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At daylight it was announced that the Confederate Sunday,
army had retreated. At 9 o'clock the regiment was July 5.
moved to the left of the line to a position lately occu
pied by the Third Corps. Burying parties were now busily employed to bury the dead, from whose bodies the stench was almost intolerable.
The following is an extract from a letter written for the Christian Commission by Mr. R. G. McCreary, a prominent citizen and lawyer of Gettysburg, who was an eye-witness of the scenes he describes :
The battle of the 1st of July commenced about the middle of the forenoon between the rebels advancing on the Chambersburg turnpike and Buford's cavalry who, as the infantry of the First Army Corps came up and formed in line of battle, slowly retired to the rear. The approaching storm was watched with in. tense anxiety by the citizens, but it was not long until the boom of cannon, the bursting of shell, the rattle and crash of heavy infantry firing along the ridges west of the town, and the streams of litters which began to move in from the field of carnage, brought them to realize the fact that a fierce and bloody contest was in progress.
I saw no more of the battle till the middle of the afternoon, though there was abundant evidence in the many mangled forms coming in, upon whom I was tending, and the louder and increasing crash of arms, that the conflict was a most terrible one, and was rapidly approaching the town. At length, by the frequent explosion of shells in the immediate neighborhood, I found that our army was falling back, and soon the rush and roar in the streets banished everything else from my mind. That was a terrible night. Our army had been driven back; the town was full of armed enemies. We saw and heard the progress of pillage all around us.
The morning of July 2d revealed a dreadful sight -- dead horses and dead men lay about the streets, and there were none to bury them. Our first care was for the multitude of wounded men now suffering for the want of food. The bakeries were in the hands of the rebels, and not a loaf nor a cracker remained; the butchers' cattle had been driven off or confiscated, and no meat could be procured; the groceries were broken open, and their contents carried away or destroyed by troops of rebels, who, like hungry wolves, roamed through the streets in search of plunder. The rebel officers, until Friday (July 3), seemed to be entirely confident of
One of them said to me on the forenoon of Thursday that they would not remain with us more than a few hours, as General Lee had his plan of battle nearly arranged, and they would move forward, and he seemed to think with assured success; they extolled General Lee as the great master of the military art, and spoke of his aclmirable strategy in making a grand feint toward Phila1863. delphia in order to concentrate his army here for an attack on Balti
more and Washington. About this time a squad of soldiers passing were halted, and asked to what they belonged? They replied, “To the Second Louisiana Brigade.” They were then asked if they had taken a battery they had been charging upon? and they replied that they had “ To come out," and could not take it. The officers were silent. These men said the next day that they had but fifty men left in their brigade after that assault. They were the “ Louisiana Tigers,” of whom those officers had boasted that “they had never been driven back in a charge, and never would be."
On Friday night and Saturday morning the rebel army had withdrawn from the town to the crest of Seminary Ridge, and our skirmishers had driven out or captured their stragglers and pickets. While the dead still lay unburied and the helpless wounded upon the field were numbered by the thousands, the call of the bugle summoned the victors from the side of the dying, the faithful surgeon from the pierced skull, the mangled flesh, and broken limb. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, the town of Gettysburg presented a woful appearance. Guns were scattered in the streets or piled upon the sidewalks. Pavements were stained with blood. Every church and public building, and in fact almost every private house, was filled with wounded. More than twenty thousand wounded men were in and around Gettysburg.
After the departure of the enemy from Gettysburg, we had the pleasure of meeting the people, who gave us a pretty clear idea of how Mr. “ Johnnie Reb” behaved while in possession of the town, from which we learned a new lesson in warfare. Not exactly a new lesson, but the application of an old one in vogue during the days when plundering and pillage went hand in hand with grim-visaged war.
When the “Rebs ” crossed the border line of Pennsylvania, they began a systematic plundering of such towns and people as showed evidence of possessing anything worth taking. As we listened to the stories that were told us, we couldn't refrain from contrasting the methods pursued by the Union army when marching in their country. We sometimes thought our officers were unnecessarily strict, particularly in the matter of fence-rails. A good many soldiers who couldn't rob a bank or a store, had no compunctions about taking rails for a fire or the building of a hut, though or lers were continually issued to prevent us. The enemy probably thought it was quite as honorable to crack a bank as to be seen sneaking away with a fence-rail. General Sherman says war should be carried on without gloves, which 1863. the Southern army not only believed in, but practised.
What we did, up to the time Sheridan made his appearance, was to protect property and crops; and in the autumn Stonewall Jackson would make a raid up the valley of Virginia, and gather in for his use what we had so carefully guarded. It looked to us a little like overdoing the thing.
The “ Rebs” showed mercy to no one ; anybody who had anything worth the taking, was compelled to surrender it. Upon their entry into Gettysburg, they demanded of the inhabitants 1,200 pounds of sugar, 6,000 pounds of coffee, 60 barrels of flour, 100 pounds of salt, 7,000 pounds of bacon, 10 barrels of whiskey, 10 barrels of onions, 1,000 pairs of boots, and 100 hats; or, in lieu thereof, $5,000 in cash. In other places they collected large stores of materials, great numbers of horses, wagons, and cattle, which they sent across the Potomac. Whenever we got anything at a store in Virginia, we were charged an exorbitant price, as though we were all“ Rothschilds;" and we paid for it. If any man forgot payment, a complaint was promptly made to the colonel. We have heard a good deal said about the sharpness of the Yankee trader, and no doubt the early settlers on Cape Cod were qualified to hold their end up with the shrewdest, but that was a long time ago. As compared with the astuteness of an able-bodied Virginian, the Yankee, according to our experience during the war, must take a back seat. Once in a while they got worsted, but as a rule, they could give us points. One thing is certain, we did not stand over them with a bayonet, as they did with the people of Pennsylvania, and make them disgorge their hidden wealth. We admit that we did appropriate rails from the fences whenever we could without fear of arrest. From an æsthetic point of view, the improvement in the appearance of the landscape that followed the removal of those unsightly fences more than compensated for their loss. This was not accepted as a sufficient excuse, as it might have been had they possessed any artistic appreciation of the beauty of the country in which they lived.
It having been definitely settled that the enemy had Monday,
left the vicinity of Gettysburg, we started on the road July 6.
toward Emmitsburg, and after a march of six miles went
into camp about two miles north of that town, it being certain that the rebels were sufficiently interested in their own welfare not to think of doing us any harm.
Got away early and marched about twenty miles over Tuesday, a rough mountain foot-path, camping about 8 P.M. near July 7.
the top of Catoctin Mountain, and not far from a place
called Bealsville (or Bealtsville). During the latter half of the day it rained in torrents.
During our march to-day a very pretty scene occurred that touched a tender chord in the hearts of the boys. Our service in Virginia
so generally exempt from exhibitions of loyalty, that we highly appreciated the evidences of warm-hearted feeling which existed for Union soldiers, and it brought a good deal of encouragement. These outward manifestations of friendly feeling for us were so very real, that they made a deep impression on the mind. We were a dirty, ragged, unattractive lot; our equipments battered with the hard usage of many campaigns of marching, digging, and fighting. In spite of our uncomely and unsoldierly appearance, we were enthusiastically received, and it did us a power of good. We had halted for a rest at some cross-roads, when a lot of pretty bright-eyed girls, all dressed in “Stars and Stripes,” came from a school near by, and forming themselves into a group, with the smallest standing on the upper rail of a fence, waving a flag, they sung the “ Battle-cry of Freedom." It was an affecting sight to see those pretty little creatures, so earnest and with voices so sweet, singing to a lot of old veterans, whose eyes moistened as they