As a second account of the experiences of the Mud March, today I turn again to the writing of the historian of the 76th NY – A.P. Smith. I have noticed on more than one occasion that he borrows heavily from the writing of yesterday’s author – George Noyes, who published much earlier in 1863. In fact, there are several nearly identical sentences when talking about the men marching out of camp in good spirits, as well as the nature of the rain cutting the soldiers’ faces.
Picking up with the “horrors of the night, the wind blew a perfect gale … The next morning … the rain had not abated. Ordinary mud-holes became little lakes; unpretending ditches were suddenly transformed to large creeks, and the men actually waded the whole distance of their march. Frequently their shoes would become detached from their feet in the mire. Search for them was in vain, and thus the men plodded on, sometimes with one shoe, and again with neither. The supply, artillery, and pontoon trains were with great difficulty moved along at all. Now, a horse, from sheer exhaustion, lay down in his harness, and could be induced to go no farther. Then a mule, immersed in mud, discouraged and exhausted, unheeding those oaths of mule-drivers never equaled in civil life, unmindful alike of ‘ye-ape’s’ and cruel blows, sank down in the mud and furnished its body to corduroy the road. … It rained on the south side of the Rappahannock as on the north, the facetious rebel was not without good reason for writing the sign and placing it in sight of our troops: ‘Burnside Stuck In The Mud!” …
The sights which everywhere presented themselves were strange mixtures of the painful and ludicrous. Shipwrecked wagons, dead and dying mules and horses, heavy pontoons stuck in the mud, guns slowly moving along, hauled by double the usual teams, imparted a most desolate and woe-begone appearance to the whole affair.”
It sounds like a totally awful experience!