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

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, December 5, 1862. Cold and Snow, the 13th & 14th return

"Friday 5th. Went out on picket on the Mt. Vernon road. Commenced to rain some time before noon & soon after dinner turned to snow & snowed hard until 10 P.M. I was on the 2nd relief & so came on from 6 P.M. till 2 A.M. It was awfully cold & we were ordered to have no fire, but it was "fire" or freeze & we chose fire & though Grand rounds was out we were not reported. Got back to the reserve & slept warm until morning, large fires being left for us."   Diary of Horace Barlow, 46,  Co. C, 12th Regiment

"When we came back, we rode on the cars, on them.  I mean they were most all flat-bottomed except some of  the hospital cars. The boys rode and the tops of them the winds blew so hard and the snow and the rain came like fur.  We rode to Alexandria and from there we foraged it to camp.  We got there.  We had no tents, our barracks were not covered.  The snow was four inches deep and more coming." ~ James Willson, 13th Regt. Co. C. , Letter #10 December 7, 1862 (VHS)

“At ten o'clock every thing is ready to start. Soldiers, with their guns, equipments, knapsacks, haversacks and canteens; boxes of cooking utensils, stoves, spades, pick-axes, officer's valises, waiters, horses, tents and every thing belong to a regiment of thousand men, are piled on to some flat-bottom cars. A few covered cars, with no seats, such as drovers use in New England, to take their herds to market, are hitched to the former, for the weakest ones, as the march to Bull Run has made quite a number sick.

“Just before leaving this rough place, which is covered with the ruins of burned cars, and where you are told that the left wing of our army rested in the first Bull Run battle, it begins to snow and rain. The cars move slowly over the military road, halting sometimes for half an hour-bearing their motley load. At four P.M., within about a mile of Alexandria, the boys are jumping off, wet to the skin, covered with snow and soot, as the wind was right to carry it back from the engine.

“We now start for our old camp, which we suddenly left on the night of the 25th ult., and a little before dark, come in sight of the half-finished barracks. Every thing is wet, the ground is covered with moist snow-and more is coming; not an axe to chop wood for a fire; not a tent to spread, (these had been left at the depot with the expectation that they would be brought forward by government teams, but these could not be procured); the boys hungry, and but little to eat. "What shall we do?" good naturedly enquired Uncle Walter. "No where to lie, and nothing to eat."

“...But there is little time to debate what is best. Each man must stir and take care of himself. Soon the whole regiment is scattered, except a few that hang around the dismal site of the old camp all night. As many as can, crowd into the negro's shanty, and his master's house and barn, and lie on the floor; the pine trees shelter a few; and quite a number are kept by the other regiments of the brigade. I, with twenty of my company go to the twelfth regiment. Col. Blunt kindly gave us two large tents, where is a stove, wood, and a fire already kindled.” ~ Lt. Edwin Palmer, 13th Regiment,  The Second Brigade: or, Camp Life, By a Volunteer (1864)

"[W] e broke camp about ten o'clock in the forenoon, and moved off. Before we had marched a great way it began to snow quite hard. The distance to Fairfax Station was seven miles. Col. Nichols ordered the battalion to march in two ranks, and giving the companies the privilege of falling out and resting, commencing at the head of the column, and then fall in in the rear of the battalion on its moving past them. By this means the regiment was to be kept on the move and still give us a chance to rest. But the companies on the right not falling out as often as they should, Companies B and G did not have a chance to rest until we got to the Station, which made it rather hard for us, inasmuch as we had to carry our knapsacks and other equipments.

On arriving at the station we found the 13th aboard the cars, bound for Camp Vermont also. Cars were procured for the 14th. Some of the boys, however, got on the baggage train with the 13th. It was about dark when the remainder of the regiment reached Alexandria, having to wait until after the 13th went through. By this time the ground had become covered with snow. Our tents had all been ordered to Fairfax Station, so that we were left without shelter in case we should go up to our camp that night, the distance being two miles. Some of the boys sought shelter in the city, and others, through the kindness of the boys of the 12th and 16th, were kept over night." ~ J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 44-46(1864)

"We have had our second snow storm. It began yesterday, and continued through a bitter night. Toward night the Thirteenth and Fourteenth regiments came in from Union Mills--the Fifteenth came in the night before--and marched into their deserted camps, close by us. They brought only shelter tents, and the prospect of camping down I the snow, with little food, no fuel, and scanty shelter, was a pretty black one for them, till our officers went over and offered the hospitalities of the Twelfth, which were gratefully accepted. The absence of most of our men oN picket, left a good deal of vacant room in our tents, which were soon filled with wet and tired men of the other regiments. They went away this morning warmed, rested and fed."  ~ G.G. Benedict, pvt., Company C, 12th Regiment, Letter to the Free Press of December 6, 1862 in Army Life in Virginia.

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