After their Gettysburg defeat on 4 July 1863, the Confederate forces, led by General Robert E. Lee, began a retreat through Maryland and across the Potomac River to their frontline in Virginia. The Confederates formed a 15–20-mile (24–32-km) -long wagon train, which carried supplies and the wounded. Between 5 ̶ 12 July, retreating Confederates endured poor weather, dangerous roads and a series of skirmishes with Union soldiers at Greenwood and Fairfield. Once they reached Hagerstown, Maryland, they found that Potomac floodwaters covered the bridges. All they could do was construct defensive works and wait for the approaching Union army, who were in pursuit. Just before the Union Army, under General George G. Meade, reached them, the Confederates had completed construction of a bridge and escaped across fords. They continued to be involved in skirmishes, most of them with cavalry, as they passed through Boonsboro, Williamsport and Falling Waters.
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