Long queues of dark blue overcoats and gun barrels corrugated the fresh down of snow at the Annapolis wharves the morning of January 6, 1862. Dories and lighters flitted back and forth, ferrying the little army from the docks to what one observer characterized as "a large city afloat." Nearly a hundred sailing vessels, steam transports, propeller gunboats, floating batteries, and U.S. Navy gunboats awaited this impatient population, which stood stamping its twenty thousand feet against the raw cold of a Chesapeake winter. 1

The insemination of Burnside's armada had begun rather clumsily the day before; only now did the process achieve a graceful, satisfactory flow. The majority of the troops collapsed their camps or, if they had been fortunate, filed out of the brick naval academy buildings this morning, marching to the waterfront behind fluttering flags and the shrill, frostbitten notes of brass bands. Annapolis citizens contributed to the chill, either ignoring the spectacle or affording it unenthusiastic eyes. Some of the slaveowners among them missed servants this morning, and in succeeding days Ambrose Burnside would be pelted with complaints that his outward-bound soldiers had coaxed away the property of people who were at least nominally loyal. These tidewater Marylanders quickly learned the score: Union armies threatened the very warp of their social fabric, whether or not those armies were led by sound Democrats. 2


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