"Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 1862. Down Pennsylvania Avenue, Across the Potomac to Camp Seward

The brigade broke camp on the morning of the 30th, crossed the river by Long Bridge, and moving out five miles into the country back of Arlington Heights, halted near Munson's Hill and camped in the edge of a stretch of oak timber, where fresh green grass, near a stream of clear water, was in refreshing contrast with the bare and barren surface and stifling dust-storms of Capitol Hill.   G.G. Benedict, Vermont in the Civil War

"At half past seven the line was formed, and at eight the column marched. It swept down Pennsylvania Avenue, as goodly an array of five thousand stout, intelligent, spirited man as eye ever looked on. The march was a very comfortable one for the man, and our present camp bids  fair to be a great improvement on our late one, as far as the ground and nearness to wood and water are concerned. I believe we shall find our present camp,  new ground not tainted by the stay up on it of so many successive thousands, a healthier one than the old one. How long we shall stay here no one can say." ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt. 12th Regiment,  Letter to the Free Press of October 30, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia 43-46 (1895).

"At eleven we have just crossed the Long Bridge, and rest half an hour on the banks of the river. "... The half hour is soon up, and we start. For what place, and for what object? I don't know. A dozen have already asked him that question, and only one reply-"I don't know." In two hours we rest again, marching westerly. We continue our course, passing soldiers encamped here and there, earthworks and cannon, till about four o'clock, when we halt in a piece of woods, and the colonel begins to look for a good camp ground. The spot selected is a fine one, though covered with rush, surrounded on all sides with an oak forest save the one fronting the east. It is between two hills-quite romantic, and a pure stream of water runs through the little vale. The boys are soon clearing the grounds, as farmers in new countries, cutting, picking, burning brush. .... All are well pleased with the situation and hope to remain for some time." ~ Edwin Palmer,  13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864).

Our regiment is encamped about three miles from Washington southwesterly and on a large farm run to waste. Who is its proprietor is more than I know. There are no buildings on it, and the cellar hole was field up last year by troops encamped in this vicinity. It is not more than five rods back of my tent, and over it are growing tomato vines on which were some small, ripe tomatoes. The camp is about half a mile from the pike leading from Washington to Fairfax Court House. Four large forts are in plain sight and one of them. Fort Albany is less than a mile distant. Our camp fronts south, and in that direction about 5 miles distant tower against the sky the imposing building known as Fairfax Seminary. We came here Thursday morning. Our whole brigade marched through Pennsylvania avenue nearly to the President’ house, then turned and crossed Long Bridge. The sight of the avenue was splendid, so said O. H. Platt, now paymaster, and L. E. Chittenden Register of the Treasury both of whom you know. We all encamped nearby when wood, trees felled last year to give range to the guns of the forts and water is plenty. The ground is quite dry and rolling, the best the Colonel says he ever saw in Virginia, and the delightful weather of the past few days makes it comfortable. The days are hotter and the night damp, more chilly than in Vermont. One takes cold easily by evening exposure here. Thursday we laid out our camp and pitched our tents in season for supper at 8 o’clock in the evening, having no dinner except such as we carried in our haversacks.  ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Letter No. 3. November 2, 1862

"Camp Seward, Near Washington DC. We struck our tents on Capitol Hill and marched to this place crossing long bridge and marching up the river on the Va side about 4 miles. We are now about half way between Washington and Camp Griffin.... The weather is beautiful. Probably we shall not stop here long but I cannot tell." ~ Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Letter November 1, 1862

"I tell you it was a splendid night to see those 5000 stalwart sons of old Vermont marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.… We are encamped in the woods in the prettiest place that we have had yet, plenty wood and water, you would be surprised to know how warm the weather is here. It is now 8:30 in the evening and the boys are sitting in their tents in the shirtsleeves and stocking feet." ~ Richard J. Irwin, pvt, Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter of November 1, 1862, in War of the People: Vermont Civil War letters 117

"This last was a busy week in our village. On Tuesday was the grand review of the three regiments then in camp: afterwards came the "mustering" in of the men composing them and their departure to the seat of war. On Wednesday the Fourteenth left, on Thursday the Fifteenth, and on Friday the Sixteenth. So now Vermont has furnished and sent forward  her whole quota of men called for by the President. The State has been prompt in raising the troops, the men have freely volunteered their service, and we think the State has been the first to send forward its full share to headquarters. The men we have sent are among our best  citizens, fair representation of the strength, energy, patriotism and character of Vermonters, and we are sure they will do themselves and the state credit ..." ~ Vermont Phoenix, October 30, 1862

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