Emerging Revolutionary War is pleased to present an excerpt from the forthcoming book Seizing Destiny: The Army of the Potomac’s ‘Valley Forge’ and the Civil War Winter that Saved the Union by Albert Conner, Jr., with Chris Mackowski, published by Savas Beatie. The book likens the AoP’s experience in Stafford County, Virginia, in the winter of 1862-63 to that of Washington’s army outside Philadelphia in the winter of 1777-78. The book contends that the AoP’s resurgence as a result of that winter represented the most significant non-battle turning point of the war. Seizing Destiny will be available the third week of March.
Dissatisfaction swept over the Army of the Potomac like a midwinter blizzard. Morale plummeted. Men grew bitter. Hope froze.
The chill was far worse than anything Rufus Dawes had seen back in Wisconsin, and it was only late December. The 24-year-old major of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry, born on the Fourth of July in 1838, had watched conditions worsen ever since the debacle in Fredericksburg earlier in the month. Major General Ambrose E. Burnside had led the army to its most lopsided defeat of the war thus far, and the ill winds began blustering shortly thereafter. The squall hit furiously, almost as soon as the army retreated across the Rappahannock River into Stafford County.
“The army seems to be overburdened with second rate men in high positions, from General Burnside down,” Dawes wrote. “Common place and whisky are too much in power for the most hopeful future. This winter is, indeed, the Valley Forge of the war.” Continue reading “The “Valley Forge” Winter of the Army of the Potomac”