"Peculiarly distinguished among the advance guard, where all were distinguished, must be recorded . . . Private J. W. Brown, of Company F, First Georgia Regiment, who, upon hearing the order to fall back, exclaimed, 'I will give them one more shot before I leave,' and while ramming down his twenty-ninth cartridge fell dead at his post." - General Henry R. Jackson in his report of the Battle of Greenbrier River.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


On January 26, General Loring receives the letter from his officers.  He adds an indorsement of agreement:

Romney, Va., January 26, 1862.

As this is a respectful communication, and presents for the consideration of the honorable Secretary of War the true condition of this army, and coming from so high a source, expressing the united feeling of the army, I deem it proper to respectfully forward it for his information. I am most anxious to re-enlist this fine army, equal to any I ever saw, and am satisfied if something is not done to relieve it, it will be found impossible to induce the army to do so, but with some regard for its comfort, a large portion, if not the whole, may be prevailed upon.

At the earliest possible moment I shall write more fully.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Brigadier-General, Commanding, &c.

Loring forwards the letter on through channels.  The next officer to read it will be "Stonewall" Jackson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Winter Of Our Discontent

The officers and men quartered in Romney feel forsaken by their commander, General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.  They are convinced that he has pulled the Stonewall Brigade - his "pets" - back into nice, warm winter quarters in Winchester, while leaving the Army of the Northwest to make out as best they can in the exposed position at Romney.  The discontent comes to a boil as several officers meet to draft a letter to General Loring.  This so-called "Romney Petition" is signed by the various brigade and regimental officers.  As Colonel Ramsey and Lt. Colonel Thompson of the First Georgia are both absent in sickbeds, Major James W. Anderson signs the petition as commanding officer of the First.

JANUARY 25, 1862.

Brigadier-General LORING,
Commanding Army of the Northwest:

GENERAL: The undersigned officers of your command beg leave to present their condition to your consideration as it exists at Romney. It is unnecessary to detail to you,who participated in it all, the service performed by the Army of the Northwest during the last eight months. The unwritten (it will never be truly written) history of that remarkable campaign would show, if truly portrayed, a degree of severity, of hardship, of toil, of exposure and suffering that finds no parallel in the prosecution of the present war, if indeed it is equaled in any war. And the alacrity and good-will with which the men of your command bore all this hardship, exposure, and deprivation would by death and disease, the remainder were about preparing quarters to shield them from the storms of winter in a rigorous climate. Many had prepared comparatively comfortable quarters, when they were called upon to march to Winchester and join the force under General Jackson. This they did about the 1st of December, with the same alacrity which had characterized their former conduct, making a march of some 140 miles at that inclement season of the year.

After reaching Winchester, as expected, was ordered in the direction of the enemy, when all cheerfully obeyed the order, with the confident expectation that so soon as the object of the expedition was attamed they would be marched to some comfortable position, where they could enjoy a short respite and recruit wasted energies for the spring campaign.

The terrible exposure and suffering on this expedition can never be known to those who did not participate in it. When men pass night after night in the coldest period of a cold climate without tents, blankets, or even an ax to cut wood with, and without food twenty-four hours, and with some of the men nearly two days at a time, and attended by toilsome marches, it is not to be thought strange that some regiments which left Winchester with nearly 600 men should now, short as the time has been, report less than 200 men for duty.

Instead of finding, as expected, a little repose during midwinter, we are ordered to remain at this place. Our position at and near Romney is one of the most disagreeable and unfavorable that could well be imagined. We can only get an encampment upon the worst of wet, spouty land, much of which when it rains is naught but one sea of water and a consequent corresponding depth of mud, and this, too, without the advantage of sufficient wood, the men having to drag that indispensable article down from high up on the mountain side.

We are within a few miles of the enemy and of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which imposes upon our men the continued hardship of very heavy picket duty, which will in a short time tell terribly upon their health and strength. We regard Romney as a place difficult to hold, and of no strategical importance after it is held. Besides, the country around it for some distance has already been by the enemy exhausted of its supplies. Your army could be maintained much more comfortably, and at much less expense, and with every military advantage, at almost any other place.

