On August 18 of that year our brigade, composed of the First, Seventh, Eleventh and Seventeenth Virginia Infantry, set its faces northward from Gordonsville. Every knapsack and all camp equipage were left behind, and in light marching order, with 60 rounds of ammunition, a blanket over our shoulders and five days’ rations in our haversacks, we headed for the Rapidan river. Those five days’ rations, which lasted us two days, were the last we drew until September 21.
We lived on apples and green corn all of the time, and the soldiers began to drop out of the ranks at every halt. Then an order came for the barefooted men to remain behind and report in Winchester, and some thousands threw away their shoes. Every step our army made northward it became weaker. At last we stood on the long-dreamed-of banks of the Potomac. It was near Shepherdstown, and Maryland, my Maryland, met our gaze at last, which shone—
Fair as the gardens of the Lord
To the famished eyes of the rebel horde.
Alexander Hunter, “Battle of Antietam,” Southern Historical Society Papers (Richmond, Virginia: Southern Historical Society, 1903)