TRT: 22:45 Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVxwLouaet0
Chapterette 10: A Love-Prospecting Henry Kyd Douglas Writes Tippie Boteler from a 2nd Virginia Infantry Encampment Amid the Worst Winter Weather Conditions in West Virginia, Yet Perhaps Unable to Warm Her Heart.
January, 1862 – A “Chilling” Account of “Stonewall” Soldierhood
Letter from Henry Kyd Douglas to Tippie Boteler, Winchester, January 12, 1862.
My Dear Miss Tippie – I’ve been to the Springs since I read your delightful last (letter). It may appear to common people as a very peculiar taste but it is a matter of taste alone, and as I never enjoyed the pleasure of visiting this or that locality in the summer and in time of peace, I did have an opportunity of going to Bath (Berkeley Springs) in winter, when everything was gilded with snow. You perceive therefore that the “one great wish so new to all hearts” that our Brigade might not be sent to Romney, was gratified in a very Delphic and to us unsatisfactory manner. But we all stand on a level (I mean all of Jackson’s and Loring’s commands) now. Before this trip it was a common thing for the members of Genl. Loring’s command to remark that it was very true though Stone-Wall had seen some hard marching and a goodly share of sharp fighting, but they had never endured the hardships of the mountain bivouac, or been exposed to the blasts of western Virginia and its deep snow. They recounted their severe trials, their hair-breadth scrapes, in wonderful eloquence, until that credulous portion of Christendom – the female sex – listened with admiration and awe and began to the chagrin of us Jacksonites to love them for the dangers they had seen. But we’ve got even now. They have been compelled to admit that they have endured within the past two weeks what they never endured before. With sufficient degree of zeal, we will hereafter be able to hold our share of the sympathies of those who hear of this the hardest march since those of Napoleon. But it has had a terrible effect upon the troops, as the overflowing hospitals of Winchester attest. About eight hundred soldiers have been rendered unfit for duty by sickness and four-horse wagons are continually arriving filled with living evidences of the hardships we have seen, while scores of sick soldiers that cannot be accommodated are being daily sent off to Staunton and other hospitals. I think the sentimentalists who imagine that there is no way to die in war but in battle, would be shocked at the sight of those who are expiring without a wound, and would feel disposed to modify that Plato quotation,”Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” (Not by Plato, but from the Roman lyrical poet Horace’s Odes III.2.13 – JS). The line can be roughly translated into English as: “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country.) – (1).
But to begin at the beginning and be as brief as possible – for I’ve nothing else to write about and may as well fill my letter with a short account of our trip to the Springs (a la correspondent for news-paper) however uninteresting it may prove.
About 4 o’clock on New Year’s morning we were awakened by an untimely reveille and long roll. Every soldier knew before he left his bed (excuse my civilized style of saying “bed”) that a march was before him in celebration of the advent of 1862. No one knew whither, but a majority dolefully thought of Romney. About day-light we were on the way, puzzling as to our course. The day was pleasant, although rather warm for marching. It was soon evident that the whole army (militia included) was along and an active expedition was expected. About dark we bivouacked (which means we encamped within tents).
Our brigade was placed upon a high hill covered with pine-trees, resembling the spur of a mountain. Very soon the winds commenced blowing in real winter blasts and increasing in fierceness kept it up all night. Our baggage, being in the rear of the whole wagon train which was about 5 miles long, did not reach us at all that night and consequently we were left exposed to the “cold chilly winds” without a blanket and many without their overcoats. Pine fires were built, but the smoke and sparks were dashed in all directions so furiously that it was almost impossible to stand near enough to the fires to keep moderately comfortable (by moderately I mean one side – for while it would be warm the other side would be freezing).
Many threw themselves down on the ground, determined to try and sleep amid the smoke and sparks. The consequence was that very few of them escaped without burned clothes. I know I did not. I laid down by the fire and, covering my head with the cape of my overcoat, tried to sleep. I had just succeeded in getting into a nap when I was awaked by a severe shake and on looking up found several soldiers engaged in putting out the fire which had caught my overcoat in several places. Satisfied that sleep under the circumstances was impossible I stood by the fire for the rest of the night – and was duly thankful in the morning that I was still alive. At the sounds of the drum the march was resumed and continued until about 3 p.m. when we bivouacked until next morning and commenced the march again. This was a cold disagreeable day but we kept up the march until after 10 at night.
