“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Williamsport in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)


The Beginning and the End


—Gettysburg Campaign —

Williamsport - The Beginning and the End Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 3, 2007
1. Williamsport - The Beginning and the End Marker
Inscription. On June 15, 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North began here as 2,000 of Gen. Albert G. Jenkins’s infantrymen splashed across the Potomac River. For the next eleven days, almost 50,000 soldiers under Gens. James Longstreet and A.P. Hill entered Maryland here at Williamsport. Hungry Confederates temporarily occupied the town, and many residents welcomed them with tables in the streets loaded with milk, bread, and meat.

Less than a month later, Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, reeling from the defeat at Gettysburg, returned. The first of the wounded arrived on July 5, the day after the battle ended, but were trapped here by the rain-swollen river. Williamsport became a “great hospital for the thousands of wounded,” according to Confederate Gen. John B. Imboden, who ordered every family in town to cook for the casualties.

Ferryboats soon began transporting the army across the river as Union signal corpsmen watched, and by July 14, most of the soldiers had left Maryland behind. Even after the water subsided, however, the current remained swift. The tallest men formed two lines from shore to shore with their guns interlocked to mark a strong and stable line. Despite their efforts, ammunition was soaked and Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s corps lost 8,000 pairs of shoes to the rushing
Gettysburg Campaign image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 3, 2007
2. Gettysburg Campaign
Detail of Gettysburg Campaign map from the Gettysburg Campaign – Invasion & Retreat marker nearby.

“May the Lord prosper this expedition and bring an early peace out of it. I feel that we are taking a very important step, but see no reason why we should not be successful. We have a large army that is in splendid condition and spirit and the best Generals in the South. … Hope and pray for the best. This is a momentous time.” —Gen. W. Dorsey Pender, mortally wounded at Gettysburg, to his wife.

“And so we turned our backs on Maryland. … What a change in one month! Could not refrain from some bitter tears as I stood on the Virginia shore and looked back to our beloved State. … Last night the band played ‘Sweet Home’ – what a mockery to us [Marylanders]!” —Lt. McHenry Howard, Confederate Staff Officer.
Erected by Maryland Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Maryland Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 39° 36.047′ N, 77° 49.658′ W. Marker is in Williamsport, Maryland, in Washington County. Click for map. Marker is located in the Williamsport section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NP. It is on the banks of the Cushwa turning basin, opposite the warehouse currently used as the park visitor center. Marker is in this post office area: Williamsport MD 21795, United States of America.
Other nearby markers.
Williamsport Marker image. Click for full size.
By F. Robby, June 29, 2016
3. Williamsport Marker
View south along the canal towpath. The Williamsport marker is the one closest in this photo.
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. C & O Canal Aqueduct (here, next to this marker); Gettysburg Campaign (here, next to this marker); Cushwa Basin/Williamsport (here, next to this marker); Creating a National Park (a few steps from this marker but has been reported missing); Life on the Canal (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Williamsport (within shouting distance of this marker); Connecting People and Places (within shouting distance of this marker); Conococheague Creek Aqueduct (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Williamsport.
More about this marker. The marker displays photographs of Gen. W. Dorsey Pender and Lt. McHenry Howard next to their quotes. There is a period newspaper drawing captioned, “U.S. Army Signal Corps officers observing Confederates crossing the Potomac River into Virginia, July 12, 1863, as sketched by Alfred Waud.” Another drawing is captioned, “Confederate infantry crossing at Williamsport en route to Pennsylvania, June 1863.
Regarding Williamsport. Nearby is one of the standard Civil War Trails Gettysburg campaign markers which reads:
After stunning victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Virginia, early in May 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert
Potomac Crossing at Williamsport image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, June 3, 2007
4. Potomac Crossing at Williamsport
The modern US 11 bridge is just upstream from the historical crossing point used during the Civil War,
E. Lee carried the war through Maryland, across the Mason and Dixon Line and into Pennsylvania. His infantry marched north through the Shenandoah Valley and western Maryland as his cavalry, led by Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, harassed Union supply lines to the east, Union Gen. Joseph Hooker, replaced on Jun 28 by Gen. George G. Meade, led the Army of the Potomac from the Washington defenses in pursuit. The Federals collided with Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 1, starting a battle neither side had intended to fight there. Three days later, the Confederates began retreating through Maryland, retracing their steps to the Potomac River and crossing into Virginia on July 14.
To follow in their footsteps and to discover their stories, stop by and Welcome Center or local Visitor Center to pick up a Gettysburg: Invasion & Retreat Civil War Trail map-guide. Please drive carefully as you enjoy the history and beauty of Maryland Civil War Trails.
Additional keywords. Maryland Civil War Trails
Categories. War, US Civil
Sign in Cemetery Overlooking the River image. Click for full size.
By David Graff
5. Sign in Cemetery Overlooking the River
This location was held by General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia before they escaped across the Potomac River during the Gettysburg Campaign. Union General Doubleday occupied the site after his enemy had vacated the place.
Potomac River from Doubleday's Hill image. Click for full size.
By David Graff
6. Potomac River from Doubleday's Hill
During the Gettysburg Campaign, a ferry crossed the river in the distance and was used by part of the Army of Northern Virginia to escape their Union pursuers.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,262 times since then and 183 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on , by F. Robby of Baltimore, Maryland.   4. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   5, 6. submitted on , by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on July 15, 2016.
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