previous next

[122] Frederick and reported to Dr. Steiner. It was still doubtful where the collision between the opposing forces would take place. We were prepared to do our work in the front and in the rear, but the emergency might arise in an unexpected point, and we wished to be prepared.

A demonstration of the enemy upon the Northern Central Railroad (Baltimore and Harrisburgh) determined me to send out a relief agent in that direction. Accordingly, Mr. James Gall, who had returned from Maryland Heights, was, on the twenty-seventh June, ordered to proceed along the line of that road, to push forward in whatever direction he should learn that a conflict was impending, to acquaint himself with the position of affairs, and to keep the Central office informed of the necessity of forwarding supplies and agents.

Mr. Gall was enabled to proceed only to Parkton by rail, from thence he walked to York, a distance of twenty-eight miles. Upon entering the town, he found it, to his surprise, in possession of the enemy. The following observations, made by Mr. Gall, upon the condition and appearance of the soldiers composing the division of the rebel troops occupying York, I quote from his report:

Believing that a battle would take place at or near York, I determined — as there was no other means of getting there — to push forward on foot. I started from Parkton at nine o'clock on Sunday morning, and reached York at four o'clock in the afternoon, and found, to my surprise and regret, that the city was already in the possession of the rebel troops. The force occupying York was General Early's division, of Ewell's corps, consisting of five brigades of infantry, three batteries of artillery, and part of two regiments of cavalry — in all about nine thousand men, and eighteen pieces of artillery. Gordon's brigade, accompanied by a battery of artillery, and part of a regiment of cavalry, passed through the city, and pushed on in the direction of Wrightsville. Post's brigade, composed chiefly of North-Carolina men, was quartered near the barracks, and did guard duty near the city. Two batteries of artillery were parked in a field called the “Fair grounds.” The other three brigades were camped outside the city, and commanding the various roads leading to it. . . . . . .

On entering the town, General Early made a levy upon the citizens, promising in the event of its being complied with promptly, to spare all private property in the city; otherwise he would allow his men to take such things as they needed, and would not be responsible for the conduct of his men while they remained in the city. The beef, flour, and other articles, and twenty-eight thousand dollars in money were speedily collected, and handed over to the rebels. The General expressed himself satisfied with what he had received, and scrupulously kept his word in regard to the safety of private property. Nothing belonging to any citizen was touched; no one was molested in the streets; all was as quiet and orderly as if there were no soldiers there.

On Monday the rebels were busy in carting off the levied articles. About four P. A., Gordon's brigade returned from Wrightsville, bringing with them some horses and cattle which they had picked up on the way. They had about eight supply and ammunition wagons, and twelve ambulances with them. Many of the latter were marked U. S. The ambulances were all filled with men, who had apparently given out on the way. Physically, the men looked about equal to the generality of our own troops, and there were fewer boys among them. Their dress was a wretched mixture of all cuts and colors. There was not the slightest attempt at uniformity in this respect. Every man seemed to have put on whatever he could get hold of, without regard to shape or color. I noticed a pretty large sprinkling of blue pants among them, some of those, doubtless, that were left by Milroy at Winchester. Their shoes, as a general thing, were poor; some of the men were entirely barefooted. Their equipments were light as compared with those of our men. They consisted of a thin woollen blanket, coiled up and slung from the shoulder in the form of a sash, a haversack slung from the opposite shoulder, and a cartridge-box. The whole cannot weigh more than twelve or fourteen pounds. Is it strange, then, that with such light loads they should be able to make longer and more rapid marches than our men? The marching of the men was irregular and careless; their arms were rusty and ill-kept. Their whole appearance was greatly inferior to that of our soldiers.

During Monday I visited the “Fair grounds,” as also the camp of a Louisiana brigade, situated about a mile from the city. The supply wagons were drawn up in a sort of straggling hollow square, in the centre of which the men stacked their arms in company lines, and in this way formed their camp. There were no tents for the men, and but very few for the officers. The men were busy cooking their dinner, which consisted of fresh beef, (part of the York levy,) wheat griddle-cakes raised with soda, and cold water. No coffee or sugar had been issued to the men for a long time. The meat was mostly prepared by frying, and was generally very plentifully salted. The cooking is generally done in squads, or messes of five or six, and on the march the labor of carrying the cooking utensils is equally divided among them. The men expressed themselves perfectly satisfied with this kind of food, and said they greatly preferred the bread prepared in the way they do it, to the crackers issued to the Union soldiers. I question if their bread is as healthy and nourishing as the army biscuit. I asked one of the men how he got along without a shelter-tent. His answer was: “First rate.” “In the first place,” said he, I wouldn't tote one, and in the second place, I feel just as well, if not better, without it. “But how do you manage when it rains?” I inquired. “Wall,” said he, “me and this other man has a gum-blanket atween us; when it rains we spread one of our woollen blankets on the ground to lie on, then we spread the other woollen blanket over us, and the gum blanket over that, and the rain can't tech us.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James Gall (3)
W. J. Gordon (2)
J. A. Early (2)
Lewis H. Steiner (1)
Post (1)
R. H. Milroy (1)
R. S. Ewell (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 27th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: