View Full Version : Rambling Anecdotes
July 7, 2004, 07:40 PM
Those who know me at The High Road have probably read Bedtime Stories or Sharpshooter Tales. Often times I come across interesting anecdotes that just won't fit into that thread. Since Rich has decided to reopen TFL, this can serve as thread for interesting anecdotes from the past.
So, to initiate it, let's start with something that is almost a century old. Sir Baden Powell's Scouting for Boys. :confused: Yes, we're talking Boy Scout instructions. Now, you won't find this in the current Boy Scout Handbook or your father's Boy Scout Handbook either. It's that old and while old, isn't obsolete. It reflects a different time when you speak freely as a free man without worrying about being criticized.
The section on Marksmanship doesn't give you any instructions on hold to use the sights, the operation of the firearm, shooting stances, firearms safety or anything like what you would find in today's little booklet on shooting (I know, I'm a merit badge counselor). Instead, we have this:
Then when your rifle has gone off, don't throw up the muzzle in a hurry, but do like all old scouts, continue to look along your sights after firing to see how much you have jumped off your aim in firing, and try and correct it next time.
Shooting at a fixed target is only a step towards shooting at a moving one like a man. Firing at moving objects is, of course, more difficult, but more real, because you will not find a deer or an enemy as a rule kind enough to stand still while you shoot at him, he will be running and dodging behind cover, so you have to get your aim quick and to shoot quick.
The very best practice for this is always to be aiming at moving objects with your staff, using it as if it were a rifle.
Aim first at the man, then moving the muzzle a little faster that he is moving, and fire while moving it when it is pointing where he will be a second or two later, and the bullet will just get there at the same time he does and will hit him.
Try taking that handbook into a school and conduct a class. The instructors would have a kynipshunfit. :eek:
July 8, 2004, 12:53 AM
"keep [the] gun moving, as follows:- before an object, crossing; full high for a bird rising up, or flying away very low; and between the ears of hares and rabbits, running straight away..."
Col. Peter Hawker, Instructions To Young Sportsmen, London, 1814
July 15, 2004, 06:52 PM
We often hear about tales of cool marksmanship in battle. However, what is rare is a description of the marksman. It appears that the following individual would be a good prototype for the Davy Crockett character of the old Disney movie. At the battle at Conception during the Tejano revolt against Mexico:
"Captain Bowie urged the boys to be cool and deliberate and to waste no power and balls, but to shoot to hit. And it was at this time that I first remember having seen a blue eyed, fair-haired boy about my own age. He carried a long hunting rifle and was dressed in a buckskin hunting suit and fur cap. I noticed during the fight that this youth never fired without taking very careful aim, and ever time his long gun blazed, he would duck his head and look under the smoke to see if he got his man. After the fight was over I made inquiry as to who the young marksman was and was told that his name was Si R. Bostock."
July 16, 2004, 11:11 PM
The Texan Army under Sam Houston was retreating towards Harrisburg. Their tactical withdrawl was called the 'Runaway Scrape.' At one point, the men began tearing down the fences for firewood.
"The woman vainly protest and finally appealed in no mild terms to Houston. 'My good woman,' said the General, 'you see our situation; the men having marched all day through mud and rain, are tired and hungry, and besides your fence rails there is no other wood to be had with which to make fires to cook their rations.' 'Then you'll pay me for my rails,' screamed the exasperated woman. 'Sorry to admit good lady,' said Houston, 'that we haven't a cent, otherwise I would readily pay you for all the damages: but I'll tell you what I'll do. When I whip old Santa Anna, I'll be back this way, and I'll have my men make rails and rebuild your damaged fences.' With a look of withering scorn, and shaking her finger defiantly at the General, that brave Texas mother exclaimed. 'You big, cowardly, nasty, old rascal! You'll never come back this way, and you know it; you are running now, like a cur dog, from a gang of thieving Mexcians, and you'll not stop running until you get out of Texas. When you whip Santa Anna! Huh!' For once the General felt defeated and rode away crestfallen. And it is said that when he became President of Texas, he saw that the brave woman was paid well for her rails, and besides sent her a fine clock as a gift."
Sam Houston was to feel the sharp bite of yet another woman's tongue. After the battle of San Jacinto the Texans had defeated Santa Anna and captured El Presidente himself. They were justly proud of their victory. One thing they didn't do though was to collect the bodies and bury them.
"I have often heard the story of how a Mrs. McCormick, on whose estate the principal portion of the slain Mexicans lay, called at General Houston's headquarters and requested him to 'have them stinking Mexicans removed from her land.' The general with mock seriousness, replied, 'Madam, your land will be famed in history as the classic spot upon which the glorious victory of San Jacinto was won. here the last scourge of mankind, the arrogant, self-styled Napoleon of the West, met his fate.' 'To the devil with your glorious history!' the madam replied, 'Take off your stinking Mexicans.'"
Not to be PC, but as a reminder, among the fallen defenders of the Alamo were Mexicans who also fought the tyranny of Santa Anna.
July 17, 2004, 08:22 AM
:D I love a spirited woman!
July 17, 2004, 11:43 AM
We know how linear tactics were used up to the time of the American Civil War. Touch the elbows boys. Close up the ranks. Fill that gap left by your fallen comrades. Here's what one British officer wrote about standing in the ranks:
It is perhaps needless to observe, that it is scarcely in the power of an individual foot soldier to perform any enterprising feat of action, unless he be on some detached duty in front, such as is frequently the case with the skirmishers. If he is with the battalion, he must keep in his ranks; it is on the united movement of the whole body that general success depends; and he that rushes forward is equally blameable with him who lags behind, though certainly the former may do so with less chance of censure, and no dread of shame. A man may not drop behind in the field, but this is a dreadful risk to his reputation, and even attended with immediate personal danger, while within the range of shot and shells: and woe to the man that does it, whether through fatigue, sudden sickness, or fear; let him seek death, and welcome it from the hand of the foe, rather than give room for any surmise respecting his courage; for when others are boasting of what they have seen, suffered, or performed, he must remain in silent mortification. If he chances to speak, some boaster cuts him short; and, even when he is not alluded to, he becomes so sensitively alive to these merited or unmerited insults, that he considers ever word, sign, or gesture, pointed at him, and he is miserable among his comrades."
July 22, 2004, 08:19 PM
During the American Civil War, Confederate General Bragg's Army of Tennessee bottled up Rosecrans in Chattanooga. Supplies were very tenuous and 1/2 rations or less were very common. Luckily for them, Grant had just been appointed in charge of all the Union armies and his first task was to rescue Rosecrans trapped army. Step 1 was to sack Rosecrans and replace him with "The Rock of Chickamauga," General Thomas. Grant also ordered two corps from the Army of the Potomac (including Hooker) as well Sherman's Army to march to their relief. That's enough background for the incident to follow which involves Pvt. Jacob Hoover of Co. H, 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
"One of the stories that went the rounds in the Forty-first at this time was that private Hoover, of H company, being intensely homesick, thinking besides that there was little to do in Chattanooga, and knowing there was not enough to eat, asked for a furlough. The petition was discouraged by captain and colonel, and then Hoover asked leave to go to Gen. Thomas in person. He succeeded in getting to the general, and made his plea, ending with the statement, 'Why, General, it's nigh on two years since I've seen my wife.' 'Well, my man, said Thomas, 'I haven't seen my wife for more than three years.' Hoover was staggered, but recovered. He straightened himself into the position of 'Attention' and made his salute as he answered, 'Well, General, me and my wife ain't that kind of folks.'" :D
July 24, 2004, 04:10 PM
Thanks for posting these anecdotes and tales, Gary. Most enlightening, and they help bring "The Human Factor" into our historical and technical interests.
Houston's withdrawal in the Runaway Scrape, apparently had a twofold purpose - - to gather and consolidate more members of his army, and to allow Santa Ana to join the elements of the Mexican Army pursuing the Texians. They needed to take El Presidente, for Texas certainly didn't have the resources to fight an extended war.
Ole Sam's generalship was strained in keeping together his impatient volunteers while drawing the Mexicans down into the bayou country and onto the plain along the San Jacinto river. He knew how crucial it was that their maneuver room and avenues of retreat be restricted when the moment arrived. . . .
Ma reached me down the long rifle.
I never had held it before.
Said, "Your Pa died with Fannin at Goliad,
So I reckon that makes it your war."
Now this army is plumb tired of runnin',
And they act like they ain't scared to die.
Look at Houston himself, napping under yon tree - -
If he ain't worried, neither am I!
- - "Come to the Bower," Allen Damron and Tim Henderson
July 24, 2004, 04:32 PM
Now, most of you who are into sniping have read Major Hesketh Pritchard's book, Sniping in France. Pritchard was but one British officer and is the best known because of the book. If you recall, there's a chapter entitled "The Cat", in which he discusses how they spotted a cat and determined that German officers had a bunker there. Here's another cat storyfrom a letter by another WW I Sniping officer to the boys back at home:
"The ordinary German soldier is a good fellow at bottom - a brave man, doing his duty as a good soldier. I think I see more of him than most, for, unknown to him, I am so constantly watching him, with a first-class telescope. The other day from a high point of view, not 800 yards off, I saw one leave the trench and run out to rescue a cat which was straying in our direction. Of course the cat knew better and wanted to join the British, but Fritz - you must put yourself in Fritz's place - thought it was far better to be a German cat, and so he risked being shot to save the animal. But it was stupid of Fritz all the same, for he showed us in so doing a yellow strip down his trousers enabling us to tell what regiment he belonged to.
"Yes, I see them doing all sorts of things - laughing and talking. Three days ago we had a fall of snow, and we saw them snowballing each other in the rear of their trenches. Well, well, the pity is that we should all be bombing and shooting each other instead of snowballing, all because that awful Kaiser is an ambitious blackguard, and he and his inner circle of Huns have so misled and misguided the wonderful Bosche nation that they now seem almost past praying for. So then we have got to fight, and fight with ever nerve. There can be no excuse for any able-bodied man now. It is a matter of life and death still, but we have not got to hate or despise."
We see several lessons here that are relevant today. First, the duty of the sniper is to observe and report information. The officer observed but didn't shoot. Second, he was devoid of all emotions of hatred. Sniping to him was a science and not an art. There was no room to become emotionally involved in his work. While he could empathize with the German soldier and didn't hate him personally, he knew he still had a duty to perform.
July 24, 2004, 10:44 PM
We figuratively speak of being kicked out of places. Here's a story of a disgraced Confederate lieutenant from the 28th Alabama who was literally kicked out by the ranks - for a while.
"One Lieutenant (William R.) Tucker of this regiment deserted some time ago, after he had just drawn nine months wages, and carried off a private with him. Owing to President Davis's amnest he could not be hurt for desertion and was courtmartialed for getting the private off with him. He was dismissed from the service in disgrace. His sentence was read on dress parade. The ranks were opened and faced inward, this being done the major [sent] him to the head of the line and announced that 'A man was going to pass down the lines and any man was at liberty to kick his stern who felt like it.' He then started by giving him a tremendous kick behind. Every man, nearly, in the regiment lifted. At first he walked very slowly giving them a fine chance at him. But they hurt him so badly that he began to beg them not to 'kick hard,' but this only raised the yell of indignation tenfold louder. He then struck a trot and went through in double quick time, to the tune of 'Here's your deserting lieutenant; lift him boys.' The privates seemed to enjoy it hugely. After the show was over he moped off to his quarters and prepared to go home in shame and infamy, but just before he was ready to leave the colonel went down and conscripted him. He only lacked two days of being forty-five years old. He is now over the age but he's 'in for the war'. He is now carrying a musket, a private."
Talk about insult to injury. (BTW, that makes two books I've read today).
August 31, 2004, 11:08 AM
Spent five days at Gettysburg on my last jaunt back east and later on wandered down to Manassas (Bull Run). It was during a Ranger talk of First Manassas that one visitor became very happy in find the "ditch" in which his relative, a Berdan Sharp Shooter (Civil War spelling), was injured. We spoke afterwards and I told him of my project and when we returned to our vehicles, I showed him my manuscript. The heat and the presence of his young son kept him from perusing it as much as he wanted to and we exchanged email addresses before departing. You learn all sorts of things and meet all type of interesting folks when you visit historic sites. I can't recommend it highly enough. Besides, many of these Parks are free and it's paid for by your tax dollars. Take advantage of it.
Now, for those who haven't read much on the unpleasantries of the 1860s, the Confederates had a song, "Here's your mule." It originated when one old peddler had his mule hidden from him and he became highly distressed. Soldiers would shout out, "Here's your mule" and draw him in their direction. After many false leads, he was finally reunited with his beloved steed (?). The merriment of the men didn't end there and the day's frolic was forever immortalized in the Rebel song, "Here's your mule." It was enjoyed by the Confederates in both the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of Tennessee.
What has this got to do with Rambling Anecdotes? Well, in 1863 General Bragg was reinforced by Longstreet and together they whupped Union General Rosecrans at Chickamauga. Bragg didn't follow-up on his victory by destroying Rosecrans' army. Instead he permitted it to retreat into Chattanooga. Bragg besieged it but wasn't strong enough to storm it. Eventually, Grant directed Sherman and other forces to relieve the entrapped Union Army. At the Battle of Lookout Mountain, the Confederates were driven back from the commanding heights. In Chattanooga itself, the Union army was ordered to take the Confederate rifle pits at the base of Missionary Ridge. The troops stormed the entire mountain and chased off Bragg's meagre forces.
Bragg attempted to rally his men. One Confederate describes what happened to Bragg. "He got down off his horse, and as the men ran past him, he called out to them [to] not disgrace themselves, but to stop and [save?] their country - fight for your families &c and says I (your General) am here." Just then one large man came past him who had thrown his gun away and steped up behind Genl Bragg and car[ied] him around the waist and says, 'And heres your mule' and went on." Note: all misspellings attributed to the original author.
September 7, 2004, 11:54 PM
While it has been said that the Civil War was the first modern war, many of the "innovations" had been tried before. The camera was first popularized during the Crimean War. Ironclads were first used by the Koreans to defend themselves against the Japanese. Balloons were used by the French and allowed them to manuever to a position of advantage against their enemy in one battle. Despite their success, the French abandoned the balloon because it was relatively immobile as it required a huge train to support it.
So, during that past unpleasantry when Professor Lowe ascended in his balloon to watched the "damned rebels", the Confederates would pay their compliments with artillery fire to force him down. Well, one unit didn't have artillery but it didn't discourage the boys from giving Professor Lowe a good scare.
The enemy, not being able to discover by their scouts what we were doing - what movements we were making, or what force we had, resorted to the use of balloons. On one occasion our people fired at a balloon with cannon shot, and down came the balloon. A short while after this, the balloon was up again, when our boys concluded to at lest give the man in the basket, Professor Lowe - a scare; so, rigging up the rear gears of a wagon with a stovepipe, ran the improvised artillery to the hilltop, in full view of the aeronaut, pretending to load. The Professor descended quickly, only to appear again at a safer distance.
Now, it would have been really remarkable if some Confederate had loaded the stovepipe with a rocket and made the first recoiless rifle in history.
Since this is a rambling thread, let's ramble on with another Confederate story. It takes place during the Siege of Petersburg before the explosion of the Crater. At or near this time there appear on our lines a man representing himself to be a citizen of Alabama, who proposed then to do what could not be done, but in some degree has since been accomplished - to build a machine to navigate the air, carry shells and drop them on the Northern armies, and in their cities. He requested donations from each of the soldiers of a dollar, and of the officers five dollars each to enable to build his machine. We concluded he was a crank, refused to contribute and the man departed. This fellow was only a little ahead of his time. (Johnston, D. 203)
Here's another soldier's diary entry of possibly the same fellow: "Sunday-Tuesday, Jan. 8-10 (Rain), 1865. Petersburg.... I have just returned from listening to a lecture given by "Bird" Davidson, who is trying to collect money from the soldiers to build 500-600 balloons to drop 100-lb. bombs on the enemy. In 6 days, he says, the Yankees could be defeated. On the 7th day, they would surrender." (Dobbins, A. 228)
He conceived of tactical aviation and terror bombing bordering on strategic airstrikes. The demoralization and panic it would have caused is almost immeasurable. However, people would learn to cope then as we do now and once the initial panic is over, things would be as they were.
September 14, 2004, 09:05 PM
Now, anybody who has done any reading on that late great unpleasantness (as some soldier wrote about the War of the Rebellion 1861-'65), the Confederates were poorly fed and their quartermaster left much to be desired. The food was there, but transport was so poor that it never reached the troops.
There was one incident when the Army of Tennessee was about to embark upon its invasion of Tennessee. Accompanying them was a herd of cattle which they knew were moving rations. However, the men weren't issued their fresh ration of beef and after several days of scarce food, they held a camp meeting.
"They made complaints to the proper authorities, but to no purpose, until finally notices of a 'bull meeting' were stuck on the trees throughout the encampment, to be held at sundown, the place of gathering to be designated by the 'bellowing.' At the appointed time bellowing began near division headquarters, and grew louder and louder as the crowd increased. When the bellowing ceased, the crowd having congregated, speaking began on the subject of short rations when it was possible for the army to be better provisioned. Among the speakers was S____ P____, a lawyer of my company, six feet five inches high. This speaker and the occasion were well suited. He loved to eat, and we accused him of never having had a good filling since his enlistment in the army. Abdominally he was not large 'in the girth,' but he was unusually long. That evening he was exceedingly hungry. No platform had been erected for the speakers, and this particular speaker was lifted up on the limb of a tree by several soldiers when he was called on to speak. He certainly 'loomed.' At the close of the meeting notice was given that unless larger rations were furnished by the commissary right away, the men would provide themselves with beef from the army pens. The beef, plus cornfield peas, came through the proper channel, and the day following S____ P____, being full (peas will swell), entertained the encampment, division headquarters and all, with a magnificient speech, aglow with patriotism, subordination, chivalry, etc..."
Nice way to call a camp meeting. Mooooo.
September 16, 2004, 01:46 AM
During the Battle of Gettysburg, 150th Pennsylvania Bucktail Pvt. Rodearmel was sent to fill canteens for his company. He returned after the battle.
"When Captain Jone's company went into action as skirmishers on the morning of July 1, the men had exhausted their drinking water, and many of them were suffering from thirst. Calling Private Rodearmel to him, the captain ordered him to take a number of canteens and fill them at a rivulet a few rods in the rear. "Rody" started on his errand, but failed to return during the day; nor was he seen until the morning of the 4th, when he presented himself before the captain on Cemetery Ridge with a large collection of freshly filled canteens, and with inimitiable assurance said, "Captain, here's the water! I knew you wanted good water, so I'd thought I'd go back to Germantown for it; but the provost guard stopped me at Baltimore." True enough, he had started for home, but was arrested on the way and returned to the army under guard."
Cap n ball
September 17, 2004, 02:35 PM
Gary, My Great Grandfather was with the 57th Ohio Volunteers and in his letters he tells that after days of hard marching in the rain without proper food the men decided to take matters into their own hands and against orders they killed and roasted one of their scrawney mules and "to leave no evidence it was devoured by us flesh, bone, hide and all and the men later pronounced it tolerably good." :barf:
September 17, 2004, 07:46 PM
Mule meat beats starving.
When some Confederates first got their Whitworths, they practiced with them to develop proficiency. Their target was across a valley on another hillside and in the valley below rested the Army's mules. One bullet went a mite bit low and killed a mule. Men immediately went to carve it up but an officer stopped them. The officer probably reasoned that the Army can't have men killing mules for food. Well, those crafty Confederates snuck down there and dismembered the mule and soon many a campfires were roasting mule meat for supper.
I don't suppose Union mules taste any better than Confederate mules.
And now for today's story. This involves Irish pluck.
"Captain Jones, who, by following the more southerly route, where the Hagerstown road forks, had been able to keep his company in column, relates that in hurrying through the town he received a peremptory order to halt from a rebel field-officer riding at the head of a regiment which was rapidly approaching on an intersecting street, when Private Terence O'Connor, of his company, by a well-aimed shot, brought the officer to the ground, O'Connor coolly remarking, 'We take no orders from the likes of you!"
September 19, 2004, 10:11 AM
Here's a tidbit about how one group of Confederate soldiers held their guard posts:
"An officer of the Eighth Tennessee was brigade officer of the day, and to him was assigned the duty of putting out the guard around the brigade. Getting the guard properly mounted after dark, he started out to post them. Placing a man at a designated point, he moved on, posting his sentinels very close together, as he thought. As the detail would move on to the next post, the last sentinel posted would fall in on the rear and move on with the rest. In this way the officer of the day made the circuit of the brigade and had the same number of men he started with. Not finding the sentinel first posted, he moved on to the next post and found it vacant. In this manner he continued around the brigade again, but failed to find the sentinels anywhere. When he saw that he had the original number of sentinels he started out with, he concluded that there was something mysterious about it, and procured an ax with which he blazed the trees at the places where he posted his sentinels, so that he could the more easily find his first starting-point in the darkness. In this manner he made the circuit of the brigade again, and his detail had not diminished at all. General Donelson was becoming very wrothy at this time, and sent out to know what was the matter that the brigade guard could not be posted. Some officers went to his tent and told him that many of the men were in the neighborhood of their homes and were having some fun; that there was no danger, and the men knew it - that every man would be in place at the proper time. This appeased the General for the time being, and the brigade guard was dispensed with."
So far this thread has a Confederate bias, but it reflects the book that I'm reading at the time of posting. There are stories equally funny from the Union side and I'll see if I can find one for you guys.
September 25, 2004, 06:22 PM
The following is not a tale of a massive escape from the Union prison at Elmira, New York or the notorious Confederate prison at Andersonville in Georgia. Rather, it's a tale of an Irishman who got the better of his Confederate captors at Gettysburg. Join us now for the rambling anecdote of one Irishman who defied death, eluded his captors and returned with a captured musket.
"Another incident occured which, under the circumstances, was amusing, and goes far towards displaying the comic side of the Irish character. At a time when the rebel riflemen were annoying the artillerist from their concealed shelter behind the large boulders, etc., Michael Broderick, detailed from the 11th Massachusetts Vounteers, and placed as a driver on the Battery wagon, left his team which was out of danger and came forward to the crest where things were a little lively, and picking up a must which had been dropped by one of the infantry, he was soon engaged with a foe who was evidently behind one of the boulders in the front. Mike was oblivious to the bulets flying carelessly about; he simply had an eye on his man, and to even up the chances, he too sought the friendly protection of a large rock. His strange antics first attracted my notice, and when I took him to task for leaving his team, his reply was, 'Let me stay here, Captain, sure there are plenty back there to look after the horses.' I said no more and Mike again commenced to dance, first on one side of the rock and then on the other, challenging his man to come out and face him; then he would dodge behind the rock to avoid, I presume, the privilege of stopping a bullet, then he would jump again shooting, 'Come on now, if you dare, bad luck to you.' He was thus engaged when I last noticed him. At night Mike was reported missing, but early on the morning of the 4d, he reported, with a rebel musket and cartridge belt, stating that he had been taken prisoner and placed in a belt of timber with other Federal soldiers. Watching his chance, he noticed the guards were few and far between, and when the opportunity offered he quickly found a belt and musket and commenced to march up an down like the Confederate guards (his slouch hat and old blouse together with his general make-up aroused no suspicion, as many rebels were dressed similarly). When night came on he marched into the Federal lines, and reported as stated."
September 26, 2004, 12:02 AM
The following is an amusing incident of two Confederates exchanging insults at Second Manassas (Bull Run to the Yankees):
"In this affair an amusing thing occured. Bill Williamson, a former member of the battery but then a lieutenant of engineers, happened to fall in with us on this trip and with my permission was in his old place at one of the guns doing his best, as he always did. He was quite deaf and so was our chief of artillery, Major Shoemaker. Williamson failed to hear an order of Shoemaker and did not obey him, whereupon Shoemaker shouted out his order with an oath and Williamson cussed back at him and told him that he was a commissioned officer and he must mind how he talked to him. "Well then,if you are an officer serving with this battery, then I place you under arrest," said Shoemaker. "Very well," replied Williamson. "I'll see you after we get through with this affair," and so both went about their duties. After the fight was over, Shoemaker came to me and asked who that fellow was that refused to obey his orders and was so insolent in his reply to him. I explained the situation telling him he was very deaf and did not hear his order probably. "you say he's deaf? Well, then, that makes it all right. Send for him and I'll release him from arrest and apologize," and so he did. Those who were nearby and heard them said it was ridiculously funny, two deaf men swearing at each other and not knowing exactly what the other was saying."
October 3, 2004, 11:29 AM
Many soldiers of the Civil War (War of the Rebellion) were farm boys and foraging came quite natural to them.
"One old native who lived near this camp had a black cow, as wild as a deer, and the old lady who milked her had freely bragged that no Yankee could catch the cow to milk it. I set about the task and nearly exhausted our company stock of salt feeding Miss Bossy so I could get close enough to get my hands on her, which I finally accomplished, and held her while Ward or Shepard milked her, and by kind treatment we had no further trouble to get her once a day and get a canteen full of mlk, and the owner declared the Yanks were running about trying to catch her, so that it was drying her milk. We never gave the snap away and many a cup of coffee was trimmed to our taste by the milk we got in this way.
One little incident I must not forget while at this camp. Some of the boys got well acquainted with the people and one of the Non Coms of our company had a stand in with a charming girl whom he went to see daily. Sundays he would brush up his clothes, polish the brass buttons on his blouse, and call on her and they went to the little log church near by together, and from there he was always asked to dinner, but he was faithful to his messmates and would daily bring in a canteen of good, fresh, sweet milk to them. His tent was close to ours, and one afternoond word came that we were to be relieved the next day and would rejoin our regiment, and while I was in my tent I heard the Non Com tell his messmates to have all their canteens ready and he would go early in the morning and get them filled with fresh milk. I knew a trick to beat that and went quietly to the cook's tent and obtained a mess pail, got Ward and Shepard to go with me, and as soon as the morning star appeared in the east we set out, went to the farm where the people lived, found the cows all lying down in the yard, got them up one by one and milked them dry, filling our canteens and the camp kettle. What our dishes would not hold went on the ground. We then hurried back to camp. What milk we could not drink we gave to the boys, making sure to keep from the tent of our comrade, who was now away with the several canteens of his comrades after milk. We had for our breakfast corn pone and milk, milk and hard tack, milk to drink, milk in our coffee and each a canteen full, and contentment reigned supreme in our squad. When our comrade came trudging back, the empty canteens he had, rattled like tin pans blowing off a board, and he went into his tent with an air of disappointment on his face, each of his messmates asking in the same breath, "Where is the milk?" We stood near by to get all the fun there was in it, and heard him explain that some one had been there, milked all the cows and turned them to pasture, and he had to come away without a drop. All he got was a drink of last night's milk. His mates explained that Doc, High, and Squire had a mess pail full, and only that they expected he would surely bring some, they would have brought some of them.
Did we stuff the corners of our blankets into our mouths to keep from laughing outright? You may say we did, and then laughed until our sides ached."
October 17, 2004, 01:03 PM
During the Civil War, soldiers in the Union Army would be brevetted in a rank and while having the right to be addressed by that rank and even fill the post appropriate to that rank, they retained the pay of their original rank. Thus, one might be a full colonel and brevetted as a brigadier general and command a brigade (about four to five regiments), he would still be a colonel.
Thus it came to pass that mules who performed well were jokingly made brevet horses. Well, here's one that didn't apply to horses:
General Hazen of our corps has been made a full major general. The other divisions commanders only by brevet, and they feel a little sore over it. To-day one of General Wood's aids saw a turkey buzzard, and pointed out to the general, saying, "there is a turkey." Old Woods looked at it and answered, "I think it is a turkey by brevet." :D
October 19, 2004, 06:19 PM
Man that is great stuff Gary - thanks. I like the deserting lieutenant getting his "stern" kicked - ha.
October 28, 2004, 08:30 PM
If you've followed the companion thread, Bedtime Stories or Sharpshooter Tales at THR's black powder forum, you would have read about the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Reserves Regiment or the Bucktails. Composed of marksmen, they jauntily wore a bucktail in their cap. The Bucktails served as the rifle regiment for the Pennsylvania Reserves (when most were armed with smoothbores) and served largely in the skirmish line. However, they were not the first to wear the bucktail.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, some Virginia militia men responded to drill and are as described: "Every man has a hunting-shirt, which is the Uniform of each Company - Almost all have a Cockade, & bucktale in their Hatts, to represent that they are hardy, resolute, & invincible Natives of the Woods of America." In an entry about Winchester,the same diarist writes: This Town in Arms. All in a Hunting-Shirt uniform & Bucks Tales in their Hats. Indeed they make a grand Figure."
October 30, 2004, 10:46 AM
The following is from a Confederate captain's letter home to his wife. He was among the Confederates who, on the third day, joined in Pickett's charge and attempted to break the Union center on Seminary Ridge. After the battle, he found he was one of the few officers of his regiment who emerged unscathed. He dreamed of the battle several weeks later:
We were advancing in line of battle upon the enemy troops on my right and left shot dead away as far as the eye could see all pressing on the fearful conflict. I could hear the fearful reports of five batteries of cannon and the perpetual roar of fifty thousand muskets while a dark cloud of smoke hung over the field mantling everything as the gloom of dusky sunset. Far way to the front I saw the dim outlines of lofty hills, broken rocks and lofty precipices which resembled Gettysburg. As we advanced further I found we were fighting that great battle over again and I saw something before me like a thin shadow which I tried to get by but it kept in front of me and whichever way I turned it still appeared between me and the enemy. Nobody else seemed to see or notice the shadow which looked as thin as smoke and did not present myself to the enemy disticntly thru' it. I felt troubled and oppressed but still the shadow went out before me. I moved forward in the thickest of the fray trying to loose sight of it and went all through the Battle of Gettysburg again with the shadow ever before me and between me and the enemy and when we came out beyond the danger of shot it spoke and said to me 'I am the Angel that protected you. I will never leave nor forsake you.'
