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Friday, July 17, 2009

The 18th Massachusetts packed up their cares and woes, bid farewell to Petersville in the middle of the afternoon, and were soaking wet, again, by the time they hurried through Berlin (now Brunswick). After hoofing it for a little under three miles they waited patiently for their turn to cross a 1500-foot pontoon bridge spanning the Potomac. There was no love loss for what waited them on the opposite shore. They loathed Virginia, its sacred soil, and its First Families. And the women! Not a pretty one had been sighted within the boundaries of the Old Dominion in two years. Too, there was no love loss for Meade, that “four eyed loafer,” either. Rumor had it he was leading them straight to the “graveyard of the Army of Potomac,” Fredericksburg.

Lovettsville, six miles distance and reached around half-past six, was the stopping point for the night. Hostility and anger now crept to the surface and there was a growing chorus demanding retribution for perceived Confederate desecrations in Pennsylvania; a growing chorus that wanted to dismantle the town, board by board, brick by brick, and set the torch to the entire pile. General Charles Griffin and his staff officers quickly stepped in to diffuse the situation, stuffing that cork back into its bottle.

For the first time news of draft riots in New York and Boston by “malcontents and copperheads in the rear, together with the dough-faced office-holders and politicians” swept through the camps. Captain George M. Barnard, Jr. of the 18th summed up the reaction of soldiers: “If I have ever heard an earnest wish expressed it is that we should be allowed to go home and clear the rioters out.”


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