Feb. 17, 1863. “Tuesday,” Spartan Band quartermaster clerk William H. Hill recorded. “Commenced snowing at daylight this morning and continued all day. The snow was 10 inches deep at night.”
The 17th Mississippi’s Private Robert A. Moore disagreed on the depth:
“A heavy snow-storm has been blowing all day. But the ground was wet & it is now but 3 inches deep. A part of our forces are now leaving and going towards Richmond.”
According to Hill, on Wednesday, the 18th, the departures were Pickets Division “gone to Hanover Junction” and Hood’s Division “gone to Richmond.”
Meanwhile, he added: “Other portions of the army are leaving daily. It is rumored that our Brigade will leave in a few days. The soldiers would much rather remain here until the spring as they are comfortably fixed in these warm houses.”
On Feb 22nd, division commander Gen. Lafayette McLaws wrote his wife, Emily, about yet more snow, its effect on the army’s movement and the enemy’s apparent intentions:
“…we have about a foot of snow over the whole country and this after, just after the thaw of a snow of equal depth. It looks like it will snow again to night, but I suppose it will clear off tomorrow and commence to thaw again, which added to the other one which will now be made available to increase the impassibility of the roads, will render the country a complete quagmire, and all the streams will be swollen beyond fording.”
Three Union corps, meanwhile, “have left our front,” McLaws wrote. He said they were moved by steamboat down to Newport News and Fortress Monroe, though whether they were to go on for operations farther south or make another attack on Richmond up the peninsula was unknown.