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At 6 A.M. marched to Hay Market, twelve miles, Thursday, arriving about 10 A.M., when we took cars and rode to May 29.
Thoroughfare Gap, where we left the cars and marched
through a rough crooked defile to the west side of the mountains and camped in an orchard. While marching to-day, General Ord borrowed a pipe from one of the boys whom he saw smoking; being suddenly called away by an aid, he took it with him. There was not a man in the Thirteenth who wouldn't have been glad to contribute a pipe, or anything else he had, to the comfort or pleasure of General Ord.
Started at 5 A.M. and marched through White Plains and Salem, halting three miles from the latter place, making a distance of fifteen miles for the day's march.
We were overtaken in the afternoon by a severe thundershower which lasted all night, in consequence of which we were completely drenched. Some of the tents were washed away by the rain.
The following despatch was sent by General McDowell to the President:
Friday, May 30.
I am pushing forward everything to the utmost, as I telegraphed the Secretary of War last night. Major-General Shields did not think we could make Front Royal before to-night. I sent him your telegram and asked him what could be done by extraordinary exertions to accomplish your wishes that the advance of my force should be at Front Royal by 12 o'clock noon to day. I informed him of the position of affairs, and how necessary it was to get forward. He fully appreciated the case, and said he would go without supplies, except what the men could carry themselves, and would place two brigades at Front Royal by noon and two other brigades within five miles of Front Royal by the same time. It will require driving to accomplish this, and the day is hot.
I am urging General Ord forward with all the physical force of the railroad and moral power of a strong representation of the urgency of the case. He will be beyond Rectortown to-night.
At 5 P.M. General McDowell sent a telegram from Piedmont to the Secretary of War of which the following is an extract:
I was disappointed on arriving at this place at 12 M. to find General Ord's division here, only five miles from its camp of last night (although I had ordered them to leave their knapsacks), and in much confusion. I reproached General 1862. Ord for the condition of his command and for its not being farther
ahead. He pleaded sickness, and that he had not been well for several days, and was now unable to hold command, which he turned over to Brigadier-General Ricketts. I have told General Ricketts to have his division at Front Royal by to-night.
Started at 5 A.M. and marched to Piedmont, five Friday, miles, where we drew rations of hardtack and coffee. May 31.
We then left our knapsacks, taking only our blankets and
equipments, reforded the river and took up the line of march to Front Royal. It rained hard nearly all day, so the wetting we got in fording the rivers and brooks didn't count for much. As we marched through Manassas Gap the water was knee-deep in the highway in some places, and the storm so rough that we took to the railroad. Finding the track encumbered with cars, we enjoyed the boyish sport of dumping them over the precipice, a distance of eighty or a hundred feet, to the valley below, where they were completely destroyed. We arrived within a mile or so of Front Royal at I A.M., after a march of twenty-five miles, in good order, though uncomfortably wet and tired. It rained very hard, it was very dark, and the boys were not very assable when we finally halted for the night. Rail fences soon supplied us with fuel, and very soon we were standing round cheerful fires, drinking hot coffee, and thinking how blessed is he who expects nothing, for he will not be disappointed.
About noon we marched two miles on the road to Sunday, Strasburg, where we were turned into a field for a halt, June 1.
and where, with the rest of the corps, we were drawn up
in line of battle. While we were here Generals Shields and Ord rode by. Being under the impression that it was to General Shields we were indebted for the rations we drew at Piedmont (though the fact is that it was McDowell's thoughtfulness, who, anticipating our arrival at that point, had made the provision), the brigade cheered him as he rode along. General Ord received a share of the enthusiasm, but when General McDowell rode by there was none to do him reverence. He must have felt this very keenly. There was a good deal of gossip about a quarrel between McDowell and Ord. General Shields, at the head of his division, with his wounded arm in a sling, made quite a picturesque object, and the
fact that he was on the way to cut off Jackson, a part of
whose force we could see in the distance trailing along the mountain-side, made him considerable of a hero, and no doubt added a fervor to our emotions.
We were very much disappointed that we were not to join Shields in the pursuit of Jackson.
The following was telegraphed by General McDowell at 3 P.M. to the Secretary of War:
Heard firing this A.M. in the direction of Strasburg. Ori's division could not be got up last night, but came up this A. M., and is considerably aroused by the excitement of an approaching battle, and is now moving forward, replacing Shields' division, who is on the march to Strasburg with that part of his division nearest this place. I am directing General Ord's division (now with Ricketts) to move on the Winchester road, supporting Bayard's cavalry brigade, and sending strong detachments on the Luray road. There has been no firing for some time.
It soon began to rain, which continued during the night. We found it much easier these days to put our trust in God than to keep our powder dry.
At noon we marched about five miles on the road to Monday, Strasburg, and bivouacked in a pine grove. We had June 2.
scarcely reached the woods when it began to rain as
though it hadn't rained for many months, and was now making up for lost time.
Some of the boys were sent out on picket duty; to think of anybody, even an enemy, being out such a night, seemed ridiculous. The boys were posted in a wheat-fiell, without umbrellas, the wheat the height of a man's head, while the darkness was as densely black as Egypt is said to be, except when the lightning revealed how impossible it was to distinguish the points of the compass, after five minutes in such a place. Indeed, several of the boys, when daylight did come, found themselves facing the St. Lawrence River, instead of the Gulf of Mexico, so bewildering was the darkness and the wheat. When daylight came and the sun chased away the black clouds, it brought with it a feeling of gladness, in spite of the unpleasantness
of their position.