The Journey: Dispatched to the Shenandoah Valley

From John Beauchamp Jones’ famous Rebel War Clerk’s Diary:

“August 7th.[1864]—Hot and dry; but heavy rains in other parts of the State. The 1st Army Corps moved through the city [Richmond] last night, via the Central and Fredericksburg Railroads…All this indicates a transference of the scene of operations nearer the enemy’s country…”

Five days later, Jones added: “I saw a soldier to-day from Gen. [Jubal] Early’s army near Martinsburg…He left it day before yesterday, 10th inst. He says Kershaw’s division was at Culpepper [sic] C.H., 50 miles from Early…Detachments of troops are daily passing through the city, northward.”

General Lee had ordered General Anderson of the First Corps and Kershaw’s Division, including the 13th Regiment, to the Shenandoah Valley. They were to reinforce General Early’s corps which was fighting Union infantry and cavalry under General Phillip Sheridan over control of the Confederacy’s Virginia breadbasket. Sheridan’s troops were confiscating crops and burning them.

“As we marched forward,” First Corps staff officer G. Moxley Sorrel would recall after the war, “the enemy slowly retiring, smoke was seen ahead on a wide range from the burning barns and granaries of the non-combatant people.”

Kershaw’s Division rode the train from Richmond to Charlottesville, marched north along the east side of the mountains to Culpeper Court House and thence northwest through Snicker’s Gap to Front Royal.

Then they marched on to Winchester, finally going into camp on Thursday, August 18, at the nearby Opequon Creek, which flowed northeast into the Potomac River.

The 13th had camped on the Opequon after the Battle of Sharpsburg, back in October, 1862, and though the water had been quite cold then for bathing and washing clothes, it was probably somewhat warmer now in the late summer heat.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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