The Confederate Retreat and the Union Pursuit, Part One

11017684_798574183564447_7523809008398099676_n.jpgOn July 3, 1863, the Confederate army under the command of General Robert E. Lee suffered a major defeat at the conclusion of Pickett’s Charge. As the shattered remains of Major General George Pickett’s division made their way back to the Seminary Ridge, General Lee knew he had to prepare for the withdrawal of his army, as well as planning in case of a Union counterattack. 1

General Lee had much to plan for. He had vast amounts of wounded that were being cared for spread out from the west to the north of Gettysburg. He would have to plan for transportation of those men back to Virginia, providing they could make the journey. 2He had miles upon miles of wagon trains that contained the quartermaster stores, the ordnance, and commissary supplies for his army. Those wagons were scattered from Marsh Creek, south of the Fairfield Road to the northeast on Hunterstown Road, Hanover Road and York Pike. He had a reserve train parked several miles west of Gettysburg, which contained much of the bounty collected from Pennsylvania located between Fairfield and Cashtown. Lee studied which routes were available for his army to use in order to get to the Potomac River and to the safety of Virginia. Finally, he had to give orders to his infantry, artillery, and cavalry commanders.3

General Lee looked over the maps to the options for roads to be used for his army. He could use Cashtown Gap, as he did when he crossed South Mountain, but another much shorter and direct route was the road to Monterey Pass. From there, the road led directly to Williamsport. Cashtown Gap and Monterey Pass, for the most part, were about 700 feet above sea level. The roads were macadamized, except for the Fairfield Road in the mountains.

The Cashtown Gap route would connect to several other roads. The Walnut Bottom Road connected to Pine Stump Road, which ran to Marion, Pennsylvania and connected to the Valley Turnpike. From the Valley Turnpike, the road led to Greencastle, Pennsylvania and a short distance to Williamsport, Maryland. But this route would add twenty miles in distance to Williamsport compared to Monterey Pass. Monterey Pass would be the route used for the majority of the Confederate army.

11013455_489138537916448_8057405135436991796_n.jpgThe only problem General Lee saw with Monterey Pass was the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Pike, and the network of roads it connected to. The turnpike itself ran east to west, intersecting three major roads. The first road led directly to Fairfield, and ran through modern day Carroll Valley. The second road was Jacks Mountain Road. The third was the Fairfield/Hagerstown Road. locally known as the Maria Furnace Road. Maria Furnace Road connected to the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike at the Monterey Tollgate. There, a series of roads also connected to the South Mountain pass. Situated between Jacks Mountain Road and Maria Furnace Road was Jacks Mountain itself. General Lee would instruct Brigadier General William Jones and Brigadier General Beverly Robertson to guard the roads to Monterey Pass.4

Meeting with his top commanders, General Lee ordered Lieutenant General James Longstreet to remove Major General Lafayette McLaws’ Division and Brigadier General Evander Law, commanding Major General John Bell Hood’s Division from near the Round Tops back to Seminary Ridge. There, Lt. Gen. Longstreet was to build breastworks in case of a Union counterattack, attaching his right flank near the left flank of Hill’s Corps. Lieutenant General Longstreet was to guard the Confederate right flank from the south in case of a Union attack.

By 5:00 p.m., seeing the Confederate movements, Major General George Meade ordered the V Corps under the command of Major General George Sykes to move forward to conduct reconnaissance. The Union soldiers came under fire from Confederate artillery forcing the V Corps back.

Lieutenant General Richard Ewell was ordered to move his corps from Culp’s Hill, through Gettysburg, and redeploy his corps with his right flank on the Fairfield Road, and covering Seminary Ridge to Oak Hill. Ewell’s Corps would be the left flank of Lee’s army. He was to order Major John Harmon, who commands the Reserve Train, to move his train forward through Monterey Pass and get that train to the Potomac River. He was to also take personal command of Lt. Gen Ewell’s own quartermaster, commissary and ordnance trains.

General Lee ordered Lieutenant General A. P. Hill, who was already in position just west of Seminary Ridge, to extend his corps to the left of Longstreet’s Corps, holding the ridge line. His right flank would be positioned on the Fairfield Road. This would allow his corps to move onto the Fairfield Road first, followed by Longstreet’s Corps. Following the rear of the Confederate army would be Ewell’s Corps.

Major General J.E.B. Stuart was ordered to send out two brigades of cavalry toward Cashtown to screen the right flank of the Confederate army. He would also be ordered to screen the left flank of the Confederate army and move east of the Catoctin Mountain. The courier never arrived at Maj. Gen. Stuart’s headquarters and once Lt. Gen. Ewell began moving his corps, this left Stuart holding the left flank of the army with no infantry support. Major General Stuart rode to General Lee’s headquarters where Lee verbally gave Stuart his orders.5

At 10:30 p.m., a courier was sent to Brigadier General John Imboden, near Cashtown. He arrived at Gettysburg near midnight. Being escorted to the officer’s meeting, Brig. Gen. Imboden was told to head to Lee’s headquarters and wait for him there. General Lee came in and the two officers met. General Lee ordered Brig. Gen. Imboden to organize the sick and wounded wagon trains and prepare them for their journey back to Virginia. He was also ordered him to oversee the wagon trains of Lt. Gen. Longstreet’s Corps and Lt. Gen. Hill’s Corps, along with Maj. Gen. Stuart’s cavalry trains through Cashtown Gap. Their proper quartermaster officers would be in charge of their organization. A portion of Major General Richard Anderson’s divisional trains of Hill’s Corps would be redirected to follow behind Ewell’s trains through Monterey Pass.6

General Lee also began solving the problems of transporting his sick and wounded. There was a shortage of ambulances and wagons. He ordered a courier to Winchester, Virginia with news of the shortages. General Lee then ordered his quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance officers to spare any wagons that could be used for transportation. Off loading and compiling any supplies to free up any wagons.

The situation in regard to the hospitals at Gettysburg was a complicated one. As the battle unfolded at Gettysburg, and hospitals were established, the ambulances were under the control of the quartermaster. Additional detachments of wagons themselves were scouring the countryside for supplies. By July 3, wagons upon wagons were parked all over western and northern Gettysburg. General Lee needed time for those wagons to assemble for the journey back to Virginia.

Lieutenant General Longstreet’s Corps quartermaster stores were situated west of Gettysburg. Major General McLaws’ divisional wagons were parked in the fields near Marsh Creek. Major General George Pickett’s divisional wagons were located near Marsh Creek, south of the Fairfield Road. The divisional wagons of Major General John B. Hood were located on the Fairfield Road at Willoughby Run.

Lieutenant General Ewell’s Corps was spread out as well. The quartermaster wagons were located to the northwest and north of Gettysburg. The divisional wagons for Major General Jubal Early were located in the fields between the Harrisburg and Carlisle Roads. Major General Allegheny Johnson’s trains were located in the area of Hunterstown Road, York Pike, and Hanover Road. Major General Robert Rodes’ wagons were near the Mummasburg Road.

Lieutenant General Hill’s Corps wagons were located northwest and west of Gettysburg, more or less along the Chambersburg Pike. Major General Richard Anderson’s divisional wagons were located along Herrs Ridge Road. Major General Henry Heth’s wagons for his division were located the Chambersburg Pike near Seven Stars. Major General Dorsey Pender’s divisional trains were located at Seven Stars. The Reserve train under the command of Major John Harmon was located near the base of South Mountain between Cashtown and Fairfield. Major General Stuart’s trains were located along Hunterstown Road.

Assisting the quartermasters were contracted civilians, some enlisted men and African-Americans. It is estimated that at least 6,000 to 10,000 African-Americans were attached to the wagon trains. They were the teamsters who controlled the teams of horses and mules used to pull the wagons. Many were servants who were forced into the military by their masters. Several were armed for the protection of the trains.

At Falling Waters, forty-five miles to General Lee’s rear, was the pontoon train. It consisted of sixteen flat bottomed wooden pontoons, about thirty feet wide. Included with the pontoon train were the trestle work transport vehicles. Guarding this temporary bridge was a detachment of infantry, teamsters, and engineers. Prior to the invasion of Pennsylvania, none of the Confederate army used this crossing. Early in the morning of July 4, Federal cavalry burned and destroyed this temporary bridge and captured the guard detachment.


