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The March From Gettysburg

The Army of the Potomac rested on July 4. Some men walked around the battlefield, while many others buried the dead. The 44th was no exception, as its pioneers buried the dead, and all commented upon the grisly scenes before their eyes. On July 5, the army advanced, ready for battle. The 44th, with Company E in the advance, went ahead as skirmishers, but as they neared Seminary Ridge, they discovered that the enemy had retreated. They left Gettysburg late in the afternoon, and began marching toward Maryland. On July 7, they marched 20 miles, and began chasing the enemy in earnest. (1)

On July 10, the men were awakened early, and finally given new shoes. The hard marching had worn out the shoes of most of the men, leaving them barefoot with blistered feet. That day's march began at 6 a.m., and they quickly passed through the Confederate campground of the previous night. Detachments from the brigade, sent out as skirmishers, engaged the rear guard of the enemy with some success, but the 44th was not involved at Jones' Cross Roads. (2)

The next morning, the entire army advanced in line, prepared for battle, over an open field. No battle occurred, and the army repeated the scene on July 12. General Meade intended to attack the following day, but upon assessing the strength of the enemy's position, Meade and his corps commanders agreed not to attack. The army continued to move forward, but learned on the 14th that Lee had taken his army across the Potomac. On July 17, the 44th crossed back into Virginia, which it would not leave until it left the service. (3)

The marching continued until the army reached Manassas, near the site of the two Bull Run battles. The 44th went out on picket and expected a battle, but the enemy again departed the scene. The morning of July 24, the army was ordered to capture Wapping Heights. They moved up the hill through briars and brambles, but reached the summit without opposition and without loss. The supply wagons were left far behind, so the men subsisted on berries and whatever else could be scavenged in that war-ravaged region. The regiment continued its march, chasing the enemy back across the Rappahannock River, and on August 4, settled in to guard the north bank of the river at Beverly Ford for an extended period. (4)

1. Nash, 159.

2. Nash, 159-60.

3. Nash, 160.

4. Nash, 162.

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