Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederate wounded, numbering between 8,000 and 10,000, were gathered to retreat to Virginia. A wagon train of 1,200 wagons, ambulances, buckboards and carriages, led by Brigadier General John D. Imboden, began departing on July 4, 1863 in the midst of a violent rainstorm.
Along the 42-mile route to Light's Ford at Williamsport, the wounded suffered, the rain poured, and the train was attacked at Greencastle PA and Cunningham's Crossroads (Cearfoss). When they arrived in Williamsport on July 5, the bedraggled troops found the Potomac River was impassable.
Imboden wrote, "We took possession of the town and turned it into one great hospital for the thousands of wounded."
"It was an awful place," one Confederate soldier wrote, the dead horses and offal of the great number of beeves (cows), etc., killed for the army... made it very unpleasant... the green flies were everywhere."