|14th Brooklyn monument at Gettysburg. Photo by Ron Zanoni. Creative Commons Licensing.|
Lee had stolen a march on Hooker, and now his army faced the possibility of being cut off from Washington. With a blistering June heat wave baking the roads of Virginia, only hard marching could now remedy the situation. On June 18th, a member of the nattily attired 14th Brooklyn took a brief moment to update his hometown paper. "I suppose you know by this time..." he began, "that our army has moved." He went on to describe the forced marches that he and his comrades had recently endured:
The General put us through this day, marching us two and three miles at a time through the hot sun, without a rest. Our doctor was put under arrest for giving so many passes to the men who were "played out".... We have marched over 95 miles since we have started, through dust six inches deep and the sun coming down red hot. You could fill a canteen with cold water and in ten minutes time it would be like hot water. A great many officers and men were sun struck on the route. One of Gen. Wadsworth's staff fell off his horse sun struck.This hard marching brought the Army of the Potomac northward in order to prevent a sudden Confederate thrust toward Washington. It could not however, save the surprised Federal garrison at Winchester. On the afternoon of June 14th, Joseph Hooker received an ominous telegraph from Washington:
Major-General Hooker:It was possible, as General Robert H. Milroy was finding out that very day. As his scattered command disintegrated in the face of Richard Ewell's onslaught, the realities of a Confederate invasion began to set in across the north. In Pennsylvania, Governor Curtin had already called for the organization of a homeguard militia. Yet militia alone would not be enough to stop the vaunted Lee. For the veterans of the Army of the Potomac, the march would continue. On June 21, our Brooklyn solider would take pen in hand again as he marked time near Gilford Station in Loudon County, Virginia. "The part of Virginia we are now in is splendid," he recorded, "but the parts we came through to get here were awful; nothing but a vast road."
Do you consider it possible that 15,000 of Ewell's men can now be at Winchester?
Soon, the 14th Brooklyn would leave war-ravaged Virginia behind for the rolling farmlands of southern Pennsylvania.
A note on sources: The quotations provided here were obtained through the 14th Brooklyn's Civil War newspaper clippings file available online as part of the excellent website run by the New York State Military Museum and Veterans Research Center