previous next

Doc. 82.-advance into Pennsylvania.

General Lee's address to his soldiers.

headquarters army of Northern Virginia, Chambersburgh, Pa., June 27.
the Commanding General has observed with marked satisfaction the conduct of the troops on the march, and confidently anticipates results commensurate with the high spirit they have manifested. No troops could have displayed greater fortitude or better performed the arduous marches of the past ten days. Their conduct in other respects has, with few exceptions, been in keeping with their character as soldiers, and entitles them to approbation and praise.

There have, however, been instances of forgetfulness on the part of some that they have in keeping the yet unsullied reputation of the army, and that the duties exacted of us by civilization and Christianity are not less obligatory in the country of the enemy than in our own. The Commanding General considers that no greater disgrace could befall the army, and through it our whole people, than the perpetration of the barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenceless, and the wanton destruction of private property, that have marked the course of the enemy in our own country. Such proceedings not only disgrace the perpetrators and all connected with them, but are subversive of the discipline and efficiency of the army, and destructive of the ends of our present movement. It must be remembered that we make war only upon armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the wrongs our people have suffered without lowering ourselves in the eyes of all whose abhorrence has been excited by the atrocities of our enemy, and offending against Him to whom vengeance belongeth, and without whose favor and support our efforts must all prove in vain.

The Commanding General therefore earnestly exhorts the troops to abstain with most scrupulous care from unnecessary or wanton injury to private property; and he enjoins upon all officers to arrest and bring to summary punishment all who shall in any way offend against the orders on this subject.

R. E. Lee, General.

Richmond Sentinel account.

camp Alexander's battery Light artillery, Chambersburgh, Pa., June 28.
Up to the battle of Chancellorsville, I had hardly conversed with a man who was in Maryland last year, (except Marylanders,) who was not opposed to another trip across the Potomac. But since then, matters have changed. It seems to be felt that the only obstacle to a successful invasion of Maryland or Pennsylvania, is to be made by Hooker or his army, and this army is willing any day to make a trial of strength.

This last march was badly managed. The whole corps moved at once, and the consequence was, that the road was half the time “blocked.”

You have had full description of things about Winchester. We had heard that the Union feeling was strong at Martinsburgh; but on our arrival, I was greatly relieved by seeing a half-dozen girls run into the middle of the street, seize our flag and kiss it devoutly. I was near by when this occurred, and could but resolve, as the blood rushed to my face, that, by God's help, when the time came, I would remember this happy baptism of virgin lips. One woman in this town was thorough Union. She faced a crowd of men in the street and talked with much spirit; had a husband in Bragg's army, she said, and argued the question of the war very glibly, but not logically. I was glad to find, on inquiry, that she was from Massachusetts. Her tongue, I fancy, drove her husband so far from her. With some of the poorer classes the Yankees have, during Milroy's reign, become very [324] familiar, and one of my sergeants found a Yankee concealed in one of their houses.

The country between Martinsburgh and Winchester is much desolated; little grain raised; the lands not good. On Thursday evening we crossed the Potomac at Williamsport. The river is one hundred and fifty yards wide here, but not more than two and a half feet deep. The day was cool and rainy, but the boys waded in cheerfully, and the air was rent with shouts of laughter as now and then some clumsy fellow stumbled and went under, head and ears. There are bluffs on the opposite shore, and here the towns-people collected to witness this singular spectacle. As we passed through the streets, the women and men in great numbers looked on in silence, as they did in Frederick City last year. These people seem to be neither “fish nor fowl.” I saw great numbers of young men of conscript age here, and also in Hagerstown next day. I understand that upward of two hundred of those in Hagerstown joined our army. On entering that pretty town of five thousand inhabitants, Friday afternoon, I was glad to see some very decided demonstrations of white handker-chiefs, and that, too, from dwellings indicating intelligence and refinement. Our boys recognized this greeting of the fair in repeated and hearty cheers. There was really a crowd in the streets. As we halted but a short time, no opportunity was given to converse with the people. The only man I spoke to turned out to be a secessionist.

