire, than an alarm was spread that Yankee cavalry were upon us. Several shots flew over our heads, but we never could discover from whence they came. News also arrived of the capture of the whole of Ewell’s beautiful waggons.* These reports created a regular stampede amongst the waggoners, and Longstreet’s drivers started off as fast as they could go.
*It afterwards turned out that all escaped but thirty-eight.
Our medical trio, however, firmly declined to budge, and came to this wise conclusion, partly urged by the pangs of hunger, and partly from the consideration that, if the Yankee cavalry did come, the crowded state of the road in our rear would prevent our escape. Soon afterwards, some Confederate cavalry were pushed to the front, who cleared the pass after a slight skirmish.
At noon, Generals Lee and Longstreet arrived, and halted close to us. Soon afterwards Ewell came up. This is the first time I ever saw him. He is rather a remarkable-looking old soldier, with a bald head, a prominent nose, and rather a haggard, sickly face: having so lately lost his leg above the knee, he is still a complete cripple, and falls off his horse occasionally. Directly he dismounts he has to be put on crutches. He was Stonewall Jackson’s coadjutor during the celebrated valley campaigns, and he used to be a great swearer—in fact, he is said to have been the only person who was unable to restrain that propensity before Jackson; but since his late (rather romantic) marriage, he has (to use the American expression) “joined the Church.” When I saw him he was in a great state of disgust in consequence of the supposed loss of his waggons, and refused to be comforted by General Lee.
I joined Longstreet again, and, mounted on Lawley’s venerable horse, started at 3 P. M. to ride through the pass. At 4 p.m. we stopped at a place where the roads fork, one leading to Emmetsburg, and the other to Hagerstown.
Major Moses and I entered a farm-house, in which we found several women, two wounded Yankees, and one dead one, the result of this morning’s skirmish. One of the sufferers was frightfully wounded in the head; the other was hit in the knee : the latter told me he was an Irishman, and had served in the Bengal Europeans during the Indian Mutiny. He now belonged to a Michigan cavalry regiment, and had already imbibed American ideas of Ireland’s wrongs, and all that sort of trash. He told me that his officers were very bad, and that the idea in the army was that M’Clellan had assumed the chief command.
The women in this house were great Abolitionists. When Major Fairfax rode up, he inquired of one of them whether the corpse was that of a Confederate or Yankee (the body was in the verandah, covered with a white sheet). The woman made a gesture with her foot, and replied, “If it was a rebel, do you think it would be here long V Fairfax then said, “Is it a woman who speaks in such a manner of a dead body which can do no one any harm?” She thereupon coloured up, and said she wasn’t in earnest.
At six o’clock we rode on again (by the Hagerstown road) and came up with General Longstreet at 7.30. The road was full of soldiers marching in a particularly lively manner—the wet and mud seemed to have produced no effect whatever on their spirits, which were as boisterous as ever. They had got hold of coloured prints of Mr Lincoln, which they were passing about from company to company with many remarks upon the personal beauty of Uncle Abe. The same old chaff was going on of “Come out of that hat—I know you’re in it—I sees your legs a-dangling down,” &c. When we halted for the night, skirmishing was going on in front and rear—Stuart in front and Ewell in rear. Our bivouac being near a large tavern, General Longstreet had ordered some supper there for himself and his Staff; but when we went to devour it, we discovered General M’Laws and his officers rapidly finishing it. We, however, soon got more, the Pennsylvanian proprietors being particularly anxious to propitiate the General, in hopes that he would spare their live stock, which had been condemned to death by the ruthless Moses.
During supper women came rushing in at intervals, saying—“Oh, good heavens, now they’re killing our fat hogs. Which is the General? which is the Great Officer? Our milch cows are now going.” To all which expressions Longstreet replied, shaking his head in a melancholy manner—”Yes, madam, it’s very sad—very sad; and this sort of thing has being going on in Virginia more than two years —very sad.”
We all slept in the open, and the heavy rain produced no effect upon our slumbers.
I understand it is impossible to cross the lines by flag of truce. I therefore find myself in a dilemma about the expiration of my leave.
July 6 (Monday).—Several horses were stolen last night, mine nearly so. It is necessary to be very careful, in order to prevent this misfortune.
