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and privations with abundance of good-nature, while
others are so despondent that nothing ever seems right. Men are to be found who are always ready to do a kind action, and others who will impose on the good-natured to the utmost limit. The varnish of politeness and affability which one acquires by mingling with society soon disappears from a man who takes his place in the rank and file of an army. So long as he does his duty he may be as disagreeable as he pleases, without violating an army regulation. Education and bringing up may assist in concealing one's natural instincts for a while, but in the end a soldier stands with his comrades for just what he is. If a man's inclination is to bully, it will show itself in a thousand ways; if he is selfish, it will be discovered at the first drawing of rations; if lazy, at the first call of duty; if he lacks courage, he will endeavor to shirk the first danger that threatens. You see human nature just as it exists where men are unrestrained by any civilizing influence. Among the human parasites that infest the army was the soldier who was forever sponging on his fellows. Success as a bummer varied according to the abilities and ingenuity of the individual, but, as a rule, he failed when his reputation as such became established. We had a man in marked contrast to the characters we have just described, whose merits were so superior to any man of his class we ever saw, that it is not extravagant to say that he was equalled by few and surpassed by none. He was the most agreeably lazy man we ever saw, hating work as intensely as a tramp. There was only one duty he would do without urging, and that was fighting. He had no lack of courage, was handsome and intelligent, well educated, a fine singer, of a genial disposition, and to crown all, was gifted with as persuasive a tongue as any mortal ever had. Until the beginning of the war his father had been a man of wealth, and consequently our hero was never required to do anything for which he had a disinclination. Beginning at Fort Independence, he continued through his service to borrow from everybody that had a dollar which could be inveigled, and never thought of returning it, though his temperament was so sanguine that he easily convinced his creditors, as he did himself, that he could shortly pay the loan. Additional loans were often received
1863. from creditors who protested in advance that he had bor
rowed their last dollar. You might be provoked with him for not returning the borrowed shekels, and scold him well for the neglect, but he would appear so genuinely sorry at the delay that you felt like offering an apology for reminding him of his obligation. He was a pleasant addition to any group, and a place was always cheerfully made for him round a fire. He had an extensive acquaintance with books, and could argue without offence, acknowledging the superiority of his opponent's argument with an amicability that was charming. He never, like most of us, received a box from home, yet always obtained a liberal share of others'. He never carried a pipe, tobacco, or match, yet he always had his smoke, even when tobacco was very scarce; and to top all, he generally found some one to do any disagreeable duty he wished to be rid of. When the service of the regiment was completed he was supported by his friends. His old comrades contributed liberally to his wants, occasionally provided him with clothes, took him to the theatre or to dinner, or to both, were always glad of his company, and would be delighted to shake him by the hand again, though it would be an expensive pleasure. Nature never intended him for work, and he never attempted to violate the scheme laid out for him by the planets that controlled his destiny. Oddly enough this man with so many attractive qualities acquired the inharmonious nickname of “ Chuck," from his habit of always saying “chuck it," when you had anything to give him, rather than exert himself to move out of his position to reach for it. His acquaintance was one of the luxuries of our army life, and we think “Chuck" was worth all he cost.
Some of our young readers - supposing, of course, that we have young readers- may wonder why we do not say something about the heroes of the regiment. The fact is that brave men, men who only needed an opportunity to distinguish themselves, were as plenty as huckleberries. It is not the men whose names appear the oftenest in the newspapers that are the greatest heroes or the most courageous men.
In truth, every soldier knows that some pretty poor specimens have acquired renown by pushing themselves forward in the daily press. When a boy, sitting beside us at a regimental dinner,
1863. asks who such a man is that is making so much fun, whom
we recognize as among the best of soldiers, we like to sit down with that boy and tell him what we have seen that man do at a critical moment, and what we know about the brave deeds of other men that he sees about him. We have purposely refrained from mentioning in our story the names of anybody, through fear of omitting some name entitled to honorable mention that we cannot recall while writing. It was one of the curious things about men of exceptional daring and courage that they generally looked upon every other fellow as being equally so. We know men in the Thirteenth - and it is the same with other regiments — with a record that every man who respects courage and fortitude under trying circumstances would be glad to take off his hat to when meeting them on the street, but only their comrades know what soldiers they were. You never hear them mention the fact, for they see nothing heroic in anything they did themselves, while they imagine that every other man did something better.