The surprise was so great that I awoke and burst into tears. What had I done that should entitle me to such favours beyond tho' hundreds of brave and reputed good men who had fallen on that day leaving widowed mothers and widowed wives, orphan children and disconsolate families to mourn their fates? I felt that I was blessed beyond my deserts and shall not complain at the little misfortunes of this life."
October 30, 2004, 04:19 PM
"Col P-- was a very wealthy and highly educated gentleman, belonging to a very distinguished family of our State, but he had no turn for military tactics and looked up the various complicated maneuvers of the troops on drill with contempt, as all nonsense and unnecessary. His lieutenant colonel and major, both well drilled officers, did the training of his regiment, but when Colonel P-- took command on a march or to change camp he was at a dead loss what orders to give, so if the regiment was in the woods where he could not see both ends of the line he usually gave his command in this manner. 'Come out in the roads, boys; now get in two rows' (double ranks). 'Put on your stickers' (bayonets). 'Now face up this way and follow me.' The men always cheered him after receiving these orders and followed whereever he thought proper to lead, for they idolized him and he was as brave as any man in the army."
I'll try to see if I can ID this Civil War Virginia regiment and Col P.
November 21, 2004, 09:22 PM
Now, during the late unpleasantness between the North & the South, some Generals hid alcohol in their tents. Medicinal purposes, you understand. Well, one Union General, General Torbet, had a sweet tooth and hid in a chest beneath his bed a stash of candy. He deliberately cluttered his tent with tables, chairs, boxes and paperwork. His aide, Pvt. Peter Clancy, discovered the stash and would cautiously take a piece every few days so that the good General would not notice.
One day the good General Torbet returned early from an inspection and caught Pvt. Clancy in the act. The case was tried by Lt. Halsey (ancestor to the great Admiral Halsey of WW II). Halsey didn't think much of it and neither did the Court Martial Board, who gave Pvt. Clancy a slap on the wrist.
This threw General Torbet into an outrage and he fired the entire Court-Martial board, except Halsey and appointed a new one. Lt. Halsey attempted to convince General Torbet that Pvt. Clancy could not be tried twice for the same offense (double jeopardy). Torbet replied that this was the army and oh yes, he could and would.
Halsey relented and put Clancy's case into the file for court-martial. However, every time that Clancy's case came to the top, Halsey discretely stuffed it into the bottom. He did this repeatedly while simultaneously promising General Torbet that he would bring Pvt. Clancy to trial. When General Torbet was promoted and transferred out, Halsey threw out the case. Ahh, true military justice. :)
November 27, 2004, 01:34 PM
In the aftermath of Bunker Hill (actually Breed's Hill), one Tory crossed over from Boston to examine the battlefield. In a letter to his brother in Scotland, he wrote:
"Early next morning I went over and saw the field of battle, before any of the dead were buried, which was the first thing of the sort I ever say; and I pray God I may never have the opportunity of seeing the like again. The rebels are employed since that day fortifying all the hills and passes with four miles, to prevent the troops from advancing into the country. We hourly expect the troops to make a movement against them; but they are too few in numbers, not less than 20,000 being equal to the task. I cannot help mentioning one thing which serves to show the hellish disposition of the accursed rebels: by parcels of ammunition left on the field, their balls were all found to be poisoned!" About as rational as were the British officers, who, mistrusting the buzzing of large flying bugs in the evening for something different, wrote to England that the rebels fired at them with air guns!"
Nope, ye damned rebels didn't have airguns.
December 2, 2004, 10:34 PM
Incendaries have been used since ancient times. Fire arrows were used by the Chinese and other people to set siege towers alight. The Byzantine Greeks developed a mixture of pitch and tar that was shot (pumped?) from shipboard urns. Called Greek Fire, dousing it with water would only disperse it and cause the first to spread. :eek: In the Russo-Finnish War of 1939, the scarcity of anti-tank guns or rifles compelled the Finns to resort to glass bottled gasoline & soap mixtures which were and thrown onto tanks. When the glass shattered, the mixture would be catch fire from the lit rag that was tied around the bottle's neck. The "Molotov Cocktail," named in (derisive) honor of the Soviet Foreign Minister, was not the first time a hand thrown liquid incenary was used. Here's something from the War of the Rebellion (or Sybil Wa-oh) as we call it here in the USA.
"The sap-roller has been very much cut up by the enemy's fire, and was of no further use. I had just given directions to have it covered at once with earth, and to establish a trench cavalier at that point, when the enemy threw a fire-ball, which lodged under the edge of the sap-roller. They then threw hand-grenades into the fire made by the spreading of the inflammable fluid which it apparently contained; bursting, threw pieces all around it, tearing it considerably; at the same time they kept up an incessant fire of musketry on it. In about one-half hour it was entirely destroyed, exposing to their view a portion of the trench. The one on the right had been destroyed in a similar manner only an hour before."
Them Corn-feds were pretty clever boys. :)
December 5, 2004, 11:55 AM
OK you young 'uns. Think you're tough? Well, here's a rambling anecdote from two centuries past and I think after you read it, you should visit a Civil War Museum to look at the implements involved. Either that or you can go to an autoshop & woodworking store to see their modern day equivalents. Then think about the pain & suffering involved. Now, without further adieu, enjoy this lesson from the past:
In the year 1784, an elderly gentleman, in a plain dress, traveling on horse back, stopped for the night at a tavern near King's bridge, about fifteen miles from New-York city, as it then was. He was conducted to the only spare room in the house, in which he had hardly been comfortably established, when a party of young 'roaring blades,' the sons of wealthy citizens, arrived at the tavern, 'to make a night of it. They called for a private room, but were informed by the landlord that his last spare chamber had been taken possession of by a respectable appearing elderly gentleman, apparently from the country.
'Try the old fellow,' said one of them, 'perhaps you can coax him to let us into the room for our spree, and we'll soon smoke him out.'
The host applied to his guest, who readily assented. He observed, 'he was alone, and would be happy to meet a pleasant company of young gentlemen to help him spend the evening.' The party soon assembled; liquors were produced, and an excellent supper brought forward, at which the good natured old gentleman played his part as well as the best of them.
After this, one of the youngsters proposed an agreement that who ever of the company should refuse to perform or submit to any proposal made by either of the others, the recusant or recusants should forfeit the whole bill, and the damages of all the others. To the astonishment of the young gentlemen, the stranger agreed to the terms.
The first proposed to burn their hats, and each threw his hat into the fire; coats, vests, and watches followed, the old gentlman throwing into the fire his old fashioned silver turnip, as a companion to the gold watches of the young rowdies.
When his turn came, he called the landlord and requested him to send for a doctor, and his tooth instruments. The doctor soon appeared. The old gentleman then seated himself in a chair, and said: 'I propose that the doctor shall draw out every tooth in the heads of this company. Doctor, begin with me.' The latter found but one, which he extracted." (Gary's note: Unlike modern dentistry which is painless, tooth extraction circa 18th Century entialed using a tool resembling a spanner wrench which "snapped" off the top of the tooth. A gimlet was then used to drill into the root and to extract the lower portion of the tooth.) "'Now, gentlemen,' said the veteran, 'submit to my proposal, and ascertain whether you have turned the flanks of an old soldier.'
The young men perceived that they were out-generaled; and learned that General Bayley was the person with whom they had attempted to trifle, and to their cost, They apologized - paid liberally his bill and damages, having learned a valuable lesson for their future government. The general, newly equipped with a better outfit than when he left home, proceeded on the next day to New-York, to settle his army accounts."
General Jacob Bayley was a colonel during the French and Indian War (1755-1760). He was present at Fort William Henry when Montcalm captured it and escaped being killed by outrunning the Indians. During the Revolution, he sided with the Patriots and even mortgaged his property to help supply the army. He incurred $60k in debts which Congress never repaid.
And that's the Rambling Anecdote for the week. :p
December 8, 2004, 01:33 PM
Like other Irish immigrants, ole Pat Cleburne came to the US for a better life. He worked initially as clerk and later became an attorney in Arkansas. When war erupted, he rallied to the South even though he was no slave holder himself.
Well, long before Pat Cleburne immigrated, he served in the British Army for a year or so and even arose to the exalted rank of high Corporal. Story is that one day during an inspection he opened his knapsack and instead of the unusal spare clothing and field gear, he had a pillow. He couldn't explain to his officers that it was much lighter and easier to carry as they weren't sympathetic to the plight of the common footsoldier. You take the King's shilling, you do the King's bidding. Understand? Pat did but got caught and was busted to a lowly private.
In Confederate service, Cleburne was elected as Colonel of his regiment. He soon rose to brigadier of his brigade and became a division commander. As an infantry officer, he was one of the better tacticians and earned for himself the sobriquet, "Stonewall of the West." Cleburne, along with seven other Confederate Generals, was to die at the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee). Anyway, here's our rambling anecdote with its common theme of cheating on inspection:
"Company inspection by Maj. H. Good joke upon Sgt. Cassidy, my company. His tin box removed from cartridge box & pack of cards put in its place. At the command 'open boxes,' Maj. H. & I passed to inspect ammunition - should be 60 rounds in box. Noting the cards, Major asked, placing his hands on the sgt.'s box, 'how many have you Sgt.?" 'Sixty, sir,' said he. 'There should be 52,' said the major & passed on, much to the mystification of the Sgt."
At least Sgt. Cassidy didn't become Corporal or Private Cassidy and the good Maj. H. had a better sense of humor. :)
December 10, 2004, 08:33 PM
OK, Rich gave me this forum because he knew I'm a blackpowder guy. I admit I've been neglecting the cowboys but that's only because I haven't really gone into reading Western Hystery yet. Sure I read about the Box Wagon Fight, Billy Dixon, Little Big Horn, Chief Joseph, but in comparison to what I've read about the French and Indian War, American Revolution, Civil War, it's nothing. When I visited Sedona, AZ last month I stopped by Fort Verde (a unit of the AZ State Park System). Nice place and what a nice library they have there. Three bookcases with filled with books and of them, maybe I have about a dozen. Seems like there's a lot of catching up to do.
But before I share a rambling anecdote, does anybody know the origin of "cowboy?" Don't tell me it's a translation of the Spanish "Vaquero" because "cowboy" goes back to the Revolutionary War. So, without further delay, here's the Rambling Anecdote you've dropped into read. Enjoy.
"William Barclay 'Bat' Masterson arrived in Dodge with the railroad.
He had contracted to grade the Sante Fe right-of-way on the mile extending west from the military reservation, the mile along which Front Street was being built. The subcontractor for whom he did the grading, however, was obliged to go east and neglected to pay Bat for his work.
Bat was little more than a boy then, barely nineteen years old, broke - and a long way from home. Tom Nixon hired him to drive team.
One day after the railroad had reached Coloroado somebody tipped Bat off that his debtor was at Granada. Said he, 'Bat, he's got two, three thousand dollars rolled up in his pocket, and he'll be through here on tomorrow's train.'
Now Bat had not been working on the railroad just to pass the time away.
Bat asked Josiah Wright Mooar to go with him. They met the train. Mooar waited on the platform. Bat boarded the train, found the fellow, and brought him right out onto the platform at the muzzle of his six-shooter.
Then Bat siad, 'You owe me $300, and dammit, if you don't pay, you're never going back into that car.'
The fellow protested, 'You're robbing me.'
Bat declared, 'No sir, I'm not robbing you. I'm just collecting an honest debt. You owe it, and you're going to pay it right now.'
So the fellow pulled out his roll tied with a buckskin thong, peeled off the right amount and paid Bat.
Bat thanked him, declared the debt settled, and the fellow was mighty glad to scramble back into that railroad car.
While they were having an argument a crowd had gathered to see the fun, and everybody hurrahed Bat about his method of collecting the debt. Bat set 'em up, and all the sporting men in Dodge rallied to him. Up until then he had not been much noticed there....
Guns were used to see fair play.
And that's our Rambling Anecdote for today. :p
December 15, 2004, 01:13 PM
Gary, any stories about those long range shooters, preempts to "snipers" in the civil war using some British muskets that were picking off enemy at very long distances. I saw a small session on these on the history channel recently. Bob
December 15, 2004, 08:23 PM
Bob, you're not a High Roader? Well, none the less, ask and ye shall receive. I've a book that will come out next year that will be filled with stories of long range marksmanship. But enough of soap box chest-beating. This isn't Hyde Park and you're not here to here commercial advertisements. If you can't wait and am as cheap as I am, go here for Bedtime Stories (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=36853). It's exactly what you've asked for. When you get to Bedtime Stories, be sure to click on the link that I've attached. There's another website that has an article of mine that was published in the NMLRA Muzzle Blasts magazine.
BTW, my buddy told me about the show (I don't watch TV when I'm at home). Anything good in that program?
December 15, 2004, 08:56 PM
Since Bob has drawn me out of my seclusion, here's another rambling anecdote from the days of the Wild West.
"One spring day in 1885 the two Mooar brothers were watering their teams at the well in the street just in front of Kelly's saloon. They had with them a dog, half buffalo wolf, which they had bought from an Arapaho Indian. Tous was a big black dog, weighing ninety-six pounds, a fierce fighter. A dozen of Mayor Kelly's wolfhounds (of which he was so proud) were on the sidewalk. Somebody sickked them on Tous.
"But the wolf-dog did not scare easy. He never fought like a bulldog, grabbing and holding on, but always leapt in to snap, then sling his enemy aside. In that way he could cope with as many dogs as he could get to him at one time. Soon the pack was getting the worse of it.
"Just then Kelly came running out, six-shooter in hand, apparently to protect his hounds by killing Mooar's dog. Josiah Wright Mooar, holding the water bucket and unarmed, saw him coming. But before he could do or say anything he heard somebody behind him holler, 'Drop that gun, damn you.'
"Mooar looked around and there was Big Jack Williams kneeling on one knee with his Big 50 buffalo gun at his shoulder, drawing a bead on Kelley.
"Kelly put up his revolver, and old Tous 'cleaned them dogs up to a finish.' Mooar had not known that Williams was in town, but Big Jack was right behind him and waiting his turn to water his team...
"Guns were used to prevent gunplay."
December 16, 2004, 12:33 PM
Gary, absolutely great reading. Looks like the first Ghillie suit was corn and with a native American to boot. Carlos would be proud. I haven't read them all yet but will today. I went to THR right after Rich shut down here but when I logged in it said I haden't been there since Dec. '03 to my dismay. I must go there more often, and I see many of the old members are still there. Thanks for refreshing my memory. I just got lost here. Looking forward to seeing your book soon. Let us all know, please. Bob
December 17, 2004, 11:58 PM
This Rambling Anecdote comes neither from the kitchen of Julia Child nor Martha "jailbird" Stewart. Rather, it is of more humble origins and from the type of establishment many of us would probably feel comfortable in. Sit back now gentle reader and learn more about the subtle art of feasting upon your repast.
"A citizen of the camp went into his favorite dramship, took a seat, threw his feet upon the table, and called for a glass of beer, a sandwich, and some Limburger cheese. These were promptly placed beside his feet.
"But he called to the proprietor, complaining, 'This cheese is no good, I can't smell it."
"The proprietor shouted back, 'Damn it, take your feet down, and give the cheese a chance!'"
December 23, 2004, 08:24 PM
Guns used to prevent "gun violence" - well, sorta...
Happened in Dodge City. "One afternoon a cowboy rode into town, tied his pony at the hitchrack in front of Wright and Beverley's store, and with his pistol in its holster, jingled his spurs down the rough broadwalk toward the nearest saloon.
Marshal Wyatt Earp stopped him. 'Carrying firearms is not allowed in Dodge. You'll have to check your gun.'
The Texan drawled, 'Who's goin' to make me?' and reached for his weapon.
Wyatt did not reply. Swiftly he buffaloed the saucy stranger, laying down the long barrel of his Buntline Special smartly against the man's temple, just under the hat brim. Down went the cowboy, as if he had been poleaxed, and later, in the words of the old song, woke up broken-hearted in the old Dodge City jail..."
Was told there was a Fremont cop of Chinese descent back in the 1980s. He carried a 6" magnum. He liked the heavier barrel not because of increased velocity or longer sight radius, but because he'd bludgeon the bad guy over the noggin with it. Never met the man msyelf and don't know if he still does it. Law enforcement from the 1880s to the 1980s had some things in common. :p
December 29, 2004, 08:36 PM
Never did two armies of the same nation stood in greater contrast to one another. After Lee and Johnston signed an armistice, both of these armies went to Washington where they marched in review of the applauding nation - but on different days.
As it is between different units, jealously ran between the two armies. In the review the Army of the Potomac marched as splendidly as any other European Army. Some had white gloves and their candence was spectacular. Sherman's army on the other hand...
"One would have supposed... that they were making their renowned march through Georgia, insteading of marching in review through the streets of Washington. Such an appearance as they made! There were evidently no attempts made to keep their lines closed up and well-dressed as they advanced, but each man marched to suit his own convenience. Their uniforms were a cross between regulation blue and the Southern gray. The men were sunburned, while their hair and beards were uncut and uncombed; they were clad in blue, gray, black and brown; huge slouch hats, black and gray, adorned their heads; their boots were covered with the mud they had brought up from Georgia; their guns were of all designs, from the Springfield rifle to a cavalry carbine, which each man carried as he pleased, whether it was at 'a shoulder,' 'a trail,' or a 'right shoulder shift'; and thus ragged, dirty and independently demoralized, that great army, whose wonderful campaigns had astonished the world, swept along the streets of the capital, whose honor they had so bravely defended. The great chieftain, Sherman, rode at its head, tall, spare, bronzed; grimly as he rode, in a plain uniform, as if utterly indifferent to all the honors a grateful country was pouring upon its honored son. The men chatted, laughed and cheered, just as they pleased, all along the route of their march. Our men enjoyed this all very much, and many of them muttered, 'Sherman is the man after all.'"
Rivalries arose between the two armies. Sherman's men felt that the Army of the Potomac knew all about reviews and parades but nothing of campaigns and great battles. For its part, the Army of the Potomac felt that Sherman's men would not have had such an easy time if they had fought Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia instead of the unorganized "bushwhackers" during their march to the sea.
One day, some of Sherman's men tangled with the Army of the Potomac's Irish Brigade. So, here's our rambling anecdote:
"Sherman's men entered the encampment of this old brigade, and with their usual coolness and audacity, began to stir things up. The brave Irishmen were perfectly at home in that kind of work, and a fierce struggle was soon raging. It was a square stand-up and knock-down affair, with the success all upon the side of the Irishmen. For once the gallant men from the Southwest had found their match; for a time they fought desperately, but were at last obliged to retreat to their own camp, with bloody faces and in wild disorder, while the wild cheers of the victors would have done credit to 'Donnybrook Fair.' From that time Sherman's men had more respect for the Army of the Potomac, so that when any of them came to our regiment, and began to boast in an offensive manner of their prowess, we had only to ask them if they had ever heard of the old Irish Brigade, and Sherman stock would depreciate a hundred per cent at the bare mention of that name."
Them Fighting Irish fight. :D
January 7, 2005, 12:08 AM
You remember the Bucktails from a previous posting, don't you? Well, this rambling anecdote concerns a Bucktail imprisioned in Richmond's Libby Prison. Libby Prison was formerly a tobacco warehouse and is on the waterfront along the James River. It doesn't exist anymore but there's a plaque on the new structure that stands on the site of Libby Prison. Here's our anecdote concerning the power of the jawbone of an Ass.
"One day a guard whose beat ran from the river to the camp on the outside of the fence along the lane, shot and killed a prisoner as he was returning with a bucket of water from the river. A Buck Tail, who had seen the killing, armed himself with a shin bone and slipped down along the fence. He reached over struck the guard a fearful blow on thehead, which killed him. Boissieux (the camp commandant) shut off the rations of the camp and swore he would starve every 'damned Yankee' to death unless the man who killed the guard was found. The men became desperate and threatening by evening and Boissieux's cowardly heart failed him. Fearing a prison revolt he rushed the grub into camp."
O.K., not quite the Jawbone of an Ass, but good enough for gubmint work. :)
January 11, 2005, 12:04 AM
Tales of the Jornada by Ronald Kil in MuzzleLoader Magazine (Jan/Feb. 2005).
"In 1864 a northbound stage driven by Sandy Wardell received word at Fort Selden, just before entering the Jornada, that Apaches had raided the village of Paraje at the nortern end and run off all the stage stock.
Undaunted, Wardell pressed on. He had five passengers in his coach and traveling just behind him was Epifanio Aguirre, his wife, two children and two servants traveling in a carriage. Behind them was an escort of eight cavalrymen and some wagons. Safety was found in strength and watchfulness. Surely the Apaches would find them too much to take on. They were wrong.
'We started out and had no trouble for the first two days,' Wardell wrote. 'On the second night, and just as day was breaking, right at Big Laguna 200 or 300 Apaches jumped us and the ball openned.'
With great expertise gained in massacring other stages, the Apaches knew that if they killed the team the stage would stop and be at their mercy. One Indian with a musket would stop his pony and jump off to take deliberate aim and shoot the mules in the hitch. (The custom in those days was to use five mules: three in the front, the leaders, and two in the back, the wheelers.) He managed to kill both the wheelers in this manner, but just as quick Wardell would stop the stage, jump down, cut loose the dead mule from the harness and drive on. H was wearing some pretty thick bark himself.
Epifanio Aguirre, whose family owned a freighting business extending from Chihuahua and northern Sonora to Sante Fe, was experienced in the ways of the Camino Real and the Apaches. Knowing well their peril, he took matters into his own hands. Taking a six-shooter in each hand and the bridle reins in his teeth, he would dash ahead of the coach charging into the Apaches like a Mexican Rooster Cogburn, emptying his pistols into them and then darting back to his carriage. There his wife, a woman of no little grit herself, would hand him two freshly loaded pistols while retrieving his empties. Spinning his horse back, he would go into the screeching mass of warriors. Wardell allowed as how he never saw a man with more nerve in all his life and that Aguirre fought like a demon.
With the passengers firing from the coach and the soldiers covering the rear, the caravan fought its way to within six miles of Paraje, at the northern edge of the Jornada, where the Apaches finally gave up. One passenger was hit by an arrow, the soldiers lost a mule and the stage lost its two wheelers. The stage was struck by so many arrows that it resembled a porcupine on wheels.
Wardell later wrote, 'they could not get close enough for their arrows to have much force, for our guns kept them at a distance, and I am glad of it, for I think in a case of this kind distance leads enchantment to the view.'
I reckon enchanting is one way to describe an experience like that. A postscript to this tale is that Epifanio Aguirre was killed in an Apache ambush six years later near Tucson. One feels confident that he didn't die running away."
MuzzleLoader is a great magazine for blackpowder buffs. If you like smokepoles, check it out!
January 22, 2005, 01:07 AM
Congress - the way it oughta be... :D
In the 19th Century, it was not unusual for the "gentlemen" of Congress to arrive at that fine institution of gubment equipped to wage battle on behalf of their constitutents - literally.
Our leading citizens carried upon their persons not only memorized speeches reflecting their perspectives, but also canes, dirks, dangers, brass knuckles as well as pistols.
One day a distinguished member from Mississippi, William Barksdale, was so outraged that he flew to the podium and physically attacked his opponent. Now, the movies like to show vigorous men with flowing hair but Barksdale was a man who wished he ask his barber for a trim. During the fight, his "rug" went airborne and Barksdale disengaged and scrambled to recover his rug and his dignity. Remember that scene in the Three Stooges, "Order in the Court?" :D
He would later earn a name for himself when his men delayed the Federal pontineers for 11 hours at Fredericksburg. Barksdale did not survive the attack on the Peach Orchard (2nd day at Gettysbrug, July 2) and died while in Federal custody.
January 28, 2005, 10:40 PM
Or at least some of it has no basis of fact to support it. But some digression first. So, e/r home I swung by the Friends of the Public Library bookstore and picked up an old book on Weapons & Tactics. I felt I needed to diversify and shouldn't read about scalping & sniping all the time.
Here's what the (circa '41) book says about the Royal Americans: "The British Army needed to produce soldiers who could meet the Indian allies of the French on equal terms; this need led to the formation of our Royal American Rifles, the first modern infantry. These forerunners of the rifle brigade wore a uniform designed to hide a man wearing it. All previous uniforms, from the liveries of the royal guards or noblemen's retinue, through the red coats of Cromwell's troops, to the elaborate and desperately uncomfortable kit of Geroge the Third's infantry, had been designed to largely to make the wears obvious. In battles that we like large and brutal games in the open fields, commanders and men needed to know who was on their side and who was against them. The uniforms they wore were, therefore brightly coloured, like the jerseys worn by football teams. They were also often elaborate, even decorative, partly because it was considered good for drilling men into automata to make them slave at polishing buttons and other gear; partly because othe richness of uniforms showed the wealth and therfore the fighting resources of the autocrat at whose servce was the man within the uniform. Uniforms of this sort was a hopeless handicap in the forests of America. The Rifles, therefore, wore green jackets. And they wore black buttons, as their inheritors do to this day.
Thankfully we have modern historians and researchers who can correct these mistakes. If you're curious and want to learn more about the Royal Americans, check out Bedtime Stories at THR.
More research reveals that the statement is correct with respects to 5/60, which was raised in 1797; decades after the first four battalions which were raised Dec. 1755.
January 29, 2005, 09:14 PM
Got two articles of mine published in Feb. 2005 MuzzleBlasts magazine. Check it out. :cool:
February 3, 2005, 10:45 PM
We all know about Fort Pillow which angered the Colored Troops. Many of them would advance into battle encouraging each other with the cry, "Remember Fort Pillow." It was the codeword to take no prisoners. This make the Confederates fight even harder when they faced colored troops. In some cases, but for the presence of the white officer or of other (Federal) white troops, the Corn-feds would have been massacred. Here's a tale of one Corn-fed Mason whose life was saved by a Federal Mason at Fort Blakely, Alabama:
"More of our troops were slaid after the surrender than in the battle. Finally the white officers bunched us in squads of forty or fifty each and placed guards around us as close together as they could stand with fixed bayonets facing outward to protect us from the infuriated mob. They continued to shoot our men down, shooting between or over the heads of the guards.
"Captain Adair fell at my side and with a mortal wound. I was cuaght on the outer edge of my squad when I discovered an infuriated Negro about ten feet from me with his gun on me. I stepped behind the guard. He then moved around to one side and back again when I placed the guard between us again.
"At that time a white officer appeared, seeing on his hat the square and compasses [a Masonic symbol] made with a pencil, I gave him a sign which brought him to my side. I pointedout the Negro and asked him to please not let him kill me as I had fought him like a man, surrendered like a man, and would like to be treated like a man.
"He stepped out and struck the Negro on the head with his pistol. The Negro turned and ran up the breastworks. He fired at the Negro and I saw him fall over the breastworks. Shortfly afterward the white office came to my side and asked me if that Negro had bothered me any more. I told him no and was much obliged to him. He whispered to me that he had done three others the same way. This shows that Masonery [sic] will protect a brother even though he be a foe."
Both sides were guilty of killing their prisoners. I've even found an account of a Confederate sharpshooter being killed after surrendering.
February 5, 2005, 01:45 PM
At the Battle of Belmont, while advancing through the thick woods with reinforcements, Confederate Gen. Benjamin Frank Cheatham took the lead and encountered 50 troops. Trouble is, they were Union troops. Thankfully, as it was early in the war, there was plenty of confusion on both sides. He boldly rides up and asks, "What cavalry is that?" "Illinois cavalry, sir," came the reply. "Oh, Illinois cavalry!" Cheatham bluffed, sighting two Union regiments arrayed behind them. "All right, just stand where you are." He rode off, deployed his men, and attacked. Soon the bodies of Federal soldiers lay "as thick as stumps in a new field," commented one Confederate, and another thought they lay thicker "than ever I had seen pumpkins in a cornfield."
Cheatham was later a Corps Commander with the ill-fated Army of Tennessee.
February 10, 2005, 08:59 PM
Before we read our anecdote, every regiment had an "awkward" squad. Those where the guys who never got anything right so rather than mess up the entire platoon, they were grouped into one squad and carefully drilled until they got it right. You can read more about the awkward squad in John Billing's classic account of the Civil War, Hardtack and Coffee. So, please pass the prunes.
One of the boys, a rather awkward fellow, received a box from home. It contained among other things a box of dried prunes; he stewed some of them for sauce. He had no more than got them finished when the order was given to fall in for inspection. In his haste he upset his pan of sauce on his gun and equipments; line was formed and along came the colonel, the captain and the inspecting officer. He presented his gun to the inspecting officer; but to the surprise and horror of the officer, his gloves of immaculate whiteness, were covered with a soft brown sticky substance. he looked at his gloves for an instant, and with an oath demanded "What is that?" and the king of the awkward squad made answer, "It is nothin' but stewed prunes." For an instant military discipline was powerless, but the man was sent to his quarters and was later dealt with.
February 13, 2005, 09:15 PM
...or better, why Sherman couldn't run for President.
After the war, the Army of the Potomac did a grand review before an applauding capital. The next day, Sherman's Army held their review.
Sherman dismounted and took his place at the review stand. As he was leaving...
