Everything that I feared about this busy season of my life has come true! As an Orioles sportswriter, the team is looking to be playoff bound for the first time in many years. I’m now in my coaching season at Williamsport High School where I hope to see my boys team win a state championship. As a political activist, it is a critical election season. And in my primary occupation as a pastor, September is the beginning of all sorts of new programs and initiatives.
Beyond this, there is unprecedented interest in Antietam tours (of which I’ve only done a couple recently) and the Maryland Campaign as we approach the sesquicentennial is the coming 10 days. All of this has left little time for blogging and writing – probably my favorite activity of all.
This post will add to some previous posts that contain Abner Doubleday materials. Most of what I’ve written before is from my draft of what I trust might someday be a final work on the good general. This today is mostly a collection of his journal remarks over this current week 150 years ago.
After the retreat from 2nd Manassas, Doubleday wrote that his troops were assigned to take a post at Upton Hill (this is about 2-3 miles west of Arlington, VA).
Of this time, and listed in his journal on September 3rd Doubleday wrote: Pope’s army was completely worn out with fatigue, fighting, and constant marching; and the capture of the depot at Manassas had left us in need of everything. We all required clothing and shoes for our men, but owing to the great number to be supplied, but few of us were able to obtain anything. We were thus obliged to take the field again in a very destitute condition. The short time in which we remained in Washington was taken up in making out requisitions for supplies, reports of recent battle, muster rolls, etc.
Dated on the 4th, Doubleday wrote: On this day General McClellan, in obedience to Mr. Lincoln’s order, formally assumed command of the Army in place of Pope—who was given a department in the west. Some important changes were immediately made. Hooker relieved McDowell in command of the First Corps, the latter being withdrawn from active field duty.
Doubleday, dated the 5th, described the crossing of Lee into Maryland and the pursuit of McClellan: Lee leaves Leesburg on this day and crosses the Potomac at Noland’s Ferry five miles from the Point of Rocks. A portion of this army crossed three miles above. His whole force then marched into the interior and bivouacked for the night at White Oak Springs, three miles from Frederick, MD. The greatest consternation immediately ensued in that section of country, and people fled in every direction, carrying their money and valuables with them. On the same day, McClellan started in pursuit, but spread his army well to the north to guard against any attempt of Lee to sweep around and capture Baltimore.
Doubleday’s command was finally on the move on September 6th: On this day, Couch’s Division was at Rockville and Great Falls. This was to watch over the lower fords of the Potomac, for it was the constant fear at Washington that the enemy, after drawing McClellan away from the Capital, might suddenly retrace their steps and seize the prize. On the same day, Hookers Corps, including our division which was again under Hatch’s command, left its encampment and commenced crossing the Long Bridge into Washington about midnight.
They continued marching the next day … if you can call it that: [dated the 7th] On this day we continued our march through Washington and encamped at night in the vicinity of Leesboro. (This march was badly managed, e.g. the turnpike gatehouse was not taken off as it should have been and caused great delay in filing through it.) [And then on the 8th …] We still remained at Leesboro, our advance being slow and undecided in consequence of the uncertainty of the enemy’s movements.
In the following days of the journal, Doubleday goes off on discussions of mostly the Confederate movements to deal with Harpers Ferry, and he only again mentions his own troop movements on the 11th: Our army is advancing leisurely. Hatch’s Division reaches Damascus [this is east of Frederick]. The advance of Longstreet’s force is now at Hagerstown, and his rear under D.H. Hill at Boonsboro. South Mountain is left wholly unguarded—there being nothing but the enemy’s cavalry and a few light batteries between us and Boonsboro.
And after one or two other blog posts, I’ll pick up again a week from now with Doubleday’s writings about South Mountain.