1863: Burnsides Mud March

Headquarters, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps
Camp near Falmouth, Virginia
January 21st 1862 [sic 1863]

Dear Friend,

Burnside's Mud March, January 1863

Your favor reached me yesterday and although I wrote you a few days previous, yet I take the liberty to trespass again on your patience, trusting that you will inform me if I write too often. The army are again on the move, or rather on the attempt to move but the Mud Oh! Mud is beyond description. It commenced raining again yesterday morning and at the same time the left Grand Division moved up toward the Right, to a position about 5 miles above Falmouth where I expect a crossing will be attempted. Last night and today the Center Grand Div. followed making a complete change of front. Sumner’s Grand div (the Right) remains as yet in its old position but are under marching orders and probably will go to night on in the morning if the men can possibly wallow through the mud. The roads present a woeful specticle. Wagons sunk half out of sight, mules tangled and floundering in every shape. Drivers look as thoug they had been hod carriers for years with out a changing their suit. Artillery making desparate efforts to get forward but all to no use. Mud is commander in chief and has ordered the army to halt. How long such a state of affairs is to exist I can not tell but I look for no change in 3 or 4 weeks. It will be impossible for the army to acomplish mutch untill there is some bottom to the roads.

I was very much pleased with the “paper” you sent me and I  shall strive some way so as to get regular ones. I feel very anxious to hear from John. It was rong in us to be seperated, but I find that milletary is far differant from civil life and ones will is very easily checked. I trust that the time will come when we shall all meet together where free speach will be tolerated and all will be “merry as a marriage Belle.”

Capt. Richard N. Batchelder

I am now a Wagon Master of the 1st Div. 2nd Army Corps with Capt. [Charles Henry] Hoyt, Chief Quarter Master, in whose care you will please direct letters to me. Capt. [Richard N.] Batchelder left the 2nd Division and I found I could better my pay by changing places and so far I am well satisfied with the change.

January 28th. Circumstances prevented me from finishing my letter the other day [and I hope you] will excuse all matter that is to old. You have doubtless seen the particulars of the fruitless attempt of the army to cross the Potomac and that they have again returned to their old quarters in somewhat dishartened state. Never before has the Army of the Potomac been so completely discouraged and it will require the energy and zeal of a McLellan to restore again that old cheerfulness and confidence which once made it the pride of the world.

It seems that we are no nearer peace today than we were 18 months ago yet I still have confidence that our countries bleeding wounds will be healed and wee will see the old Banner triumphantly waving but not untill the War Dept. undergoes a great change and the Administration looks at the Constitution of our Fathers as a thing that is — not a thing that has past.

It has been snowing here today for the first time this Winter. A snow storm as a general is not pleasantly received but I see so mutch in the bright, flowery flakes to remind me of home and its surroundings that I greet the storm with a smile. Please give me your sister’s full name and, as mutch above it as paper and a desire to please her sister’s friend will admit of. Write soon. — Charley

FOOTNOTES

General Ambrose E. Burnside

The Mud March was an abortive attempt at a winter offensive in January 1863 by Union Army Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside in the American Civil War. Following his defeat in the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, Burnside was desperate to restore his reputation and the morale of his Army of the Potomac. He planned a surprise crossing of the Rappahannock River south of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on January 1, 1863, to flank Robert E. Lee. At the same time, Union cavalry would cross the Rappahannock at Kelly’s Ford, 20 miles north, and strike south into Lee’s rear, destroying his supply lines. President Abraham Lincoln learned of this plan from some disaffected officers on Burnside’s staff and put a stop to it, assessing it as too risky. So Burnside revived his plan but reversed the original sequence. Instead of crossing the Rappahannock south of Fredericksburg, he planned to move upstream and cross at Banks’ Ford.  The offensive movement began on January 20, 1863, in unseasonably mild weather. That evening a steady rain began, and it persisted for two days, saturating the unpaved roads, leaving them knee-deep in mud. After struggling for two days to move troops, wagons, and artillery pieces, Burnside yielded to complaints from his subordinates and reluctantly ordered his army back to camp near Fredericksburg. The Mud March was Burnside’s final attempt to command the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln replaced him with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker on January 26, 1863.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Civil War Letters of George Messer

Company F, 107th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Jeff's Prayers are as Effective as Abe's

The Civil War Letters of George S. Youngs, 126th New York Vols

Soldiering is a Very Uncertain Game

The Civil War Letters of Lemuel Glidden, Co. K, 145th Indiana Infantry

Tough as a Pitch Pine Knot

Letters of John Whitcomb Piper, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery

An Honorable Peace

The Civil War Letters of Frank B. Knause, 6th Michigan Infantry & Heavy Artillery

Looking for a Rebel to Give him a Pop

Letters to & from Sgt. John Henry Ward, 93rd PA Inf

Civil War Letters of William H. H. Kinsey

Co. H, 28th Illinois Infantry

Spared & Shared 14

Saving History One Letter at a Time

The 1863 Diary of Thomas Wilbur Manchester

A Rhode Island Soldier in the American Civil War

The Daniels/Stone Digital Archives

A Collection of Family Civil War Era Letters & Ephemera

Spared & Shared 13

Saving Civil War History One Letter At A Time

Spared & Shared 12

Saving history one letter at a time

Dear Nellie

Civil War Letters of Thomas L. Bailey

Homefront Letters to Mark Rankin

Co. B, 27th Massachusetts Vols.

These Troubling Times...

The Civil War Letters of William H. Walton, Co. B, 3rd New Hampshire

Reluctant Yanks

The Civil War Letters of Joseph F. & B. Franklin Orr, Co. F, 76th Ohio Infantry

Hunting rebels as a dog would a fox....

The Civil War Letters of George W. Scott of Co. I, 46th Massachusetts (Militia)

The Civil War Letters of William Hunt Goff

Company H, 24th Massachusetts

The Charles Wetmore Broadfoot Letters

Aide de Camp to Gen. Theophilus H. Holmes

Spared & Shared 11

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Billy Yank & Johnny Reb Letters

Civil War Letters Transcribed by Griff

To the Front

The Civil War Letters of David Brett, 9th Massachusetts Light Artillery

Dear Jack

Letters received by Dr. John William Crapster O'Neal

For the Union

Civil War Letters of William Freeland, Co. F, 132nd New York Infantry

I shall be Willing to Suffer

The Civil War Letters of Marquis Lafayette Holt of the 3rd New Hampshire Infantry

"Shall the Union be Preserved?"

The Civil War Letters of William Henry Hodgkins -- Co. B, 36th Massachusetts

The Civil War Letters of William Busby

A Private in Co H, 20th Iowa Vols

Diary of Henry Knox Danner

The Civil War Experience of a Private in Co. K, 30th Pennsylvania Infantry (1862-1864)

Franklin S. Twitchell

Co. B, 13th Connecticut Infantry

The Civil War Letters of Henry E. Mumford

A Colored Soldier of Co. B, 29th Connecticut Infantry

No Babies Play

Letters of Joseph Hazen, Co. F, 20th New York Cavalry

I Long to See You Again

The Civil War Letters of Willis McDonald, Co. F, 17th Connecticut Infantry

I stood in my tracks

The Civil War Letters of Benjamin F. Hulburd, 7th & 2nd Vermont Infantries

This fight will tell the story

Letters by Harlan P. Martin, Co. E, 123rd N.Y.V.

The Rebecca Breidenstein Collection

Letters addressed to Rebecca by both her first & second husbands during the Civil War

The Smoke of my Rifle

A small collection of letters by Capt. Augustus Alonzo Hoit of Co. G, 8th Maine Infantry

Trumpet of Freedom

Civil War Letters of Cyrus E. Ferguson -- a soldier and bugler of the 15th Iowa Infantry

The Bowdoinham Letters

Civil War Letters addressed to the Brown Family of Bowdoinham, Maine

"I am for war, till slavery is dead"

The Civil War Letters of Jerome Bonaparte Burrows, Captain of the 14th Ohio Independent Battery

"All glory to our flag -- and to those who defend it!"

Seven Civil War Letters by Col. Augustus Abel Gibson

"Mother, don't worry about me"

The Civil War Letters of Caleb & John B. Chase, 3rd & 9th Minnesota Infantries

"They will get but little duty out of me"

The Civil War Letters of Silas Townsend, 29th Mass Infantry & 3rd Mass Cavalry

"Teach my Hands to War..."

The Civil War Letters of John Hancock Boyd Jenkins, 40th New York Infantry

"It is Life or Victory Now"

The Civil War Letters of Pvt. Eli Caress, Co A, 50th Indiana Volunteers

In the Trough of the Sea

The Civil War Letters of Dr. Allen Smith Heath from Aboard the USS Daylight

From the Bottom of My Heart

The Digital Archives of the Hodgdon/Rayner Letters

Spared & Shared 10

Saving history one letter at a time...

When I Come Home...

The Civil War Letters of George Morgan of Company F, 11th New Hampshire Infantry

%d bloggers like this: