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Franklin County: Franklin Gaillard to "Sonny" Gaillard, June 28, 1863

In a letter to his son, Franklin Gaillard describes the troops' movement into Pennsylvania and the reaction of the local population to the Confederate troops. Gaillard also writes that he agrees with Lee's strict policy against looting.

June 28th 1863.

Camp near Chambersburg, Pa.

My dear Sonny

I promised in my last letter to Aunt Ria that I would soon answer your letter. We have been so constantly on the move since then that I really have not been able to do it satisfactorily. When I received your letter we had just begun to move. I had no idea that it was the beginning of so grand a movement as it has resulted in here we are now in the great and powerful State of Pennsylvania marching forward in the direction of her Capitol. I do not know, of course, what Gen. Lee is going to do, for like a good general he will keep his intentions to himself and his Lieut. Generals. But it appears to me very much as if he is going to strike a blow at Harrisburg and if he can succeed in taking it, it will be a brilliant triumph of our arms. The enemy have nothing but raw troops in our front. I think we can whip these three or four to one. Then we could march on towards Philadelphia and Gen. Hooker would have to come to our front to save it and we would thus free Maryland and maybe take Washington and Baltimore. Thus the summer is going to be filled with great events and if Providence will favor our efforts I hope mighty things for our country will be achieved. Our Army never was in better health and spirits. Since we left Fredericksburg we have marched about one hundred and sixty miles. In our march from Culpepper to Ashby's Gap we had a terrible march. The sun was very hot and then so many men marching along together made it very dusty. Another thing too, in the old settled country the farmers find great difficulty in getting rails. Where we passed it was mountainous and stony and the people would gather up large quantities and make stone walls which answer the purpose of a fence and are very durable. When our troops would be down in a valley, so that no wind could refresh them, with the sun coming down heavily upon their heads, the heat increased by the reflection from the walls, and the dust stifling them so that they could not breathe in pure air, the gallant fellows, many, very many, would turn red in the face from blood rushing to their head and fall to the ground with sun stroke. When we got to Ashby's Gap we stopped for two or three days and then we had a very heavy rain and one or two days of cloudy and wet weather. This revived them all like pouring water on wilted plants. Nearly all came up. We stopped there to guard this Gap and it was well we did for the enemy's Cavalry assisted by a small force of infantry drove our Cavalry several miles before them and we all thought whipped them pretty badly. We had crossed the Shenandoah River and had to recross it and go back three or four miles to keep the Yankees from taking the Gap. Next day the Yankees went back and Stuart's Cavalry went poking along at a very slow pace as if they were in no great hurry to overtake them. They now claim in the papers that they drove them back but we who were there and saw them know better. Our Cavalry is very little account and have very little to boast of. There are more than half of them who are with their horses lamed or sore backed with the wagons. I am glad to see that the newspapers are speaking very severely about them and I hope it will improve them. They have got so now that as soon as a fight begins they think that they have nothing to do but to go to the rear and let the Infantry do the fighting. Our boys ridicule them very much whenever they pass.

I am afraid that our men will suffer for shoes. These long marches are very trying on men's feet and shoes. You would be very much amused to see the men crossing a river. A regiment is marched down to the banks and sometimes halted long enough to allow them to pull of their pantaloons. If the water is over waist deep they put bayonets on their guns and hang their cartridge boxes on them - then right shoulder shift arms and wade across all in fine spirits as if it was a frolic. The Yankees carry pontoon trains along with them but our boys say that every man in General Lee's Army carries his own pontoons. It is very funny to pass through these Yankee towns to see the long sour faces the people put on. The girls some of them wear little United States flags. Others more indecent hold their noses and make faces. Our men go on and pay no attention to them. They only laugh at them when they make themselves ridiculous. Things are very cheap here in their stores but they will not take our money and Gen. Lee has issued very stringent orders about private property. He is very right for our Army would soon become demoralized if they were allowed to do as many of them would like to. Many of them think it very hard that they should not be allowed to treat them as their soldiers treated our people. But we must not imitate the Yankees in their mean acts.

We are getting a large number of horses but this is being done by proper authorities.

Gen. Lee is going to support his Army over here and this will tax the people here and make them feel the war.

You must give my love to all and kiss daughter for me. Give my love to Grand Ma, Aunt Ria and all at Aunt Louisa's. It is getting so dark I can hardly see how to write.

Your very affectionate father

Franklin Gaillard

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