1. Welch, Richard F. Retreat from Gettysburg, July 3, 1863. America’s Civil War, July 1993.

2. Long, A. L. Memoirs of Robert E. Lee. Edison, NJ: Blue and Grey Press, 1983. 294-296., Longstreet, James. From Manassas to Appomattox. New York, NY: Mallard Press, 1991. 426-427.

3. Large, George. Battle of Gettysburg, the Official History by the Gettysburg National Military Park Commission. Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1999. 282-283. This book lists out all of the itinerary markers that one would see at Gettysburg. In 1893, by an act of Congress, legislation was passed that would create the Gettysburg National Military Park. The day by day activities and positions of both armies were carefully researched and marked. Although, the cavalry brigades of Robertson, Jones and Imboden were not present at Gettysburg during the battle, the battlefield does have markers placed on South Reynolds Avenue that tells their position during the battle.

4. The old Wagon Road today would make up the following modern day roads. From Gettysburg, it was the Fairfield Road (Route 116) to Iron Springs Road west of Fairfield into South Mountain to Gum Springs Road through Fairfield Gap onto Maria Furnace Road and would have connected to Old Waynesboro Road. From there, it ran west of the mountain, sidestepping Waynesboro and continued to Hagerstown and ended at Williamsport. Many historians, state that Iron Springs Road was used during the Confederate retreat, however, no road passed the intersection of modern day Gum Springs Road exists on any of the Civil War period maps. Iron Springs Road from Gum Springs Road that leads to Old Waynesboro Road today, was established in the late 1860’s when copper was discovered in the mountain. The earliest map that shows the Monterey Pass area and the Great Wagon Road was first surveyed in 1751 by Colonel Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson and was known as Nicholson Gap.

5. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, vol. 27, part I (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1889).

6. Imboden, John “The Confederate Retreat From Gettysburg” in Buel, Clarence, and Robert U. Johnson, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Vol. IV, 1888.

The Richard Bard Raid

During the French and Indian War (1754-1763), settlements east of South Mountain had been relatively safe to live in. Then, in the spring of 1758, the Indians and some of their French allies raided the settlements along South Mountain. On April 5, 1758, near modern day Cashtown, Mary Jemison, her parents, and some of her relatives were taken prisoner. She would be the only survivor, as to lighten the load the Indians killed her parents. They would take her to Fort Duquesne where she was sold to Seneca Indians.

A few days later, another raiding party traveled along the eastern base of South Mountain to the home and mill of Richard Bard. Richard Bard was born in 1736 and lived at the base of South Mountain where he operated a mill at Mud Run with his wife Catherine Poe Bard and their seven month old son. This area today is known as Virginia Mills, and is located on Mount Hope Road, a few miles east of Monterey Pass.


April 13, started like any other day for the Bard family. The Bard family was inside the house entertaining Richard’s cousin Thomas Potter and small children Hannah McBride and Frederick Ferick. Out in the nearby fields working were Samuel Hunter and Daniel McManimy. William White, a young boy, was on his way to the mill for a visit.

Hannah was by the front door, when she saw the indians coming, about nineteen Delaware Indians total. By the time that Bard and Potter knew what was happening, it was too late. The Indians rushed into the house. Potter and one Indian armed with a cutlass struggled for a bit until Potter took the weapon and began striking the Indian, wounding the warrior.

Bard grabbed a pistol and when he went to pull the trigger, it failed to go off. The Indians began fleeing from the house. One of Indians by the door saw what was happening, fired a shot, and wounded Potter. The main door was closed by the Indians. The Bard family knew they were outnumbered and feared that the Indians would fire the house. The Indians surrounded the cabin and forced the Bard’s and their friends to come to terms with a surrender. After working out a surrender, the Bard family and other occupants came out and surrendered.

Hunter and McManimy, who were working in a nearby field, were also captured, including the young boy White. Nine total were captives of the Indians. As the Indians began moving westward over South Mountain, they killed Potter, scalping him. About three or four miles into South Mountain, the young toddler John Bard was speared, repeatedly beaten, and was scalped as well.

