Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blog in Real Time - May 23, 1862

 “It was understood that McDowell was to move his corps along the Fredericksburg and Richmond Railroad on the 24th of May, connecting, if possible, with the right wing of McClellan’s army at or near Hanover Court-House, and by turning the left flank of the enemy, prevent his receiving reinforcements from the direction of Gordonsville. This plan had been carefully considered and matured by McDowell, who had great faith in its success.”  (Three Years in the Army, by C. E. Davis, Jr.)

Private Warren H. Freeman of Company A, writes about experiences at Falmouth.

In Camp opposite Fredericksburg, VA., May 23, 1862.
     Dear Father, - I wrote you from this place a few days since, and was not intending to write again so soon; but there are indications that we are to make a forward movement soon, and I may not have another opportunity of writing.    The weather is very warm;  we have a marching drill of two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, in heavy marching order.  We make about ten miles a day.  Our general says it is to make us tough; but we think we are tough enough to perform all the necessary labor that ought to be required of us, and that this extra marching only tends to break us down in body and spirit.

     I have been overhauling my knapsack and throwing out everything I do not absolutely need.  It now weighs eighteen pounds, and to this will be added an extra pair of shoes, and a shelter tent weighing five pounds.  They are going to take away our Sibley tents and substitute what is called a “Shelter tent” (or dog-huts, as the boys call them), and each man will be required to carry one on his back; so that the labor heretofore performed by horses will now be transferred to the men.  The new tents are but a very poor protection against the weather, but McDowell is much opposed to a baggage train.

     Five or six of our boys have put their overcoats into a box, mine with the rest, and sent them to Boston.  We cannot carry them about with us, and have no place to leave them here.  I have cut off the tails to my dress-coat and made a spencer of it.  Coat-tails, Sibley tents, and overcoats now come under the head of luxuries which are not to be indulged in by private soldiers.

     A few days since the whole of General Ord’s Division was reviewed by General McDowell; it was a grand affair.  McDowell is a noble looking man, and fully competent to command this great army, numbering, the newspapers say, 60,000 men.  But I don’t know anything about the number; it is a big army, I can safely say that.  I never have seen anything approaching  it in magnitude before.

      Some think we are about to move on Richmond, to re-inforce McClellan; others suppose there is an army now before that city large enough to crush the rebellion as soon as the word is given.  There is much speculation in camp about the mighty contests that must inevitably take place about these days; and there is much going on in our immediate presence that leads me to suppose that we are not to be idle spectators in this terrible conflict of arms.  But here comes an order for us to strike our big tents; it is the last we shall see of them I suppose.  So I bid you all fare-well.


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