Spartan Band diarist Will H. Hill wrote in his diary on Saturday, July 11, 1863, that the brigade had moved two miles north towards Hagerstown. They were shoveling up fortifications and digging rifle pits to defend against an expected Union attack.
“Our pickets are skirmishing with the enemy,” Hill added.
Private Robert A. Moore of the 17th Mississippi said the brigade had been relieved in place at Downsville by Hood’s division “& we were sent to the left.
“Have been building breastworks all day. Skirmishing all day in front. Are fortifying our position.”
They erected earthworks with a 6-foot wide parapet and dug artillery emplacements at intervals and rifle pits for themselves. They were finished on Sunday morning, July 12, just as the Union infantry arrived to confront them.
“The skirmishing still continues,” Hill recorded. “Cloudy and raining all evening.”
By evening, it was apparent that the Union forces were not going to attack. They were entrenching. “All quiet along the lines,” Moore wrote, “except a little skirmishing this evening.”
But there was shocking and demoralizing news from home.
“Have heard this evening,” Moore concluded his diary entry, “that Vicksburg was surrendered July 4th.”