With the end of the autumn campaign season, it was time for the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry to build quarters in which they would live for the winter. It would be the third winter in the field for the veterans who had been mustered in August 1862. Their previous two experiences with building winter quarters were not pleasant. In my post of 12/07/2012 “Eve of Battle,” I wrote of how the men had to stop building their log huts and march across the Rappahannock River to fight in the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg. The following year, as I related in my post of 12/13/2013 Winter Quarters Again…and Again…and Again,” they built their log huts five times, because they were ordered to move their camp four times. Their experience in December 1864 would be little different.
On the 30th of November, the Fourteenth Connecticut, along with the rest of their brigade, marched to relieve a portion of the Ninth Corps near Fort Morton on the southeast side of Petersburg. The men had just begun building log huts when on Dec. 5th, they were told to march early on the 6th to relieve the Fifth Corps that was departing on its mission to destroy the Weldon Railroad (see last week’s post). The men spent several days here, using their tents for shelter, then moved about a mile to Patrick Station. This place was probably a depot, named for Gen. Marsena Patrick, on the US Military Railroad that brought food and ammunition to the men from City Point.
At Patrick Station good fortune smiled on the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut, for a few days anyway. They moved into log huts that had already been built by someone else. However, on Dec 13th they were marched back to Fort Morton where they first started to build their huts two weeks before. Their huts were no more. They had been broken down and all the logs the men had cut and all the planks they had hewn had been carried off to some other encampment. All of their work been for nothing.
But they would remain near Fort Morton, directly across from The Crater where the mine had exploded under the Rebels’ works back on July 30th. There was nothing for them to do but break out the axes, saws, adzes, and spades and begin again.