We started at 6.30, but got on very slowly, so blocked up was the road with waggons, some of which had been captured and burnt by the enemy yesterday. It now turned out that all Ewell’s waggons escaped except thirty-eight, although, at one time, they had been all in the enemy’s hands.
At 8.30 we halted for a couple of hours, and Generals Lee, Longstreet, Hill, and Willcox had a consultation. I spoke to ___________ about my difficulties with regard to getting home, and the necessity of doing so, owing to the approaching expiration of my leave. He told me that the army had no intention at present of retreating for good, and advised me to stop with them and see what turned up; he also said that some of the enemy’s despatches had been intercepted, in which the following words occur :—“The noble but unfortunate army of the Potomac has again been obliged to retreat before superior numbers.”
I particularly observed the marching to-day of the 21st Mississippi, which was uncommonly good. This regiment all wear short round jackets, a most unusual circumstance, for they are generally unpopular in the South.
At twelve o’clock we halted again, and all set to work to eat cherries, which was the only food we got between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m.
I saw a most laughable spectacle this afternoon—viz., a negro dressed in full Yankee uniform, with a rifle at full cock, leading along a barefooted white man, with whom he had evidently changed clothes. General Longstreet stopped the pair, and asked the black man what he meant. He replied, “The two soldiers in charge of this here Yank have got drunk, so for fear he should escape I have took care of him.” The consequential manner of the negro, and the supreme contempt with which he spoke to his prisoner, were most amusing.
I saw General Hood in his carriage; he looked rather bad, and has been suffering a good deal; the doctors seem to doubt whether they will be able to save his arm. I also saw General Hampton, of the cavalry, who has been shot in the hip, and has two sabre-cuts on the head, but he was in very good spirits.
A short time before we reached Hagerstown there was some firing in front, together with an alarm that the Yankee cavalry was upon us. The ambulances were sent back; but some of the wounded jumped out, and, producing the rifles which they had not parted with, they prepared to fight. After a good deal of desultory skirmishing, we seated ourselves upon a hill overlooking Hagerstown, and saw the enemy’s cavalry driven through the town pursued by yelling Confederates.
A good many Yankee prisoners now passed us; one of them, who was smoking a cigar, was a lieutenant of cavalry, dressed very smartly, and his hair brushed with the greatest care; he formed rather a contrast to his ragged escort, and to ourselves, who had not washed or shaved for ever so long.
About 7 p.m. we rode through Hagerstown, in the streets of which were several dead horses and a few dead men. After proceeding about a mile beyond the town we halted, and General Longstreet sent four cavalrymen up a lane, with directions to report everything they saw. We then dismounted and lay down. About ten minutes later (being nearly dark) we heard a sudden rush—a panic—and then a regular stampede commenced, in the midst of which I descried our four cavalry heroes crossing a field as fast as they could gallop. All was now complete confusion;—officers mounting their horses, and pursuing those which had got loose, and soldiers climbing over fences for protection against the supposed advancing Yankees. In the middle of the din I heard an artillery officer shouting to his “cannoneers” to stand by him, and plant the guns in a proper position for enfilading the lane. I also distinguished Longstreet walking about, hustled by the excited crowd, and remarking, in angry tones, which could scarcely be heard, and to which no attention was paid, “Now, you don’t know what it is—you don’t know what it is.” Whilst the row and confusion were at their height, the object of all this alarm at length emerged from the dark lane in the shape of a domestic four-wheel carriage, with a harmless load of females. The stampede had, however, spread, increased in the rear, and caused much harm and delay.
Cavalry skirmishing went on until quite dark, a determined attack having been made by the enemy, who did his best to prevent the trains from crossing the Potomac at Williamsport. It resulted in the success of the Confederates; but every impartial man confesses that these cavalry fights are miserable affairs. Neither party has any idea of serious charging with the sabre. They approach one another with considerable boldness, until they get to within about forty yards, and then, at the very moment when a dash is necessary, and the sword alone should be used, they hesitate, halt, and commence a desultory fire with carbines and revolvers.