Another consideration we would endeavor to impress upon your mind: All must be profoundly impressed with the paramount importance of raising an army for the next summer's campaign. When we left Winchester, a very large proportion of your army, with the benefit of a short furlough, would have enlisted for the war, but now, with the present prospect before them, we doubt if one single man would re-enlist. But if they are yet removed to a position where their spirits could be revived, many, we think, will go for the war.

In view of all these considerations and many others that might be presented, we ask that you present the condition of your command to the War Department, and earnestly ask that it may be ordered to some more favorable position.


Colonel, Commanding Fourth Brigade Northwestern Army.

Colonel, Thirty-Seventh Virginia Volunteers.

Major, Commanding Third Arkansas Volunteers.

Major, Commanding First Georgia Regiment.

Captain, Commanding Twenty-Third Virginia Volunteers.

Colonel, Commanding Third Brigade Northwestern Army.

Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Forty-Second Virginia Volunteers.

Major, Forty-Second Virginia Volunteers.

Captain, Commanding First Battalion P. A. C. S.

Captain, Commanding Twenty-First Virginia Volunteers.

Colonel, Commanding Forty-Eighth Virginia Volunteers.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dessention In Romney

Captain Evan P. Howell
 After the war, Evan P. Howell, formerly lieutenant in the Washington Rifles and later commander of an artillery battery, purchased a controlling share of the Atlanta Constitution, becoming it's editor-in-chief.  In 1905 an article was published in the Constitution described Howell's experiences during the Romney Campaign, and before long the article was picked up by several newspapers.  The version that follows is from the October 12, 1905, edition of the Cumberland (Maryland) Evening Times:

How Capt. Howell and a Committee Advised Him
Waited on the General With Solemn Instructions—Told Him What He Should Do—How They Were Received and Sent Away.

A late issue of the Atlanta Constitution, of which Capt Evan Howell was editor, has the following good item of an experience with Stonewall Jackson:

Hon. Ben E. Russell, of Bainbridge, writes the Constitution retelling the following good story which Captain Howell used to tell at his own expense of the time he and a committee of soldiers “waited upon Stonewall Jackson to advise him what to do.” Mr. Russell writes,

“The following is the substance of a war story that the late Captain Evan P. Howell loved to tell. The writer was a member of the First Georgia Regiment, at Romney at the time, and was cognizant of the facts here related.

“Generals Loring and Stonewall Jackson, with the Confederate army, after a dreadful march unparalleled in the history of our war, arrived at Romney, Va., the enemy fleeing upong their approach. We pitched camp near the town, where we remained over two weeks, during which time we never saw the sun, owing to the awful weather of rain, snow and sleet alternately, and frequently all at the same time. The roads were knee-deep in muddy slush and ice making picket duty an almost unbearable hardship. The men got the blues and became discontented and began to inquire of each other, “What are we here for, anyhow?” Both officers and men were on the verge of mutiny.

“To add fuel to flame it was understood among the troops that General Loring and old Stonewall were in total disagreement over the situation. Then some wiseacres of the regiment proposed a mass meeting of the men and officers of the brigade to protest against the continuation of the campaign by resolutions and the sending of a committee to General Jackson with them. The mass meeting was held, the resolutions drawn and the committee appointed. Of those on the committee were Evan P. Howell of the Washington Rifles, and Samuel A. Crump, captain of the Walker Light Infantry, of Augusta.

“Armed with the resolutions the committee started out to find Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters. On the way Captain Crump, who had been through the Mexican war, said to Captain Howell, ‘Evan, do you know that this thing means death to this whole blamed committee, for it’s nothing less than mutiny!’

“ ‘Oh, well,’ says Captain Howell, ‘but we’ve got to go and see the general all the same.’ "
“General Jackson’s headquarters were found, occupying the second story of an old log house. The doughty committee climbed the stairway and entered the upper chamber with no little trepidation, Evan Howell in front. The resolutions in his trembling hands. Old Stonewall was sitting with his back to a very poor open fire with a table in front of him, on which was pread a military map of northern Virginia, surrounded by and dimly lighted with several tallow candles. The great commander looked up from his work and glanced at the committee as it filed before him. In reply to his question: ‘What can I do for you, gentlemen?’ Captain Howell shook out the famous resolution, which recited the grievances of the soldiers, and recommended the speedy evacuation of Romney, and a return to Winchester as the only way out of a bad scrape, reading them in a somewhat unsteady voice.

