"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 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.

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