War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0449 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

ferry-boats. I could find no ferry-boats, nor any one in charge; it was dark and raining. The entrance to the river would have been impracticable for artillery in daylight, and, as well as I could ascertain, the exit was worse. Everything was in confusion. Colonel Corlery, to cross by the pontoons, and sent to the same point my reserve train of ambulances with wounded, originally intended to cross by the ferry-boats. Just before midnight, my advance (Rodes' division) commenced crossing. The men had directions to sling their cartridge boxes over their shoulders, but many rounds of ammunition were necessarily lost, as the water was up to their armpits the whole way across, sometimes deep. By 8 o'clock my whole corps was over, all fording excepting Hays' brigade, which was sent with the artillery to the pontoons. While in camp near Darkesville, the enemy, under Kelley, were reported between Martinsburg and Hedgesville, protecting the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and occasionally skirmishing with Johnson's division, which was destroying the track. General Lee, commanding, directed on the 21st an effort to be made to capture this force, said to be 6, 000 strong, sending Early's division to get in rear through Mill's Gap and down Back Creek, while I joined Rodes to Johnson, and marched against their front. Though of them through spies, and early on the 22nd had retreated out of reach. The other corps had already marched toward the Blue Ridge, and accordingly we followed, and bivouacked near Winchester, and nest day, on reaching Manassas Gap, found Wright's brigade, of Anderson's division, deployed to repel a large body of the enemy who were advancing upon it through the Gap. The insignia of two corps could be seen in the Gap, and a third was marching up; over 10, 000 men were in sight. The enemy were so close to Wright's brigade that the line of battle had to be chosen some distance in the rear, and accordingly some 250 sharpshooters, of Rodes' division, under Major [Eugene]Blackford, were added to Wright's brigade, to hold the enemy in check while the line was formed. Rodes' (old) brigade, Colonel O'Neal, deployed as skirmishers, formed the first, and the reminder of Rodes' division, with Carter's battalion of artillery, the second line. These disposition we made by General Rodes with his usual promptness, skill, and judgment. The enemy were held in check for some time by the line of Wright's brigade and the skirmishers under

Major Blackford, which they at last drove back with considerable loss to themselves by flanking it. These troops, in full view, showed great gallantry, and though intended merely to make a show, held the enemy back so long and inflicted such loss that they were satisfied not to come within reach of O'Neal, but remained at a safe distance, where they were leisurely shelled by Carter's artillery. Johnson's division was ordered to take position near the river, to prevent the enemy cutting me off from the ford at Front Royal, and though not required in action, was promptly in place. Early's division, much jaded, was 15 miles off, near Winchester, and could not possibly reach me before the afternoon of next day. I had reason to believe that Meade's whole army was in our front, and having but two division to oppose him, I decided to sent Early