previous next

[85] of the change, we had good reason to hope it would work at least no harm. There was little regret for Hooker personally; it was only the national sense of fair play that was outraged.

Presently there came new excitement. Stuart had crossed the Potomac, twenty-five miles from Washington, had captured a train within twelve or thirteen miles, had thrown out small parties to within a mile or two of the railroad between Baltimore and Washington. In the night the road would certainly be cut, and for a few hours, at any rate, the Capital isolated from the country. We had need to make haste, or it might be difficult “to join Hooker's army.”

It was not to be a solitary trip. Samuel Wilkeson, the well-known brilliant writer on the New-York Tribune, lately transferred to the Times; and U. H. Painter, chief Washington correspondent of the Philadelphia Inquirer, a miracle of energy in such a sphere, were to go; and Coffin of the Boston Journal, known through all New-England as “Carleton,” had telegraphed an appointment to meet me in the army.

Monday morning Washington breathed freer, on learning that the Baltimore trains had come through. Stuart had failed, then? But we counted too fast.

A few hasty purchases to make up an outfit for campaigning along the border, and at eleven we are off. Unusual vigilance at the little blockhouses and embankments at exposed points along the road; soldiers out in unusual force, and every thing ready for instant attack; much chattering of Stuart and his failure in the train; anxious inquiries by brokers as to whether communication with New-York was to be severed; and so we reach Baltimore.

“Am very sorry, gentlemen; would get you out at once if I could; would gladly run up an extra train for you; but — the rebels cut our road last night, this side of Frederick, and we have no idea when we can run again.” Thus Mr. Prescott Smith, whom every body knows, that has ever heard of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

And so Stuart had not failed — we were just one train too late and were cut off from the army!

There was nothing for it but to wait; and so — ill-satisfied with this “Getting a good ready” --back to Washington.

Ii. Off.

Frederick, Md., Tuesday evening, June 30.
Washington was again like a city besieged, as after Bull Run. All night long, troops were marching; orderlies with clanking sabres clattering along the streets; trains of wagons grinding over the bouldered avenue; commissaries were hurrying up their supplies; the quartermaster's department was like a bee-hive; every thing was motion and hurry. From the War Department came all manner of exciting statements; men were everywhere asking what the President thought of the emergency. Trains had again come through regularly from Baltimore, but how long could it continue? Had not Stuart's cavalry been as near as the old Blair place at Silver Springs, and might they not cut the track any moment they chose? Might they not, indeed, asked the startled bankers, might they not indeed charge past the forts on the Maryland side, pay a hurried visit to the President and Cabinet, and replenish their army chests from our well-stored vaults?

In the midst of all this there came a blistering sight that should blacken evermore every name concerned. With cries for reinforcements from the weakened front, with calls for volunteers and raw militia to step into the imminent breach and defend the invaded North, with everywhere urgent need for every man who knew how to handle a musket, there came sprucely marching down the avenue, in all their freshness of brilliant uniforms and unstained arms, with faultlessly appareled officers and gorgeous drum-major, and clanging band, and all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, (about the Capital,) with banners waving and bayonets gleaming in the morning sunlight, as with solid tramp that told of months of drill they moved down the street — in such bravery of peaceful soldiering there came a New-England nine months regiment, mustering over nine hundred bayonets, whose term of service that day expired! With Stuart's cavalry swarming about the very gates of the Capital, with the battle that was to decide whether the war should henceforth be fought on Northern or Southern soil hourly impending, these men, in all the blazonry of banners and music, and glittering uniforms, and polished arms, were marching — home! They had been implored to stay a fortnight, a week--three days even; but, with one accord, they insisted on starting home! Would that Stuart could capture the train that bears them!

Another exciting ride over a yet unmolested track, and we are again in Baltimore. Mr. Prescott Smith gave us the cheering assurance that the road was open again to Frederick; that nobody knew where Stuart had gone, but that in any event they would send us out in the afternoon.

For the rest there was news of more dashing movements by our army. The rebels were reported concentrating at York, Pennsylvania. Our army had already left Frederick far in the rear, and spreading out like a fan to make use of every available road, it was sweeping splendidly up to meet them. There was no fear of their not fighting under Meade. lie was recognized as a soldier, brave and able, and they would follow him just as readily as Hooker — some of them, indeed far more willingly. But there was sore need for every musket. Lee at least equalled us in numbers, they thought.

Baltimore had been in a panic. Monday evening some rebel cavalry had ventured up to within a few miles of the city, and frightened persons had rushed in with the story that great squadrons of horse were just ready to charge down the streets. Alarm-bells rang the Loyal Leagues rushed to arms, the thoroughfares were thronged with the improvised soldiery, and within an hour thousands of bayonets guarded every approach.

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.
J. E. B. Stuart (8)
Joseph Hooker (3)
Prescott Smith (2)
Samuel Wilkeson (1)
Washington (1)
U. H. Painter (1)
George G. Meade (1)
C. C. Coffin (1)
Carleton (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 30th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: