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[83] rain, which drenched the camps and their inhabitants, soaked the roads and fields, and swelled the Antietam and its little tributary which ran along the north end of our camp.


During the week, citizens from the northern states, even from New England, visited the Union camps. There came to our headquarters two gentlemen, residents of a Boston suburb, who were fathers of two of our comrades. The next day after their arrival, they visited the battlefield of Antietam with their sons. One of the boys, ruuning to the wagon with his father's umbrella, caused considerable merriment, such a utensil in a soldier's hands being as anomalous as a linen collar upon his neck.

A week after the battle of Antietam, a reconnoissance in force was made upon the Virginia side, in the neighborhood of Shepardstown, to ascertain the position and strength of the enemy; this reconnoitring party, consisting of one brigade, part of another, and a battery, fell into an ambush, after driving back a battery which commanded the ford, and escaped with difficulty and considerable loss across the river under the fire of the enemy. This movement seems to have resulted in setting in motion the whole or a part of the Sixth Corps, for we set out in the evening of the 24th and were upon the road all night; just what was the significance of our movement, we do not know. We found ourselves in the morning at St. James College, in Washington County; we remained here through the day and during the next night, and on the following day marched to Bakersville. This is north of Williamsport in the same county; we lay upon the high ground, over and down which, to the south, extends the road to the Potomac. There is a valley to the north of this ridge through which flows a small stream, which furnished sufficient water for all the camp purposes; but it seemed to contain ingredients which were productive of chronic diarrhea, which prevailed, during the fortnight's sojourn at this place, to an extent and in a degree never equalled before or afterward. It was pitiful to observe the condition of many of the boys during this period; not a few of them were emaciated as well as feeble. Privates who had not answered sick-call since the army moved in April, were now obliged to succumb for a time to the ravages of this debilitating scourge.


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