March 22nd, 1864 - Cleburne's Division Engages...in a Snowball Fight

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Luke Freet

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Patrick Cleburne's Division was encamped around Dalton, in preparation for the coming Spring, the last many of the men would experience. The weather in March was quite unpredictable, and snow fell often. On 22nd of March, a "fresh five inches of snow" had fallen in the night. The men, many of whom had never seen snow in their life, proceeded to start a snowball fight.
At first, it appears the fight was unorganized,and between fellow tent mates. Later on, however, Polk's Brigade of Arkansans and Tennesseans and Govan's Brigade of Arkansans formed up for battle against one another. Cleburne joined with Polk, as it had been his old brigade long ago.
The fight was going well for Cleburne and Polk, at first. Their fire discipline appears to have Govan's boys on the ropes. That was, until Govan ordered a charge, which made Polk's Brigade fall back. Cleburne was captured, and after a brief debate among Govan's boys, he was released on Parole.
Cleburne immediately returned to Polk's Brigade. Cleburne was captured a second time, and, having violated his parole, Govan's boys discussed how to punish him. Some suggested a Court martial. Others suggested throwing him in a creek. Some clever soldiers, many still smarting from Cleburne's disciplinarianism, suggested giving him the same treatment they had received: making him carry a railroad fence. However, cooler heads prevailed, and his defenders brought up that this was the first time he had ever gone against his word, and so he was let off.
When the battle ended, Cleburne treated both sides with a ration of whiskey, and the soldiers gathered around bonfires and were singing and yelling "at the top of their lungs".
The next day, another battle occurred, but my source does not go into details on this engagement.

Source: Symonds, Craig L. Stonewall of the West, pg. 199-200.

Fun little story to share, with the cold weather turning down here in Georgia.
 
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