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Re-enactors with the 19th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment retreat after Confederate and Union armies collided in a re-enactment of the fight for McPherson Ridge during events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg on June 28. (Rob Curtis/Staff)
ON THE MARYLAND-PENNSYLVANIA BORDER — The Union Army of the Potomac is surging north into Pennsylvania today, with some units marching more than 30 miles through sweltering 100-degree weather.
The Federal Army has been shadowing a Confederate invasion that has pushed through western Maryland and deep into the Keystone State under the cover of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“We tramped over the dusty road with blistered feet and heavy loads,” said 140th Pennsylvania Volunteers soldier Robert Stewart, while trying to mop away pools of sweat from his face and forehead.
While the Confederate Army is already threatening the Pennsylvania capital of Harrisburg with troops on its outskirts, the first major formations of Union troops from the Army of the Potomac are just arriving along the southern fringes of the state.
“We are marching as fast as we can to relieve Harrisburg,” said Maj. Gen. George Meade, the newly-appointed commander of the Army of the Potomac.
Meade said the Confederate cavalry now operating behind his lines is a distraction, but not a deterrent from pressing north.
“They have a cavalry force in our rear destroying railroads, etc., with a view to getting me to turn back, but I will not do it. I am going straight at them and I will settle this thing one way or the other.”
Indeed, Meade’s own cavalry, lead by the hard-riding Brig. Gen. John Buford, was the first to cross into Pennsylvania today.
On a high top near the border overlooking a broad swatch of the Cumberland Valley, Buford predicted “within forty-eight hours, the concentration of both armies will take place on some field within view, and a great battle will be fought.”
Buford said he intends to scout into the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg tomorrow.