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[159]

Motive of the retreat.

One word about what happened after our retreat. Mr. Hoke seems to think that the fear of Averill was uppermost in our minds. This is a mistake. Whatever may have been the motives that actuated the commanding officers the men did not fear him at all. They had perfect confidence that they could whip him whenever he thought proper to give us the opportunity, and any soldier will tell you that a feeling like that means victory. At one little town we stopped to feed our horses and rest. His columns were in sight, but no attack was made. As we passed through Hancock, his advance fired into our rear guard, and made a little dash at us. I saw in this little fight Harry Gilmor, who was the last man to leave the town, struck, and severely stung by a spent ball, which made him whistle with pain. We also heard on the retreat that some of our men had been left in Chambersburg drunk, and had been thrown in the flames by the citizens and burned to death. This was camp gossip with us, but I never heard it verified.

We crossed the Potomac with some little opposition from an iron-clad car in our front on the track of the B. & O. R. R., which was struck by a ball, fired by the Baltimore Light Artillery and immediately left. We also had quite a severe little fight in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Cold Spring, on the advance, in which several from our regiment were killed and wounded, and in which a body of your cavalry showed great spirit and determination; but aside from this we had no fighting at all. I dislike again to destroy a thrilling episode in Mr. Hoke's very cleverly written annals; but the truth compels me to do so. He says when Averill came up to us in the Moorefield Valley, and captured and scattered our command, that they charged us with the cry of ‘Remember Chambersburg,’ and cut us down without mercy. The fact is, we were down when he charged us. I will give you the plain, prosaic facts, of which I was the unfortunate witness and victim.


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