Sunday, March 26, 2017

Situation Report: General Lee Takes Command June 1, 1862


Headquarters,
Richmond, Va., June 1, 1862


Special Orders, No. 22


           I. In pursuance of the orders of the President, General R. E. Lee assumes command of the armies of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina.
The unfortunate casualty that has deprived the army in front of Richmond of the valuable services of its able general is not more deeply deplored by any member of his command than by its present commander. He hopes his absence will be but temporary, and while he will endeavor to the best of his ability to perform his duties, he feels he will be totally inadequate to the task unless he shall receive the cordial support of every officer and man.
The presence of the enemy in front of the capital, the great interests involved, and the existence of all that is dear to us appeal in terms too strong to be unheard, and he feels assured that every man has resolved to maintain the ancient fame of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the reputation of its general and to conquer or die in the approaching contest.
II. Commanders of divisions and brigades will take every precaution and use every means in their power to have their commands in readiness at all times for immediate action. They will be careful to preserve their men as much as possible, that they may be fresh when called upon for active service. All surplus baggage, broken-down wagons, horses, and mules, and everything that may embarrass the prompt and speedy movement of the army will be turned into depot. Only sufficient transportation will be retained for carrying the necessary cooking utensils and such tents or tent-flies as are indispensable to the comfort and protection of the troops.

By order of General Lee:
                                          W. H. Taylor,
                                   Assistant Adjutant-General

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Great Snowball Fight of 1864: Dalton, GA

Great Snowball fight of 1864: Dalton, Ga
From: Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War



Occasionaly the unpredictable March weather broke routine of camp life and interrupted the training schedule . On rare occasions it snowed and like children released from school , the troops treated any snowfall as an occasion for play. On March 22 dawn revealed a fresh 5 inches of new snow, and a spontaneous snowball fight broke out all across the camp. The men threw themselfs into the fracas with enthusiiasm. One Arkansas soldier recalled, "Such pounding and thumping, and rolling over in the snow, and washing of faces and cramming snow in mouths and in ears and mixing up in great wriggling piles together." (Stephenson, Civil War Memoir)

In Cleburne's Div. , Lucius Polk's Brigade attacked Govan's Brigade, pitting Arkansas against Arkansas, and Cleburne could not resist getting involved. He placed himself at the head of his old brigade and led the attack on Govan's campsite. The snowballs flew thick and fast , and Govans's men Were getting the worst of it when they decided to launch a counterattack. They charged Forward, no doubt yelling for all they were worth and Cleburne suddenly found himseld a prisoner of war. After some tongue -in-cheek deliberation, his captors decided to parol their commander, and claburne was released.

The snowball fight contined and claburnes once again entered the fray. Alas he was captured a 2nd time .. and this time his captors confronted him with mock solemnity about his violation of parole. According to one veteran, "Some called for a drumead court martial; others demanded a sound ducking in the nearby creek. Still others mindfull of Cleburne's reputation as a stern disciplinarian, insisted that the general be meted out his own customary punishment. The idea caught on and soon the whole brigade took up the familiar order: 'Arrest that soldier and make him carry a fence rail!' " Cooler heads prevailed, with Cleburne's defenders arguing that after all this was the 1st occasion on which he had been known to break his word and once again his captors granted him parole. When it was all over, Cleburne authorized a ration of whiskey to the troops , and they stood around great bonfires singing and yelling "at the top of their lungs" {Steve Davis "The Great Snowbattle of 1864" CWTI (June 1976) }

More snow fell on the 23rd of March, provoking yet another snowball fight and rain and snow continued through the rest of the month. On the 31st a more serious sham battle occurred when Joe Johnston organized a mock engagement involving Hardee's Corps. Cleburne's and Bates's Div. Squared off against those of Cheatam and Walker. It was a fine weather for a charge, and the troops entered the spirit of the drill, firing off a blank cartridges each, thrilling the small audiences of ladies who had driven out from Dalton to watch. One veteran recalled, "The noise waas terrific and the excitement intense, but nobody was hurt. . . except perhaps one of the cavalry men who was dismounted while charging a square of infantry." That night, back in camp , it was peaches and cornbread again for dinner. (John S. Jackson Diary of A Confederate Soldier)