Shielding the Army

Shielding the Army (HMQAB)

Location: Hagerstown, MD 21740 Washington County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 38.633', W 77° 48.222'

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Where are the Confederates?

— Gettysburg Campaign —

The mountains provided Gen. Robert E. Lee with cover. As his army of 75,000 men and 272 pieces of artillery rumbled north through Washington County, the U.S. Army commander did not know his whereabouts because South Mountain, to the east, shielded the Confederates from observation. Many in Lee's army were well into Pennsylvania while the Federal army was still crossing the Potomac nearly fifty miles to the east.

"We have outmaneuvered [Gen. Joseph] Hooker," exclaimed an optimistic Lee to Gen. Isaac R. Trimble, a Marylander. "He doesn't know where we are or what our plans are. Our whole army will be in Pennsylvania? leaving the enemy far behind and obliged to follow us by forced marches. I hope with these advantages to accomplish some signal result and to end the war, if Providence favors us."

Once it became apparent an invasion was underway, an alarmed Lincoln administration responded by calling for 100,000 militiamen from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia to respond to the emergency.

(Sidebar 1):
The mountains also sheltered local citizens who were afraid of the Confederates. Wagon trains of civilians fled west to North Mountain and beyond in "The Great Skedaddle," herding cattle and horses, and traveling with personal property. African-Americans also ran for the hills, concerned they would be captured and turned south into slavery.

(Sidebar 2):
"All the country through which we passed today is beautiful and rich, splendid wheat, hay and corn crops. Nearly all the people are Union." - Robin Berkeley, Confederate artilleryman.

(Sidebar 3):
Randolph Shotwell of Pickett's Division later remembered the hardship of the long march: "By three o'clock we have traveled twenty miles, but now the sultry sun fairly scorches our blistered backs; our brains seem addled; and the weight of the heavy musket has worn first one shoulder then the other into a red heat blister under the saturated jacket and shirt; and our poor legs seem utterly unable to take another step!"
Placed ByMaryland Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 at 4:33pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 259420 N 4391990
Decimal Degrees39.64388333, -77.80370000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 38.633', W 77° 48.222'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 38' 37.98" N, 77° 48' 13.32" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)240, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 12033 Greencastle Pike, Hagerstown MD 21740, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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