Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

January 2, 2013

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

January 2, 1863 — This morning we left camp at sunrise and started on a scout to Moorefield in Hardy County, West Virginia. We marched hard all day over a rather rough road and through a broken rolling country. We passed through Brock’s Gap, which is in the little North Mountain, twelve miles west of New Market. The gap is abrupt and so deep that the headwaters of the North Fork of the Shenandoah pass through it. The sloping sides of the gap are so regular that from a little distance it looks as if some giant woodman notched it with his ax for a gateway through the mountain. We passed Chimney Rock in Brock’s Gap Settlement. It is a large rock in the form of an enormous chimney, about sixty feet high, and stands isolated from the surrounding broken descent; it looks like dark limestone. It is situated about a mile from the gap in the mountain. Brock’s Gap Settlement is a small valley hemmed in by mountains. It is bounded on the west by the Shenandoah mountain. The greater portion of the little valley is in primeval forest, interspersed here and there with small farms. Most of the farms lie along the little streams that meander around the lofty foothills and wind all through the settlement searching for the Gap, where they form the Little Shenandoah and break the mountain fetters by gliding through the Gap into the open valley. The Brock’s Gap farmers seem to be a happy and contented people, and nearly all of them are born hunters. Judging from the number of deer horns I saw to-day nailed up on house or stable at nearly every little farm we passed, the farmer-hunters must be successful in the chase of the fleet-footed deer. However, some of the antlers I saw were bleached white by sun and storm, indicating that it has been many years since they went bounding over the mountain wilds.

The natural scenery throughout the settlement is strikingly grand, with its wooded, undulating ridges and steep broken hills, limpid mountain streams rushing laughingly over mossy rocks and pebbly beds, with here and there a glassy pool that mirrors in its crystal bosom the towering, piled-up, and almost overhanging bluffs and slopes that are adorned in the habiliments of nature’s richest garb of pristine glory as it came from the loom of the Great Weaver. As yet untouched by the desecrating hand of the woodman, it is the peaceful haunts of deer and grouse and the happy hunting grounds of the Brock’s Gap rifles. We crossed the big Shenandoah mountain after night. The moon hung in a cold, white, wintry sky and cast a pale light over the mountain side that dimly revealed the dark, deep ravines and the towering slopes that crowd around the narrow winding road.

It was near the hour of midnight when we reached the top of the mountain. It was freezingly cold, and the glittering hoar-frost on the mountain shrubbery glowed in the pale moonlight like crystals of silver.

Little after midnight we struck the South Fork about fourteen miles from Moorefield. South Fork is a rapid little stream winding through mountains and sweeping around hills in its whole course, and is full of bad, rough fords. It empties into the South Branch of the Potomac, near Moorefield. We moved down the Fork about two miles and halted two hours, from about one o’clock until three, and tried to eat a little midnight lunch. Our bread was frozen as hard as a bone and we had to thaw it by the fire to render it feasible for mastication.

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