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12th Vermont Infantry

12th Regiment, Arriving in Virginia

Army Life in Virginia



The following, as being an account of the movements of the 2d Vt. Brigade, in which are so many who have friends in this county, will read with interest. It was written to the Burlington Free Press under date of Nov. 1st., at Picket Station, No. 35, Union Lines, Mount Pleasant, Fairfax Co., Va., five miles from Mount Vernon.

You see the 12th is making some progress. We are on the “ Richmond Road”, if not on the road to Richmond.

I promised in my last, I believe, some description of the first camping ground of the Vt. 2d Brigade on the soil of the “ Mother of Presidents,”, but our stay in it was not long enough to make it worth while to spend much time or paper on a description. We pitched out tents on the side clean, inviting stretch of oak timber, not far from the famous “ Munson’s Hill. A few rods in the rear ran a stream of clear sweet water, which we find the  Virginia streams composed of.. The contrast between the spot and the bare Sahara-like surface of East Capitol Hill, was delightful to us. Here was a mat of furry grass between us and the everlasting clay; here was shade in the heat of the day --- the mid-day sun is hot here, yet;---here was wood --- wood to burn, if  we wished a fire anywhere; forked sticks for toasting-forks and clothes hearses and gun racks, to be had for the cutting;---wood to whittle, when one had time to indulge in that Yankee past time. Here was overflowing water in abundance. How different from that stretch of desert where not a sliver for a tooth pick could be had at less than $25 a thousand, and water only came through a tribulation, and by the pail full for a company.  It was a right pleasant spot, and we voted at once that we wanted no better for winter quarters.

We lost no time now in waiting to see if we should stay here some days, but began at once to be comfortable. The lumber on which to raise the tents, for some of the boys had followed them, and was put at once to its proper use, others split flat shook’s, and made them answer in the place of boards Others stockaded their tents with small logs, and filled the cracks with fringes of cedar. The camps ( the five regiments were stretched along side by side) hummed with activity. The woods were filled with men, apparently on a big pic-nic. It lasted just one day! Orders were out for a grand review on the parade  ground at Fort Albany, near by us, on Saturday morning. The regiments marched out to it at ten o’clock, only to be turned back by orders for two regiments to strike tents and march at once,--and at 12 o’clock the 12th and 13th were in the line of march. Our A tents we left behind us, and we carried on our knapsacks, each man his half, the little shelter tents. At half past 12 we started for Alexandria. Col. Randall, in the temporary absence of Col. Blunt, taking  the command, and the 13th leading. Col. Randall had ridden ahead, and our gait for the first two miles, was set by an inexperienced officer of the 13th, who probably forgot the men could not march with heavy knapsacks on their backs, at the pace of his fast walking roadster, without falling out. It was a very hot day. The men sprang to it, at a smart walk for the long legged- ones, and on the keen jump for the short men.

We passed some squads of old reg’ts. “Where is the fight, boys?”, was the first question. “ There must be one”, they add --- new are not marched like that unless they are wanted in a mighty hurry“. We get a rest in two miles, in time to save a third of the two regiments from falling out, but the men got “blown” at the outset, and it made the march a pretty hard one. We passed through Alexandria about four o’clock; as we entered the city we passed through the camps of the patroled ( paroled?) men and convalescents, which line the road. They came out by hundreds to see us go by, and laughed at our well-stuffed knapsacks. “ you’re green” they said. “ you’ll heave them away before you march many more marches, then you’ll see where you missed it.” “We see where you missed it” replied  Dick E.------, the funny man of the company, whose supply of “chaff” is inexhaustible---” it was when you threw away that soap and towel so soon.” This hit at the unwashed appearance of the first spokesman and his crowd, and  brought a roar of laughter from three hundred  hearers,and the” uncalled for remark” dried up suddenly. After a halt in the outskirts of the city, we passed across Hunting Creek, to a camping ground in a field on the southern side.

After dinner on Sunday we marched south on the Mount Vernon Road about a mile and a half, to our present ground.

