Mud March


Pin It

Second Federal (Union) Occupation and "Valley Forge" Period

Mud March

Seemingly impossibly, the AOP’s situation worsened after the battle of Fredericksburg. Burnside’s planned movement upriver through Bank’s Ford peninsula, Rappahannock crossing, and flanking attack was overwhelmingly overpowered by surface warming and heavy winds and rain. The 135,000 man-60,000 horse/mule-6,000 wagon-1,000 ambulance-414 artillery piece-army literally carved its way into the clay-loam soil and the rains turned Stafford into a quagmire and stranded the entire army in a bottomless sea of mud. Known forever afterward as the “Mud March,” it was listed as a kind of battle-honor in unit histories. At the time, it contributed to the army’s near demoralization and disintegration…

Now, defeated and humiliated, the AOP settled into its Stafford camps for the long winter of 1863.

General Burnside, having lost the confidence of almost all of his army, was replaced with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker. Burnside, to his credit, assumed his new duties in Ohio and would return as a corps commander to the AOP in 1864. While in Ohio command he charged, tried and convicted the leader of the “Copperheads,” Clement Vallandigham, of treason and Clement was “banished to the Confederacy.”                                (Painting of Mud March by Mort Kunstler.)