An Englishman, named Winthrop, a captain in the Confederate army, and formerly an officer in H.M.’s 22d regiment, although not in the cavalry himself, seized the colours of one of the regiments, and rode straight at the Yankees in the most gallant manner, shouting to the men to follow him. He continued to distinguish himself by leading charges until his horse was unfortunately killed. I heard his conduct on this occasion highly spoken of by all. Stuart’s cavalry can hardly be called cavalry in the European sense of the word; but, on the other hand, the country in which they are accustomed to operate is not adapted for cavalry.
________ was forced at last to give up wearing even his Austrian forage-cap; for the last two days soldiers on the line of march had been visiting his ambulance in great numbers, under the impression (encouraged by the driver) that he was a Yankee general. The idea now was that the army would remain some days in or near its present position until the arrival of the ammunition from Winchester.
July 7 (Tuesday).—Lawley, the Austrian, and I drove into Hagerstown this morning, and General Longstreet moved into a new position on the Williamsport road, which he was to occupy for the present.
We got an excellent room in the Washington Hotel on producing greenbacks. Public opinion in Hagerstown seems to be pretty evenly divided between North and South, and probably accommodates itself to circumstances. For instance, yesterday the women waved
their handkerchiefs when the Yankee cavalry were driven through the town, and to-day they went through the same compliment in honour of 3500 Yankee (Gettysburg) prisoners whom I saw marched through en route for Richmond.
I overheard the conversation of some Confederate soldiers about these prisoners. One remarked, with respect to the Zouaves, of whom there were a few—”Those red-breeched fellows look as if they could fight, but they don’t, though; no, not so well as the bluebellies.”
Lawley introduced me to General Stuart in the streets of Hagerstown to-day. He is commonly called Jeb Stuart, on account of his initials; he is a good-looking, jovial character, exactly like his photographs. He has certainly accomplished wonders, and done excellent service in his peculiar style of warfare. He is a good and gallant soldier, though he sometimes incurs ridicule by his harmless affectation and peculiarities. The other day he rode through a Virginian town, his horse covered with garlands of roses. He also departs considerably from the severe simplicity of dress adopted by other Confederate generals; but no one can deny that he is the right man in the right place. On a campaign, he seems to roam over the country according to his own discretion, and always gives a good account of himself, turning up at the right moment; and hitherto he has never got himself into any serious trouble.
I rode to General Longstreet’s camp, which is about two miles in the direction of Williamsport, and consulted him about my difficulties with regard to my leave. He was most good-natured about it, and advised me under the circumstances to drive in the direction of Hancock; and, in the event of being ill-treated on my way, to insist upon being taken before the nearest U.S. officer of the highest rank, who would probably protect me. I determined to take his advice at once; so I took leave of him and of his officers. Longstreet is generally a very taciturn and undemonstrative man, but he was quite affectionate in his farewell. His last words were a hearty hope for the speedy termination of the war. All his officers were equally kind in their expressions on my taking leave, though the last sentence uttered by Latrobe was not entirely reassuring —viz., “You may take your oath he’ll be caught for a spy.”
I then rode to General Lee’s camp, and asked him for a pass to get through his lines. We had a long talk together, and he told me of the raid made by the enemy, for the express purpose of arresting his badly wounded son (a Confederate Brigadier-General), who was lying in the house of a relation in Virginia. They insisted upon carrying him off in a litter, though he had never been out of bed, and had quite recently been shot through the thigh. This seizure was evidently made for purposes of retaliation. His life has since been threatened, in the event of the South retaliating for Burnside’s alleged military murders in Kentucky. But few officers, however, speak of the Northerners with so much moderation as General Lee; his extreme amiability seems to prevent his speaking strongly against any one. I really felt quite sorry when I said good-bye to so many gentlemen from whom I had received so much disinterested kindness.
