How Private George W. Peck Put Down The Rebellion - or, The Funny Experiences of a Raw Recruit - 1887
by George W. Peck
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By George W. Peck


The War Literature of the "Century" is very Confusing—I am Resolved to tell the True Story of the War—How and "Why I Became a Raw Recruit—My Quarters—My Horse—My First Ride.

For the last year or more I have been reading the articles in the Century magazine, written by generals and things who served on both the Union and Confederate sides, and have been struck by the number of "decisive battles" that were fought, and the great number of generals who fought them and saved the country. It seems that each general on the Union side, who fought a battle, and writes an article for the aforesaid magazine, admits that his battle was the one which did the business. On the Confederate side, the generals who write articles invariably demonstrate that they everlastingly whipped their opponents, and drove them on in disorder. To read those articles it seems strange that the Union generals who won so many decisive battles, should not have ended the war much sooner than they did, and to read the accounts of battles won by the Confederates, and the demoralization that ensued in the ranks of their opponents, it seems marvellous that the Union army was victorious. Any man who has followed these generals of both sides, in the pages of that magazine, must conclude that the war was a draw game, and that both sides were whipped. Thus far no general has lost a battle on either side, and all of them tacitly admit that the whole thing depended on them, and that other commanders were mere ciphers. This is a kind of history that is going to mix up generations yet unborn in the most hopeless manner.

It has seemed to me as though the people of this country had got so mixed up about the matter that it was the duty of some private soldier to write a description of the decisive battle of the war, and as I was the private soldier who fought that battle on the Union side, against fearful odds, viz: against a Confederate soldier who was braver than I was, a better horseback rider, and a better poker player, I feel it my duty to tell about it. I have already mentioned it to a few veterans, and they have advised me to write an article for the Century, but I have felt a delicacy about entering the lists, a plain, unvarnished private soldier, against those generals. While I am something of a liar myself, and can do fairly well in my own class, I should feel that in the Century I was entered in too fast a class of liars, and the result would be that I should not only lose my entrance fee, but be distanced. So I have decided to contribute this piece of history solely for the benefit of the readers of my own paper, as they will believe me.

It was in 1864 that I joined a cavalry regiment in the department of the Gulf, a raw recruit in a veteran regiment. It may be asked why I waited so long before enlisting, and why I enlisted at all, when the war was so near over. I know that the most of the soldiers enlisted from patriotic motives, and because they wanted to help shed blood, and wind up the war. I did not. I enlisted for the bounty. I thought the war was nearly over, and that the probabilities were that the legiment I had enlisted in would, be ordered home before I could get to it. In fact the re-cruiting officer told me as much, and he said I would get my bounty, and a few months' pay, and it would be just like finding money. He said at that late day I would never see a rebel, and if I did have to join the regiment, there would be no fighting, and it would just be one continued picnic for two or three months, and there would be no more danger than to go off camping for a duck shoot. At my time of life, now that I have become gray, and bald, and my eyesight is failing, and I have become a grandfather, I do not want to open the sores of twenty-two years ago. I want a quiet life. So I would not assert that the recruiting officer deliberately lied to me, but I was the worst deceived man that ever enlisted, and if I ever meet that man, on this earth, it will go hard with him. Of course, if he is dead, that settles it, as I shall not follow any man after death, where I am in doubt as to which road he has taken, but if he is alive, and reads these lines, he can hear of something to his advantage by communicating with me. I would probably kill him. As far as the bounty was concerned, I got that all right, but it was only three-hundred dollars. Within twenty-four hours after I had been credited to the town from which I enlisted, I heard of a town that was paying as high as twelve-hundred dollars for recruits. I have met with many reverses of fortune in the course of a short, but brilliant career, have loaned money and never got it back, have been taken in by designing persons on three card monte, and have been beaten trading horses, but I never suffered much more than I did when I found that I had got to go to war for a beggerly three-hundred dollars bounty, when I could have had twelve hundred dollars by being credited to another town. I think that during two years and a half of service nothing tended more to dampen my ardor, make me despondent, and hate myself, than the loss of that nine-hundred dollars bounty. There was not an hour of the day, in all of my service, that I did not think of what might have been. It was a long time before I brought to my aid that passage of scripture, "There is no use crying for spilled bounty," but when I did it helped me some. I thought of the hundreds who didn't get any bounty.

I joined my regiment, and had a cavalry horse issued to me, and was assigned to a company. I went up to the captain of the company, whom I had known as a farmer before the war commenced, and told him I had come to help him put down the rebellion. I never saw a man so changed as he was. I thought he would ask me to bring my things into his tent, and stay with him, but he seemed to have forgotten that he had known me, when he worked on the farm. He was dressed up nicely, and I thought he put on style, and I could only think of him at home, with his overalls tucked in his boots, driving a yoke of oxen to plow a field. He seemed to feel that I had known him under unfavorable circumstances before the war, and acted as though he wanted to shun me. I had drawn an infantry knapsack, at Madison, before I left for the front, and had it full of things, besides a small trunk. The captain called a soldier and told him to find quarters for me, and I went out of his presence. At my quarters, which consisted of what was called a pup-tent, I found no conveniences, and it soon dawned on me that war was no picnic, as that lying recruiting officers had told me it was. I found that I had got to throw away my trunk and knapsack, and all the articles that I couldn't strap on a saddle, and when I asked for a mattress the men laughed at me. I had always slept on a mattress, or a feather bed, and when I was told that I would have to sleep on the ground, under that little tent, I felt hurt. I had known the colonel when he used to teach school at home, and I went to him and told him what kind of a way they were treating me, but he only laughed. He had two nice cots in his tent, and I told him I thought I ought to have a cot, too. He laughed some more. Finally I asked him who slept in his extra cot, and intimated that I had rather sleep in his tent than mine, but he sent me away, and said he would see what could be done. I laid on the ground that night, but I didn't sleep. If I ever get a pension it will be for rheumatism caught by sleeping on the ground. The rheumatism has not got hold of me yet, though twenty-two years have passed, but it may be lurking about my system, for all I know.

I had never rode a horse, before enlisting. The only thing I had ever got straddle of was a stool in a country printing office, and when I was first ordered to saddle up my horse, I could not tell which way the saddle and bridle went, and I got a colored man to help me, for which I paid him some of the remains of my bounty. I hired him permanently, to take care of my horse, but I soon learned that each soldier had to take care of his own horse. That seemed pretty hard. I had been raised a pet, and had edited a newspaper, which had been one of the most outspoken advocates of crushing the rebellion, and it seemed to me, as much as I had done for the government, in urging enlistments, I was entitled to more consideration then to become my own hostler. However, I curbed my proud spirit, and after the nigger cook had saddled my horse, I led the animal up to a fence to climb on. From the remarks of the soldiers, and the general laugh all around, it was easy to see that mounting a cavalry horse from off the top of a rail fence was not according to tactics, but it was the only way I could see to get on, in the absence of step-ladders. They let me ride into the ranks, after mounting, and then they laughed. It was hard for me to be obliged to throw away all the articles I had brought with me, so I strapped them on the saddle in front and behind, and only my head stuck out over them. There was one thing, it would be a practicable impossibility to fall off.

The regiment started on a raid. The colonel came along by my company during the afternoon, and I asked him where we were going. He gave me an evasive answer, which hurt my feelings. I asked his pardon, but told him I would like to know where we were going, so as to have my letters sent to me, but he went off laughing, and never told me, while the old soldiers laughed, though I couldn't see what they were laughing at. I did not suppose there was so much difference between officers and privates, and wondered if it was the policy of this government to have a cavalry regiment to start off on a long raid and not let the soldiers know where they were going, and during the afternoon I decided to write home to the paper I formerly edited and give my opinion of such a fool way of running a war. Suppose anybody at home was sick, they wouldn't know where to write for me to come back. There is nothing that will give a man such an appetite as riding on a galloping horse, and along about the middle of the afternoon I began to get hungry, and asked the orderly sergeant when we were going to get any dinner. He said there was a hotel a short distance ahead, and the colonel had gone forward to order dinner for the regiment. I believed him, because I had known the orderly before the war, when he drove a horse in a brickyard, grinding clay. But he was a liar, too, as I found out afterwards. There was not a hotel within fifty miles, and soldiers did not stop at hotels, anyway. Finally the orderly sergeant came along and announced that dinner was ready, and I looked for the hotel, but the only dinner I saw was some raw pork that soldiers took out of their saddle bags, with hard tack. We stopped in the woods, dismounted, and the boys would cut off a slice of fat pork and spread it on the hard tack and eat it. I had never supposed the government would subject its soldiers to such fare as that, and I wouldn't eat. I did not dare dismount, as there was no fence near that I could use to climb on to my horse, so I sat in the saddle and let the horse eat some grass, while I thought of home, and pie and cake, and what a condemned fool a man was to leave a comfortable home to go and put down anybody's rebellion. The way I felt then I wouldn't have touched a rebellion if one lay right in the road. What business was it of mine if some people in the South wanted to dissolve partnership and go set up business for themselves? How was I going to prevent them from having a southern confederacy, by riding an old rack of bones of a horse, that would reach his nose around every little while and chew my legs? If the recruiting officer who inveigled me into the army had come along then, his widow would now be drawing a pension. While I was thinking, dreaming of home, and the horse was eating grass, the fool animal suddenly took it into his head to lay down and roll, and before I could kick any of his ribs in, he was down, and I was rolling off, with one leg under him. The soldiers quit eating and pulled the horse of me, and hoisted me up into the space between my baggage, and then they laughed, lit their pipes and smoked, as happy as could be. I couldn t see how they could be happy, and wondered if they were not sick of war. Then they mounted, and on we went. My legs and body became chafed, and it seemed as though I couldn t ride another minute, and when the captain came along I told him about it, and asked him if I couldn t be relieved some way. He said the only way was for me to stand on my head and ride, and he winked at a soldier near me, and, do you know, that soldier actually changed ends with himself and stood on his head and hands in the saddle and rode quite a distance, and the captain said that was the way a cavalry soldier rested himself. Gracious, I wouldn t have tried that for the world, and I found out afterwards that the soldier who stood on his head formerly belonged with a circus.