The Indians, with their war trophies, moved northward toward modern day Mont Alto Gap. Many deep gorges made the journey difficult. The Bard’s were hungry and tired. The prisoners were not allowed to socialize with one another, and the Indians even went as far as to paint red over Richard’s face. He thought that he would be the next to suffer the hatchet.

The party continued northward along South Mountain, entering the Conococheague Valley near modern day Scotland. The Indians feared the garrison of Fort Loudon several miles to the west. They also feared traveling too close to Fort Chambers and Fort McCord, which were in line of their route. By nightfall, they had moved some forty miles on foot.

The next day, the Bard’s moved through Yankee Gap into Bear Valley, to Horse Valley, and finally Path Valley. During the day, the Indians killed Hunter, sinking the hatchet into his head as he and Bard sat down. Then they scalped him. They moved to Sideling Hill, where they would encamp for the night.

By the third day, the party made it’s way between modern day Huntingdon and Raystown (Bedford). During the day, the Indians held a council on whether Richard should be killed. They painted half of his face red, but he lived on. The fourth day, the Indian raiders and their prisoners were the crossing the Allegheny Mountains. That night, snow fell. The prisoners were not allowed to be near the fire. By now, the prisoners were in dire need of rescue. Certain death was near if they couldn’t get help. Richard’s wife was still mourning the murder of her seven month old boy.

On the fifth day, Richard was beaten badly by one of the Indians and almost disabled, as he was crossing a stream. Realizing that death was so close, Richard still was not permitted to talk to his wife. One of the Indians shot a turkey and ordered the Bard’s to pluck the feathers and clean it out. There, Richard planned his escape to get help after a diversion was made by his wife.

bardfamilyhistor00inseil_0208Richard waited for the right moment. That moment came during the late evening when the Indians began dressing themselves in women’s clothing that they had captured along the way. Richard made his way toward a bush and concealed himself inside. HIs wife Catherine, kept the Indians attention on a gown. One of the other Indians noticed that Richard had gone missing.

The Indians quickly searched for Richard, but came up empty handed. The Indians and their captives made their way to the Allegheny River and to Fort Duquesne. They would remain there for one night before moving twenty miles down the Ohio to an Indian village. There, Catherine was beaten by several of the Indian squaws.

The prisoners were escorted to Kaskaskunk, a village ran by the Glickhickan. There, McManimy was killed after being beaten. The two boys and Hannah were left behind while Catherine was taken to another village. Once there, she would be adopted to replace a dead sister of two Indian brothers. The women who beat her, were punished for their actions.

Catherine was moving with her new Delaware family to the headwaters of the Susquehanna. The journey was painful for her, as she had not recovered from being taken prisoner. She was given a horse to ride upon, until it was used to replace a pack horse that was dying. 500 miles since her capture, she came to her new home, a cabin. The only thing she had to her name was a blanket that was given to her by her captors. Catherine would be forced to learn her adopted native language in order to communicate.

While, Catherine was being adopted, her husband, Richard had a difficult time navigating through the mountains. His feet blistered as his shoes were worn out. He took briars to sew up the deep cuts on the bottom of his feet. He ripped portions of his breeches to wrap around his feet, giving them some type of soles. He was starving, tired, and fatigued.

By the eighth day of his escape, he arrived at Juniata in the evening. Moving through the night, cold and wet, he made his way through the wilderness. The next day, he ran into three Cherokee Indians who escorted him to Fort Lyttleton. Richard Bard was finally saved.

For the next two years, Richard Bard searched for his wife. In 1758, after the fall of Fort Duquesne, Richard Bard headed to the fort to find his wife. At the newly rebuilt Fort Duquesne, now called Fort Pitt, Bard discovered some of the same Indians that were with him on his journey as a prisoner. They threatened to kill him if he came back.

Richard Bard came back to Fort Pitt and found the location of his wife. Bard made arrangements to pay forty pounds for her release. After being held in captivity for two years and five months, she was released and the ransom was paid.

The ordeal had officially come to an end. The Bards would rebuild their lives moving to Williamson in Franklin County, PA. Richard would die in 1799, survived by his wife Catherine. She would die in 1811. They would have four children, all of whom are buried in Church Hill Graveyard, Mercersburg, PA.

