who were in actual need of shoes, to the Quartermaster
, at the Junction
, and I sent, as I recollect, out of about three hundred of the regiment, one hundred men, who might be said to be bare-footed; but they returned without the shoes, the enemy, threatening us from Gainesville
, it was determined to set fire to the supplies we had not availed ourselves of the morning hours to distribute.
I have dwelt upon this because the failure of the Maryland campaign
has been attributed in a great measure to the straggling, which, I believe was, to a great extent, caused by the want of shoes in the army, and the blame has always fallen on the men and on the line officers.
General E. P. Alexander
tells us that General Lee
exclaimed with tears, ‘My army is ruined by straggling;
’ and Colonel Chesney
, the English
military writer who has paid such an exquisite tribute to our beloved leader, and whose writings are so full of appreciation and praise of our soldiers in other respects, dwells upon this charge as that to which they were amenable.
But I would ask any one who had walked over that battle-field, and had seen the feet of the dead, to say how the living, whose feet were in the same condition, could have held out longer on that campaign?
Had it been realized when we captured these stores that every pair of shoes was equivalent to a man for our army, and had the energy with which General Jackson
himself would swim swollen streams to find a ford for the men, been exercised as much in seeing that they were clothed and shod, I cannot but think it would have added greatly to his ability to carry out his brilliant conceptions, and would have saved his devoted followers from undeserved censure.
Left to cover the burning of the stores, our brigade moved out as the evening was closing in and picketed in the direction of Gainesville
The bright light of the conflagration behind us rendered the woods in our front but darker and more impenetrable to our eyes as we strained them watching for the enemy, who, we supposed, attracted by the flames and informed by them of Jackson
's movement from the junction, would endeavor by a rush to recover the stores not yet destroyed.
But no such effort was made, and at 2 o'clock in the morning we withdrew from the woods, and passing the burning spoils, we took up our line of march for Centreville
, whither the rest of our division had proceeded us the evening before.
In the first light of the morning we crossed Blackburn's ford, and felt ourselves on hallowed ground as we passed where Bonham
's Brigade of South Carolinians had been stationed the year before on that day which first had made Manassas Plains famous in the annals