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8 Series I Volume XIX-II Serial 28 - Antietam Part II

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Page 8 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

vania Cavalry. I proceeded on the Warrenton turnpike, through Gaines -ville and New Baltimore; found on my way thither no traces of the enemy, although I had the country patrolled on my right and left flanks for about 1 1/2 to 2 miles.

At precisely 2.30 o'clock p. m. advance guard charged through the town, whilst skirmishers took position on the different avenues leading from town, south, east, and west. I followed immediately with two squadrons, leaving two behind as a support, drawn up in line one-half mile this side of the town. I found no opposition whatever. About 30 of the enemy's cavalry dashed through town shortly before our arrival, taking the road toward Culpeper. The people of the place rushed out in crowds, and were, as a general thing, very friendly inclined toward us. Every house in town I found filled with wounded and sick; the streets were crowded with convalescents, and, apparently, stragglers, who eagerly pressed forward around my men and engaged in friendly conversation. The accommodations in the hospitals I found anything but decent. The poor sufferers were lying on the bare floor, wrapped in a poor blanket, and seldom a straw pillow under their heads. In some of the houses the sick and wounded were literally decaying in their own filth, and nobody seemed to care for them; in short, the scene I have witnessed bears description.

The wounds were mostly of a very serious character, and amputation of left and arms were very frequent. The number of deaths amounted, daily, to 50 caused no doubt by want of proper care, nourishment, and medical stores. Of the two latter they were perfectly destitute, so far so, that some of the ladies of high respectability expressed to me the wish that the United States authorities, having taken possession of the place, would do something to alleviate the sufferings both of the sick and inhabitants.

The country is tripped of everything in the shape of provisions, and starvation stares the people in the face. A good many of the citizens approached me with confidence, offering their services in the shape of little refreshments, and the warm and sincere shake of the hands on their side attested sufficiently how glad they were to see again Union troops.

The gentlemanly surgeon of the post, Dr. Fisher, was of great service to me in procuring the register of sick and wounded, and when I bade him good-by his eyes moistened with tears. I found in the place about 40 army surgeons, of different ranks. The number of paroled prisoners amounts to about 1,300 or 1,400. They were all eager to get their papers, and my officers had their hands full to issue them, and once provided with such, they pressed around me, asking whether this scrap of paper would henceforth free them from military duty, and, when assured that it would, they went off with gleaming faces, assuring me that they rather would rot than to take up arms again against the Yankees. Not an unkind word was passed, on either side, during the whole transaction. My troops behaved in a splendid manner, and made a very favorable impression among the inhabitants of the town and prisoners. At precisely 5.30 p. m. I left the town with my command, and, proceeding to Buckland Mill, 8 miles north, on the Warrenton, pike, I encamped for the night, whence I marched next morning at 6 o'clock for Centreville.

Furthermore, I beg leave to state that the cavalry force detailed to this corps is by far too inadequate to answer the purposes for which it is destined.

First. The great distances which separated us from the enemy, and


Page 8 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter XXXI.

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