“During this scene General Jackson’s face never changed from its unusual mild expression. When the reading of the resolutions was over you could have ‘heard a pin drop.’

“The general assumed an attitude of deep thought for a moment—a moment when each committeeman’s knees smote each other—and then said in a rather weary voice, ‘You can return to your commands, gentlemen, and should I need your advice I will send for you.’

“ ‘Tis needless to add that our committee evaporated from those headquarters in a hurry. Captain Howell said, ‘We just moved off, the most relieved set of men you ever saw.’

“Probably these resolutions, coupled with the disagreements with General Loring, etc., caused the immortal Stonewall Jackson to tender his resignation about this time to President Davis. Mr. Davis refused to accept it, but immediately promoted him to the rank of major general, and thus saved to the southern cause the services of the greatest military genius that has astonished the world since Napoleon the Great.”

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Change of Plans

Romney has been occupied by Confederate forces, and "Stonewall" has the prize he has long coveted, but he remains dissatisfied.  Looking north toward the Potomac River, he sees an immense supply depot at Cumberland, Maryland, which he decides can be taken with quick action.  Jackson plans to send the Stonewall Brigade, along with Colonel Taliaferro's Fifth Brigade of the Army of the Northwest, on a fast march from Romney toward Cumberland to destroy the railroad bridge and capture the supplies.  These plans fall through, however, due to the exhaustion of the troops.  Many of Jackson's and Taliaferro's regiments are down to a shadow of their former strength due to sickness, with a flood of ill soldiers overwhelming facilities in Winchester.  That, coupled with near mutinous sentiment in the Army of the Northwest, forces Jackson to cancel his advance.  He advises the Confederate Secretary of War, Judah P. Benjamin, that he is making arrangements for putting the army into winter quarters:

Romney, January 20, 1862,

Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: Though the enemy have retreated to the Potomac, yet they continue in possession of the frontier of this district from 7 miles below Cumberland to the Alleghany. On the 1st of this month there was not a single loyal citizen of Morgan County who in my opinion could with safety remain at home, and the same may be said respecting the most valuable portion of Hampshire County. A kind Providence has restored to us the entire county of Morgan and nearly the entire county of Hampshire, but so long as the enemy hold possession of the railroad bridge 5 miles below Cumberland and the two railroad bridges above Cumberland they can make dangerous inroads upon us.

On last Friday night I designed moving rapidly with my old brigade and one of General Loring's, for the purpose of destroying one of the railroad bridges across the North Branch of the Potomac west of Cumberland and thus cut off their supplies from the west, and consequently force them to reduce their army in front of me; but as General Loring's leading brigade, commanded by Colonel Taliaferro, was not in a condition to move, the enterprise had to be abandoned. Since leaving Winchester, on the 1st instant, the troops have suffered greatly, and General Loring has not a single brigade in a condition for active operations, though in a few days I except they will be much improved, and will, if placed in winter quarters, be able to hold this important portion of the valley, but these quarters should be well selected and the positions strengthened, and hence the great importance of having a good engineer officer. It will not do for me to remain here much longer, lest General Banks should cross the Potomac. Consequently in a few days I expect to leave this place, taking with me Garnett's brigade. I have written to General Johnston that, unless otherwise directed, General Loring's command will go into winter quarters in the South Branch Valley, General Carson's at Bath, General Meem's at Martinsburg, and Garnett's at Winchester. The cavalry will be distributed at various points along the northern frontier. General Bogg's brigade, which principally belongs to the South Branch Valley, will be distributed over the section of country to which it belongs.

