General Ewell, and fled disgracefully, after a short conflict, to Harper's Ferry, abandoning all his stores and cannon to the rebels. This opened the way for the advance of the foe across the Potomac. Another force of its cavalry crossed the upper Potomac on the fifteenth, causing great consternation in Maryland and Lower Pennsylvania. It entered Chambersburgh and Mercersburgh in the evening. The alarm caused by this raid was unnecessarily great, for the main army of Lee had not yet reached the south side of the Potomac. The Union garrison at Frederick, Md., fell back to the Relay House on the sixteenth. A detachment of the enemy attacked Harper's Ferry the same day, but was shelled back by General Tyler from Maryland Heights. Ten thousand rebel infantry crossed the Potomac at Williamsburgh in the night, beginning in earnest the great invasion which was now fully shown to be intended. The fights at Aldie on the eighteenth and nineteenth were between General Pleasanton's and a body of the enemy's cavalry, which is supposed to have flanked their rear. More rebels constantly poured across the Potomac, and on the nineteenth Ewell's entire division occupied Sharpsburgh, in Maryland. By this time Pennsylvania, New-York, and New-Jersey began their great effort to repel Lee's advance from the North. Hooker, reposing in pastoral quiet at Fairfax Station, in Virginia, did not disturb himself with any such activity. He watched, waited, and was puzzled. Milroy's stampede, the clamor of which, it seems, might have come to him from over the western mountains; the cries of help from Harrisburgh, Pittsburgh, Carlisle, and minor Pennsylvania towns; the tremulous appeals from Philadelphia and Baltimore — all these did not serve to arouse him from his lethargy, or give him the least idea of where his enemy was. It was not until a voice of command from Washington, inspired, it is believed, from the midst of his own army, came sounding in his ears like a fire-bell in the night, that he ordered up his tent-stakes and began his march northward over the Potomac. Meanwhile, General Couch had commenced the organization of a militia force at Gettysburgh to check the twenty thousand men under Ewell, who were raiding like banditti through the country. The main rebel army was entirely across the Potomac below Williamsburgh on the twenty-sixth, moved northward via McConnellsburgh and Chambersburgh, and began in partially scattered columns its advance through Pennsylvania in the direction of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The rashness and audacity of this movement seemed to confound the General then in command of this army. Every mile over which Lee now marched lengthened his lines of communication in such degree as would have imperiled it beyond peradventure had Hooker seen fit to improve his advantage. Forty thousand troops and a hundred pieces of rebel artillery passed through Chambersburgh on the twenty-ninth. On Sunday York was occupied by General Early, who made his famous levy on its citizens. Harrisburgh, long threatened, was not yet attacked. General Meade took command of this army on Sunday, the twenty-eighth ultimo. At that time his headquarters were at Frederick, and Lee's at Hagerstown. It will be seen that he was in the south-west, and consequently in the rear of the foe, imminently threatening his line of retreat. The army of the Potomac began its campaign from that moment. Orders were issued to the several corps to move early in the evening, and on the morning of the twenty-ninth our whole brilliant and hopeful host was in motion toward Pennsylvania. The First, Third, and Eleventh corps encamped on Tuesday at Emmetsburgh; the Second and Twelfth also pitched their tents near by. The Sixth corps marched to Carlisle Wednesday morning, the first day of this month forever memorable. The First corps, under Major-General Reynolds, and the Eleventh, under Major-General Howard, started for Gettysburgh, Reynolds in command, where they arrived at ten o'clock A. M. The First corps, in the advance, marched directly through the town. The enemy was discovered posted in a wood to the westward, near the Lutheran Theological Seminary. The beginning of the three days conflict was at hand.
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