Friday, May 21, 2010

The Battle of Falling Waters Road

The Battle of Falling Waters Road, Maryland, 1863

(Photo credits here)

Yesterday (scroll down) I posted about the Battle of Falling Waters, which occured in July 1861, in what was then Virginia, now West Virginia.  I speculated about what it meant when Henry Kyd Douglas, a staff officer for Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, wrote:

It was only a little "affair at Falling Waters," as General Johnston called it, and few were hurt. To me it was of memorable importance; for there for the first time I heard the whiz of a musket ball and the shriek of a cannon shot....Nothing came of it, but the war had made a beginning.

If you were one of the "few" you certainly would have had a quite different perspective....

Today's post is about another Civil War action, this one occurring some 2 years after the one mentioned above, and occurring on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.  It bears a quite similar name, which makes things confusing to keep straight: The Battle of Falling Waters Road (the addition of the word Road is the discriminator). 
This site was critical during the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, and looks much as it did in 1863.  General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was trapped against the flooding Potomac for several days, and at this site two corps of his army (Longstreet's and Hill's) managed to cross safely on pontoon boats just as Union General Meade attacked the rear guard.
The American Civil War would continue for nearly another 2 years.

In addition to the historical marker pictured above, there's another a few feet away:

The marker reads:

Finally on July 10, the Confederates completed a pontoon bridge, but it took two days for the ambulances and hundreds of ordnance and artillery wagons to cross. By the early evening of July 13, during another downpour, Gen. James Longstreet’s infantry corps began tramping across, guided by bonfires on both shores and signal torches on the bridge. Gen. A.P. Hill’s corps followed, and by mid-morning the next day, 30,000 Confederates were across.”

Lee’s army had escaped.

Quartermaster John Harman, who previously had served as Stonewall Jackson’s chief quartermaster, built 16 pontoon boats in two days from dismantled sheds and warehouses and wood from a Williamsport lumberyard. When the lumberyard manager complained, the Confederates retorted: “Just charge it to Jeff Davis. Our army is worth more than all your lumber in gold.

Whenever I run here I try to be alert and cognizant of what went on here.  Sometimes, I would swear, I hear indistinct noises, faint footfalls, murmured voices.

No comments:

Post a Comment