I suppose it was wrong to complain, but the horse they gave me was the meanest horse in the regiment. He would bite and kick the other horses, and they would kick back, and about half the time I was dodging the heels of horses, and a good deal of the time I was wondering if a man would get any pension if he was wounded that way. It would seem pretty tough to go home on a stretcher, as a wounded soldier, and have people find out a horse kicked you. I never had been a man of blood, and didn't enlist to kill anybody, as I could prove by that recruiting officer, and I didn t want to fight, but from what I could gather from the conversation of the soldiers, fighting and killing people was about all they thought about. They talked about this one and that one who had been killed, and the hundreds of confederates they had all shot or killed with sabres, until my hair just stood right up. It seems that twelve or fifteen men, more or less, had been shot off the horse I was riding, and one fellow who rode next to me said no man who ever rode that old yellow horse had escaped alive. This was cheering to me, and I would have given my three hundred dollars bounty, and all I could borrow, if I could get out of the army. However, I found out afterwards that the soldier lied. In fact they all lied, and they lied for my benefit. We struck into the woods, and traveled until after dark, with no road, and the march was enlivened by remarks of the soldiers near me to the effect that we would probably never get out of the woods alive. They said we were trying to surround an army of rebels, and cut them off from the main army, and the chances were that when tomorrow's sun rose it would rise on the ghostly corpses of the whole regiment, with jackals and buzzards eating us. One of the soldiers took something from his pocket, about the size of a testament, pressed it to his heart, and then kissed it, and I felt as though I was about to faint, but by the light of a match which another soldier had scratched on his pants to light his pipe, I saw that what I supposed to be a testament, was a box of sardines the soldier had bought of the sutler. I was just about to die of hunger, exhaustion, and fright at the fearful stories the veterans had been telling, when there was a shout at the head of the regiment, which was taken up all along the line, my horse run under the limb of a tree and raked me out of the saddle, and I hung to the limb, my legs hanging down, and


I Am Rudely Awakened from Dreams of Home—I Go on Picket— The Foe Advances—A Desperate Conflict—The Union— Confederate Breakfast on the Alabama Race-Track—A Friendly Partin

The careful readers of this history have no doubt been worried about the manner in which the first chapter closed, leaving me hanging to a limb of a tree, like Absalom weeping for her children, my horse having gone out from under me. But I have not been hanging there all this time. The soldiers took me down, and caught my horse, and the regiment dismounted and a council of war was held. I suppose it was a council of war, as I noticed the officers were all in a group under a tree, with a candle, examining a map, and drinking out of a canteen. I had read of councils of war, but I had never seen one, and so I walked over to the crowd of officers and asked the colonel if there was anything particular the matter. I never saw a crowd of men who seemed so astonished as those officers were, and suddenly I felt myself going away from where they were consulting, with somebody's strong hand on my collar, and an unmistakable cavalry boot, with a man in it, in the vicinity of my pantaloons. I do not know to this day, which officer it was that kicked me, but I went away and sat under a tree in the dark, so hungry that I was near dead, and I wished I was dead. I guess the officers wished that I was, too. The soldiers tried to console me by telling me I was too fresh, but I couldn't see why a private soldier, right from home, who knew all about the public sentiment at the north in regard to the way the war was conducted, should not have a voice in the consultations of officers. I had written many editorials before I left home, criticising the manner in which many generals had handled their commands, and pointed out to my readers how defeat could have been turned into victory, if the generals had done as I would have done in their places. It seemed to me the officers of my regiment were taking a suicidal course in barring me out of their consultations. A soldier had told me that we were lost in the woods, and as I had studied geography when at school, and was well posted about Alabama, it seemed as though a little advice from me would be worth a good deal. But I concluded to let them stay lost forever before I would volunteer any information. It was crawling along towards midnight, of my first day in the army, and I had eaten nothing since morning. As I sat there under the tree I fell asleep, and was dreaming of home, and warm biscuit, with honey, and a feather bed, when I was rudely awakened by a corporal who told me to mount. I asked him what for, and told him that I didn t want to ride any more that night. What I wanted was to be let alone, to sleep. He said to get on the horse too quick, and I found there was no use arguing with a common corporal, so the boys hoisted me on to the horse, and about nine of us started off through the woods in the moonlight, looking for a main road. The corporal was kind enough to say that as soon as we found a road we would put out a picket, and send a courier back to the regiment to inform the colonel that we had got out of the woods, and the rest of us would lay down and sleep till morning. I don't think I was ever so anxious to see a road in all my life, because I did want to lay down and sleep, and die. O, if I could have telegraphed home, how I would have warned the youth of the land to beware of the allurements held out by recruiting officers, and to let war alone. In an hour or so we came to a clearing, and presently to a road, and we stopped. The corporal detailed me to go up the road a short distance and stand picket on my horse. That was not what I had expected of the corporal. I used to know him before the war when he worked in a paint shop in a wagon factory, and I had always treated him well, and it seemed as though he ought to favor me by letting somebody else go on picket. I told him that the other boys were more accustomed to such work than I was, and that I would resign in their favor, because what I wanted was rest, but he said I would have to go, and he called me "Camp and Garrison Equipage," because I carried so much luggage on my horse, a name that held to me for months. I found that there was no use kicking against going on picket duty that night, though I tried to argue with the corporal that it would be just as well to all lay down and sleep till morning, and put out a picket when it got light enough to see. I was willing to work during the day time for the government, but it seemed as though it was rushing things a little to make a man work day and night for thirteen dollars a month. So the corporal went out on the road with me about a quarter of a mile, and placed me in position and gave me my instructions. The instructions were to keep a sharp lookout up and down the road for Confederate cavalry, and if I saw anybody approaching to sing out "halt!" and if the party did not halt to shoot him, and then call for the corporal of the guard, who would come out to see what was the matter. I asked him what I should do if anybody came along and shot me, and he said that would be all right, that the boys would come out and bury me. He said I must keep awake, for if I got to sleep on my post I would be court-martialed and shot, and then he rode away and left me alone, on a horse that kept whinnying, and calling the attention of possible Confederates to my position.

I do not think any reader of these papers will envy me the position I was in at that time. If I remained awake, I was liable to be killed by the enemy, and if I fell asleep on my post I would be shot anyway. And if I was not killed, it was probable I would be a murderer before morning. Hunger was gnawing at my stomach, and the horse was gnawing at my legs, and I was gnawing at a hard tack which I had found in the saddle-bag. Every little while I would hear a noise, and my hair would raise my hat up, and it would seem to me as though the next minute a volley would be fired at me, and I shrunk down between the piles of baggage on my saddle to be protected from bullets. Suddenly the moon came out from behind a cloud and around a turn in the road a solitary horseman might have been seen coming towards me. I never have seen a horse that looked as high as that horse did. He seemed at least eighteen feet high, and the man on him was certainly twelve feet high. My heart pounded against a tin canteen that I had strung around my shoulder, so I could hear the beating perfectly plain. The man was approaching, and I was trying to think whether I had been instructed to shoot and then call for the corporal of the guard, or call for the corporal and then ask him to halt. I knew there was a halt in my instructions, and wondered if it would not conciliate the enemy to a certain extent if I would say "Please Halt." The fact was, I didn t want to have any fuss. If I could have backed my horse up into the woods, and let the man go by, it seemed as though it would save precipitating a conflict. It is probable that no military man was ever in so tight a place as I was that minute. The enemy was advancing, and I wondered if, when he got near enough, I could say "halt," in a commanding tone of voice. I knew enough, then, to feel that to ask the stranger to halt in a trembling and husky voice would give the whole thing away, that I was a recruit and a coward. Ye gods, how I suffered! I wondered if I could hit a man with a bullet. Before the war I was quite a good shot with a shotgun, shooting into flocks of pigeons and ducks, and I thought what a good idea it would be if I could get that approaching rebel into a flock. The idea seemed so ridiculous that I laughed right out loud. It was not a hearty, happy laugh, but it was a laugh all the same, and I was proud that I could laugh in the face of danger, when I might be a corpse any minute. The man on the horse stopped. Whether he heard me laugh it is impossible to say, but he stopped. That relieved me a great deal. As he had stopped it was unnecessary for me to invite him to halt. He was welcome to stay there if he wanted to. I argued that it was not my place to go howling around the Southern Confederacy, ordering people to halt, when they had already halted. If he would let me alone and stay where he was, what sense was there in picking a quarrel with him?

