"...thenceforward and forever free..."

      In 1862 the fate of the Union would would rise, fall, teeter in the balance and then irrevocably triumph. While three years of staggering war losses would follow, events of 1862 determined the ultimate course of the struggle. The United States would begin the year as a slave nation and end it with the declaration and dedication to end that horrible and tragic chapter in its history. In the midst of these events would be the invisible hand of Alpheus Williams.

      Join us now on a virtual tour following the 1862 trail Alpheus Williams as it winds through Virginia and Maryland.


  View 1862 Map

Jan 1   Frederick MD, Catoctin camp
Jan 6
  March to Hancock MD

Feb 26 Frederick MD visit

Mar 1   Exit Hancock MD
Mar 2
  Williamsport MD
Mar 3
  Cross Potomac to VA
Mar 8   Bunker Hill VA
Mar 12 Winchester skirmish
Mar 12 Winchester enter
Mar 21 Berryville
Mar 23 Battle of Kernstown
Mar 24 Strasburg skirmish toward
Mar 30 Strasburg

Apr 9   Edinburg
Apr 9
  Glen Willow Cottage
Apr 20 Woodstock
Apr 20 New Market
Apr 22 Harrisonburg

May 8   Battle of McDowell
May 10 Begin withdrawal to Strasburg
May 17 Strasburg
May 23 Battle of Front Royal
May 24 Withdrawal to Winchester
May 25 Battle of Winchester
May 26 Skedaddle via Martinsburg
May 27 Potomac River recross
May 28 Williamsport MD

Jun 3   Potomac River crossing
Jun 4
  Martinsburg VA
Jun 8
  Battle of Cross Keys
Jun 9
  Battle of Port Republic
Jun 12 Winchester
Jun 22 Front Royal
Jun 26 The Seven Days Battle begins
Jun 27 Pope Takes Command

Jul 27 Chester Gap cross Blue Ridge
Jul 29 Washington C.H.

Aug 6   Culpeper
Aug 9   Battle of Cedar Mountain  
Aug 10 Culpeper VA -- Corps Commander for 1st time
Aug 17 Exit Culpeper
Aug 17 Berry's Ferry
Aug 22 Beverly Ford
Aug 23 Waterloo Bridge
Aug 24 Warrenton Springs
Aug 25 Waterloo Bridge to Bealton Station
Aug 26 Fayetteville
Aug 27 Warrenton Junction, Kettle Run
Aug 28 Bristow Sta, Manassas Junction
-- Corps Command ends
Aug 29 Battle of Second Bull Run
Aug 29 Brentsville to Bull Run Creek

Sep 2   Fort Albany, Alexandria
Sep 4
  Lee invades Maryland
Sep 8
  Rockville, MD Corps Commander 2nd time
Sep 11 Damascus MD
Sep 12 Urbana MD
Sep 13 Frederick MD, 1 mi east
Sep 13 Lost Order Found
Sep 14 Catoctin Mt. cross to Middletown
Sep 14 Battles of Blue Ridge Passes


    In 1862, General Williams participated in two unsuccessful invasions of Virginia.   He personally excelled in both expeditions, but was unfortunate to serve, on the first, under the mediocre Speaker of the House-turned-general Nathaniel Banks and, in the second, under the pompous John Pope. To make matters worse, his opponents, Stonewall Jackson and Robert Lee, were as talented as his commanders were incompetent.

     Nonetheless, by September of 1862, as a dispirited Union Army of the Potomac groped for the invading armies of Lee and Jackson, Williams would have in his hands a piece of paper, Lee's famous Special Orders 191 detailing the location and destinations of his divided forces, that would lead to the war's most decisive battle and, ultimately, to final Union victory.

     The bizarre circumstances of how this piece of paper was obtained forms the focal point of this first year of active combat for Williams.

     Inspired by the fine written descriptions of Williams, I retraced much of the 1862 trail of Williams in April 1995, with side trips to some of his 1863 sites, most notably Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. This provided me with visual resources for this site as well as a feel for the area and its beautiful scenery. Consequently, this site is as much a current travelogue as well as a path of historical discovery.

     The Trail begins in the bitter winter weather of January 1862 in Hancock, Maryland on the Upper Potomac where Williams has been ordered with his brigade just after the New Years Day... Grab your winter gear and join us on the march!

Sep 15 Boonsboro MD -- Corps Command ends
Sep 16 Antietam Creek Cross upper Stone Bridge Cross into bivouac
Sep 17 Battle of Antietam Corps Commander for 3rd time
Sep 20 Harpers Ferry
Sep 22 Sandy Hook/Maryland Heights
Sep 23 Emancipation Proclamation

Oct 22 Sandy Hook -- Corps Command ends

Nov 16 Antietam Battlefield visit with Rene

Dec 11 Exits Sandy Hook MD crosses Potomac
Dec 11 Loudon Valley VA march to Wheatland
Dec 12 Goose Creek through Leesburg
Dec 13 Chantilly VA
Dec 13 Battle of Fredricksburg
Dec 14 Fairfax Station VA
Dec 20 Presented sword by 3rd Brigade
Dec 31 Camp near Fairfax VA

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