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

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sunday, December 28, 1862. The Sixteenth moves to guard stores at Fairfax Station. Stuart repulsed by fire from the Twelfth.

After Christmas, Lee ordered Stuart to conduct a raid north of the Rappahannock River to "penetrate the enemy's rear, ascertain if possible his position & movements, & inflict upon him such damage as circumstances will permit." Aware that a substantial body of Confederate cavalry were behind their lines the Union Army sent additional troops to Fairfax Station and ordered all wagon trains and supplies there for protection. ~ Burke Station Raid

"Camp near Fairfax C. H.
Dec 28th 1862

"... I have had a little ill- turn the past week, did not go out for a day or two, but have got well over it now. We have beautiful weather. The measles have got into my reg’t, shall be a good deal bothered with them probably now. I wish soldiers had attended to the measles in their proper time.

"There was a battle within hearing of us yesterday but we have not yet heard from it. We were got ready to move. I think we shall be sent somewhere soon. I have a very pleasant camp here, but the water is not first rate.

"... We had quite a time here Christmas day, but I was not very well myself. My Reg’t will have to go to Bull Run again next Thursday.

"The rebels are making a raid below us & we are looking for them this way. My Reg’t is down at the rail road station to-night. The is considerable of a movement going on... ."~ Col. Wheelock G. Veazey, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter to Julia, December 28, 1862. UVM Center for Digital Initiatives 

" I had posed writing to you Friday but a brigade drill and the necessity of my commanding the regiment as Col. Veazey and Major Rounds were both sick in connection with the pressing duties of the office, deprived me of that pleasure. Then I was sure I could do it Saturday, but orders came from my regiment to hold itself in momentary readiness to be called out kept me from doing it. 

"Well Sunday came and at one p.m., I closed the office and took a brief nap intending to write immediately thereafter. But orders again came for the regiment to be in readiness and I was constantly engaged in endeavoring to learn what all the rumors of war meant. I had on my hands three men of the 5th Penn Cavalry, who had been driven in while picketing on the Occoquan twelve miles south of here at 11 am. and being cut off from their camp made their escape.

"They reported that two brigades of rebel cavalry. Stuart’s and Fitzhugh Lee’s and Hampton’s Legion were this side of the Occoquan making a raid in this direction. Other dispatches from couriers and telegraph partially confirmed their statements.

"According at five o’clock I was ordered to march the 16th Regiment with 2 days ration to Fairfax Station 2 1/2 miles south of here. I had previously solicited liberty to go in case the regiment was called out. At 7 o’clock I had the regiment there and two pieces of artillery under my command on the north side of the Alexandria and Manassas railroad which LTC. Hawley of the 3rd Wisconsin held the south side. Probably there is $300,000 worth of stores at the Station consisting of property that the rebels would like to capture or destroy. As near as we could learn there were about 1600 rebel cavalry out. While in the R. R. Depot attending to the dispatches we found that we could get an answer from Alexandria but none from Burke’s Station three miles east of us in that direction.

"The Supt. had a large train ready to start for Alexandria and telegraphed to know if he should move it along. Answer came “yes, immediately” But we prevailed upon him not to send the train as all was not right."
 ~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter No. 13, December 29, 1862. VHS.

"My Dear Sister

"... When I last wrote the Capt & Williams were both sick, they have not yet gone on duty but are nearly well again & will return to duty tomorrow, (monday). There is nothing new, nothing interesting to write, but I know you are anxious to hear from us so we write once in about so often. ... The weather is, & has been very pleasant, ever since we left Camp Vermont. The 15th are out to Bull Run now; our turn comes again next thursday. There was 7 commissioned officers in our Regt resigned lately, thier resignations are not yet accepted but doubtless will be.

"Yesterday we recd orders to be ready to march at a moments notice, after an hour or so the order was countermanded so we are still here. ... Gen. Stoughton is here with the Brigade. We live better & cheaper than we did at Alexandria, as we have the Com. Sergt in our mess. ...

"Fairfax C.H. is about as much of a place as Greenbush, not much more, nor near as much as Perkinsville. ...The Capt of K’s resignation is not yet accepted.*  I will write no more to night as I am insomething of a hurry just now. Will write again soon." Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, December 28 1862, UVM

[* Samuel H. Hutchinson, Norwich, VT, age 36, Captain, Co. K, 16th VT INF, resigned 1/3/63.]

"[W]e received light marching orders to be ready to march at a moment's notice, without knapsacks but taking our blankets and fly tents, and accordingly we started out and marched to Fairfax station where we were wanted to repel an anticipated rebel raid upon that place, ... . After going doom to the Station at about the quickest common time ever put on record, we were stationed in a little grove some 40 or 50 rods in the rear of, and supporting two guns of the 2d Conn. battery, which belongs to our brigade, and were told to make ourselves as comfortable as we could without fires. I lay down under a fly tent With Baldwin and Alfred and with our three blankets made ourselves entirely comfortable, though some of the boys routed up a little after midnight and kept traveling the rest of the night to keep their feet warm."  Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter of January 4, 1863

While the Sixteenth is at Fairfax Station, General Stoughton deploys the Brigade along the Alexandria road and waits for Stuart:

"About seven in the evening, we were ordered forward at double-quick. We expected to march to the Station, but went in another direction towards Alexandria, and halted about half a mile beyond the Court House. The 16th was sent to the Station.

"Our force consisted of four thousand infantry, a battery of artillery, and a squad of cavalry. The battery was drawn up in line behind breastworks, supported by the 13th and part of the 12th, and the remainder of the 12th and the 14th were sent out by companies to watch the various roads, videttes being sent out ahead in every direction.

"We had been in these positions but a short time, when the enemy's cavalry made their appearance, driving in the pickets, and coming unexpectedly upon two companies of the 12th, upon whom they charged. The two companies fired a volley at them, killing two horses, and capturing another horse and two prisoners. None of our boys were hurt. The squad that charged fell back to where the larger force was stations in the woods, and built fires. Gen. Stoughton sent a flag of truce there, stating the he would like an interview with Gen. Stuart, who replied that he would correspond in the morning. Gen. Stoughton, desiring an immediate interview, ordered a few shells to be thrown among the, which made them "skedaddle, " and they were not seen or heard of again during the night." J. C. Williams, Corporal, Co. B, 14th Regiment, Life in Camp, 60 (1864)

"[T]he companies sent down the turnpike as skirmishers, and by whose fire the course of the rebel cavalry in this direction was checked, were two companies (B and G) of the Twelfth Vermont, Col. BLUNT. The prisoners, some 15 in number, captured from STUART's force by the Vermont cavalry and infantry, state that the troops repulsed was the advance of the rebel column, led by Gen. STUART in person; that their intention was to make a dash on Fairfax Court-House, and that the results of the volley, which so astonished them, were the wounding of fourteen of the rebel cavalrymen, and the killing of three of their horses, which, with their accoutrements and the arms (revolver and carbine) of two of their riders, were found upon the spot." ~ Letter of "G" to the NYT, January 2, 1863

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