Why should I want to shoot a total stranger, who might have a family at home, somewhere in the South, who would mourn for him. He might be a dead shot, as many Southern gentlemen were, and if I went to advising him about halting, it would, very likely cause his hot Southern blood to boil, and he would say he had just as much right to that road as I had. If it come right down to the justice of the thing, I should have to admit that Alabama was not my state. Wisconsin was my home, and if I was up there, and a man should trespass on my property, it would be reasonable enough for me to ask him to go away from there, and enforce my request by calling a constable and having him put off the premises. But how did I know but he owned property there, and was a tax-payer. I had it all figured out that I was right in not disturbing that rebel, and I knew that I could argue with my colonel for a week, if necessary, on the law points in the case, and the courtesy that I deemed proper between gentlemen, if any complaint was made for not doing my duty. But, lordy, how I did sweat while I was deciding to let him alone if he would let me alone. The war might have been going on now, and that rebel and myself might have been standing there today, looking at each other, if it hadn't been for the action of the fool horse that I rode. My horse had been evidently asleep for some time, but suddenly he woke up, pricked up his ears, and began to prance, and jump sideways like a race horse that is on the track, and wants to run. The horse reared up and plunged, and kept working up nearer to my Southern friend, and I tried to hold him, and keep him still, but suddenly he got the best of me and started towards the other man and horse, and the other horse started, as though some one had said "go".{*}

* [Before I get any further on this history of the war, it is necessary to explain. The facts proved to be that my regiment had got lost in the woods, and the scouting party, under the corporal, who had been sent out to find a road, had come upon the three-quarter stretch of an old private race track on a deserted southern plantation, instead of a main road, and I had been placed on picket near the last turn before striking the quarter stretch. A small party of Confederates, who had been out on a scout, and got lost, had come on the track further down, near the judges' stand, and they had put a man, on picket up near where I was, supposing they had struck the road, and intending to wait until morning so as to find out where they were. My horse was an old race horse, and as soon as he saw the other horse, he was in for a race and the other horse was willing. This will show the situation as well as though I had a race track engraved, showing the positions of the two armies. The Confederates, except the man on picket, were asleep beside the track near the quarter stretch, and our fellows, except myself, were asleep over by the three-quarter pole.]

I do not suppose any man on this earth, or any other earth, ever tried to stop a fool horse quite as hard as I did that one. I pulled until my arms ached, but he went for all that was out, and the horse ahead of me was buckling in as fast as he could. I could not help wondering what would happen if I should overtake that Southern man. I was gaining on him, when suddenly eight or nine men who were sleeping beside the road, got up and began to shoot at us. They were the friends of the rebel, who believed that the whole Union army was making a charge on them. We got by the shooters alive, and then, as we passed the rickety old judge's stand, I realized that we were on a race track, and for a moment I forgot that I was a soldier, and only thought of myself as a rider of a race horse, and I gave the horse his head, and kicked him, and yelled like a Comanche Indian, and I had the satisfaction of seeing my horse go by the rebel, and I yelled some more. I got a glimpse of my rebel's, face as I went by him, and he didn't look much more like a fighting man than I did, but he was, for as soon as I had got ahead of him he drew a revolver and began firing at me on the run. I thought that was a mean trick, and spoke to him about it afterwards, but he said he only wanted me to stop so he could get acquainted with me.

Well, I never could find any bullets in any of the clothes strapped on the back of my saddle, but it did seem to me as though every bullet from his revolver hit very near my vital parts. But a new danger presented itself. We were rapidly approaching the corporal and his men, with whose command I belonged, and they would wake up and think the whole Confederate army was charging them, and if I was not killed by the confounded rebel behind me, I should probably be shot all to pieces by our own men. As we passed our men they fired a few sleepy shots towards us, and took to the woods. On went the two night riders, and when the rebel had exhausted his revolver he began to urge his horse, and passed me, and I drew my revolver and began to fire at him. As we passed the judge's stand the second time a couple of shots from quite a distance in the woods showed that his rebel friends had taken alarm at the frequent charges of cavalry, and had skipped to the woods and were getting away as fast as possible. We went around the track once more, and when near the judge's stand I was right behind him, and his horse fell down and my horse stumbled over him, and I guess we were both stunned. Finally I crawled out from under my horse, and the rebel was trying to raise up, when I said, "What in thunder you want to chase a man all around the Southern Confederacy for, on a dark night, trying to shoot him?" He asked me to help him up, which I did, when he said, "Who commenced this here chasing? If you had kept whar you was, I wouldn't a had no truck with you." Then I said, "You are my prisoner," and he said, "No, you are my prisoner." I told him I was no hand to argue, but it seemed to me it was about a stand off, as to which was 'tother's prisoner. I told him that was my first day's service as a soldier, and I was not posted as to the customs of civilized warfare, but I was willing to wait till daylight, leaving matters just as they were, each of us on the defensive, giving up none of our rights, and after daylight we would play a game of seven-up to see which was the prisoner. That seemed fair to him, and he accepted the situation, remarking that he had only been conscripted a few days and didn't know any more about war than a cow. He said he was a newspaper man from Georgia, and had been taken right from the case in his office before his paper could be got out. I told him I was only a few days out of a country printing office my-self, the sheriff having closed out my business on an old paper bill. A bond of sympathy was inaugurated at once between us, and when he limped along the track to the fence, and found that his ankle was hurt by the fall, I brought a bottle of horse liniment out of my saddle-bags, and a rag, and bound some liniment on his ankle. He said he had never seen a Yankee soldier before, and he was glad he had met me. I told him he was the first rebel I had ever met, and I hoped he would be the last, until the war was over. By this time our horses had gone to nibbling grass, as though there were no such thing as war. We could hear occasional bugle calls off in the woods in two directions, and knew that our respective commands had gone off and got lost again, so we concluded to camp there till morning. After the excitement was over I began to get hungry, and I asked him if he had anything to eat. He said he had some corn bread and bacon, and he could get some sweet potatoes over in a field. So I built a fire there on the track, and he hobbled off after potatoes. Just about daylight breakfast was served, consisting of coffee, which I carried in a sack, made in a pot he carried, bacon fried in a half of a tin canteen, sweet potatoes roasted in the ashes, and Confederate corn bread, warmed by holding it over the fire on a sharp stick. My friend, the rebel, sat on my saddle, which I had removed from my horse, after he had promised me on his honor to help me to put it on when it was time to mount. He knew how to put on saddles, and I didn t, and as his ankle was lame I gave him the best seat, he being my guest, that is, he was my guest if I beat him in the coming game of seven-up, which we were to play to see if he was my prisoner, or I was his. It being daylight, I could see him, and study his character, and honestly he was a mighty fine-looking fellow. As we eat our early breakfast I began to think that the recruiting officer was more than half right about war being a picnic. He talked about the newspaper business in the South, and before breakfast was over we had formed a partnership to publish a paper at Montgomery, Ala., after the war should be over. I have eaten a great many first-class meals in my time, have feasted at Delmonico's, and lived at the best hotels in the land, besides partaking pretty fair food camping out, where an appetite was worked up by exercise and sporting, but in all my life I have never had anything taste as good as that combination Union-Confederate breakfast on the Alabama race track, beside the judges stand. After the last potato peeling, and the last crumb of corn bread had been "sopped" in the bacon gravy and eaten, we whittled some tobacco off a plug, filled our pipes and leaned up against the fence and smoked the most enjoyable smoke that ever was smoked. After smoking in silence a few minutes my rebel friend said, as he blew the smoke from his handsome mouth, "War is not so unpleasant, after all." Then we fell to talking about the manner in which the different generals on each side had conducted things. He went on to show that if Lee had taken his advice, the Yankees would then be on the run for the North, and I showed him, by a few well-chosen remarks that if I could have been close to Grant, and given him some pointers, that the Confederates would be hunting their holes. We were both convinced that it was a great mistake that we were nothing but private soldiers, but felt that it would not be long before we were called to occupy high places. It seemed to stand to reason that true merit would find its reward. Then he knocked the ashes out of his pipe and said if I had a pack of cards we would go up in the judges stand and play seven-up to see whether I was his prisoner, or he was mine. I wanted to take a prisoner back to the regiment, at I thought it would make me solid with the colonel, and I played a strong game of seven-up, but before we got started to playing he suggested that we call it a stand-off, and agree that neither of us should be a prisoner, but that when we got ready to part each should go hunt up his own command, and tell the biggest lie we could think of as to the fight we had had. That was right into my hand, and I agreed, and then my friend suggested that we play poker for money. I consented and he put up Confederate money, against my greenbacks, ten to one. We played about an hour, and at the close he had won the balance of my bounty, except what I had given to the chaplain for safe keeping, and a pair of pants, and a blouse, and a flannel shirt, and a pair of shoes, which I had on my saddle. I was rather glad to get rid of some of my extra baggage, and when he put on the clothes he had won from me, blessed if I wasn t rather proud of him. A man could wear any kind of clothes in the Confederate army, and my rebel looked real comfortable in my clothes, and I felt that it was a real kind act to allow him to win a blue suit that I did not need. If the men of both the armies, and the people of both sections of the distracted country could have seen us two soldiers together, there in the judges stand, peacefully playing poker, while the battles were raging in the East and in the West, that would have felt that an era of good feeling was about to dawn on the country. After we had played enough poker, and I had lost everything I had that was loose, I suggested that he sing a song, so he sung the "Bonnie Blue Flag." I did not think it was right for him to work in a rebel song on me, but it did sound splendid, and I forgot that there was any war, in listening to the rich voice of my new friend. When he got through he asked me to sing something. I never could sing, anyway. My folks had always told me that my voice sounded like a corn sheller, but he urged me at his own peril, and I sung, or tried to, "We'll Hang Jeff Davis to a Sour Apple Tree." I had no designs on Mr. Davis, honestly I hadn't, and it was the farthest thing from my thoughts to hurt the feelings of that young man, but before I had finished the first verse he took his handkerchief out and placed it to his eyes. I stopped and apologized, but he said not to mind him, as he was better now. He told me, afterwards, in the strictest confidence, that my singing was the worst he ever heard, and gave it as his opinion that if Jeff Davis could hear me sing he would be willing, even anxious, to be hung. If I had been sensitive about my musical talents, probably there would have been hard feelings, and possibly bloodshed, right there, but I told him I always knew I couldn't sing, and he said that I was in luck. Well, we fooled around there till about ten o'clock in the morning, and decided that we would part, and each seek our respective commands, so I put some more horse liniment on his sprained ankle, and he saddled my horse for me, and after expressions of mutual pleasure at meeting each other, and promises that after the war we would seek each other out, we mounted, he gave three cheers for the Yanks, and I gave three cheers for the Johnnies, he divided his plug of tobacco with me, and I gave him the bottle of horse liniment, he turned his horse towards the direction his gray coats had taken the night before, while I turned my horse towards the hole in the woods our fellows had made, and we left the race track where we had fought so gamely, eat so heartily, and played poker so disastrously, to me. As we were each about going into the woods, half a mile apart, he waved his handkerchief at me, and I waved mine at him, and we plunged into the forest.