In the meantime we had white-spotted evidence that it was going to snow and to add to the disagreeability of the march, some poor fellows fell in the many runs we crossed after dark, and the ice on their clothes soon reminded one of sleighing times only this situation was not quite as comfortable as it might have been in ordinary times. That night we had more than our quantity of bed-clothing for, in putting my head out from under the blankets, whither it had been driven by sleet and snow, I found in the morning about two inches of the old goo(s)man’s geese feathers on top of my bed. I had observed frequently during the night that the snow (which is much more insinuating and curious than rain) had penetrated through the small crevices between the blankets and brought itself in very disagreeable contact with my head and face.
But I am getting admirably prolix. The next day we entered Bath and our brigade quartered there for the night. Our camp staid in a beautiful cottage built by Mr. McGilmer of Bath for a summer residence and slept on the spring lawn. It was beautifully furnished, French bedsteads, etc. oil-cloth and matting on the floor; innumerable beautiful engravings and some very handsome paintings around the walls – entirely too handsome for soldiers’ barracks. I should have preferred a good stable loft. But I’m glad to say nothing was injured and we left it very early next morning. But we had at least spent one night in Bath and that in the winter.
Did you ever read “The Daltons”? If so do you remember the description of Baden, the celebrated German watering place in winter. The resemblance to Bath is clear. To those who live at such a place all the time, the contrast between summer and winter must make either one or the other, according to the fancy, all most unendurable.
Just imaginatively repeople Bath with its summer visitors, gauze drapes, bare arms, low necks, light slippers, bare-heads – walking through the snow, stepping on ice, and watching the white rocks and leafless trees on the barren hill that rises up among the winds and seems to protect Bath. Wouldn’t it be a suggestive but strange sight? But we left Bath and went on to the river about four miles. The yankees had fled precipitately from Bath and owing to the cowardice and inefficiency of the contemptible militia, had escaped us, except about 24 prisoners. However, we got several yankee storage-houses with army stores to the value of 30 or 40,000 dollars, burned Capon Bridge and tore up a part of the B&O R. Road. Our camps fared very well in yankee plunder, some getting jackets, some hats, shoes etc. and some entering into speculations by selling what they had captured or stolen. But the suffering of the soldiers during these few days and until the army arrived where it now is, was greater, much greater than I had described, between rain, snow, ice and cold. It was the Valley Forge of the Revolution, even to the frozen and bleeding feet. I cannot bore you by a description and even if given it would seem almost incredible.
One little episode was decidedly interesting to the soldiers. Amid the snow and ice, several messes in our camp regaled themselves with corn and tomatoes, canned, taken from the yankees and as delightful and fresh as I have ever seen them in winter. The last march the army took to where it now is – was a dreadful one. The road was almost an uninterruptible sheet of ice, rendering it almost impossible for man or beast to travel, while by moonlight, the beards of the men, (not mine), matted with ice and glistening like crystals, presented a very peculiar yet ludicrous appearance. I have not been able to find a man in the 2nd Reg. who did not fall down at least twice. I laid down (rapidly and with emphasis) three times. 3 men in our brigade broke their arms falling, and several rendered their guns useless. Several horses were killed and many wagons were compelled to go into night quarters along the road, being unable to get along at all. Nearly all the march of 18 miles was made after dark. But I’ll describe (it) no further and but leave the brigade and regiment where it is – about 23 miles from here at Unger’s store.
How long they will remain there and what they will do next I know not, although I should not be surprised to see them here before long. Col. Ch. Jas. Faulkner has gone to Richmond for orders. You know he is one of Genl. Jackson’s aide de camp.
Probably you have asked what I am doing in Winchester with my company so far away. I arrived here last night. A general court martial convened by Genl. Johnston meets here to-morrow, of which I am Judge-Advocate, viz. prosecutor for the court, or in other words it is my duty to prepare and try all the cases brought before it. I have 15 to begin with and will be kept here at least 2 weeks, probably a month. I was ordered here (by) Genl. Jackson last night and came with Ned Lee who is a member of the court. Were it not for the court I would now be in Shepherdstown, as I could have received a furlough several days ago, but was detained and sent here for duty. I am certainly not sorry to get away from camp, although the duties of a Judge-Advocate are many and his responsibility great. I will send this letter to you at Shepherdstown although it is probably from what you said in your last that you are in Lynchburg. Hoping to hear from you very soon, with a letter that will rival mine in length, with many good messages to you, Ma and family, I am Yours in inexpressible friendship, Henry Kyd Douglas – (2).
February 11, 1862 – Winchester, Va. – Sickness Rewards Col. Allen with the Welcome Trappings of Home Life.
