Thursday, September 29, 2016

Diary of Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle: Thursday, June 25, 1863

We took leave of Mrs —— and her hospitable family, and started at 10 A.M. to overtake Generals Lee and Longstreet, who were supposed to be crossing the Potomac at Williamsport. Before we had got more than a few miles on our way, we began to meet horses and oxen, the first fruits of Ewell's advance into Pennsylvania. The weather was cool and showery, and all went swimmingly for the first fourteen miles, when we caught up M'Laws's division, which belongs to Longstreet's corps. As my horse about this time began to show signs of fatigue, and as Lawley's pickaxed most alarmingly, we turned them into some clover to graze, whilst we watched two brigades pass along the road. They were commanded, I think, by Semmes and Barksdale* and were composed of Georgians, Mississippians, and South Carolinians. They marched very well, and there was no attempt at straggling; quite a different state of things from Johnston's men in Mississippi. All were well shod and efficiently clothed. In rear of each regiment were from twenty to thirty negro slaves, and a certain number of unarmed men carrying stretchers and wearing in their hats the red badges of the ambulance corps; — this is an excellent institution, for it prevents unwounded men falling out on pretence of taking wounded to the rear. The knapsacks of the men still bear the names of the Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey, or other regiments to which they originally belonged. There were about twenty waggons to each brigade, most of which were marked U.S., and each of these brigades was about 2800 strong. There are four brigades in M'Laws's division. All the men seemed in the highest spirits, and were cheering and yelling most vociferously.

We reached Martinsburg (twenty-two miles) at 6 P.M., by which time my horse nearly broke down, and I was forced to get off and walk. Martinsburg and this part of Virginia are supposed to be more Unionist than Southern; however, many of the women went through the form of cheering M'Laws's division as it passed. I daresay they would perform the same ceremony in honour of the Yankees to-morrow.

Three miles beyond Martinsburg we were forced by the state of our horses to insist upon receiving the unwilling hospitality of a very surly native, who was evidently Unionist in his proclivities. We were obliged to turn our horses into a field to graze during the night. This was most dangerous, for the Confederate soldier, in spite of his many virtues, is, as a rule, the most incorrigible horse-stealer in the world.

* Barksdale was killed, and Semmes mortally wounded, at the battle of Gettysburg.

SOURCE: Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, Three Months in the Southern States: April-June, 1863, p. 237-9

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