After riding for an hour or so, alone in the woods, thinking up a good lie to tell about where I had been, and what I had been doing, I heard horses neighing, and presently I came upon my regiment, just starting out to hunt me up. The colonel looked at me and said, "Kill the fat prodigal, the calf has got back."


I Describe a Deadly Encounter—Am Congratulated as a Warrior With a Big "W"—The Chaplain Gives Good Advice—I Attend Surgeon's Call—Castor Oil out of a Dirty Bottle—Back to the Chaplain's Tent—I am Wounded in the Canteen.

The last chapter of this history left me facing my regiment, which had started out to hunt me up, after my terrible fight with that Confederate. The colonel rode up to me and shook me by the hand, and congratulated me, and the major and adjutant said they had never expected to see me alive, and the soldiers looked at me as one returned from the grave, and from what I could gather by the looks of the boys, I was something of a hero, even before I had told my story. The colonel asked me what had become of all the baggage I had on my saddle when I went away, and I told him that I had thrown ballast over-board all over the Southern Confederacy, when I was charging the enemy, because I found my horse drew too much water for a long run. He said something about my being a Horse-Marine, and sent me back to my company, telling me that when we got into camp that night he would send for me and I could tell the story of my capture and escape. I rode back into my company, and you never saw such a change of sentiment towards a raw recruit, as there was towards me, and they asked me questions about my first fight. The corporal who had placed me on picket, and stampeded at the first fire, was unusually gracious to me, and said when he saw a hundred and fifty rebels come charging down the road, yelling and firing, he knew it was no place for his small command, so he lit out. He said he supposed of course I was shot all to pieces. I didn't tell him that it was me that did all the yelling, and that there was only one rebel, and that he was perfectly harmless, but I told him that he miscalculated the number of the enemy, as there were, all told, at least five hundred, and that I had killed fourteen that I knew of, besides a number had been taken away in ambulances, wounded. The boys opened their eyes, and nothing was too good for me during that march. We went into camp in the pine woods late in the afternoon, and after supper the colonel sent for me, and I went to his tent. All the officers were there, and as many soldiers as dared crowd around. The colonel said the corporal had reported where he left me, and how the enemy had charged in force, and he supposed that I had been promptly killed. That he felt that he could not hold his position against such immense odds, so he had fallen back slowly, firing as he did so, until the place was too hot for him, and now he wanted to hear my story. I told the colonel that I was new at the business, and may be I did not use the best judgment in the world, by remaining to fight against such odds, but I meant well. I told him I did not wish to complain of the corporal, who no doubt was an able fighter, but it did seem to me that he ought at least to have waited till the battle had actually commenced. I said that the first charge, which stampeded the corporal and his men, was not a marker to what took place afterwards. I said when the enemy first appeared, I dismounted, got behind a tree, and poured a murderous fire into the ranks of the rebels, and that they fell all around. I could not tell how many were killed, but probably ten, as I fired eleven shots from, my carbine, and I usually calculated on missing one out of ten, when shooting at a mark. Then they fell back and I mounted my horse and rode to their right flank and poured it into them red hot from my revolver, and that I saw several fall from their horses, when they stampeded, and I drew my saber and charged them, and after cutting down several, I was surrounded by the whole rebel army and captured. They tied me to the wheel of a gun carriage, and after trying to pump me as to the number of men I had fighting against them, they left me to hold a council of war, when I untied myself, mounted my horse, and cut my way out, and took to the woods. I apologized to the colonel for running away from the enemy, but told him it seemed to me, after the number I had killed, and the length of time I had held them at bay, it was no more than right to save my own life, as I had use for it in my business. During my recital of the lie I had made up, the officers and soldiers stood around with mouths open, and when I had concluded my story, there was silence for a moment, when the colonel stepped forward and took me by the hand, and in a few well chosen remarks congratulated me on my escape, and thanked me for so valiantly standing my ground against such fearful odds, and he said I had reflected credit upon my regiment, and that hereafter I would be classed as a veteran instead of a recruit. He said he had never known a man to come right from the paths of peace, and develop into a warrior with a big "W" so short a time. The other officers congratulated me, and the soldiers said I was a bully boy. The colonel treated to some commissary whisky, and then the business of the evening commenced, which I found to be draw poker. I sat around for some time watching the officers play poker, when the chaplain, who was a nice little pious man, asked me to step outside the tent, as he wished to converse with me. I went out into the moonlight with him, and he took me away from the tents, under a tree, and told me he had been much interested in my story. I thanked him, and said I had been as brief as possible. He said, "I was interested, because I used to be something of a liar myself, before I reformed, and studied for the ministry." It occurred to me that possibly the chaplain did not believe my simple tale, and I asked him if he doubted my story. "That is about the size of it," says he. I told him I was sorry I had not told the story in such a manner that he would believe it, because I valued the opinion of the chaplain above all others. He said he had known a good many star liars in his time, some that had national reputations, but he had never seen one that could hold a candle to me in telling a colossal lie, or aggregation of lies, and tell them so easy. I thanked him for his good opinion, and told him that I flattered myself that for a recruit, right fresh from the people, who had never had any experience as a military liar, I had done pretty well. He said I certainly had, and he was glad to make my acquaintance. I asked him to promise not to give it away to the other officers, which he did, and then I told him the whole story, as it was, and that I was probably the biggest coward that ever lived, and that I was only afraid that my story of blood-letting would encourage the officers to be constantly putting me into places of danger, which I did not want to be in. I told him I believed this war could be ended without killing any more men, and cited the fact that I had been a soldier nearly forty-eight hours, and nobody had been killed, and the enemy was on the run. I told the chaplain that if there was one thing I didn't want to see, it was blood. Others might have an insatiable appetite for gore, but I didn't want any at all. I was willing to do anything for this government but fight; and if he could recommend to me any line of action by which I could pull through without being sent out to do battle with strangers who could shoot well, I should consider it a favor. What I wanted was a soft job, where there was no danger. The chaplain looked thoughtful a moment, and then took me over to his tent, where he opened a bottle of blackberry brandy. He took a small dose, after placing his hand on his stomach and groaning a little. He asked me if I did not sometimes have a pain under my vest. I told him I never had a pain anywhere. Then he said I couldn't have any brandy. He said the brandy came from the sanitary commsssion, and was controlled entirely by the chaplains of the different regiments, and the instructions were to only use it in case of sickness. He said a great many of the boys had pains regularly, and came to him for relief. He smacked his lips and said if I felt any pain coming on, to help myself to the brandy. It is singular how a pain will sometimes come on when you least expect it. It was not a minute before I began to feel a small pain, not bigger than a man's hand, and as I looked at the bottle the pain increased, and I had to tell the chaplain that I must have relief before it was everlastingly too late, so he poured out a dose of brandy for me. I could see that I was becoming a veteran very fast, as I could work the chaplain for sanitary stores pretty early in the game. Well, the chaplain and me had pains off and on, for an hour or two, and became good friends. He told me of quite a number of methods of shirking active duty, such as being detailed to take care of baggage, acting as orderly, and going to surgeon's call. He said if a man went to surgeon's call, the doctor would report him sick, and he could not be sent out on duty. The next day we went back to our post, where the regiment was stationed, and where they had barracks, that they wintered in, and remained there several weeks, drilling. I was drilled in mounting and dismounting, and soon got so I could mount a horse without climbing on to him from a fence. But the drill became irksome, and I decided to try the chaplain's suggestion about going to surgeon's call. I got in line with about twenty other soldiers, and we marched over to the surgeon's quarters. I supposed the doctor would take each soldier into a private room, feel of his pulse, look at his tongue, and say that what he needed was rest, and give him some powders to be taken in wafers, or in sugar. But all he did was to say "What's the matter?" and the sick man would tell him, when the doctor would tell his assistant to give the man something, and pass on to the next. I was the last one to be served, and the interview was about as follows:

