Closeup of the wayside marker on The 1863-64 Winter Encampment - The Calm Before the Storm on the Brandy Station battlefield

View of the monument to the 10th New York Infantry Regiment on the battlefield at Manassas

The 1863-64 Winter Encampment
The Calm Before the Storm

The 1863-1864 winter encampment proved a busy time for the Army of the Potomac. "There was something fascinating about our winter city of 100,000 men," a staff officer recalled. "Many pleasant recollections cluster around the old camp at Brandy Station... history should know that our military service did not consist entirely of being shot at or trying to shoot at the other man."

 

Thousands of new recruits joined the army and learned how to be soldiers. For members of the "old" regiments, the issue of re-enlisting was of grant interest; those who decided to sign on for "three more years" - or until the end of the war - were treated to a 30-day furlough, a $300 bounty, and special veteran stripes for their uniforms. Soldiers grumbled over the unpopular abolition of the First and Third Corps and the transfers of their regiments into other corps.

In March 1864, following his appointment as general-in-chief of all the Union armies, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant came to Culpeper County. Although George Meade continued to command the Army of the Potomac, Grant chose to make his headquarters in the field with his army and directed operations until the end of the war.

 

Not two months later, in early May 1864, the men of the Army of the Potomac packed their knapsacks, fell into line, and left these camps for good. On May 4, they crossed the Rapidan River and marched to the Wilderness. Before the momentous and bloody Overland Campaign ended, nearly half of those who had spent the winter at Brandy Station would be dead or wounded.

Caption from the background photo:

The 1864 winter encampment of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry was located near Brandy Station. Note the barrels used as chimneys.

 

Caption from the inset photo:

During the winter of 1864, many staff officers used nearby homes for their headquarters. Sixth Corps Commander General John Sedgwick used "Farley" house as his headquarters.

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This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinion, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.