"The old wines of the good people of Fredericksburg have been referred to."

By General G. Moxley Sorrel

In the aftermath of December 1862's bloody Battle of Fredericksburg, in the midst of the tending of the wounded and removal of the dead, there were some surprising flashes of cordiality between the enemy camps. General G. Moxley Sorrel, Longstreet's Chief of Staff, gives a very human side to the war in his recollections.

The old wines of the good people of Fredericksburg have been referred to. They suffered in the fortunes of war. A few nights before the opening of the battle, which was then imminent, considerable quantities of fine old Madeira and other varieties were taken out of cellars and bins, and sent by the citizens to our fellows in camp, equally ready for drink or for battle. It was known that the town would be shelled and occupied by the Federals, probably looted and plundered; therefore it was thought safest to see priceless old vintages passed around campfires and quaffed in gulps from tincups. Of course the men would have better liked whiskey, but they did not refuse the wine.

An incident on the river may bear telling. It was after the battle, when the pickets had resumed their posts and had become friendly; more given to trading than shooting each other at less than one hundred yards. The authorities had to set their faces sternly against this trading. It led to desertion. A fine Federal band came down to the river bank one afternoon and began playing pretty airs, among them the Northern patriotic chants and war songs. "Now give us some of ours!" shouted our pickets, and at once the music swelled into Dixie, My Maryland, and the Bonnie Blue Flag. Then, after a mighty cheer, a slight pause, the band again began, all listening; this time it was the tender, melting bars of Home, Sweet Home, and on both sides of the river, there were joyous shouts, and many wet eyes could be found among those hardy warriors under the flags. "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."

Extracted from the chapter, "Battle of Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862" in Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer, by Gilbert Moxley Sorrel. New York & Washington: The Neale Publishing Company, 1905. Pp. 143-144.

General G. Moxley Sorrel of Savannah, Georgia, was Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Staff, Longstreet's 1st Army Corps; Brigadier-General commanding Sorrel's Brigade, A.P. Hill's 3rd Army Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.