Doc.—What's the matter?


Doc.—Run out your tongue. Take a swallow out of the black bottle.

That seems very simple, indeed, but it nearly killed me. When he told me to run out my tongue, I run out perhaps six inches of the lower end of it, the doctor glanced at it as though it was nothing to him anyway, and then he told me to take a swallow out of the bottle. In all my life I had never taken four doses of medicine, and when I did the medicine was disguised in preserves or something. The hospital steward handed me the bottle that a dozen other sick soldiers had drank out of, and it was sticky all around the top, and contained something that looked like castor oil, for greasing a buggy. He told me to take a good big swallow, and I tried to do so. Talk about the suffering brought on by the war, it seems to me nobody ever suffered as I did, trying to drink a swallow of that castor oil out of a two quart bottle, that was dirty. It run so slow that it seemed, an age before I got enough to swallow, and then it seemed another age before the oil could pass a given point in my neck. And great Caesar's ghost how it did taste. I think it went down my neck, and I just had strength enough to ask the steward to give me something to take the taste out of my mouth. He handed me a blue pill. O, I could have killed him. I rushed to the chaplain's tent and took a drink of blackberry brandy, and my life was saved, but for three years after that I was never sick enough to get farther than the chaplain's quarters.

I suppose the meanest trick that was ever played on a raw recruit, was played on me while we were in camp at that place. It seemed to me that some of the boys got jealous of me, because I had become a hero, accidentally. May be some of them did not believe I had killed as many of the enemy as I had owned up to having killed. Anyway every little while some soldier would say that he thought it was a mean man that would go out and kill a lot of rebels and not bury them. He said a man that would do that was a regular pot-hunter, who killed game and left it on the ground to spoil. They made lots of such uncharitable remarks, but I did not pay much attention to to them. I had a tent-mate who took a great interest in me, and he said no soldier's life was safe who did not wear a breast-plate, and he asked me if I did not bring any breast-plate with me. I told him I never heard of a breastplate, and asked him what it was. He said it was a vest made of the finest spring steel, that could be worn under the clothes, which was so strong that a bullet could not penetrate it. He supposed of course I had one, when he heard of the fight I had, and said none of the old boys would go into a fight without one, as it covered the vital parts, and saved many a life. I bit like a bass. If there was anything I wanted more than a discharge, it was a breast-plate. If the chaplain should succeed in getting me a soft job, where there was no danger, I could get along without my breast-plate, but there was no sure thing about the chaplain, so I asked the soldier where I could get a breastplate. He said the quartermaster used to issue them, but he didn't have any on hand now, but he said he knew where there was one that once belonged to a soldier who was killed, and he thought he could get it for me. I asked him how it happened that the soldier was killed, when he had a breast-plate, and he told me the man was killed by eating green peaches. Of course I couldn't expect a breastplate to save me from the effects of eating unripe fruit, and I felt that if it would save me from bullets it would be worth all it cost, so I told the soldier to get it for me. That evening he brought it around, and he helped me put it on. I learned afterwards that it was an old breast-plate that an officer had brought to the regiment when the war broke out, and that it had been played on raw recruits for two years. After I had got it on, the soldier suggested that we go out with several other dare devils, and run the guard and go down town and play billiards, and have a jolly time. I asked him if the guard would not shoot at us, and he said the guards would be all right, and if they did shoot they would shoot at the breast-plates, as all the boys had them on. So about six of us sneaked through the guards, went to town and had a big time, and came back along towards morning, each with a canteen of whisky. It was not easy getting back inside the lines, as the moon was shining, but we got by the guards, and then my friends suggested that we take our breast-plates off and put them on behind us, as the guards, if they shot at all, would be firing in our rear. I took mine off and put it on behind my pants, and just then somebody fired a gun, and the boys said "run," and I started ahead, and the firing continued, and about every jump I could hear and feel something striking my breast-plate behind, which seemed to me to be bullets, and I was glad I had the breast-plate on, though afterwards I found that the boys behind me were firing off their revolvers in the air, and throwing small stones at my breast-plate. Presently a bullet, as I supposed, struck me in the back above the breast-plate, and I could feel blood trickling down my back, and I knew I was wounded. O, I hankered for gore, before enlisting, and while editing a paper, and now I had got it, got gore till I couldn't rest. The blood run down my side, down my leg, into my boot, and I could feel I was wading in my own blood. And great heaven's, how it did smell. I had never smelled blood before, that I knew of, and I thought it had the most peculiar, pungent, intoxicating odor. I ran towards my quarters as fast as possible, fainting almost, from imaginary loss of blood, and finally rushed into my tent, threw myself on my bunk and called loudly for the doctor and chaplain, and then I fainted. When I came to I was surrounded by the doctor, and a lot of the boys, all laughing, and the chaplain was trying to say something pious, while trying to keep a straight face. "Have you succeeded in staunching the blood, doc?" I asked, in a trembling voice. He said the blood was quite staunch, but the whisky could never be saved. I did not know what he meant, and I turned to the chaplain and asked him if he wouldn't be kind enough to say something appropriate to the occasion. I told him I had been a bad man, had lied some, as he well knew, and had been guilty of things that would bar me out of the angel choir, but that if he had any influence at the throne of grace, and could manage to sneak me in under the canvass anyway, he could have the balance of my bounty, and all the pay that might be coming to me. The chaplain held up the breast-plate that had been removed by kind hands, from the back portion of my person, and said I had better take that along with me, as it would be handy to wear when I wanted to stand with my back to the fire in hades. I could not understand why the good man should joke me, on my death bed, and I rolled over with my back to the wall, to weep, unobserved, and I felt the blood sticking to my clothes and person, and I asked the doctor why he did not dress my wound. He said he should have to send the wound to the tin-shop to be dressed, and then they all laughed. This made me indignant, and I turned over and faced the crowd, and asked them if they had no hearts, that they could thus mock at a dying man. The doctor held up my canteen with a hole in it, made by a stone thrown by one of my companions, and said, "You d——d fool, you are not wounded. Somebody busted your canteen, and the whiskey run down your leg and into your boot, and you, like an idiot, thought it was your life blood ebbing away. Couldn't you tell that it was whiskey by the smell?" I felt of myself, where I thought I was wounded, and couldn't find any hole, and then I took off my boot, and emptied the whisky out, and felt stronger, and finally I got up, and the boys went away laughing at me, leaving the chaplain, who was kind enough to tell me that of all the raw recruits that had ever come to the regiment, he thought I was the biggest idiot of the lot, to let the boys play that ancient breast-plate and canteen joke on me. I asked him if the boys didn't all wear breast-plates, and he said "naw!" He told me that was the only breast-plate in the whole Department of the Gulf, and it was kept to play on recruits, and that I must keep it until a new recruit came that was green enough to allow the boys to do him up. So I hid the breast-plate under my bunk, and went to bed and tried to dream out some method of getting even with my persecutors, while the chaplain went out, after offering to hold himself in readiness, day or night, to come and pray for me, if I was wounded in the canteen any more.


