Stafford in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Union Army Winter Camp Remains
A soldier’s description of the march to, and construction of, winter quarters, Stafford County Virginia, 1863
At right are translated excerpts from a letter of an 11th Corps soldier to his parents in Germany. The author, Sergeant Wilhelm Francksen, immigrated to the United States from Germany in late 1861 and subsequently joined the Union Army. At times the translation is awkward as he tries to explain various American concepts or terms to his German parents. After departing Stafford, Sergeant Fraucksen was badly wounded
“Camp near Stafford, Virginia March 1,1863”
My dear father,
We marched 13 miles in 2 days, moving forward slowly with frequent stops because our wagons could not proceed. Completely drenched and frozen to the bone, we arrived where we were to be posted on the 2nd afternoon, made a fire and put up our little cotton tents, after we had brushed off the ground in a makeshift fashion. Then we toiled to make a cup of coffee and gulped it down along with a few Crackers, a hard wheat bread, a kind of ships biscuit, and a piece of salt pork, and finally 2-3 men cowered together tightly wrapped in Blankets—woolen covers—under the small linen roof, pressed close together to keep at least a little warm. The next morning snow was piled high on the tent, and our joints were stiff from lying on the cold ground. During the day the order came to build some sturdy warm huts, and so we started cutting down trees and dragging them back through the woods, without any paths, which gave us no end of trouble. We also had to cook our own food and get hold of wood and water for this.
We were bustling around like ants in an anthill. A few days later a little town had grown out of this wasteland,
Sgt Wilhelm Francksen,
26th Wisconsin Infantry
Source: Germans in the Civil War, The Letters They Wrote Home by Walter D. Kamphoefner & Wolgang Helbich, 2006
Soldiers' winter quarters
Soldier’s winter quarters were diverse; however most contained small huts resembling miniature cabins made of logs from nearby forests and topped with canvas or board roofs. Some huts were dug into the ground to take advantage of the earth’s insulation. Depressions of several of these remain today. Other huts were built totally above ground. Hut interiors were often finished with boards, and many had fold-down platform bunks. Some soldiers just stayed in canvas tents. All of the above types of quarters appear to have been used in this camp. Camp layouts ranged from neatly organized lines to haphazard scattering of quarters. Some sites have piles of rock where original fireboxes or chimneys fell or were disturbed. Unique in this camp are an intact sandstone hearth and large firebox. Sandstone is prevalent in this area; however, in other Stafford camps bricks appropriated by the soldiers were also used. Many chimneys utilized wooden barrels or chinked logs above their fireboxes.
One of several hut replicas at the nearby White Oak Civil War Museum – FSCWS photo
Erected 2013 by Stafford County.
Location. 38° 23.704′ N, 77° 24.084′ W. Marker is in Stafford, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker can be reached from Mount Hope Church Road (County Route 677) 1.2 miles west of Brooke Road (County Route 608). Touch for map. Located in Stafford Civil War Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 400 Mount Hope Church Rd, Stafford VA 22554, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Union Infantry Winter Camp (within shouting distance of this marker); Eleventh Corps Encampment Area (within shouting distance of this marker); Union Batteries at Accokeek Creek (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Potomac Church Road (about 600 feet away); Union Eleventh Corps Artillery (about 600 feet away); The Daniel Bridge (about 600 feet away); Quarrying the Stone (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sandstone Quarry (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Stafford.
Also see . . .
1. Stafford Civil War Park. (Submitted on November 25, 2013.)
2. Friends of Stafford Civil War Sites. (Submitted on November 25, 2013.)
Categories. • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 25, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 421 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 25, 2013, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.