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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saturday, November 8, 1862; Austrian Rifles, winter huts, and a sense of duty.

Fort Lyons
Va. Historical Society
"Nearly half the regiment is off on "fatigue duty" to-day. This, it seems, is the military term for the process which is said to be McClellan's forte.  In common English it is called digging. The defensive strength of Fort Lyon, half a mile to the north of our camp, is being increased by some formidable outworks, and fifteen hundred men from our brigade are to enjoy daily for a while the privilege of digging the trenches and throwing up the breastworks.
"Orders are out, moreover, for us to build log huts for winter quarters. This looks like wintering us here, though it is quite within the range of possibility, that we shall build and leave for others to occupy." ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt., Company C, 12th Regiment , Letter to the Free Press of November 8, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia, 58-59.  

"My Springfield Rifle of 1862"
William Henry Jackson.
12th Regt. Co. K

"[O]ur guns were brought up on teams ... . I did not have to go out on guard ... as there none put out, but I had the sweet privilege of dreading it for several hours." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of November 9, 1862

"Saturday 8th  Changed our guns at the Quarter Masters for Austrian Rifles. Not been warm enough to day to carry off all the snow."  ~ Joseph Spafford,  1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, November 9, 1862

"If we could but have an honorable peace I should be so happy to settle down quietly & enjoy the comforts of a peaceful home. But I am much alarmed about the result of the war & about the future prosperity of the country. We have orders to prepare huts for winter [quarters], but I put no importance to this order as fixing our stay here for we are just as liable to be sent away whether we have huts built or not, & as for me, I had far rather be sent somewhere than not. I dont feel satisfied to spend an idle winter in this Div. but we have to submit to the powers that be. 

"We had a tremendous snow storm yesterday. It blew about as hard as I ever saw, snow fell some 3 or 4 inches-... It is very cold & disagreeable weather..."  ~ Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, Letter to Julia, November 8, 1862. UVM Center for Digital Initiatives

"Yesterday we had a regular Vermont snowstorm. It snowed all day and the wind blew in such fitful, driving gusts that I could not make my stove draw, so I was wrapped in my great coat all day. The snow piled in drifts 12 to 18 inches deep. This morning it was frozen stiff, and even the water in my tent pail was frozen over. Tonight the snow is nearly gone, and the melting mood of the article associated with the soft Virginia mud is disagreeable....

"When we shall move or when we shall go in a mystery. We have received orders to hut for the winter, but the way the order is not carried out leads me to think that such is not to be our fate. ...

"I eat well, sleep well and am toughing rapidly. My diarrhea of a day or two since was occasioned by taking cold and a consequent stoppage of the bile. By the way, I left at home 2 once of opium that I have bought. Will you not get a little paper box at the jewelers seal it in and mail it here. The postage will not be more than 5 or 6 stamps and the article will be invaluable. It is my sheet anchor in such complaints.

"I think of you all and ... would like to drop in and see you all dearly, and yet I am not at all anxious to go home. I feel as if I had a duty to do here and I mean to do it to the best of my ability. If one regiment does nothing to distinguish itself and aid in putting down this rebellion it shall not be my fault. I will do my duty and then my sheets will be clear."  Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 4. November 8, 1862. VHS.  

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