Site Logo

12th Vermont Infantry

Army Life in Virginia

XXII.
More Snow Storms.

Camp Near Wolf Run Shoals, Va.,
February 22, 1863.

Dear Free Press:

I beg leave to withdraw my opinion that the back-bone of the winter if not of the rebellion was broken, in this region. The time is coming, undoubtedly, when both will be shattered; but at present the dorsal columns of the season and of secession are not fractured--distinctly not. I am writing in the midst of the hardest snow storm we have seen in Virginia, and one that would not disgrace the bleakest hillside in Old Vermont. The diary of the weather for six days past may be interesting as a sample of a Virginia winter; Tuesday, a fall from ten to twelve inches of heavy snow. Wednesday, snow settling fast, and affording material from some tall snow-balling in the afternoon. [Mem. The left wing led by Company C, after a hot battle with the right wing, rallied for a charge, engaged them at half pop-gun range and drove them into their entrenchments,--casualties, two bloody noses and three or four contused eyes from percussion snow balls.

N. B. Wounded all doing well.] Thursday, pouring rain, which carried off the remainder of the snow. Friday, high wind, drying the mud rapidly. Saturday, warm, bright sunshine,--air like May; bluebirds and robins singing, men all out "policing" up the quarters and camp, and enjoying the sweet breath of spring. Sunday opens dark and cold, with a heavy storm of dry snow falling at the rate of an inch an hour, drifted as it falls by a cutting east wind, and closes at nightfall with not much short of eighteen inches on a level, and promise of a cold snap of several days' duration.

Picket service is decidedly rough at such a time, and some mothers' hearts I know of would ache could they see their boys out on the picket line, cowering under their booths of pine branches through which the snow and wind find easy entrance, and holding their wet and chilled hands and feet to the fires which struggle for mastery with the storm and at best can only avail to surround them with circles of sposh and mud. But we keep up good heart amid sun or storm, and before this reaches the eyes of our friends, sunshine and mild weather will have returned to us.

It may be thought, perhaps, that there is no need of keeping men out on picket at such a time; but our surroundings here have taught us that constant vigilance, by night and day in all weathers, is the price of safety. We are in the enemy's country, if it is but twenty-five miles from Washington. The inhabitants of this region are all "secesh." As wherever we have been in Virginia, the young and able bodied men are all gone. The old men are just quiet and civil enough when in the presence of our soldiers to keep themselves from arrest; but render what aid and comfort they give to any one, to the other side. The women are "shecesh" without exception; the little girls sing rebel songs, and the hoop-less, dirty and illiterate young ladies of these F. F. V.'s boast that their brothers and sweethearts are in the rebel army, and chuckle over the time coming, when the roads settle, when Stonewall Jackson will rout us out of here in a hurry. One or two skirmishes of the Michigan cavalry with White's rebel cavalry have occurred near us recently, in one of which our side lost fifteen men, and a cavalry picket was cut off but two days ago within three miles of our camp. Our position at this post is, however, a tolerably strong one; we have here, with our two regiments, the Third Connecticut battery, Captain Sterling, six brass guns manned by a fine set of fellows; and we are now connected by telegraph with Fairfax Station and Washington, so that reinforcements could be quickly sent out if we should be attacked. I think we could make a stout fight by ourselves if necessary, and hold the post against a much superior force.

I was about to submit some patriotic considerations in view of the fact that this is Washington's birthday, but I spare you.

The regiment has sustained a serious loss in the resignation of Captain Landon of the Rutland company, who has been compelled by business interests to retire from the service. He was an excellent officer and will be much missed by his brother officers.

Our new assistant surgeon, Dr. Ross, has arrived and entered upon his duties.

Yours,

B.


Go Back Go Home Next Page