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6th Vermont Infantry
Letter to the Editor
From the Fifteenth Regiment.
FREDERICK, MD., JULY 7, 1863.
FRIEND EARLE,-The army of the Potomac is now concentrated for another attack upon Lee before he recrosses the river. Where the point of concentration will be of course no one can tell; but probably between Hagerstown and the Potomac-the true point is at Hagerstown, as that place commands all the roads leading to the fords between Hancock and Williamsport; and the next time we engage the enemy it should be upon his communications and with a view to his capture or complete rout. The next battle field will however probably be below Hagerstown and near Antietam Creek; as the rebels already hold Hagerstown I think we shall be unable to concentrate in season to give them battle at that point. The coming struggle cannot be long delayed. It must not, for Lee's whole army is now at our mercy if we improve our opportunity. Never before has the enthusiasm of the army of the Potomac been so intense as now; never before has the army of the Potomac gained a decisive victory over Lee and his army, like that at Gettysburg; both officers and men understand this and are determined that he shall never recross the Potomac in good order. Lee's army when he commenced the invasion could not have exceeded 80,000. At the battle of Gettysburg he must have lost fully one fourth of his entire command. We captured over 10,000 prisoners; this is a true bill, for I saw about 9,000 with my own eyes and know there were many I did not see. The killed and wounded not taken must have been near 15,000. Our entire loss will not probably exceed 15,000. We are being reinforced with more than we lost in that battle, while the enemy can have no reinforcements, being already cut off by our occupation of Williamsport. The great question is: how can Lee escape? With the army of the Potomac flushed with victory-their first victory-upon his communications, and the Pennslyvania militia under Couch moving down the Cumberland valley upon his right, it would seem that certain destruction awaits him. It is not probable however that his whole army will be captured. The capture of so large an army is very unusual unless shut up in some fortress or hemmed in by mountains and the ocean. It is confidently expected however, by this army, that a large portion of his remaining 50,000 men will be killed or taken prisoners within the next week, and that those who escape will only do so by running without stopping to fight-all this provided our forces are properly handled. At Gettysburg, the army of the Potomac for the first time in the history of the war, was in the right place at the right time, and a glorious victory was the result. Let the concentration for the coming battle be as perfect, and the army will again make both itself and the country glad.
You have probably learned the details of the battle of Gettysburg, and I will not trouble you with any additions here. Old soldiers in the army say they have never seen such fighting before. Our brigade was in, and three regiments very severely engaged. The brigade reached the field after dark on the first day, and our regiment remained until noon, when we were ordered off to defend the baggage train which it was understood Stuart was threatening with his cavalry. Up to the time when we left there had been no heavy fighting, though continued and severe skirmishing. There had been up to that time about 300 killed and wounded on our side.
For the last two weeks we have performed some very severe marching. We are now the 3d brigade of the 3d division of the 1st corps. The 12th regiment have gone home, the 13th go to-morrow. We are encamped to night just south of Frederick City; in full view of our camp hangs the spy, Richardson, whose body I can see quite plainly with my glass. He is to be cut down to night at sundown, having hung there since Sunday morning. Many of our boys think they recognize in him a map peddler about our camp at Fairfax Station last winter.
The telegraph says to night that Vicksburg has surrendered. May the telegraph inform you before you receive this, that Lee's army has surrendered. The war will then be ended, and we can go home feeling that our work is done.
WM. W. GROUT