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Last spring JoAnn and I did a swing through Virginia learning about the various locations where Marshall and Amanda Felch were during the Civil War. When doing Civil War research, it doesn’t take long to find your way to the Fredericksburg Virginia area. Concurrently you become familiar with the Rappahannock River. Fredericksburg is about half way between Washington D.C. and Richmond and naturally it was in the forefront of military action from about the fall of 1862 to the spring of 1864. Amanda and Marshall serving with the Old Vermont Brigade within the 6th Corps were there to see it all.

In November 1862, the White Oak Church which is about 5 miles east of Fredericksburg became the encampment of the Army of the Potomac for about seven months. Around 20,000 soldiers of the VI Corps camped in the immediate area. At this time the church served as both a military hospital and a United States Christian Commission station.

White Oak Church

White Oak Church

Amanda stated in a later deposition, “During the winter that following a Division Hospital [2nd division, 6th corps] was established near White Oak Church Virginia and I was appointed by Surgeon S.J. Allen Chief Medical Officer of the Division as Matron in charge.

A hospital steward of the 4th Vermont (note that Marshall was a hospital steward in the 4th) wrote: “December 13 came Fredericksburg, with all its horrors; The Vermonters suffering severely, and Mrs. Farnham [Amanda], who was stationed at the Bernard [sic] House, worked with the wounded without rest until getting back to the old camps at White Oak Church.”

Today there is a White Oak Church Museum across the street but this was closed on the day we visited the area (May 3, 2011). There were some interpretive signs on the location and we captured a picture or two of those. Also note that the Bernard House which is much closer to Fredericksburg no longer exists.

Winter of 1862-63 Union Encampment

Winter of 1862-63 Union Encampment

I found this recollection of a soldier by the name of Henry H. Houghton describing his experience at White Oak Church in the Vermont in the Civil War website.

“Dec 20 [1862] I was formally mustered into the service remaining in Burlington until Jan 9, 1863. I was sent to the front to join the 3rd Vt. Regiment. I enlisted for Co. F called the West Hartford Co., but on reaching my Regt they placed me in Co K, called the Montpelier Co, and I never saw any cause to regret the change. The Regt was in camp near White Oak Church Va. Soon after arriving I had my initiation into the hardships of a soldiers life in the form of a hard march through Virginia mud. We started to go to Fredericksburg, marched all one day then camped for the night, next morning I was detailed to guard the arms and equipments of my Co, while the rest of the Co were helping to pull the Artillery out of the mud; they worked all day at that and the next day we returned to our old camp and it was always afterward called “Burnside stuck in the mud.” During Feb & March everything was quiet as far as the rebels were concerned, and the Co were engaged in just the routine of camp duty.

The 25th of Feb there was a damp snow on the ground about six inches in depth, and the 26th New Jersey Regt challenged the 3d & 4th Vt. Regts to a snow ball battle, they had as many, or more men as both our Regts. Skirmishers were thrown out and the opposing lines were led by field officers mounted: we captured their officers, Colonel, adjutant, and quartermaster and drove them out of their camp. Nearly all the troops in the vicinity gathered to witness the contest.”

Below is part of a second interpretive sign we found near the Church!

Winter at White Oak Church

Winter at White Oak Church

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