War of the Rebellion: Serial 044 Page 0707 Chapter XXXIX. THE GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN.

Search Civil War Official Records

flank, availing himself of the swollen condition of the Shenandoah to interpose his army, by a march along the east side of the Blue Ridge, between our present position and Richmond. Longstreet's corps having already moved to counteract this effort, enough cavalry was sent, under Brigadier-General Robertson, for his advance guard through Front Royal and Chester Gap, while Baker's brigade was ordered to bring up the rear of Ewell's corps, which was in rear, and Jones' brigade was ordered to picket the Lower Shenandoah as long as necessary for the safety of that flank, and then follow the movement of the army. Fitz. Lee's, W. H. F. Lee's, and Jenkins' brigades, by a forced march from the vicinity of Leetown, through Millwood, endeavored to reach Manassas Gap, so as to hold it on the flank of the army, but it was already in possession of the enemy, and the Shenandoah, still high, in order to be crossed without interfering with the march of the main army, had to be forded below Front Royal. The cavalry already mentioned, early on the 23rd reached Chester Gap by a by-path, passing on the army's left, and, with great difficulty and a forced march, that night bivouacked below Gaines' Cross-Roads, holding the Rockford road and Warrenton turnpike, on which near Amissville, the enemy had accumulated a large force of cavalry. On the 24th, while moving forward to find the locality of the enemy, firing was heard toward Newby's Cross-Roads, which was afterward ascertained to be a portion of the enemy's artillery firing on Hill's column, marching on the Richmond road. Before the cavalry could reach the scene of action, the enemy had been driven off by the infantry, and on the 25th the march was continued, and the line of the Rappahannock resumed. In taking a retrospect of this campaign, it is necessary, in order to appreciate the value of the services of the cavalry, to correctly estimate the amount of labor to be performed, the difficulties to be encountered, and the very extended sphere of operations, mainly in the enemy's country. In the exercise of the discretion vested in me by the commanding general, it was deemed practicable to move entirely in the enemy's rear, intercepting his communications with his base {Washington

, and, inflicting damage upon his rear, to rejoin the army in Pennsylvania in time to participate in its actual conflicts. The result abundantly confirms my judgement as to the practicability as well as utility of the move. The main army, I was advised by the commanding general, would move in two columns for the Susquehanna. Early commanded the advance of that one of these columns to the eastward, and I was directed to communicate with him as early as practicable after crossing the Potomac, and place my command on his right flank. It was expected I would find him in York. The newspapers of the enemy, my only source of information, chronicled his arrival there and at Wrightsville, on the Susquehanna, with great particularity. I therefore moved to join him in that vicinity. The enemy's army was moving in a direction parallel with me. I was apprised of its arrival at Taneytown when I was near Hanover, Pa. ; but believing, from the lapse of time, that our army was already in York or at Harrisburg, where it could choose its battle-ground with the enemy, I hastened to place my command with it. It is believed that, had the corps of Hill and Longstreet moved on instead of halting near Chambersburg. York could have been the place of concentration instead of Gettysburg.