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In Their Own Words

September 10, 1862

Civil War Soldier Wrote of Crossing the Potomac River into Maryland

A Georgia soldier in Maryland wrote home to his wife, telling of the crossing of the Potomac River.

“…we come to the ford but at last [arrived] over the big mountains which rose up to where we could see the great monster along whose banks there has been so much precious blood spilt. Here it was, the great river about half mile wide but not more than waist deep at this time of the year. The water being limestone, it was as clear as crystal, but now comes the best of all, to see about fifty thousand men pull off their socks, britches and hold up their shirt tails and ‘Foreward!,’ the different commands being plunge water, kick water, slip off rocks, get up when you fall down but on they went knowing that men that had waded through Pope’s whole army could wade the Potomac and to add to the scenes, the many big brass bands stayed on the banks and played Dixie as if sorry to leave old Dixie but when they got on the other side such a yell was never heard rent the air and echoed down the long extending banks of the river…”

Source: Ronald H. Moseley (ed.), The Stilwell Letters: A Georgian in Longstreet’s Corps. Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2002), p. 39.