side lies parallel with the river until immediately opposite Williamsport
, when it turns directly from the stream, and goes at a gentle acclivity, up the slope and over the fields.
At a few yards from the stream stands the toll-house at which Captain Doubleday
threw shot, and just beyond is a wood upon the hilltop, to which the rebel scouts used to ride, and hitching their steeds in the undergrowth come out to the toll-house to reconnoitre.
From this place they had a clear view of our encampments, and could study the position, numbers, and movements of our regiments.
At this place, too, Col. Bowman
was taken prisoner and hustled off to Martinsburg
, while his men looked out upon his capture.
However, the river was crossed at an early hour on Tuesday morning. McMullin
's Rangers dashed in first, the City
Troop and Gen. Patterson
and staff followed, and after them came the two regiments of Wisconsin
The remaining regiments took the matter less impetuously, and so lost their share in the honors of the battle.
They marched leisurely into a field on the margin of the river, removed their boots, stockings, drawers, and breeches, wound these articles around their necks, and thus, with the whole lower portion of their bodies nude, and their white muslin shirts flying in the wind, preceded by a full band in similar undress, they plunged into the stream and reached the opposite shore.
Here they readjusted their dress, and avoided the wet garments and soaking shoes of their predecessors.
One informant states that the appearance of the regiments thus proceeding was ludicrous in the extreme.
Arrived on the other side, they began the march leisurely up the hill.
At the old tollhouse they encountered the ancient female who exacts the fare.
This old lady had been driven away by the rebel scouts, who had made sad havoc with her dwelling-lying down in muddy boots upon her counterpanes, and smashing and abstracting crockery, with a total disregard of the rights of meum
. Added to these disadvantages, Captain Doubleday
's cannon balls had split the front porch in half and demolished the chimney.
The old lady was glad to see the Union
troops, and looked at them through her spectacles.
She stated that she was very poor, the rebels having plundered and destroyed her little property; she said sadly that now she must go to taking toll again, although very few would travel.
It was full daylight when these latter regiments proceeded up the turnpike.
Beyond the toll-gate, the road, hard and narrow, dotted with farms and groves, went meandering up and down the hills.
The troops did not march shoulder to shoulder, but scattered along the way to eat blackberries and question the Virginians.
All the occupants of the farm-houses came out to see them, and the girls waved their handkerchiefs.
Most of the people professed to be Unionists
, and were, in semblance at least, glad to see their deliverers.
Their own troops had spoiled them shamefully, turning their horses to graze in the unripe wheatfields, and exacting corn and meal without money and without price.
A curious feature of the march was the appearance of many Union refugees who hung to the skirts of the advance guard of our army.
These people had been driven away just as harvest was shining upon the grain fields.
They came back with songs and full hearts, often bursting into tears when their homes appeared to them again after absence and banishment.
Noticeable features of the “pike,” too, were the gaps in the fences, where frequently dozens of panels were levelled, with the object of unembarrassed pursuit in case our volunteers should retreat.
Over the road, thus solid and pleasant to walk upon, the Federal
regiments walked into the pleasant farmlands of Virginia
, bearing above them the flag that its people loved, whilom.
They picked up in places knapsacks and canteens, dropped by the flying foe, all of which were marked with the inscription, “Virginia Volunteers.”
From some jackets and caps, &c., thus relinquished, our informant is enabled to say that no Pennsylvania
troops are so miserably clothed.
Their uniforms — gray, trimmed with black — were of the commonest kind of coarse “shoddy.”
While thus marching along in the dawn, the hinder regiments, among which was the Scott Legion
, heard the first peals of the cannon, far ahead.
Instantly every man fell into a run, and with wild shouts they broke away, anxious to be “up the road and at 'em.”
At each new peal their step became quicker, but laggard haste would not atone; the fight was over before they reached the ground!
With the latter regiments, our informant — a civilian — was travelling.
He instantly touched up his pony at the sound of the cannon, and dashed away in the direction of the firing.
Coming to a frame farm-house beside the road, temporarily converted into a hospital, he dismounted, and found inside the body of Geo. Drake
, of Company A, First Wisconsin Regiment.
The deceased had been shot through the breast, and fell dead at once, exclaiming at the moment, “Oh, my mother!”
He looked as placid and fair, lying thus to wake no more, as if reposing in a gentle sleep.
Around him, grouped upon the floor, lay a number of wounded men, among them a Secession soldier, who had been shot in the eye by a musket ball, which carried away the bridge of his nose, and a part of his eyebrow.
The Secessionist stated that he had been a Union man, but impressed into the Virginia
ranks under promised death in case of refusal.