The Civil War, Day by Day

The Winds of Winter

The Winds of Winter

Their objective was the Shenandoah Valley hamlet of Romney, where the Northern army was encamped - but the Valley weather, not the Yankees, proved to be the fiercest enemy. Less than a year earlier, these sons of the South had rushed to arms, filled with romantic notions of gallantry and glory. Now they faced the reality of life in the field.

Deep snow and bitterly cold temperatures had transformed their march into a grueling ordeal. Reported a Confederate officer: “The road was almost an uninterrupted sheet of ice, rendering it almost impossible for man or beast to travel. While by moonlight the beards of the men, matted with ice, glistened like crystals....” Recalled another: “If a man had told me 12 months ago that men could stand such hardships, I would have called him a fool.”

Despite the almost unbearable conditions, they persevered - led by a relentless warrior: General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Determined to do his duty and rid the Shenandoah Valley of invaders, Jackson drove his troops forward day and night through the snow, wind and ice. Soon, as if awed by Jackson’s sheer willpower as much as the savage weather, Federal forces retreated without doing battle. Left behind was a horde of supplies and weapons to be confiscated by the jubilant Confederates. Months ahead, in the spring and summer to come, awaited greater glory: Jackson’s brilliant, victorious Valley Campaign. It too would be won by the same determination and endurance that had enabled Stonewall Jackson and his “foot cavalry” to win the winter war.

January's Archived Features:

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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.