Early on the morning of July 1, 1863, Lee found himself in the neighborhood of a small and obscure town named Gettysburg. A military invasion is the process of occupying in succession a series of towns. To occupy Gettysburg, which seemed as possible as eating breakfast, Lee sent forward a division of a corps, and followed leisurely with all his forces. But Gettysburg and the ridges to the west of Gettysburg were already occupied by two brigades of cavalry, and those, with a cockiness begotten of big lumps of armed friends approaching from the rear, determined to go on occupying. This, in a spirit of great courage, with slowly increasing forces, against rapidly increasing forces, they did, until the brisk and pliant skirmish which opened the business of the day had grown so in weight and ferocity that it was evident to the least astute that the decisive battle of the New World was being fought.
There was a pretty girl in Manchester, Maryland (possibly several, but one was particularly pretty), and Aladdin, together with several young officers (nearly all officers were young in that war) of the Sixth Army Corps, rather flattered himself that he was making an impression. He was all for making impressions in those days. Margaret was engaged to marry Peter—and a pretty girl was a pretty girl. The pretty girl of Manchester had several girls and several officers to tea on a certain evening, and they remained till midnight, making a great deal of noise and flirting outrageously in dark corners. Two of the girls got themselves kissed, and two of the officers got their ears boxed, and later a glove each to stick in their hat-bands. At midnight the party broke up with regret, and the young officers, seeking their quarters, turned in, and were presently sleeping the sleep of the constant in heart. But Aladdin did not dream about the pretty girl of Manchester, Maryland. When he could not help himself—under the disadvantage of sleep, when suddenly awakened, or when left alone—his mind harped upon Margaret. And often the chords of the harping were sad chords. But on this particular night he dreamed well. He dreamed that her little feet did wrong and fled for safety unto him. What the wrong was he knew in his dream, but never afterward—only that it was a dreadful, unforgivable wrong, not to be condoned, even by a lover. But in his dream Aladdin was more than her lover, and could condone anything. So he hid her feet in his hands until those who came to arrest them had passed, and then he waked to find that his hands were empty, and the delicious dream over. He waked also to find that it was still dark, and that the Sixth Army Corps was to march to a place called Taneytown, where General Meade had headquarters. He made ready and presently was riding by his general at the head of a creaking column, under the starry sky. In the great hush and cool that is before a July dawn, God showed himself to the men, and they sang the “Battle-hymn of the Republic,” but it sounded sweetly and yearningly, as if sung by thousands of lovers: