“The Great Winter Battles” of the Army of Tennessee

Yesterday, Kris White wrote about some of the great winter battles of the Army of Northern Virginia. That called to mind an account from Sam Watkins of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, which wintered in Dalton, Georgia “during the cold, bad winter of 1863-64, about four months.” They, too, had some great winter battles, as Watkins described in his now-famous memoir Co. Aytch:

The usual routine of army life was carried on day by day, with not many incidents to vary the monotony of camp life. But occasionally the soldiers would engage in a snow ball battle, in which generals, colonels, captains and privates all took part. They would usually divide off into two grand divisions, one line naturally becoming the attacking party, and the other the defensive. The snow balls would begin to fly hither and thither, with an occasional knock down, and sometimes an ugly wound, where some mean fellow had enclosed a rock in his snow ball. It was fun while it lasted, but after it was over the soldiers were wet, cold and uncomfortable. I have seen charges and attacks and routes and stampedes, etc., but before the thing was over, one side did not know one from the other. It was a general knock down and drag out affair.

3 Responses to “The Great Winter Battles” of the Army of Tennessee

    1. Thanks for sharing. I happened to come across Watkins’ description today while I was looking up something else. I’m glad I did–and I’m glad it sparked you to pass along the Federal stories, too. Thanks!

      1. Not a problem. I really enjoyed reading the account when I found it, and I’m glad to pass it along. It runs in my mind that the snow ball fight described by the members of the 78th Illinois occurred on the same day as the more famous fight that took place at Dalton.

        It also helps remind me that these were boys sent to fight a war. Youthful indiscretions such as this kept their humanity alive, I hope. For a few brief moments, they could be children again.

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