Ruffles, Flourishes, Drills and Heat
In July and August, 1862, the Union Army of Virginia 2nd Corps under Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks
camped in and around Little Washington. Col.
Charles E.F. Collis Zouaves, noted for their
French-style red and blue uniforms, served as
Banks bodyguard. The army commander, Gen.
John Pope, remained near Washington, D.C.,
until the end of July but communicated with
Banks by U.S. Military Telegraph. Army construction crews strung lines from Warrenton
to Little Washington and on to Sperryville.
Banks corps conducted lengthy daily
drills in the fields directly southeast of here,
often in oppressive heat. On July 28, Banks held
one of several massive ?Grand
Reviews" of his troops. Banks,
whose command Confederate Gen.
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson had
thrashed during Jackson Shenandoah Valley
campaign in May and June, wrote to his wife that
this was the first time he had ever given drilling
orders to so many men. Banks held another massive review a few days later, in honor of the Army
of Virginia commander, Gen. John Pope. On
August 9, Banks men bore the brunt of fighting
at the Battle of Cedar Mountain, about 25 miles
south of here in Culpeper County.
"Yesterday we had a splendid review of my
troops. After the review I drilled them all
myself in the evolutions of the line. It was the
first time I had ever [done so], and to some
10,000 men, I was astonished I felt I had been
doing it all my life and I think the officers
were surprised. They all said it could not be
done by one man, and I suppose had not seen
it. I was delighted but didn?t say a word to
anyone about it."
—Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks,
letter to his wife, July 29, 1862.