I am now about to leave the Southern States, after travelling quite alone throughout their entire length and breadth, including Texas and the trans-Mississippi country, for nearly three months and a half, during which time I have been thrown amongst all classes of the population—the highest, the lowest, and the most lawless. Although many were very sore about the conduct of England, I never received an uncivil word from anybody, but, on the contrary, I have been treated by all with more than kindness.* I have never met a man who was not anxious for a termination of the war; and I have never met a man, woman, or child who contemplated its termination as possible without an entire separation from the now detested Yankee. I have never been asked for alms or a gratuity by any man or woman, black or white. Every one knew who I was, and all spoke to me with the greatest confidence. I have rarely heard any person complain of the almost total ruin which has befallen so many. All are prepared to undergo still greater sacrifices,— they contemplate and prepare to receive great reverses which it is impossible to avert. They look to a successful termination of the war as certain, although few are sanguine enough to fix a speedy date for it, and nearly all bargain for its lasting at least all Lincoln’s presidency. I have lived in bivouacs with all the Southern armies, which are as distinct from one another as the British is from the Austrian, and I have never once seen an instance of insubordination.
*The only occasion on which I was roughly handled was when I had the misfortune to enter the city of Jackson, Mississippi, just as the Federals evacuated it . I was alone, on foot, and unknown to any one, and was seized by the citizens, who, exasperated by the wanton destruction of their property by Grant’s army, were anxious to hang me as a spy. On my identity being clearly established, I was treated with every consideration, and sent up to Johnston’s army immediately. I do not complain of this affair, which, under the circumstances, was not to be wondered at.
When I got back to Hagerstown, I endeavoured to make arrangements for a horse and buggy to drive through the lines. With immense difficulty I secured the services of a Mr ______, to take me to Hancock, and as much farther as I chose to go, for a dollar a mile (greenbacks). I engaged also to pay him the value of his horse and buggy, in case they should be confiscated by either side. He was evidently extremely alarmed, and I was obliged to keep him up to the mark by assurances that his horse would inevitably be seized by the Confederates, unless protected by General Lee’s pass in my possession.
July 8 (Wednesday). — My conductor told me he couldn’t go to-day on account of a funeral, but he promised faithfully to start to-morrow. Every one was full of forebodings as to my probable fate when I fell into Yankee clutches. In deference to their advice I took off my grey shooting-jacket, in which they said I was sure to be taken for a rebel, and I put on a black coat; but I scouted all well-meant advice as to endeavouring to disguise myself as an “American citizen,” or conceal the exact truth in any way. I was aware that a great deal depended upon falling into the hands of a gentleman, and I did not believe these were so rare in the Northern army as the Confederates led me to suppose.
July 9 (Thursday).—I left Hagerstown at8 a.m., in my conductor’s good buggy, after saying farewell to Lawley, the Austrian, and the numerous Confederate officers who came to see me off, and wish me good-luck.
We passed the Confederate advanced post at about two miles from Hagerstown, and were allowed to pass on the production of General Lee’s authority. I was now fairly launched beyond the Confederate lines for the first time since I had been in America.
Immediately afterwards we began to be asked all sorts of inquisitive questions about the rebels, which I left to my driver to answer. It became perfectly evident that this narrow_ strip of Maryland is entirely Unionist.
At about 12 o’clock we reached the top of a high hill, and halted to bait our horse at an inn called Fairview.
No sooner had we descended from the buggy than about twenty rampageous Unionists appeared, who told us they had come up to get a good view of the big fight in which the G—d d—d rebels were to be captured, or drowned in the Potomac.
My appearance evidently did not please them from the very first. With alarm I observed them talking to one another, and pointing at me. At length a particularly truculent looking individual, with an enormous mustache, approached me, and, fixing his eyes long and steadfastly upon my trousers, he remarked in the surliest possible tones, “Them breeches is a d—d bad colour.” This he said in allusion, not to their dirty state, but to the fact of their being grey, the rebel colour. I replied to this very disagreeable assertion in as conciliating a way as I possibly could; and in answer to his question as to who I was, I said that I was an English traveller. He then said that his wife was an English lady from Preston. I next expressed my pride in being a countryman of his wife’s. He then told me in tones that admitted of no contradiction, that Preston was just forty-five miles east of London; and he afterwards launched into torrents of invectives against the rebels, who had run him out of Virginia ; and he stated his intention of killing them in great numbers to gratify his taste. With some difficulty I prevailed upon him and his rabid brethren to drink, which pacified them slightly for a time; but when the horse was brought out to be harnessed, it became evident I was not to be allowed to proceed without a row. I therefore addressed the crowd, and asked them quietly who among them wished to detain me; and I told them, at the same time, that I would not answer any questions put by those who were not persons in authority, but that I should be most happy to explain myself to any officer of the United States army. At length they allowed me to proceed, on the understanding that my buggy-driver should hand me over to General Kelly, at Hancock. The driver was provided with a letter for the General, in which I afterwards discovered that I was denounced as a spy, and “handed over to the General to be dealt with as justice to our cause demands.” We were then allowed to start, the driver being threatened with condign vengeance if he let me escape.
