If you could spend the holidays at a Civil War headquarters or encampment, whose would you choose? Why?
The 3rd Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Those guys knew how to throw a party.
“General [J. Hobart] Ward, who likes the soldiers to have a good time, organized a series of amusements for Christmas day and again made even more grand plans for New Years. We have had races of all sorts; mule races, foot races, sack races, a greased pole, a spacious turning cage (like the squirrel cage) on which you have to proceed on horseback to win a prize, etc… The officers have created a fund of more than $200 to be distributed as prizes. All of it was interspersed with comical skits, like at the circus, with clowns, men dressed like monkeys, wooden horses, etc…For the rest you will see the list of games in the New York papers…..General [Joseph] Hooker, General [George] Stoneman, General [Hiram] Berry, and a number of officers from the 3rd Corps helped in the performance, on foot or on horseback, and there was a lot of laughter from a hundred comical incidents. The “ring” was formed in the middle of the field with the officer on one side, while the thousands of soldiers formed a vast circle guarded by sentinels. There were musical bands and nothing was missing…..only the wine like a wedding feast.”
Either Longstreet’s First Corps camp out in Russellville, TN the brutal winter of ’63-64, after the debacle at Knoxville. We visited the Nenney family home which has been turned into a museum; or with Marse Robert and his Second and Third Corps that same winter down near Orange, VA. Got a tour once on the private land near the small airport, and saw the spot on the hillside where General Lee’s tent was supposed to have been located. Took a bus-full of us back in there. Maybe the first and last time that has happened :-).
Richmond Va. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Where i once sat in both Pres. Davis and Gen, Lee pew . Sharing the birth of our savior with the Confederate leaders.
Rosecrans’ HQ in Nashville, 1862, watching the final preparations for the advance to Stones River.
I’d also like to celebrate with Sherman and his staff in Savannah, Christmas 1864.
Although the 11th New York never spent Christmas together, they were a “jolly bunch of blackguards,” according to John Hay. I know they sang and played baseball, and they loved their libations of the alcoholic variety, so I am going to ask history to be re-written and spend some of my holiday time in their camp, and then maybe Colonel Ellsworth would show me the sights of Washington City, including the Lincoln White House all decorated for Christmas
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