It is very desirable that the troops should go into winter quarters as soon as possible, so I trust that you will send me the best engineer officer you can, though it be for only ten days.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, P. A. C. S., Commanding

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January 17, 1862

For the past several days, General Thomas J. Jackson’s Valley Army has been struggling through terrible winter conditions as it moves toward Romney.  The Stonewall Brigade, under General Richard Garnett, entered the town on January 15.  General Loring’s brigades of the Army of the Northwest reach Romney by the 17th.  The sight that greets the troops is appalling, for the Union garrison had vandalized the town before retreating.  “Nearly every dwelling, mill, and factory,” wrote Dr. Robert L. Dabney, Jackson’s friend and soon-to-be chief of staff, “. . . was consumed; the tanneries were destroyed, and the unfinished hides slit into ribbons; the roadside was strewed with the carcasses of milk-kine, oxen, and other domestic animals, shot down in mere wantonness. As they came in view of the town, lately smiling in the midst of rural beauty, scarcely anything appeared, by which it could be recognized by its own children, save the everlasting hills which surround it. Gardens, orchards, and out-buildings, with their enclosures, were swept away; the lawns were trampled by cavalry horses into mire; many of the dwellings were converted into stables, and the blinds and wainscot torn down for fuel; and every church, save one, which the Federal commander reserved for the pious uses of his own chaplains, was foully desecrated.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rumblings of Discontent

The troops of the First Georgia, as well as the rest of the Army of the Northwest, are beginning to question the competence of the hero of Manassas, General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.  The general's determination to occupy Romney regardless of the horrible winter conditions is also causing the men to wonder about his sanity as well.  Letters filtering back to Georgia are full of rantings against Jackson, as evidenced in this missive, written by a soldier from his sickbed in Winchester, and printed in the Columbus Daily Enquirer:

The First Georgia Regiment—Their
Services and Sufferings.

We take the following interesting extracts from a private letter received in this city:

WINCHESTER, VA., Jan. 16, 1862.

* * We are all completely worn out, having suffered greatly from our trip to Bath and Hancock. Our Regiment is completely broken up, there being not over 100 men now left in ranks.

You may have heard some of the particulars of our recent trip to “the Springs”—a trip which, as the Editor of the Winchester Republican says, “was certainly not undertaken by Gen. Jackson for pleasure or for health of himself or his command, unless they all have the constitutions of jackasses, which improve by being frosted all winter.” We had been promised to be paid off on the first of January; but instead of receiving our pay we received orders to pack up and march. We started toward Romney, which we all thought was our destination, but after marching five or six miles, we left the road and started toward Bath. Our trip has been a very hard one, and had told severely on our whole army and particularly on our regiment. Our brigade, or at least two regiments of it, ours and the 3d Virginia, were in the advance—did all the advance picket and guard duty. We slept every night except three for two weeks in the snow, without tents or blankets, and for three days had not a mouthful to eat. I had thought that in the retreat from Laurel Hill we had seen the worst phase of a soldier’s life, but I think I only express the feelings of a majority of our men when I say that I would rather take two such trips as that than go through the exposure and hardships of the last two weeks.

On our return we camped at a cross road about twenty miles from here, and staid there three or four days. From here many of our sick were sent back to Winchester; and on leaving camp, Monday, our regiment, which, when we left here on the 1st of January numbered nearly 700, marched with less than two hundred and fifty men. The rest had all broken down, and had to stop and come back. Our officers told us that if anyone had a bad cold, or was the least unwell, and did not feel perfectly able to undergo a severe winter campaign, they did not want them to go on with the army, but would advise them to get back to town as soon as possible.

This trip will cost the lives of over a thousand men, and nothing has been accomplished to repay this sacrifice. The army—what there is left of it—has gone on to Romney, I believe. We are all completely used up and sick, and shall stay here till we get better. Every hospital here is filled, and ever farm house between here and the army is crowded with sick soldiers. We have succeeded in getting a comfortable room here with a private family, and I think by taking care of ourselves, will soon be well again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

January 13, 1862

While his troops rested at Unger’s Store, General Jackson received an electrifying message from Colonel Ashby – the Federal troops had evacuated Romney.  Orders flew from Jackson’s headquarters that the army would march on January 13.  Early that morning the soldiers left camp in the face of another winter storm, heading westward toward Romney.  Jackson’s lead element, the Stonewall Brigade, would reach Romney on the 15th, with General Loring’s troops finally reaching the town two days later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reporting To The Home Folks

