Discussion Reporter Coverage of a Pennsylvania unit of the Union army operating in Northern Virginia during the Civil War.

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Belle Montgomery

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Civil War Profiles
The Civil War according to ‘Gath’: Foraging in the countryside
As a reporter for the New York World, Delaware native George Alfred Townsend covered a Pennsylvania unit of the Union army operating in Northern Virginia during the Civil War. Townsend — or “Gath,” his penname — accompanied Capt. Kingwalt’s Pennsylvania unit to gather food for the soldiers and hay for the horses.
Townsend had been in camp a few days when he learned, to his chagrin, of a reporter for another New York newspaper whose pay was higher and who was far better equipped. He made a mental note to “seize the first opportunity to change establishments” to that other paper.
As noted in his memoir “Campaigns of a Non-Combatant,” the detachment set out with six four-horse wagons to forage the nearby farms. They traveled through soggy fields across Difficult Creek into a dense wooded area, through which the teamsters had to clear the way with axes.
After two hours, the unit reached the summit of a hill that revealed “quaint Virginia dwellings, stockyards, and negro-cabins divided by miles of tortuous worm-fence.” However, the land had not been plowed, a sure sign the men of these farm families had gone off to war.
Townsend soon learned the women, children and old men living on the farms adhered to the Southern cause. The officer in charge of the foraging mission stopped at a residence and told a woman he was there to purchase “stacks of hay and corn fodder” that were lying in the fields.
An older gentleman living at the residence said their hens and turkeys had already been “toted off.” Therefore, he had killed the ducks so at least the family would have something to eat.
The Union officer promised to “pay liberally” for their produce, and would leave sufficient hay for their horses. However, a few months prior, the Confederates had seized their horses and cows; therefore, they no longer had need for the hay.
Priscilla or “Prissy,” the oldest daughter, being assured she would...
Rest of article: http://www.coastalpoint.com/46954/feature/civil-war-profiles
 
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