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Excerpts from 'September Suspense: Lincoln's Union in Peril'

September 4, 1862

September 04, 2012|By DENNIS FRYE

Confederate brass bands serenaded “Maryland, My Maryland” as the Southern army splashed across the Potomac River.

Lee’s inspirited veterans crossed at three points — Point of Rocks, Noland’s Ferry near the Monocacy aqueduct and at White’s Ford. All were in full view of the Union signal station on Sugarloaf Mountain, from whence the invasion sightings were transmitted to Washington.

Lee announced his coming. He dared the Federals to stop him.

The Potomac River, very low due to the worst recorded drought ever known, lured the Rebels forward.

For the past 17 months, the Potomac had been an international boundary between North and South. Now it was a launch pad for Confederate invasion.

“I imagine that to the ancient Israelite the crossing of the river Jordan was not fraught with more interest than was the crossing of the Potomac to the conquering Southron,” regaled a soldier from Savannah.

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The Georgian was pleased with the reception he received when he stepped into Montgomery County.

Many persons “hailed our approach with demonstrations of unfeigned joy.” Farmers flocked to Poolesville with wagons carrying forage, food and clothing. “This was not half-starved Virginia — we can get here all that we want,” remarked one joyous Rebel.

Confederate sympathizers arrived with new garments. An observer witnessed tattered, soiled clothing in piles. “Certainly there were several train carloads of it.”

Union loyalists, disgusted at the spectacle, groused and growled, but were helpless. “Ever since the war commenced, Poolesville has been little more than a Rebel general-delivery post office.”

The unspoiled Maryland landscape contrasted greatly with Virginia’s war-torn devastation. “The country so far is unsurpassed in beauty,” marveled one Confederate. “The distant mountains, the blue fringed hills, and the vast green fields ... It is a modern Eden.”

None could conceive that their Eden would turn into hell.

Quotes extracted from Dennis E. Frye’s newest book, “September Suspense: Lincoln’s Union in Peril.” Frye’s other recent release is “Harpers Ferry Under Fire: A Border Town during the Civil War.”

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