After the expedition into Orange County known as the Mine Run Campaign, the men of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, at about 8:00 p.m. on December 2nd, returned to the camp of log huts they had built near Stevensburg. Within minutes campfires were blazing, coffee was boiling, and their log huts were warm and toasty.
But the very next morning the men were ordered to pack up and move to another campground only a mile away. Imagine all the “kind” words they had for the army when they arrived at the new location and began to build huts for the third time that autumn.
The morning of December 5th, the regiment was told to move another three miles. While the rest of the regiment marched out of camp, many of the new recruits refused to move and sat or squatted by their campfires drinking coffee. Lt. Col. Samuel Moore, who was then in command of the regiment, wheeled his horse about and dashed back into the camp. He rode back and forth among the groups of shirkers, striking many with the flat of his sword, herding them into line. The men pitched their tents at the new camp which was atop a wind-swept ridge.
From Charles Page’s History of the Fourteenth Regiment: “December 10th, the regiment was moved about two miles farther and the men were again engaged building log huts in the fond anticipation that they were to have a long rest.” Huts were usually built in about three days, but the work was interrupted by work details to Brandy Station, where they were put to work building corduroy roads for the army’s supply trains. (See my post A Road to…Anywhere.)
On Sunday, December 27th, the Fourteenth received orders to move for the fourth time since returning from Mine Run. Once again, the march was a short one, only three miles, but it must have been incredibly miserable They marched in heavy rain; mud was a foot deep; many lost their shoes to the mire. Their new camp was on the side of a rugged, rocky hill called Stony Mountain. It was covered with pine trees, brambles, and thick underbrush, according to one soldier, “just the spot for the Fourteenth. We again received our accustomed orders, ‘put up good huts for you will stay here all winter,’ and so we went to work.”
Soldiers, it seems, have never been lacking in sarcasm, because this same soldier went on to say, “By the end of the week (about Jan. 1st) we had them (the huts) all finished, good streets laid out, and in fact were all ready to move again.” I do hope he wasn’t too disappointed, because the men would call Stony Mountain “home” for the next four months.