"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 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”

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