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

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Monday April 13, 1863. How to move an Army

"Camp near Union Mills, VA April 13th, 1863

"... I wrote you a few lines yesterday saying that we had just received orders to move with seven days rations at 7:30 this morning. We were in readiness but the orders did not come, so we are yet in camp. We have not been informed of our destination. Casey’s Division is under orders to move, It comprises ... in all 11 or 12 regiments and four if not five batteries of 6 guns each.

"From appearances we shall not move until Wednesday morning and I suspect our destination is some point on the Rappahannock in the direction of Culpepper, distant about 60 miles. The reason for this beside the strategic indications which are obvious to us, is found in the fact that a large force of government workmen are busily engaged today in rebuilding the Railroad Bridge across Bull Run at Union Mills. 

Mathew Brady
Military bridge, Haupt Truss, Bull Run, Va., April 1863
(US National Archives)

"When that is completed, as it probably will be by Wednesday morning, teams will be enabled to run through to Manassas Junction and bring up supplies. Bridges will also have to be built at the crossings at Board Run and Cedar Run and the road repaired. It is not probable that the troops will be more than 8 or ten miles in advance of the rail line which will be one line of communication with our base of supplies - Alexandria. 

"Such are my surmises, ... But nothing is certain in military movements. There is evidently no rebel infantry or artillery force between the Rappahannock and the Potomac, nothing but cavalry and guerrillas, and those have been pretty well cleaned out during the past week by the Gen. Stahl who has a cavalry brigade at Fairfax Court House and Fairfax Station.

"...Henceforth, we are to be cut down in tents and in baggage. The field officers and staff are limited to three wall tents, which will put three in a tent, and the men to half a shelter tent each, so that by putting the two halves together they will have a tent three to four feet high but open at the ends making room enough for two men. I have sent all my baggage that I cannot take to Washington, where it will be stored by a Mr. Prentiss - a Vermonter. This includes my trunk, two pairs of blankets, a pair of blue ones that cost me ten dollars and the white ones I brought from home. Cotton shirts a pair of white drawers that I had none but little, books, except tactics, bible, your letters, etc. I have with me my three wool shirts and 2 pair drawers, stockings, 3 silk handkerchiefs, and a few small traps only. ...

"I do not think that I wrote you wrote you that my horse met with an accident about a month since by getting a twig stuck into his eyeball. I am afraid he will lose the sight of that eye. He is not doing as well as at first, but he may pick up by and by. To relieve him I have bought another, a sorry old plug that a poor as a cow for $65. What he will make if he has a good chance I do not know, but I think he will do some work."
~ Lt. Col. Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters  April 12, 1863. VHS.

"Monday 13th.  Not on the move this A.M. Rather pleasant prospect for those not able to go with the Reg't. Orders are, for all sick to go to the General Hospital. Alexandria, & all convalescents to go to Convalescent Camp. So all able to walk to the station were ordered to report to Surgeon Ketchum at his headquarters with their knapsacks. (Perhaps I ommitted to mention that our guns & gun equipments were given up last night.) There were 20 in all, from our Co. & Mc Lane the drummer. 

"So this detachment went to the station (& onward I suppose; for at time of writing this, Friday, I have not heard from them.) Baxter was in this squad. As to the next squad, those unable to walk to the station, a team came around & collected their knapsacks & took them directly to the station. 

"We expected to follow at any moment, but when it became dark, we were yet here. Our blankets were gone, but the Capt, saw us all provided for & comfortable" Diary of Horace Barlow, 104, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment 

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