Because of sickness and duties like Douglas’ at the court-martial hearings in the Winchester Courthouse, Col. James Allen, the commander of the 2nd Virginia infantry, enjoyed the comforts of a home there and the presence of his wife, Julia, and their little son, Hugh. In a letter to James’ sister, Fanny, Julia wrote:
He was taken about ten days ago with a disorder of the stomach & bowels, which he neglected, & continued at the Court House every day through all the rain & mud until he was so weakened as to be forced to stay in and have a Doctor. He has now been in bed five days with more or less fever all the time, though the original disease is controlled, Nature seems to be slow in righting herself. He is kept on very light diet, Toast & Tea, Jelly and Oysters & by the way there is no Green Tea to be gotten in this place, and the Coffee, mostly or wholly Rye. I wish I could get at some of Mother’s stores now. Mr. A. won’t drink Black Tea which is Hobson’s choice here. The Dr. said he had no fever this morning and thinks he will be up in a day or two! – (3).
The Papers of Henry Kyd Douglas – Perkins Manuscript Division – Duke University
part of paragraph one – Julia Pendleton Allen Civil War Letter. A Confederate Officer’s Wife in Winchester, Virginia
Virginia Military Institute Archives. VMI Collection note: The original letter is privately owned. The owner provided the VMI Archives with a copy of the original and granted us permission to publish the letter on our website, so that its content could be made available to researchers.
The Daltons: Or, Three Roads in Life. Published 1859 by Chapman and Hall.
Main Image Credits From Video
The Pension Claim Agent Eastman Johnson – 1867
Beyer, Edward. (1858). “Album of Virginia” Richmond, VA.: published by s.n. – Rockfish Gap and the Mountain House
Les chevreuils dans la neige, Gustave Courbet, huile sur toile, 54 x 72,5 cm, musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, France. Date circa 1866
Napoleon’s retreat from Pontin’s Southport by Adolph Northen
Horace reading before Maecenas by Fyodor Bronnikov
Horace, portrayed by Giacomo Di Chirico – wikipedia.org
Frozen Wappingers Falls, New York State
The Mud March, Giovanni Ponticelli
Mud March – Harpers Weekly, March 19 1864.
Baden-Baden, view from conversation house, around 1850
Charles J. Faulkner – wikipedia.org
William W. Loring – wikipedia,org
The Vidette – from “The long roll” by Mary Johnston; with illustrations by N.C. Wyeth. Published 1911 by Houghton Mifflin Co., Riverside Press in Boston, Cambridge. p. 642.
Edwin Forbes sketch of a Civil War Soldier in Winter Camp. – Library of Congress
Rainy Day in Camp (also known as Camp near Yorktown) by Winslow Homer.
“Winter quarters on the Rappahannock- army huts of the One Hundred and Nineteenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, near Falmouth, Va.” Frank Leslie’s “Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War.” (New York, NY: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896).
Winter bivouac – “Battles and Leaders. Vol. 1.” (1887). Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel (Ed.). New York, NY: Century Co. p. 483.
Map showing Bath, Va. and the surrounding region – “Battles and Leaders. Vol. 2″. (1887). Robert Underwood Johnson, Clarence Clough Buel (Ed.). New York, NY: Century Co. p. 284.
Men sleeping; Men standing in the cold – Horace Carpenter. “Experiences of War Prisoners. Plain Living at Johnson’s Island.” The Century; a popular quarterly Volume 0041 Issue 5 (Mar 1891). p. 705; p. 711.
Autumn Scene in the North Carolina Mountains by William Aiken Walker
Sherry Sir? 1890 by Thomas Waterman Wood
Autumn Leaves 1870 by Thomas Waterman Wood
Autumn Scene on the Edge of A Cornfield by William Aiken Walker
Lying man, sick and thin – T. H. Mann. “A Yankee in Andersonville.” The Century; a popular quarterly Volume 0040 Issue 3 (July 1890). p. 447.
Harper’s Weekly, September 7, 1861, p. 569.
Winchester, Va. during Civil War – The National Park Service
A Visit from the Old Mistress 1876 by Winslow Homer
(detail) Girl Eating Oysters by Jan Steen
Ear of rye – wikipedia.org
Mucha-Untitled (seated woman with coffee cup) – wikimedia.org
NEXT: Chapterette 11. https://civilwarscholars.com/usct/thy-will-be-done-chapter-11-march-1862-freedom-comes-hard-to-rezin-davis-shepherd-and-almost-too-late-but-freedom-offered-by-hugh-pendleton-at-westwoo/