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Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: October 28, 1862

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-Page 01-

Description of Page: Various battlefield reports. Col. 7 notices and ads.

Condition of our Army
(Column 1)
Summary: Article exhorts readers to donate winter clothing to the soldiers.
Full Text of Article:

The attention of the country has been directed to the destitute conditions of the Army of Northwestern Virginia, by a recent letter from the correspondent of the Savannah "Republican," which we thought it our duty to reproduce in these columns, which we did, some days ago. We refer to the subject again not for the purpose of finding fault with the Government, though it has been guilty of the most unpardonable neglect, but to remind the people of their duty in the premises. Our information is derived from persons who have been with the army for some months, and whose opportunities have been such as to leave no doubt as to the correctness of their statements.

The health, zeal and discipline of the army are all that the most sanguine friend of our holy cause could desire. Since their return to Virginia the troops have had ample time to rest and recruit their strength, and their supplies of beer and flour are abundant. The stragglers and absentees, including many of the sick and wounded, have rejoined their several commands, and the army is stronger to-day, in numbers, than it has been at any time since it left the banks of James river. But it is not of the discipline, the health, or the Commissary Department of the army that we propose to speak today, but of the destitute condition of the troops in regard to clothing and shoes.

What, then, is their condition? We assert most emphatically and positively, that up to the 15th day of this month, it was most deplorable. We do not mean to say that such was the condition of the entire army, or even a majority of the troops, but that large numbers of them were barefooted, in rags, and covered with vermin; and that those in the hospitals at Winchester were the victims of the most cruel neglect. As already remarked, this information comes to us from such sources and in so direct a way, that we feel authorized to assert, in the most positive manner, that such is the sad condition of large numbers of the troops from all the States--the glorious conquerors, too, at Richmond, at Manassas, in the Valley, and in Maryland. We are assured, moreover, that any other statement showing a more favorable condition of the army, while it may be gratifying to the public, is a cruel wrong to the troops themselves, in that, it may lead the people and the authorities to slacken their efforts to furnish the necessary supplies.

It may be asked, how is it that the troops should have become thus suddenly destitute?--The answer is readily given. Having marched from the James river to the Rappahannock, they fought their way from that stream to the Potomac, passed into Maryland, reduced Harper's Ferry, fought two great battles at Boonsboro' Gap and Sharpsburg, engaged in numberless skirmishes, and returned to Virginia, all in the space of one month. The weather was extremely hot, and many of the men fell out by the way; others wore out their shoes; and were unable to carry their baggage on barefeet over stony turnpikes; whilst others stripped themselves of their knapsacks when they went into the fight, and coming out at different places, were never able to recover them. In the "wear and tear of battle," too, among the chapparel [sic] and sharp rocks of the mountains, and along the hills and valleys, many lost portions of the clothing they had on, and emerged from the terrible conflict with little else than their trusty muskets and cartridge-boxes. Indeed, we learn from a gentleman, who speaks from personal observation, that it was no uncommon thing to pass men on the march whose miserable outfit was not sufficient to cover their nakedness. Some were without shirts, others had on only the dirty remnant of a pair of pants, without shoes, and almost without caps or hats. Some were barefooted, others had on ragged socks but no shoes, while one man he saw was destitute of cap and shoes, and had had one leg of his pants torn entirely away! Let it be remembered, too, that many of these troops, thus ragged and destitute, and limping along on feet covered with stonebruises, had been reared up in luxury, and accustomed to all the comforts which wealth and industry can supply.

But, bad as is the condition of the men in camp, those who were wounded and sent back to the hospitals are still more unfortunate. Surgeons and medicines were sent up to Winchester, to which point most of the sick and wounded were taken, but up to the 15th instant we are assured that the Medical Department had not furnished a solitary cot, bedsack, sheet, pillow, or change of clothing for these unfortunates. With the single exception of the York Hospital, which was formerly occupied by the Yankees, and where they had left a complete outfit of hospital furniture, the sick and wounded were huddled together upon the dirty floor--in many instances without a wisp of straw between their aching bones and the hard plank! At Hollingsworth Grove large numbers were placed under tent fires, with nothing to protect them against the cold night air and riving mountain mists. A few cases are reported where the patients were as naked as babes just born, their scanty clothing having been torn off to dress their wounds, and but for a blanket borrowed from a comrade, they would have been wholly destitute of any covering save the narrow fly that had been stretched above them! Such as were fortunate enough to get into into [sic] private quarters were well cared for; but even the most wealthy citizens of the town and country are but illy prepared to provide for the sick and wounded. The lower valley of the Shenandoah has been occupied alternately by one party or the other for eighteen months; and the people have been stripped of almost every comfort. Some of the good women of Winchester had established hospital kitchens, and in Warrenton they even tore up their calico dresses to make bandages for the sufferers; but with every disposition to assist the wounded, they found it impossible, from a lack of means, to relieve their destitute condition.

