General Lee had authorized one man in every fifty to have a thirty-day furlough and they “started home today,” Spartan Band diarist William H. Hill recorded on Sept. 2, 1863.
It was a clear and warm Wednesday and Hill concluded of their camp on the North Anna River that “it is very probable that we will stay here for several weeks.”
Indeed, 17th Mississippi diarist Robert A. Moore wrote:
“These are indeed quiet times with the A. of Nrhn Va. Not a rumor afloat to excite the imagination of the most credulous…The nights are cool.”
There was little for the remaining troops to do over the next several days, Moore continued, other than clean weapons, stand inspections and read “a large number of” distributed religious tracts “with profit to their morals.”
By Sunday, Sept. 6, there was preaching in the morning following inspection and church services in the Tavern that evening. “A Sabbath well spent is a relief to one’s conscience,” Moore concluded.