Herald of Freedom and Torch Light, Sept 1862 (2-1C War news: Rebel occupation of Washington County)
REBEL OCCUPATION OF WASHINGTON COUNTY.—
The advent of a Federal force, under General Reynolds, on Monday of last week, relieved our community from the suspense caused by the presence of the Rebel army under Gen. R. Lee. Five days had been passed amid the greatest excitement, during which the Rebels occupied Frederick County. Day brought partial relief, but night was passed amid perfect terror, until Thursday, the 11th inst. when the advance guard, a squad of the 1st Va. Cavalry, came dashing into our midst. These were followed by the whole regiment, under L T. BRIEN, of our county, which numbered about 350. During the afternoon TOOMB's Brigade of Georgians passed through, and encamped on the Rail Road. The advance guard captured Lieut. A. Nesbitt, and four of his men, all of RUSSELL’s Cavalry. During the day a few others were made prisoners, all of whom were paroled. In the meanwhile the stores of the town were quickly thronged and Confederate Scrip passed upon our merchants. Many of our citizens having fled with their goods and chattels, the amount of worthless paper forced upon the community was much lessened. As it was, but a few hours elapsed ere the Quarter Master General impressed stores of various kinds, Boots, Shoes, Hats, Caps, Clothing, Medical Stores and produce of every description, paying a few in C. S. Treasury notes, but by far the greater part and the larger amounts in scrip, or its equivalent, certificates of indebtedness. On Friday morning about 11 o'clock, Longstreet's Division, headed by General R. Lee, made its appearance and for three hours continued in one uninterrupted stream. But about 2 P. M., it became evident, from the movements, that there was some change of programme, the march having ceased and ammunition trains were started for the rear with artillery following.
Thus, having camped in two localities on the south-west and south-east of town, they remained until early on Sunday morning, when the line of march was again formed, but with a retrograde movement. Jackson, Taliaferro and Hill's forces had crossed from Boonsboro' to Williamsport over the Manor road, thence to Virginia. As subsequent events prove the two last named returned by the same route, their trains joining that of Longstreet. By noon of Sunday all had passed, and seeming quiet again prevailed until midnight, when Toombs’ Brigade moved down the Sharpsburg pike to Jones' Cross Roads, thence on the Manor Road to Williamsport, and about two o'clock Brien’s Cavalry left for the same place.— Jackson had already moved down on Harper's Ferry, which on Monday surrendered to him after a vigorous resistance. Thus were we left in a state of doubtful uncertainty until about 2 P.M. of Monday, when a company of U. S. Regular Cavalry, under Lieut. Tarleton, came charging into town and were received with wild and enthusiastic applause and our town was restored to the shadow of the Stars and Stripes, and to comparative quiet and security. In a very few minutes the Star Spangled Banner which had for days been hidden was thrown flaunting to the breeze, and hearts grew glad and voices loud, amid the exultant joy which filled the public breast.
The condition and morale of the army is beyond description. They came among us not only badly clothed and unclean in person, but in a half-starving condition. For days, indeed, since the fights at Centreville, they have subsisted on rations of bread, irregularly issued, and green corn and fruits. Hundreds are weakened by diarrhea, and worn out by their long march, but they fight desperately because forced by hunger and want. Many express an ardent desire to lay down their arms, while on the other hand the officers and those better cared for are determined to fight to death rather than submit.
Certain it is, that, during their sojourn here they have learned to know aright, not only the true condition of Maryland, but also the feeling at the North. Their conduct while among us, was generally correct and considerate, but threats of violence to Pennsylvania were loud and frequent. That they designed carrying Maryland, per force, into the Confederacy, was evident from their actions and conversation, and it was as plainly evidenced that they were greatly deceived at the condition of affairs; and the tendency of public sentiment in Maryland. Failing to find that warmth of reception and seeing the want of sympathy for them, their plans were at fault, and their attempt manifestly a failure. They firmly believed that Gen. McClellan took command of a force of but about 40,000 men, and when they found him advancing with a larger force, and their supposed friends afraid of them, they saw no resort but a precipitous return or defeat Without the possession of this State, or wanting the resources which our valley would for a time afford them, their cause is well nigh hopeless. Though determined to fight to the last, they cannot withstand during the coming winter, the combined attacks of starvation, cold and our army; and then, if for no other reason, their cause must fail for want of inherent strength to sustain it.
Herald of Freedom and Torch Light
Maryland Historical Society
Sept 10-24, 1862
Maryland Historical Society
Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862; Maryland Campaign, 1862; Hagerstown (Md.)--Newspapers.
Washington County, MD. September 1862