We are further informed, that the agents of the Georgia Relief and Hospital Association arrived at Warrenton and Winchester, with supplies of medicines, bandages, splints, bed-sacks, sheets and clothing, several days in advance of the Government supplies. These agents even walked from Rapidan station to Warrenton--a distance of forty miles--in a day and a half, through the the [sic] hot sun, and over the dusty roads; and the surgeon also carried on his back his case of instruments. They proceeded at both places to look up the sick and wounded from their own state; to place bed-sacks, filled with straw, under them, furnish them with a change of clothing, and to do whatever else they could to render them comfortable. They even supplied the Government surgeons at Warrenton, with medicines, and at Winchester with such hospital furniture as they could spare.

Now, if the State of Georgia can do this much for her sick and wounded soldiers, why may not the Confederate Government, which has ample means and power, do the same? How is it that an association, organized by philanthropic citizens, and supported by the Legislature of one of our sister States, is able to accomplish more, with less means, and in less time, than the Government of the entire Confederacy? If this association can procure bed-sacks, sheets, clothing, and other hospital furniture, why cannot the Surgeon-General of the Confederate Government do the same? Can the Surgeon-General answer this question? Have we so many able-bodied men in the country, and are the lives of our seasoned soldiers of so little value that we can thus afford to sacrifice them, either by sheer neglect, or the adoption of a brutal system? The country demands an answer to these questions, and no owlish silence or affected official dignity will satisfy this public demand.

But enough for the present. We shall advert to this painful subject again. It is but just to add, that the Government has at length begun to move in the matter of supplies, and that clothing and shoes are being forwarded to Winchester for the relief of the destitute. We design to give the authorities full credit for what they have done and may yet do, not only because it is right and proper, but in order that the people may see how much will still be left for them to do.--Richmond Whig.

Give to the Soldiers
(Column 2)
Summary: Once again, the Spectator urges readers to donate supplies to the army. The Spectator also criticizes speculators who make money off the added need for supplies.
Let Justice be Done
(Column 2)
Summary: The Spectator takes offense at the Register's contention that the Governor of Virginia fell prey to factiousness in opposing the Conscription Bill.
Origin of Article: Knoxville Register
The Grand Movement in Kentucky
(Column 2)
Summary: Article contends that Gen. Bragg captured from the enemy and purchased from the citizens in Kentucky enough to load a train of wagons forty miles long. Among the booty is allegedly 1 million yards of good Kentucky jeans.
Origin of Article: Greenville (Tenn) Banner
The Call for more Soldiers
(Column 3)
Summary: Article reports that, being authorized by the Conscription act, the President has called into service all persons between 18 and 40 not exempt by the provisions of the exemption bill.
The Augusta Lee Rifles
(Column 4)
Summary: A list of Lilley's Augusta Lee Rifles who have been killed, wounded, or died of disease.
(Names in announcement: Capt. Robert D. Lilley, John T. Wood, James A. Rosen, William M. Swink, John B. Hawpe, H. T. Campbell, James Humphries, Uriah Smith, Lieut. C. G. Davis, Alexander Griever, William Wilson, John Mines, Lieut. J. B. Wright, David Hamilton, John Baylor, James Ramsey, Adam Brubeck, Ferdinand Linn, J. S. Guy, D. M. Layton, William M. Berkeley, James P. Van Lear, George C. Hawpe, Cicero Bare, John Pilson, David Kennedy)
(Column 4)
Summary: Item asserts that foreign recognition of the Confederacy is forthcoming.
Narrow Escape of General Polk
(Column 4)
Summary: Article alleges that General Polk rode up to what he thought was a Confederate artillery position in order to stop their fire. It turned out to be a Union position, but he made good his escape before discovered.
The Cat out of the Bag
(Column 4)
Summary: Article reports a letter from William H. Vanpelt to his uncle Seward. The letter, printed elsewhere in this issue, gives evidence that the Yankees intentionally falsify battle reports to make them look victorious in the eyes of foreign powers.
The County Court
(Column 4)
Summary: Article reports that the County Court has instructed the Committee to meet to discuss making an additional appropriation to soldiers families.
(Column 6)
Summary: Marriage of Andrew Bear and Eliza Gaines.
(Names in announcement: Andrew Bear, Rev. T. D. Bell, Eliza Gaines, Mr. Gaines)
(Column 6)
Summary: Marriage of James Edwards and Harriot Shanholt.
(Names in announcement: James A. Edwards, Harriot E. Shanholt)
(Column 6)
Summary: Death of Joseph Good.
(Names in announcement: Joseph Good)
(Column 6)
Summary: Death of Mary Jane Breene.
(Names in announcement: Mary Jane Breene)
(Column 6)
Summary: Death of Rebecca Taylor.
(Names in announcement: Rebecca Taylor, Noah Taylor, Catharine Taylor)

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Description of Page: Various battlefield reports.

The March to Richmond
(Column 4)
Summary: Transcript of a poem found in a dead Union soldier's pocket.