« VorigeDoorgaan »
1862. just how we became possessed with the idea that General
Pope wrote it. Probably some newspaper desiring to ridicule his famous proclamation, added the offensive paragraph on publishing it, and the army not being very friendly toward him, repeated it so often as a joke on Pope, very soon believed it to be true. It became a by-word throughout the army, and a good deal of fun we had out of it. In justice to General Pope, we are glad to give his statement, which he made in his account of the second battle of Bull Run, as published in the “Century" magazine of January, 1886:
There are other matters which, although not important, seem not out of place in this paper. A good deal of cheap wit has been expended upon a fancisul story that I published an crder, or wrote a letter, or made a remark, that my“ headquarters would be in the saddle.” It is an expression harmless and innocent enough, but it is even stated that it furnished General Lee with a basis for the only joke of his life. It is painful, therefore, to a well-constituted mind, to be obliged to take away the foundation of that solitary joke; but I think it due to army tradition, and to the comfort of those who have so often repeated this ancient joke in the days long before the Civil War, that these later wits should not be allowed with impunity to poach on this well-tilled manor. This venerable joke I first heard when a cadet at West Point, and it was then told of that gallant soldier and gentleman, Gen. W. J. Worth. I presume it could be easily traced to the Crusades, and beyond; and while it may not be as old as the everlasting hills, it is certainly old enough to have been excused from active duty long years ago. Certainly I never used this expression, or wrote, or dictated it, nor does any such expression occur in any order of mine; and as it has, perhaps, served its time and effected its purpose, it ought to be retired. Let us hope that it may be permitted to sleep in peace, and no longer rack the brain of those whose intellectual machinery can ill bear the strain, or be perpetuated among their natural successors.
Military critics and officers high in command have asserted that General Pope was an officer of exceptional abilities. If this is true, and we are not inclined to dispute it, he did himself a grievous wrong when he published this order.
Marched to Waterloo, ten miles. Though the disTuesday, tance was not great it was a hard march, and as it began July 22.
to rain before we reached our camping-ground, the tem
per of the regiment was not improved. We had been feasting on the fat of the land and drinking spring-water, and other1862. wise enjoying ourselves, so that we were in no humor to
get pleasure out of a hot, dusty road. In passing through towns and villages, and even on the high-roads, we naturally attracted a good deal of attention. We frequently noticed among the crowds so gathered, the scowling faces of women, who, upon learning we were from Massachusetts, saluted us as “ Nigger-lovers," and other opprobrious epithets, while it occasionally happened that by grimaces only could they express the intensity of their feelings. We were in no way disturbed by these manifestations of unfriendliness on the part of the fair sex, but the men in reddishbrown suits, watching our movements with eager eyes, passing themselves off as innocent farmers, who were they? They excited our suspicion by their restless, sneaking manners, their evident desire not to be observed. Yes, we soon learned that these innocent men combined the peaceful avocation of farming with the nocturnal pastime of throat-cutting, under the leadership of that champion throatcutter, John S. Mosby. It often happened, later on, that soldiers returning to camp after dark, were waylaid and murdered, and their bodies horribly mutilated. Of course it made litile difference to the man after he was dead what disposition was made of his body, but it was none the less disagreeable to the living to contemplate what might be the fate of a man who fell into the hands of such a band, particularly when he reflected that life might not be wholly extinct when the mutilation took place. It was the presence of these men in our midst that enabled Mosby to carry on his nefarious work. We can respect the foe who stood up in a manly way and fought for what he honestly believed was right, but we do not believe in gilding with heroism the deeds of Mosby and his guerillas, which kind of warfare is abhorred by all civilized nations.
The remarks we heard from the bystanders as we marched along often became by-words in the regiment. We were no exception to the generality of mankind, of liking to see a pretty face, even if it did belong to a woman of “ secesh” sentiments. When the boys at the head of the column discovered a pretty girl, if she was on the right side of the road, “ guide right” would be passed along the line ; and “guide left," if on the left side of the road. By this ingenious device
we were enabled to direct our eyes where we would
receive the largest return for our admiration. The ignorance displayed in answering our inquiries respecting distances was unfathomable. An answer might be “five miles,” and after an hour's marching, the same inquiry would be repeated, when the answer would be “ten miles." We often would be told that “ 'Taint a great ways when you get ’most there." This might, at first, seem intended for a joke, but its frequency and the stolidity with which it was given reinoved any such doubt. After awhile the boys would reverse the question by asking “How far is it to such a place when you get ’most there?” and it was amusing to see how completely puzzled they were. After considerable experience of this kind we concluded that while Virginia was called “The mother of Presidents,” she was not the mother of a man who could accurately tell you the distance from one town to another.