After we had proceeded about six miles we fell in with some Yankee cavalry, by whom we were immediately captured, and the responsibility of my custody was thus removed from my conductor’s shoulders.
A cavalry soldier was put in charge of us, and we passed through the numerous Yankee outposts under the title of “Prisoners.”
The hills near Hancock were white with Yankee tents, and there were, I believe, from 8000 to 10,000 Federals there. I did not think much of the appearance of the Northern troops ; they are certainly dressed in proper uniform, but their clothes are badly fitted, and they are often round-shouldered, dirty, and slovenly in appearance; in fact, bad imitations of soldiers. Now, the Confederate has no ambition to imitate the regular soldier at all; he looks the genuine rebel; but in spite of his bare feet, his ragged clothes, his old rug, and tooth-brush stuck like a rose in his button-hole,* he has a sort of devil-may-care, reckless, self-confident look which is decidedly taking.
*This tooth-brush in the button-hole is a very common custom, and has a most quaint effect.
At 5 p.m. we drove up in front of the door of General Kelly’s quarters, and to my immense relief I soon discovered that he was a gentleman. I then explained to him the whole truth, “concealing nothing. I said I was a British officer on leave of absence, travelling for my own instruction; that I had been all the way to Mexico, and entered the Southern States by the Rio Grande, for the express purpose of not breaking any legally established blockade. I told him I had visited all the Southern armies in Mississippi, Tennessee, Charleston, and Virginia, and seen the late campaign as General Longstreet’s guest, but had in no way entered the Confederate service. I also gave him my word that I had not got in my possession any letters, either public or private, from any person in the South to any person anywhere else. I showed him my British passport and General Lee’s pass as a British officer; and I explained that my only object in coming North was to return to England in time for the expiration of my leave; and I ended by expressing a hope that he would make my detention as short as possible.
After considering a short time, he said that he would certainly allow me to go on, but that he could not allow my driver to go back. I felt immensely relieved at the decision, but the countenance of my companion lengthened considerably. It was, however, settled that he should take me on to Cumberland, and General Kelly good-naturedly promised to do what he could for him on his return.
General Kelly then asked me in an off-hand manner whether all General Lee’s army was at Hagerstown; but I replied, laughing, “You of course understand, General, that, having got that pass from General Lee, I am bound by every principle of honour not to give you any information which can be of advantage to you.” He laughed and promised not to ask me any more questions of that sort. He then sent his aide-de-camp with me to the provost-marshal, who immediately gave me a pass for Cumberland. On my return to the General’s, I discovered the perfidious driver (that zealous Southern of a few hours previous) hard at work communicating to General Kelly all he knew, and a great deal more besides; but, from what I heard, I don’t think his information was very valuable.
I was treated by General Kelly and all his officers with the greatest good-nature and courtesy, although I had certainly come among them under circumstances suspicious, to say the least. I felt quite sorry that they should be opposed to my Southern friends, and I regretted still more that they should be obliged to serve with or under a Butler, a Milroy, or even a Hooker. I took leave of them at six o’clock, and I can truly say that the only Federal officers I have ever come in contact with were gentlemen.
We had got four miles beyond Hancock, when the tire of one of our wheels came off, and we had to stop for a night at a farm-house. I had supper with the farmer and his labourers, who had just come in from the fields, and the supper was much superior to that which can be procured at the first hotel at Richmond. All were violent Unionists, and perfectly under the impression that the rebels were totally demoralised, and about to lay down their arms. Of course I held my tongue, and gave no one reason to suppose I had ever been in rebeldom.
