"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.

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.”

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