December 25, 1862: Christmas Day. Gen. Rosecrans calls a meeting of his corps commanders to plan the route the army would take in the coming campaign. At the meeting’s end, he shocks everyone by announcing that the advance would begin tomorrow---that the army would step off toward Murfreesboro tomorrow.
---George Michael Neese, of Chew’s Battery in the Confederate Artillery, writes in his journal of his unit being part of a reconnaissance in force down the Shenandoah Valley:
December 25 — This is Merry Christmas. This morning we resumed our march early and moved down the Valley nearly to Kernstown, where we encountered the Yankees and gave them a Christmas greeting in the shape of a few shell. We took the same position we held at the battle of Kernstown last spring. About sixty sharpshooters advanced on our position and attempted to drive us away. We opened fire on them with two guns and fired three rounds, which thoroughly settled the sharpshooting business for this Christmas.
---Isaac Adams Howard, of the 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, writes home to his father in Gonzalez, Texas, with news about the Fredericksburg battle and of a Christmas spent in camp:
I suppose you will have heard of the great battle of Fredericksburg before this letter reaches you. The Yankees sustained the most utter and terrible defeat probably that they have experienced during the war. It was the most glorious victory we have ever gained. Our loss is trifling in comparison with the enemy according to Gen. Lee’s report of the battle our loss was 1800 killed wounded and missing while that of the enemy according to their own Statement was 15.500 and many of their papers place it as high as 20.000. Not more than one half of our forces were engaged [our?] brigade didn’t fire a gun. . . . I think that we will go into winter quarters soon, as the Yankees seem to be disgusted with their ill success of this winters campaign & they are said to be going back to the Potomac to go into winter quarters. The Yankee scoundrels almost completely destroyed Fredericksburg. They vented their malice & spleen in the most wanton manner. Breaking up and destroying whatever they could not remove. Nothing was too pure or sacred for their unbridled lust. The very churches were pillaged of whatever value or ornament they contained. The retribution they received for their iniquitous proceedings was sudden and terrible. The town was literally choked with [their?] dead. There was 5.000 dead bodies of Yankee soldiers lying stiffening on that [?] field the day after the fight. . . . The Yankee army would have been nearly annihilated. . . .
The weather for the last few days has been admirable and to day it is mild and beautiful as any Christmas I ever remember having seen in Texas.
Tell Ma not to be the least uneasy about my personal comfort. I have plenty of good clothes and blankets and have been in excellent health ever since the fall set in.
There aint much preparation for Christmas in camp. The boys are in excellent spirits however not much doing in the eggnog line but with butter, molasses, sugar, confederate [cake] and apples from the sutlers and peas [?] roast-beef and hot biscuit from our own [?] we managed to make out a pretty good dinner. I wish I could send some apples. Nice red rosy cheeked fellows to Nellie and Susie. Bless their little hearts.
Sergeant Howard will be killed in battle seven months later at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.