I Yearn for a Furlough—I Interview the General—I am Detailed to Carry a Rail—I Make a Horse-trade With the Chaplain—I am Put in Charge of a Funeral.

I had now been fighting the battles of my country for two weeks, and felt that I needed rest, and one day I became so homesick that it did seem as though it would kill me. Including the week it had taken me to get from home to my regiment, three weeks had elapsed since I bid good-bye to my friends, and I wanted to go home. I would lay awake nights and think of people at home and wonder what they were doing, and if they were laying awake nights thinking of me, or caring whether I was alive, or buried in the swamps of the South. It was about the time of year when at home we always went off shooting, and I thought how much better it was to go off shooting ducks and geese, and chickens, that could not shoot back, than to be hunting bloodthirsty Confederates that were just as liable to hunt us, and who could kill, with great ease. I thought of a pup I had at home that was just the right age to train, and that he would be spoiled if he was not trained that season. O, how I did want to train that pup. The news that one of my comrades had been granted a furlough, after three years' service, and that he was going home, made me desperate, and I dreamed that I had waylaid and murdered the fortunate soldier, and gone home on his furlough. The idea of getting a furlough was the one idea in my mind, and the next morning as I took my horse to the veterinary surgeon for treatment,{*} I had a talk with the horse doctor about the possibilities of getting a furlough. I had known him before the war, when he kept a livery stable, and as I owed him a small livery bill, I thought he would give it to me straight. The horse doctor had his sleeves rolled up, and was holding a horse's tongue in one hand while he poured some medicine down the animal's throat out of a bottle with the other hand, which made me sorry for the horse, as I remembered my experience at surgeon's call, in drinking a dose of castor oil out of a bottle, and I was mean-enough to be glad they played it on horses as well as the soldiers. The horse doctor returned the horse's tongue to it's mouth, kicked the animal in the ribs, turned and wiped his hands on a bale of hay, and said:

"Well, George, to get a furlough a man has got to have plenty of gall, especially a man who has only been to the front a couple of weeks. There is no use making an application in the regular way, to your captain, have him endorse it and send it to regimental headquarters, and so on to brigade headquarters, because you would never hear of it again. My idea would be for you to go right to the general commanding the division, and tell him you have got to go home. But you mustn't go crawling to him, and whining. He is a quick-tempered man, and he hates a coward. Go to him and talk familiar with him, and act as though you had always associated with him, and slap him on the shoulder, and make yourself at home. Just make up a good, plausible story, and give it to him, and if he seems irritated, give him to understand that he can t frighten you, and just as likely as not he will give you a furlough. I don't say he will, mind you, but it would be just like him. But he does like to be treated familiar like, by the boys."

* I neglected to say, in my account of the battle at the race-track, that when firing with my revolver, at my friend the rebel, I put one bullet-hole through the right ear of my horse. I was so excited at the time that I did not know it, and only discovered it a week later when currying off my horse, which I made a practice of doing once a week, with a piece of barrel-stave, when I noticed the horse's ear was swelled up about as big as a canvas ham. I took him to the horse doctor, who reduced the swelling so we could find the hole through the horse's ear, and the horse doctor tied a blue ribbon in the hole. He said the blue ribbon would help heal the sore, but later I found that he had put the ribbon in the ear to call attention to my poor marksmanship, and the boys got so they made comments and laughed at me every time I appeared with the horse.

I thanked the horse doctor and went away with my horse, resolved to have a furlough or know the reason why. The general's headquarters were about half a mile from our camp, and after drill that morning I went to see him. I had seen him several times, at the colonel's headquarters, and he always seemed mad about something, and I had thought he was about the crossest looking man I ever saw, but if there was any truth in what the horse doctor had told me, he was easily reached if a man went at him right, and I resolved that if pure, unadulterated cheek and monumental gall would accomplish anything, I would have a furlough before night, for a homesicker man never lived than I was. I went up to the general's tent and a guard halted me and asked me what I wanted, and I said I wanted to see "his nibs," and I walked right by the guard, who seemed stunned by my cheek. I saw the general in his tent, with his coat off, writing, and he did look savage. Without taking off my hat, or saluting him, I went right up to him and sat down on the end of a trunk that was in the tent, and with a tremendous effort to look familiar, I said:

"Hello, Boss, writing to your girl?"

I have seen a good many men in my time who were pretty mad, but I have never seen a man who appeared to be as mad as the general did. He was a regular army officer, I found afterwards, and hated a volunteer as he did poison. He turned red in the face and pale, and I thought he frothed at the mouth, but may be he didn't. He seemed to try to control himself, and said through his clenched teeth, in a sarcastic manner, I thought, in imitation of a ring master in a circus:

"What will the little lady have next?"

I had been in circuses myself, and when the general said that I answered the same as a clown always does, and I said:

"The banners, my lord."

I thought he would be pleased at my joking with him, but he looked around as though he was seeking a revolver or a saber with which to kill me finnally he said:

"What do you want, man?"

It was a little tough to be called plain "man," but I swallowed it. I made up my mind it was time to act, so I stood up, put my hand on the shoulder of the general familiarly, and said:

"The fact is, old man, I want a furlough to go home. I have got business that demands my attention; I am sick of this inactivity in camp, and besides the shooting season is just coming on at home, and I have got a setter pup that will be spoiled if he is not trained this season. I came down here two weeks ago, to help put down the rebellion; but all we have done since I got here is to monkey around drilling and cleaning off horses, while the officers play poker for red chips. Let me go home till the poker season is over, and I will be back in time for the fall fighting. What do you say, old apoplexy. Can I go?"

I do not now, and never did know, how I got out of the general's tent, whether he kicked me out, or threw his trunk at me, or whether there was an explosion, but when I got outside there were two soldiers trying to untangle me from the guy ropes of the general's tent, his wash basin and pail of water were tipped over, and a cord that was strung outside with a lot of uniforms, shirts, sabers, etc., had fallen down, and the general was walking up and down his tent in an excited manner, calling me an escaped lunatic, and telling the guards to tie me up by the thumbs, and buck and gag me. They led me away, and from their conversation I concluded I had committed an unpardonable offense, and would probably be hung, though I couldn't see as I had done much more than the horse doctor told me to. Finally the officer of the day came along and told the guards to get a rail and make me carry it. So they got a rail and put it on my shoulder, and I carried it up and down the camp, as a punishment for insulting the general. I thought they picked out a pretty heavy rail, but I carried it the best I could for an hour, when I threw it down and told the guards I didn't enlist to carry rails. If the putting down of this rebellion depended on carrying fence rails around the Southern Confederacy, and I had to carry the rails, the aforesaid rebellion never would be put down. I said I would fight if I had to, and be a hostler, and cook my own food, and sleep on the ground, and try to earn my thirteen dollars a month, but there must be a line drawn somewhere, and I drew it at transporting fences around the sunny South. The guards were inclined to laugh at my determination, but they said I could carry the rail or be tied up by the thumbs; and I said they could go ahead, but if they hurt me I would bring suit against the government. They were fixing to tie me up when the colonel of my regiment rode up to see the general, and he got the guards to let up on me till he could see the general. The general sent for me after the colonel had talked with him, and they called me in and asked me how I happened to be so fresh with the general; and I told them about the horse doctors' advice as to how to get a furlough; and then they both laughed, and said I owed the horse doctor one, and I must get even with him. The colonel told the general who I was, that he had known me before the war, and that I was all right only a little green, and that the boys were having fun with me. The colonel told the general about my first fight the first day of my service, and how I had, single-handed, put to flight a large number of rebels, and the general got up and shook hands with me, and said he forgave me for my impertinence, and gave me some advice about letting the boys play it on me, and said I might go back to my company. He was all smiles, and insisted on my taking a drink with himself and the colonel. When I was about leaving his tent, I turned to him and said: "Then I don't get any furlough?" "Not till the cruel war is over," said the general, with a laugh, and I went away.

The guards treated me like a gentleman when they saw me taking a drink with the general, and I went back to my regiment, resolved not to go home, and to get even with the horse doctor for causing me to make a fool of myself. However, I was glad I visited the general, for, after getting acquainted with him, he seemed a real nice man, and he kept a better article of liquor than the chaplain.

