Watercolor of Lee's retreat, by Edwin Forbes.
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Pursuit of Lee's army. Scene on the road near Emmitsburg of a long column of troops marching.

Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Some estimated that the wagon train of Confederate wounded heading south from Gettysburg was seventeen miles long. Many more wounded struggled along on foot. Rain on the afternoon of July 4th turned Lee's retreat into a muddy, bumpy, rutted nightmare. Added to that was the Yankee cavalry who sometimes swooped down on portions of the train. When the infantry reached the Potomac at Williamsport, Maryland, they found that union troops had destroyed the pontoon bridge. There they entrenched until engineers could build a new bridge for their escape back into Virginia.

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