Terror On The Monongahela, Part Three

The scene was in complete disorder. The British never fought a battle in these conditions. They had no targets, nor could they see what was in their front. The colors were advanced in several places to separate the soldiers of the two regiments. Major General Braddock ordered his officers to rally their men, however the officers could not reform the men, and Maj. Gen. Braddock could not persuade them to advance. The Indians moved fast and remained hidden, using the forest to their advantage, which caused the soldiers to miss their targets. The Indians had extended their lines from the front of the British advance and were bearing down on the rearguard. The British soldiers began firing wildly in the air and all around, loading faster and firing quickly, sending lead in every direction.

Realizing that their gunfire was slowing, the British officers began trying to organize their men into platoons. This would allow a more controlled volume of firing. Up until now, they were firing at anything that moved or at puffs of smoke. With only twenty four rounds of ammunition being issued earlier, every round needed to count. This helped the British soldiers with a more sustained firing. It also helped the men to move forward about twenty yards, before the column halted.

While Maj. Gen. Braddock tried to take control of the situation in the front, the Indians attacked the rearguard where Col. Halket was positioned. Since the flankers moved in to help secure the wagons and their teams, the Indians were not checked. While the Col. Halket’s command was stopped, many of the Indians began coming out of the woods and came upon the rear of his column. Colonel Halket rode toward the front of his position to size up the scene.

Colonel Halket arrived and began organizing his lines. He ordered his detachment into two ranks and deployed them on both sides of the narrow road. A 12-pounder cannon was deployed for his support. With artillery support, Col. Halket ordered his detachment to fire by platoons. As Col. Halket directed his men, Christopher Gist, a local trader and British guide, witnessed the moment when an Indian took aim and fired his gun, shooting Col. Halket. Christopher Gist, after reloading his rifle, fired back, shooting the Indian in the head. Lieutenant James Halket, ran to his father’s side and he too, was shot and killed. His lifeless body fell upon the body of his father, where he died.

By 3:00 p.m., Lt. Col. Gage’s vanguard were still desperately trying to hold. Many British soldiers were being shot down while in formation in the middle of the road. Many of the Virginian troops ran and ducked behind trees, fighting back with some success. At one point, they tried to launch an attack on the higher ground located on the British right flank. They deployed behind any natural breastwork they could find and were gaining ground.

The Virginians opened again with another volley. But with the smoky and natural conditions of the battlefield, the British thought that they were Indians attacking them, and the British opened fire. This ended the Virginia fight, as they lost more than half of their men. Shortly afterward, Lt. Col. Gage’s men heard the attacks from the rear and thought they were being surrounded. This created a wave of disorder and panic. No officer, at least none still left in the ranks, could restore order.

By 4:00 p.m., the British were running low on ammunition for their infantry and artillery. The British army was about at it’s breaking point. Major General Braddock and his staff tried to keep order within the ranks. Heavy smoke, screams, and gunfire didn’t help with the situation. As the Indians attacked with great precision, they helped to secure the French victory. Major General Braddock tried desperately to gain a hand on the crumbling situation. He swung around his saber slapping the backs of his men to get them into line.

As Maj. Gen. Braddock maneuvered on the battlefield, he felt insulted by seeing so many colonial troops hiding behind trees and rocks. He had cursed one soldier as a coward and smacked him with his saber. This insulted the Colonials. At the same time, Colonel Washington had advised Maj. Gen. Braddock to use similar tactics, and asked for permission to detach two to three hundred men to fight in the same style as the Indians, but he refused. Maj. Gen. Braddock’s fourth horse was shot from under him, and as he began mounting his fifth horse of the battle, a musket ball tore through his right arm and went into his lungs.

Major General Braddock’s staff, including Colonel Washington and Lt. Col. Gage, attended to him. By this point, the order to retreat was given. With a lack of real leadership, mass panic began to ensue, but order was quickly restored. Major General Braddock was carried off the field and taken to the rear where the wagoners were hotly engaged.

Back at the rearguard, the wagoners knew the battle was lost. One by one, they began making their way to the river to get out of harm’s way. Only 110 soldiers remained with the wagons. These were colonial provincials from South Carolina and Virginia militia. They were holding the passage open for the retreat.

