Monday, January 28, 2013

January 29, 1863 (Thursday): The Mud March Ends

Mud March-Library of Congress

Fredericksburg, January 29, 1863.
    SIR: On the 19th instant, being satisfied that General Burnside was massing the larger portion of his army in the vicinity of Hartwood Church; that his artillery and pontoon trains were moving in the same direction and that General Slocum's command was advancing from the vicinity of Fairfax toward the Rappahannock, our positions at Banks' and United States Mine Fords were strengthened and re-enforced, these being the points apparently threatened.
    The movements of the enemy on the 20th confirmed the belief that an effort would be made to turn our left flank, and that Franklin's and Hooker's corps were the troops selected for that purpose. About dark that evening the rain, which had been threatening during the day, commenced to fall, and continued all night and the two following days. Whether the storm or other caused frustrated the designs of the enemy I do not know; but no attempt as yet has been made to cross the Rappahannock, and some of the enemy's have apparently resumed their former positions.
    A second storm commenced before day on the 27th, and continued till this morning. The ground is covered with at least 6 inches of snow, and the probabilities are that the roads will be impracticable for some time.
    I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,
   Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
   Secretary of War, Richmond.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 21, Part 1, Page 755.

Lee's description of the storms, by today's standards, do not sound extreme.  But coupled with cold temperatures, gale force winds, and dirt roads which converted easily to muddy quagmires they represented a formidable check to Burnside's efforts.  In one instance a team of twelve horses and 150 men attempted, without success, to extract a single cannon from the mud.  In any case, Hooker was now in command and had no desire to repeat the experiment. 

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