Maryland roads 1862

September 1862

Near Keedysville 2 P.M.
I write in haste, with troops on the line of march along dusty Maryland roads. Lee's entire army is said to be waiting for us just ahead, along a gently winding creek which I am informed is the Antietam. Just beyond is the village of Sharpsburg, a sleepy little town which appears destined to be the scene of a great battle.
What its inhabitants may be thinking concerning such portentous events can only be guessed at. Earlier this morning, as endless lines of blue clad troops made their way along the road, we were overtaken by a coach, smartly drawn, containing Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania. Stopping for a moment, the Governor was kind enough to grant a brief interview. "I am here to provide all the encouragement I can to our boys. I back them one hundred percent," the Governor intoned enthusiastically.
The prodigious number of soldiers from Pennsylvania regiments serving with the Army of the Potomac ensured that this loyal supporter of President Lincoln and the Republican cause would be warmly received. Events are moving swiftly. We have only just learned of the siege of Federal forces at Harper's Ferry, with all sorts of wild rumors running about which suggest that Confederates under A.P. Hill may not only have the advantage but that this citadel of Union strength may have fallen to the enemy.
We have been constantly on the move. I have not seen General McClellan nor any of his staff for two whole days. At that time he appeared confident, almost jubilant. A member of the General's staff promised that we were to finally give Lee a "good thrashing" this time. What the reason could be for this marked optimism I cannot say.* I regret I must close as orders have just been passed down the line to resume our march.
I expect to have further news tomorrow.

S. Wilkeson

*Editor's Note: Could it have been Lee's famous Lost Order #191?