Cold War

The least sanguinary battle of the Civil War was a snowball fight among Confederate troops near Port Royal, Va., on Feb. 25, 1863. A participant described the melee in the Savannah Daily Morning News:

We finally got our column in line and advanced with a shout — but a new mistake precipitated the catastrophe. The ‘Tar-heels’ had provided themselves with haversacks filled to the brim with ammunition — whereas we only had a ball or two in our possession. When these were exhausted, of course, we had to improvise for the occasion, while our foes could pelt us mercilessly with an unremitting hail and thus interfere materially with the process of manufacturing ours. Under these circumstances our plan of attack should have been to charge furiously to a distance of five paces of the Van Winkle, fire one volley and then charge again, making the contest a hand to hand one. Had we done so, I have no doubt we would have swept the encampment. But on the contrary we charged up very near and then halted and commenced to fire. The consequence was that our ammunition was soon exhausted, while that of the Rips was only lightened enough to expedite their movements.

“Thus ended one of the most memorable combats of the war,” he concluded. “A part of it was witnessed by Gen. Jackson and his staff. I wish the old faded uniforms could have participated in it. I want to throw one snow-ball at Stonewall Jackson.”