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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Monday, June 15, 1863. "...if Lee's whole army were in sight, he would keep on drilling."

"Monday 15th.  Rumors & then positive knowledge that "Hooker's" whole army is coming in this direction. Before night, several corps have been heard of directly, either this side of M. Junction or even across Bull Run, near Centreville." ~ Diary of Horace Barlow (UVM), 127, Horace Barlow, Pvt., Co. C, 12th Regiment

"The 14th, 15th and i6th were very warm days, roads dry and full of dust, great clouds appeared wherever troops were on the march.The 6th corps, in which was the old Vermont brigade, crossed the Occoquan at the ford near our old camp ground at Wolf Run Shoals. An army of 100,000 could not all pass on a single road and hence occupied all the roads from Fredericksburg north between the Potomac and Bull Run and Manassas Junction. The diaries of Peter J. Dewey and John Brough say "General Hooker and staff passed our camp on the 15th of June.''

"The old Vermont brigade bivouacked for the night, June 15th at Fairfax Station. Some of our regiment who were at Fairfax Station reported meeting a few they knew, and they made inquiries about friends in our regiment and brigade. We were on this day ordered to take down A tents and load them to be hauled to Alexandria and use instead fly tents. Everything foreshadowed that we had marching orders and would soon follow..."~ Ralph Orson Sturtevant, Pictorial History of the 13th Regiment Vermont Volunteers 173 (1910)

"Union Mills, Virginia June 15, 1863

"Dear Parents,

"We came back from Bristows as We expected, and are now here with the 12th. The weather is excessively warm, 114 by this thermometer hanging against the tent. We have to get up at 4:30 in the morning, a half hour earlier than usual, but I don't think that will hurt us any. 

"You wonder that they put us on a new drill when our time was so nearly out. Well perhaps you don't imagine that our colonel wants to make a big show when we get to Brattleboro. In fact the only great fault we have to find with him is that he does not know when men have drilled enough. Indeed it was remarked here today that if Lee's whole army were in sight, he would keep on drilling.

"There is a great movement going on among the troops composing Hooker's Army. The report is that Lee crossed the Rappahannock above Hooker's army and was making off up the Shenandoah Valley. ... The trains of the 1st Army Corps passed by our camp today. It is said that they will reach five miles to stand in a row just as close together as they can. 

"We hear tonight that the 15th has been ordered back here again and I have no doubt that this is true, and they would not be likely to leave a single regiment out there while the whole Rebel army is on the wing." ~ Hezron G. Day, pvt., Company C, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter from Union Mills, June 15, 1863

"Camp at Union Mills Va.June 15th 1863

"Hooker’s Army is all around us at Manassas, Centerville, &c. ... From the hill where we are encamped we can look over the river (Bull Run) to Manassas & beyond and see nothing but a cloud of dust in all directions, caused by the moving of troops; it has been so ever since yesterday noon. 

"To day is an extremely hot day, not a bit of air stiring & the sun scalds down awfuly. The nights are cool, so we get along quite comfortably through the day.

" ... We hear all sorts of absurd rumors every five minutes. Lee, close by, Stuart Cav. in sight &c. &c. but we have learned to beleive nothing, & care for nothing, that we do not see, or that does not concern us personally. We’ll come out all right in the end." Joseph Spafford, 1st Lieutenant, Company E, Sixteenth Regiment, Letter, June 15, 1863 (uvm)

"Union Mills - June 15, 1863

"My Dear Wife:

"Your letter announcing your determination to visit Boston was duly received last Thursday, and I should have answered it sooner, but we came from Catlett’s that day and I had my tent to pitch, horses to see to etc., the next day I went on picket for two days, and yesterday I was too tired and sleepy to write. ...

"Last night the 11th Army Corps Gen. Howard commanding, moved to Centerville, only three or four miles from us. It is about 20,000 strong. Other movements are in progress but we do not yet know what. Our picket line on Bull Run, 7 miles long, has recently and is now being strengthened with trees felled from this side into the river forming an abatis almost impenetrable...

"The banks of Bull Run are covered with laurel which is now in full blossom. It is the same species as grows in Brattleboro, but it grows here with great luxuriance, some of it being 20 to 30 feet high. It is a great curiosity to our soldiers, for the laurel does not grow in Vermont more than ten or a dozen miles north of Brattleboro. All vegetation grows here with a rankness and luxuriance not know to the north, and wood ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, spiders and the like bite with tenfold frequency and power than there. ...

"I am looking forward with delightful anticipation when I can see you and our dear children again. How I long to fold you all in my arms, yet I do not often allow my mind to dwell on such thoughts. They will come constantly and unbidden, but I should get homesick should I cherish them. Time flies rapidly and the few remaining days will pass away. 

"The 12th goes home the 4th of July, the 13th the 10th and the others the last of the month. It is now the middle of June and in less than six weeks our time will be out. After all this is a matter of regret. It is not right that a regiment so will drilled and disciplined as the 16th should, just as the men have become capable of rending their country efficient service, leave that service and this whole process of work, labor, toil and anxiety be gone through with to fit another set of men to take there place. ...."~ Lt. Col.Charles Cummings, Sixteenth Regiment, Letters June 15, 1863. VHS.

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