On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1862, the 13th regiment finally descended from the Maryland Heights and crossed the Union pontoon bridge into Harpers Ferry.
They didn’t linger, but pushed on west, keeping to the Charles Town road, until they were about four miles from Harpers Ferry, and a little beyond the turnoff to Shepardstown.
There they “stopped and cooked some rations,” Minutemen of Attala Private Mike Hubbert wrote in his diary, “which was the first in 3 days.
“We started for Shepardstown late in the Evening and arrived…about 4 in the morning. Many of Our best men had given out and fallen by the way side during the dark and tiresome march.”
What was left of the tired and hungry regiment rested on the ground until daylight, Sept. 17, when Spartan Band Private Albert Wymer Henley recorded that they:
“…once more forded the Potomac River, pushing on [until] we halted about two miles of Sharpsburg. We partook of a little boiled meat and crackers and waited further orders. The roar of artillery was meanwhile sounding ahead of us.”
The Battle of Sharpsburg, which Rebel Gen. Stephen D. Lee called “artillery hell” because of the 500 cannon involved, was getting underway. It would be the bloodiest one-day battle in American history.