AGAIN VIRGINIA'S SUMMER SKY
Annapolis, in April of 1864, was not the sleepy shellfishing town Ambrose Burnside had first seen nearly three years before: the rails from there to Washington and Baltimore rattled endlessly with carloads of soldiers, provisions, and new equipment. The old-timers of the original Ninth Corps remembered this as the emotional capstone of their service: they were hardy veterans now, many of them just returning from long reenlistment furloughs; they had a new camp on fresh ground; they looked forward to a new assignment, possibly amid scenes of past glory, in the Carolinas. Best of all, the beloved Burnside had come back to lead them.
Perhaps Burnside shared the euphoria of these halcyon days, despite his underlying desire to leave the army. The nucleus of his old corps and their immediate reinforcements formed a command a bit smaller than the coastal division he had assembled here in 1861, but the men were much fonder of his familiar face than they had been of the virtual stranger of that first expedition. Their cheers came more spontaneously. The camp wore a contented holiday air, unlike the frenetic let-us-get-on-with-it attitude that had prevailed in the first winter of the war. Uniforms sparkled dark and new, the enemy lay a hundred miles away, and these old soldiers were happy to have it so. Their new tents glowed like so many giant lanterns in the moonlight as they plugged lighted candles into the sockets of their bayonets and sang the songs that took them home. 1