History of Antietam National Cemetery (Bradford - page 38)
throb the quicker as it remembers the change from the dogged, moody, scowling, and stifled condition in which the presence of the Confederates had for four days kept that people tortured, to the outburst of joyous, enthusiastic, exuberant and irrepressible loyalty that rung out from cellar to house-top as the boys in blue pressed on upon their rear ?
All along their way whenever they appeared, in the towns or among the log cabins of the mountain, up went the National banner, hid away some of them until this day, many doubtless improvised for the occasion, an exacting tribute, I dare say, of many a discarded ribbon and threadbare wrapper, sometimes faded and soiled it may have been, and utterly regardless of the proportions required by army regulations, but every stripe and every star was there, and better still, every heart that beat beneath it was overpoweringly full of the sacred cause of which it was the symbol.
Yet, to this day, with that and every other ordeal—and that was neither the first nor last-—by which Maryland loyalty has been tested, there are those who still make it the subject of an ungenerous sneer. I am happy, however, to believe that it never comes from that gallant host that accompanied her sons to the field, but usually from those whose well calculated distance from the scene of conflict placed them as far out of the reach of information as of danger.
When Lee evacuated Frederick, on the 10th of September, directing his course towards this county, he doubtless supposed that the reticent policy and strategic manoeuvres he had thus far so successfully pursued, would still have its influence on McClellan's movements, leaving him in doubt as to where the threatened blow would ultimately fall; but by one of those rare occurrences which some may call accident, and others a special Providence, there fell into McClellan's hands on the day of his arrival at Frederick, a copy of Lee's order of march, dated the day before he left that city, and negligently left there by one of his officers. This told the whole story of his contemplated movements, and, possessed of that information, a new vigor was infused into the Union host.
Directing the corps of General Mansfield towards Pleasant Valley that it might if possible reach and relieve Harper's Ferry before it should be captured by the force Lee had detailed for the purpose, McClellan with the main body of the Union army moved forward towards the South Mountain, on the track Lee had himself taken. The latter having already passed onward towards Boonsboro and Hagerstown, hearing on the evening of the 13th that McClellan was pushing on by the way of Turner's Gap, and surprised, no doubt, at the unwonted vigor and rapidity of his present movements; feeling, too, that unless his progress could be arrested, his own well concerted plans might be frustrated, sent back Hill and Longstreet, with the greater portion of their commands, to
Maryland. Board of Trustees of the Antietam National Cemetery.
Washington County Free Library.
23 x 14 cms
J.W. Woods, printer, Baltimore
Antietam National Cemetery; United States History, Civil War, 1861-1865, Registers of dead.
Washington County, Md; 1862-1869.