In late June 1863, the troops in the Army of Northern Virginia were still on their northward march that eventually would take them into history at the small crossroads town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
As the rebels neared the Potomac River on June 25, Colonel Arthur James Fremantle, a member of Great Britain’s Coldstream Guards, joined the Confederate column. He sat on the side of the road and watched as Francis M. Poore and the other Mississippi soldiers passed by.
“They marched very well, and there was no attempt at straggling,” he wrote. “All were well shod and efficiently clothed.” Fremantle reported that many of the men carried carpets for blankets. Others carried federal knapsacks and equipment that still bore the names of the Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey or other regiments to which they originally belonged. Much of the federal equipment may have been picked up from the field after the Chancellorsville campaign.
The rebels passed quickly through Maryland and crossed the Pennsylvania state line the next day. Cocksure that any rebel could whip 10 Yankees, Francis and the men of the 13th Mississippi yelled and cheered as they crossed over into the Keystone State.
As William and the other men of the 16th Mississippi crossed into Pennsylvania, they, too, let out a cheer. Private Frank Foote from the 48th Mississippi, another of Brigadier General Carnot Posey’s regiments, recorded that the men let out an “old-fashioned, prolonged yell [that] … vented our joy” upon entering the enemy’s homeland.