Thursday, August 2, 2018

An Episode from the American Civil War

In the course of researching something else, I ame across this fascinating detail from history, which I lift verbatim from another website.

Throughout the day and night of January 28, a heavy snow fell in the Rappahannock Valley and settled into drifts up to several feet deep. At mid-morning of January 29, a large group of First and Fourth Texans pelted the huts of their neighbors, the Fifth Texas with ice balls made from tightly packed wet snow. The outnumbered Fifth Texas managed to drive their assailants back into their camps. There the unified Texans planned a snowball attack on the unsuspecting Third Arkansas. The Arkansans were caught unaware and quickly surrendered their entire encampment to the Texans. Inspired by their success, the Arkansans joined the Texans and plotted to attack the camp of Gen. ``Tige'' Anderson's Georgia Brigade, situated on a hill three-quarters of a mile away across the Massaponax stream. With haversacks full of snowballs, officers in front, battleflags unfurled, and drums and bugles sounding, the 1500-man Texas Brigade moved against the Georgians.

The Georgians, forewarned of the impending attack, were ready for the fray. The battle up and down the hillside raged for over an hour. Groans were heard as rocks disguised as snowballs hit their marks. Finally, the Georgians, with both superior numbers and position, drove back the Texans and Arkansans. The Texas Brigade, boosted by reinforcements, rallied and drove the Georgians into their camps, where they gallantly surrendered their forces. The two brigades then combined forces to march against Gen. Lafayette McLaws' Division. Soon 9000 veterans of the Army of Northern Virginia were engaged in a snowball battle royal. Thousands of snowballs were tossed back and forth. At the close of the prolonged struggle, Hood's Division emerged victorious. Thus ended the ``Great Snowball Fight of 1863.''

The Confederate high command was not pleased with the outing. Although only two men were severely injured during the fracas (no doubt the victims of rock-centered snowballs), many soldiers were temporarily laid up with ``black eyes, bloody noses, ragged ears and sadly disfigured physiognomies.'' More important, the noise and mass movement during the fight had caused quite a commotion in the Federal camps across the Rappahannock. Union cavalry, fearing an attack, had become active along the river. Shortly after the fight, Gen. Longstreet issued an order ``prohibiting general snowballing'' in his corps.

Source: An Illustrated History of the Fourth Texas Infantry.


  1. A bit like the "Christmas 1915" truce that Tommy Fleming and several other Irish singers have sang about so nicely.

  2. If it hadn´t been for the mentioning of Hood and Longstreet towards the end I thought it had been all invented as a joke.

    1. You should realize I never joke!

    2. all but all for real jokes :-D

      long live the Southern Snowmen!