The crops of wheat all along the road in Maryland, and up to this point in Pennsylvania, are remarkably fine. Considerable corn has been planted, but wheat seems to be the grain best adapted to the soil. You see no such fields, in extent, as we have in Virginia. A lot rarely exceeds fifty acres.

Middleburgh, five miles from Hagerstown, is on the dividing line between Maryland and the Keystone State. About half of it is in the former, and in this part of the town I was glad to witness one or two secession demonstrations. From this point to Greencastle, where we encamped on Friday night, distant nine miles, we passed a succession of Dutch farms, all small, but highly improved, with grain nearly ready for the sickle. The North and South-Mountain, a continuation of the Virginian mountains, causes this country to resemble the Virginia Valley very much. The lands are no better than ours.

The people are exceedingly ignorant. I saw no houses indicating refinement. Were I to tell you how profoundly ignorant some of these Dutch are, you would hardly believe me. Our Virginia negroes are vastly better informed about military matters. Some think that Governor Curtin has a wand by which he can collect a body of militia, who will whip us out of our boots; and in the redundancy of their affections, they even express some little sympathy for us in the event we shall await the shock of this militia host. They think our confederate money is worth no more than brown paper, and one man sold one hundred and fifty dollars of it for a twenty shilling gold piece. Most refuse to take it, and prefer that you take what you wish with out compensation in this form.

By the way, Order No. 72 of General Let is being pretty generally carried out. To enforce it strictly, is impossible. The doctrine of not using or destroying some of the private property of an enemy while in his country, is a pure abstraction. You cannot possibly introduce an army for one hour into an enemy's country without damaging private property, and in a way often in which compensation cannot be made. I am entirely opposed to a wanton destruction of the private property of an enemy, but to use it even without compensation, for the men and animals of our army, is, I think, proper. Yet if a man takes an onion, or climbs a cherry tree, he is, by this order, to be punished. Hundreds of men die annually, yea, thousands, for want of a mixture of vegetable and animal food. A soldier who has been living on dry bread and salt meat for months, feels a longing, especially in summer, which no other man can understand, for succulent fruits or vegetables; and that they should not be permitted occasionally (for it is only occasionally they have the opportunity) to eat this common and every-day diet of an enemy, is singular indeed. If we take all his vegetables, he has some substitute in acids, but the soldier has none. It is wanton and wicked for me to turn my horses into an enemy's wheat-field, when a clover-field, just as good for the animals, is on the other side of the fence. When I am hungry, I have a right to eat at an enemy's table, but I have no right afterward to turn round and break up his crockery. The distinction is too manifest to need further illustration; though, simple as it is, it seems not to be comprehended by some of our authorities. I have no idea that General Lee's late Order No. 72 should be construed in that literal sense that some imagine. It is generally and eagerly discussed. According to the literal construction, the corps quarter-master and commissaries are the only persons who can impress; but it must be manifest that they have a right to delegate their authority — otherwise nothing worth mentioning can be done by these men. I have been informed from good authority that no such idea was entertained by General Lee.

But I must hasten to close this lengthy corn. munication. The roads here are not so good as in Maryland. Yesterday we travelled a mud pike resembling a bad Virginia road. From this point the roads promise to be better. We are about seventeen miles in Pennsylvania. General Ewell left this place, I understand, for Harrisburgh, Friday morning. I presume his force is sufficient to take the capital. If not, we will help him. I know nothing of the future movements of this army, but I think the bulk of it will remain in this vicinity until some large Yankee force is brought out to meet us. One division, I imagine, will suffice to disperse any militia that may be collected.<

