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Spotsylvania Court House: In the Pits

from Chris

“All day in pits,” wrote on officer with the 95th New York infantry on May 14, referring to his men’s time in the earthworks. On May 15, he wrote the same: “All day in pits.” On May 16, he wrote the same again: “All day in pits.”

The pits, indeed. The rain that had begun on May 11 continued through the 16th, continuing to dampen activity along the Fredericksburg Road.

“Spent the day getting affairs in order,” V Corps commander Gouverneur K. Warren wrote on the 15th. “In the evening General Burnside threatened with an attack. My troops under arms to attack as a diversion, if needed.” The attack amounted to nothing, though. “Rained heavily in the afternoon,” Warren noted.

The soggy conditions and dour mood continued through the 16th. “Remained mostly quiet in lines, getting up stores and supplies, and awaiting developments,” Warren wrote.

Quiet for Warren, perhaps, but not necessarily for the men in the trenches, who were, said Brig. Gen. Roman Ayres, “exposed to shell fire and sharpshooters” the entire time. “While here there was continuous firing on the skirmish line,” added Lt. Col. John E. Cooke of the 77th New York, “but no distinct engagement.”

Officers had troubles, too. “About these times it was a serious question with officers as to how they and their horses could exist without rations—cause, mud,” said Col. William S. Tilton of the 22n Massachusetts.

Overall, thought, the men of the V Corps welcomed the opportunity to catch their breath. “These operations were most exhaustive to the energies of the men,” wrote Lt. Col. Rufus Dawes, commander of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers, referring to the army’s time thus far in Spotsylvania, “and perhaps most trying to their morale of anything in the experience of the oldest in service, but the hardships were always ready to put forth their best efforts in the most perilous undertaking.”

On May 17th, the sun would finally make an appearance. Things at Spotsylvania would begin to liven up once more.

(To be continued….)