[from the "War Journal" of George Hazen Dana, as compiled by him at a later date from his letters and diaries]
Camp near Sharpsburg.
Oct. 18th 1862.
Your No. 2. under date Oct. 10th was received by me
day before yesterday morning, just as we were
starting on a reconnaissance to the opposite side of
the river, whence we returned last night after
foraging some cornstalks for our cavalry and
killing a few rebels. Our force consisted
of about 5000 infantry and 1000 cavalry, and a
battery of six pieces. We advanced through
Shepherdstown – where the inhabitants, with very
few exceptions, looked any thing but friendly –
to about four miles from the river, and there
found an inferior force of the enemy inclined to
* opposite Shepherdstown –
make a stand, but our shells soon made them change
their minds, and they skedaddled, taking their wounded
but leaving five of their dead on the field. On
our side, one killed and three wounded in the 9th
Mass. by the bursting of a rebel shell. We followed
up a little distance, taking a few prisoners, but night
coming on, we came to a halt in a corn field.
We had a cold chilling rain all night, soaking us
through and through, and nothing but hard bread
to eat – I suppose, taking the rain into consideration,
we may say we lived on bread and water – but
were fortunately allowed to build good camp fires,
by which we sat all night. Toward morning,
however, it cleared up, which cheered us a little, though
one could not help feeling a little stiff at first.
But as we gradually dried up, we felt better, and
started on our march, trusting to send a shower on
the rebs, in return for our inhospitable reception.
But they were nowhere to be found, and about 1
o’clock we started on our return, the 32nd being the
rear guard, and we were kept on the “qui vive”, as
we rather thought the rebels would attack our rear,
but fortunately they did not try it. The
march was a tough one, the roads being muddy
and slippery, but we reached the Potomac about
9 o’clock last night, foot sore and miserable with
the knowledge that we had the river to ford before
reaching camp. The water was icy cold, and
the river, more than a quarter of a mile wide
at our crossing place, had been swollen by the rains
so as to be about waist deep, all the way over.
Bah! wasn’t it cold. Just imagine sleeping
in an ice cart on a cold December night, or a
cat sliding down a slated roof and trying to dig
her claws into the slates, or rather the sound caused
thereby, and you may acquire some slight idea of
the chills which shook the frame of
Your affect. Son.
P.S. Perfectly well today, however and in good
[transcript by Mary Roy Dawson Edwards]