Ever since I was given the title of Historian from Washington Township, my main focus has been on the Monterey Pass Battlefield. However, Monterey Pass is only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to the larger picture. On Leitersburg Pike, Route 316 West (South Potomac Street in Waynesboro) stood a wooden bridge that spanned the little Antietam Creek in Washington Township, Franklin County just west of Waynesboro was burned by the Confederate rearguard during the Retreat from Gettysburg. Here are two official reports from the Union army that would eventually ford the Antietam Creek to follow be hind the rearguard of the Confederate infantry during their march to Williamsport, Maryland.
“Preparations were immediately made to carry out the above orders. Rations were procured and cooked under the directions of Quartermaster John C. Mullett, and orders were received to form in line at 3 p. m. of the 11th instant. Here, at this time, we joined you brigade for the first time, having been separated, as before mentioned, during our stay at Waynesborough, and marched down the hill on to the road; halted for the other regiments in our brigade to come into line, where we had to wait one full hour before they came into line, a delay, I am happy to say, which the gallant Sixty-eight regiment never caused any officer or brigade while in the service, being always prompt. Preparations being completed, orders were given, Battalion, right face; forward march!” and we were off for “Dixie,” our march being on the direct road to Hagerstown from Waynesborough. Outmarch was with quick step for the first 4 miles. When we arrived at the Little Antietam – a river, from the heavy rains which had fallen, had become much swollen, and was very rough and rapid, the bridge over which had been destroyed by Lee’s army, on their retreat after the Gettysburg fight, only three days before, which we had to ford -we had now advanced some 2 miles across the line into Maryland. After fording and getting everything across, our march was slow and cautious, being in close proximity with the rebel pickets, and every moment expecting an engagement. Marching slowly, the night very dark, mud deep, we came to a halt in an open field about 10 o’clock, where the division bivouacked for the remainder of the night having sent out pickets and taken every precaution against a surprise.” L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General
“Bivouacked at Funkstown; terrible rain-storm all night and until 10 a. m. July 8. But little to eat; marched on to Waynesborough, near to Maryland line, a considerable village, where we found the Sixth Army of Corps [Neill’s Brigade] of the Potomac bivouacked on the hills south of the village. July 9, 10, 11. Pleasant weather, and rations just before sundown orders to march; marched; forded Antietam Creek, the timber of the bridge, burned by the rebels, yet smoking; 11 p. m. bivouacked at Leitersburg, in a clover-field.” PHILIP S. CROOKE, Brigadier-General, Fifth Brigade