Thursday, January 16, 2014

December 22, 1863

December 22, 1863

---Virginia:  Two columns of Federal cavalry, under Averell and Wells, are moving south up the Shenandoah Valley, faced by only one understrength brigade of Rebel horsemen under Brig. Gen. John Imboden, so Lee sends three brigades of infantry under Maj. Gen. Jubal Early to stop the Yankee incursion.  The Federals turn around and head back north, and Early and Imboden give chase.  But the weather turns bad, and temperatures drop far below freezing.  The Confederates are poorly clothed, and their advance slows.

---George Michael Neese, a Confederate soldier serving with Chew’s Battery of artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia, writes in his journal of the hazards of a march in winter:

December 22— We renewed our march this morning, but made little progress, as it took us the entire day to march six miles. Our horses stalled at every hill on the road. At one place one of the drivers became so vexed and aggravated at his balking horses that he dismounted and drew out his pocket knife with the determination to cut their throats; however, before he proceeded with the deadly operation he asked me what I thought of his intention. I told him it was most too late in the campaign, and that we were near the end of our march for this year, for anything of that kind. He hesitated a moment, with his knife open and ready to cut. I saw that he was in earnest, so I advised him not to commit the rash deed, as it might prove to be a serious affair in the end, when the officers of the company heard of the murder. He then put his knife in his pocket and went to work on his horses with a hoop pole.

We forded the north fork of the Rivanna this morning, which took us just three hours, in consequence of the ford being very icy and the south bank on coming out place slippery and very steep. One of our artillery horses fell down in the middle of the river and was very near being drowned before we could extricate it from the harness. One of the cannoneers stripped off his clothes and plunged into the icy water and assisted the struggling horse to rise from its perilous submerged situation.

---The New York Times reports on the debates in the Congress on a bill that is passed opening up the draft as well as enlistment to men of all color:

The vote in the House to-day upon the enlistment and payment of colored troops, precipitated by a Democratic call for the yeas and nays, which the Republicans clinched, was of great political interest. FERNANDO WOOD was thrown by it among the War Democrats. Those who voted against letting black men fight, and in favor of compelling white men to bear the whole brunt of the war, did so with maledictions at the necessity which compelled them to vote.

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