For several days nothing occurred that was worthy of note, except that the chaplain took a liking to my horse, and wanted to trade a mule for him. I never did like a mule, and didn't really want to trade, but the chaplain argued his case so eloquently that I was half persuaded. He said the horse I rode, from its friskiness, and natural desire to "get there, Eli!" would eventually get me killed, for if I ever got in sight of the enemy the horse would rush to the front, and I couldn't hold him. He said he didn't want to have me killed, and with the mule there would be no danger, as the mule knew enough to keep away from a fight. The chaplain said he had always rode a mule, because he thought the natural solemnity of a mule was in better keeping with a pious man, but lately he had begun to go into society some, in the town near where we were camped, and sometimes had to preach to different regiments, so he thought he ought to have a horse that put on a little more style, and as he knew I wanted an animal that would keep as far from the foe as possible, and not lose its head and go chasing around after rebels, and running me into danger, as my spiritual adviser he would recommend the mule to me. He warranted the mule sound in every particular, and as a mule was worth more than a horse he would trade with me for ten dollars to boot. He said there was not another man in the regiment he would trade with on such terms, but he had taken a liking to me, and would part with his mule to me, though it broke his heart. At home there was a sentiment against trading horses with a minister, as men who did so always got beat, but I thought it would be an insult to the chaplain to refuse to trade, when he seemed to be working for my interests, to prevent me from being killed in a fight by the actions of my horse, so I concluded to trade, though it seemed to me that if I couldn't shoot off a horse without hitting its ears, I would fill a mule's ears full of bullets. I spoke to the chaplain about that, and he said there was no danger, because whenever fighting commenced the mule always wore his ears lopped down below the line of fire. He said the mule had been trained to that, and I would find him a great comfort in time of trial, and a sympathizing companion always, one that I would become attached to. I told him there was one thing I wanted to know, and that was if the mule would kick. I had always been prejudiced against mules because they kicked. He said he knew mules had been traduced, and that their reputations were not good, but he believed this mule was as free from the habit of kicking as any mule he had ever met. He said he would not deny that this mule could kick, and in fact he had kicked a little, but he would warrant the mule not to kick unless something unusual happened. He said I wouldn't want a mule that had no individuality at all, one that hadn't sand enough to protect itself. What I wanted, the chaplain said, was a mule that would treat everybody right, but that would, if imposed upon, stand up for its rights and kick. I told the chaplain that was about the kind of mule I wanted, if I had any mule at all, and we traded. The chaplain rode off to town on my horse, on a canter, as proud as a peacock, while I climbed on to the solemn, lop-eared mule and went out to drill with my company. I do not know what it was that went wrong with the mule while we were drilling, but as we were wheeling in company front, the mule began to "assert his individuality," as the chaplain said he probably would, and he whirled around sideways and kicked three soldiers off their horses; then he backed up the other way and broke up the second platoon, kicked four horses in the ribs, stampeded the company, and stood there alone kicking at the air. The major rode down to where I was and began to swear at me, but I told him I couldn't help it. He told me to dismount and lead the mule away, but I couldn't dismount until the mule stopped kicking, and he seemed to be wound up for all day. The major got too near and the mule kicked him on the shin, and then started for the company again, which had got into ranks, kicking all the way, and the company broke ranks and started for camp, the mule following, kicking and braying all the way. I never was so helpless in all my life. The more I spurred the mule, the more it kicked, and if I stopped spurring it, it kicked worse. When we got to camp, I fell off some way, and rushed into the chaplain's tent, and the mule kicked the tent down, and some boys drove the mule away, and while I was fixing up the tent the chaplain came back looking happy, and asked me how I liked the mule. I never was a hypocrite, anyway, and I was mad, so I said: "Oh, dam that mule!"

Of course it is wrong to use such language, especially in the presence of a minister, but I couldn't help it. I could see it hurt the chaplain, for he sighed and said he was sorry to hear such words from me, inasmuch as he had just got me detailed as his clerk, where I would have a soft thing, and no drilling or fighting. He said he had wanted a clerk, one who was a good-hearted, true man, and he had picked me out, but if I used such language, that settled it. He said he didn't expect to find a private soldier that was as pious as he was, but he did think I would be the best man he could find. I wanted a soft job, with no fighting, as bad as any man ever did, and I told the chaplain that he need not fear as to my swearing again, as it was foreign to my nature, but I told him if he had been on the hurricane deck of a kicking mule for an hour, and seen comrades fall one by one, and bite the dust, and be carried on with marks of mule shoes all over their persons, he would swear, and I would bet on it. So it was arranged that I was to be the chaplain's clerk, and I moved my outfit over to his tent, and for the first time since I had been a soldier, I was perfectly happy. There was no danger of being detached for guard duty, police duty, drilling, or fighting, and the only boss I had was the chaplain. The chaplain and myself sat that evening in his tent, and ate sanitary stores, drank wine for sickess, and smoked pipes, and didn't care whether school kept or not, and that night I slept on a cot, and had the first good night's rest, and in the morning I awoke refreshed, and with no fear of orderly sergeants, or anybody. I had a soft snap.

The next morning I asked the chaplain what my duties were to be, and he said I was to take care of the tent, write letters for him, issue sanitary stores to deserving soldiers who might need them, ride with him sometimes when he went to town, or to preach, go to funerals with him occasionally, set a good example to the other soldiers, and make myself generally useful. He said I would have to attend to the burial of the colored people who died, and any such little simple details. He went out and left me pondering over my duties. I liked it all except the nigger funerals. I had always been a Democrat, at home, and not very much mashed on our colored brothers, and one thing that prevented me from enlisting before I did was the idea of making the colored men free. I had nothing against a colored man, and got to think a great deal of them afterwards, but the idea of acting as an undertaker for the colored race never occurred to me. I made up my mind to kick on that part of the duties, when the chaplain came in and said the colored cook of one of the companies was dead, and would be buried that afternoon, and as he had to go to a meeting of chaplains down town, I would have to go and conduct the services, and I better prepare myself with a little speech. I was in a fix. I told the chaplain that it might not have occurred to him, but honestly, I couldn't pray. He said that didn't make any difference. I told him I couldn't preach hardly at all. He said I didn't need to. All I had to do was to go and find out something about the life of the deceased, what kind of a man he was, and say a few words at the grave complimentary of him, console the mourners, if there were any, and counsel them to try to lead a different life, that they might eventually enter into the glory of the New Jerusalem, or words to that effect. Well, this made me perspire. This was a tighter place than I was in when I met the rebel. The idea of my conducting the funeral exercises of such a black-burying party, made me tired. The chaplain said a good deal depended on how I got through this first case, as if I succeeded well, it would be a great feather in my cap. His idea, he said, was to try me first on a nigger, and if I was up to snuff, and carried myself like a thoroughbred, there would be nothing too good for me in that regiment.

I went to the orderly sergeant of the company where the man died, to get some points as to his career, in order to work in a few remarks appropriate to the occasion, and I said to the orderly:

"I understand your company cook has gone to that bourne from whence no traveler returns. I thought that was pretty good for a green hand, for a starter."

"Yes," said the orderly, as he looked solemn, "The old son-of-a-gun has passed in his chips, and is now walking in green pastures, beside still waters, but he will not drink any of the aforesaid still waters, if he can steal any whisky to drink."

"You astonish, me," said I to the orderly. "The fact is, the chaplain has sawed off on to me the duty of seeing to the burial of our deceased friend, and I called to gather some few facts as to his characteristics as a man and a brother. Can you tell me of anything that would interest those who may attend?"

"O, I don't know," said the orderly. "The deceased was a liar, a thief, and a drunkard. He would steal anything that was not chained down. He would murder a man for a dollar. He was the worst nigger that ever was. If there was a medical college here that wanted bodies, it would be a waste of money to bury him. But when he was sober he could bake beans for all that was out, and there was no man that could boil corned mule so as to take the taste of the saltpetre out, as he could."

This was not a very good send off for my first funeral, but I clung to the good qualities possessed by the late lamented. Though he might have been a bad man, all was not lost if he could bake beans well, and boil the salt horse or corned mule that soldiers had to eat, so they were appetizing. Many truly good men of national reputation, could not have excelled him in his chosen specialties, and I made a memorandum of that for future use. I made further inquiries in the company, and found that the deceased had a bad reputation, owed everybody, had five wives living that he had deserted, and was suspected of having murdered two or three colored men for their money. His death was caused by delirium tremens. He had stole a jug of whisky from the major's tent, laid drunk a week, and when the whisky was gone he had tremens, and had gone to the horse doctor for something to quiet his nerves, and the horse doctor had given him a condition powder to take, to be followed with a swallow of mustang liniment, and the man died.

This was the information I got to use in my remarks at the grave of the deceased, and I went back to my tent to think it over. I thought perhaps I had better work in the horse doctor for mal-practice, in my discourse, and thus get even with him for sending me to the general after a furlough. While I was thinking over the things I would say, and trying to forget the bad things about the man, the orderly sent word that the funeral cortege was ready to proceed to the bone yard. I looked down the company street and saw the remains being lifted into a cart, and I went out and put the saddle on my mule, and with a mental prayer that the confounded mule wouldn't get to kicking till the funeral was over, started to do the honors at the grave of the late company cook.


