Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/124
Southern Historical Society Papers.
Letcher, with an infant hardly a week old, had been moved from her bed to witness the destruction of her house.
These melancholy scenes are almost too sad to relate; nevertheless they are facts that must stand in evidence of the cruelty with which the war was prosecuted by the North against the South.
When Early reached Winchester he learned that there was a Federal force at Harper's Ferry and another at Martinsburg, which it was necessary to dislodge before attempting the passage of the Potomac; and this was effected by the 4th of July without much opposition, the Federals having withdrawn without waiting an attack. The way being now clear, the passage of the Potomac was made on the 5th at Shepherdstown, and the army advanced to Sharpsburg.
Since the defeat of Hunter the advance of Early had been so rapid that his design to invade Maryland had not reached the Federal authorities in time to oppose his passage of the Potomac. But his entrance into Maryland being now known, it had produced great consternation as far as Baltimore and Washington. The boldness of this movement caused Early's forces to be greatly exaggerated, and rumor soon magnified it to four or five times its real strength.
The invasion was considered of such magnitude that the cities of Washington and Baltimore were thought to be in such imminent danger, that the greatest alacrity was instituted in every direction to collect troops for the defence of those places.
The object of General Early being simply a diversion in favor of the operations about Richmond, he remained a day or two at Sharpsburg, in order that the impression created by his invasion might have time to produce its full effect before he exposed his weakness by a further advance. At this time all the troops in the vicinity of Washington had been collected, besides which a large number of quartermaster's employees had been improvised as soldiers, thus making the force at hand exceed twenty thousand men, while two corps from the army besieging Richmond and a part of another corps from North Carolina, intended to reinforce that army, had been detached and put in rapid motion for the defence of the Capital.
In the face of these odds Early continued his advance into Maryland. At Frederick he found General Wallace, with about ten thousand men, in position to oppose the passage of the Monocacy. Immediate preparations were made to dislodge Wallace and effect.