The Wilderness and the Spotsylvania Courthouse
After leaving New York City in October, 1863, the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment rejoined the Army of the Potomac near Centreville, Virginia. By November 1863, the Army of the Potomac was preparing to cross the Rappahannock to spend the winter in Brandy Station, Virginia.
Winters during the Civil War often made travel and combat almost impossible. Harsh weather created impassable muddy roads. Armies created large, semi-permanent encampments resembling small villages to wait out the winter.
In the spring of 1864, many soldiers of the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment’s original three-year service contract expired. The majority of the men agreed to re-enlist at the end of their term. The entire regiment was given a month’s furlough between their two terms of service. After their furlough, Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath and the 20th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment rejoined the Army of the Potomac in May, 1864.