The crowd surged around the stand to get a nearer view of the great Generals and the great men of the nation. We maintained our position near the foot of the stairs as they came down the steps, and here we saw another striking illustration of the characteristics of General Sherman. As he attempted to descend, the crowd pushed up the stairway to grasp him by the hand and to load him down with flowers. He accepted all the flowers that he could hold in one hand and under his arm, and to gratify the people, shook hands, as is ever the desire of a crowd in meeting great men. The General was very affable at first, patiently shaking hands with his admirers, and the crowd all the while seemingly to grow more dense. The hand shakes became less and less cordial, and the General's affability apparently departing.
He pushed down step by step - we could see that his patience was exhausted, and refusing the offered hands, forced his way down, brushing aside the men in front of him, finally exclaiming angrily, 'Damn you, get out of the way! Get out of the way!'
The crowd concluding that he meant just what he said, gave way for him to descend, and mounting his horse, he rode away."
February 13, 2005, 11:57 PM
Here's an account of Uncle Billy whose men scorched and burned their way from Atlanta to the Sea and then through the Carolinas. No, it's not about the "great picnic" as his men called it but of Uncle Billy and how he sets the example for diplomats worldwide. ;) The scene is the Grand Review of Sherman's Army. It takes place just as Sherman rides up (and before he gets -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- at the admiring citizens):
General Sherman having passed the reviewing stand, left the coumn and took his place beside President Johnson. He dismounted immediately in our front, and ascended the steps leading to the grand stand, and here occurred a scene that exhibited the strong fiery character of this great General. It will be remembered that the Secretary of War, Stanton, had humiliated General Sherman before the whole country but a few days before in general orders, denouncing Sherman for the terms of surrender granted by him to the rebel General Johnston and his army. Secretary Stanton as it happened, sat next to the head of the stairs upon the stand. As General Sherman approached, Secretary Stanton arose and extended his hand. General Sherman, resenting with indignation the indignity placed upon him, without looking at the Secretary of War, placed his left arm against Stanton's shoulder brushing him aside, and grasped the hand of the President, shaking hands with General Grant and the Cabinet officers, leaving Secretary of War Stanton like a whipped child to take his seat. It was a most sensational and interesting sight to those who were near enough to see and understand the situation. We saw clearly the two men as they met, and the hot blood of General Sherman to redden his face, and in my imagination his very red hair to stand on end."
Well, Uncle Billy was a soljer & not a politician and it showed. :)
February 15, 2005, 12:58 AM
This concerns the Third New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. The Union Army had just been whupped by those damned Rebels at Secessionville (James Island near Charleston, SC). BTW, I was attacked by a Rebel Dog at Secessionville. I came to a dead end and pulled into a driveway to turn around. The Rebel Dog came at my car, barking all the time. I put the car in reverse and retreated thinking all along he would stop once I retreated. However, this only emboldened him and he pursued. In reverse I fled for another hundred yards until I reached the next driveway. I backed into it so I could now turn around to leave. The Rebel Dog was still charging, barking with every lunge forward. Brought to bay because I didn't want to hit the critter, even if he was too stupid to know that a ton of steel beats flesh & bone every time, that darn Rebel Dog kept coming & SLAM! He bounced off my fender. Stunned, he walked away without a whimper. My jaw hurt from laughing. Not even Sheridan at Cedar Creek enjoyed such a complete victory. Enough rambling.
Recall that the Union Army was defeated at Secessionville and many embarked upon steamers and sailed south to Hilton Head, SC to reorganize. We let the Adjutant of the Third NH describe it:
"Our Chaplain Hill was a very zealous man, and the chaplain having special prayer meetings in the evening were quite well attended.
Over in another camp was the Fourth N. H. regiment, commanded by Colonel Whipple. The colonel was a well known lawyer from Laconia, N. H., a very bright man, but somewhat addicted to the cup, and there was a keen rivalry between the Third N. H. and the Fourth N. H. regiments as to the merits of the two regiments. One day the news camp to Colonel Whipple of a revival over in the Third N. H. camp. One of his officers had told him that twelve men of the Third N. H. had been baptized. This was something new in the experience of the camp, and Colonel Whipple became very much interested, and calling the adjutant, he says, 'Adjutant, they tell me that twelve men of the Third N. H. regiment have been baptized. I want you, sir, to detail fifteen men at once and see that they are baptized. I'll be d----d if the Third N. H. shall get ahead of the Fourth regiment."
February 19, 2005, 12:13 AM
Soldiers are not slow to forage when rations are poor. One Union regiment had men going out regularly and so the local landowners and farmers began to complain about their livestock being missing. It became an embarassment for the commanding general. To discourage the foraging, the provost would stop men attempting to enter camp with unauthorized livestock. While the ownership of the plundered (and partially butchered) animal couldn't be determined, they could not allow the foragers to reap the benefit of their harvest. So, the Provost and his men confiscated the foragers' hard earned food. However, not letting such wonderful repast go wasted, it was prepared and served at the officers' mess. Being their betters, why shouldn't they enjoy a fine steak or loin or chop every now and then? It would teach the men a lesson. Well, some foragers were understandably not pleased with having their hard gained food taken from them. So, they conspired to get even.
One day a foraging party attempted to run the gate but the alert men of the Provost Marshal intercepted them anyway. The foragers were forced to surrender what appeared to be a skinned sheep. As before, it was served to the officers that night and the foragers went meatless (except for the "salt horse" served to them by Uncle Sam). Then the fun began. "Bow wow!" came from one unidentified soldier. Another responded, "bow wow!" Soon, an entire chorus of seranaded the camp with barking. The officers realized they had been tricked into eating dog. The men kept up the barking for a couple of days until their commanding general wrote a special order forbidding any barking in camp. :p
February 19, 2005, 12:26 AM
Gary are you sure that those Union Soldiers weren't "Galvanized Yankees"? They sound more like Reb-oops... I mean Freedom Fighters to me.
February 19, 2005, 12:43 AM
Chaplain John. They weren't Galvanized Yankees. They were midwesterners and to be specific, two men from the 38th Illinois. :D
February 20, 2005, 11:47 AM
As today, prisons and jails don't want their inmates to have alcohol. Inmates get drunk, stupid, cause fights and are more work for the guards. It's no different in the Civil War when some prisoners were getting out of hand because they were drunk. Such was the case in New Orleans when some Corn-feds imbibed too freely. Well, the Provost Marshal wasn't very pleased with the situation and he tasked one man to investigate the source of spirits. He did and here's his story:
Well, I watched every day for awhile to see who got passes and I noticed that a certain man who went out always took his gun with him. One day he went downthe street and after he had gone I went out and saw him step to the side of a house, and I saw him stretch his arm out and put his hand against the house, then turned and walk away, but he did not have his gun. He walked around in the street awhile, looking in the show windows, then he crossed back over the street and went to the house where I had seen him beofre, stretched out his arm against the house and then turned around and walked away with his gun. He went back up the street, passed the office and around the corner of the prison pen. I crossed over to the other side of the street so that I could see right down the street where he was standing. He had his gun barrel stuck through the fence and the prisoners on the inside were catching the liquor in their tin cups as it trickled from the gun. As each one got as much as he wanted, he would shove up the muzzle and the flow would start again. Then I went back to my quarters. After a while he came up and put his gun away. I did not say anything to him but I told the marshall what I had seen. He told me to send him in. I told him he was wanted in the office. He went in, but what took place I don't know. The Provo called me again and told me to detail two men with guns and bayonets on, have them fill his knapsack full of bricks, strap it on him and march him up and down Barronne Street for six hours. We never had troubled any more with drunken prisoners."
February 20, 2005, 10:33 PM
"July 25. The colonel, thinking that guard duty and dress parades are not quite enough exercise for us, has ordered company drills in the forenoon. The company officers do not take very kindly to this, and thinking it a good opportunity to give the sergeants a little practice in drilling the companies, they shirk out of it every time they can invent an excuse to do so. The companies are seen out under command of the orderlies or some other of the sergeants frequently. B company moves out of the company street on to the parade ground, and after exectuing a few brilliant maneuvers, starts off across the fields to the Trent road, a little out of sight of the camp, and here in the shade of the trees we sit down and await the recall, when we march back into camp with all the pomp and circumstance of glorious war. The duty has been performed and everybody seems well enough satisfied, except perhaps the performers."
Fools! They should have found a fishing hole and made a day of it. :D
February 21, 2005, 03:32 PM
In one of the above posts, we learned of a new use for the musket. It stores alcohol quite nicely. Click here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=32947) to learn the significance of muzzle control.
February 25, 2005, 10:32 PM
When the boys marched off to war, many of them were in total ignorance of cooking. Recall that back in the antebellum days, one's mother or the wife cooked the meals while the man worked the fields (or trade). Womens' Lib hadn't made its appearance and neither did suffrage. So, you can imagine the disasters that followed when men untutored in the culinary arts were issued raw material with which to prepare their repast. Here's one tale:
The boys told me it was my time to cook. I could not cook and told them so, but the answer I got was, "No back talk, do as you are told." That settled it, so I got busy and got a camp kettle that held about four gallons of water. I filled it about half full, made a fire, and set the kettle on. I put about two pounds of rice in it and stirred up my fire. I soon had things going fine. The whole thing was boiling now like a house on fire. Pretty soon I saw the kettle was getting fuller all the time and it wasn't long until it acutally did run over. I did not care so much for the rice, but I was afraid that it would put my fire out. I did not have a thing to put it in, and I thought of my rubber blanket. I got it and my tin cup, spread the blanket on the ground, and went to bailing it out of the kettle on to the blanket. The faster it boiled, the faster I bailed and when the rice in the kettle was cooked, I had more on the blanket than I had in the kettle. But at the same time I had come out ahead, fir I had saved my reputation as not being a cook and I had save the rice which was quite a saving. There was enough cooked rice for a mess and there was enough half-cooked rice for another mess the next day. Now this is not a joke. I assure you this is a true story of my experience in cooking rice and now I am going to leave the cooking business to the ladies where it belongs for they know more about in in five minutes than I do in a lifetime."
Betcha figured out the writer isn't Chinese or Japanese.
BTW, my friend's father taught us in college how to cook rice over an open campfire. You don't. You add the right proportion of water to the rice and then placed the covered pot over the coals. Cooks just fine.
February 28, 2005, 09:21 PM
This was sent to me by one of our staffers at THR. It is the story of Wyatt Earp as told to Stuart N. Lake.
"I was a fair hand with pistol, rifle, or shotgun, but I learned more about gunfighting from Tom Speer's cronies during the summer of 1871 than I had dreamed was in the book. Those old-timers took their gunplay seriously, which was natural under the conditions in which they lived. Shooting, to them, was considerably more than aiming at a mark and pulling a trigger. Models of weapons, methods of wearing them, means of getting them into action and operating them, all to the one end of combining high speed with absolute accuracy, contributed to the frontiersman's shooting skill. The sought-after degree of proficiency was that which could turn to most effective account the split-second between life and death. Hours upon hours of practice, and wide experience in actualities supported their argunments over style.
"The most important lesson I learned from those proficient gunfighters was the winner of a gunplay usually was the man who took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live long on the frontier, I would shun flashy trick-shooting -- grandstand play-- as I would poison.
"When I say that I learned to take my time in a gunfight, I do not wish to be misunderstood, for the time to be taken was only that split fraction of a sceond that means the difference between deadly accuracy with a sixgun and a miss. It is hard to make this clear to a man who has never been in a gunfight. Perhaps I can best describe such time taking as going into action with the greatest speed of which a man's muscles are capable, but mentally unflustered by an urge to hurry or the need for complicated nervous muscular actions which trick-shooting involves. Mentally deliberate, must muscularly faster than thought, is what I mean.
"In all my life as a frontier police officer, I did not know a really proficient gunfighter who had anything but contempt for the gun-fanner, or the man who literally shot from the hip. In later years I read a great deal about this type of gunplay, supposedly employed by men noted for skill with a forty-five.
"From personal experience and numerous six-gun battles which I witnessed, I can only support the opinion advanced by the men who gave me my most valuable instruction in fast and accurate shooting, which was that the gun-fanner and hip-shooter stood small chance to live against a man who, as Jack Gallagher always put it, took his time and pulled the trigger once."
Next week we'll go into part II where Wyatt Earp gives more insights into 19th century gunplay.
Message brought to you courtesy of Rich Lucibella & SWAT magazine (of which I am not associated with - they keep kicking me out. :p )
March 3, 2005, 07:47 PM
Gang, if you can wait, support your local library & check out Stuart Lake's book. Anyway, here's the second installment. Enjoy. Recall that Earp was discussing the skill required of a gunfighter was not fancy gun handling but good nerves, deliberate aim and speed.
"Cocking and firing mechanisms on new revolvers were almost invariably altered by their purchasers in the interests of smoother, effortless handling, usually by filing the dog which controlled the hammer, some going so far as to remove triggers entirely or last them against the guard, in which the guns were fired by thumbing the hammer. This is not to be confused with fanning, in which the triggerless gun is held in one hand while the other was brushed rapidly across the hammer to cock the gun, and firing it by the weight of the hammer itself. A skillful gun-fanner could fire five shots from a forty-five so rapidly that the individual reports were indistinguishable, but what could happen to him in a gunfight was pretty close to murder.
"I saw Jack Gallagher's theory borne out so many times in deadly operation that I was never tempted to forsake the principles of gunfighting as I had them from him and his associates. There was no man in the Kansas City group who was Wild Bill's equal with a six-gun. Bill's correct name, by the way, was James B. Hickok. Legend and the imaginations of certain people have exaggerated the number of men he killed in gunfights and have misrepresented the manner in which he did his killing. At that, they could not very well overdo his skill with pistols.
"Hickok knew all the fancy tricks and was as good as the best at that sort of gunplay, but when he had serious business at hand, a man to get, the acid test of marksmanship, I doubt if he employed them. At least, he told me that he did not. I have seen him in action and I never saw him fan a gun, shoot from the hip, or try to fire two pistols simultaneously. Neither have I ever heard a reliable old-timer tell of any trick-shooting employed by Hickok when fast straight-shooting meant life or death.
"Primarily, two guns made the threat of something in reserve; they were useful as a display of force when a lone man stacked up against a crowd. Some men could shoot equally well with either hand, and in a gunplay might alternate their fire; others exhausted the loads from the gun on the right, or the left, as the case might be, then shifted the reserve weapon to the natural shooting hand if that was necessary and possible. Such a move - the border shift - could be made faster than the eye could follow a top-notch gun-thrower, but if the man was as good as that, the shift would seldom be required.
"Whenever you see a picture of some two-gun man in action with both weapons held closely against his hips and both spitting smoke together, you can put it down that you are looking at the picture of a fool, or a fake. I remember quite a few of these so-called two-gun men who tried to operate everything at once, but like fanners, they didn't last long in proficient company."
We'll conclude with Part III next week.
March 3, 2005, 10:20 PM
If you do the math, 2 gallons of water is 16 cups of water, 2 lb of rice is 8 cups of rice, this is the recommended ratio of rice and water and would never have resulted in the described happening.
This is just another wild bull tale by someone who did not have enough to do.
March 5, 2005, 06:19 PM
On the other hand my father told me of a Boy Scout camping trip he was on during the depression. Everyone was hard pressed for money and nearly every scout brought a pound of rice to contribute to the patrol stores as their contribution. Their first meal they ended up with a five gallon can of rice after burying part of it.
When he went in for his cooking merit badge the examiner asked how to cook rice. Dad told him "first you bring the water to a boil, then you stand back about ten feet and throw the rice one grain at a time at the pot". The examiner slapped his leg and said "yep, you've cooked rice". He passed.
March 6, 2005, 02:05 PM
I've never used a measuring cup for cooking rice. Like the old timers, I used a "cup" and learned to measure with it. Give me another "cup" and I'd be in a world of hurt. Anybody got a bag of Uncle Ben? Please share the instructions as I've never read anything on cooking rice. :rolleyes:
BTW, at Conner Prairie Hearth Cooking Class I learned that a "cup" was not the same as a measuring cup. It was a "cup" and one learned to cook by eyeball. So, what was one man's cup could be another man's shot glass. The story related above probably involved a large cup which resulted in too much rice in the pot.
I also came across an account by one soldier whose "cup" measured a quart. Cup should then be read as a cup and not a unit of measurement.
March 6, 2005, 08:55 PM
Doguet's Rice Milling Co.
795 South Major Dr.
Beaumont, Texas 77707
To 2 cups boiling water
add 1 cup Doguet's Rice
and 1 teaspoon salt,
put on low heat, stir and cover, let simmer for 15 minutes.
March 11, 2005, 11:39 PM
First Aide to Napoleon, General Rapp, could lead a cavalry charge or cook a chicken. He was also an excellent marksman with a cavalry carbine. Highly trusted, he was given command of the Fortress of Danzig after Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.
The Russians besieged Danzig and called upon Rapp to surrender. He held while his food lasted. However, we're here today to learn of his Free Company led by Captain Chambure. Here's an interesting excerpt:
"The free company became every day more audacious. Trenches, palisadoes, were trifling obstacles; it penetrated every where. In the middle of a dark night, it stole along from tree to tree, the whole length of the avenue of Langfuhr, without being perceived by the Russians. On a sudden it leaped into their works, killed some of the Russians, drove out the others, and pursued them as far as Kabrun. The brave Surimont, the intrepid Rozay, Payen, Dezeau, Gonipet, and Francore, threw themselves on the redoubt, and carried it. A hundred men were put to the sword, the othres owed their escape only to flight."
Despite their work, shortage of food impelled the surrender of Danzig. Napoleon's eagle had flown.
March 12, 2005, 10:49 PM
"In the days of which I am talking, among men whom I have in mind, when a man went after his guns, he did so with a single, serious purpose. There was no such thing as a bluff; when a gunfighter reached for his forty-five, every faculty he owned was keyed to shooting as speedily and as accurately as possible, to making his first shot the last of the fight. He just had to think of his gun solely as something with which to kill another before he himself could be killed. The possibility of intimidating an antagonist was remote, although the 'drop' was thoroughly respectd, and few men in the West would draw against it. I have seen men so fast and so sure of themselves that they did go after their guns while men who intended to kill them had them covered, and what is more win out in the play. They were rare. It is safe to say, for all general purposes, that anything in gunfighting that smacked of show-off or bluff was left to braggarts who were ignorant or careless of their lives.
"I might add that I never knew a man who amounted to anything to notch his guns with 'credits,' as they were called, for men he had killed. Outlaws, gunmen of the wild crew who killed for the sake of brag, followed this custom. I have worked with most of the noted peace officers -- Hickok, Billy Tilghman, Pat Sughre, Bat Masterson, Charlie Basset, and others of like caliber -- have handled their weapons many times, but never knew one of them to carry a notched gun.
"There are two other points about the old-time method of using six-guns most effectively that do not seem to be generally known. One is that the gun is not cocked with the ball of the thumb. As his gun was jerked into action, the old-timer closed the whole joint of his thumb over the hammer and the gun was cocked in that fashion. The soft flesh of the thumb ball might slip if a man's hands were moist, and a slip was not to be chanced if humanly avoidable. This thumb-joint method was employed whether or not a man used the trigger for firing.
"On the second point, I have often been asked why five shots without reloading were all a top-notch gunfighter fired, when his guns were chambered for six cartridges. The answer is, merely, safety. To ensure against accidental discharge of the gun while in the holster, due to hair-trigger adjustment, the hammer rested upon an empty chamber. As widely as this was known and practiced, the number of cartridges a man carried in his six-gun may be taken as an indication of a man's rank with the gunfighters of the old school. Practiced gun-wielders had too much respect for their weapons to take unnecessary chances with them; it was only with tyros and would-bes that you heard of accidental discharges or didn't-know-it-was-loaded injuries in the country where carrying a Colt was a man's perogative."
March 21, 2005, 09:51 PM
A Confederate cavalry officer had set up camp in an area protected by deep streams and heavy brush. He wanted a defensible location that wasn't easily accessible. He balked when he received the order that his company would be inspected. He and his men had little desire to clear the brush, line up the tents in orderly fashion and lay everything out per regulation.
He turned to his lieutenant and told him that he would escort the inspecting officers to the camp. It was clear to the lieutenant that he wasn't enthusiastic and the lieutenant was unsure about his orders. In frustration, the good captain ordered, "Drown 'em on the way here." Off rode the lieutenant and many many hours later he returned. The lieutenant was wet to the skin and covered with mud. In fact, all the horses and the wagon that the inspectors were riding in were wet and covered with mud. The inspectors were visibly shaking from cold when they dismounted their perch.
The captain strode up to them, smiled and threw a regulation salute and welcomed them to his camp. The inspectors complained about how he had set up his camp in the most inaccessible location that was surrounded by rivers that could barely be forded. Predictably, when they left, they were still unhappy campers.
The captain went to the lieutenant and asked him what happened. The lieutenant explained that he had taken them through the most difficult roads (if the paths could be called that) and through the deepest streams he could think of. The captain stared in disbelief and asked why. The lieutenant reminded him of the order to drown the inspectors and said that he had tried his best but had failed. :p
March 21, 2005, 10:26 PM
Must have been a Second Lieutenant. :D
March 28, 2005, 06:57 PM
Early in the Late Great Unpleasantry Between States or the Mother of American Family Feuds, two Rebs were out camping and chanced upon a deer which they promptly killed. Desiring to take it back to share with their comrades, they tied it to a pole and were about to carry it back when a piece of bark struck the ground. Looking up, they saw a coon. The Lt. in charge (there were only two Rebs involved) suggested capturing it and releasing in the barn where the boys slept. Well, the first coon in the tree turned out to be too big for one man to capture in a blanket but by the third coon (they brained second with a stick), they were successful. Note: spelling & other errors are the authors.
"Ike caught the coon by the back of the neck and the hind legs and after having untied him, carried it up to the house, slipped it in and closed the door hitching the chain over the staple, then sat down on the step to await developments. Pretty soon one of the boys, Sam Bane said to Uriah Lease, 'Uriah, Uriah, what is it climbing over me. Uriah there is some kind of an animal in here and I believe it's a pole cat.' Then there was a general scramble. In a very short time the boys were all perched up on the joist holding consultation as to what it was and how it got in, the door being shut. Sam Bane declared in very emphatic language that it was fast on the outside as he had tried to get it open and couldn't. 'Well boys,' said the Colonel, who was almost dying from laughter, 'we must have a light, who has a match.' All seemed to have but they were all below and no know would volunteer to get them. Day was beginning to break in the east. We quietly slipped the chain from the staple and then ran to the boat and shoved out to a large rock in the river to await further developments as soon as it became light enough. They discovered the little coon 'scrooched' up in a corner. Then some roared with laughter and some roared with anger and swore vengeance against Parsons and Blue. We were soon discovered and dire threats were made as to what our fate would be when they got us though most of the boys took it as a joke and laughed at those who did not see in that light, when we told them he had a deer and they wouldn't get any of it unless they promised not to molest us. But they did not believe that we had a deer. Finally they agreed if we had a deer we could land without being disturbed, but if we had no deer then we must submit to a thorough ducking. So we pushed ashore, we had the deer, they settled the matter though we had to tell the boys all about the coon hunt. We soon had our deer dressed and frying for breakfast."
March 29, 2005, 04:23 PM
At Appomattox, holding a red handkerchief aloft, General Custer rode up to General Longstreet and rashly demanded the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. Longstreet refused stating that talks were being conducted between Lee and Grant and that they, as subordinates, would have to wait. Custer insists at which point an angered Longstreet orders his officers to prepare for battle. Crestfallen, Custer rides away. Check out Longstreet's memoirs (From Manassas to Appomattox) if you want to read more about it. However, I found this tidbit from another source.
"From the left we saw a Federal officer riding at full gallop into our lines, waving before him a red bandanna handkerchief. When he came near enough to be heard, he inquired who was in command, and some one said: 'General Gordon.' He then went on, waving his handkerchief, until he met the General and had some conversation with him in connection with the surrender. When he galloped by us and in easy range, a brave soldier of the 31st Georgia Regiment, whose face was set with tears, threw his gun up and said: 'I'll get that scoundrel.' But some one who was more thoughtful knocked his gun up and said: 'Don't, John; it may be that the surrender has already taken place, and it may cause trouble.' Thursby replied: 'That's not a white flag, and I am not bound to respect it.' But his comrades would not allow him to shoot, and Custer, the bloody tyrant (shall I use the word?), who had shed so much innocent blood that devastated the Valley of Virginia with the torch, rode on, not knowing how near he came to the expiation of his heartly cruelty, only to meet a fate later on which he richly deserved if the command, 'Thou shalt not kill,' means anything."
April 5, 2005, 08:33 PM
"A few days after the battle of Franklin my regiment was in position with right resting at Dr. Berry's (new) residence, just outside the city limits of Nashville. One morning Gen. R. L. Gibson, our brigade commander, asked me if I knew the position of the Federal troops on Brown's Creek. I was ignorant of any creek by that name, even although it was close by us. One of Dr. Berry's boys said to me, pointing with his finger: 'Colonel, that's Brown's Creek where the railroad bridge crosses.' The bridge was about halfway between the lines. I gave orders to cease firing on our side, and without any side arms I waved a handkerchief, which was promptly answered by the Federals. I made my way toward the small bridge, and got ahead of the Federal officer and two men, and took advantage of the time to carefully take in the position of the enemy. On their approach the officer asked me what I wanted.
"I told him I wanted 'a ball of shoe thread to make a pair of boots (this was true); He replied: 'That is a queer thing for a flag of truce.' I thought so myself, but I did not know anything better to say. I promised to pay them in tobacco. The officer said he did not believe the general would allow him to do that. 'Well, let me know to-morrow at noon.' We shook hands, and I asked the two cavalrymen what command they belonged to. They replied, 'Second Kentucky.' I said: 'Ah, boys, you should be on my side.' They smiled, and we returned to our respective lines. The information obtained seemed to be sufficient, as Gen. Hood ordered an advance that afternoon and drove the enemy back some distance. The next morning Capt. Samuel Haden asked me if he might reconnoiter and get a newspaper and see what they thought of the 'shoe thread trick.' I said, 'Go ahead,' and he approached their lines. I saw them point their rifles at him and force him to enter their lines, and thus I lost one of my most gallant and skillful captains, who had been in many tight places with me."
BTW folks, I'm going to be in Washington, D. C., for the rest of the week and won't be back until April 15th. Be good and if you have a good rambling anecdote, share it. :)
April 5, 2005, 11:31 PM
Stop by Ft. Lewis while your here.
Spc. John Taylor, A Co, 296 BSB.
I'll buy ya a beer or three :)
April 5, 2005, 11:52 PM
Thanks John. Sorry, but I edited my post to show which Washington. BTW, I'll be going to Philomath, Oregon next month for the Oregon Gun Makers' Fair.
April 15, 2005, 11:13 PM
The former not only hides you, but also offers some protection. The later only conceals you but offers you no protection. Here's a tidbit from the past that illustrates this lesson:
During the advance of Evans' Brigade across the wheat field from the end of Brooks' Hill to the Thomas house, a Federal soldier fired at the advancing enemy from bheind a wheat shock. The man himself was not visible, but the smoke of his rifle was. Immediately the guns of many Confederates were turned upon that particular wheat shock, and when the Confederates in their onward go, came to the shock of wheat, the Federal soldier lay there dead with a dozen bullet wounds in his body.
April 22, 2005, 08:13 PM
There's no dispute that Frank & Jesse robbed banks. Teddy Roosevelt even called Jesse the "Robin Hood of America." Well, there's no proof that they ever gave to save a widow's home from a mortgage. However, they did share their loot with dear old mom. After all, she was the woman who bore them, raised them and fed them as babes. They repaid her by giving her stolen revenue stamps stolen from the Liberty Bank. One day Mother James took her revenue stamps to the Liberty Bank to pay off a loan. Said bank refused to accept them as they figured (rightfully) that they were stolen. Indignant, she paid in cash. History does not record what if anything she said to her boys but it sure would have been interesting.
May 5, 2005, 07:58 PM
Johnny cakes are Corn-fed food. It's generally corn mixed with water and a pinch of salt (if available) which is fried to perfection in bacon grease (generally the only grease available). While quite yummy, I'll pass on this batch and so will you:
"When we Crossed into the town of Fredericksburg, the men Captured many things & thease three, Davis, Howells & Hill got into a house [and a] Carpenter's store room & Dye Davis said, 'We be got him now, lads. Fill your haversacks.' And the Haversacks was filled. Dye Davis [said], 'Now, lads, lets go down to the fire & we will have some Johnny Cakes.' And when they reached the fire, Dye said, 'John Howells, do we get some wood & make a fire?' & 'Bill Hill, do we get some water & I make some Johnny cake' & the work went on & Dye [made] a Cake on the old plate & he turned it up to see if it was done, but [it] was not browned yet & Jack said, 'Turn 'em over any'ow." & Dye turned [it] over & said, 'Jack he is hard any'ow' & they got the other side hard & Dye wanted it to get browned but Bill Hill got impatient & said, 'Damn, 'em, Dye, less [let's] have him!' & the Cake was handed to Bill & the Cook put another on the pan & while Dye was working at the second one, Bill Hill could not get his Knife to splite the first one & Jack Howell says, 'Bill, get a stone & Break 'em.' & they got a stone & Broke it & tried to bite it, but it was no go & Jack examined it Carefully & exclaimed, 'Damn 'em, Dye, 'e is plaster [of] Paris!' & the Cook stopped instantly & he examined & exclaimed, 'Well, Jack, I did think he was Damn heavy flour in my haversack.' & sure enough it was white Plaster of Paris."
It almost sounds like a script for the Three Stooges. :D
Sorry but I've been busy with the manuscript. A couple of readers have made suggestions and I've been incorporating them.
