Monday, July 8, 2013

July 11, 1863 (Sunday): Preparing for Battle at Williamsport

Williamsport MD (

SANDY HOOK, July 11, 1863-11. 45 a. m.
General G. K. WARREN:
     Lieutenant Mackenzie is absent with General Naglee, and I opened your dispatch to him.
     The Potomac above the railroad bridge at this point has fallen 4 feet within the past forty-eight hours, and is still falling slowly. It is still 4 to 5 feet above the stage of water which renders if fordable here.
The troops of the Engineer Brigade under my command now here have been constantly at work or making forced marches ever since the army left Falmouth, and I take it for granted they are liable at any moment to be called up for extraordinary exertions. Is it desirable that they should be kept incessantly at work here by General Naglee upon work not indispensable to the efficiency and success of the army?

    Lieutenant-Colonel, Volunteer Engineers.

Antietam Creek, July 11, 1863-4 p. m.
(Received 5. 30 p. m.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
    The line of this army was advanced cautiously this morning in the direction stated in yesterday's dispatch, and at this time its right rests on the road from Smoketown to Funkstown, about 2 miles from the latter, the line crossing the Antietam, passing through Jones' Cross-Roads, the left being near Marsh Run. Strong reconnaissances of infantry are being pushed out toward Funkstown, on the left bank of the Antietam, toward the same point on the right bank, and on the road from Sharpsburg to Funkstown. At the same time, cavalry force is pushing out on the left, on the Boonsborough and Williamsport road, and on the right toward Hagerstown from Chewsville, and Leitersburg. The cavalry on the Chewsville road advanced without opposition to within a short distance, about 1, 5 miles, of Hagerstown. The cavalry in the direction of Leitersburg and that advancing toward Williamsport have not yet been heard from. Everything indicates that the enemy is massing between Hagerstown and Williamsport, and from various sources it is stated they are intrenching. From the representations of General Spinola that the nine months' men of his command could not be relied upon, as their time had nearly expired, and my own experience of troops under such circumstances, I have directed the regiments of his brigade to be posted in the rear. Troops of this character can be of little service unless they are pledged to serve beyond their terms of enlistment; and the supplies they consume and the space they occupy on the lines of communication can be illy spared; besides, their presence may have an injurious effect upon other troops. I do not, therefore, desire to be re-enforced by such troops unless they have pledged themselves to remain beyond their terms of service and until I can dispense with their services.

    GEO. G. MEADE,
    Major-General, Commanding.

July 12, 1863 - 5. 30 p. m.
Major-General STUART:
    GENERAL: Colonel [A. L.] Long has returned from a survey of our position occupied by the corps of Longstreet and Hill. He has discovered the enemy massing their troops in their front, and thinks their principal attack on our lines will be between the Williamsport and Boonsborough road and the Frederick road, embracing both said roads.
    He has not been in Ewell's front (has just gone), but from your reports and those of General Ewell, there seems to be no enemy in that quarter. He thinks the attack will be made early to-morrow morning. Should it be, and there be nothing to occupy you, I wish you to bear down on the enemy's right, endeavoring to select good positions with your horse artillery, to harass and retard him. You will have, however, to keep a good lookout on the Chambersburg and Greencastle road, and not leave our left uncovered.
    I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 1, Page 90, Part 3, Pages 646, 998.

Lee was in a solid position.  The river was receding behind him and his entrenched position was strong.  Meade was preparing for an attack the next morning. 

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