“General Smith’s Division headed the column across the Catoctin range, and as we filed down the opposite side of the mountain we could occasionally get a view of the troops in front of us – infantry, artillery and cavalry – with the morning sun shining brightly upon their arms and accoutrements, winding down and stretching far out in the beautiful valley toward the Blue Ridge. Such scenes, which look tame upon canvas, are glorious to the young and enthusiastic soldier, who feels a thrill of pride as he looks upon the magnificent and real picture of war his comrades are presenting, and recalls to his mind the many battles they have already fought together, and is touched again with admiration and love for them as he sees how willingly and eagerly they are marching to hurl themselves against their old enemy in one more struggle for victory before that glorious sun shall fall below the mountain ranges that surround them.”
From “Sealed With Their Lives” by Tim Reese
“Dazzled by the spectacle, a gunner in the 1st Massachusetts Battery strained the limits of language to paint a more eloquent portrait:
What a panorama of autumn landscape, grandeur and loveliness, lay before us! There was the broad valley stretching up from the Potomac…miles of undulating curves…miles of intervale, over the face of all, almost perfect pictures of thrift and plenty, orchards groaning with fruit of many varieties; broad acres golden with the ripened grain; groves of timber clean of underbrush; snug farm cottages and capacious barns, giving just the necessary variety to the scene; there were sheep on the hillsides, and herds of cows in the meadows; there were fine horses feeding in pastures….
All this, bathed by a healthy, stimulating atmosphere, and gilded by the rays of the September sun, was presented to our view. We seemed by some mental process, without conscious analysis, to grasp each of the elements of this wonderful picture at the moment the whole was presented to view when we came over the summit. A deep voice behind us exclaimed: ‘Is this not superb!’ We turned and beheld the speaker, Lieut. Col [Edward R.] Platt [Inspector General, Sixth Corps], riding with Gen. Franklin and his staff. The eyes of the General and all of his suite were bent in admiration upon the scene before us.”