May 8, 2005, 03:25 PM
When I was at the Smithsonian a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a book by Charles Minor Blackford. He's the older brother of Eugene B. of the 5th Alabama. Well, anyway, here's Charles' passage after Gettysburg:
"Eugene just left my camp, where he stopped while the regiment was passing, to get something to eat, and I never saw anyone enjoy a meal so much. He was very hungry having been in the line of battle four days without the chance of cooking anything and having anything but hardtack and water."
Yeah, sure. Sounds like the younger brother suckered the older brother out of his chow. Here's what Eugene really ate:
July 1: "That night I slept with my men in a barn in the outskirts of the town. In it there were countless [illegible], of which we made a great soup, thickened with artichoke. In the morning [July 2] the enemy now crowded on the heights, our lines were drawn around, and my men thrown out into the meadow between the lines. Here we lay in the broiling sun until about 1 p.m. when beginning to feel hungry, I sent a detail to catch chickens, which they cooked in a large pot found in a cottage, thro' which my lent went. This soup contained about 60 chickens, and the entire contents of the garden in the way of onions & potatoes. Saw it was necessary to feed the men as no rations had been issued..."
Lying dog ate well and then bummed chow off his older brother. But hey, what are brothers for? ;)
May 9, 2005, 09:07 PM
I'm not a smoker and I don't like it. However, the following is taken from Conner Prairie's publication, Closer Look, and has the historical perspective on tobacco.
"From chewing tobacco (commonly called 'the chaw') to snuffing to smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, tobacco has been prevalent in American society for centuries. While tobacco use is still a strong cause for many, the impetus behind today's anti-smoking campagins differs greatly from that of the late 18th and early 19th century.
One of the first Americans to publish a work warning about the use of tobacco was Dr. Benjamin Rush. However, it was the moral flag that Rush was waving, not health. After the Revolutionary War, anti-tobacco sentiment began to grow in the United States on the basis of morality issues. Tobacco and alcohol were often paired as evil equals - precursors to gambling, prostitution and other social impurities.
By the 1830s, anti-tobacco activists were starting to emerge in Indiana. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that health concerns associated with tobacco surfaced. The effects of tobacco on the body and its strong addictive properties became widely discussed. These remain core issues in today's anti-tobacco campaign."
Gee, I didn't know that tobacco use led to gambling and prostitution. :p The following sidebar is also of interest. It is taken from Deborah Gage's and Madeline Marsh's, Tobacco Containers & Accessories
"In many countries, harsh punishments were imposed on those who indulged in tobacco. In Russia, Tsar Michael executed those caught smoking more than once and cut off the noses of snuff takers. In Turkey, smokers had their pipes driven through their cheeks and noses and were paraded on donkeys through the streets of Constantinople; and in Berne tobacco was officially added to the Ten Commandments - curiously included as 'Thou shalt not commit adultery, or take tobacco' - and smokers were liable to public prosecution."
Pretty harsh penalties even by our modern standards. :(
May 9, 2005, 10:16 PM
Damn and I thought our local Austin Health Gestapo was a pain in the ass. Makes me glad I gave that sh*t up.
May 10, 2005, 09:29 AM
Tobacco and alcohol were often paired as evil equals - precursors to gambling, prostitution and other social impurities.
I actually starting drinking and smoking AFTER I started gambling and engaging in prostitution and other social impurities. :D
May 10, 2005, 12:07 PM
I think that the anti smoking hysteria is still the same old moral saw, but now health and morality are seen as the same thing. I'm not saying that smoking is good for you--it's pretty clearly not. I'm saying that health is used as a bludgeon against groups that are not socially approved of--typically lower class non-whites. You see the same thing with obesity and marijuana, of which there is very little actual evidence of harmfulness. Our puritan culture just has a real problem with folks doing anything for pure enjoyment. After all, there *must* be some moral superiority to never having any fun and working all the time--otherwise *why do it?*
May 12, 2005, 06:48 PM
Turn on the telly and look at any sitcom. The home is typically middle class and has plenty of nice furnishings. Now, here's a tidbit from the 1850s.
"A couple of years ago I made a pilgrimage to my great-grandfather's former home in Westford, Conn., in company with a kinsman over eighty years old - the last of his generation. It was a very comfortable house, with four rooms and a leanto, with a stone chimney. My great-grandfather lived there as early as 1750. My cousin called my attention to the old well near the door where, by the curb, there was a large stone hollowed out like a trough, he said the 'men folks' as they came from the field, would fill that trough with a bucket or two of water from which they would 'souse' themselves thoroughly, thus not disturbing the goodwife. And of course in the rustic neighborhoods the old customs existed long after they were abandoned in the larger villages and towns.
"You will hardly believe, when I say it, but I distinctly remember as a very samll boy, going to a house in this same primitive town of Westford where we were invited to a dinner. The only drinking vessel on the table was one of the quart Staffordshire mugs(would that I had that mug in my collection today) which was filled with water, milk or cider, I have really forgotten which, and passed around the table at the demand of any thirsty one. The family consisted of a man and his wife, an ancient grandmother, and several children with not too clean faces. I couldn't refuse the mug when urged upon me and selecting a place on the brim at the right of the handle, I drank, when one of the children exclaimed, 'See mar! He's got tranny's place.' Of course that practice in this instance was possibly nearly a century out of period." :barf:
May 20, 2005, 09:35 PM
Holt Collier served as a member of the 9th Texas Cavalry, but the one thing that distinguishes Holt Collier was the fact he was a slave. Collier followed his master, Thomas Hinds, into the Civil War. At Green River Bridge in Tennessee, Holt Collier went from being camp servant to a soldier on the side of the Confederacy. Collier served in the Confederacy until the war ended in 1865.
After the war, Collier returned to Greenville, Mississippi for a time. He went west to Texas only to later return home. Holt began providing wild game for meat to loggers, railroaders, and levee construction crews. Being an expert shot, he was able to support himself by the game he provided to these different workers in the area.
His greatest claim to fame was the bear hunt he led President Theodore Roosevelt on in the Mississippi Delta. From that now famous hunt began the saga of the Teddy Bear.
This is shamelessly lifted from Holt Collier Camp Holt Collier Camp (http://holtcollierscv2018.historymakersofms.com/) I learned of him from a newspaper article that was passed around the Peninsula Civil War Round Table. Didn't get to keep the article but I did learn enough about the man to be very impressed by him.
As a slave boy of 10, his master gave him a shotgun and instructed him to kill the varmints. He did but complained that it hurt his shoulder. His master suggested that he shoot from the other shoulder. Because of this, Holt learned to shoot shotgun, rifle and pistol with either hand. Holt became so proficient that he began winning shooting matches and more importantly, bets for his master. At age 14 his masters marched off to war and with tears running down his cheeks at the prospect of being left behind and separated from his masters for the first time, Holt begged them to take him. They demurred stating he was too young. He watched them ride over the horizon and devised a plan.
That night he left the house and went down to the dock. There he spied his masters and learned what boat they were on. He met a friendly boatman whose advice he solicited. The boatman suggested that he grab some baggage and carry it aboard. No one thought anything of Holt as he picked up a bag, hefted it onto his shoulder and followed other boatman aboard and down the hold. There he stayed the night. When the boat reached its destination, Holt popped up and greeted his masters. They figured that he was too determined to stay behind and consented to allow him to remain as a manservant.
The regiment went to Bowling Green, Kentucky. A battle was brewing and they marched off to meet the Yankees, leaving Holt behind in camp to watch after the sick. Holt didn't remain. He found a cartridge box and strapped it on. Taking a musket, he found them in battle and took his place in the regiment. Everyone was too busy fighting to scold him and Holt was firing away, reloading, and firing again as if he was back on the plantation. He suddenly heard his master laughing behind him. He turned and saw his master who was bemused at the sight of little Holt shooting at the Yankees. The master went off to yell at some men and Holt kept shooting. If his master said nothing, no one else had a right to say anything to him.
The battle won, Holt marched back to camp with his gun. One soldier asked the N****** what he was going to do with it. Another soldier chimed in saying that he was talking to a soldier and to leave him alone. That did it. From that point on, Holt was no longer a servant but a soldier. While never formally enlisted, he continued to serve as a soldier until the war ended.
Holt remained loyal to his masters and is suspected of killing a Union officer who injured his master after the war. He became one of the best bear hunters in Mississippi and earned for himself the nickname the Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett of Mississippi. He slew over 3k bears in his life and at times used a knife to do so. That's one though hombre!
June 1, 2005, 07:39 PM
Massachusetts Act for Regulating the Militia: "Every listed Soldier, and other Householder shall be always provided with a wellfixt Firelock Musket, or Musket of Bastard-Musket bore, the Barrel not less than three foot and an half long, or other good Fire Arms to the satisfaction of the Commission Officers of the Company; a Cartouch Box: one Pound of good Powder: Twenty Bullets for his Gun, and twelve Flynts; a good Sword or Cutlass; a Worm, & priming Wire, fit for his Gun, on Penalty of six shillings..." From the Boston News-Letter, Feb. 7-14, 1733-4.
Six shillings was a considerable sum in 1733-4. Wheat was 6s a bushel or bread at 22 s per hundred.
Many of us modernly would meet this requirement except we'd show up with a good handgun, a semi-auto rifle or scoped rifle and a survival knife. In fact, I would hazard to guess that many of us could arm a squad and thereby gain our rank of high corporal. :p
June 1, 2005, 08:00 PM
"On Thursday the 6 of February at three of the clock Afternoon, will be sold by Publick Vendue at the Exchange Tavern, about one hundred Canvice & Ticken Tents, Poles, Mallets, and Pins to them, about five hundred Pick-Axes, fifty Axes and Hatchets, about eight hundred Tomahawks or small Hatchets, about three hundred Spades and Bills, a parcell of Shovels, Wheelbarrows, Handbarrow's, Baskets of Speaks and Nails, all to be put and sold in Lots, and to be seen at the place of sale the Morning before the Sale begins: Also a very fine Negro Woman. - Boston Gazette, Jan. 27-Feb. 3, 1728-9."
I've mixed feelings about this ad. First, we're all born almost 250 years too late to bid. Second, while I don't condone slavery, how the heck does a "Negro Woman" get mixed into a sale of military surplus? :confused: Glad it's history and not the present (though I'd love to get in on those Tomahawks).
June 4, 2005, 08:07 AM
"Breech-Loading Gun. Made by John Cookson, and to be sold by him at his House in Boston: a handy Gun of 9 Pound and a half Weight; having a Place convenient to hold 9 Bullets, and Powder for 9 Charges and 9 Primings; the said Gun will fire 9 Times distinctly, as quick, or slow as you please, with one turn the Handle of said Gun, it doth charge the Gun with Powder and Bullet, and doth prime and shut the pan, and cock the Gun. All these Motions ae performed immediately at once, by one turn with the said Handle. Note, there is Nothing put into the Muzzle of the Gun as we charge other Guns." Ad found in Boston Gazette, April 12, 1756.
Too bad the price isn't listed. This would have been the assault rifle of its day and if Braddock's men were trained to use it (and it could take a bayonet), they might not have been so handily defeated at Battle of the Monogahela.
Recall that this was pre-industrial revolution and that the parts were exactingly fitted by hand. One slip-up and the powder magazine, which was contained in the stock, and you have an Eighteenth Century Ka-Boom! :eek:
June 9, 2005, 09:45 PM
"For deafness and slow hearing: The juyce of Radishes, fat of a mole, eele, or serpent, juyce of an Onyon soaked in Sperrit of Wine and roasted, essences of a mans or Bullocks gall, are all very excellent. In difficulty of hearing, distilled Boyes Urine is good; but better is the Oyl of Carawayes" - Compendium of Physick (Salmon), London, 1671
"Falling-Sickness. In Children. Ashes of the dung of black Cow given to new born Infant, doth not only preserve from the Epilepsia, but also cure it. In those of ripe Age. The lives of 40 water-Frogs brought into a powder, and given at five times (in Spirit of Rosemary or Lavender) morning and evening, will cure, the sick not eating nor drinking two hours before nor after it." (same Compendium of Physick)
"Cow's Dung. This seems to be of a hot penetrating Nature; and is experienc'd to do good in Erysipelous Swellings. This Cataplasm is also highly commended by some in the Gout. Pigeon's Dung is sometimes ordered in Cataplasms, to be applied to the soles of the Feet in malignant Fevers and Deliriums. Hog's Dung. Is also used by Country People to stop Bleeding at the Nose; by being externally applied cold to the Nostrils." English Dispensatory (Quincy), London, 1742.
Earth Worms. These are often used in Compositions for cooling and Cleansing the Viscera. They are good in Inflammations and Tubercles of the Lungs and in Affections of the Reins and Urinary Passages. Syrup of Snails. Take Garden-snails early in the morning, while the dew is upon them, a pound; take off their shells, slit them, and with a half of pound of fine Sugar put into a Bag hang them in a Cellar, and the Syrup will melt, and drop through, which Keep for Use. This is not kept in the shop, but is worth making for young Children inclining to Hectics and Consumptions... English Dispensatory (Quincy), London, 1742.
Makes you grateful for modern medicine, doesn't it? BTW, sugar was very expensive and to use a half of pound is a substantial amount in those days.
June 13, 2005, 09:58 PM
During the Napoleonic Wars, the British recruited heavily from among the Germans and first drew on Hannover (after all, George was of the House of Hannover) and then from Germans in French service who were captured. They were collected into a regiment several battalions strong dubbed The King's German Legion. Over numerous battles, the KGL proved themselves to be very brave & reliable. Their regimental history tells of their various deeds in battle and of service throughout Europe on behalf of England. What it doesn't tell is that the Germans of various battalions of KGL didn't necessarily develop bonds of affection towards their fellow Germans. We hear from a soldier of the 7th Battalion, KGL:
"At no time were we on a kindly footing with the third and sixth regiments of the German legion; and therefore individuals attached to these corps were exempted from the privilege of being brought in by a friend. This exclusion was never forgiven; and the parties against whom it was levelled were perpetually seeking opportunities for revenge. The senior of our company, a good-natured fellow of thirty-six, who was a general favourite of both officers and privates, was one evening, whilst we were indulging ourselves with mirth and wine, in a neighbouring public-house close to our apartment, enjoying the lively conversation of his sweetheart. Suddenly twelve men, belonging to the rifle company of the third battalion, entered the place; and falling upon him, although he had not given the slightest provocation, proceeded to treat him exceedingly ill. In self-defence, he snatched up a sword, and vowed he would kill the next man who should touch him, a threat which he would undoubtedly have put in practice, not in any degree wanting courage; his determined look and gesture made his cowardly assailants pause, and they debated between themselves in what manner they should endeavour to secure him. Accidentally one of our men passed the house; and the terrified girl, her eyes full of tears, repeats to this man that a soldier of the seventh regiment is on the point of being slain. Immediately on receiving this intelligence, he hastens to give us the alarm; and each individual, starting to his sword and cap, rushes impetuously to the opposite wine-shop, which is soon abandoned by the enemy. In the commencement, fists alone were the weapons made use of, but shortly swords were plucked from their scabbards, and a regular battle ensued, in which many wounds were inflicted on either side. Fresh members of both battalions now came up half-naked from the barracks, with fixed bayonets; and in the dark night it was scarcely possible to distinguish friend from foe. Confusion, indeed reigned triumphant. The third battalion had a good many men wounded; we, on the other hand, only a few.
"Patrols were at length dispatched in every direction throughout the town; and numbers were conveyed to the guard-house, which was soon quite filled; the conflict being ultimately terminated by the dispersion of all combatants.
"On the next morning, an order of the day was put forth by our brigadier, in which we were reproached for want of harmony; and it was strictly forbidden for the soldiers of the two obnoxious battalions to enter at one time the same wine-house. On the side of the enemy several swords were missing, - the worthy owners thereof having preferred throwing them away to using them courageously; however, be it remembered, these fellows were amongst the twelve who had originally occasioned the dispute."
Those Germans jus wanna have fun. :p
June 14, 2005, 10:22 PM
An older, more eloquent version of the expression,
"When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns."
I found this in the May 16, 2005 issue of Shotgun News; and think that it bears repeating:
“False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty — so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator — and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve to rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventative but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree.”
Cesare Beccaria, father of modern criminology, 1764.
June 15, 2005, 09:28 AM
Beckwourth In the Everglades
While briefly back in St. Louis in the fall of 1837, Beckwourth was introduced by William Sublette to General William Gaines, who was recruiting mountain men to serve as muleteers in the Seminole War1. in Florida. Sublette recommended that Jim engage. "Florida, he said, was a delightful country, and I should find a wide difference between the cold regions of the Rocky Mountains and the genial and salubrious South." 2
But it wasn't balmy climes that drew Beckwourth. Sublette said there was an opportunity there for renown.
The involvement of the Missouri troops in the Seminole War grew out of Senator Thomas Hart Benton's displeasure over the steady drain of resources. By 1837 over $12 million had already been spent with no apparent results. Senator Benton thought that the expertise of the mountain men in tracking and Indian-style warfare was just what was needed for victory. Richard Gentry of Columbia, Missouri was appointed "Colonel of Volunteers" and was directed to recruit 600 men and have them ready for duty by November, 1837.
Beckwourth recruited a number of other mountain men and was engaged as "Express Rider & Sub-Conducter of Muleteers" for the sum of $50/month. His account of his experiences in Florida is, for once, remarkably free of exaggeration.
The men and their horses boarded small boats bound for Tampa Bay on October 26, 1837, but they had no experience with boats, and simply drove their horses into the holds with no attempt to make them secure. The boats were overtaken by severe storms, and many of the horses were killed or maimed. Beckwourth's boat foundered on a reef, and the men and horses were stranded for twelve days before being rescued by a steamer.
Colonel Zachary Taylor (later General and President) ordered all the men now without horses and unwilling to proceed on foot to be dismissed without pay. Thus began a rivalry between the regular army and the Missouri Volunteers that was to last for years, and was even carried to the halls of Congress (by Senator Benton).
Beckwourth's description of the Battle of Okeechobee under Colonel Taylor, which took place on Christmas Day, 1837, jibes perfectly with the military records and other eyewitness accounts, right down to the dates and times and the number of killed and wounded. It was in this battle that Colonel Richard Gentry,3 much loved by the Missouri Volunteers, was killed.
Beckwourth stayed on in Florida for ten months, doing some scouting and carrying dispatches, but the war settled down into a routine that he found unendurable.
Now we had another long interval of inactivity, and I began to grow tired of Florida . . . . It seemed to me to be a country dear even at the price of the powder to blow the Indians out of it, and certainly a poor field to work in for renown. . . . I wanted excitement of some kind -- I was indifferent of what nature, even if it was no better than borrowing horses of the Black Feet. The Seminoles had no horses worth stealing, or I should certainly have exercised my talents for the benefit of the United States. 4
In the summer of 1838, Beckwourth found himself back in St. Louis, looking for a job.
June 21, 2005, 07:55 AM
I was reading a book entitled, "Gunpower" by Jack Kelly. Here's an interesting excerpt from pages 76-77:
"By making guns easily concealable, the wheellock sparked social concerns that continue today. The first recorded firearms accident took place in Germany in 1515 when a man shot a prostitute in the chin while playing with a wheelock pistol - he had to pay her a pension for life. The use of wheellocks by highwaymen disturbed civil authorities and led to many edicts banning manufacture or possession of the weapons. In 1523 an ordinance in Ferrara outlawed wheellock weapons, 'an especially dangerous kind of firearms... with which a homicide can easily be committed.' Societies were begining to sense a danger from the wider availability of gunpowder weapons, especially ones that an assassin could hide under a cloak. English authorities imposed an embargo on selling, firing, or making a pistol within two miles of Queen Elizabeth I."
And that's the way it was.
June 28, 2005, 02:32 PM
From the Hystery of the 7th New Hampshire:
The writer will never forget his first attempt, after having completed the chimney to the hut in which he was quartered, at cooking in the new fireplace. We had hunted around and found enough money with which to purchase a few Irish potatoes, some onions, and a little butter at the sutler's, and at once became oblivious of everything except the preparation of a good square meal. We had the potatoes and the onions nicely done, using a tin plate with a split stick for a handle, which made a good frying pan; had just finished seasoning with salt and pepper, and had also added a small bit of butter, [Gary's note: All these ingredients took quite a bit of $ or hard foraging to procure. It's a better feast than what the soldier got in the field so you can understand how eagerly they looked forward to supper] and was about to take the dish away preparatory to making an attack upon it with knife and fork, when there was an explosion as of a two-thousand-pound shell, the atmosphere seemed suddenly to change, daylight turned to darkness, and we could hardly breathe or see for ashes. Our first impression was that we had inadvertently built our chimney directly over a volcano; but somehow it didn't seem exactly like an earthquake, but it came so suddnely that we were conscious of being the least bit bewildered. As the smoke cleared away and the ashes settled enough to allow us to see clearly, we found the plate in one corner, the handle in another, and fired potatoes and onions, our salt, pepper, and butter, together with half-burned brands, about as evenly scattered over our eight-by-ten floor as could well be imagined. Our uniform was on fire in half a dozen places, and a look in the fireplace revealed about a peck of metallic cartridge shells. Then we at once divined the cause of the trouble. Some person outside, just for pure 'cussedness,' had deftly tossed a bag of those cartridges down our chimney from the top. Of course the circumstances attending the case did not allow of our getting out quite quick enough to detect the culprit, but if we never got square with him, it was because he left the service before we did, for we had our suspicions down pretty fine. Anyhow, we dined on hard-tack and cold water that day, and we have been shy of fireplaces ever since.
Please don't try this at home or at camp.
June 29, 2005, 05:06 PM
From after the capture of Fort Pulaski in South Carolina.
"The Rebel prisoners numbered about 400. One stuttering, dry joker among the prisoners asked the 'Yanks:' 'Why am I like Lazarus of Old Bible times, and you'uns like the rich man who turned Lazarus down?' Because I am going North into Heaven and you'uns are going to stay down here in Hell. You can look across into Heaven and see me reposing in Abraham's (Lincoln) bosom.' The fellow was as bright as well as witty and told the 'Yanks,' sub rosa, that he migrated from the North many years before as a mechanic and found an easy job in Savannah at good pay, that when we got into Savannah, to look for a small park in the center of the city flanked at the east end by an Episcopal church, that on the south side was a hotel, on the north side a store on which would be a sign reading 'Richardson's House Furnishing Suppies,' that it was for Richardson he worked, but although he would shrink some worldly good yet it was his intention to take the oath of allegiance and remain in the North. One member of the Company did not get to Savannah until 1872 and then found the small park, hotel and Richardson's store as described bythe stuttering 'Johnny Reb.'
Heckuva happy way to look at being a PoW.
June 30, 2005, 09:14 PM
"Comrade Brown writes as follows: 'The Captain was our guest at the Christmas dinner on Ladies' Island, South Carolina, 1862. It was a great time. One of the few times during the service of the company when the bars in rank were let down and all met on the level as a happy family. The first delicacy served was a rabbit stew in which the Captain found a wishbone. With an incredible yet knowing smile, the Captain remarked dryly, 'I did not know before, boys, that rabbits had wishbones.'
'Oh yes,' we replied, 'they do down here.'" :rolleyes:
If you've learned nothing else from this forum, you should have learned to forage like a soljer already. It takes wits and skill and patience of a hunter. The way the boys got the wabbit for the stew follows:
"Sergeant Fogg in command of picket post, was, the day before the dinner, swirling a stick around his head, and it accidentally(?) slipped out of his hand and, strange to say, hit and killed a good fat hen. A little later Sergeant Sumner did the same thing. We did not want to let them spoil, hence the rabbit stew with wishbones. The rabbit story attachment runs thus: I was cut in the corn field roaming about seeking something to devour, (and sure an accident this time,) I stepped on a good big rabbit asleep. My big foot put him into his final slumber and I lugged him to camp in triumph."
There, now that you've got the alibi and the hunting technique, go get the wabbit. :p
July 2, 2005, 12:53 PM
"The ingenuity of men who have a passion for whiskey was well illustrated by some of the prisoners then in the fort who were detailed to roll the casks of liquor from the south wharf up the plank causeway and into the fort. The men who worked in pairs two to each cask, one at each chime. Before the men started on this duty some genius initiated them into the mystery of drawing liquour while the casks were in motion. They furnished themselves with gimlets and pine taps, and went on duty with empty canteens. Starting from the jetty with a cask, the man at the left chime would shortly insert the gimlet into the center of the head of the cask, and hold it firmly till the revolutions of the cask carried it through; then withdrawing the gimlet he held his canteen till it was full, when his pine tape was inserted, driven hard, broken off, and the scar smoothed over with dirt from the sides of the cask. The art was handsomely practiced, and probably would have passed undetected had it not been for one man who drew his canteen full from a cask of alcohol, from which he took so heavy a drink that it made him wild and noisy."
July 7, 2005, 11:00 PM
Here's a lesson from the past that may help some black powder enthusiasts:
"On leaving Raleigh, N. C., for Washington, D. C., the war being ended, Nels Croft pitched his gun into the bushes by the roadside, with the remark that he did not need it longer. Arrived at Alexandria, Va., preparations were being made for the grand review. The boys were cleaning up their accoutrements, burnishing every bit of metal until it sparkled in the sun. Nels watched two substitutes who had come to the company at Raleigh while they put a fine polish on their guns. After they were through, they went down to a stream of water near by to wash, and Nels removed one of the guns from the stack where they had put in ear the left of the company, and took it to the right, where he belong, saying: 'Those substitutes never did any duty; they might was well clean a gun for me as not.' When the 'subs' came back from washing, they went to look at their guns, when one turned to his companion with a blank look and said: 'Jimmy, me gun's gone.' They sat down and cussed a little while, but didn't think to look farther up the line for the missing gun. However, the substitutes all carried guns in the review next day."
July 9, 2005, 07:42 PM
During the Civil War, part of the medical examination was to check the recruit for an upper and lower front tooth. Why? To bite their paper cartridges open of course. Here's the story of our anti-hero.
"In the month of July, 1863, a man in Amesbury, Massachusetts, was drafted, and on the 27th of that month he presented a claim for exemption as the only son of an aged and dependent mother. (At this point, try to hear the violins playing a mournful tune) On this, an investigation took place, which proved that the woman he called his mother was only one who had adopted him, and the claim was not allowed. He then suggested that perhaps his teeth might exempt him; but an examination caused that also to be dismissed. The next day or the day after he went to Newburyport and had eight teeth extracted, and in four or five days afterward he called at the office for exemption, and was duly exempted for loss of teeth. A short time after, these facts came to the knowledge of the provost officers, the man was at once arrested, and the allegations substantiated. The case was now reported to the Provost-Marshal-General, who ordered that the man be held to service and assigned to the artillery, without the privilege of communication or furnishing a substitute. He was soon on his way to Gallop's Island.
No bark, no bite. :p
July 16, 2005, 02:58 PM
During the Mother of American Family Feuds (or the Late Great Unpleasantness between States), both North & South resorted to the draft to raise soldiers for their armies. We have an anecdocte of a married man (and you can tell he's married):
Commissioner: "What have you to say?"
Applicant: "I'm forty-eight years old."
"Where were you born?"
"How old were you when you came to this country?"
"How do you know you are forty-eight years old?"
"I know it. I'm sure of it."
The Commissioner, after various ineffectual trials to make the application show what reasons he had for his belief, now asks, "Are you married?"
(Applicant very sulky, but no answer.)
Commissioner: "I asked you if you are married. Did you hear?"
Applicant: "I don't wish to be insulted."
"No one wants to insult you. Are you married?"
Applicant in a very loud voice, "Of course I am!" :p
July 24, 2005, 11:05 PM
O.K. it's not quite rawhide. Yee-haw! Rather, it's about Brig. Gen. John Buford. If you remember the movie, Gettysburg, Buford was the Union cavalry general who arrived first in Gettysburg and recognized the need to keep the Confederates out of the town and away from the heights (Culp & Cemetery Hill). This post isn't about Gettysburg but how Buford got a stuck column moving. Enjoy.
"While Meade's army was on its retrograde movement, an incident occured which showed that General Buford was as fertile in expedients as he was brave in an emergency. While bringing up the rear, with the rebls not far behind him, he came up with a train of wagons several miles long, numbering, in all, some eight hundred. The train was stopped, and Buford could find no one in command to start it. No time was to be lost. The enemy were coming - coming! and Buford's command would be cut up and the train captured. The teamsters in that long line could not be made to comprehend and act. But General Buford, in a few seconds, both comprehended and acted. He ordered one of his rifled pieces to be planted in the rear of the train, and began firing shells up the road, over the wagons, and at the longest range, and with a good elevation. A few of those 'rotten cannon balls' bursting over the train roused the laggards and fixed the business. Believing that the rebels were thus close - very close upon them, the wagon-masters and teamsters applied the whip and spur, and the whole caravan was moved off safely."
July 28, 2005, 08:35 AM
Here's a partial image of the American militia as seen through the eyes of a small and impressionable boy:
"There was no guidance in dress or adornment; a preponderance of hat and ancient lace was not a reliable indication of rank. The laciest figure on the scene was a mere captain from Mount Vernon [New Hampshire], gorgeous in a red flannel coat with yellow facings and brass buttons, gilt braid swarming on his sleeves and down the seams of his pantaloons, big spurs projecting murderously from his heels, and on his head a Bonapartist hat with an astonishing eruption of red and white feathers. He was a tired farmer when at home; here, he surpassed my gaudiest imaginings of Marshal Murat.[Murat was a cavalryman elevated to nobility by Napoleon. He was known for his gaudy uniforms.] In his fiery steed covered with trappings, no one would have recognized the old grey mare which yesterday was hauling manure with the captain for driver. Animals as well as men developed unthought-of qualities on parade."
July 28, 2005, 12:25 PM
The writer sounds almost like a budding Sam Clemmons doesn't he?
