Five days of rest, more or less

The brigade left its camp at sunrise on Wednesday, July 15, 1863, and marched thirteen miles, passing through Martinsburg.

They finally camped at Bunker Hill, a hamlet beside the Winchester Pike, on Mill Creek, a tributary of Opequan Creek.

The weather was clear and “very warm” according to Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill.

“The army has moved up near this place to-day,” Private Robert A. Moore of the 17th Regiment recorded in his diary. “I think we will remain here for a few days. We were bivouaced on this ground on the 2nd of last Sept.

“Have been living on green apples to-day. Several of our slightly wounded have come in. A portion of our army is very badly disorganized.”

On Thursday, a clear day that gradually turned cloudy, the 13th Regiment rested, according to Hill, while Moore said the 17th was sent out on picket duty a few miles north of Bunker Hill to support the cavalry against a reported Union advance.

But the Rebel cavalry “was successful in thrashing them,” Moore added, and “[T]he boys have been in the berry patches grazing. Va. is a fine state for berries.”

By Friday it was raining again, “slowly all day,” Hill recorded. “I wrote to Ma this morning.”

Moore spent the day feeling blue, which he wrote that a rainy day had “the tendency” to do to him. But news from home didn’t help.

“Port Hudson surrendered on the 9th inst. and Gen. Bragg has fallen back to the Tenn. River. Times are getting to look dark & gloomy & some are getting feint hearted. It is indeed a dark hour but we have had as dark before. If our cause be just we will yet triumph.”

Saturday, July 18, the 13th and 17th and the rest of McLaws Division packed up at 2 p.m. They left some of their wounded, and others to tend to them, and marched four miles south and camped again near Smithfield on the Berryville Road.

The aim, Moore wrote, was “that we might be more convenient to forage. Souldiers are hungry & ill & rations short & water bad. The weather is clear and hot.”

On Sunday, there was preaching in the brigade’s camp and those still of a mind to do so were praying or reading their Bibles and tracts.

Wrote Moore: “What a dear friend is Jesus to those who live in constant prayer with him. We will march to-morrow.”

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
This entry was posted in Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade, Gen. Lafayette McLaws, Mississippi, The Spartan Band, William H. Hill Diary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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