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[46] Cashtown and Greencastle, escorted by General Imboden, and the remainder by the Fairfield road. The army retained its position until dark, when it was put in motion for the Potomac by the last named route. A heavy rain continued throughout the night, and so much impeded its progress that Ewell's corps, which brought up the rear, did not leave Gettysburg until late in the forenoon of the following day. The enemy offered no serious interruption, and after an arduous march we arrived at Hagerstown in the afternoon of the 6th and morning of the 7th July.

The great length of our trains made it difficult to guard them effectually in passing through the mountains, and a number of wagons and ambulances were captured. They succeeded in reaching Williamsport on the 6th, but were unable to cross the Potomac on account of the high stage of water. Here they were attacked by a strong force of cavalry and artillery, which was gallantly repulsed by General Imboden, whose command had been strengthened by several batteries and by two regiments of infantry which had been detached at Winchester to guard prisoners, and were returning to the army. While the enemy was being held in check, General Stuart arrived with the cavalry, which had performed valuable service in guarding the flanks of the army during the retrogade movement, and after a short engagement drove him from the field.

The rains that had prevailed almost without intermsssion since our entrance into Maryland, and greatly interfered with our movements, had made the Potomac unfordable, and the pontoon bridge left at Falling Waters had been partially destroyed by the enemy. The wounded and prisoners were sent over the river as rapidly as possible in a few ferry boats, while the trains awaited the subsiding of the waters and the construction of a new pontoon bridge.

On the 8th July the enemy's cavalry advanced towards Hagerstown, but was repulsed by General Stuart, and pursued as far as Boonsboroa. With this exception, nothing but occasional skirmishing occurred until the 12th, when the main body of the enemy arrived. The army then took a position previously selected, covering the Potomac from Williamsport to Falling Waters, where it remained for two days with the enemy immediately in front, manifesting no disposition to attack, but throwing up entrenchments along his whole line.

By the 13th the river at Williamsport, though still deep, was fordable, and a good bridge was completed at Falling Waters, new boats having been constructed, and some of the old recovered. As further delay would enable the enemy to obtain reinforcements, and as it was found difficult to procure a sufficient supply of flour for the troops, the working of the mills being interrupted by high water, it was determined to await an attack no longer. Orders were accordingly given to cross the Potomac that night — Ewell's corps by the ford at Williamsport, and those of Longstreet and Hill on the bridge. The cavalry was directed to relieve the infantry skirmishers and bring up the rear.

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J. E. B. Stuart (2)
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