Reminiscences of the Civil War

By John B. Gordon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
WINTER ON THE RAPIDAN

In camp near Clark's Mountain -- Religious awakening -- Revival services throughout the camps -- General Lee's interest in the movement -- Southern women at work -- Extracts from General Lee's letters to his wife -- Influence of religion on the soldiers' character.

THE winter of 1863-64 on the banks of the Rapidan was passed in preparation by both armies for that wrestle of giants which was to begin in May in the Wilderness and end at Appomattox in the following April.

My camp and quarters were near Clark's Mountain, from the top of which General Lee so often surveyed with his glasses the white-tented city of the Union army spread out before us on the undulating plain below. A more peaceful scene could scarcely be conceived than that which broke upon our view day after day as the rays of the morning sun fell upon the quiet, wide-spreading Union camp, with its thousands of smoke columns rising like miniature geysers, its fluttering flags marking, at regular intervals, the different divisions, its stillness unbroken save by an occasional drum-beat and the clear ringing notes of bugles sounding the familiar calls.

On the southern side of the Rapidan the scenes were, if possible, still less warlike. In every Confederate camp chaplains and visiting ministers erected religious altars, around which the ragged soldiers knelt and worshipped the Heavenly Father into whose keeping they committed

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