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The General's last story (General Kelley)

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The General's Last Story

By an Unknown Washington Reporter (From Fannie Ward Hinebaugh's Scrapbook)

Some several years ago General Benjamin Franklin Kelley was moved from Cumberland to the beautiful country home at Swan Meadows near Oakland. A short time before his death the writer had a long talk with him. He was then on what he said was his last march and he spoke calmly of his final halt. He was 84, and felt that his time had been drawn out longer than could have been expected, shot and slashed to pieces as he had been. In this conversation he told me a thrilling secret of the war, which he said he had disclosed to but one other person and that was General Grant. It was to keep faith with a Virginia lady, who was the principal agent in the dramatic episode-- which was the cause of his absolute silence. But the lady is dead, and now the old General is gone. I therefore feel at liberty to repeat the story:

"Just after Lee's defeat by Meade at Gettysburg, in the second great Confederate invasion of the North I, General Kelley, received orders from Halleck, the Commanding General at Washington to concentrate my 12,000 men on the north side of the Potomac within striking distance to the westward of Lee's retreat. It was the intense desire of Mr. Lincoln, Sec. Stanton and Gen. Halleck that Gen. Meade should let his great army follow up its victory with a decisive stroke, which should destroy Lee before he reached the Potomac, and thus crush the rebellion. Mead was urged strongly from Washington to make the attack, but he hesitated and hesitated until 10 days after the last fighting at Gettysburg, Lee crossed the Potomac and escaped, to galvanize the Confederacy into nearly two more years of life.

I had orders to advance with my veterans and attack Lee's flank when I heard the first gun of Meade's action with the retreating Confederates. For three days our force lay on their arms along the crest of the South Mountain anxiously awaiting the signal. It was known that Meade and Lee had been in close quarters three or four days, and the thunders of battle were expected any moment. My veterans were wrought up to the fighting pitch, and were literally spoiling to get at the Johnnies. This was especially so of Mulligan's famous Irish Brigade. On the morning of July 14th. unable longer to stand the suspense I sent a scouting troop from the Ringgold Cavalry to find out why Meade had not delivered battle; and I was both amazed and disgusted when


From Fannie Ward Hinebaugh's Scrapbook


Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Maryland, History

Western Maryland, 1750-1963

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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