Chambersburgh is a beautiful town of about [325] eight or ten thousand inhabitants. The house; here, and in most of the towns, are built with much taste. Some are elegant. In the country, as before intimated, the Dutchman expends all his taste and money on his cows, horses, or barns Great consternation prevails among the country people — the women are terribly frightened Many, and indeed most of the girls are barefooted, and can get a dinner or breakfast for you in “no time.” Poor creatures They think that we are as mean and as vile as their own soldiers A man in town said to-day that the State militia did them worse than our own men. There is much excitement among the artillery in impressing horses. The farmers only ask one hundred and fifty dollars for the finest horses. Every one I have spoken to is in favor of peace. A hot Black Republican and a Democrat both agree on this question. They say they have heretofore felt none of the effects of the war worth speaking of, and from the number of new houses and barns, it seems they speak the truth. But I must close.

A rebel letter.

The following letter was picked up on the battle-field of Gettysburgh, by a member of one of the Philadelphia regiments:

camp near Greenwood, Pa., June 28, 1863.
My own Darling wife: I have written two letters to you since I left the trenches at Fredericksburgh. I received a letter from you, dated the fourteenth instant. You may be sure I devoured its contents with great eagerness, but oh! how I was pained to hear that you were so unwell! It makes me miserable to think of you as suffering bodily afflictions, with all the great troubles you now have to contend with, and I not there to help you.

You can see by the date of this, that we are now in Pennsylvania. We crossed the line day before yesterday, and are resting to-day near a little one-horse town on the road to Gettysburgh, which we will reach to-morrow. We are paying back these people for some of the damage they have done us, though we are not doing them half as bad as they done us. We are getting up all the horses, etc., and feeding our army with their beef and flour, etc., but there are strict orders about the interruption of any private property by individual soldiers.

Though with these orders, fowls and pigs and eatables don't stand much chance. I felt when I first came here, that I would like to revenge myself upon these people for the desolation they have brought upon our own beautiful home; that home where we could have lived so happy, and that we loved so much, from which their vandalism has driven you and my helpless little ones. But though I had such severe wrongs and grievances to redress, and such great cause for revenge, yet when I got among these people I could not find it in my heart to molest them. They looked so dreadfully scared and talked so numble, that I have invariably endeavored to protect their property, and have prevented soldiers from taking chickens, even in the main road; yet there is a good deal of plundering going on, confined principally to the taking of provisions. No houses were searched and robbed, like our houses were done, by the Yankees. Pigs, chickens, geese, etc., are finding their way into our camp; it can't be prevented, and I can't think it ought to be. We must show them something of war. I have sent out to-day to get a good horse; I have no scruples about that, as they have taken mine. We took a lot of negroes yesterday. I was offered my choice, but as I could not get them back home I would not take them. In fact, my humanity revolted at taking the poor devils away from their homes.

They were so scared that I turned them all loose. I dined yesterday with two old maids. They treated me very well, and seemed greatly in favor of peace. I have had a great deal of fun since I have been here. The country that we have passed through is beautiful, and every thing in the greatest abundance. You never saw such a land of plenty. We could live here mighty well for the next twelve months, but I suppose old Hooker will try to put a stop to us pretty soon. Of course we will have to fight here, and when it comes it will be the biggest on record. Our men feel that there is to be no back-out. A defeat here would be ruinous. This army has never done such fighting as it will do now, and if we can whip the armies that are now gathering to oppose us, we will have every thing in our own hands. We must conquer a peace. If we can come out of this country triumphant and victorious, having established a peace, we will bring back to our own land the greatest joy that ever crowned a people. We will show the Yankees this time how we can fight.

Be of good cheer, and write often to your fondly attached husband,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
R. E. Lee (3)
Joseph Hooker (2)
R. H. Milroy (1)
Robert E. Lee (1)
R. S. Ewell (1)
Doc (1)
Andrew Curtin (1)
William S. Christian (1)
Braxton Bragg (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 28th, 1863 AD (1)
June 28th (1)
June 27th (1)
14th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: