Let’s Get Moving Already

150 YEARS AGO TODAY the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry had been under orders to be ready to march at a moment’s notice for six days. On April 13th, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker issued orders for nearly the entire army to quietly pack away their gear, fill their ammunition pouches, and draw eight days rations of coffee, hardtack and salt pork. Since rations were normally issued for three days, the men grumbled about the extra weight they would be forced to carry, and they also knew something unusual was up. But no one, except Hooker’s inner circle of officers knew what he had planned for the Army of the Potomac.

However, no sooner was the order given than it began to rain—and the army waited, and waited, and waited some more, all the while ready to move out at any time, although everyone knew they weren’t going anywhere until the roads dried and became passable. There would not be another Mud March. Capt. Samuel Fiske lamented to his faithful readers back home that the winter and early spring at Falmouth must have been the wettest ever in history. “I suppose Noah may have experienced harder rain,” Fiske wrote to the Springfield Republican newspaper on April 25th, “after he drew in the gang-plank of his Great Eastern, and with his menagerie all aboard quietly awaiting the commencement of his voyage to the new world, but I don’t believe he heard it patter so many nights over his head in the old ark-attic as I have now heard it pattering on the canvas roof of my log shanty this spring.”

Sgt. Benjamin Hirst, in his typically sardonic fashion, blamed the delay on the high command. “We have not moved yet and I can”t see that we are any near moving than we were a week ago. There is a deadlock somewhere, but where we can’t tell. I only hope they know in Washington.”

By the end of April the weather improved. On the 28th the Army of the Potomac finally began to move according to the plan of Maj. Gen. Hooker. The infantry corps would march by various, round-about routes and concentrate west of Fredericksburg at a small hamlet on the edge of the Wilderness called Chancellorsville.

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