Just as soon as we became comfortably settled in winter quarters we found it necessary to devote our surplus energy to hunting that sample of the Divine workmanship scientifically known as the “ Pediculus humanus." He is a wonderful little chap, satisfied to live in Stygian darkness, hiding himself and all his family from the closest scrutiny. After an hour or two of the most careful examination you replace your shirt satisfied that you have removed the last one, and inwardly gratified at your success, when, as if reading your very thoughts, he gives notice of your failure, and off goes your shirt again for another hunt. Away go all your New Year's resolutions. At last you come to realize that all your persistent efforts of cleanliness and watching will not ensure your continuous freedom from this disgusting little parasite.
There was another bloodthirsty little wretch that bothered us a good deal in summer, and that was the “ tick." Of course we had fleas, as might be expected when living in a tent no bigger than a dog-kennel, but the tick was a real enemy that did business on business principles. If you caught him in the act and brushed him away, as you supposed, he simply dropped his body, as one would a knapsack, and with his head firmly imbedded under your hide, would
1863. continue to increase and multiply, as the Bible requests
mankind to do, until very soon you would become tortured with a most disagreeable irritation, often likely to become very serious and occasionally resulting in lameness for weeks. What with lice, ticks, centipedes, earwigs, etc., there was food for reflecting how
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform."
In spite of all these drawbacks we did get some pleasure out of life.
By aid of the newspapers we kept as well-informed as the rest of the world, while letters and papers from home supplied fresh material to be repeated at some other fireside than our own.
We all had our ideas of running a campaign, and freely criticised the plans of our commanders, wondering why a private soldier had so much more sense than a general.
Of course we were busy every day with drills, guard duty, fetching our supply of wood, which had to be hauled two or three miles, and the building of corduroy roads, so that when evening came we were glad to fill our pipes and stroll into other quarters until tattoo, when we answered to our names and then turned in for the night, hoping no “long roll” would turn us out before morning.
In building huts for winter quarters, opportunity was afforded for the exercise of such ingenuity or fancy as the boys possessed. Some were satisfied with the simplest arrangement that could be made, while others spent time and labor to perfect a habitation that in comparison to some others suggested the luxurious. As in each case the roof was the shelter tent, there was some uniformity in appearance, the size of the roof indicating the number of occupants. Some dug into the ground for space, and others into the air. Some were two stories in height, and a few were dug into the hill-side. All pretty nearly represented the degree of comfort the occupants desired. Each was provided with a chimney made of barrels or boxes, according to circumstances.
Orders were received to march. We were told that January 20. we were to cross the river once more and engage in an
effort to turn the right wing of the enemy. Possibly 1863. Burnside was in possession of information that led him
to believe this could be done, though we did not believe it. As will be seen, this turned out to be a “holler mockery.”
We had become fairly well settled in what we supposed would be permanent winter quarters, so we were not moved to mirth or joy on receiving the order to march. In answer to our inquiries of what was up, we were informed that we were to cross the river and attack the right wing of the enemy posted on the opposite bank. It was said that Burnside had received information that the enemy had become so weakened by the withdrawal of troops, that a victory might be gained with the possibility of our marching on to Richmond. The breaking up of our camp was attended by the usual destruction of things that had contributed to our comfort and pleasure. Some of the huts were burned, and a general scene of disorder prevailed as we left the spot. About noon we started and marched in a westerly direction ten miles, to Stoneman's Switch, where we halted for the night. This was the beginning of what has since been known in war literature as “Burnside's mud march.” We had sampled from time to time the “sacred soil” of Virginia, but in the wildest dreams of our imagination we had seen no mud like this. As usual, after a few weeks of continuous camp life, our knapsacks had assumed a plethoric appearance out of keeping with the hard work before us. When a soldier leaves a camp such as ours had become, he has to consider what he will throw away. Idleness is what fattens a knapsack. A soldier generally starts with a good deal more than he can carry, but his back, which is master of the situation, soon brings him to terms, and after a day or two the luxuries disappear.
Somehow or other we got separated from the other regiments in the brigade, and didn't succeed in finding them until night, and then it was raining hard. As there was no wood to be had we could build no fires; and therefore no coffee ; nor could we find sticks on which to pitch our tents, so our guns were forced to do duty in their place.
If some ministering angel had happened round about this time with a barrel of hot whiskey, well flavored with lemon-peel and sugar, it is doubtful if any soldier would have said, “ Get thee behind me, Satan!” There may have been one or two, or even three or three