Monday, December 10, 2012

December 9, 1862

December 9, 1862:  Gen. Burnside calls a council of war with his subordinates Franklin, Hooker, and Sumner.  Burnside argues that the Federal army can cross and attack at Fredericksburg because Lee would not expect them to do it.  His general are not supportive of the idea, and when they share it with their corps, division, and brigade commanders, there is open and bitter opposition.  Darius Couch and Winfield S. Hancock are the most vocal among the critics of the plan.
Sketch of Union artillery position at Falmouth, overlooking Fredericksburg, Virginia

---George Grenville Benedict, of the 12th Vermont Infantry in the Army of the Potomac, writes home about the regiment’s festivities for Thanksgiving,, including a rowdy game of “football” (probably closer to modern-day rugby):

Thanksgiving was the second “big thing” of the past fortnight. It was not quite what it would have been had the six or seven tons of good things sent to different companies from Vermont arrived in season; but it was emphatically a gay and festive time. The day was clear, air cool and bracing, sunshine bright and invigorating. The boys of our company made some fun over their Thanksgiving breakfast of hard tack and cold beans, but possessed their souls in patience in view of the forthcoming feast of fat things, for we had heard that our boxes from home were at Alexandria, and the wagons had gone for them. . . . Company I had a big box, and made a big dinner, setting the tables in the open air, to which they invited the field and staff officers. Two or three men of Company C received boxes, with as many roast turkeys, which they shared liberally with their comrades, so that a number of us had Thanksgiving fare, and feasted with good cheer and a thousand kind thoughts of the homes and friends we left behind us. We knew that they were thinking of us at the same time. If each thought of affection and good will had had visible wings, what a cloud of messengers would have darkened the air between Vermont and Virginia that day!

At 2 o’clock, the regiment turned out on the parade ground. The colonel had procured a foot ball. Sides were arranged by the lieutenant colonel, and two or three royal games of foot ball —most manly of sports, and closest in its mimicry of actual warfare—were played. The lieutenant colonel, chaplain and other officers, mingled in the crowd; captains took rough-and-tumble overthrows from privates; shins were barked and ankles sprained; but all was given and taken in good part. Many joined in games of base ball; others formed rings and watched the friendly contests of the champion wrestlers of the different companies; others laughed at the meanderings of some of their comrades, blindfolded by the colonel and set to walk at a mark. It was a ”tall time” all round. . . .

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