The letters and diaries of Lieutenant Philip R. Woodcock
121st Regiment, New York State Infantry
"Upton's Regulars"
September 4, 1862-November 9, 1865

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Burnside's Mud March

In January of 1863, General Ambrose E. Burnside led an unsuccessful march on Richmond that ended his command of the Army of the Potomac.  It became known as "Burnside's Mud March"  Philip and his company were part of this and he wrote Roby over several days about it.  Here is his letter from January 22, 1863:

"Camp in the Woods I don't know where  
January 22nd 1863"

(written upside-down on the page under and around that heading he writes: "If you could send me some money I could make good use of it I haven't but one cent left & can't get it")

"My Dear Wife

Agreeable to my promise to keep you posted in regard to our movements ~ I now write you ~ We are again about to meet the Enemy (that is if we....illegible ) Tuesday noon the 20th we left our comfortable quarters & started once more to try our luck with them ~ Gen Burnside caused orders to be read to all the Troops stating that we must fight them again & he succeeded in inspiring us with some confidence again ~ We marched that after-noon some 8 or 9 miles untill after dark & encamped in a wood we had a rather bad time pitching tents & finding wood & it was late when we got our Suppers & got to bed but I slept first rate & rested good ~ it commenced raining
that night before we got to bed & rained all night & yesterday & last night & now we are stuck fast & tight in the mud[.] yesterday morning we started again but could not do much we went 2 or 3 miles & O such marching you never heard of the mud was about 6 inches deep & in some places deeper but such time as we had ~ our tents were very wet & blankets & Overcoats ~ Our Loads were more than a mule ought to carry but still we had to go ~ My pace since I have been promoted is near the read of the Company & 2 paces from the ranks & my business is to keep the men in their places & keep them closed up ~ but yesterday I had to drive them ahead of me just like sheep once in while I had to get stuck myself & we had fun enough ~ we were finally tired out & had to go into Camp & now I will tell you where we are as near as I can...." 

"We are up the Rappahanock about 8 miles from Fredericksburg where I suppose they intended we should cross & give the Rebs fits ~ but I think this Rain has spoiled Burnsides plans although I don't know anything about it everything was kept so quiet ~ The general imporession is here that we was to take them by surprise on their Left Flank [,] splip up their Army & set them skedaddling to Richmond but they know of all our movements now & are ready for us again ~ But I tell you Roby it is awfull provoking to when we go in sight of them on the River Bank to have them sing out to us
('Why dont you cross the River[?] Why dont you levy your pontoons[?] If you let us alone we will let you alone but if you cross we will give you Hell') & all and such threats as that ~ & then another thing they have got a large board stuck up in plain sight with great large letters on it ('Burnside stuck in the Mud')..."

Come back tomorrow for the rest of letter written on the 23 & 24th.  It's filled with "mud"!

Hope to see you then!

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