October 10, 1862: Gen. Stuart’s Wild Ride, Part 2 - In the pre-dawn hours, Stuart sends 25 of his riders to swim the Potomac upstream from McCoy’s Ford and to take the Union pickets prisoner. As Stuart’s 1800 Rebels ford the Potomac River, they ride north, headed for a 40-mile ride to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Word about their raid spreads quickly. however. Halleck gives instructions to McClellan that "not a man should be permitted to return to Virginia." The gray cavalry sidesteps a Union division on the march, and crosses the state line into Pennsylvania. As the Rebels enter Mercersburg, they are foraging freely, and panic grips the countryside. One lady begs the Confederates to "spare the women and children" when a couple of soldiers are trying to buy some bread from her. Some of the surprised troopers even dismount to talk to the townsfolk and reassure them that have not indeed come to slaughter and burn. But they do seize horses and other war supplies freely. As they approach Chambersburg, many of the citizens flee, including the mayor. The town surrenders to the Rebels, and Col. Grumble Jones and his 2nd Virginia Cav. Regiment are sent to the north side of town to destroy the railroad bridge; however, they find that it is an iron bridge rather than a wooden one, and they give it up as a lost cause.
|Click on map to enlarge|
—Gen. Bragg and his Army of Mississippi have retreated from Perryville south to Harrodsburg, where he hopes to unite with Gen. Kirby-Smith and meet Buell with better numbers. But here, he learns of Lee’s repulse at Antietam, and of the failure of Van Dorn and Price to carry the war out of Mississppi and back into Tennessee. Bragg does not know this, but Buell is very reluctant to pursue Bragg, and is willing to let the Rebels remove themselves from Kentucky at their own speed.
—The New York Times publishes an editorial on the campaign in Kentucky, with a timely observation on Gen. Buell’s lack of a vigorous pursuit of the retreating Rebels:
—Gen. Edmund Kirby-Smith’s wife, Cassie, writes to him about the birth of their baby girl:
—Judith White McGuire, a lady of Virginia, fumes in her journal over the Confederate defeat at Corinth and those pestilent Yankees:
10th.—Bad news! The papers bring an account of the defeat of our army at Corinth. It was commanded by General Van Dorn—the Federals by Rosecranz. They fought Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The fight said to have been very bloody—great loss on both sides. The first two days we had the advantage, but on Sunday the Yankees "brought up reinforcements," and our men had to retire to Ripley. The Northern papers do not brag quite so much as usual; they say their loss was very great, particularly in officers; from which, I hope it was not quite so bad with us as our first accounts represent. This bringing up of reinforcements, which the Yankees do in such numbers, is ruinous to us. Ah! if we could only fight them on an equal footing, we could expunge them from the face of the earth: but we have to put forth every energy to get rid of them, while they come like the frogs, the flies, the locusts, and the rest of the vermin which infested the land of Egypt, to destroy our peace.