“Hail, snow ballers…”

Night had fallen across the hellish landscape of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. The darkness cloaked the mortal wounding of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson along the Mountain Road a few miles west of the Chancellorsville crossroads. However, Jackson and his entourage were not the only Southern troops tramping through the dark, dense, third-growth forest of central Virginia.

Captain Charles Seton Fleming, 2nd Florida, may have been one of the soldiers that enjoyed a Georgia soldier’s hardtack. Fleming would be killed in action at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864 (sketch courtesy of Florida Memory)

Brigadier General Edward Perry’s Florida Brigade comprising the 2nd, 5th, and 8th Florida Regiments moved toward the center of the Confederate line, rejoining their division under General Richard H. Anderson, one of the two First Corps commands, that stayed with the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. The trek took the Floridians “out three miles crossing the Plan Road two miles below Chancellorsville on said road & here bivouac for the night.”

As the orders dictated, Perry’s Brigade had to move around a brigade of Georgians commanded by General Ambrose Wright. During the last winter encampment, these two commands had a mock battle to break the tedium of camp. Their weapons of choice?


Fast-forward to the night of May 2, 1863, and a Georgia infantryman recalled later seeing the Floridians march by. This Georgian recounted that no ill feelings existed between the two commands. He recorded.

“Just before dark Perry’s Florida brigade passed us on their way to their position in line; they were apparently worn out, having been skirmishing all day with nothing to eat, but they were in fine spirits. This was the brigade that we routed so in the snow-ball battle last Winter, driving them into their tents; some such expressions as these proved that they recognized us: “Hail, snow ballers, You beat us in snow balling, but we will fight together to-morrow.” Our men had just received their three days rations, rushed into the road and unmindful of their own wants, emptied their haversacks [and] shared their last hard crackers with the hungry Floridians.”

On May 3, the march continued for Perry’s Brigade toward Catherine’s Furnace to unite the two wings of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Floridians though marched with at least hardtack in their bellies, thanks to a lost snow-ball fight and the kindness of Georgians.

For more information on the Florida Brigade, check out “A Small but Spartan Band, the Florida Brigade in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia” by Zack C. Waters and James C. Edmonds

1 Response to “Hail, snow ballers…”

  1. For the really big snowball fight among the Florida, Mississippi and Virginia brigades of Anderson’s division during the winter of 1862-63, see “The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry from John Brown’s Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865” (Savas Beatie, 2019) (winner of the 2019 Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award in Unit History), 132.

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