From The New York Tribune of Monday
War Correspondence

Headquarters of Gen. Franklin: Whiteplains, Va., Nov. 7,1862
We are encamped to-day on Manassas Gap Railroad, 45 miles from Washington, and 50 miles from Gen. Lee. As I expected a week ago, the rebels have again escaped us. The moment this vast army commenced crossing the Potomac, Gen. Longstreet, commanding the largest corps in Gen. Lee’s army, also commenced moving  across the Blue Ridge at Ashby and Chester Gaps, and was safe behind the Rappahannock before Gen. Pleasant fired a shot at Stuart’s formable cavalry  who were leading him into the valley of the Shenandoah. Jackson is still reported to be in the valley, but I doubt it. If he is, then nothing will we more easy than for him to escape, and it must seem like a folly to pursue him, where we have been so often tricked and foiled. Six months ago today I stopped at this same little railroad station while accompanying the Army of the Rappahannock in a chase after Jackson. With that splendid army we chased the Rebel general through these hills and up the valley of the Shenandoah; but all we caught was a few hundred half-starved and ragged stragglers, and a good whipping at Port Republic. Jackson eluded the grasp of 70,000 men then, arriving from different points, and he will certainly be able to slip away from Gen. Siegel now,  as good General as he is.

The scene presented along the line of this railroad this morning is one of the most picturesque imaginable. A fierce north-east snow-storm is prevailing. From Thoroughfare Gap to Fort royal, a vast army of 200,000 is encamped. Immediately around this station, every hill and meadow and forest seems filled with troops. In the woods the musket has been laid aside and the ax taken up, and on all sides the crash of falling timber can be constantly heard. Huge camp fires are blazing and crackling beneath the trees and out upon the meadows. Groups of chilled and snow covered soldiers are standing around the fires, cursing Gen. Lee, who is forever leading them on, but seldom offering a battle, discussing the recent elections of the Northern States. The New York papers, just received via Harper’s Ferry, announcing with a flourish the trumpets that Gen. Lee’s army has been hemmed in the valley of the Shenandoah, and that McClellan will get to Richmond before him, created no little merriment. Snickers Gap, Ashby’s Gap, Hooperville Gap, and Manassas Gap are all said to be ours; and so they are, and what in the name of Heaven, has there been for the past ten days to prevent them from being in our possession?

The single fact of having reached these Gaps swinging this tremendous army along the base of the Blue Ridge has been heralded in telegrams from headquarters of the Commanding general as a victory. Nothing could be more absurd. By the main body of the army not a shot has been fired or a Rebel seen since it crossed the Potomac. Pleasanton followed where Stuart led, and quite as many were wounded on our side as on the enemy’s. Stuart captured an entire company of our Cavalry,  but I have not heard of our taking anything more then the usual number of stragglers.

The marching of this great army from Maryland, and especially that of Franklins Corpse from the vicinity of Hagerstown, has been most admirable. The soldiers all carried their knapsacks, guns, shelter tents, and blankets on their backs, and marched so rapidly that they were  supposed by some of the planters along the road to be upon a double-quick. All, too, were in admirable spirits, and sang and joked  as if a summer, instead  of a winter’s campaign was before them. Congratulations, too, was constantly being expressed that this time we had got them ( the rebels); that “”Little Mac.) knew what he was about, and would hammer the rabble to jelly before they got out of the valley. This morning, however, as the truth begins to steal through the army, now a little murmuring is heard., and fear is being entertained that we are to go to Winter quarters in this, the most desolate and thoroughly scraped portion of Virginia.

The inches of snow has already gathered upon the ground this morning. The day is most disagreeable of the campaign, and many will doubtless, be sent to the hospitals before the close of the week.

Ricketts, who commanded a division in the corps of Hooker, has been assigned to the command of the post at Harper’s ferry. He is a brave and able officer, and no fears need be entertained that if again invested by Jackson, or any other rebel, it will be cowardly surrendered. 

Submitted by Deanna French.