Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 28.djvu/364
358 Southern Historical Society Papers.
We reached Hagerstown after a long and toilsome march, where we halted and awaited the approach of the enemy. The Potomac was swollen to a considerable height, occasioned by the heavy rains, which prevented our crossing.
It was while we were here that the news came how, I know not that the Confederacy had been recognized by France, and that other European powers were ready to do the same that our ports were to be opened to the world and our independence was soon to be an assured fact. How joyous was this news, with what delight and pleasure was it told and retold by the men! Meade's whole army was now gathering thick and fast, flushed with victory, and jusf in our front were the angry, surging waters of the Potomac, leaping high in their endeavor to get over their banks all nature seeming to conspire in our overthrow. Such, indeed, was the situation of our army at that time. But it soon became noised about that this unex- pected joy was like the morning dew, to be dissipated by the first rays of the sun, and we soon learned that the report was untrue, which had, of course, the effect of causing the men to express their opinion on this very important subject in no uncertain way. How we needed help! Fighting the whole world that was just about the size of it! Was there ever such a destruction of life the very flower of the southern country by such an unprincipled enemy as made up to a great extent the Federal army, many of whom could not speak a word of the English language, and were soldiers only for the thirteen dollars per month, and the bounty which at that time the United States goverment was dispensing with lavish hands! We ex- pected here to have another tilt with the enemy, and were hastening our troops through Williamsport on the march to Falling Waters, the point selected for our crossing. But General Meade was too much in fear of Lee's troops to attack, and he only made an effort when he found our troops crossing the Potomac, where a sharp fight occurred, in which General Pettigrew, a gallant brigade general of Hill's corps, was killed before we succeeded in driving him back where he was glad to be out of our reach. It was said a council of war was called by General Meade while we lay near Hagerstown to discuss the situation, and it was decided not to hazard an attack. There were numerous cavalry skirmishes on our trip back to Vir- ginia, but no general engagement by the army. Although our troops were still sanguine of the ultimate success of our arms, it was a dark hour for the Confederacy, for about that time came news of Grant's