July 10 (Friday). — The drive from Hancock to Cumberland is a very mountainous forty-four miles —total distance from Hagerstown, sixty-six miles. We met with no further adventure on the road, although the people were very inquisitive, but I never opened my mouth.
One woman in particular, who kept a toll-bar, thrust her ugly old head out of an upper window, and yelled out, “Air they a-fixin’ for another battle out there?” jerking her head in the direction of Hagerstown. The driver replied that, although the bunch of rebels there was pretty big, yet he could not answer for their fixing arrangements; which he afterwards explained to me meant digging fortifications.
We arrived at Cumberland at 7 p.m. This is a great coal place, and a few weeks ago it was touched up by “Imboden,” who burnt a lot of coal barges, which has rendered the people rabid against the Rebs.
I started by stage for Johnstown at 8.30 p.m.
July 11 (Saturday).—I hope I may never for my sins be again condemned to travel for thirty hours in an American stage on a used-up plank road. We changed carriages at Somerset. All my fellow-travellers were of course violent Unionists, and invariably spoke of my late friends as Rebels or Rebs. They had all got it into their heads that their Potomac army, not having been thoroughly thrashed as it always has been hitherto, had achieved a tremendous victory; and that its new chief, General Meade, who in reality was driven into a strong position, which he had sense enough to stick to, is a wonderful strategist. They all hope that the remnants of Lee’s army will not be allowed to escape over the Potomac; whereas, when I left the army two days ago, no man in it had a thought of escaping over the Potomac, and certainly General Meade was not in a position to attempt to prevent the passage, if crossing had become necessary.
I reached Johnstown on the Pennsylvania Railway at 6 p.m., and found that town in a great state of excitement in consequence of the review of two militia companies, who were receiving garlands from the fair ladies of Johnstown in gratitude for their daring conduct in turning out to resist Lee’s invasion. Most of the men seemed to be respectable mechanics, not at all adapted for an early interview with the rebels. The garlands supplied were as big and apparently as substantial as a ship’s life-buoys, and the recipients looked particularly helpless after they had got them. Heaven help those Pennsylvanian braves if a score of Hood’s Texans had caught sight of them!
Left Johnstown by train at 7.3O P.m., and, by paying half a dollar, I secured a berth in a sleeping-car —a most admirable and ingenious Yankee notion.
July 12 (Sunday).—The Pittsburg and Philadelphia Railway is, I believe, accounted one of the best in America, which did not prevent my spending eight hours last night off the line; but, being asleep at the time, I was unaware of the circumstance. Instead of arriving at Philadelphia at 6 a.m., we did not get there till 3 p.m. Passed Harrisburg at 9 A.m. It was full of Yankee soldiers, and has evidently not recovered from the excitement consequent upon the late invasion, one effect of which has been to prevent the cutting of the crops by the calling out of the militia.
At Philadelphia I saw a train containing 150 Confederate prisoners, who were being stared at by a large number of the beau monde of Philadelphia. I mingled with the crowd which was chaffing them ; most of the people were good-natured, but I heard one suggestion to the effect that they should be taken to the river, “and every mother’s son of them drowned there.”
I arrived at New York at 10 p.m., and drove to the Fifth Avenue Hotel.
July 13 (Monday).—The luxury and comfort of New York and Philadelphia strikes one as extraordinary after having lately come from Charleston and Richmond. The greenbacks seem to be nearly as good as gold. The streets are as full as possible of well – dressed people, and are crowded with able-bodied civilians capable of bearing arms, who have evidently no intention of doing so. They apparently don’t feel the war at all here; and until there is a grand smash with their money, or some other catastrophe to make them feel it, I can easily imagine that they will not be anxious to make peace.
