Content from copies of letters, diaries, and memoirs by soldiers - Courtesy of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
“Recollections of Four Years With the Union Cavalry, 1861-1865” by Thompson A. Snyder - Co. D, 1st Pennsylvania Cavalry
(Copy provided to FRSP, Bound Volume 42)
Page 21: Following the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863, Snyder talks about picket duty along the river, specifically at US Ford on the Rappahannock River. While there, the cavalrymen would fraternize with their Confederate counterparts.
“Our bands would come out in the unoccupied space between the camps and the pickets on the river to practice during this time of no firing and the Rebel bands did the same. Sometimes they would have quite a contest by each playing their favorite airs. If our band would play The Star Spangled Banner or some other National air the other side would reply with Dixie or some other Southern favorite; but if either side would play some neutral air such as The Mocking Bird or Home Sweet Home, the other side would join in and they would play it in concert. They were in plain hearing of each other, and we, being between them, got the benefit of it and enjoyed it to the limit. I do not know whether the friendly exchanges became quite so intimate all along the line of twenty miles or more as it did in our section, or not.”
Letter dated May 21, 1864 by James Decker - Battery B , 1st New York Light Artillery (Copy provided to FRSP Bound Volume 418)
This letter by a Union artilleryman was written May 21, 1864 near Spotsylvania Court House and mentions bands playing at night.
“I saw something on this campaign I never saw before we were drawn up in line of Battle and both the Enemy & us had breast works in plain sight perhaps a half mile between our Bateries we had three Bands up on the works and the Enemy two in front of us playing for two hours neither side fired a shot during the time.”
Diary of Edmund Halsey - Co. K, 15th New Jersey Infantry (Copy provided to FRSP Bound Volume 148)
During the Second Battle of Fredericksburg (Chancellorsville Campaign), Halsey and his regiment crossed the Rappahannoc River below Fredericksburg on May 1, 1863:
“May 1st 1863 Friday- At “Franklins Crossing” warm - we lay in the rifle pit near the landing all day the only excitement being occasional picket firing and once in a while a rebel shell going over our heads + busting behind us. At sunset the pickets of our division were relieved by Piatts Brigade. All the other troops of our corps and as we think the 1st Corps were paraded on the Stafford side of the river in full view of ourselves and of the rebs. Bands were playing and there was a general cessation of firing, Directly we heard the rebel bands playing Yankee Doodle.”
“Old Soldier Tells of Christmas in Camp at Fredericksburg” by John S. Henley - 17th Mississippi Infantry - published in the December 18, 1925 issue of The Aberdeen Examiner. (Copy provided to FRSP Bound Volume 373)
In the memoir published in a Mississippi newspaper, a Confederate veteran mentions spending the winter of 1862-1863 in Fredericksburg and along the Rappahannock River with the Union pickets on the other side.
“On a clear still night, the Yanks played a number of pieces, and ended with ‘Yankee Doodle.’ Then our band played for some time and ended with ‘Dixie.’ Everybody cheered. After everything got still, an old soldier began singing the old familiar song, ‘Home Sweet Home’. Both picked line took it up and sang it for ten miles up and down the river. The echo of our singing came back, which gave it an after sound. The river on the opposite bank had a bluff from 100 to 200 feet high and straight up from the water. The sound went across the water and struck the bluff and came back.”
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