Crossing the Shenandoah

The brigade’s march of Friday, June 19, 1863, was fatiguing for a new reason: the roads were muddy from the overnight rains.

They made only about twelve miles, north again, passing through Paris, a small town at the foot of the Blue Ridge, northeast of Front Royal, and camped in Ashby’s Gap.

“Have had a rather muddy road to travel,” 17th Mississippi diarist Robert A. Moore recorded that evening. “Will hold this gap for a day or two. We are bivouaced near the top of the Ridge. It began to rain this evening & still continues. Some of the boys’ tents are falling down.”

Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill wrote that Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry “engaged the enemy’s cavalry near Middleburg [east of Paris] today and drove them back some distance.” Union units were probing the Rebel march to try and see what Lee’s army was up to.

On Saturday, the 13th Regiment was sent “back to the town of Paris to do picket duty,” Hill recorded. At 5 p.m. they were ordered to cross the Shenandoah at Berry’s Ferry. The river was running high from the rains.

“The river was swollen and the fording was difficult,” Hill wrote. “Several mules were lost and one wagon… Several men lost their guns and knapsacks by falling down in the water.”

“It was more than waist deep,” Moore wrote. Some men stripped for the crossing, others did not. They camped a mile west of the river, near the Winchester Turnpike, for the night.

The next day, Sunday, June 20th, the brigade was ordered back across the river and through the Gap to Paris for picket duty again. “The Yankee Army is said to be advancing to attack us at the gap,” Hill recorded.

But there was no fighting and, by Monday evening, they had crossed the river again and returned to their camp near the turnpike.

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About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, The Spartan Band, William H. Hill Diary. Bookmark the permalink.

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