July 29, 2005, 09:01 AM
"We changed camp several times, finally settling down near the river and about three miles west of the town. An incident occuring there gave rise to a story that grew to fabulous proportions, mulitplying converts to Christianity and the Baptist persuasion, until it bore to our Northern homes the glad tidings that entire regiments had enlisted in the army of the Lord. The way it began was this. Our chaplain, the Reverend George Bullen, baptized in the chill autumnal waters of the Potomac two men of our regiment, who had confessed their faith before they had left home. A few days later, Chaplain Bullen paid his respects to Colonel Coulter at brigade headquarters; and, declining as superfluous the customary social appetizer of old Bourbon, he told the colonel all about the baptisms. He dwelt upon the probable good effects, both godly and militarily; the men, he felt sure, would be the more amendable to orders and discipline; he had not omitted, he said, to remind them that they should render unto Caesar. Now it happened that Colonel Colulter, though commanding the brigade, was jealously attentive to the growing reputation of his regiment. He interrupted suddenly:
'How many men did you say you dipped, Chaplain?'
'I baptized two, Colonel.'
'Orderly!' The colonel's tone was peremptory. 'Tell my adjutant to detail a sergeant to take a man from each company down to the river and baptize them in the Methodist persuasion. I can't allow any damned Baptist to supplant my authority, either spiritual or temporal.'"
There is another story concerning Colonel Coulter and his chaplains.
"Just where we took up our position in line, a rail fence was found to be much in the way of the dismounted officers directing us. Colonel Coulter, after jumping it several times, turned to my clerk, Dwight Maxfield, who was wearing a Burnside blouse, and said to him sharply:
'Here, Chaplain, make yourself useful and tear down this 'rip-gut' fence!'
'Beg pardon, Colonel,' said Max, 'but I'm not one of that useful class. I'm only an adjutant's clerk.'
'Good God! I took you for a chaplain. Where are they?'
'That group on the knoll,' said Max, pointing, 'are spoiling for the chance.'
The colonel spurred to the group on the knoll.
'Pull down that fence!'
'But, Colonel, we are chaplains!'
'I don't care a god damn. Double quick! By God, you'll do something to earn your salaries as long as I command this brigade!'
The chaplains took down the fence."
July 29, 2005, 11:43 AM
OK, Gary, now you've gone and done it! You just had to go and let the cat out of the bag and and tell people that we CAN do something besides pray. Now they are going to expect us to :barf: WORK. :D
July 29, 2005, 08:07 PM
Chaplain John, sorry, but I wasn't trying to pick on the men of the cloth. I post some of these things as I find them. Here's one incident that is very amusing. The writer grew up around Poverty Flats (not its given name), Montana.
"East of the town was Hellgate Canyon, named for its history as a place where one particular tribe would ambush other warwhoops going east for the buffalo before the white man appeared. In the white man's time, in a bitter winter, a bunch of incensed ranchers from around the diggings at Bannock and Virginia City, Montana, rode down a band of brigands in this place despite the fact that the snow was ass-deep on a tall Indian. These lads had been murdering folks for their gold, and in the time-honored tradition of politicians, the local sheriff at the mines was the leader. A rope and pole gate brought this episode to a satisfactory, albeit frigid, conclusion."
So, support your local sheriff - from a rope? Kidding.
Not black powder related but this is too good not to share. I was speaking with a Navy Vet today from the Eversole (DD 789). She was one of the first WW II Gearing Class destroyers to be FRAM modernized with ASROC missiles and a landing deck for a whirleybird. The whirleybird was armed with a dummy wood anti-sub torpedo and was doing a fleet demonstration for watching dignitaries including some Congress critters. Suddenly and unexplainably, while the whirleybird was doing a fly-by over the carrier Bennington, the torpedo broke loose and impaled itself in the Bennington's conning tower. :eek: Non-naval shades of red appeared in the ranks of many officers. Needless to say, when the Eversole docked, all officers saved one and many of the involved hands were ordered ashore for an investigation. When the Eversole's skipper returned, he found a carrier painted on the scorecard of the Eversole. :rolleyes: Angered :mad: at the irreverence of his crew, he ordered it removed. It was but the next day a fresh carrier appeared on the bridge. It was removed again with the same results after the night watch. This continued for about a week all throughout the ship including the whirleybird itself. Finally, an order went out that there would be no liberty if another carrier tag was found aboardship.
July 29, 2005, 10:34 PM
OK Gary "not trying to pick on 'men of the cloth'" in general... just this one... you do know that I am a Law Enforcement Chaplain don't you? :D ROFLOL
July 30, 2005, 10:09 PM
Yes I know you're a LE Chaplain. You're the dude who arrests suspects and reads them their rights; their last rites. ;)
August 6, 2005, 04:03 PM
Roger’s Rangers Rules or Plan of Discipline
Major Robert Rogers – 1757 (Commander of Roger’s Rangers) this is the original version —
1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to drafted, and scouts for the next day appointed.
2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy's forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c.
3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.
4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.
5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to your, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.
6. If your march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties as a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c, and if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced, guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.
7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.
8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.
9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.
10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.
11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.
12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.
13. If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.
14. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.
15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.
16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be followed by the darkness of the night.
August 6, 2005, 04:04 PM
17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.
18. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.
19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.
20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.
21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form am ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.
22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.
23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.
24. If you are to embark in canoes, bateaux, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.
25. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the stern most, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.
26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgement of the numbers that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.
27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river, or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.
28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fire, & c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitring party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, & c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.
Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen that will make it necessary in some measure to depart from them and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which case every man's reason and judgment must be his guide, according to the particular situation and nature of things; and that he may do this to advantage, he should keep in mind a maxim never to be departed from by a commander, viz. to preserve a firmness and presence of mind on every occasion.
— From JOURNALS OF MAJOR ROGER ROGERS (as published in 1765)
August 7, 2005, 09:12 AM
Physical examinations prior to entering the army sometimes included checking the recruit for teeth. Here's one soldier's description of the exam and of the fare:
"Shortly after our arrival we were taken before the regimental surgeon for examination. The surgeon was Dr. J. J. H. Love, one of the most brusque-appearing and yet most kind-hearted men that ever lived. Until his recent death he was one of the most respected and prominent residents of Montclair.
'Strip,' ordered the doctor.
There were five or six examined at a time. We boys, who never had a pain or qualm in our lives, thought it was a needless formality, but were told that it was 'according to regulations.' Then the doctor punched us and pinched us, rubbed his hands down our legs as if we were so many horses, seized us in the groin, and told us to cough, and finally said:
'Let's see your teeth.'
'What do you want to see my teeth for?' I asked. 'Are we going to bite the enemy?'
'Something tougher than that,' good-naturedly answered Dr. Love. 'You will ahve to bite hard-tack and chew cartridges, and I guess you will find both tougher than any rebel meat you ever will see.'
I didn't know then that hard-tack was the stuff soldiers were mainly fed upon; but I found out before long. For the information of the reader I will explain that a hardtack is the most deceptive-looking thing in the world. Its general appearance is that of a soda cracker, but there the resemblance ends. You can bite a soda cracker. A hard tack isn't tender. Compared with it a block of granilite paving stones would be mush. That is the sort of pastry that the government fed its soldiers upon. Hard-tack must have been referred to in that part of the Bible where it says, 'he asked for bread and they gave him a stone.' A further corroboration of this conclusion lies in the positive fact that every box of hard-tack that ever arrived in the army was marked: 'B. C. 348,764,'
the variation being only in the figure. The 'B. C.' was on every box. And judging from the antediluvian toughness of some of the crackers, the prehistoric ancient who stencilled on the figures either accidentally or wilfully post dated the box several thousand years.
What 'chewing cartridges' meant, I hadn't the slightest conception of, but learned that subsequently. that my teeth were apparently equal to the emergency of both biting hard-tack and chewing cartridges, however, must have been a matter satisfactory to Dr. Love, for I successfully passed the ordeal of a 'surgical examination.'"
August 12, 2005, 09:25 PM
When the intial wave of enthusiasm died out and the horrors of war became known, it became harder to get recruits and so states and counties began offering bounties to men who would enlist. While the offer of bounties did encourage enlistment, especially among the poor, it was also abused by men who sought money without ever entering into the service. Thus, after receiving their bounties, they would disappear and enlist elsewhere to collect another bounty. Here's a story of one bounty-jumper who didn't quite get away.
"The good deeds of a dog have more than once to be put in contrast with the mean tricks of the human kind, and here is an additional illustration of this truth. A man who had in charge a bounty-jumper, stopped at the Union House, Wheeling, with his prisoner. The man left his charge in the hall in order to look into an adjoining room for a person he wished to see, when the nimble jumper jumped out of the door, upon the sidewalk, ran up the street with great rapidity and darted down the alley in the rear of the Union House. A Newfoundland dog - honest patriot! - observing that the jumper was being followed, with loyal instinct joined in the pursuit. The dog soon overtook the fleeing rascal, seized him by the boot leg, and squatted down in the mud. The jumper kicked the dog off, but he had no sooner extricated himself than the faithful animal caught him again, and continued to hang on and delay the culprit until his pursuers came up and captured him."
August 12, 2005, 09:28 PM
While Mr. Ely was addressing a patriotic meeting in Gosport, N. Y., a little scene occured which created much merriment. He had been urging men to come forward and sign the roll, and told the women to hurry them up. At this, a woman arose in the meeting and addressed her husband substantially as follows: "Ira, you know that you said before you came here to-night, that you would enlist. If you don't do it, go straight home and take off those breeches, and let me have them, and I will go myself!" This brought down the house and brought up Ira, who put his name down and became a volunteer.
August 14, 2005, 10:54 AM
"There was a joke - though possibly a wicked one - perpetrated on a certain Chaplain in the army, which ought not to be lost to the clerical portion of the world. It was the Chaplain's business to look after the regimental mail. This Chaplain, however, had been annoyed exceedingly by the great number of warriors who were constantly running to him and inquiring about the arrival and departure of mails. To save time and patience, the testy official at last posted a notice outside his tent, which read: "The Chaplain does not know when the mail will go,' and with this he imagined his troubles at an end. The reverend postmaster was absent from the camp that day, and on returning and glancing at his notice, was horrified to see there conspicuously written upon his own door, read by multitudes during the day, in a hand exactly counterfeiting his, following the words 'THE CHAPLAIN DOES NOT KNOW WHEN THE MAIL WILL GO,' this addition by some honest wretch: 'NEITHER DOES HE CARE A DAMN.' It was a case of depravity the obliging and godly man was unprepared for, - but perhaps he and his warriors were now 'quits.'" There was no church services that Sunday or for many Sundays after that.
O.K., I traced this story to the 13th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry. The involved chaplain was Chaplain Theodore R. Beck.
August 20, 2005, 01:16 PM
Hope this is on-topic.
My great-grandfather, Fred Welsh by name, gives me some hope for myself. After all, he proves that not all my ancestors were calm, respectable, middle-class people. The incident where he saddled the bull should alone be proof enough of that.
Running the livery stable in Elba, Nebraska, didn't take all his time. He was good in a fight, and a hard worker who had earned respect of the big men of that small town, so they decided to give him a little extra money by hiring him as town constable. As such, his job was to come running if anyone told him there was trouble in town-- not much more than that, officially at least.
The way the story has come down to us, one day he saw a couple of young men wandering around town. They appeared to be farm hands, but they were acting nervous. Fearing trouble, Fred pocketed his revolver (a nickel-finished .38 Smith and Wesson 3d model double action-- a hinge-framed pocket gun) and kept an eye on things.
Sure enough, he heard there was trouble at the bank. He headed that way. As he was approaching, he saw the farm hands running out the door with a sack.
He pulled his revolver and opened fire. They opened fire. Lead flew in myriad directions.
As Fred told it, he shot the man with the bag. He hit him in the leg. There is no witness to confirm that anybody hit anybody else; in any case, whatever damage he did was not enough to prevent the robber from getting on his horse and getting away. But he did succeed, one way or another, in startling the robbers so badly that they dropped the money.
My cousin claims to have seen the newspaper article about it. It says that Fred saved the assets of the bank-- about $435. or so-- and that in gratitude the townspeople took up a collection and got him a fine overcoat.
The way Fred told it was a bit different.
"See that quilt on my bed?" he'd say. "Well, that was what I got for saving the town's money. They got that quilt for me. But they didn't give it to me as a quilt, oh no. They gave me the patches. Ma had to stitch them together for me."
I don't know which story is true. Maybe they both are. But then, from what I understand, Great Grandpa wasn't a man to let the facts get in the way of the truth, especially when there was a good story on the line. Some of his descendants maintain that trait to this very day.
August 21, 2005, 03:12 PM
A former Union soldier was riding in a buggy with a lady. At the toll gate, there was a young woman working as the toll collector. He paid the toll and drove off. The lady companion, was irritated and finally accused the former soldier of flirting with the toll taker. He profusely denied any inappropriate conduct. Remember, post-American Civil War was still the Victorian Era and there were certain rules to be followed in conducting oneself. She pointed out that he had been staring at the toll collector. He replied that he had seen her before and could not place her and hence the staring which he did not consider flirting. The lady companion replied that she had known the toll collector and that she had never left New York State. He, being from out of state and this being the first time in New York, could not have possibly seen her before. Tensions mounted when the answer came upon him.
He saw her photo several times during the war as it was carried by a sergeant in his unit. His sergeant, not being well schooled or read, desperately wanted to court the lady but could neither write very legibly nor was he gifted with words. Hence, the soldier was recruited to write the sergeant's letters for him. The soldier added that the sergeant expressed an intent to marry the woman when he returned from the war. This satisfied his lady companion. She professed that the toll collector was a friend and that her friend was also not a good writer. Like the soldier, she had been enlisted to return the correspondence of the sergeant. They laughed at the coincidence and felt that they had been courting each other through proxy. The buggy was turned around and they drove back to the toll booth. Speaking with the toll collector, it was learned that she had indeed married the sergeant who had courted her during the war.
As for the former soldier and the lady, they also got hitched.
BTW, a big thank you to Hafoc for his story about his great-granddad.
September 3, 2005, 10:10 AM
"It was while doing picket duty around Richmond that old man Smothers saved me from capture. One day we were in the rifle pits; the squad I was with had a pit some fifteen feet long, and four feet deep. I was in the north end of it, nearest the enemy. Smothers standing next to me. I was watching what was going on on our right, while matters of more interest were transpiring on our left. The enemy were flanking our pit. The rest of the boys saw the movement and vamoosed. Smothers finally got on to it. He was leaving, without attracting my attention. Suddenly I saw the enemy on the left, and Smothers disappearing over the edge of the pit. As he was straigthening up to leap for liberty, I made a desperate grab for the seat of his trousers. I made the connect, and in his frantic efforts to secure his own safety, he insured mine, by raising me boldly out of the hole. I covered his rear in the retreat that we made towards our lines, a run of about one hundred years, and as I cleared the bushes on the edge of a bank, six or eight of the enemy were within twenty feet of me. I heard the order, 'Halt, you damned Rebel, halt there,' but I fell down the bank into a creek, and was soon under cover of timber, and, as it proved, safe, though the zip, zip of the balls was not reassuring at the time. I always thanked my stars that the seat of Smothers' trousers were in a good state of preservation; by being so they accomplished mine."
September 17, 2005, 11:59 AM
"A few of our visitors were glad to take the chances of a dinner with us, allured by the reputation of French cookery, which, in fact, increased our culinary resources, and provided for our guests some surprises entirely unlooked for. I do not speak now of the immense bullfrogs, whose legs were as large as and more delicate than the leg of a chicken. We had something better, or at least more rare than that, as doubtless Count de V___, a French officer attached at the time to the staff of General Keyes, will remember.
One day he was served at our open-air table with an exquisite mayonnaise, - so he called it after tasting it. He partook a second time with pleasure. "But what is that mayonnaise made of? What is the secret?" He could not guess and was very much perplexed about it.
"Eat what you want first, and afterwards we will give you the recipe."
"And I will take it to France," added the captain, "that it may take its place above the Parmentier potato, and by the side of the wild turkey of Brillat-Savarin."
The meal finished, the secret was revealed. The mayonnaise was of the black snake, whose nutritious qualities my Zouaves had discovered. We had eaten it without troubling ourselves, knowing what it was made of. But see the power of imagination. The word "black snake" was a shot in the stomach of our guest. He had found the dish excellent; the name struck him with horror. White as his plate as he rose, his smile had disappeared. - I regret to add, in conclusion, that he never appeared again at our table, and I have every reason to think that he did not make known in France the savory qualities of the black snake - in a mayonnaise."
The above incident happened in the Old Dominion State.
September 25, 2005, 08:59 AM
We've all heard about how music soothed the wild beast. I wouldn't try jumping into the bengal tiger cage at the zoo to test my skill with the violin which, along with any other instrument, I can't play, but here's a rambling anecdote about one Union soldier's effort to quell the Confederates. Enjoy.
When Sherman's men were climbing the sides of "Buzzard's Roost," in their gallant and successful movement at that point, the rebels attempted to resist the advance by rolling down heavy stones from the cliffs and rocky sides of the mountain. The following story is told of the occasion, on the authority of a staff officer:
A corporal of the Sixty-fourth Illinois halloed to the rebels, and told them if they would stop firing stones he would read to them the President's Proclamation. The offer was at first received with derisive yells, but they soon became quiet, and the corporal then read to them the Amensty Proclamation. When he came to some part they did not approve, they would set up a fiendish yell, as if in defiance, and then sent down an installment of rocks by way of interlude. But the corporal kept on in spite of such uncivil demonstrations, and finished the document, when there was another outburst of yells, mingled with laughter, and the old business of tumbling down rocks and firing was again resumed. That corporal deserved an appointment as President Lincoln's Secretary-at-large.
October 16, 2005, 10:42 AM
Here's more reasons to be thankful of modern medicine:
A Powder for ye Dissines of ye Head Falling Sickness & hart Quals That Haue Bin Oft Vsed
Whit amber 3ii Diarrhodian 3ii Seeds of Peony (?)ii miselto 3i [b]the fillings of a Deadmans skull (?)i mak all into a very fine Powder & tak of it as much as will Ly on a shilling 2 or 3 nights together befor the new & befor the full moon take it in Saxony or bettony water.
Here's another wonderful cure:
Goose-Dung. The Excrements of most Birds are accounted hot, nitrous, and penetrating; for this reason they pass for inciders and Detergents, and are particularly recokn'd good in Distempers of the Head; but they are now almost quite laid aside in Practice. Elk's Hoof is also esteem of mighty Efficacy in Distempers of the Head. Naturalists tells us that the Creature itself first gave to Mankind a Hint of its Medicinal Virtues; for they say, whenever it ails anything in the Head, it lies in such a Posture as to keep one of its tips of a Hoof in its Ear; which after some time effects a Cure. But this I leave to be credited by those of more faith than myself." English Dispensatory (Quincy), London, 1742.
"For Share & Dificult Trauel in Women with Child by JC"
"Take a Lock of Vergins haire on any Part of ye head, of half the Age of ye Woman in trauill Cut it very smale to fine Pouder then take 12 Ants Eggs dried in an ouen after ye bread is drawne or other wise make them dry & make them to pouder with the haire, giue this with a quarter of a pint of Red Cows milk or for want of it giue it in strong ale wort.
"Beaver's cods are much used for wind in the stomach and belly, particuarly of pregnant women."New England's Rarities (Josselyn), London, 1672. Must be talking about flatulence. "JC" mentioned above can't be Jesus Christ either.
"For ye Toothe Ache"
Take a Litle Pece of opium as big as a great pinnes head & put it into the hollow place of the Akeing Tooth & it will giue preasant Ease, often tryed by me apon many People & neuer fayled. - Zerbobabel Endecott
I think than anyone would feel better with that litle Pece of opium.
October 26, 2005, 07:35 PM
Lt. Stephen F. Brown of the 13th Vermont Infantry got himself into trouble before the battle of Gettysburg and was placed under arrest. Before the battle, time was of the essence and the order came out that the men were not to stop for water. Lt. Brown allowed his men to fill their canteens and was told by a superior to desist. He defiantly replied, "Damn your orders." Arrested, he wasn't turned over to the Provost Marshal and marched to the battle with his regiment anyway. To show the men that he had no authority, his sword was taken from him and placed with the regimental wagon (which was in back of the convoy). On the day of Pickett's charge, Brown was restored to command (every man was needed) but there was no time to retrieve his sword. Being a pragmatic Yankee, Brown picked up a camp axe and swinging it over his head, led his men in the repulse of Pickett's Charge. His ferocity so frightened a Confederate officer (who was probably demoralized by the losses they suffered in the charge), that he surrendered himself to Lt. Brown immediately. Brown accepted his counterpart's sword and continued fighting.
When it came time to put up a monument, the 13th Vermont Association wanted a statute of Lt. Brown with his hatchet. However, higher powers nixed that as it would be a bad example to others. As a compromise, a hatchet was placed at the feet of the statute of Brown and Brown is shown wearing a sword.
October 30, 2005, 10:39 AM
Here's on Federal soldier's opinion on honor. He was starving to death at the prison in Florence and figured out his best chances for survival was to cooperate with the Confederates and play his fiddle for them. In exchange, he would be fed better and housed outside of the prison.
Short after, the Adjutant came up and I told him I would go with him. Before leaving the prison, the Adjutant took my parole of honor that I would not go beyond the limits of the prison without permission, and intended to bind me to do no act that would be hurtful to the interests of the C.S.A., but as he read the oath to me from the U.S. Army Regulations and confined himself very closely to the text, it was so hard to tell what he had sworn me to that I felt afterwards at liberty to construe it as it suited me best; at any rate I was only an enlisted man, and in the army it is only the officers who are supposed to have honor, so my parole of honor was subject to so many doubts and uncertainties that it could not stand the strain afterwards when subjected to pressure.
Interesting interpretation of honor, isn't it?
The writer did make an escape attempt but was chased into a swamp and attacked by the hounds. He was brought back. Shortly after that, since Sherman's Army was approaching and Wilmington had been captured, he was paroled back to the Union.
November 2, 2005, 10:00 PM
Travel back with us to Mother of American Family Feuds (ACW, 1861-1865), a time when brother rose against brother and the freely effused blood mixed with tears from heartbroken families on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. The scene is Florence, South Carolina. We are in the company of Pvt. Ezra Ripple, 52nd Pennsylvania, who had been captured on Johnson's Island, South Carolina. Pvt. Ripple was initially sent to Andersonville and was among the prisoners who were transferred to Florence to prevent their liberation by Sherman. We see him seated on the ground with his three comrades around a plate of mush.
"We never drew cooked rations in Florence. Everything was uncooked... We had a pan made from the tin roofing of an old freight car... and by clubbing our rations of wood and rations of meals or beans together we were able to get along after a fashion...
"Having nothing in which to put the mush when it was cooked we were obliged to eat it out of the pan, and in order that we should get no advantage one of the other, we adopted a code of table rules. When the mush was cooked, and the pan taken off the fire, we would seat ourselves around it on the ground and wait for the mush to cool. Boiled mush is a rightly hot dish and holds the heat for a long time. It was hard work for us to wait, and long before it was cool enough we would be scraping the flakes off the sides of the pan, impatient to begin. At a given signal each man dipped his spoon into the mush, filled it, and all raised our spoons together. Now came the interesting time; we were all very hungry but the mush was so hot we had to take our time - all except Brennan. That fellow had a cast iron mouth. He would take a tablespoonful of scalding hot mush in his mouth, swallow it, and reach for the dish again before we were half through with ours. Often Rapp on one side and I on the other with our mouths full of hot mush and the tears streaming down our cheeks, unable to speak a word, have grabbed Brennan's hands and by signs and force kept his spoon out of the dish until we could get even with him. I have often scalded myself so badly that the skin would hang in shreds from the roof of my mouth."
Pvt. Ripple was paroled and survived the war.
November 29, 2005, 11:10 PM
Well, besides travel I've been doing some finishing work on my manuscript. Resubmitted Chapter 7 to the editor. These past few days I've been preparing some magazine articles which will be excerpts to help generate interest in the book. Hence my long absence. So, here's the rambling anecdote that should bring a smile across your face. Enjoy.
"Sergeant Pruitt... was an old cowboy from Arizona - looked line one too, acted like one, talked like one. But he was no hillbilly in the head. Pruitt was the talking kind. He talked and sang on the slightest provocation. He liked old cowboy songs. He liked to tell stories about cowpokes in Arizona. He told one day about an old cowboy who went to the city and registered at a hotel for the first time in his life. The clerk asked if he wanted a room with running water, and the cowboy yelled, 'Hell no! What do you think I am, a trout?'"
December 4, 2005, 02:32 PM
It never ceases to amaze me the things one Mason will do for another. Here's an example:
Lietuenant Tinkham was among the many brave men who were killed at the second battle of Corinth. It appears that Lieutenant Timkham was not seriously wounded when the rebels took possession of that part of the field where he fell, but was only shot through the leg; and as the Union boys were contesting the advance of the enemy with desperate bravery, Lieutenant Tinkham raised himself upon his elbow to see the fighting, when another leaden messenger pierced his body, and he fell to the ground again. Seeing that he soon must be numbered among the slain, and that his life blood was fast flowing out, he made some sign to a passing rebel - which was said to be a Masonic sign of recognition - who immediately came to Tinkham's side, and rendered him all the assistance in his power. Just before the Lieutenant expired, he handed the rebel his watch and some money, with instruction to forward it to his family the first opportunity he had, - and in a few moments after saying this he expired. The rebel now pinned a small piece of paper on Tinkham's coat, stating his name and company, and left him. In this condition he was found by his company and by them buried. Time rolled on, and on the fourth of July, 1863, thirty-five thousand rebels surrendered to the victorious Federal army at Vicksburg, and among that vast multitude was to be found Lieutenant Tinkham's rebel friend - all honor to him! - eagerly searching for the Fourteenth Wisconsin Regiment. This he at last discovered, and, safely delivering the watch and money to one of its members, disappeared among the throng. The articles were duly received by the Lieutenant's friends. What it is to have an honest foe.
Tinkham is Lieutenant Samuel A. Tinkham of the 14th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. As for the Rebel, his name was lost in the dustbin of history.
December 6, 2005, 10:47 PM
Not quite the British Bobby you've seen in Monty Python, but here's an early war speech given by Confederate General Wise who, from East Virginia, was attempting to rally men to him for his foray into Confederate West Virginia:
"Come and join me; bring a musket; if you have no musket; bring a rifle; if no rifle, a shotgun; if no shotgun, a pistol; no pistol, a gate hinge; no gate hinge, by God bring an India rubber shoe, but come."
Now those are words that will stir any stout hearted man to action.:D
For all his bravado, Wise rushed off and fought McClellan at Scarey Creek and got whupped. He retreated down the same road he had advanced on and called for General Floyd to meet with him. General Floyd did. Wise asked Floyd where he was going.
"Down that road."
"What are you going to do, Floyd?"
If looks could kill, Wise was annihilated. Without saying another word, Floyd rose, bowed and left. Floyd rode on, whupped the Yankees in a small fight and realizing that he had stirred a hornet's nest that was now coming down upon him, summoned Wise to join him. Wise never did. Outnumbered 3:1, Floyd was forced back. Enough history.
December 11, 2005, 01:58 PM
"A good water for consumption...
"Take a peck of green garden snails, wash them in Bear(beer) put them in an oven and let them stay till they've done crying; then with a knife and fork prick the green from them, and beat the snail shells and all in a stone mortar. Then take a quart of green earth-worms, slice them and beat them, the pot being first put into the still with two handulls of angelico, a quart of rosemary flowers, then the snails and worms, the egrimoney, bears feet, red dock roots, barbery rue tumerick and one ounce of saffron, well dried and beaten. Then power (pour) in three gallons of milk. Wait till morning, then put in three ounces of cloves (well beaten), hartshorn, grated. Keep the still covered all night. This done, stir it not. Distill with a moderate fire. The patient must take two spoonfuls at all times."
December 14, 2005, 11:12 PM
"The house we were defending faced all the batteries of Bayonne looking to the north and the Citadel stared it in the face... Here we mustered the Company... about thirty only remaining. That rascal Notting called up Schauroth and myself, the Youngest officer, and desired me to enter the house with fifteen men while he stood behind to assist in the yard with Schauroth (Notting was the writer's captain).
"Putting the Serjeant and six men in the left room and four in each of the others, I superinteded the whole and began by firing the first shot myself. My poor fellows did their utmost. I lost two killed from the centre room and one in [the] right hand one. In about two hours more I had sent two wounded away from the left and had one more killed in the Centre. Just at this time the French poured in grape at us and one or two forty-eight pounders which filled the rooms with mortar dust and we fired back at random... Just then a violent scream from the next room, with a thundering noise announced the corners of the house being blown down... I ran out to keep the men in; and as I turned to the right I bawled into the yard, 'Send up some more men.' But my eyes were so full of dust that I could see no one and the noise was so great, perhaps, that they could not hear.
"I had just at this time the narrowest escape of all. I was leaning agains the wall opposite the Centre room, rubbing my eyes and collecting my senses, so horrible was the noise, when the Serjeant from the [other] room tapped me on the shoulder, saying, 'Sir, Martin is shot in the head.'
"I had not taken two steps to the left to proceed to the room when an immense sixty-eight pounder poured through the the house and made a large hole enough to jump through in the very spot I had that instant left.
"My men were now so few that I saw it would be useless. However I returned to the Centre room where Lather alone was, and after firing till my shoulder was black and blue, the French poured in so strongly upon us that I began to think of leaving the house as the Serjeant had advised me.
