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

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Friday, November 7, 1862, Snow in Camp Vermont

Nov. 7, 1862: Col. Blunt takes winter
quarters with two fireplaces.
"On Friday Nov. 7th, after two or three days of rough chilly weather, we had a genuine snowstorm, not one of your soft sticky Injun snows, but a regular driver, such as you frequently have in Vermont in December, which left us at least four inches of good solid snow on the ground, and sent every man not on duty shivering to his quarters or in search of some friendly fire. It was my good fortune to be detailed as guard and to stand the storm for one turn of two hours, but before my turn came again the guards were called in to go with their respective companies to Alexandria. After their guns arrived we were obliged to right about and march straight back to camp again, completely verifying the old adage of the King of France marched up the hill with 10,000 men and then marched down again". ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 9, 1862

"Friday 7th Commenced snowing this morning & snowed quite hard all day. This evening it is quite blustering & seems quite winterlike. We have a stove in our tent & it is nearly as comfortable as a house. Regt fell in at 1 P.M. & marched to Alexandria to receive new guns in place of our old ones, they being poor french muskets. Marched to A. & immediately turned about & came home without our guns, dont know the reason, perhaps they had not arrived, or perhaps they are going to bring them to us with teams.~ Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 9, 1862

"Camp Vermont, Near Alexandria November 7, 1862

"All the regiments that have suitable arms are obliged to go out on picket a distance of about 5 miles.  Our regiment keep the same old guns they brought from Vermont.  To-day, and pursuance to previous orders, we march to Alexandria to change guns, but on arriving at the city, we had the order to “right about march” to our camping grounds again, with the same old arms.–Thus it is we are marched from one post to another availing nothing, and what makes it seem worse, we don’t know why.  We are to have the Austrian rifle and musket.

"The health of the brigade as far as I am able to learn is very good.  Of the 12th Regiment only eleven are in the hospital–many are very sick.  Only four out of the Regiment have died: 1 from West Windsor Co., 1 from Woodstock Co., 1 from Northfield Co. and one from the Burlington Co., I think.  

"The sanitary condition of this regiment is better or equal to any other in the brigade.  None have died and but very few are sick.  Some 30 or 40 are in quarters, that is they are off duty to rest, to prevent them being sick.  They are not medicated at all.  I learned from our worthy surgeon that means for getting hospital supplies have been very limited.  There is no hospital yet for the regiment, but are to have one soon.

"The Assistant Surgeon George Spafford, has been present only a short time, but as far as I am able to learn, is liked very much, as is our prompt and energetic quartermaster, James G. Henry.  During all our removals from one camp to another, which have been numerous, we have not at any time been short of rations, or at least so but that we have got along quite comfortably.

"This morn it commenced snowing early, and continued until 1:30 P.M.  The snow on the level is from 3 to 4 inches deep and in some places two feet.  A colder more wintry storm I never witnessed in Vermont in the month of November.  The men to-day, as they fall into “roll call,” make me think of the poor yearlings as they gather around the farmer’s barn at the approach of Winter. One of the men just took an icicle from over the parlor window and brought in, which measured 23 inches.  The men are complaining bitterly of the “sunny South” with very good reasons I think.  More anon. ~ E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" in Letter of November 7, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times, published November 14,1862.

"We are now about two miles from the rebel city of Alexandria and 6 miles from Mt. Vernon. ... It has snowed hard all day & blown a hurrican & the boys have had a hard time in their  "shelter"  tents. We are encamped near an old Virginia mansion owned by G. Mason Esq. one of the regular F. F. V's. He is a secessionist at heart. His house is a two story one & things were once in good shape, but his slaves have all run away & the troops have ruined him. He has a wife & two children - one a daughter who he says is sick & a son or perhaps grandson twelve or fourteen years of age. He keeps his family very much secluded & has a notice put up that he does not wish to be troubled by applications from the troops for accommodations.* We have occupied his barn with our horses and today Col. Blunt, who has command of the brigade moved his head quarters into the house - into two vacant rooms in one wing. He has two big fire places & looks as cheerful as possible. Rather different from our tents, tho' we are comfortable. Soon we shall have comfortable huts made & then we can bid defiance to the weather.  By next week Saturday, the whole Regiment will be in huts if nothing happens." ~ Maj. Roswell Farnham, 12th Regiment, Letter of November 7, 1862

Edwin F. Palmer , graduated Dartmouth 1862
 enlisted in in Company "B" of the 13th Regt,
promoted to sergeant,
commissioned second lieutenant 4 Nov., 186
"The morning is cold and windy. By eight o'clock it begins to snow, quite large and frequent drops. The soldiers are disappointed, not expecting it so early in the year, and then their tents are not fitted for it-no fires in them, except the commissioned officers'. They have small stoves carried on the wagons. Snow and sleet fall all day, and by night it is five inches deep. Soon the boys are stirring, to get fires in their tents some way; for they fairly shiver in them, and it is too stormy for drills, or work on the forts, or any duty save guard or picket, which knows no storms, no Sabbaths, no nights. Every soldier turns mason, and they make little fire-places out of stone or brick, which they have brought half a mile from an old camp ground, on their backs. They dig a channel under the tent, some three feet long; brick up the sides; cover these with flat stones or pieces of iron; and at the end for a chimney. Some of these worked finely; others smoked intolerably. Now you see the boys, tears streaming from their eyes, coming out of their tents, the smoke rolling after them." ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

* See letter of November 5th from Mason to Col. Blunt complaining that the guards placed around his " House to preserve my sick Family from annoyance," under  "some misapprehension" had arrested his "Family Physician coming to visit my sick Daughter, &... - This morning on going out, I find myself & Family prisoners; as the Guards will not allow us to pass beyond their immediate circle, even to mywood-pile & Barn....

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