Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great Civil War Snowball Fights

Confederate Snowball Fight At Dalton Georgia
  One of the greatest struggles that soldiers of all eras face is boredom. In the Civil war there were few winter battles. Fredricksburg, Stones River, Franklin and Nashville were the exception. Most campaigning was done in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Winter camps were boring and unhealthy. Hundreds of Union soldiers died of disease during the winter camp at Falmouth Virginia in early 1863. Soldiers on the march were always healthier than men sitting idle in camp. The Confederates on the other hand had  gigantic snowball fights to break the monotony. There was one in Fredricksburg Virginia on February 25, 1863, another at Dalton Georgia on March 22 1864, and the next day March 23, 1864 near Orange Court House Virginia. Soldiers diaries showed that it snowed 8 inches on February 19, 1863, and another 9 inches two days later near Fredricksburg. On February 25, the weather turned off milder making ideal conditions for snowballs. Witnesses said that at least 10,000 men formed in their regiments in line of battle. Instead of using weapons of war they were armed with snowballs. General Robert Hokes North Carolinians attacked Colonel W.H. Stiles camp of Georgians. The attack was comprised of infantry, cavalry and skirmishers. The Georgians were forced to retreat but formed a counterattack but were eventually defeated because the North Carolinian's had armed themselves with a fresh batch of snowballs. General Stonewall Jackson witnessed the battle but didn't participate to the disappointment of the soldiers who really wanted the chance to pelt him with snowballs. Jackson had a reputation as a strict disciplinarian. 

  The Spring campaign began in early May at Chancellorsville where Jackson would lose an arm and a few days later his life after contracting pneumonia. The fight on March 23, 1864 after an 18 inch snow near Orange Court House involved 8,000 men. General Longstreet banned snowball fights in the Army of Northern Virginia after this because of the injuries that were sustained. Men would cheat by placing rocks and minie balls in the middle of the snowballs, blacking men's eyes, busting out teeth, and even causing wounds of a more serious nature. On March 22, 1864 a huge snowball fight took place in Dalton Georgia in the camp of the Army of Tennessee. There had been a 5 inch snow that day and various Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana brigades were involved. General Patrick Cleburne goodnaturedly joined in the fray, It snowed off and on for the rest of the month and other snowball battles were organized drawing crowds of civilian spectators, including many ladies. The Atlanta Campaign would begin in May 1864 and Cleburne would be killed the following November at Franklin.

College students around the turn of the century injured in a snowball fight

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