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[265] He knew the force was at Culpeper, and he also learned that a large body yet remained on the west side of the Blue Ridge.

McClellan's army at that time is set down at 131,000 effective men, and, believing he was strong enough to interpose between the several divisions of the Army of Northern Virginia—one at Culpeper, the other at Winchester and Strasburg—he began a hurried march to do so, but very soon after turning his column northwestward, he was removed from command of the army and Major-General A. E. Burnside appointed in his stead.

It is very unusual for a new commander to carry out the plans of his predecessor. Indeed, we do not know of such a precedent.

Burnside, therefore, returned to Warrenton with the whole army, where he remained about ten days, during which time he was busily engaged in maturing plans for his first campaign and endeavoring to get his reins well in hand.

Thus matters rested until about the 13th of November, 1862.

The Army of Northern Virginia (except Longstreet's corps, at Culpeper), camped on the west side of the Blue Ridge, along the beautiful Valley, while on the east, or opposite side, camped the Army of the Potomac.

Barksdale's Mississippi Brigade camped near the historic little city of Winchester, where numbers of the men had varioloid or smallpox. The negro servants with the brigade, of whom there were a number, suffered severely, and in numerous cases never recovered from the effects. We had no tents, of course, and very few blankets, but wood was plentiful and big log fires supplied the deficiency.

About the 1st of November it began to sleet and snow, during which time it was not unusual to see men broken out with smallpox walking about, visiting friends or other messes.

The rations furnished were entirely inadequate to satisfy our appeties. Therefore, the men roamed about the country in search of food. The people were hospitable and liberal and seemed glad to share what they had with us. Among the good things we found was what the Virginians call ‘apple butter,’ made by cooking the apples into a marmalade, then boiling it in cider, a delicious dish even now. The appetite of a soldier who had passed through an arduous campaign of four weeks, over mountains and rivers, with scant rations, and in many cases without shoes, engaged almost daily in combat, has no parallel in peace.

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