I walked the whole distance of Broadway to the Consul’s house, and nothing could exceed the apparent prosperity; the street was covered with banners and placards inviting people to enlist in various high-sounding regiments. Bounties of $550 were offered, and huge pictures hung across the street, on which numbers of ragged greybacks* terror depicted on their features, were being pursued by the Federals. On returning to the Fifth Avenue, I found all the shopkeepers beginning to close their stores, and I perceived by degrees that there was great alarm about the resistance to the draft which was going on this morning. On reaching the hotel I perceived a whole block of buildings on fire close by: engines were present, but were not allowed to play by the crowd. In the hotel itself, universal consternation prevailed, and an attack by the mob had been threatened. I walked about in the neighbourhood, and saw a company of soldiers on the march, who were being jeered at and hooted by small boys, and I saw a negro pursued by the crowd take refuge with the military; he was followed by loud cries of “Down with the b____y nigger! Kill all niggers !” &c. Never having been in New York before, and being totally ignorant of the state of feeling with regard to negroes, I inquired of a bystander what the negroes had done that they should want to kill them? He replied, civilly enough—“Oh sir, they hate them here; they are the innocent cause of all these troubles.” Shortly afterwards, I saw a troop of citizen cavalry come up; the troopers were very gorgeously attired, but evidently experienced so much difficulty in sitting their horses, that they were more likely to excite laughter than any other emotion.
*The Northerns call the Southerns “Greybacks,” just as the latter call the former “Bluebellies,” on account of the colour of their dress.
July 14 (Tuesday).—At breakfast this morning two Irish waiters, seeing I was a Britisher, came up to me one after the other, and whispered at intervals in hoarse Hibernian accents—“It’s disgraceful, sir. I’ve been drafted, sir. I’m a Briton. I love my country. I love the Union Jack, sir.” I suggested an interview with Mr Archibald, but neither of them seemed to care about going to the Counsel just yet. These rascals have probably been hard at work for years, voting as free and enlightened American citizens, and abusing England to their hearts’ content.
I heard every one talking of the total demoralisation of the Rebels as a certain fact, and all seemed to anticipate their approaching destruction. All this sounded very absurd to me, who had left Lee’s army four days previously as full of fight as ever—much stronger in numbers, and ten times more efficient in every military point of view, than it was when it crossed the Potomac to invade Maryland a year ago. In its own opinion, Lee’s army has not lost any of its prestige at the battle of Gettysburg, in which it most gallantly stormed strong intrenchments defended by the whole army of the Potomac, which never ventured outside its works, or approached in force within half a mile of the Confederate artillery.
The result of the battle of Gettysburg, together with the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson, seems to have turned everybody’s head completely, and has deluded them with the idea of the speedy and complete subjugation of the South. I was filled with astonishment to hear people speaking in this confident manner, when one of their most prosperous States had been so recently laid under contribution as far as Harrisburg and Washington, their capital itself having just been saved by a fortunate turn of luck. Four-fifths of the Pennsylvanian spoil had safely crossed the Potomac before I left Hagerstown.
The consternation in the streets seemed to be on the increase; fires were going on in all directions, and the streets were being patrolled by large bodies of police followed by special constables, the latter bearing truncheons, but not looking very happy.
I heard a British captain making a deposition before the Consul, to the effect that the mob had got on board his vessel and cruelly beaten his coloured crew. As no British man-of-war was present, the French Admiral was appealed to, who at once requested that all British ships with coloured crews might be anchored under the guns of his frigate.
The reports of outrages, hangings, and, murder, were now most alarming, and terror and anxiety were universal. All shops were shut; all carriages and omnibuses had ceased running. No coloured man or woman was visible or safe in the streets, or even in his own dwelling. Telegraphs were cut, and railroad tracks torn up. The draft was suspended, and the mob evidently had the upper hand.
The people who can’t pay $300 naturally hate being forced to fight in order to liberate the very race who they are most anxious should be slaves. It is their direct interest not only that all slaves should remain slaves, but that the free Northern negroes who compete with them for labour should be sent to the South also.
July 15 (Wednesday).—The hotel this morning was occupied by military, or rather by creatures in uniform. One of the sentries stopped me; and on my remonstrating to his officer, the latter blew up the sentry, and said, “You are only to stop persons in military dress— don’t you know what military dress is?” “No,” responded this efficient sentry—and I left the pair discussing the definition of a soldier. I had the greatest difficulty in getting a conveyance down to the water. I saw a stone barricade in the distance, and heard firing going on— and was not at all sorry to find myself on board the China.
Fremantle’s account appeared in Blackwood’s Magazine, Volume 94, September 1863, pp. 365-394. The entire volume is available via Google Books.