Confederate Private Eli Pinson Landers was just 19 when he left home last year to join the Flint Hill Grays. Like many in his home county of Gwinnett County, Georgia, his family owns no slaves. His enlistment has caused a great deal of hardship within his family, as he left behind his widowed mother and two younger sisters to tend to their 240-acre farm.
Camped on the south side of Fredericksburg and waiting for the enemy to make their move, he writes a quick letter to his mother about his health and the lack of basic necessities:
“We stayed on picket 48 hours down in Fredericksburg. I am not so very well today. My cold seems to get worse. I have got a very bad cough and I am so bad stopped up till I sometimes almost smother. I am fearful that I will be sick. We have a very fair prospect for a snow now soon. I dread it very bad without we was better prepared for it. I don’t know what we will do if we don’t get shoes.”
C.S.A. Lieutenant General D. H. Hill’s troops finally arrive in Fredericksburg; his men have traveled 200 miles since November 20. Unfortunately they are not yet allowed to rest; General Robert E. Lee wants Hill’s troops to continue southeast twenty miles to Port Royal in case U.S. General Ambrose Burnside tries to cross his men there.
Winfield Scott Hancock had always been a reliable soldier; a graduate from West Point who was stationed in California when the war started, he had a reputation for excelling at anything given to him. While he was originally used for administrative work due to his attention to detail, he was eventually given a field commission; former General George B. McClellan had once telegraphed to Washington during an earlier 1862 campaign that “Hancock was superb today” and the nickname “Hancock the Superb” stuck. During the battle of Antietam this past September he assumed command of the First Division, II Corps after Major General Israel Richardson died in the horrific fighting at “bloody lane.” Hancock had shown great courage that day as he took command of the field and galloped between his troops and the enemy. Today he is rewarded for his efforts and is promoted to U.S. Major General of Volunteers.