Thursday, November 26, 2015

19th Virginia Infantry: First Winter Camp

Continued from 19th Virginia Infantry: First Blood at Manassas

After the bloody First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas, as the Confederates called it, things definitely slowed down for Daniel, John, Leroy and Samuel Jennings and the rest of the 19th Virginia Infantry Regiment. The soldiers settled near Centreville and spent the remainder of the summer training and on picket and guard duty.

By September the regiment was stationed at Fairfax courthouse. Picket duty on nearby hills allowed the men to see boats on the Potomac river, which separated Virginia from the Union capitol, the District of Columbia. After a rainy autumn in northern Virginia, the men were ordered to encamp for the winter at Centreville. They continued to train, had frequent inspections, and were assigned picket duty about every 20 days. They also hunted rabbit and, apparently, hogs.

The men of the 19th resumed building the earthen breastworks the regiment started during their earlier stay and fortified the high points. In a rare spirit of equality, slaves working on the fort, were paid the same as privates -- $11 a month -- though they were still slaves. The breastworks looked quite impressive as they included Quaker guns, or logs made to resemble canon.

The soldiers built one-room cabins large enough to house eight men, and they were considered excellent. I image much of the area's forest's were denuded between the breastworks, the cabins, and fuel to heat the cabins through winter.

Abandoned Confederate camp at Centreville, Virginia; photograph courtesy
of the Library of Congress

Disease spread through the camp between November 1861 and January 1862. Colonel Strange, who had taken over command of the regiment when General Cocke was assigned commander of Fifth Brigade, became ill and was unfit for duty for three months. Colonel Rust took over until 16 December, followed by Captain Mallory, who commanded until Colonel Strange's return. Disease was hard on the Jennings men as well.

Private Samuel Henry Jennings was hospitalized at the Fairfax courthouse suffering from varicocele, a swelling of the veins in the scrotum, or smallpox. (There are conflicting sources.) He was discharged from the army on 12 September 1861 by General Beauregard. He never returned to active duty. Private Leroy Powhatan Jennings was also sick with camp fever and was sent home to recover. He returned to the regiment by 1 January 1863.

Payday in October brought out the citizens of Centreville. They came with wagon loads of every kind of merchandise, including whiskey for a $1.50 a pint. Gambling was another popular way to lose a soldier's money. Visits by women were about the only thing that caused hundreds of dirty, drunk soldiers to turn into gentlemen. During one visit, the men of the 19th Virginia Infantry band played while the guards presented arms -- a regular show!

January and February 1862 were bitterly cold and wet. The men, who enlisted in the spring of 1861 signed up for one year. They received a re-enlistment incentives of $50 and a 30-day furlough, but only 140 men in the regiment agreed to remain, including Daniel, John and Leroy Jennings. Yet, a month later the regiment was back to full strength with many new recruits, including my great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings.

They received orders on 7 Mary 1862 to "cook three days' rations." Men began loading baggage and the unit's wagons. They had no idea where they were headed but were likely ready for a change.

To be continued...

Jennings, Charles E. (my great grandfather), Private, Co. H; enlisted 1 March 1862 at Amherst courthouse; Present until detailed 18 May 1863 to General Hospital in Lynchburg on surgeon's certificate; absent there through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Daniel R. (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse; age 20, farmer; Private to 4th Corporal by August 1863; 4 Corporal to 3rd Corporal by October 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by February 1864; Present until wounded at Ganes Mill on 27 June 1862; returned, wounded in action at Gettysburg on 3 July 1863; sent to Lynchburg Hospital; absent, detailed on government work, dropped as non-commissioned officer from 16 April 1865. Surrendered at Appomattox, pension in 1910.

Jennings, John T. (my great grand uncle), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst Courthouse, age 23, farmer; present through last roll 31 December 1863.

Jennings, Leroy P.  (my first cousin three times removed), Corporal, Co. I; enlisted 29 April 1861 at Buffalo Springs; age 19, farmer; Private to 3rd Corporal by August 1863; 3rd Corporal to 2nd Corporal by October 1863; Present till wounded at Gaines Mill on 27 June 1862; returned; wounded in action and taken prisoner of war on 3 July 1863 at Gettysburg; gunshot in right lung; paroled at General Hospital West's Building in Baltimore on 25 September 1863; returned to duty by February 1864; through last roll August 1864.

Jennings, Samuel H. (my first cousin three times removed), Private, Co. H; enlisted 15 April 1861 at Amherst courthouse; age 24, farmer; Present until discharged discharged on 12 September 1861 by order of General Beauregard, surgeon's certificate, listed disease was smallpox. Pension 1900.

Mapping the 19th Virginia Infantry: 1861
19th Virginia Infantry: First Blood at Manassas
A Lover, Not a Fighter

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