As the British fell back to the trains, silence filled the air as the Indians prepared for their final assault. Then war cries came hurling from the wilderness and the British survivors began firing. Now, Colonel Washington, one of two officers in the field on the western side of the river, rallied the men for a few moments. The British soldiers retreated and it became every man for himself. Colonel Washington tried to rally as many men as he could without any success. Lieutenant Colonels Gage and Burton, both wounded, were trying to halt the column on the other side of the river.

By 5:00 p.m., the battle was over. The British troops were pouring through the Monongahela River. On the eastern side, the British formed a defensive line to cover the survivors fording the river. The Indians were still pursuing the British until they came to the river. After that, the Indians began going through the supplies that were left behind. The Battle of Monongahela was finally over. The British casualties were high. Of the 1,400 combatants, 456 soldiers were killed and 422 were wounded. Of 86 total officers, 26 were killed and 37 wounded. The French, Canadian and Indian losses were light. They had 30 men killed and 57 wounded.

The sight upon the battlefield was horrid. Many of the lifeless bodies and wounded men were scalped, as the Indians scavenged the battlefield for souvenirs from the bloody battle. Wagons were raided and supplies were taken. Although, Maj. Gen. Braddock ordered the camp followers to stay with Col. Dunbar, upwards to fifty did make the journey. Only five of these women made it back with their lives. Several of their lifeless bodies laid by the wagon train. Many of them were stripped of their clothing.

As Maj. Gen. Braddock was gasping for breath, he ordered Col. Washington to ride out to Col. Dunbar’s camp and tell him to send wagons and supplies to their position, which would be Gist’s Plantation. Colonel Washington realized that Col. Dunbar’s camp was over fifty miles to the rear. He rode all night and reached the camp some twelve hours later. Being tired and fatigued, Col. Washington was forced to stay in the camp. Some of the survivors from the wagon trains came into Col. Dunbar’s camp and brought news from the battlefield.

The British army retreated through the night and most of the day. Finally, they made camp at Gist’s Plantation, west of Great Meadows late on July 10. Supplies from Col. Dunbar arrived for the survivors of Braddock’s army. Among the supplies were medical bandages for the wounded.

By July 11, the remnants of the British army arrived at Col. Dunbar’s camp. The next day, Major General Braddock gave his last orders for the retreat to Fort Cumberland, The wounded Maj. Gen. Braddock then handed over command of the army to Col. Dunbar. Colonel Dunbar ordered all extra supplies to be destroyed including extra stores of ammunition and black powder. Wounded were loaded into the wagons.

The next morning, on July 13, the army got underway. Major General Braddock died that evening. Before he passed, he asked Col. Washington to oversee his burial. He gave Col. Washington his red sash as a keepsake. There, in the middle of the road west of Great Meadows, Col. Washington oversaw his burial as he was placed in the middle of the road. After a quick funeral service, the dirt covered his grave and the retreating army on the way to Fort Cumberland marched over top of his grave to their camp a short distance away at Steep Bank.

On July 17, Col. Dunbar led the British army to Fort Cumberland. Remaining there for several days, Colonel Dunbar led the British regulars to Philadelphia, where he arrived in late August. The Colonial militia remained at Fort Cumberland for some time before leaving or deserting back into Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. The frontier in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland were now defenseless.

It wouldn’t be until 1758, that the British and Colonial Militia would launch another major campaign against Fort Duquesne. Many of the survivors, including Col. Washington, and Maj. St. Clair would participate in this campaign. Learning from the mistakes of Maj. Gen. Braddock, British Brigadier General John Forbes would take the French fort on November 25, 1758.


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Hall, Charles (editor). Gen. Braddock’s Defeat, Fort Edwards Foundation, Capoon Bridge, WV, 2005.

Netherton, Ross. Braddock’s Campaign and the Potomac Route to the West, Higher Ed. Publishers, Falls Chruch, VA. 1997.

Kopperman, Paul E. Braddock at the Monongahela, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA. 1977.

McCardell, Lee. Ill-starred General, University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA. 1958.

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