As the Valley Army rested from its grueling, tortuous march through the snow and ice, some soldiers were able to put pen to paper and get letters off to their family and friends back in Georgia. Private Wiley Leatherwood of the Gate City Guards reported that his company was in good spirits:

[W]e returned to this place, which is the hardest camp you ever saw—on the side of a mountain, so cussed steep you have to pull up by bushes. It has snowed, and it is now deep, and here we are, camped in the woods, and do not know where we will go, or what we will do. Suffice it to say, if any fighting is to be done or any marching on hand, the G. C. G’s are sure to be in for it.

While on this march, we were six days without tents or blankets, and the ground all the time covered with snow—eating a little parched corn, or a biscuit, without salt or grease so much as once in forty-eight hours, and exposed all the time to the enemy’s guns; yet for one to have heard the peals of laughter or the loud huzzas from the G. C. G’s, you would have thought them in splendid quarters; and frequently while one wing of our regiment would be fighting, the other end would be playing poker or singing and dancing.

Another Georgian was not so exuberant:

Our brigade, or at least two regiments of it, the 12th Georgia and the 3d Virginia, were in the advance—did all the advance picket and guard duty. We slept every night except three for two weeks in the snow, without tents or blankets, and for three days had not a mouthful to eat. I had thought that in the retreat from Laurel Hill we had seen the worst phase of a soldier's life, but I think I only express the feelings of a majority of our men when I say that I would rather take two such trips as that than go through the exposure and hardships of the last two weeks.

The 1st Georgia regiment, which when we left here on the 1st of January numbered nearly 700, marched with less than two hundred and fifty men. The rest had all broken down and been sent off to the hospitals; and on Tuesday morning about 100 of these had broken down, and had to stop and come back. This trip will cost the lives of over a thousand men.

Captain Samuel Crump of the Walker Light Infantry described his efforts to stay healthy in the severe weather:

Where we go to next from here, no one knows, our General properly keeping his own secrets. Our army is numerous enough to make an advance anywhere. We can drive any force before us that we advance upon. We may go to Romney, but I doubt it. If we take it, which is certain, it will be of no use to us, as we will be too far from our provisions. It is my impression that we will go into winter quarters at this camp, as we have everything we want here, wood, water, &c., and can guard all points from this place. We are all well, except colds. The exposure in this climate without tents half the time, and nothing to eat for twenty-four hours, very often, of course, will produce more or less sickness. My health and Joe’s never was better. Two things I am careful about in this climate—keeping my chest and feet always warm, wearing flannel next to me, and two pairs woolen socks always; by this means I don’t suffer from cold any more here than at home, although the ground nearly all the time is covered with snow. I have, at last, learned to take care of myself, as you will perceive.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8, 1862

Colonel Taliaferro’s Fifth Brigade (including the First Georgia) staggers into the small crossroads known as Unger’s Store, with the rest of Jackson’s Valley Army coming in over the next two days. Jackson sends out orders to have the troops bathe and for horses to be rough-shod.  Hundreds of sick men are sent on to Winchester, where they quickly overwhelm the hospitals.  Scores of ill soldiers are billeted in private homes. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7, 1862

Confederate troops begin breaking camp early in the morning as Jackson begins his withdrawal, with the wagon train in the lead. The worst winter storm yet strikes as the column struggles along. Compacted by hooves, wagon wheels, and thousands of feet, the snow is compressed into sheets of ice. Men and horses are constantly falling on the slippery ground. Private Walter Clark of the Oglethorpe Infantry would recall that “the roads were slick as glass. The horses had to be rough-shod and the wheels rough-locked with chains to cut the frozen sleet and snow in descending the hills, and even with these precautions the horses would fall and be dragged to the bottom of the descent before a halt could be made. Twelve horses would be hitched to a single piece of artillery and details were made from each company to push the wagons up the hills. To men not inured to such hardships the experience was a pretty rough one and the criticisms of the winter campaign made by some would not look well in a Sunday school book. Osborne Stone’s Presbyterian training would not allow him to use any cuss words, but I remember that his “dog-on-its” were frequent and emphatic.”

