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[543] At early dawn on the 10th of October his cavalry division, comprising the three brigades of Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee and Jones, eighteen hundred strong, accompanied by four pieces of artillery, crossed the Potomac at McCoy's Ferry, near the mouth of Back River. By a fortunate chance he kept clear of some Federal troops on the Hancock and Williamsburg turnpike; the day previous part of Cox's division had crossed at this point on their way to West Virginia, and the next day Averill was following the same road in a contrary direction eastward, for he had soon discovered the mistake which had detained him higher up. Stuart had the good fortune to slip, almost unperceived, between these two troops; not daring to attack Hagerstown, which he knew to be well defended, he pushed on to Mercersburg, continuing in a north-easterly direction as fast as he could travel, and arrived in front of the little town of Chambersburg on the same evening. He was already in the heart of Pennsylvania, where no one was expecting such visitors. It was on a dark, rainy night that some fugitives came running at full speed to announce the approach of the enemy. There were no means of defence in the town, the garrison of which consisted only of a few militia officers who had never been under fire; and Stuart's cavalry, although worn out by their long march, entered Chambersburg without resistance. They took special care to show the utmost consideration for this town, the first in the free States in which the Confederate flag had yet appeared. No pillaging was allowed; men and horses bivouacked in the wide streets under the trees which shaded them, and conducted themselves so well that the inhabitants soon began to treat them more as friends than foes. Nothing was destroyed but the depots of the Federal government, and Stuart only took what was necessary for his troops; among the farmers of this town he found valuable booty—a large number of excellent horses. His troopers mounted these fresh animals, and, leading the old ones by the bridle, left Chambersburg on the 11th before daylight; they had thus gained a new advantage over their adversaries, who did not dare resort to such an expeditious mode of recruiting in a friendly country. After entering the Gettysburg road, so as to elude pursuit, Stuart soon turned to the right, and re-entered Maryland through Emmettsburg.

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