Various were the devices adopted by the boys to relieve the monotony of weary marches. On these occasions, as conversation was allowed, stories were told, gossip repeated, discussions carried on, and criticisms made on the acts of public men, as well as on the merits of our commanders. An occasional silence would be broken by the starting of a familiar song, and very soon the whole regiment would join in the singing. Sometimes it would be a whistling chorus, when all would be whistling. Toward the end of a day, however, so tired were we all, that it was difficult to muster courage for these diversions, then our only reliance for music would be the band. When a temporary halt was granted, it was curious to see how quickly the boys would dump themselves over on their backs at the side of the road as soon as the word was given, looking like so many dead men. There was one thing we were thankful to the colonel for, and that was his freedom from nonsense on such occasions. No“ right-facing," no "right-dressing,” no “stacking arms," to waste valuable minutes, but “get all the rest you can, boys,” and when the order was given to “ forward,” each man took his place in line without confusion or delay.
Every opportunity for a joke or a “grind" on a comrade was seized to enliven our toil. At this particular time it happened that
one of the boys, a private in one of the companies, - and
we beg his pardon for mentioning the circumstance, was appointed to a lieutenancy in the Regular army. “ The mills of the gods grind slowly," it is said, but he must have thought them a lightning express in comparison to the wheels of our War Department, as between the time when he read in the paper his confirmation by the Senate and the time when he received an order to report at Washington, nearly three months elapsed. In the meantime, being a good soldier, he did duty with the rest of us as goodnaturedly as a man can who is in hourly expectation of saying “goodby.” When the inquiry was made, “What regiment is that?” the answer would be returned, “ Thirteenth, Mass.; none but regular army officers in the ranks!” The opportunity of saying this afforded us more enjoyment than it did the bystanders, who had no appreciation of what it meant.
It would often occur, when we were tired and dusty from a long day's march, “Old Festive ” would ride by, when suddenly you would
“ Saw my leg off,
SHORT!!!” There was another man in the regiment who contributed a large share of fun for the amusement of others, and that was the “Medicine man
the man who honored the doctor's sight-drafts for salts, castor-oil, etc., delicacies intended for the sick, but greatly in demand by those who wished to rid themselves of unpleasant duties. He was the basso profundo of the glee club, and could gaze without a tremor at the misery of a man struggling with castor-oil, while at the same time encouraging him to show his gratitude at the generosity of the Government by drinking the last drop. “ Down with it, my boy, the more you take the less I carry.”
Moved camp to a better spot, on Carter's Run.
that July 25. shows how much patience was required to prevent one's
language from acquiring a gilding of profanity. In the reduction of baggage, company kettles and pots had to go, so that 1862. each man was forced to do his own cooking on his own
fire, and with his tin dipper. Now, this meant a good deal where wood was scarce, or where we had to go a distance for it. Men were therefore jealous of its use by those who were known as being too lazy to procure wood. It frequently happened that when your fire was well going, some fellow would put his dipper down beside yours and with flattering words of greeting ward off your anger, gradually pushing the dipper farther into or on the fire, until he had gained entire possession of it. This was aggravating, but not so much so as an instance where a single fire had been extended by the use of rails until it contained not less than thirty cups filled with water, the owners crowding and pushing, each with a handful of coffee watching for the water to boil, when he was to put in his coffee. In walking round looking for a vacant spot where he might slide in his dipper, one of the boys hit his toe against one of the rails, and over went all the dippers into the fire. Did the owners sit down and laugh at the accident? No; they did not. Even those whose coffee had been placed in the dippers showed no joy. Once more the goddess whose name suggests eternal punishment was invoked upon the offender. “For a voice of wailing is heard out of Zion : How are we spoiled?"
Orders were read notifying us of the death of Thursday, ex-President Van Buren. Some of us were shocked July 31. because one of the boys, an Englishman by birth, asked,
“ Who in h-1 is Van Buren?” The brigade was ordered out in full marching order to be inspected by General Pope.
An order was received that men quit straggling off the picket line. Who had been giving away the secrets of the picket line ?
Yesterday an order was received that “at company drills the men will be instructed in calculating distances within five hundred yards.” This looked like business.
At 5.30 A.M. we left our pleasant and healthy camp at Monday, Waterloo and marched towards Culpeper, eleven miles. August 4.
The roads were dusty and the temperature of the air, as well as our language, was very high. We had been very