Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Battle of Jonesville

Also Known as the Frozen Fight

The year of 1864 was in its infancy being only three days old. A blanket of wintry weather covered the area with a frozen glaze and the hearts of men were frozen by the war as well as the cold. War at any time is a terribly hard experience but to fight in the extremely freezing weather during January of 1864 is inconceivable. During the Civil War there were no special winter clothing such as Gore-Tex lined coats or boots. Neither were there any waterproof gloves or thermal knit underwear. Both armies were usually scantily clothed with the boys in blue slightly better off than their brothers in gray. Rubber coated blankets were a luxury very few soldiers had and good boots even less available. Horror stories of soldiers marching without shoes or socks were common among the whisperers of tales. Winter was dreaded and as the temperature fell below the 0 mark to 6 below all became chilled to the bone. With all that suffering came the added worry that someone was trying to kill you. Unfortunately for some of the troops in the Powell River Valley, a fierce frozen fight was in store for them. The battle would be fought on one of the coldest January mornings of the war. On January 3, 1864, a battle in Jonesville, Virginia would be remembered by the men who fought there as The Frozen Fight.

Jonesville is a small town located in the Powell River Valley in Lee County, Virginia. The valley is known for its fertile and productive fields. Unfortunately for the farmers and citizens in this area, both union and confederate armies were well aware of that fact. Both would need to forage the area to maintain the existence of their men, as supplies were hard to transport into the area. The area was totally enclosed on the north and south by mountain ranges. Jonesville was uniquely located. It was less than four miles south of Harlan County, Kentucky and six miles north of Hancock County, Tennessee. The Union stronghold of Cumberland Gap and Tazewell, Tennessee was not very far to the west. The Confederate stronghold of Rogersville, Tennessee was just to the south of the sprawling little town. The roads to all of these areas connected at Jonesville, such as spokes of a wheel with the town being the hub. There exists a similarity to Gettysburg in terms of both being the hub of action and that destiny would meet both parties when both parties found each other at that location.

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