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Changed camp to high ground, half a mile to the Thursday, westward, and proceeded at once to build huts for win
ter quarters. Six months and sixteen days more before
"Johnnie comes marching home." During the month of January, 1864, the Confederate Congress passed resolutions thanking General Lee and the officers and soldiers under his command for the great and signal victories they had won, and the service they had rendered in defence of the liberty and independence of their country. Accompanying the resolutions was the following general order:
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE,
RICHMOND, Jan. 13, 1864. The President having approved the following joint resolutions of Congress, directs its announcement in General Orders, expressive of his gratification at the tribute awarded the patriotic officers and soldiers to whom it is addressed. For the military laggard, or him who, in the pursuits of selfish and inglorious ease, forgets his country's need, no note of approbation is sounded. His infamy is his only security from oblivion. But the heroic devotion of those who, in defence of liberty and honor, have perilled their all, while it confers, in an approving conscience, the best and highest award, will also be cherished in perpetual remembrance by a grateful nation. Let this assurance stimulate the armies of the Confederacy everywhere to greater exertion and more resolute endurance, till, under the guidance of Heaven, the blessings of peace and freedom shall finally crown their efforts. Let all press forward in the road to independence, and for the security of the rights sealed to us in the blood of the first Revolution. Honor and glory await our success. Slavery and shame will attend our defeat !
As a specimen of turgid eloquence this is too fine to remain buried in the War Records.
We were given to day a half-ration of whiskey. With January 1. the thermometer at ten below zero and fifty per cent.
reduction in the quantity of whiskey, there was indeed cause for anxiety. The substitutes appealed to their goddess “Helen Blazes” — for interference, and some of us felt like joining in the chorus. The significance of reducing the allowance of whiskey on the first day of the year was very striking, and suggested that perhaps the annual fever of reform which occurs on New Year's day had attacked the government, though we hoped it would not be more lasting than it usually was with mankind. The life of a common soldier is such an irksome grind, that it is not to be wondered that he welcomes anything that will put a polish on the hard surface of his daily duties. There was nothing that so effectually removed the wrinkles from “grim-visaged war” as a noggin of old rye, although we allow that its absence was no excuse for profanity. Of all men who served in the army, the private soldier could afford the least to indulge in the luxury of profanity, as will be seen by the following extract from the “ Articles of War :"
ARTICLE 3. Any non-commissioned officer or soldier who shall use any profane oath or execration, shall incur the penalties expressed in the foregoing article (one-sixth of a dollar); and a commissioned officer shall forfeit and pay for each and every offence, one dollar, to be applied as in the preceding article.
That is, applied “to the use of the sick soldiers of the company or troop to which the offender belongs.”
According to the “War Records” the man who did the most swearing was the distinguished commander of the Army of the Potomac, but perhaps he thought he could afford it; we couldn't, even at the low price fixed for the rank and file. If General Meade chipped in a dollar for every profane word he uttered, the amount of 1864. money so collected would have supported all the hospi
tals in the army, unless he has been grievously maligned. It must have bothered him to keep the count unless he left that to his private secretary. In the heat of battle, or when stupid soldiers tried their patience, some other officers, following his extravagant example, believed the expletives of our language acquired additional force if garnished with profanity, and we fear they often exceeded the limit allowed even by the army in Flanders. But, as we have already said, war is not a Sunday-school picnic.
Now we were settled in winter quarters, we had plenty of time to reflect on the perils through which we had passed, and the fact that thirty months of our three-years' service had been wound off, hoping our luck would hold out until July 16, when we could, with honor, turn our backs to the foe. As we sat on picket, watching the stars, our minds would go back to January 1, 1862, when we were quartered in the hospitable town of Williamsport, where we celebrated the day with “ apple-jack," a decoction which many of us became acquainted with for the first time, and which discretion suggested ought to be the last. We recollected how much fun we had seeing the old year out way out. There were singing and dancing, darkies' praise-meetings, and entertainment at houses where the hospitality was supplemented with the stirring words of “ Maryland, my Maryland.” In those happy days we were a thousand strong, but now a small band welded into veterans by the perils and hardships we had encountered. GENERAL ORDERS,} No. 2. HEADQUARTERS First BRIGADE, SECOND DIVISION,
First ARMY CORPS, January 2, 1864. As an additional measure of precaution for defence, and to guard against surprise, in the position now occupied by the brigade, there will be one regiment designated daily as an inlying picket, to go on duty at the hour of guardmounting, at which time, by the same calls, it will assemble on its regimental parade ground, under its own officers, have roll-calls, inspection, and stack arms, its commanding officer to report in person at these headquarters immediately thereafter. This picket will always be in readiness to fall in at a moment's notice, to march to any point that may be threatened, and will be under arms at daylight. The officers and men will, therefore, remain in camp and quarters, with their accoutrements on, and if deemed necessary by the brigade commander, patrols