Another soldier would later write that he “had thought that in the retreat from Laurel Hill we had seen the worst phase of a soldier’s life, but I think I only express the feelings of a majority of our men when I say that I would rather take two such trips as that than go through the exposure and hardships of the last two weeks.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

January 6, 1862

Cannon balls crisscross the air over the Potomac River as General Jackson’s gunners keep up their bombardment of Hancock while Union batteries answer from the Maryland side. As the day wears on, Federal reinforcements enter Hancock from the north. Construction on the bridge being built by the Fourteenth Tennessee moves at a snail’s pace as the soldiers struggle to work in the freezing water. Jackson realizes that his chances of forcing Hancock are dimming with each hour, and as the day nears its end, he finally decides that he has done enough by driving the northern troops off from his flank. “Stonewall” issues orders to withdraw back to Bath, beginning early next morning.

As the Georgians prepare to spend their last night on the bluffs overlooking the Potomac, they are relieved when their wagon train finally pulls up. For the first night since they left Winchester, they will sleep in their own tents.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5, 1862

“Stonewall’s” troops spend a horrific night in the sub-freezing temperatures along the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. Little shelter is available due to the lagging behind of the wagons containing their tents. Soldiers huddle near fires for warmth. One soldier later reports that he didn’t stand picket, he ran picket in order to keep from freezing. Private Sam Watkins of the First Tennessee Regiment is horrified as his detachment discovers several Georgians frozen to death. “Some were sitting down and some were lying down; but each and every one was as cold and as hard frozen as the icicles that hung from their hands and faces and clothing--dead! They had died at their post of duty. Two of them, a little in advance of the others, were standing with their guns in their hands, as cold and as hard frozen as a monument of marble--standing sentinel with loaded guns in their frozen hands!”

Carrying a demand for the Union troops to surrender, Colonel Turner Ashby crosses the Potomac to confer with Federal commander General Frederick Lander. Jackson’s message advises that if Lander does not surrender, “Stonewall” will open on the town with with his batteries on the town. Lander’s reply is to give his compliments to General Jackson and “tell him to bombard and be damned!” Jackson orders his gunners to open fire at 2:00 pm. He also sends the Fourteenth Tennessee two miles upstream to begin construction of a bridge.

The soldiers huddle around their campfires as they prepare to endure another frigid night. In a letter to the Atlanta Southern Confederacy, one Georgian describes his environment: “Sunday night a heavy snow fell covering terra firma with a white carpet at least three inches thick. Our wagon train being several miles in our rear, we had to remain in this snow storm without tents or provision, and but one blanket to shield us from that slow-falling, flaky offspring of dew and frost. Of course there was but little sleeping done that night by our boys. Occasionally one, worn down of fatigue, would sink into a disturbed slumber as he sat near the camp fire”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 4, 1862

As morning dawns on January 4, Jackson aligns his brigades for the push into Bath. The First Georgia, along with the Twenty-First and Twenty-Third Virginia, is placed on the main road leading into town, while other regiments line up along the base of the ridges on either side of the valley. Furious after artillery fire from Warm Springs Ridge brings Colonel Gilham’s brigade to a halt, Jackson orders the First Tennessee onto the ridge to take the guns.

Confederate cavalry, led by Lt. Col. William S. H. Baylor, charges into Bath. The Georgians and Virginians on the main road rush up the main road into town, led by General Jackson himself. The Federal garrison retreats, heading north toward the Potomac River crossings at Sir Johns Run and Hancock, Maryland. Jackson orders the First Georgia and Twenty-Third Virginia, along with cavalry under Colonel Turner Ashby, forward to pursue the retiring Union troops. He next directs General Loring to move his brigades north in hopes of capturing the Federals before they can escape across the Potomac, while the Stonewall Brigade remains in Bath to hold the town. The Union soldiers make it over the river to the safety of Hancock, much to Jackson’s irritation.