"The two corners of the house were laid open and near one hundred and thirty cannons pointing at us. My men were reduced from fifteen to five and the Serjeant. And I was just making up my mind when a confusion as if heaven and earth were in contact suddenly came over me. The roof fell in and buried the whole of us.
"As Lather and myself were in the middle place, we fell together. My left elbow was so nearly smashed that I carry my arm in a sling. The Shoe-maker's head was actually scalped and when I groped into the yard like a miller the Captain says, 'I thought you was killed... Where is the Company?'
'You will see them again,' I answered, 'and I hope shortly.'
'Why, where are they, then, Sir?'
'Gone to hell!'"
December 18, 2005, 12:53 PM
In the blackpowder days, the skill of a surgeon varied. Some "apprenticed" for a few years under another "surgeon" while others actually attended a medical college. Soldiers who saw the regimental surgeon during the Civil War were prescribed all sorts of medicine including the famous blue pill. Here's a case of a miraculous recovery without assistance from the regimental surgeon.
"One of the boys in the 2nd mess, Jaber Blackmer, lost his voice and was excused for several weeks from guard duty. But one unlucky night for him, he got to dreaming and talked as plain as any man in the mess. Some of the boys heard him talking and reported him, and from that time forth he had to do his duty the same as the rest of us."
Darn if that wasn't short of a miracle!
Now, that company was commanded by Capt. Scribner and the author tells us of his misadventures too:
"Captain Scribner had a good deal of trouble with his men. Some were in the guard-house about all the time. Some were fond of whiskey, and would contrive all ways to get it. He seemed to have a particular grudge against one named Sullivan; he told him he would put him in the guard-house and keep him there almost forever. One day he was drilling them in the manual of loading and firing. He told them he would put every man in the guard-house if they didn't do just as he wanted they should. He told them to load - aim- aim higher; about one half mistook the order for aim - fire and fired. It was fun to see the Dutchman rave and storm, using language not generally heard on drill. More of the men were put into the guard-house."
December 18, 2005, 01:27 PM
Here's the tale of an unsung Union Hero as told by one of his regimental comrades:
"We had several members who were troubled with an optical illusion - especially in the night when on guard. They could see millions of boats, loaded to their utmost capacity with rebels armed to the teeth crossing the river to massacre us, advance, take Washington, and subdue the North. Just at the critical moment, when the Nation's life hung by a thread, he would fire. The Corporal with a file of men would double quick to his post to find out the cause. He would relate what he saw; but the dull eyes of the Corporal could see nothing but the running water on it's [sic] way to the sea. The next week an extract of the heroic soldiers letter would appear in the Westboro paper, through the kindness of friends, giving the details of the Nation's narrow escape through his vigilence." :D
December 26, 2005, 01:34 PM
“A woodsman who was noted as a ‘crack shot’ among his hunting companions felt sure he was going to win fame as a select rifleman in the army; for he said that in killing a squirrel he always put the bullet through the head, though the squirrel might be perched at the time on the topmost limb of the tallest tree. An Irishman who had seen service in the Mexican War, and was attentively listening to this young hunter’s boast, fixed his twinkling eye upon the aspiring rifleman and said to him: ‘Yes; but Dan, me boy, ye must ricollict that the squirrel had no gon in his hand to shoot back at ye.’ The young huntsman had not thought about that; but he doubtless found later on, as the marksmen of both armies did, that it made a vast difference in the accuracy of aim when those in front not only had ‘gons’ in their hands but were firing them with distracting rapidity. This rude Irish philosopher had explained in a sentence one cause of the wild and aimless firing which wasted more tons of lead in a battle than all its dead victims would weigh.”
January 2, 2006, 11:21 AM
"Friend... I am a Democrat; proud of my party. Proud of its success, its history, and its acts, but am no poltroon, fettering myself with the shackles of party when my country turns her bleeding hands to me and asks for my aid. He that calls himself a Democrat, and yet basely cries, Piece [sic] at any price! Peace with tarnished honor! Peace with the flag trailed in the dust! Peace when all we hold dear is threatened - when our promises to the world are falsified and our government is shaken to its very center, is a liar and a coward, and to such men, whether at home or in the foeman's ranks, I throw my gauntlet and are them to touch it. I have the steel for them that I have for the deepest traitor in Jeff Davis's ranks. If any one of them cries 'quit" from a mistaken sense of kindness to us, he little knows the temper of our boys or the mettle they are made of..."
This was dated March 24, 1863 and may be found in R. L. Murray's, "Madison County Troops in the Civil War," as published by Benedum Books.
January 3, 2006, 11:33 PM
Departures of soldiers for service is always sorrowful for those left behind. Amid the fanfare of uniforms and martial music, it doesn't matter what country or culture, it's always been a tearful event. Here's an incident involving the 108th New York Volunteer Infantry as it left for the front. I give you your Bullwinkle Choice: (if you're old enough to remember how each episode of Bullwinkle ended): When your nation calls or This Bud's for you!
"It was a sad parting of the soldier boys from home and friends, that many were never to see again; but the last good bye was said, and amid deafening cheers the train moved slowl out of the depot. As the last car reached the river bridge, a portly German, with eye glasses upon his nose, a drawn sword in his right hand, and a foaming glass of beer in his left, rushed franctically after it shouting. "Stop dot train! Got in himmel, you have left der captain of Company I."
January 3, 2006, 11:37 PM
Just been sometime since I posted to simply say Thank you sir! :)
January 12, 2006, 09:29 PM
"When in the hospital, a very hot day in the summer of 1846, clad in my shirt sleeves, and white cadet pants, I was on the front porch. I saw a cadet coming down the walk; he stopped under an apple tree loaded with green apples, and took a seat on the grass. I went into the passage leading to my ward, and threw myself into a rocking chair and was soon enjoying a delightful siesta. I was awakened by footsteps in the hall. The hall intruder was the same short plebe I had seen take his seat under the apple tree, and he had both hands pressed on his abdomen. I at once saw a chance for fun. He had mistaken me for the doctor. I started from my chair, assuming the most ferocious look I could put on, and said, 'What is your name?' 'Brown,' he answered. 'Plebe Brown,' I said, 'have you studied the Academic regulations?' He answered, 'Not much.' 'So, I supposed,' I replied; 'if you had done your duty you would have informed yourself that it is a dismissable offense to awaken the chief surgeon of this post when taking his evening nap. What is the matter with you, sir?' 'Oh, doctor, my belly! my belly!' "Let me see your tongue; let me feel your pulse.'
"Starting back, I said, 'Plebe Brown, you have been eating green apples.' This he denied. I said, 'Don't tell a falsehood; every beat of your pulse to the skilful surgeon says, 'Green apples! Green apples! Now, sir, tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; how many green apples did you eat?' After some hesitation he said, 'I suppose about my cap full.' I started back, exclaiming, 'About a cap full! Plebe Brown, the only way I can save your life is to cut your abdomen open and take out those green apples. Come with me to the dispersary. Sit on that chair.'"
...to be continued.:D
In our next installment, you'll find out what devious things the "surgeon" did to Plebe Brown. I'll also divulge the culprit and his place in history.
January 15, 2006, 01:21 PM
Our story continues...
"I found a case of surgical instruments, took them out of the case and examined them. Browning was turning very plae. I said to him, 'Plebe Brown, I regret very much I can't cut you open now, as both my assistant surgeon and steward are absent, and I find I will need their assistance to hld you and keep you from wriggling. Brown," I said, "Do you think I could trust you not to wriggle?" Brown siad he was afraid he would wriggle. "Yes," I said, feeling his pulse, "I find you are a wriggler, and though I am disappointed not to cut you open, I will defer the operation for the present, and see the effect of medicine. If the medicine does not relieve you, come here after sick call tomorrow morning and I will ahve my assistant surgeon and steward here and proceed to cut."
"I mixed in a pretty large glass some of every medicine on the shelves which I knew not to be poisonous - castor oil, sweet oil, epsom salts, common table salt, and red pepper I remember were some of the ingredients. I told Mr. Brown that I would excuse him from drill and evening parade, on one condition, that he was not to bother me any more that day, nor was he to come to sick call next morning. I was afraid of his seeing the real doctor and being exposed.
"I made Mr. Brown drink every drop in the glass. I watched him as he went up the walk leading to the encampment. He had not gone a hundred yards when he stopped, laid hold of the fence on the side of the walk, and I though before he got through, he would throw up everything inside of him. When the steward, my friend Stoddard, returned I told him what I had done and he excused Mr. Brown according to my promise. Brown never put in an appearance again."
Note: Frances G. Brown of Ohio never did graduate.
The culprit was West Point Cadet Henry Heth who later became a Confederate major-general commanding a division in A. P. Hill's Corps. His men were the ones who first wandered into Gettysburg and initiated combat that day.
January 16, 2006, 08:45 PM
"In the early settlement of Alabama, there lived on the south side of the Tennessee River, in Jackson County, opposite to where Scottsboro now stands, a couple of Creek Indians, who had built a little hut near Coffee's trading store and suported themselves by hunting. One of thse, called by the whites Creek John, was an excellent hunter, and always returned from the mountain loaded with peltries. late one evening he came down the mountain from a hunt, and instead of going directly to his hut, he stooped to get a drink. While in this posture an immense panther leaped from an overhanging rock on his prostrate form, and a desperate struggle ensued at once. The Indian being taken unawares, as placed at a great disadvantage, and the panther inflicted fearful damage on him before he could get out his long hunting knife; this he plied vigorously on his adversary, but it was too late to save his life. His abdomen was torn across by the animal's claws, and the muscles of his chest stripped to the ribs, while the blood flowed from other wounds. Yet he drove his long knife into the panther so vigorously that it was compelled to let him go and make off the field, leaving him victor of the despeate battle, but mortally wounded. He managed to drag himself to his hut, one hundred yards distant, where his companion, coming in a little later, found him in the agonies of death. The panther was tracked the next morning, by his bloody trail, to a ledge of rocks a short distance off, and found start and stiff, showing he had been dead some hours. He proved to be the largest specimen of his kind ever killed in that country. Creek John's Knife had passed through him in several places from side to side, showing the strength and vigor with which it was plied. With an equal advantage, there is no doubt but that the Indian would have escaped with his life."
One heckuva story.
January 18, 2006, 11:58 PM
Here's an incident that happened after the Mother of American Family Feuds, the Late Unpleasantry Between States (1861-65):
"One night while a party was up after a load of logs, a black bear came into camp and got into a bean kettle that had been left standing about since breakfast. The bear evidently liked beans because he continued eating until he got to the bottom of the kettle, but by that time he had gotten his head so far inside that he could not get it out. About that time, he was discovered by the men and they had lots of fun with that bear with the camp kettle over his head. Being blinded, he did not know which way to retreat. One moment he would strike out in one direction and then, hearing a voice, would conclude to go in another, about the same as a cat will do if you blind her. We finally got tired of the fun and shot him and took him back to camp the next day."
January 25, 2006, 07:55 PM
"I expect you will have some high times this fall. I some times think I would like to be there. Then I think perhaps it would not be so well, for a soldier in such times is very apt to get his feelings hurt by the remarks and actions of the home traitors. For it fairly makes my blood boil to read their speeches, let alone hearing a man uttering such traitorous sentiments. It would tempt a man to chastise such a person on the spot and then he would get into trouble. This is one reason why I would not like to be there during those exciting times. But there is no use of their trying for they are bound to be beat, they cannot win the day even by their secret and traitorous acts. They will go down to political perdition and all the sins of a traitor to his country will be brought against them to their entire condemnation."
This was written by a Civil War Yankee in the 83rd Ohio to his sister in Oct. 2, 1864. The November Presidential Elections was coming up and Abe Lincoln's grip on office was not seen as favorable. The Democrats under Maj. Gen. McClellan were talking of making peace with the Confederacy. Lincoln himself was worried as no president had been reelected since Andrew Jackson.
Still, it sounds very much like the position that we're in today, doesn't it? :) Hystery repeats itself.:p
January 26, 2006, 09:21 AM
In Collin's "Historical Sketches of Kentucky" about Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in Anderson County, he states that Lawrenceburg was first settled by an old Dutchman by the name of Coffman, who was killed by the Indians. When his good wife first heard of his melancholy fate, she exclaimed in the bitterness of her affliction, "I always told my old man that these savage Ingens would kill him; and I'd rather lost my best cow at the pail than my old man." Not even the bard Shakespeare could express love in a truer form.:p
February 2, 2006, 09:10 PM
"An order was issued from headquarters, forbidding any person wearing U. S. clothing (blue) that did not belong to the army, and authorizing the provost guard to strip any such person of all such clothing. The 20th was at this time doing provost duty. The boys used to go for such persons lively. One day, walking down main street, they saw a gent coming, with a lady on each arm. He had one of our blue blouses and a military vest. The boys asked the officer in charge what they should do. "Follow orders, of course." So they ordered the gent to strip, but he showed fight, inspired by the presence of the ladies. The boys knocked him down, and stripped him of his coat and vest, and left him to escort his ladies in his shirt sleeves."
In another incident, we learn, "On another occasion, they stripped a man of his pants also, leaving him in a still more unpresentable condition."
I know war is hell, but that's a helluva way to wage war on civilians.
February 5, 2006, 09:47 PM
In conducting research, I've come across numerous examples of phonetic spelling. After a while, you get use to it and it becomes part of the "charm" of finding some obscure letter or book. Being more fortunate in having a dictionary which I should add that I should avail myself of with greater frequency, I don't sit in judgment of the writer. However, I came across one example of someone who, understandably because of the war, was less generous. I share this tidbit from over a century ago:
"Lieut. Borland sent home to the True Democrat an interesting relic from Fort Henry. It was an 'Arkansas tooth-pick,' being a knife about one foot long, made from an old rasp, and enclosed in a leather sheath, on which was rudely printed the words - 'deth to all ablishners.' I judge from the spelling that the schoolmasters had already been killed off in Arkansas.":D
February 18, 2006, 11:43 AM
"[O]ur regiment was ordered to double quick across Bull Run, and charge a battery that had been shelling us for the last twenty-four hours. We had not advanced more than half the distance before the order came to lie flat on the ground, our colonel having learned that there were more than thousands of Yankees between us and the battery. Young James Manning stood behind a tree instead of obeying orders, and a solid cannon ball, weighing twelve pounds, suddenly cut the tree int two, and his body was literally cut in two. He was the first of our company killed.
Many of our men witnessed the shocking sight, among these being the captain of a company from Wilson Co., who was a Methodist preacher. During the disaster a rabbit was frightened from its hiding place, and running about at last jumped with all force against this captain's side. He whirled over, and cried that a ball had killed him, and begged that his body be sent home. He was told that nothing had touched him but a rabbit, but he did his best to die. Failing in that effort, he disappeared.
"It was a most natural thing, after the war was over, for this to be the subject of conversation. In the summer of 1868, I met some very pleasant gentlemen on the train and entered into conversation with them. One of them asked me what command I was in, and when I told him, he asked me if I remembered anything of the rabbit scrape at Manassas, to which I responded in the affirmative, laughing heartily. He said, 'Young man, that preacher is still living, but the rabbit affair will live long after he is gone.'"
February 26, 2006, 12:00 AM
Army of the Potomac Commander Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnsides was an unlucky man. He was whupped at Fredericksburg by Lee and then when he tried to outflank Lee a while later, the heavens poured rained upon him, slowing his army down to a crawl in what is now known as the mud march. Shortly afterwards, he was sacked and replaced by Fighting Joe Hooker.
Even in civilian life young Burnsides was unlucky. He courted one young lady and you can see how that went (thank you Ranger Don Pfanz):
Bad luck was something of a theme in young Burnside’s life. One tradition has it that he became engaged to a young lady from Ohio, but when the minister asked the flighty young woman if she would take Ambrose to be her husband, she replied, “No, sirree, Bob, I won’t,” and fled the room.
(The story goes that this same woman became engaged to another man a short time later. The man apparently had heard about his fiancée’s earlier engagement, for as the wedding began he drew a pistol from its holster, showed it to his bride, and announced that there would be “a wedding tonight or a funeral tomorrow.” This time, the woman fulfilled her pledge.) :eek:
Burnsides did marry and after the war, was the first president of the NRA.
March 1, 2006, 08:11 PM
Scholars and historians have long debated the cause of the Mother of American Family Feuds: the American Civil War. Well, after over seven years of research into the blackpowder sharpshooter, I've discovered why and I share it with you now.
"Fort Foote was the largest and most complete earthwork that was built for the defense of Washington, and I believe it is still standing. It commanded the approaches by the river for several miles, and its great guns would make it exceedingly difficult for an enemy to get past it. There had never been such large guns mounted before as it contained, and it seemed to me that the soldiers (it took three or four hundred at a time) would never be able to get them up the bluff and into position. The balls fired from them were so heavy that I couldn't even turn one over on the ground, each weighing 500 pounds, and required 100 pounds of powder to fire them. When fired, the men were instructed to raise on their toes and open their mouths to lessen the effect of the concussion.
One day there came down the President, Secretary of War, and several general officers and distance measurements had been made for the first experiment; about two miles below. The men had practiced until they felt sure of their aim. Just as the party were assembling to witness the smashing of the target with one of the great balls, the colonel was astonished and chagrined to see through his glass a small party of rebels row out from the shore, cut the anchor ropes, and quickly tow the target around the bend of the river out of sight; so the firing had to be made at other objects of an unmeasured distance."
Remember, you learned this here first and at the finest firearm forum on the Web.:p
March 7, 2006, 09:17 PM
"Five days later the young diarist recorded that Captain Smith Bankhead had come to the Blackfrods' for tea. 'I found him very agreeable,' he wrote. 'He told me a very curious fact that the wolves will not devour the bodies of the Mexicans that fell in battle, but will scratch up the Americans and devour them; the cause of it is attributed to the use of garlic by the Mexicans. He said... that they can not bury their dead unless they pile great piles of stones over the graves or the wolves will scratch them up."
Next time you're at the pizzeria or the pasta house, ask for more garlic. Personally, I love garlic.
March 7, 2006, 09:22 PM
"In 1847 the boys all had a wonderful Christmas. Their stockings were full of nuts, apples, and homemade candy. Lanty described the day to his grandmother: 'We shot our little cannon several times until the Police Master, Mr. Brown, came after us about it and was going to make us pay a fine, but let us off: the fine is $2.00 a shoot. I think we ought to have been excused anyhow as it was Christmas and every body else was doing it."
Now, how many of us as kids played with toy cannons? I did and I loved shooting it - even if it didn't have a missile. It's a boy thing and I couldn't shoot it enough. There's a painting somewhere of two boys with a small brass cannon. They're leaning back to distance themselves from the blast as one of them is lighting a fuse. The cannon is pointed at some girl's doll - presumably their sister. Who among us would not have done the same during our childhood?
March 20, 2006, 10:54 PM
"A man was going along the edge of a forest, when, looking out into the so-called road where troops had passed, he saw a hat in a great mud-hole. He reached out for it, and discovered a head under it. 'Why, what are you doing there?' he cried out. The man in the mud answered, 'I am looking for my horse; he is somewhere below."
Such is the sacred soil of Virginia. I've heard of mules sinking in the mud until only their ears show. What a horrible death and next time it rains in the Old Dominion State, remember to think, "God Bless Asphalt & Concrete."
March 22, 2006, 08:33 PM
Now, at one point in our front, torpedoes had been planted the day before, and to prevent any of the garrison from treading upon them, a sentinel was placed to warn them off. At that time the man who held this post was private Donnolly, of Company G, First Georgia, a native of the Emerald Isle, as this name would indicate, and a true son of his mother. Of any knowledge of ordinary military manoeuvres he was calmly innocent. On one occasion a Lieutenant of the company asked him, impatiently:
"Donnolly, why don't you keep step? All the men are complaining about you." And received the reply:
"Faith, its divil a one of 'em can kape shtep wid me!"
Past this hero General Ripley spurred his horse, and was riding straight for the dangerous ground, when he was suddenly brought to a halt by a loud "Stop!" uttered in the most emphatic tone, and the emphasis receiving additional point from Donnolly's attitude, as he stood with his musket at full cock, at the shoulder, and squinted along the barrel, taking dead aim at the General. For a moment there was strong probability of a vacancy among the Brigadiers of the Confederate army, but an officer rushed forward, struck up the gun, and explained to General Ripley the reason for his being halted.
Subsequently, our sentinel was asked:
"Donnolly, what were you going to do?"
"I was going to shot him."
"To kape him from being blown up with the saltpaters, to be sure." Donnolly's comrades, in view of his little infirmities of drill, had always insisted upon his having a place in the rear rank, but on this day he was heard to say, with much satisfaction: "There's moighty little trouble getting in the front rank now."
The private involved is Pvt. Thomas Donnolly of the 1st Georgia Infantry.
April 2, 2006, 10:41 AM
As most of us know, fragging is a term coined in Vietnam to describe grenades or "stray" shots directed to an unpopular superior. Braxton Bragg, who later led the Army of Tennessee, had a lit shell rolled into his tent when he was a captain of artillery during the Mexican-American War. Here's an attempted fragging effort by one Union soldier against his lieutenant:
The bullet whizzed over us, but at the same moment Orr got onto his knees, turned around and fired at me. That would have certainly settled my carier [career] had not Charles Buck, at the moment Orr pulled the trigger, with a quick move of his arm pushed the rifle upward exclaiming: 'Orr, what are you doing?!' The bullet whizzed close over my head.
The lieutenant took Orr's rifle and cartridge box for his own use and had a guard posted over Orr to prevent him from further attempts. He wrote Orr up to the Colonel who supported a court martial which would certainly result in his execution. The Colonel deferred the outcome to the lieutenant who forgave Orr on account of his wife and child.
April 2, 2006, 01:35 PM
North & South magazine is working on reducing an article of mine for their knapsack column. The article discusses the Black-Confederate sharpshooter and mentions the possibility of besmooted or grimy white soldiers being mistaken for blacks. Here's an incident of one white soldier being mistaken for an Indian:
"On the way we passed several Brigades of eastern troops who had sta[c]ked arms near the road in order to let us pass by. These boys, who had read a great deal about Indians, but never had seen any live ones, were much surprised and amused when my Comp[any]. passed by and they discovered the duskey fellows. Now it happened that I had a man in the Comp[any]. named Jim Walker who was of genuine English ancestry but who nevertheless could pass for a full blooded Injun. He wore a heavy mess of coalblack hair, had a towny, coppercolored skin and big, bulging eyes. Besides he was not a special friend of water, soap and comb which made the matter so much worse. When the boys discovered the Indians they began to yell: "Look! look at the Injuns look at this one! and this one with the calfs eye"! pointing to Jim Walker. That made Jim so mad that he fixed bajonet and threatened to stab the first man who dared call him an Injun. That of course made matters worse and poor Jim had to stand the consequences of mistaken Identity as well as he could. The afternoon as soon as we went in camp he went to the drummer Paine and had his hair cut short, and next he went to the Chickamauga river and rubbed his hide down to half its thickeness and sure enough, he looked all the better for it."
May 21, 2006, 07:50 PM
"In 1864 it was hard to get food for the army. Confederate notes were almost worthless and there was no silver or gold in circulation. People who had anything to sell did not want to take Confederate money for it. The Confederate Congress finally passed what was called the "Tax in Kind Law." By this law everybody who raised anything had to give one-tenth to the Confederate government. Of course, all sorts of ways were used to evade the law. The most original that I heard of was that of an old dar___ near Staunton, Virginia. A farmer near there was in his hay harvest and he was going in town that day and before he started he called up his foreman who was a colored man named Joe. He said to his foreman, "Joe, I am going to town today and I will tell you what I want you to do. I want you to put nine loads of hay in the barn, but the tenth load I want you to take to Major Harmon in town and tell him that it is my tax in kind." Joe said, "Yessir." The farmer went on to town and stayed all day but saw nothing of Joe. When he got home about dark, Joe was coming from the stable. He said, "Joe, I did not see you in town today." Joe said, "No sir, I did not go." "Why? I told you to carry that load of hay to Major Harmon." Joe answered, "Twa no tenth load, I squeezed her all in nine!" There was no answer to that.
May 24, 2006, 07:58 PM
After the James River Squadron was stymied at Drewry's Bluff, Commodore Charles Wilkes, the new squadron commander, wanted a means to conduct reconnaisance to determine the Confederate defenses along the James River. He wrote the Navy asking for armored scout canoes. Intended to be fast, light and agile, the armor was suppose to be proof against rifle fire.
The New York Navy Yard took the order and began construction. When the scout canoes arrived, Wilkes looked at them in disgust. Instead of a slim, fast craft, what he got were rowboats that were covered with boiler plate. As unwieldy as they appeared, he decided to test one by launching it.
The boat capsized immediately... and then sank. Somehow someone in the Navy Yard either couldn't read or wasn't very good at engineering. Either way, Wilkes was so frustrated that he never revisited the idea.
May 30, 2006, 10:25 PM
"On one occasion, with the permission of the captain, a serenade was planned for Major Terrett; but those artistic, well-meant efforts were treated ungratefully - scornfully, in fact, and sad to relate, the amateur band was confined to the guard-house the next day. It happened thus:
After permission had been granted for this pre-supposed treat to the commandant, the few lucky performers were excused from evening drill that they might practice and furbishup old tunes. To aid the memory, a nip of brandy came between each tune. As night drew on every single man of them, having imbibde so much, was in that blissful state where he felt he was a band unto himself.
The performers started out with their instruments, accompanied by a quartette, whose sole instruments were a flask of brandy to each, merely as a matter of throat medicine. They reached the commandant's residence quite late. That worthy man, all unconscious of the treat in store, had long since retired. After a discussion, which came near ending in a fight, as to whether the vocal or the instrumental should open the serenade, it was decided that the quartette most merited the honor. So clearing their throats by a long pull at their melody-inspirer they opened up with 'Come where my love lies dreaming,' but in spite of the tenderness of the refrain the window remained closed. This was rather discouraging, so that the band struck up an attitude; the flutist leaning against the lamp ost, the cornet propped alongside a tree trunk, the small fiddle sitting comfortably on an ash-barrel, the bass vil squatting on the doorstep, while the banoist found himself most satisfactorily lodged on the pavement. As for the quartette, they were almost anywhere; one lying on the cellar door, sound asleep, from whence he was, at the close of the performance, carried home in a wheelbarrow. The other three had voluntarily commenced in stentorian tones, 'Look into my eyes, love.'
In the meantime the instrumental was doing its best. The bass viol grunted, the fiddle shrieked, the cornet tried to blow the roof off the house, the banjo thumped away on its own individual merits, the flute was black in the face and out of wind, when the window was raised at last, the Majory's head protruded, and he thundered out: 'What the devil is all that noise about? What is the meaning of this?'
'Meaning,' replied one of the quartette in hiccough; 'we've come to serenade you, ole boy. Come and take a drink, won't you?'
'Take yourselves off,' shouted the voice, thick with passion, 'or I'll court-martial every mother's son of you in the morning.'
A dead silence followed the sound of the gurgling liquor as it flowed down eavery throat. The cornet suddenly revived and shouted back:
'You be d__d; we've come to serenade you, I say, and we are going to keep on; ain't we, boys?'
A chorus of assent responded, and the music struck up where it had left off....
[to be continued]
June 3, 2006, 12:10 AM
While this was going on the commandant slipped down-stairs and dispatched his orderly for a guard. Soon the sound of tramping feet was heard. In a voice of thunder the Major ordered them to arrest his seranders, and the guard closed round. However, the quartette was soon secured, especially the one who was asleep; but the performers, using their instruments in a manner never intended by their manufacturers, made most vigorous resistance. Forgetting that they had ceased to be free American citizens, at present devoted to the muses, they knocked and banged and struck out valorously, while the guard, not willing to use their weapons, closed in on the musical fighters, and after a fierce struggle and with many bruises, mastered them one by one. The cornet flattened his weapon on the corporal's occiput, raising a bump unnamed in phrenology; the fiddle was smashed to atoms over some other skull, while the banjo came down squarely, or rather roundly, on the top of a guard's head; he wore it as a necklace, the handle sticking out behind like a gigantic queue. The flute, just about the size of a police officer's club, might have been a dangerous weapon, only being hollow it shivered to pieces at the first blow, its sound and fury signifying nothing. The bass viol performed prodigious antics, describing a huge parabolic curve, and striking with fearful force the cranium of yet another guard; there was a confused jangling of the strings and down went the guard prone on the ground; a second blow and one more guard fell, while a third man was happy enough to catch the blow on the butt of his musket. This finished the irate old 'big fiddle,' but with the head-piece the serander laid about with such vigor that victory might have perched thereon, only, seeing the odds, the valorous warrior broke out of the surroundings and took to his heels; in short, the whole party were lugged to the guard-house, where they remained all next day. As for the bass viol, he was found in the morning sound asleep on a pile of planks in Smott's lumber yard, with the head-piece firmly clutched in his hand. It is safe to say no more permissions were granted serenading parties.
If I knew band practice could be so fun, I would have taken up music as a kid.
June 6, 2006, 10:02 PM
“The soldiers sometimes wrote their own passes and countersigned them with the name of the colonel and generals. But that ruse failed to be effectual, for officers well vesed in all the wiles of solders’ strategy, as well as detectives who could tell at a glance whether or not the countersigns were genuine, scruntinized each pass with as much care as an expert does the signature of witnesses in a disputed will case.
On one occasion two of Company A (myself and comrade), with anything but tender consciences, lay awake at night trying to devise some plan that would obtain free ingress to the city, keep us unmolested while there, and bring us safely out. The result was, that after so many hours spent in sifting the pros and cons, it settled down to a single, plain, stubborn fact, that unless we could get the bona-fide signatures of the general commanding, all efforts would be in vain. That was a bright idea, surely, as bright indeed as the young rodent in the fable, who moved in a congress of rats, ‘that the cat should be belled.’ So with us it was who was to ‘bell the cat,’ and how?
