A Brief Observation on the Army of the Potomac’s Winter Encampment in Stafford County

Early morning on a I Corps campsite

Early morning on a I Corps campsite

Recently, I came across a letter written by James Christiancy. Christiancy began the war as an officer in the 17th Michigan Infantry before he transferred to the 9th Michigan Cavalry. After the Gettysburg Campaign, he joined Brig. Gen. George A. Custer’s staff. James was  the son of a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court and one of Custer’s political connections, Isaac Christiancy. In late August 1863, Christiancy passed over the remnants of the Army of the Potomac’s encampment from the previous winter in Stafford County. In a letter to Judge Daniel Bacon of Monroe, Michigan (Custer’s future father-in-law) Christiancy described the scene. “The country I assure you looked desolate enough-as far as the eye could reach could be seen nothing but dilapidated remains of log cabins-mud chimneys, ovens and similar objects incident to a deserted camp ground.” Interestingly, Christiancy wrote the countryside from Stafford east to King George Court House was “romantic and picturesque in the extreme.” Christiancy accompanied Custer back to Monroe for his wedding in February, 1864 and was wounded at the Battle of Haw’s Shop during the Overland Campaign.

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