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Confederate winter quarters, Manassas, Virginia. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number, LC-B811-1045B.

Armies during the Civil War didn’t usually fight in the winter. Cold rain and snow made it too hard for men and equipment to move. So both blue and gray soldiers built winter quarters. Francis Marion Poore was the only one of the three Poore brothers in the rebel army in the winter of 1861-62. Outside of Leesburg, Virginia, Francis and his comrades built small cabins, like the ones in the photo to the left, from a few runs of logs stacked on stones. If they could get enough sawn timber, they built roofs. Otherwise, they topped the cabins with tents draped over a center pole to make a roof. The men heated these crude affairs with chimneys built of sticks and mud. According to John Heiser of the Gettysburg National Military Park, “Soldiers often named their winter huts after well-known hotels or restaurants back home such as ‘Wiltshire Hotel’ or ‘Madigan’s Oyster House.’” But many of Southerners slept under nothing more than tents made of blankets.

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