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Chapter 4:

  • Confederate northward movement
  • -- retreat from Westover -- embarkation at Hampton road -- arrival at Alexandria -- last days of Pope's campaign

The first weeks of August found us still lingering here. Newspapers had given us Pope's somewhat grandiloquent address to the army of Virginia, and their version of the battle at Cedar Mountain, in Culpepper County; from which it would seem that the ubiquitous Jackson is again near his old stamping-ground. Where is Lee? It must have been as late as the 20th of the month when the Sixth Corps commenced its march across the peninsula towards Williamsburg. We made speed as if it were a forced march. To drop from the column was to be left behind; yet excessive thirst compelled men to hasten through wood or field to fill canteens. 'T was pitiful in the extreme to see some fever-stricken comrade from a wagon beckoning to the bearer of a canteen. So saw we oft during the day poor Knowles making the sign. We reached the lower Chickahominy in the afternoon, and crossed over the pontoon bridge two thousand feet long. As we design to describe the yet more famous bridge of bateaux thrown across the James two years later, we will simply remark that this surpassed in constructive skill and capacity anything of the kind that had been attempted in the annals of military bridge-building.

We passed through the melancholy village of Williamsburg, by the deserted halls of William and Mary, out through the dust of the dry waste plain, by the dismantled redoubts, the scene of carnage in May; by the western outlying fortifications, now relics of the past, of Yorktown; and halted for night and rest hard by the York, in front of the solitary hip-roofed old mansion, which stands upon the bluff overlooking the river, flanked by a peach orchard of a dozen acres. Though there was a super-abundance of that fruit, it must have been a late variety, since not a ripe peach could be found; all were as hard as military bread, and much more

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