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Just as our troops were leaving Thoroughfare Gap an incident occurred which was importantly to affect the personnel of the corps. General Joshua T. Owen having been placed in arrest by General Gibbon, Brigadier-General Alexander S. Webb, who had just received his volunteer appointment, after long and honorable artillery and staff Service, reached the headquarters, seeking an assignment to duty at the front, and Hancock, knowing the man, seized the opportunity to place him at the head of the “Philadelphia Brigade,” thus left without a commander. On the 26th the corps crossed Edwards' Ferry, near the scene of the unhappy battle of Ball's Bluff, in which several regiments of the Second Division had participated in October of 1861. On the 28th the corps reached Monocacy Junction, near Frederick City. Here the Army of the Potomac received the important intelligence that General Hooker had been relieved in the command by General George G. Meade, then at the head of the Fifth Corps. General Hooker, after protesting against the fatuous occupation of Harper's Ferry by a large force under French, in pursuance of the policy which had brought such disaster in September, 1862, had tendered his resignation. In justice it should be said, not only that Hooker was right in demanding the evacuation of Harper's Ferry, but that, from the moment Lee's invasion of Maryland was known, he had displayed at all points the qualities of a first-rate commander. Whether he would again have broken down under the strain of an impending battle, as he had so mysteriously done at Chancellorsville after a brilliant initiative, can only be conjectured. It is a critical thing to change the commander of an army in the presence of a powerful and aggressive enemy; but in this instance the responsibility had fallen on one at whose hands the Army of the Potomac was to suffer no loss of honor. Without pausing a single day, General Meade put his troops in motion northward, on the 29th, to find the enemy. Amid the fiery cloud of Southern raiders where was the nucleus of that high-daring, much-enduring army 2 The Second Corps was to proceed by a forced march through Uniontown to a point two miles out on the Westminster road. Much precious time had been lost by the stupidity of the messenger who brought the order from headquarters; but to the accomplishment of its cruel task, thirty-two miles with artillery and trains on a single road, the veteran corps bent itself with unfaltering spirit. By ten o'clock that night the march had been made, and the wearied men sank to rest where they had halted. At Uniontown the reception of our troops by the patriotic inhabitants had been most friendly and inspiriting. Refreshment was freely offered along the road at gates and porches, and kind words and good cheer lifted the hearts of the tired soldiers crowding forward to take their part in the greatest battle of the war. There is some poetry but also much truth in the popular tradition regarding the spirit of the Army of the Potomac on the route to Gettysburg. Once more in “God's country,” as the soldiers termed it; the bloody slopes of Marye's hill, the dismal woods of Chancellorsville far away in the rear; moving on good Northern roads, instead of wading ankledeep in the yellow Virginia mud, or thumping over corduroy; surveying a landscape which to most of them was like that of home, or in the enthusiasm of the moment looked so; going up to battle amid the acclaim of loyal citizens; marching between vineclad cottages which did not seem to belong to the same world as the mud-plastered log huts they had left behind—the good troops who marched from Frederick to Gettysburg, gallantly as they had borne themselves in disaster, were yet wonderfully heartened by scene and circumstance, by friendly greeting and the look of home. Earnestly did they talk together by the way until the fire burned and the strong resolve formed itself throughout the ranks to do or die for their country and its laws. The following was the constitution, by divisions and brigades, of the Second Army Corps on the 3oth of June, 1863 : First Division.—Brigadier-General John C. Caldwell. First Brigade : Colonel Edward E. Cross. Second Brigade: Colonel Patrick Kelly. Third Brigade: Brigadier-General Samuel K. Zook. Fourth Brigade: Colonel John R. Brooke. Second Division.—Brigadier-General John Gibbon. First Brigade: Brigadier-General William Harrow. Second Brigade: Brigadier-General Alexander S. Webb. Third Brigade: Colonel Norman J. Hall. - * Third Division.—Brigadier-General Alexander Hays. First Brigade: Colonel S. Sprigg Carroll. Second Brigade: Colonel Thomas A. Smyth. Third Brigade: Colonel George L. Willard. Artillery Brigade.—Five batteries. Captain John G. Hazard. The Corps Staff included Morgan, Inspector General and Chief of Staff; Walker, Assistant Adjutant General (absent, wounded); Batchelder, Chief Quartermaster; Smith, Chief Commissary; Dougherty, Medical Director; Bull, Provost Marshal; Mitchell, Miller, and Parker, aids; Bingham, Judge Advocate; Brownson, Commissary of Musters; Livermore, Chief of Ambulances. The day which followed the long march to and beyond Uniontown was passed by the troops of the Second Corps in a welcome quiet, no orders to march disturbing their peaceful rest, no booming of distant cannon presaging the fierce encounter soon to take place. The morning of Wednesday, July 1st, found the corps still in camp; and Hancock sat down to address a general order to his troops urging them by all considerations of honor and patriotism to do their utmost in the impending struggle. The rough draft of this order lies before me as I write. I quote the concluding sentence:
“To the patriotic and brave I have said enough.
Upon those who desert their posts in the hour of
trial let instant death be inflicted by their comrades. “WINFIELD S. HANcock, Commanding.”
It was not usual for Hancock to address his troops or to appeal to them in general orders. On this occasion perhaps some little excitement proceeding from the newness of his command, his intense feeling as a Pennsylvanian at seeing his native soil invaded and the very home of his childhood threatened with fire and sword, the general stir and clash of arms in the marching columns, had wrought his mind up to the point of taking this step. But the gist of the projected order lay not in the appeal to the patriotic, but in the threat to the base and cowardly. Hancock was sternly resolved that the betrayal of good troops by bad in the crisis of battle should, so far as his command was concerned, cease then and there; and that the faint-hearted soldier should find it safer to do his duty on the line than to run away.
But even while Hancock sat writing, shaping his address to his troops, changing one word for an