The Funeral of the Colored Cook—I Plead for a Larger Procession—The Funeral Oration—The Funeral Disturbed—I am Arrested—My Fortunate Escape.

This last chapter of these celebrated war papers closed with me saddling my mule to ride to the funeral of the colored cook, at which I was to act as chaplain. The mule evidently knew that it was a solemn occasion, for there was a mournful look on its otherwise placid face, the ears drooped more than usual, and there seemed a sweet peace stealing over the animal, which well became a funeral, until I began to buckle up the saddle, when the long-eared brute began to paw and kick and bite, and it took six men to get me into the saddle. I rode down the company street where the cart stood with the remains, and a colored driver sitting on the foot of the plain pine box, asleep. I woke the driver up with the point of my saber, when another colored man came out of a tent with a shovel in one hand, and a hardtack with a piece of bacon in the other. He climbed into the cart, sat down on the coffin and began to eat his dinner. This was my funeral. All that seemed necessary for a funeral was a corpse, a driver of a cart, and a man with a shovel. I rode up to the orderly's tent and asked him where the mourners were, and he laughed at me. The idea of mourners seemed to be ridiculous. I had never, in all my life, seen so slim a funeral, and it hurt me. In the meantime the nigger with the shovel had woke up the driver of the cart, and he had followed me, with the remains. I told them to halt the funeral right there, until I could skirmish around and pick up mourners enough for a mess, and a choir, and some bearers. As I rode away to the colonel's tent, the driver of the cart and the man with the shovel were playing "mumbleypeg," with a jack-knife, on the coffin, which shocked me very much, as I was accustomed to living where more respect was paid to the dead. I went to the colonel's tent and yelled "Say! The colonel, who was changing his shirt, came to the door with his eyes full of soap, rubbing his neck with a towel, and asked what was the row. I told him I would like to have him detail me six bearers, seven or eight mourners, a few singers, and fifteen or twenty men for a congregation. He asked me what on earth I was talking about, and just then the cart with the corpse in was driven up to where I was, the orderly having told the driver to follow me with the late lamented. I pointed to the outfit, and said:

"Colonel, in that box lie the remains of a colored cook. The chaplain has appointed me to conduct the funeral service, and I find that the two colored men on the cart are the only ones to accompany the remains to their last resting place. No man can successfully run a funeral on three niggers, one of whom is dead, one liable to go to sleep any minute, and the other with an abnormal appetite for hardtack. It is a disgrace to civilization to give a dead man such a send off, and I want you to detail me some men to see me through. I have loaded myself with some interesting remarks befitting the occasion, and I do not want to fire them off into space, with no audience except these two coons. Give me some mourners and things, or I drop this funeral right where it is."

While I was speaking the general rode up to visit with the colonel, with his staff, and the colonel came out with his undershirt on, and his suspenders hanging down, and he and the general consulted for a minute, and laughed a little, which I thought was disgraceful. Then the colonel sent for the sergeant-major and told, him to detail all the company cooks and officer's servants, to attend the funeral with me, and he said I could divide them off into reliefs, letting a few be mourners at a time. In the meantime, he said, I could move my procession off down by the horse-doctor's quarter's, as he did not want it in front of his tent. That reminded me that the horse-doctor had prescribed for the deceased, and had given him condition powders, and I asked the colonel to compel the horse-doctor to go with me. It had always seemed to me at home that the attending physician, under whose auspices the person died, should attend the funeral of his patient, and when I told the colonel about it, he called the horse-doctor and told him he would have to go. It took half an hour or so to get the colored cooks and servants together, but when all was ready to move, it was quite a respectable funeral, except that I could not help noticing a spirit of levity on the part of the mourners. All the followers were mounted, the officer's servant's on officer's horses, and the cooks on mules, and it required all the presence of mind I possessed to keep the coons from turning the sad occasion into a horse race, as they would drop back, in squads, a quarter of a mile or so, and then come whooping up to the cart containing the remains, and each vowing that his horse could clean out the others. I rode in front of the remains with the horse-doctor, and tried to conduct myself in as solemn a manner as befitted the occasion, and tried to reason with the horse-doctor against his unseemly jokes, which he was constantly getting on. He told several stories, better calculated for a gathering where bacchanalian revelry was the custom, and I told him that while I respected his calling, he must respect mine. He said something about calling a man on a full hand, against a flush, but I did not pretend to know what he meant. We had to go out of town about two miles, to the cemetery. Unfortunately we were in the watermelon growing section, and the horse-doctor called my attention to the fact that my procession was becoming scarce, when I looked around, and every blessed one of the cooks and servants, and the man with the shovel, had gone on into the field after melons, and I stopped the cart and yelled to them to come back to the funeral. Pretty soon they all rode back, each with a melon under his arm, and every face looked as though there was no funeral that could prevent a nigger from stealing a watermelon. After several stops, to round up my mourners, from corn fields and horse racing, we arrived at the cemetery, and while the grave was being dug the niggers went for the melons, and if it had been a picnic there couldn't have been much more enjoyment. The horse-doctor took out a big knife that he used to bleed horses, and cut a melon, and offered me a slice, and while I did not feel that it was just the place to indulge in melon, it looked so good that I ate some, with a mental reservation, however. It was all a new experience to me. I had never believed that in the presence of death, or at a funeral, people could be anything but decorous and solemn. I had never attended a funeral before, except where all present were friends of the deceased, and sorry, but here all seemed different. They all seemed to look upon the thing as a good joke. I had read that in New York and other large cities, those who attended funerals had a horse race on the way back, and stopped at beer saloons and filled up, but I never believed that people could be so depraved. I tried to talk to the coons, and get them to show proper respect for the occasion, but they laughed and threw melon rinds at each other. Finnally the colonel and the general, with quite a lot of soldiers, who were out reconnoitering, rode to where we were, and the coons acted a little better, but I could see that the officers were not particularly solemn. They seemed to expect something rich. They evidently looked upon me as a star idiot, who would make some blunder, or say something to make them laugh: I made up my mind that in my new position I would act just as decorous, and speak as kindly as though the deceased was the president. During all my life I had made it a practice never to speak ill of any person on earth, and if I could not say a good word for a person I would say nothing, a practice which I have kept up until this writing, with much success, and I decided that the words spoken on that occasion should not reflect against the poor man who had passed in his checks, and laid down the burden of life. The grave was completed, and with a couple of picket ropes the body was let down, and there was for a moment a sort of solemnity. I arose, and as near as I can remember at this late day, spoke about as follows:

"Friends: We have met here today to conduct the last rites over a man, who but yesterday was among us but who, in an unguarded moment drank too much whisky, and paid the penalty. (There was a smile perceptible on the faces on the officers.) The ignorant man who died, did not know any better, but I see around me men who know better, but who drink more than this man did, and if they are not careful they will go the same way. (There was less smiling among the officers.) It is said of this man that he was bad, that he would steal. I have investigated, and have found that it is true, but that his peculations consisted of small things, of little value, and I am convinced that the habit was not worse with him than with any of us. In war times, everybody steals. We are all thieves to a certain extent. The soldier will not go hungry if he can jay-hawk anything to eat. The officer will not go thirsty if he can capture whisky, nor will anybody walk if he can steal a horse. The higher a man gets the more he will steal. Shall we harbor unkind thoughts against this dead man for stealing a pair of boots, and honor a general who steals a thousand bales of cotton? (No! no! shouted the cooks and servants, while the officers looked as though they were sorry they attended the funeral.) Friends let us look at the good qualities of our friend. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that a man, however humble his station, who can bake beans as well as the remains could bake them, is entitled to a warm place in the heart of every soldier, and if he goes to the land that is fairer than this,-and who can say that he will not,—he is liable to be welcomed with 'well done, good and faithful servant,' and he will be received where horse doctors can never enter with their condition powders, and where there will never be war any more. To his family, or several families, as the case may be, I would say——"

At this point I had noticed an uneasiness on the part of my mourners and bearers, as well as the officers. Nine of the negroes fell down on the ground and groaned as if in pain, and the general and his stall looked off to a piece of woods where a few shots had been fired, and rode away hurriedly, the colonel telling me I had better hurry up that funeral or it was liable to be interrupted. The horse-doctor went to the negroes who were sick, and after examining them he said they had been poisoned by eating melons that had been doctored, and he advised them to get to town as quick as possible. They scrambled on their horses the best way they could, and just then there was a yell, and out of the woods came half a dozen Union soldiers followed by fifteen or twenty Confederates, and all was confusion. The niggers scattered towards town, the driver of the cart taking the lead, trying to catch the general and his start, who were hurrying away, leaving the horse-doctor, myself and the deceased. The horse-doctor seized the shovel and threw a little dirt on the coffin, then mounted his horse, I mounted my mule, and away we went towards town, with the rebels gaining on us every jump. The horse-doctor soon left me, and with a picket I had pulled off the fence of the cemetery, I worked my passage on

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