Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign

By Kent Masterson Brown | Go to book overview

Six
That vast procession of misery

While Captain Emack boldly defended the steep eastern entrance to Monterey Pass, some of the leading elements of Imboden’s trains were passing the stone house of forty-three-year-old Jacob C. Snyder, his wife Martha, and their eight children east of the village of New Franklin, Pennsylvania, and fourteen miles northwest of Monterey Pass in the Cumberland Valley. Snyder recalled hearing the “clattering and tramping” of horses along the road. He surmised that it was another passing detachment of troops heading toward Gettysburg. In a few moments, though, he knew that was not the case. The rumbling of what appeared to be hundreds of wagons and the sound of countless voices through the violent rainstorm prompted him to climb out of bed. He lighted a lamp, walked to his front door, and stepped out onto his porch. There he saw a sight he would never forget. The ambulance trains of Pender’s Division were passing down the road toward New Franklin; the quartermaster, subsistence, and ordnance trains of the division had mostly passed his house. Snyder’s presence on the front porch attracted many of the walking wounded who were accompanying the trains. “In less than fifteen minutes,” he recalled, “the large hall of my house and the yard in front were filled with wounded Confederate soldiers.” All feverish and in desperate need of water and fresh bandages, the men begged Snyder and his wife for help. “Water!” they cried, “give us water!”1

“Oh, what a sight,” remembered Snyder. The rain was falling in torrents. From the ambulance trains were uttered the most mournful “groans of the wounded and shrieks of the dying.” Snyder put on his overcoat and walked out to his barnyard, carrying only a walking stick. He found men from Imboden’s own Eighteenth Virginia Cavalry driving out some of the young cattle. The foraging continued even in such desperate circumstances. Snyder hurried to

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