The Confederate Retreat and the Union Pursuit Part Three

Part one of this series focused on the beginning phases of the Confederate Retreat from Gettysburg and the preparations, starting with the various wagon trains. Those vehicles used Cashtown Gap and Monterey Pass. Part one also focused on how Major General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry was ordered to screen the right and left flanks of the Confederate army as it was retreating back toward the Potomac River.

Part two discussed the battles that occurred during the three days after Gettysburg. The Battle of Monterey Pass was fought on July 4-5, 1863. The Engagement of Leitersburg fought on July 5. The Engagement of Smithsburg was also fought on July 5. The Battles of Hagerstown and Williamsport, were both fought on July 6. This month, I will focus more on the beggining movements of the Confederate infantry as it retreated from Gettysburg, as well as the Union army and their pursuit of the Confederate army.

By July 5, 1863, the Confederate infantry was well on it’s way back to Virginia, marching on the Hagerstown Road. Lieutenant General A. P. Hill’s Corps moved first to Fairfield. From there the advance units of Hill’s Corps began marching into South Mountain at 8:00 a.m. Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps marched behind Hill’s Corps. Bringing up the rear was that of Lieutenant General Richard Ewell’s Corps. At Fairfield, Lt. Gen. Hill’s Corps was the first to enter South Mountain via Fairfield Gap and Monterey Pass.

In today’s terms, regarding the Hagerstown or Fairfield Road, Hill’s Corps left Route 116 and marched onto Iron Springs Road. From Iron Springs Road, Hill’s Corps marched due west on Gum Springs Road, which turns into Furnace Road on the Franklin County side. At the top of the South Mountain, Furnace Road became Maria Furnace Road, which connected at the Monterey Pass toll house, along Old Rt 16, west of Blue Ridge Summit. The Old Waynesboro Road, Charmian Road, and Old Rt 16 was known as the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike during the Civil War.

Iron Springs Road is a post Civil War road, and did not exist during the Civil War as many Civil Historians believe. It was expanded from the intersection of Gum Springs Road to the where the Fountaindale Fire Department is located currently, and connected there along Old Waynesboro Road. This area of Iron Springs Road was built when copper was discovered in 1868.

At Fairfield, many Confederate troops became bottle necked. To relieve the congestion, Lt. Gen. Longstreet’s Corps would march along Jacks Mountain Road to the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike at Fountaindale. From there, they would march into South Mountain to Monterey Pass. Lieutenant General Ewell’s Corps would move behind Hill’s Corps on the Hagerstown Road.

That night, Longstreet’s Corps bivouacked along the Emmitsburg and Waynesboro Turnpike. Major General Lafayette McLaws Division encamped along the eastern base of South Mountain. Major General George Pickett’s Division encamped on the grounds of the Monterey Inn. Major General John B. Hood’s Division, commanded now by Brigadier General Evander M. Law, encamped in the area that the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park Museum is located, in addition to points west, down Old Route 16.

After marching up South Mountain, Hill’s Corps bivouacked for the night. Major General Richard Anderson’s Division encamped along the Maria Furnace Road near the Monterey Pass toll house. Brigadier General James Lane, now commanding Pender’s/Trimble’s Division, encamped along Maria Furnace Road. Major General Henry Heth’s Division, now commanded by Brigadier General James Pettigrew, brought up the rear.

Just at the eastern base of South Mountain, along modern day Iron Springs Road, was Lt. Gen. Ewell’s Corps. Major General Robert Rodes’s Division, followed by Major General Edward Johnson, and bringing up the rear of the Confederate army was Major General Jubal Early’s Division.

Early the next morning on July 6, the Confederate army began marching. Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s Corps would take up the lead as they marched down the western slope of South Mountain into Waynesboro, PA. Major General Lafayette McLaws’s Division would take the lead down South Mountain along Old Route 16. Following behind would be Brig. Gen. Law’s Division. Major General Pickett’s Division was ordered to move along with Hill’s Corps.

Lieutenant General Hill’s Corps moved directly behind Longstreet’s Corps. Brigadier General Lane led the advance of Hill’s Corps. Following behind was Brig. Gen. Pettigrew, followed by Maj. Gen. Anderson’s Division. Bringing up the rear of Hill’s Corps was Maj. Gen. Pickett’s Division and Lee’s Headquarters.

Moving up South Mountain and skirmishing with elements of the Union Army VI Corps was Lt. Gen. Ewell’s Corps. His corps marched with Maj. Gen. Early in advance, followed by Maj. Gen. Johnson. Bringing up the rear of the entire Confederate army was Maj. Gen. Rodes’s Division. The last Confederate soldier to march through Monterey Pass occurred at around 3:30 p.m. By that evening, the Confederate army is concentrated at Waynesboro, PA, as well as areas south of town toward the Mason Dixon Line near Leitersburg, MD.

By July 5, the Union Army of the Potomac, still located at Gettysburg, had received orders from Major General George Meade for their pursuit. Since the battle, they had been tasked with caring for the sick, wounded, and burying the dead. Major General Meade ordered the II Corps to Two Taverns. Major General Meade also gave orders for the VI Corps, commanded by Major General John Sedgwick, to move behind the columns of retreating Confederates via Fairfield.

By July 6, the rest of the Union army began marching out of Gettysburg. With rumors of the Confederates entrenching on South Mountain, Maj. Gen. Sedgwick was ordered to leave behind Brigadier General Thomas Neill’s brigade of infantry and Colonel John McIntosh’s brigade of cavalry for a direct pursuit. They were to skirmish and disrupt communications, but don’t get into a major battle. The rest of the VI Corps was ordered to move to Emmitsburg, MD.

The I and V Corps was ordered to Emmitsburg and encamped at Marsh Creek. While the III, XI, and the VI Corps moved directly to Emmitsburg, the XII Corps marched directly toward Bruceville, MD and Littlestown, PA. The II Corps remained near Two Taverns.