We drew straws for the unlucky one of the two, and Walter A. Drew the short straw, and was thereafter left to his own devices; and from the depths of down-reaching ruminations, which he feared would unsettle his brain, evolved the following letter:
‘My Dear Aunt:
‘As requested, I hereby send you the autograph of our Commander-in-Chief, General Johnston.’
Then, going boldly to his tent, he asked the orderly for admittance, for with General Johnston the private could often obtain an audience when officers high in rank were kept in waiting. The solder, handed the General his letter, who with one quick glance at his petitioner, seized his pen and wrote his name at the bottom. To salute and get out of the tent was the work of a second; and then the young rascal ran as fast as his legs could carry him to his confrere in camp. Together in banded iniquity, we rubbed out the words in pencil and inscribed others, so that the paper read:
‘Pass in and out of Richmond, at will, the bearer and friend for two weeks. J. E. Johnston, Commanding General.’
On that pass we went in and out, and out and in, till the very stones in the road knew us; so virtue is ever its own reward.”
June 12, 2006, 08:39 PM
"While our regiment was encamped at Murfreesboro a man by the name of Hester made application to Colonel Moore for appointment as chaplain. Colonel Moore told him that he would not appoint him unless a majority of the regiment expressed a preference for him. He then began to canvass for votes. M. Luna, a rollicking, jolly, good soldier of Company I, also announced for this office. He swore that he could preach as good a sermon as L. Hester, and he appointed a time and place where the boys could have a sample of his sermons. He would mount a stump or woodpile, and the service would begin by lining out a song, 'Old Grimes,' 'Ryestraw,' or some other doggerel familiar at that time. He would then announce as his text, 'Whar de hen scratch, dar de bug also,' or 'Gnaw a file and flee to the wilderness, whar de lion roar and de whangdoodle moans.' After his 'sermon,' he would say, 'Now, if you don't believe I'm a better preacher than L. Hester, vote for him, darn you.' Needless to say, Mack was elected by a big majority; but when he applied to Colonel Moore for credentials, he was told to go back to his company and behave, or he would be sent to the guardhouse. That was the last we heard of a chaplain until Rev. M. B. DeWitt came to us. He was a devout Christian and was loved by all."
And this concludes this week's sermon. Amen.:D
June 17, 2006, 02:12 AM
A reb PoW was asked a question. Here's his account.
"What are you Rebels fighting for, anyway?"
The question struck me there and then as supremely ludicrous. Here were we Virginians standing on our own soil, fighting on our native heath against an invading army, defending what every man holds dear - his home and fireside. As well asked a game-cock why he crows and bares his spurs on his own dung-hill. So I replied:
"We are fighting to protect our mint-beds."
There was an Irishman on the staff, and he nearly fell off his saddle; he spurred his horse forward and slapped me on the shoulder and said:
"True for ye, me boy, there's not a lad in ould Ireland that wouldn't do the same for his poteen."
Even the brigadier smiled, and said that he had heard often of a Virginia julep but never tasted one, and the group clattered away, laughing.
June 18, 2006, 06:46 PM
This happened in the flintlock days.
"There was an old Irishman named Captain Flynn who owned a small schooner which plied along the Potomac River and its estuaries, buying fowls, fruits and garden truck from the country people and selling them in the Baltimore markets.
"It happened that the Captain, a week before Christmas, dropped anchor off Cutler's Creek, and there came an unexpected freeze, and for four days he was held hard and fast. All his meat gave out, so he traveled over the ice to the home of one of his best customers, a spinster named Miss Tilda Jenks, who made her living by raising poultry.
"Miss Tilly was cited among her neighbors as being the sharpest and the shrewdest bargainer in the whole country round; indeed some of the old hands said that she could even beat a preacher in a horse trade.
"When Captain Flynn went to purchase a dozen fowls the ancient spinster promptly doubled her price. This made the old Captain so mad that he went back to his sloop, swearing he would starve before he would pay it. Then ensued a struggle between his stomach and his pride, which resulted in his going back the next day and paying the spinster her price. As he saw the great number of fowls in the enclosure he said:
"'Miss Tilly, how much will you charge me to let me shoot in the thick of them, an' let me have all I kill?'
"The woman studied for a while and then answered:
"'Captain, if you let me load your gun you kin have all you kill for one dollar.'
"'Bedad! an' it's a bargain, an' here's your dollar,' answered the Irishman, 'an' now I'll go fer me gun.'
"He hurried back to his boat, got out an ancient bell-mouthed blunderbuss that had belonged to his grandfather, put in a handful of powder, rammed in a bunch of tow; next a double handful of shot was dropped down the barrel and held tight with another bunch of tow; then Captain Flynn sawed off about four fingers of the ramrod, picked the flint, called his crew, which consisted of an antiquated d**ky, and proceeded inland.
"Miss Tilly first carefully measured the gun with the ramrod, then, despite the protest of the Captain, she loaded the gun with only a thimbleful of powder and one of shot.
""A bargain is a bargain, Captain,' she said tauntingly, 'and here's your gun; now you can have all you kill.'
"Captain Flynn asked for an ear of corn; this he shelled along for about a hundred yards from the woodpile, then lying behind a log, he signified to Miss Tilly that he was ready.
"The gate was opened and the fowls of all sizes, sexes and condition came running, flying and fluttering out, and there was a confused mass of heads, wings and feathers mixed up as far as the eye could reach. The Captain sighted along the line, and uttered a prayer; the d**ky got behind a tree and clapped his hands over his ears; the spinster stood with her horn spectacles on her forehead, serene and confident; then the Captain, having finished his orisions, pulled the trigger. There was a thundering report that reverberated clean to the Virginia shore and back, then the smoke covered everything; when it lifted, there was the Captain, sitting up, rubbing his shoulder; Miss Tilly had her arms raised to heaven, crying, 'I'm ruined and undone!'
"The d**ky was dancing a jig.
"The spoils were counted: sixteen chickens, twelve guinea keets, five hen turkeys, one gobbler, two geese, two pigeons, four ducks and the old lady's pet pig."
That's one fine shot for a dollar.
July 12, 2006, 11:11 PM
From Geronimo's autobiography (which I picked up from the Smithsonian's Museum of American Indians).
"The four women who were captured at this time by the Mexicans were taken into Sonora, Mexico, where they were compelled to work for the Mexicans. After some years they escaped to the mountains and started to find our tribe. They had knives which they stolen from the Mexicans, but they had no other weapons. They had no blankets; so at night they would make a little tepee by cutting brush with their knives, and setting them up for walls. The top was covered over with brush. In this temporary tepee they would all sleep. One night when their camp fire was very low they heard growling just outside the tepee. Francisco, the youngest women of the party (about seventeen years of age), started to build up the fire, when a mountain lion crashed through the tepee and attacked her. The suddenness of the attack made her drop her knife, but she fought as best she could with her hand. She was no match for the lion, however, her left shoulder was crushed and partly thrown away. The lion kept trying to catch her by her throat; this she prevented with her hands for a long time. He dragged her for about 300 yards, then she found her strength was failing her from loss of blood, and she called the other women for help. The lion had been dragging her by one foot, and she had been catching hold of his legs, and of the rocks and underbrush, to delay him. Finally, he stoped and stood over her. She again called her companions and they attacked him with their knives and killed him. Then they dressed her wounds and nursed her in the mountains for about a month. When she was able to walk they resumed their journey and reached our tribe in safety."
July 22, 2006, 06:38 PM
"There are many hours when the men and officers have literally nothing to do, but to 'while away' the time as best they may. They take old musket barrels, enlarge the vents, load them heavily with powder from some unexploded shell, put in one or two bullets, set the battery up in the sand, and fire it - the bullets falling a third or a half a mile away within the enemy's line. Possibly the enemy employs a similar means, for one of the men of our Brigade was killed while sitting with his back leaning up against the inside of our earth-works, a bullet penetrating the top of his head in such manner as if it had fallen straight down out of the sky. Our men play with still another 'battery' where the lines are very close together. A stout stick with a small stone one on end is balanced upon a log, the opposite end of the stick is struck a heavy blow with an axe, and the stone goes far over towards the enemy's line - and sometimes it is claimed that a particularly lucky blow will send a stone within them. A reproduction, for amusement, of a very ancient device."
July 30, 2006, 10:38 PM
I don't recommend stealing other people's horses and in the old days, it was a hanging offense. Not a bad idea today either. Nonetheless, during the Civil War horse stealing was quite common. Here's how one unit got away with it:
'Ambulance Brown' prefers a black moustache on his amiable face to the huge paler hued one which nature supplies. The color he takes along in his pocket is handy to have... Our excellent Asst. Surgeon Small finds among the captured horses one that suits his fancy. A whining rebel citizen appears and begs for his 'dear horse.' The Colonel tells this Mr. Secesh to go among the herd and pick out his horse, and he will see about his return. The horse has a white foot or two, a white star in his face and a white nose. Brown, however, the moment he sets his sharp eyes upon this horse, sees that he is a valuable animal, and suspects that he will be demanded. He decides that this particular horse is not the horse he was, and to prove it, he whips out his moustache dye - without the knowledge of the Colonel or Asst. Surgeon Small - and colors all the white marks on the horse jet black. This job has hardly been completed, when Mr. Secesh appears in the herd, and still further proves the horse was not his he was, by being utterly unable to find his lost property - the work so well done he does not recognize his own 'dear horse,' and goes his way lamenting. When it is safe to do so the color is washed off - and now he is the horse he was. He does good service in the army, and is brought North at the end of the war. No one but 'Ambulance Brown' would ever have thought of dyeing a horse's moustache - but you see the habit of dyeing moustaches had grown strong upon him."
July 31, 2006, 09:16 PM
Post Civil War Army Life. Here's some interesting observations of a post-Civil War soldier. An immigrant to this land, he sees many strange new sites and is literate enough to record them.
In the guardhouse
"Another class of our heroes paid their debts, twenty-five cents interest on every dollar for two months or less, after which they [would] go out for a spree that meant a beastly drunk, returning to quarters with empty pockets, generally missing one or two roll calls. Put in the gurdhouse he would be taken care of by a kindhearted guard and fellow prisoners. The latter would go through him and take all the money the sirens missed. If he had no money left the rest of the prisoners would convey a court. This august tribunal would sentence him to receive so and so lashes, administered to him while held across a chair, or to be 'blanketed' - which means the prisoner is put into a blanket which four strong men hold by the corners. A jerk sends the poor victim flying in the air, arms and legs working to all points of the compass, caught and thrown again. These guardhouse court-martials are more dreadful than the legal military punishments."
Our hero avoids the guardhouse by behaving himself (coward) and staying out of trouble (strict Germanic upbringing as a child). He gets himself assigned as a cook and he makes an interesting repast:
My entree in the kitchen as cook took place soon after. We had on the fare for that day beans, regular army beans [that had] been soaking in water overnight. Being late that morning I put them in a boiler without examination. When looking at the beans a half hour later I discovered scorpions floating on the top. Time was precious and something had to be done to give the men their dinner. It was too much of a loss to throw the beans away and I concluded to taste them - should they make me sick the beans would have to be thrown away - if not I concluded to go on and prepare them for dinner. The beans stood on the table that noon - and never had tasted better to the men before. Useless to say I did not eat beans that day, and I examined pots before using [them] in the future.
Note: in the olde days dinner was served at noon and supper in the evening.
Our hero observed the glorious life of the Red Man, whose lifestyle practically all of us would envy today.
The squaws did all the work in or out of camp and even saddled the horses for the men. The latter hunted and fought, but generally did nothing, or attended to the duties of the family. The girls were brought up to work and were mothers before they were women. The boys were given all the liberties of the race, were early instructed in archery and hunting, and taught the secrets of warfare. They used a stick with different marks as a geographic map.
Here's more on the stick map. He talks about one Indian in particular and it's quite fascinating stuff.
At his first raid into Mexico he was given a stick by his father with a serrated mark for each hill, river, or particular formation of the country as his map, to guide him to a certain village or farm.
I'd still love to see how they made those markings and indicated what was what.
August 13, 2006, 10:43 PM
Anyone old enough to remember Charles Schulz's comic strip, Peanuts, will remember Linus and his blanket. Well, Linus was probably a reincarnation of a Civil War soldier whose life was saved by his blanket. Here's a story of a man who was saved more than once by his same army issued blanket. Our hero participated in the Burnside's attack against the Confederates who were posted behind the stone wall of Marye's Heights in Fredericksburg. He was injured and pinned down with no cover to speak of.
...bullets were flying so thick around me that the thought struck me to pull or work my blankets off my shoulder and to place them in front of my head. They would serve as at least a slight protection from the deadly missiles. Fortunate, indeed, that I thought of this. Double fortunate that I succeeded in doing it. The prospect of death now seemed to increase. My clothing was literally being torn from my back by the constant and furious musketry fire of the enemy from three points. A ball struck me on the left wrist inflicting another painful but not serious wound. Another one which would undoubtedly have proved instantly fatal but for my blankets pierced through six plies of the blanket. It left me the possessor of a very sore head for six weeks after. With such force did this bullet come that for some time I really though it had embedded itself in the skull. My blankets were the receptacles of 32 other bullets which dropped out when I opened them up the next morning in Fredericksburg...
Our hero decides to escape and waits for darkness and a lull in the firing.
I decided that my only chance to escape safely from my dangerous position would be during the intervals between the Rebel fire. I resolved to attempt it. Just as the sounds of another volley of the enemy died away at about eight p.m., I regained my feet with much difficulty and excruciating pain... I crept slowly back from the dangerous Rebel front... My friendly balnkets, although then mysteriously and unaccountably heavy, I did not relinquish. I dragged them along.
Enroute back, he sees a light and discovers it's a lantern. Best of all, it's a lantern carried by a friend. He calls out and is helped to an ambulance. He is taken to a field hospital and is given medical care. While recovering, our hero feels cold and asks another soldier to unroll his blanket.
I asked him to remove the strings from my blanket which still remained rolled up. He willingly and cheerfully complied, remarking in doing so, 'How many blankets are here?' 'Only one,' I said. 'It's damned heavy then,' he said. The strings off, the officer, in order to open it up and spread it over me, raised it from the floor. To his sudden astonishment, a shower of Rebel bullets, 47 in number, dropped out of it around his feet, with a rattling noise on the boards. 'How's this?' he said, 'do the men of the 116th carry ammunition in their blankets?' I smiled and replied, 'Oh, no, we carry it in a much more convenient place and get rid of it as soon as possible.' I then explained to him the circumstance of my having placed it in front of my head while lying on the ground as a protection against the enemy's fire. 'Lucky boy,' he said, 'it just saved you from being riddled with Rebel lead.'"
And that concludes our rambling anecdote for the day.
August 15, 2006, 06:48 PM
We drew up, in military array, at the base of the hill on which the great house was erected. About half way down the hill stood a very homely old man, dressed in plain Virginia cloth, his head uncovered, and his venerable locks flowing in the wind. Some of our quizzical clique at once marked him as a fit subject of fun. "I wonder," said one, "What old codger that is, with his hair blowing nine ways for Easter Monday." "Why, of course, said another, "it is the overseer, and he seems to be scared out of a year's growth. I suspect he never saw gentlemen volunteers before." But how we were astonished when he advanced to our officers and introduced himself as THOMAS JEFFERSON! The officers were invited to a collation while we were marched off to the town, where more abundant provisions had been made.
August 20, 2006, 09:52 PM
How many of us pick up discarded brass while we're at the range? I do. I figure even if it's no good, I've got brass that I can get melted for other projects like triggerguards, buttplates, sideplates or what nots. Brass is brass whether you buy it from a metal supplier or scavenge it. The same for lead. How many of us pick up lead when we're inspecting our targets? I'm not ashamed to admit it.
Well, there are historical precedents to lead scavenging and we need only look to our family feud of the 19th Century: The American Civil War. E. Porter Alexander, who was the general commanding the artillery in Longstreet's Corps, was known to offer rewards for recovered lead. He was known to have picked up lead and placed it in his haversack for return to their arsenals for recasting as fresh minie balls. Little boys were paid good money for bringing in buckets of lead they found around Gettysburg. Here's Confederate General Dabney Maury's account where the lead pickers weren't given money but a day off.
We expended daily from twelve thousand to thirty-six thousand rounds of rifle cartridges; our supply was not great. The enemy poured a constant stream of lead into our lines, and Gibson gave every man who would bring in so much lead paroles of twenty-four hours to visit Mobile. A number of enterprising fellows eagerly pursued this traffic and greatly enjoyed the reward.
O.K. So it's not quite proof that we're reincarnated, but that's as close as I can prove it. :p Until next entry, be good.
August 23, 2006, 06:18 PM
Earlier I related a dog story whereby some Union soldiers tricked their officers into eating a dog. Here's the Confederate counterpart:
"As I have finished the campaign of 1863, I will continue this chapter with a joke that some of the boys got on a lieutenant in one of the Georgia Brigades, as it was told to me by a responsible man of Hill's corps. He said that it was certainly the truth, or I would not tell it.
He said they had a regular rear guard commanded by a bigoted lieutenant (as we will call him D--). He would take everything he could from the boys who had been out foraging. He kept this up for some time till all of the boys got to hating him. They went out, caught and killed a real fat dog, dressed him nicely, cut off one of his hind quarters, cut off the foot, wrapped it up and came up in the rear of the guard in a real suspicious way, apparently trying to conceal something.
The ever vigilant lieutenant saw that they had something and asked them what it was. The fellow stepped back a few steps and the lieutenant cursed him and went to see. The man apparrently gave it to him very reluctantly, and said it was a piece of lamb. The lieutenant took it and gave it to his negro cook and told him to cook it for his supper. The boys went on to their camp well pleased.
The negro cooked some and the lieutenant sat down to eat it. He cursed the negro and told him that he had poisoned it, for he had never eated as strong mutton as that was. The lieutenant then cooked some himself, but it was no better. The next day he asked the man whom he had taken it from what it was. He said in a low, drawling way, 'Why Lieutenant, it was a piece of dog.' Such a laugh as that raised!
It was such a good joke it was all over the camps in a few hours. Men would hollow out, 'Who eat the dog?' and you would hear answered from all over the camps, 'Lieutenant D.' My friend told me they run that so far till 'D' ran away and quit the army."
Boys will be boys.
August 24, 2006, 09:29 PM
A Union Artilleryman observed one Massachusetts colonel apply war paint:
The water in the spring had been roiled, so I searched for another higher up the run. While searching for it I saw a colonel of inantry put on his war paint. It was a howling farce of one act - one brief act of not more than twenty seconds' duration, but the fun of the world was crowded into it. This blond, bewhiskered brave sat safely behind a large oak tree. He looked around quickly. His face hardened with resolution. He took a cartridge out of his vest pocket, tore the paper with his strong white teeth, spilled the powder into his right palm, spat on it, and then, first casting a quick glance around to see if he was observed, he rubbed the moistened powder on his face and hands, and then dust coated the war paint. Instantly he was transformed from a trembling coward who lurked behind a tree into an exhausted brave taking a little well-earned repose. I laughed silently at the spectacle, and filled my canteens at a spring I found, and then rejoined my comrades, and together we laughed at and then drank to the health of the blond warrior. That night I slept and dreamt of comic plays and extravagant burlesques; but in the wildest of dream vagaries there was no picture that at all compared with the actual one I had seen in the forest. That colonel is yet alive. I saw him two years ago.
Too bad the author never identified the brave colonel.
September 4, 2006, 03:01 PM
Those of us who are rifle shooters, sniping enthusiasts and students of small arms will recall Herbert McBride's A Rifleman Went to War. It's a classic account of trench warfare and sniping during The Great War. McBride, an American, is impatient to enter the fray and so he crossed the border into neighboring Canada and enlists as an infantryman. Originally an officer, he resigns his commission so as to see the elephant. He becomes a member of a machine gun unit but quickly moves into sniping, remaining in sniping school only long enough to get a scoped rifle. Then he goes out to hunt the Hun. Good reading. However, this story is of a different nature. It concerns a fisherman and is told to us by Sir Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scout movement.
Dynamite bombs were made up in small potted meat and milk tins for use as hand grenades, with slow match fuzes, with complete success by Lieutenant Feltham. Sergeant Page, champion bait thrower of Port Elizabeth, by using a whip stick and a short line was able to throw these with accuracy over a distance of 100 yards.
September 20, 2006, 06:58 AM
Here's an amusing anecdote from the past.
Confederate soldiers seen on the other side of our picket line presented an appearance comic and woeful, from the poverty of their apparel, each one wearing such garments as suits his fancy (or necessity.). Yet they are of the elite of State troops, being a sort of militia composed of planters and merchants. They have remarked that our men seemed to average small in stature, so with the laudable desire to improve our reputation, one of the Company A's tall men, when on post neareset the enemy, having on a long overcoat, took gigantic strides back and forth as the "rebs" tall man (conspicious by his red pants and hieght at about seven feet) was accustomed to do. Upon returning to his post behind the trees our tall man noticed that the faces of all the "rebs" seated opposite were turned toward him and seemed to be considering the matter. One of the Union men said "sometimes we would play a joke upon the 'rebs' by placing a small man upon the shoulders of a tall man, and then throwning a blanket over them, as a shawl; the small man would shoulder his musket and the combination would march up and down in full view of the enemy, and when the curiousity of the Confederates was at it highest the small Yankee would suddenly throw off his blanket and jump from his seat, and all hands would cheer.
October 21, 2006, 09:27 AM
Reported in one Richmond Paper during the Civil War:
A Tragic Affray in Hardin county, Ill.
--A dispute arose in Hardin county, Ill., on the 23d ult., between Captain Vaughn and Arch. Rutherford, as to their science as marksmen, which resulted in a set-to at fisticuffs, in which Rutherford proved the better man, when Captain Vaughn's son- in-law, William Norton, interfered and shot Rutherford, seriously wounding him. An attempt was made on the part of David Denton to arrest Norton, who fired on Denton, killing him almost instantly, the ball from the pistol having entered his head. It is thought that Rutherford will recover. Norton has not been arrested.
Better to hold a friendly shooting match that resort to fisticuffs and gunfights.
October 21, 2006, 09:38 AM
Here's something about the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run to the Yankees). Truth or fiction? You decide.
A Zouave's account of bowie-knife fighting.
A Washington correspondent of the Baltimore Sun writes:
One of the New York Fire Zouaves, who was wounded at the battle of Manassas on Sunday week, a stalwart, hardy fellow, of considerable intelligence, passed through this city yesterday, en route homeward, remaining here several hours waiting for the cars.--He, of course, has the privilege, like all others, of telling his own tale, without apprehending, for the present at least, successful contradiction. From him I obtained a thrilling narrative of a rencontre between his regiment and a regiment of Mississippians.
After the battle had been raging for some hours, according to the account of this Zouavian hero, he saw an immense body of Mississippians, accompanied by some (believed to be) Baltimoreans, rush furiously ever the Confederate ramparts. They at once saw the conspicuous uniform of the Zouaves, and made at them. The Mississippians, after approaching near enough, sent a terrible volley from their rifles into the Zouave ranks. This done, they threw their guns aside and charged onward until each contending enemy met face to face and hand to hand, in terrible combat. The Mississippians, having discarded their rifle after the first fire, fell back upon their bowie-knives. These were of huge dimensions, eighteen to twenty inches long, heavy in proportion and sharp, or two-edged at the point. Attached to the handle was a lasso, some eight or ten feet in length, with one end securely wound round the wrist.
My informant says when these terrific warriors approached to within reach of their lasso, not waiting to come in bayonet range, they threw forward their bowie-knives at the Zouaves after the fashion of experienced harpooners striking at a whale. Frequently they plunged in, and penetrated through a soldier's body, and were jerked out, ready to strike again whilst the first victim sunk into death. On several occasions the terrible bowie-knife was transfixed in a Zouave, and the Zouave's bayonet in a Mississippian, both impaled and falling together. So skillfully was this deadly instrument handled by the Mississippian that he could project it to the full lasso length, kill his victim, withdraw it again with a sudden impulse, and catch the handle unerringly.
If by any mischance the bowie-knife missed its aim, broke the cord fastening it to the arm, or fell to the earth, revolvers were next resorted to and used with similar dexterity.--The hand-to-hand closing in with both pistol and bowie knife, cutting, slashing, carving and shooting almost in the same moment, was awful beyond description. Blood gushed from hundreds of wounds, until, amid death, pitiful groans and appalling sights, it staunched the very earth. My Zouave champion says himself and comrades did hard fighting, stood up manfully to the murderous conflict, but never before knew what undaunted bravery and courage meant. He felt no further ambition to engage in such rencontres. Having been shot through the wrist by a revolver, after escaping the fearful Mississippi weapons, and disabled from further active participation in the struggle, he willingly retired to reap the glory won, convinced that to fight against Mississippians, with bowie knives and pistols, after receiving a volley of their sharp-cracking rifles, is no ordinary fun.
This same informant states, though not with certainty, that several Baltimoreans were with the Mississippians, and amongst those of them left dead on the field was a young man named Wm. H. Murry, a Captain of the Maryland Guard--at least such was the name told him — and another, who he thinks was called Polk, both of Maryland.
That's the story and I'm not going to change it (after all, I'm just quoting). Here's a rebuttal printed in the same paper:
The Baltimore South, commenting on the above, says:
In the correspondence of a morning paper, upon no better authority than that of a New York Zouave, whose comrades have shown that they can lie much better than they can fight, a young gentleman of this city, now a Captain in the Confederate army, is mentioned as having been "left dead upon the field," although the next breath, the same Zouave discredits everything that he says, by a monstrous story about a regiment of Mississippians harpooning their adversaries with bowie-knives, eighteen to twenty inches long, fastened to their wrists with a lasso some eight or ten feet in length. Certainly, since Sunday we have been favored with a variety of accounts of the battle by the Northern journals, many of them sufficiently minute, and in which no effort was spared to magnify the horrors of the scene; many of these very Zouaves have told their tale, or had it told for them by some ingenious correspondent; but not one word have we heard of a mode of fighting at once so terrible and so peculiar, that had it been resorted to it must have attracted universal attention, until this single Zouave whispers it in the ear of the Washington correspondent, who publishes it to the world.
October 21, 2006, 11:52 PM
:rolleyes: Dem danged yankees shore is moughty fine liars Ain't they?:D
November 4, 2006, 03:41 PM
A story is told of a certain Scotschman who, shortly after arriving form his native land, procured a position at the Furnace and one day shot some turkey buzzards while wandering around in Pond Creek bottom, mistaking them for a bird he had eaten in Scotland. With these he prepared a surprise dinner for his friends. All enjoyed the meal very much until the "Scoth Fowl" was indulged in. Many commented on the peculiar flavor of the meat, but, fearing they might offend their host by declining to eat abundantly of his much-prized dish, they partook freely. They begged to know more about this peculiar "Scotch fowl." After some persuasion he proudly told them where and howhe had captured this most palatable of birds. The guests threw up their hands in horror. They not only refused to continue the meal, [/b]but even declined to keep what they had already accepted![/b]
So, the next time a kindly country Scotman offers you dinner, ask for Haggis and a lot of it. :p
November 8, 2006, 06:54 AM
This was composed by L. D. Griggs, of Company D, 25th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, while his unit was part of the besieging army before Atlanta:
"Our Father Abraham, who art in Washington, honored be thy name. Thine administration come. Thy will be done in the South, as it is done by the Republicans in the North. Give us this day our daily ration of hard tack, beans and bacon. And forgive us our foraging, as we forgive those who forage upon us. And lead us not into the field of battle, but deliver us from the land of the enemy: for thine is the administration, and the power, so long as thou are in office. Eight men."
Source: History of Muhlenberg County by Otto A. Rothert. fn on page 280.
November 8, 2006, 07:28 AM
Definitely do not try this at home. Taken from the History of Muhlenberg County (pages 295-296). Muhlenberg County is in Kentucky. Some background first. Earlier some (pro-Union) youngsters staged several fake raids as if they were members of (Confederate) Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry. They chased "shot" down or captured the fleeing Unionists (their buddies) who previously warned the locals of Forrest's approach. This caused much alarm and left many timid folks shivering. So, along that line, another group of enterprising youths decided to have their share of fun:
There were some youngsters who thought if the bogus cavalry could play "Forrest," they could play "Buckner." When Geneal Buckner passed through the county he had several little brass cannons with him, that were greatly admired by all the young fellows who saw them. These boys concluded that they wanted a cannon to shoot and scare the timid natives. Three or four of the youngsters got together and called on Edward O. Pace, then a blacksmith near the Pisgah neighborhood, and asked him if he could help get up a cannon. He said that he could. Pace was then a young man, and although he had been married a few years he nevertheless enjoyed the fun and prank of boys. So he told the youngsters to go to the woods and cut out a black gum log eight or ten inches in diameter and about three feet long and bring it to his shop, and he would manufacture a cannon for them.
A log was procured, taken to Pace's shop at night, and the work on the cannon was commenced at once. The bark was shaved off nicely. Pace had a two-inch auger with a long shank, and with this he bored a hole in the endo fhte log down to a depth of fifteen or sixteen inches; he then had a half-inch auger with a long shank, and with this he bored a hole through the log to the bottom end of a touch hole. He had a lot of old wagon-tires in his shop, and out of these he made a number of bands and drove them on the wooden cannon as close as he could conveniently get them. He then loaded the big gun with some powder and made a trial shot to test its strength. It stood the test and was pronounced ready for "warfare."
