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

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March 16, 1863. Fortifying Fairfax Station

"Monday. 16th. Cold but pleasant. There is enough hail on the ground to make it very good sledding. We are going to raise a liberty pole at Head-Quarters to hand out the Garrison flag."~ Diary of Oliver A. Browne, Co. K, 15th Regiment

"In camp near Fairfax Station, VA March 16th, 1863

"... My health is excellent, although my voice has not got its usual timbre, or fullness and seriousness. Week before last I drilled the regiment four successive days and I used it too much. I should not have done it but the Colonel was away and I wanted the practice. ...

"During the last four days I have been engaged in commanding a detail of 600 men engaged in constructing rifle pits for the defense of Fairfax Station. I am engineer and all having made the plans, location, and all else without one visit or direction from the Colonel commanding the Brigade. It is new business, but by the time I get thorough I shall have learned something. I have now about ten days more of work planned out, including four redoubts for artillery. 

"I spent all day Sunday and most of my time evenings until 12 o’clock in making plans and specifications to guide the captains who immediately superintend the men. My outer lines on opposite sides of our camp are two miles apart so I have plenty of horseback exercise. At first it was contemplated to have a new officer detailed each day but after the first day the entire work was placed under my supervision. 

"When completed I shall have three to four miles of rifle pits for the defense of this important place, important because it is the entry point for the supplies of an army holding this section of Virginia.

"I  enclose one of a dozen or so copies of a profile view with measurements of a section of a rifle pit, representing one end of the embankment and ditches if cut down through perpendicularly, the main ditch on the miner side for the protection of the men and the step for them to stand on when firing. ...

"There is nothing of special interest here yet. Our regiments have not yet been called out, but we are living in a state of preparation for such an event. The rumors of rebel raids, and advances in this direction are not infrequent. There is little doubt that this country is infested with spies. 

"An expedition Saturday night under command of Lt. Vinton captured four citizens one of whom had admitted enough to a supposed confederate but really one of our spies to convict him I think. He will be sent to Washington unless the authorities permit us to try and hang him. He is in close custody.

"...Nothing has as yet been heard of the two Brattleboro boys captured with Gen. Stoughton. All the others including Abner White are quite well and looking finely. Nearly every man in the regiment is healthier than when at home.

"By the way I must not omit writing that yesterday - Sunday - was the most peculiar day of the season. Four inches of fine solid hail fell, and all the afternoon it came in a succession of showers accompanied with sharp lighting and almost continued thunder. It was a novel thunder storm, so very cold and sleety."
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter  March 16, 1863. VHS. 

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