and what that flag represented, that governed the rank and file, and prompted to years of toil and suffering, and to deeds of noble daring.
With the cannon's roar that celebrated this deeply interesting scene, and memorable military pageant of tears and cheers, of floating banners, and proudly marching columns, the period of “hero worship” in the Army of the Potomac passed away forever.
Heroes, it is true, rose and fell after this in quick succession; but stern war, determined, uncompromising war, now more than ever became the moving power, thought and cry of the thinking masses of the loyal people of the land.
The popular irresistible public sentiment was impelling the mighty columns of that great army to close up to the now historic bloody lines of the Rappahannock
and the Rapidan
, and there, and on many bloody battle-fields far beyond, almost regardless of whose hand wielded the sceptre of command, thousands upon thousands gallantly fought, bled, and died to vindicate the flag of the nation, and to preserve the existence and unity of the great and good government transmitted to us by the fathers of the Revolution.
The great cause of the Union
loomed up more and more prominently as the mighty struggle progressed, and at length Appomattox
witnessed its triumph, and to-day more than forty millions of freemen are enjoying its blessed fruits.
As before remarked, our brigade commander had no personal acquaintance with General Reynolds
, not even to the extent of knowing him by sight, if he rode along the lines.
It may, therefore, be worth while to notice the manner his acquaintance was formed, as it may illustrate a pleasant trait in his character.
The army was on the move.
Our corps, and perhaps one or two others, by different roads, concentrated at the little village of Berlin
, two or three miles southeast of Harper's Ferry
, after having greatly suffered from a snow-storm in making a march over South Mountain
was crossed here on pontoons, and from thence the line of march was continued down the Loudon valley
, running parallel with the Valley of the Shenandoah
, in which the rebel army was moving at the time.
While on this movement, in the heart of this beautiful valley, General Ricketts
, commanding our division, being himself a mile or two in the advance, communicated, by a staff officer, an order that when the brigade arrived at a certain angle in the road, upon which it was then moving, that it should leave the road and march in another direction, a diagonal way across the fields.
Before the head of the column reached this point, it was met by a modest looking officer, entirely alone, exhibiting no special insignia of rank, and supposed at the time to be an ordinary staff officer.