dark period of depression that followed the battle of the 13th of December, desertions as well as disease and death were too common incidents.
How much the numerical force of this army was decreased through this one agency will probably never be known, but the consequent demoralization was so palpable to the new commander that he applied himself with characteristic energy to its repair.
Not only were the proper means employed to gather back to their commands those absent, but also rational methods of inspiring those present with patriotism and zeal, and with confidence in the commanding general
; for example, a judicious system of furloughs was instituted.
As success crowned the efforts of Gen. Hooker
in reorganizing by spring an effective army, whose self-confidence was restored, and whose strength was greater than on the ill-fated day in December when it crossed the Rappahannock
, it ought to be recorded on every page that illustrates the splendid military achievements of Hooker
, that he was the commander who knew how to inspire confidence in himself by considerately reposing confidence in others.
Few, indeed, were the desertions among those who enjoyed the privilege of a brief home visit during February and March, 1863.
To our company it is a matter of honorable pride and everlasting satisfaction, that during those melancholy days no name upon our roster was sullied.
On the 27th of April, our army had 12,000 cavalry, now for the first time organized in a corps under a commander of special distinction in this arm of the service.
There were 120,000 infantry and artillery.
On this day, to our company, as a representative of the last named arm, were read the general orders, which involved specific directions as to individual preparation for the campaign that was to open on the morrow.
We were to turn in our dress uniforms, all extra blankets and clothing, reserving only a change of shirts and stockings.
We were to use knapsack or valise thus relieved to carry five days rations of bread, (as many days' rations of meat were to follow us in shape of beef creatures,) and we were to take three days supply of bread and meat in our haversacks.