Jackson directs his troops to take position on the bluffs overlooking the Potomac, but orders that there be no fires that would give away their locations. As night falls, the temperatures plunge below freezing. A soldier from the Oglethorpe Infantry voices the anger of the men toward “Stonewall:”  "We were not allowed to build fires, lest the enemy should shell us. Men walked up and down, to and fro, to keep warm. Now and then we could see a little blaze started--somebody disobeying orders--and then an order “put out that fire” – “wait until the General has his fire, then you can have yours.” Here we stood shivering and hungry.” At 1:00 am, Jackson finally relents and allows the men to build fires.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 3, 1862

General Jackson wants to attack the Union garrison at Bath on January 3rd, but his plans go awry.  His troops continue to labor along through the harsh winter conditions, but by mid-afternoon they are still close to three miles from the town.  After a brief skirmish with Federal pickets, Jackson orders General Loring’s lead brigade, under Colonel William Gilham, to advance into Bath.  Loring, furious with “Stonewall” for ordering an attack by cold and exhausted men, countermands Jackson’s order and directs his Army of the Northwest to go into bivouac.  Jackson is furious with Loring for this, leading to a heated exchange between the two officers.  Loring rails at Jackson for not keeping him apprised of his commander’s plans, at one point exclaiming that he “would find myself in command of an army of the object of whose movement I know nothing!”

Monday, January 2, 2012

January 2, 1862

“Stonewall’s” soldiers continue their march, struggling through ice covered roads and drifting snow. Jackson’s commanders are surprised when the general turns the column north, away from the direct route to Romney. Jackson intends to attack the town of Bath, Virginia (current day Berkeley Springs, West Virginia), to clear Union troops from his flank before driving on to Romney. The general’s penchant for keeping his officers uninformed of his plans will have serious consequences.

Late in the day, General Loring orders his troops to halt in order to build fires and cook rations. Shortly thereafter, a courier arrives from Jackson bearing orders to continue the march. Loring explodes. “By God, sir,” he roars, “this is the damnedest outrage ever perpetrated in the annals of history, keeping my men out here in the cold without food!”

Nonetheless, Loring gives the order to resume the march. As his regiments labor to move through the snowdrifts, they come upon swampy terrain, becoming badly intermingled as they struggle through the marsh. Finally reaching the far side, the exhausted troops are compelled to halt, falling out along the roadside where they had stopped. Private Lavender Ray of the Newnan Guards was one of those overcome with fatigue. “At last Capt. Wilkins Co. B swore that his men should go no farther and the other Capts. determined to stop also. So we were ordered to fall out on the roadside and build fires which we did. And here we remained all night in the cold without a blanket or anything to eat. Virginians, Georgians, Tennesseans were all mixed up around fires made of trash and pieces of dead wood as had no ax to cut with.” The head of Jackson’s column had covered only eight miles, reaching the crossroads known as Unger’s Store.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1, 1862

"Stonewall" Jackson
 As the New Year dawns, Major General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson begins his drive to take the strategic town of Romney, in western (now West) Virginia. Jackson believes that if he can drive out or capture the Federal garrison there, he will have a springboard to launch raids against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and possibly return Western Virginia to Confederate control.

Early on the morning of January 1, Jackson’s small army begins its march from Winchester, Virginia. His forces include his own vaunted Stonewall Brigade, as well as three brigades from the Army of the Northwest, commanded by Brigadier General William W. Loring. Loring’s Fifth Brigade, led by Colonel William B. Taliaferro, consists of the Third Arkansas, Twenty-Third Virginia, Twenty-Seventh Virginia, and Ramsey’s First Georgia.

Led off by the Stonewall Brigade, Jackson’s troops start out early on an unusually warm winter morning. The air is clear, and the temperature soon rises into the 50’s. Quickly becoming overheated in the mild temperatures, many of the soldiers discard their winter coats by piling them in wagons or simply tossing them alongside the road. By early afternoon, clouds laden with snow and ice are scudding overhead, and the temperatures plunge below freezing. As frozen precipitation coats the men’s clothing and equipment, the column struggles along. The wagons are now far in the rear, leaving the soldiers unable to retrieve their coats. By that evening, the column reaches the small community of Pughtown, barely eight miles from their starting point.