“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.