I just printed out the completed rough draft for “Confederate Encampments of Spotsylvania County: Campfires at the Crossroads” AND I’ve been busy this morning recording radio spots for AM 1230's TravelHost segments. (Plus there's bagels in the kitchen!) It doesn’t get any better than this folks.
UPDATE: In an effort to leave you, my beloved readers, with something that is actually interesting to read and not just a self-centered mention of my salivation over free bagels and a microphone, below is a short excerpt from the Winter Quarters section of my upcoming book “Confederate Encampments of Spotsylvania County: Campfires at the Crossroads.” This highly-original study is not all painful recollections of camp life and death. I also include some fun pieces and little-known events. For instance…
It is understandable that troops who were stuck in winter quarters would search for new forms of merriment in order to break up their day-to-day routines. Although a thick blanket of snow made for uncomfortable sleeping arrangements it did allow men to be boys. Sometimes snowball fights would erupt, pitting large groups of soldiers against one another. It has been said that the largest military snow exchange occurred in Northern Virginia on January 29th, 1863 when a group of Texans initiated a battle against their compatriots from Arkansas. The melee spilled over into other camps and resulted in a scuffle involving over 9,000 soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia. Similar friendly engagements took place across the county of Spotsylvania.
Entry from the journal of John Elsten Cooke, staff officer with General J.E.B. Stuart, ANV Cavalry:
Camp “No Camp” (Spotsylvania, VA)
Jan 30th ’63 …A great snowball battle among the Brigades which was worth seeing. Yesterday Hood’s Texans & Georgians issued from their camp near Lee’s Hdqrs. and led by Gen. [Brig. Gen. Micah] Jenkins attacked and routed [Brig. Gen. Joseph B.] Kershaw’s SZ. Carolinians camped toward Mrs. Alsop’s. Inflamed with victory the Hood boys today advanced in battle array with flags flying and led by their officers against [Brig. Gen. Thomas R.R.] Cobb of [Maj. Gen. Lafayette] McLaw’s Div. (as Kershaw is). The camp is just back of ours in the pines. The scene was a lively and funny one. The Hoodites charged into the camp, drove out the Andersonites [Wofford] and put them to rout. But they rallied got reinforcements, and drove the Hoodites from the woods, across the Telegraph road, and into the fields, with storms of balls (snow).
What was the horror of the Hoodites to see Kershaw’s men, drawn up on their left flank, ready to attack. They halted and their leader rode forward and parlayed – he demanded assistance against a common foe – the Yankee Anderson [Wofford]. A long parlay, refused at first, but compliance at last, and the combined forces attacked the enemy. Anderson was drawn up on the crest of a hill, and fought with desperation but numbers overpowered him. He fell back in confusion, his foes pursued; and burst into his camp. “Come on boys!” was the cry “here’s your blankets, your cooking utensils, and everything!” Some thought they were in earnest. Then Hood as usual conquered.
The scene was a very good mimic battle. The men advanced and fell back, deployed, and charged – turned the enemy’s flank, and “carried on” generally like real fighters. They had guidons for flags; and the regiments marched in very good order to the battle. There were many officers galloping about with irresistible air of leading their men – others were shouting in furious tones to stragglers – and snow balls flew as thick as leaves in an autumn wind. I saw it from horseback and laughed heartily I think I will write it out for the Whig or the News.
Source: Trout, Robert J. With Pen and Saber: The Letters and Diaries of J.E.B. Stuart's Staff Officers (Stackpole Books, January 1995)