The Civil War, Day by Day

Southern Stars

Southern Stars

Months of war had changed the gray-clad horse soldiers from boys to men. They were underfed, outnumbered and sometimes inadequately equipped; they even had to provide their own mounts. Yet time after time in the first half of the war, Confederate cavalrymen bested their Northern counterparts. Victory, soldiers like these believed, would not be determined by superior numbers and supplies: but instead by dedication, skill and pure grit. They were Southerners, defending their homes and homeland.

Sitting easily in the saddle, they moved their horses quietly through the winter darkness on a scouting foray near Kernstown, Virginia. The moon was full, the night was clear. A starry heavenly host sprinkled the northern Virginia sky and the bare trees cast sharp shadows on the freshly fallen snow. The snow muffled the sound of the horses’ hooves, and the only noises in the night were the squeak of saddle leather and the rattle of a carbine sling.

They entered a clearing and passed a country church - Opequon Presbyterian - just as midweek services ended and the congregation was leaving. The church members paused at the doorstep, watching with respect and affection as their countrymen and protectors passed in the night. The warm, inviting lights of the church shined through the darkness and kindled emotions among the young warriors. Less than a year before, they too had enjoyed such peaceful assemblies among family and friends. Visions of home now arose before them: memories of a favorite hymn, a cherished face, a treasured moment of peace.

And then the horsemen were gone, moving into the darkness in search of the war that had befallen them. Soon the flame of battle would engulf the area with the Battle of Kernstown, numbering the Opequon church building among the casualties. Meanwhile, these Southern soldiers would do their duty and fight their battles, sustained by the faith of their fathers and the harbored memories of home.

February's Archived Features:

Wednesday February 1, 2023
Thursday February 2, 2023
Friday February 3, 2023
Saturday February 4, 2023
Sunday February 5, 2023
Monday February 6, 2023



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.