This snow battle won’t make it into Rain Crow as the book will probably end sometime at the end of 1861, but if there is a second or third book, I will surely find a way for Lorena or Baron to be present.
During the winter of 1862-1863 the snow fell particularly deep and moist in the Fredericksburg, VA area at the Rappahannock Academy where 10,000 Confederate troops were camped. Back-to-back snowstorms might be considered a disaster to some, but that February, they furnished ammunition for grand, and meticulously planned snow battles.
Eight inches fell on February 19. Two days later, nine inches fell. On February 25, it was sunny with mild temperatures, which softened the snow cover and made for idea snowball making weather.
War was declared.
General Hoke’s North Carolinas determined to take Colonel Stiles Georgia camp. The attacking force of infantry, cavalry, and skirmishers, were guided by officers in strategic battle maneuvers. Battle lines formed and a severe pelting commenced. Reinforcements arrived to assist the brigade under attack and even the commissary staff joined in to help push back the foul invaders.
Hoke’s Georgia boys retreated to their camp, seemingly beaten. Colonel Stiles held a war council to devise a plan on the best way to defeat his enemy. They decided to march directly into camp and take it by force. To their dismay, Hoke’s boys had filled their haversacks with snowballs as well as piled them up, so they had no need to “reload” with ammunition.
The attacking force was quickly defeated and many of their soldiers “whitewashed” with snow. Captured prisoners were paroled back to their leaders with much hoorahing.
Stonewall Jackson and staff watched the battle from a nearby mound and one more than one soldier remarked they wished for them to join in so they could snowball the “old faded uniforms.”
Several other major snowball battles took place during the war, but Rappahannock was noted for it’s sheer size, strategy, and amount of snow.