Of course, this order does not prove that no outrage was committed, no wanton injury inflicted, by our soldiers, in this or other portions of the Confederacy. War cannot afford to be nice in the selection of its instruments; and probably no campaign was ever prosecuted through a friendly, much more a hostile, region, wherein acts of violence and spoliation were not perpetrated by soldiers on the defenseless inhabitants of the country. But that the commanders on our side, and, in fact, on both sides, were generally earnest and vigilant in repressing and punishing these excesses, is the simple truth, which should be asserted and insisted on for the honor of our country and her people. Gen. Robert Patterson, with about 20,000 men, broke camp at Chambersburg, June 7th, and advanced to Hagerstown, while Col. Lew. Wallace, on his right, took quiet possession of Cumberland, and made a dash upon Romney, which he easily captured. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Rebels, burned the bridge at Point of Rocks on the 7th, and evacuated Harper's Ferry on the 14th, destroying the superb railway bridge over the Potomac. He retreated upon Winchester and Leesburg, after having destroyed the armory and shops at the Ferry — the machinery having been already sent off to Richmond. The Chesapeake Canal and the several railroads in this region were thoroughly dismantled. The Potomac was crossed at Williamsport, by Gen. Thomas, on the 16th. But, for some reason, this advance was countermanded, and our troops all recrossed on the 18th--Gen. Patterson remaining at Hagerstown. The Rebels at once returned to the river, completing the work of destruction at Harper's Ferry, and conscripting Unionists as well as Confederates to fill their ranks. Patterson recrossed the Potomac at Williamsport on the morning of July 2d, at a place known as “Falling waters,” encountering a small Rebel force under Gen. Jackson (afterward known as “ Stonewall” ), who, being outnumbered, made little resistance, but fell back to Martinsburg, and ultimately to Bunker Hill. On the 7th, an order to advance on Winchester was given, but not executed. Finally, on the 15th, Patterson moved forward to
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.