Nathan C. Bradley
Wouldn't you know it, orders came on the 16th to prepare for a night march. Nathan was still catching up on current events. "Where do you suppose we're heading?"
"Marse Robert has the rebs marching up the Shenandoah Valley, and we're maneuvering to catch him. That's the word, anyway."
"So the rebs got across the Potomac."
"Sure, haven't you been reading the papers?"
"I wanted to get as far from the war as I could. I didn't even want to know the rebels were trapped at the river, but everybody wouldn't shut up talkin' about the war. So we didn't attack? We just let him get away?"
"You have an accurate understanding of the situation."
After marching all night, Meade's army crossed the Potomac at Berlin.* The march then continued south through Loudoun County. As Lee's army marched south in the Shenandoah, Meade's army paralleled the move on the east side of the Blue Ridge.
It's not unusual for infantrymen to march on foot, but on this occasion even the officers of the 130th had to march on foot. The officers all normally rode, but in moving from Yorktown to Washington to Frederick, the officers' horses had been transported separately from the men. Somewhere along the line the horses got sidetracked, sent to the wrong place. Without time to wait for the horses, the officers had no choice but to march on foot along with the enlisted men. This gave rise to a great number of jokes. The regimental physician got some of that.
"Say there, Doc Kneeland! Out walking for your health, I see!"
"Yeah, Doc! Taking your own advice! Good to see it!"
As for Colonel Gibbs, the regimental commander? Nobody was about to call him out, but was he ever a sight, trying to walk as fast as the rest of the army. He was, shall we say, somewhat overweight. One could understand why he would prefer cavalry. To see him try to keep pace with experienced infantry troops gave Nathan an idea. Nathan decided not to call out to the colonel but instead muttered to his neighbor, "Looks like the Colonel is taking a little exercise to settle his stomach!" That one passed along the line a while.
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* Berlin is now called Brunswick. The name change had nothing to do with World War II.
© 2019 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved. May not be re-published without written permission of the author.