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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 20, 1862. March to Alexandria for Review. Virginia Mud.. "Marching Orders".

"[W]e received orders to march to Fort Albany for a division review on the following day and at the same time received orders to be ready to march at an hour's notice. During the night it rained considerably so that as we marched along, the "sacred soil" transformed itself into a sort of paste usually called mud which in some places was four or five inches deep and so stiff and sticky as to almost pull off your boots! When the boys would raise their feet it would make a noise almost as loud as the crack of a pistol, while in other places the mud was only about an inch deep and about as thin as porridge. After marching about a half a mile or so beyond Alexandria the colonel received orders to march his regiment back to camp. Accordingly, we were headed around and started for home again. Got back into camp about eleven o'clock, tireder if not wiser men. Having marched at least eight miles since we left home in the morning and we were just in time, for we had not been in camp much over an hour when it commenced raining by the bucket full as it occasionally does in Vermont when you have a particularly severe thundershower. At the first clash it beat through our tent some, but we spread out a rubber blanket or two and thus managed to keep ourselves and our things dry and nice. Indeed, our tents are a much greater protection against rain than you would suppose. Still I had rather hear the rain rattle on a shingle roof than to hear it beating against the roof of our tent."  ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 23, 1862.

"Rained quite hard all night, very muddy this morning. Started for the review but was ordered back after we had passed Alexandria a short distance. Got back to camp about noon since which time it has been raining a perfect shower nearly all the time. We hear nothing further in regard to moving."   ~ Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 24, 1862, UVM

"[W]e men all ordered on Thursday to Fort Albany - five miles distant through Alexandria - to be reviewed by Gen. Silas Casey, division commander. The mud was from three to eight inches deep, soft and as adhesive as salve, so that when it was not more than three inches deep it would to stick to boots as to cover up and leave the ground free from it all around when the foot was placed. Well, we marched through this sort of stuff and in the rain all the while to Alexandria about two miles, when we found sidewalks and pavements a very sensible relief. We went nearly a mile beyond Alexandria when a mounted orderly from headquarters meet us and told us that the review was postponed on account of the weather. I wished our march had also been postponed. But military operations have no regard for the weather. If I had been Gen. Casey, I would have had the review if it rained pitchforks." Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 6. November 22, 1862. VHS.

"We couldn't see, somehow, the connection between this tramp through the mud, and the business of crushing out the rebellion; and when, a mile beyond Alexandria, a courier met the column with orders to return to camp, the suspicion that all might just as well have stayed in camp, became general. The substance of the proceeding was that four thousand men had a march of eight miles in a storm which made the bare idea of a review an absurdity..." ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt., Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of November 24, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia,

"Nothing worthy of note has occurred since I wrote you last, with the exception of the order for the 15th and 16th Regiments to hold themselves in readiness so to proceed at a moment’s notice, by “rail,” with two days rations.  Destination not known to me, but probably to Harper’s Ferry.  The boys generally were well pleased with the order, but have little faith in it now, as it was published several days ago." ~ E. D. Keyes, 1st Lieutenant, Company H, Sixteenth Regiment, writing as "Duane" in Letter of November 23, 1862 to Bellows Falls Times

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