stagnant atmosphere of the gorge, between Bolivar
and Loudon Heights, pending the exasperatingly slow crossing of the single pontoon bridge at the ferry.
The poor, panting beasts that drew the cannons and caissons were bathed in perspiration and tortured by flies; standing harnessed for hours in the dust of this hot pen, they suffered more than on the march hither, when prodded to the utmost.
At dark (and the darkness was thick) a huge fire was kindled at the shoulder of the great rock that overhangs the village; and when in the course of the night our column, in its turn, began to round the bluff to march down onto the bridge, our drivers, having been for a long time in the glare of the light, now coming suddenly into the deep shadow of the rock, were blinded and utterly unable to discern the steep bank within the swing of their whips, on their right hand; ‘Bear hard to the left,’ officers shouted, standing at the bend in the road; and the drivers instinctively obeyed, blind as moles.
Across the river, and through the pass, and on, up Pleasant Valley
, all night and all day following we were afoot.
On the evening of the 30th of August, we were again in the vicinity of Frederick
Our existence at this time was peripatetic.
We were on the wing all day, and after we had made some preparations at nightfall, for tarrying, ‘assembly’ would be sounded, and we either were directed to move at once, or notified that ‘first call’ would be at three A. M. During the next three days our corps held the South Mountain
passes, and the Nineteenth Corps was sent to Frederick.
During this time Gen. Grant
was at the Monocacy
, although the fact was unknown to a private of the Sixth Corps; also had Sheridan
arrived at Washington
This was a strange fortnight of marches and countermarches, inexplicable to the average private.
‘Six men fell dead yesterday in one of our smallest brigades,’ wrote Gen. Hunter
, on the 29th.
Horses and men by scores fell by the wayside, the latter succumbing to the heat, intense even for the season.
On the 5th of August we were returning to Halltown, Virginia
, via Harper's Ferry
This was in pursuance of orders which Gen. Grant
had given Gen. Hunter
, ‘to concentrate all the forces, consisting thus far of Wright
's Sixth, Emory
's Nineteenth, and Crook
's Eighth, in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry
; and if it ’