The youngsters carried the cannon to a field near Pisgah Church. They procured all the powder they could get, and one night commenced a regular cannonading. They put in heavy charges of powder and the report fairly shook the earth; the noise rolled and reverberated in the distance like thunder. The whole neighborhood became alarmed. Some of the people were badly scared, for they thought Buckner or some other army was right in their midst. James Jones, of Long Creek, who happened to be visiting the nearby house of W. C. Martin, became so frightened at the first shot that he crawled under the bed and remained there for some time. The whole neighborhood was dumfounded a the loud shooting. The roaring of this cannon was heard in Greenville, over on Pond River, and near the Christian County line. The next day there was a considerable stir among the natives, for most of them inquired about the shooting. No one seemed to know who had kept up such a cannonading. In the meantime the boys were reaping the pleasure of having played "Buckner" so well.
After the cannon had rested a while it was taken over on the upper Hopkinsville Road, where some repairs were made on it at the James Rice blacksmith shop, then run by W. H. and E. Rice. E. Rice did the work for the boys, and a few nights later the cannonading was carried on inthat neighborhood, where it caused considerable alarm.
The cannon was next carried near to the house in which Billy D. Rice then lived. There it was again put into service, but before discharging it, E. Rice loaded it with a shop-hammer for a ball and aimed the barrel at a nearby tree. The cannon went off with a tremendous roar and sent the shop-hammer deep into the trunk of the tree, where I presume it has remained buried ever since.
November 8, 2006, 08:52 PM
Get your guns, powder horns, scalp'n knives and tomahawks out boys! We're going to conduct a militia muster. It's for the safety of hearth & home, our loved ones, our community and for our nation.
...from the year 1825 until the law obliging all men to drill was abolished, the musters were more or less a farce. The laws regulating the militia of the Commonwealth were amended and changed so often that, as a consequence, they became more complicated than the maneuvers were unmilitary. Humphrey Marshall, in 1824 ("History of Kentucky, Vol. 2, page 14), wrote: "It is in vain to suggest tha tneither officer nor soldier will ever trouble himself to know the law, when it may, and probably will, be changed before he has an opportunity of reducing his knowledge to practice." Musters became gatherings in which everybody participated, regardless of age or social position. The men who attended were not so much prompted by a desire to drill, and thus live up to that article of the Constitution, as they were to take advantage of the chance to mingle with the crowd of men, women, and children, renew old friendships, make new ones, hear the news, see the races, trade horses, partake of a good dinner, and incidentally have a good time at "the big to-do."
Sounds like our modern rendezvous, don't they? Read on.
The military features of these affairs grew insignificant as compared with those of their social, political, and business nature. The ordinary picnic basket was too small for these gatherings. Trunks and boxes packed with fired chicken, boiled ham, roasted pork, pies and other edibles, with coffee-pots and whiskey-jugs, were brought to the place of rendezvous in wagons, and everybody was welcome to their contents. Gunsmiths were in abundance. Since the greater number of people came in wagons or on horseback, there was neccesarily a large aggregation of horses, from colts and two-year-olds down to worn-out plow-horses, and from carefully groomed quarter-nags to neglected horses whose tails and manes were filled with burrs. This led to the appearance of blacksmiths, who repaired wagons and shod horses. It also resulted in much "horse swapping," which in turn gave occasion for betting and horse-racing. The combination led to drinking, and drinking frequently brought on "fist and skull fights" and other disturbances.
In those days, as in the earlier days, every man furnished his own gun - muzzle-loaders of any sort, flintlock rifles, muskets, shotguns, or horse-pistols. Those who had no firearms to bring, or who had forgotten them, would enter the drills with a trimmed sapling or a cornstalk - consequently the name, the Cornstalk Militia.
When the captain was ready to order his company into ranks he usually mounted a convenient stump, rail fence, or empty barrel and called out: "Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! All you who belong to Captain So-and-So's company (giving his name) fall into ranks and parade!" The "Oh, yes," it might be well to add, is derived from the old French "oyez" - "hear ye." Hence the Court of Oyer and Terminer - to hear and to finish. If the captain's first order failed to move his men he would again appeal to them - "Everybody in my company, off the fence there and fall into line! Now come on, men, come on, everybody, and let's get started with our revolutions!" After all, or nearly all, of his company had responded to his call, he ordered ""Tention, the whole!" after which most men gave him more or less attention. Right or left dress was usually lengthened into the command to "Look to the left and dress!" or right, as the case might be. "Stop!" or "Hold!" was the command for halt. It is also said that although keeping step was a matter indifference or beyond the control of some of the privates, they were nevertheless permitted to remain in ranks and follow as best they could or would through the drills.
Company, battalion, and regimental drills were conducted on the Russell Old Field from May to October, making a total of at least six different musters on that tract every year. It became a great gathering place, especially when a Big Muster (a battalion or regimental drill) was scheduled. Horse-races on such occaisons were then by far the most prominent feature on the program, and they soon became more frauds than the drills were farces...
There's a lot more to this. In our next installment, you'll read more about what happened during a militia muster. Don't miss out on our next exciting installment of Rambling Anecdotes. Brought to you by Rich Lucibella and the staff of TFL.
November 9, 2006, 11:22 PM
We continue our tale of the militia muster.
Every nation has a memorable day - a day of songs and rejoicings. With us the fourth of July, twenty-second of February, and Christmas, are all holidays, or days of joy and pleasure. But of all the grand days in this martial old Commonwealth of ours, those set apart for militia training are (at least in the estimation of militia captains) the grandest and most exciting. If you should happen within ten miles of a mlitia muster on one of those eventful days, every step you took, and every object that met your gaze, would remind you of war, with its glorious and thrilling panoply, its noise and wild tumult. Boys, negroes, and men, on foot and on horseback, in cart, wagon, and carriage, single, double, and treble, are crowding from every direction and hurrying with anxious speed toward the scene where mimic battles are to be fought and won. Old shotguns, rustly rifles, long-untried fowling-pieces, cornstalks, and hickory sticks are in great demand, while the Sunday fineries, drawn from their secret hiding-places, adorn the martial forms of their proud-treading owners. Cider-wagons, ginger-cakes, apples, whiskey, and all the other et ceteras of the camp, are rushing pellmell into the place of rendezvous. Arriving at the parade field, your ears are greeted with every imaginable noise - the squealing of pigs, neighing of chargers, barking of dogs, braying of asses, laughing of happy negroes, and hoarse commands of military chieftains being mingled together in the most harmonious concord of discord. Jingling spurs, rusty sabers, black cockades, and the fierce little red plume, everywhere meet your wandering eye and fill up the interstices of this moving, animated scene.
Such an exhibition of warlike enthusiasm might have been seen, if you had only been present, dear reader, at Pleasant Grove, on the morning after the night described in our last chapter. Noise and wild confusion were the order of the day. The thrilling fife and a cracked drum were pealing forth their stirring notes, and calling loudly upon the brave sons of old Kentucky to shoulder their arms and sustain the glory of their ancestors. Generals, colonels, majors, captains (we have no lack of titled gentry in Kentucky), and privates were mingled together in a confusd mass, talking, laughing, shouting, swearing, drinking, and eveyr now and then taking a pleasant knock-down, merely to vary the bill of entertainment, keep up the excitement, and cultivate a proper military ardour. Candidates were there, too (like all other aspirants for office), shaking hands, treating, speaking, and making known to the warlike assembly the past, present, and future (they were no prophets, merely reasoning from cause to effect) glory and renown of Kentucky and her gallant sons. Horse-racing, cock-fighting, rifle-shooting, wrestling, and boxing, upon this occaison, all had their votaries, and all were busily engaged in their respective amusements. Bable, in her planiest day, was a mere "tempest in a teapot" compared with a militia muster in the backwoods of Kentucky. The Carnival at Rome or the ancient Saturnalia of the Romans, in the very height of their revelling, would be tame and insipid when placed in juxtaposition with such an occasion. We know of nothing that can be compared, for noise and wild confusion, with a regiment of boisterous, merrry, reckless militia, along with their chivalrous leaders, adorned with flowing red sahs, bullet-button coats, tin-foil epaulets, and stiff, ragged, red plumes, just preceding or succeeding "the training."
But suddenly a great change comes over the moving, tossing mass gathered on the battlefield at Pleasant Grove. Some order (a devilish little, by-the-by, if it can be called order at all) takes the place of the late disorder, and a comparative calm - in a figurative sense - settles down upon this raging storm. The commanding officer of the day, strippling his saddle of its red girth, belts on his trusty, trenchant blade, dons his swallow-tailed blue, adorned with bullet-buttons and red tape, borrows the best charger he can find, scrambles on his back with the assistance of a stump or a kind hand, and, when once safely moored, waves his plumed beaver around his warlike head and shouts his order to parade. Now comes a busy, stirring, wild and moving panorama. Men, before ignoble and unknown from the common herd, draw from their bosoms, pockets, and hats the red plume and sash (that is if they are so lucky to have any), and soon become leaders and chieftains of the day. A fierce struggle now commences who shall get their companies first formed into a line, or who shall first gain a preemption right to the shade of a tree, under which to marshal and form. Although each company has, or rather has had at some former time, a captain and inferior officers (for they often assemble on parade-ground with out any), in reality every man in the corps, being fully competent to command, takes the responsibility of giving orders.
In our next installment, we'll learn more about how the companies form up and drilled.
November 12, 2006, 08:03 PM
In our final installment, we learn the difficulties of the militia.
It may be thought an easy matter by the inexperienced to form a company of men into a straight line; but if it is so, our militia captains have never discovered that fact. They commence at one end of the winding line, and with threats, entreaties, and much trouble to get a tolerably fair and straight row, especially if there be any corn-ridges in the immediate neighborhood, but, unfortunately, before they reach the other extreme, their soldiers having a predisposition for Mahometanism, are generally in a crescent, and then they are compelled to begin afresh. And thus we have seen them go on for hours and hours, and at last end of their labours, not being in much better array or condition than at the beginning of their arduous and impossible undertaking. Tall, low, long, short, thin, and fat, old and young, men and boys, clothed with fur and wool hats, caps, and no hats at all; cloth coats and jeans, calico and linsey, and no coats at all; boots, shoes, and moccasins, and no shoes at all; new and old pants, white, black, and striped, and no pants at all; shirts ruffled and unruffled, white, black, green, and gray, cotton, linen, and calico, and no shirts at all - are all mingled together in the most beautiful and checkered confusion, giving a motley and ludicrous appearance to the ununiformed, straggling, and crooked corps.
The officers are generally the most silly and ignorant men of the community, for none but such will seek a command in so farcical a concern as a militia company; and most frequently elected, as the saying is, unanimously, for they are considered most “unanimous fools,” and no one will vote either for or against them. As for a knowledge of military tactics, they never dream of any such thing. They are unable (with a few exceptions, of course) to form even a straight line, unless they have the assistance of a ditch or a corn-row, and as for giving any other orders save “About face!” to which they add “right!”) “March!” it is a thing not only unknown but unheard of. Those who can read are accustomed to carry “Scott’s Tactics” in their pockets, from which they read out the different commands for manoeuvres, but as for knowing what it is then to be done, after spelling through the various movements, they don’t think of such a thing, for it is none of their business. They are placed there to give the orders, and it is the duty of the company to obey; and if they fail to do so, then it is their own fault, for their skilful captains have read out all the necessary instructions as plain as Scott himself could give them.
If militia musters were like this, I'd attend too for fun & food.
November 23, 2006, 12:46 AM
From the dustbin of history, we have a Western tale of an almost train robbery and then a consolation stick-up.
One of the few old stories occasionally told around the mines is of what is known as the "Dovey Robbery." One day during the summer of 1881 a stranger came to the Dovey mines at Mercer, then operated by John Dovey and his sons William and George B. Dovey. He asked for employment, and was told that he could go to work in a few days. In the conversation that followed he inquired in a casual way as to when the railroad pay-train would be due and was informed that it had passed through the morning before. John Dovey incidentally remarked that the following day was pay-day for their miners, and that William Dovey had gone for the money and would return some time during the night. The next morning, after all the miners had gone to work, three strangers entered the Dovey store. Two of them immediately stepped in front of the building and guarded the place, while the third remained int he store and with cocked pistol in hand demanded the contents of the safe. George B. Dovey unhesitantingly opened the safe and proceeded to hand out all it contained - about thirteen dollars in cash and a gold watch with his father's name engraved on it. William Dovey, expected home the night before, had been delayed and had not yet arrived with the pay-roll money, which would have been in the safe had he come back at the time he orginally intended to return. In the meantime two men and a woman, living near the mines, came to the store to make purchases. They entered the building, little suspecting that the two starngers in front were guarding the place. Immediately after they had stepped in, one of the strangers followed and with drawn pistol politely requested them to sit down and keep quite while "young Mr. Dovey was transacting business with his friend." (George B. Dovey was then nineteen years of age.) After the robbers were satisfied that they had gotten all the cash and the only watch in the store, they quietly walked out of the building. By the time the three customers and George B. Dovey had recovered sufficiently from the shock to step to the front door the three strangers were nowhere to be seen. However, an investigation made shortly after showed that the robbers had gone toward Pond Creek, then to Rosewood, and across the cliffs into Logan County. It was not known until about a year later that Jesse James was the man who had robbed the store, and that he had come to Mercer for the purpose of robbing the pay-train. In April, 1882, when Jesse James was killed, the John Dovey watch was among the things found in his posssesion, and his administrator, seeing the name engraved on it, located the Doveys and returned the stolen property.
It confirms that Jesse died, didn't it? At least he isn't in hiding along with Elvis.
November 25, 2006, 12:45 PM
The Dovey Mine at Mercer? In what state or territory was that?
November 26, 2006, 01:10 AM
November 26, 2006, 10:39 PM
"Gen. Granger is very rough on this march. He whipped an infantry man with a rope & was going to do so to Corp. Cogswell of No. I; but Cogswell tried to get hold of the Gen to choke him & it finally ended. Sheridan choked a lieut. of Bat A 1st Ill. at Chickamauga creek, & came very near being shot for it..."
Letter of George E. Dolton to his wife. Published in The Path of Patriotism, page 105.
Can't find it now, but there's an account of Union Gen. John Geary berating the men and a couple of them responding by beating him up, dashing into the crowd before he could retaliate. Of course, no one saw what happened.
November 27, 2006, 12:05 AM
"A bullet has just passed, making as great a noise & similar to a cat when hurt. These cause such remarks as, "Feed that cat." "Keep your cats at home." "Poor Johnnies got nothing for your cats to eat" etc. etc. - I suppose that over 200 of these rebel messengers have passed us within 24 hrs..."
From The Path of Patriotism, Civil War letters of George E. Dolton, ed. by Theodore A. Dolton. page 144.
December 1, 2006, 09:34 AM
Your story about the officer being 'kicked out' of the 28th Alabama was especially interesting to me because my G-Grandfather was a First Lieutenant in that regiment. Fortunately, his name wasn't Tucker!
December 1, 2006, 01:13 PM
I really love the history of 19th century America. Being deployed, I don't have many books with me, and internet access is pretty unreliable for any great length of time.
I just wanted to let you know how very much I enjoy your anecdotes, and all the work that must go into researching and compiling them.
Thanks for making things here just a bit more bearable.
December 6, 2006, 11:42 PM
WPA -if you have any family stories from the Late Unpleasantness between states, please share them.
38splfan - you're welcome and thank you and your buddies for serving our nation.
Remember that old poem that ended with "go to your God like a soldier?" Methinks Rudyard Kipling wrote that. So, what distinguishes a soldier of the 19th Century from a civilian? Read the following thread and judge for yourself.
"There was an enemy that used to cause the boys considerable trouble and time to keep in decent state of subjection, and it was no uncommon sight to see many at the same time engaged in this common warfare. One day while in Pa. one of the boys had his shirt off skirmishing when an old citizen came along and stopped to look at him, the soldier taking no notice. "Are they fleas?" said the old citizen. "Fleas!" said the soldier in a voice of thunder and expressing great indignation. "What do you take me to be, a d*****d dog? No, I'm a soldier, and they are lice."
December 9, 2006, 05:37 PM
A German Jager officer's view of the Continental American Army of the Revolution.
Concerning the American army, one should not think that it can be compared to a motely crowd of farmers. The so-called Continental, or standing, regiments are under good disicipline and drill in the English style as well as the English themselves. I have seen the Rhode Island Regiment march and perform several mountings of the guard which left nothing to criticize. The men were complete masters of their legs, carried their weapons well, held their heads straight, faced right without moving an eye, and wheeled so excellently without their officers having to shout much, that the regiment looked like it was dressed in line with a string...
Since the American nation consists of slender and well-formed people, it is an easily recognizable fact that the regiments of this army consist of handsome, and for the soldier's profession, well-built men whose appearance suffers very much indeed from a lack of clothing, hats, and shoes. For I have seen many soldiers of this army without shoes, with tattered breeches and uniforms patched with all sorts of colored cloth, without neckband and only the lid of a hat, who marched and stood their guard as proudly as the best uniformed soldier in the world, despite the raw weather and hard rain in October. But he keeps his piece clean and shining, and powders his hair as white as possible with provisions flour when on grand parades.
We've come a long way and hat's off to the patriots of 1775-1783! :)
December 12, 2006, 11:08 PM
"This man was born in New England in North America. He learned pharmaceutics and established himself in business. Then, in an unlawful way, he declared himself bankrupt. Afterward, he engaged in horse trading in the West Indies and sailed his own vessel there. As soon as the unrest arose in America, he became one of the most fiery and zealous of rebels, and was chosen a general by his comrades...
"In 1780 the Congress entrusted him with the important post of West Point, where he then played the cunning trick on his countrymen which brught the good (Major) Andre to grief.
"He was a man of medium size, well built, with lively eyes and fine features. He could be very polite and agreeable, especially at the table, but if one stayed too long in his company, then the apothecary and horse trader showed through the general. He spoke a great deal about his heroic deeds on the other side, and frequently mentioned his ingenious trick at West Point, a story which he could make ridiculous with much wit.
"In his military actions he constantly displayed his former resolution, which, however, was mixed with a cautious concern due to his fear of the gallows if he fell into the hands of his countrymen. He always carried a pair of small pistols in his pocket as a last resource to escape being hanged. I have watched him very closely, and I found him very restless on the day the Americans threatened to take Portsmouth with a coup de main. On that day, he was not the 'American Hannibal.'
"His dishonorable undertaking, which, had it succeeded, could have actually turned the war more favorably for England, nevertheless cannot be justified, for surely self-gain alone had guided him, and not remorse for having taken the other side. If he really felt in his conscience that he had done wrong in siding against his mother country, he should have sheathed his sword and served no more, and then made known in writing his opinions and reasons. This would have gained more proselytes than his shameful enterprise, which every man of honor and fine feelings - whether he be friend or foe of the common cause - must loathe."
Here you have it from a German Jager Captain, Johann Ewald, who served under Clinton, Arnold, Phillips (died in Petersburg, VA) and Cornwallis. He served alongside Simcoe (Queen's Rangers) and Tarleton (British Legion).
December 17, 2006, 01:53 PM
As shooters, we should be respectful of one another. Here's a case of correcting a disrespectful soldier who discharged his firearm in the proximity of the ear of another soldier.
"It was here that Brown I have spoken of was showing off after the works were shoulder high. I stood close to the breastwork and he was behind me, and a man to my left stuck his gun out between us and fired, the muzzle nearly opposite my ear. I told him to get up near the work if he wanted to fire. He made some remark about firing where he pleased. I told him not to fire his gun in my ear again or I would take a shot to the rear. He decided from the smiles of the other boys tht I had the best of the argument and although he was a corporal, he had better let the matter drop. We had but little trouble with him afterward and he was discharged with the others at the expiration of his term in September.”
December 22, 2006, 11:51 PM
The following account is given by a Civil War chaplain.
The doctors mounted and I did the same. They were gallant young surgeons. One rode on either side of me and several men were mounted and followed after us. To an excited lieutenant who had charge of the ambulance I looked very much like a general. Riding up in front of our calvacade and tipping his hat to me, he said: "General, where shall I direct the ambulances?" I did not undeceive him but replied, in a tone of authority: "Have them driven to Fairfax!" I knew that so far the command was correct, and the lieutenant did as I told him. We marched the night through, having had nothing to eat all day except parched corn. At four o'clock next morning, having passed over a small river, the Occoquon, I think, and finding ourselves safely out of the trap, we halted, tied our horses to some small trees, and, though it was raining gently, slept on the ground until seven. Then started again, and, coming to a small log cabin, entered and asked for something to eat. The poor people seemed to be alarmed and said they had nothing. "Oh," we said, "we do not wish to deprive you, and we are willing to pay." Then, they took courage and gave us some fat pork, corn bread, and a kind of coffee, made, I think, out of burned peas. But it was warm. There were three of us, the two doctors and myself. We gave our hosts five dollars, and they were delighted, and so were we. Hunger made that breakfast the most delicious we had in six months. We continued our journey, and when we reached Fairfax, again near to our troops, we saw a tent where a sutler was selling cakes and canned meats. One of my companions went in to make our pruchases while I stayed outside with the other. After marching all night and sleeping in the rain, I had been mistaken on the evening previous. While standing outside the sutler's tent, covered with mud, horse-hair, and oak-leaves, my hair and beard, unkempt and uncombed for three days, flying in the wind, a man on horseback dashed up to the same tent, dismounted and with considerable nonchalance, and with scarcely a glance at me, peremptorily ordered me to hold his horse. Suiting his actions to his words, he extended his bridle-rein toward me. It was customary in those days to hand a boy or an idle loafer ten or twenty-five cents for holding an officer's horse for a short time. The occurence was somewhat stunning. "How hath my greatness fallen in one night!" I soliloquized. "Last night I was taken for a general; this morning I am taken for a loafer waiting to earn ten or twenty-five cents." The man who commanded me to hold his horse was not an officer, as far as I could ascertain. He looked like one who was earnest in his duty. Just as he was extending the bridle-rein to me, the doctor, who had been making the purchases in the tent, came out, and, lifting his right hand to his hat very politely, by way of salute, said: "General (keeping up the joke), I have a good supply for to-day." The stranger who owned the horse looked sharply at me, with terror in his face, and quickly darted out of sight. He seemed confounded at the thought of having asked a general to hold his horse.
The Chaplain in question is Father William Corby of the Irish Brigade. He is best known for offering absolution to the Irish Brigade before they plunged into the maelstrom known as Gettysburg. So touching was the moment that even General Winfield Hancock doffed his hat while he watched from a distance. If you visit Gettysburg today, you will find a statute of Father Corby there.
Have a safe & Merry Christmas everyone.
December 30, 2006, 12:57 PM
You might have been misled to think that we're talking about some occupant of an exotic aquarium where colorful fish fight over territory and breeding rights. Rest assured, dear Reader, that nothing of the sort has been proffered upon you. This is, after all, a respectable black-powder forum and most of us are not fish mongers or spectators in aquatic combat. Instead, we have a tale of fish fighting as opposed to fist fighting. Read on to learn of this ludicrous tale from the days gone by.
"During one of the operations to the left, and after the troops had been withdrawn from the entrencments peparatory to marching, we received what, under the circumstances, was a very peculiar ration and the only one of the kind that I remember to have seen issued during our term of service, namely, a ration of dried codfish. The brigade commissary must have had a large supply on hand and been very anxious to get rid of it, for each man received either an entire fish or a very large half. Had we been remaining in camp, where they could have been properly prepared, they would have made an acceptable addition to our men, for soaked, boiled, and minced with potatoes and made into cakes or balls, they are not bad eating. But what should we do with them on a march, and perhaps in battle? A column of men, each with a codfish strapped to his knapsack, would make a ludicrous spectacle. They might have been worn on the breast as bullet-protectors, but the odor was so strong that unless we had kept well to the windward of the enemy it would have warned them of our approach, and anyway, who wanted to be found dead with a deader codfish clasped to his bosom? Had we belonged to the artillery we might have used them as missiles of war, and I have no doubt that in the half-starved condition of the enemy there would have been a regular stampeded from all parts of their line as soon as they found that we were using codfish for cannon balls (patent applied for). Take it all in all, those immigrants from Newfoundland caused us considerable perplexity, until one comrade with mischief prepense quietly swiped another over the head with one. The question was solved. The blow had been struck, war was declared. From man to man, from company to company, from regiment to regiment, the wave of battle swept. None thought of saving ammunition; the air was thick with 'flying fish,' and so the historic battle of the cod raged until the order came to march, and the troops marched off leaving the field covered with the dead (codfish)."
And that's our tale of fighting fish. Have a safe and happy New Year.
January 9, 2007, 06:41 PM
From The History of Walker's Texas Division, we have the amusing anecdotes of one sergeant or the advantages of a medical education.
"On our trip down the river one of our doctors took a little too much 'benzine.' (Notwithstanding it was wartimes, there was a bar-room on every boat that plied on Red River. As a matter of course, no privates need apply.) The doctor had for his companion an ordnance-sergeant, belonging to the ___ Regiment, whome he frequently treated. While emptying the glass, the M.D.'s conversation was about medicine, and he commenced spouting Latin, which led the bar-keeper to believe that they were both doctors. After they had had several drinks together, the 'doctor's' head became dizzy; so he concluded to go to his state-room, leaving the ordnance-sergeant the bar-keeper's guest. Several soldiers were lookers-on, putting one in the mind of the fable of 'The fox and the grapes.' One of the soldiers, more witty than the rest, approached the ordnance-sergeant, addressing him as 'doctor,' and asked for his permission to get some whiskey. The sergeant being a jolly fellow, understood the joke, and at once ordered the bar-keeper to let his men have as much whiskey as they wanted; at the same time notifying the men not to get drunk, as he would be held responsible for their behavior. The commander of the regiment, seeing his men merrier than common, soon ascertained the facts, and the bar-keeper was immediately placed under arrest; and he, to save himself from being court-martialed, went in pursuit of the would-be doctor, and had him arrested. The bar-keeper was soon set at liberty."
End of Part I. In Part II, we'll see further adventures of the anonymous sergeant.
January 12, 2007, 11:36 AM
In this installment, we'll see more misadventures of the anonymous sergeant.
A short time afterwards this same ordnance-sergeant appeared in the role of a conscript officer, on Black River, which he carried out to perfection. Getting tired of camp-life, he strayed away from camp, for the purpose of getting a good dinner. He came across a house, ten miles from camp, and seeing no soldiers about, he alighted and asked for dinner. As dinner was getting ready for him, he got into a conversation with the host of the house. He soon discovered that he was not in the service. He informed the host of the house that he was a conscript officer. On hearing this announcement, the host begged him not to conscript him, as he had to provide for fifty soldiers' wives and widows. After dinner, the ordnance-sergeant, alias the conscript officer, asked what his bill for dinner was. The host replied that he would make no charge, and gave him to understand that as long as he was in the neighborhood, he was welcome to make his headquarters at his house. Thanking him for his kindness, he informed him that, as a conscript officer, it would be necessary, before he could exempt him from military duty, to have fifty soldiers' wives and widows at his house the next day, as he wanted to witness them himself. The following day he came again to dinner, when, sure enough, he beheld fifty soldiers' wives or widows present. After eating dinner, he made a patriotic speech to the women. He told them, in case they failed to get a good support from the party that he had exempted from military service, they must write to his headquarters at Shreveport.
January 22, 2007, 08:33 PM
Reuben F. Bernard was working on the corn. Every time his hoe struck a corn tassel, a cloud of yellow pollen was released and he'd sneeze. Tired of it and unwilling to live a life of a farmer, he ran away from home and took to blacksmithing. Learning quickly, he left the trade and joined the U.S. Cavalry. Well,while on leave, it turns out that the Democrats and Republicans were vying for the Presidency and Bernard was a Republican. Many supporters of Lincoln took to wearing tall stove pipe hats in support of their man. The message was not lost on the democrats.
Well, ole Reuben (actually a young man then) was dared to wear such a hat and Reuben never backed down from a dare (he was young, remember?). Tall and well built, he probably figured he'd have no trouble, or so he thought.
"I suppose you with your stove-pipe hat would like to settle matters with me!" shouted one big fellow who had imbibed freely before marching up and down the street and politicking loudly for the Democrats. The big fellow challenged anyone who thought differently to settle it with fisticuffs. Not exactly democratic, but certainly calculated to make an impression.
Well, the big fellow spied Reuben and smashed the hat down over Reuben's eyes and ears. The crowd broke out in laughter and the hat was so well jammed over Reuben's head that it took a while for him to pry it off. He clawed at the hat, tearing it piece by piece off until his vision was restored. Angered, he came out swinging and the big fellow swung back.
Like two mighty warriors, they traded blow for blow in the manner of Achilles and Hector. The two champions pummelled each other to the delight of the crowd. Finally, Mars favored Reuben and he knocked the big fellow out. It was the only Republican victory in Tennessee as the state casted its vote along Democratic Party lines.
Reuben Bernard was later commissioned an officer and brevetted as a colonel during the Civil War. His conduct during the fights against the various Indian tribes won him his brevet-Brigadier General rank. He retired as a Lt-Col in the regulars.
February 12, 2007, 07:19 PM
We're not talking about disease or some sort of virus. Imagine a marksman hiding behind a bush, sighting his weapon on an unwary foe. He squeezes the trigger. The foeman is talking with his comrades when he suddenly jumps and falls down dead. Puzzled, his comrades roll him over and much to their surprise, see blood pouring from him. Looking around, no smoke is seen and as no shot was heard, they grow uneasy and run as another of their number soon falls dead to the silent killer. Fiction? No, it's silent killing with an airgun in the flintlock era before the 19th Century. It would take another fifty years before a reliable repeater would be produced and about a century before silenced firearms were feasible.Click here and go to the Girandoni Airgun video. (http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/)
February 18, 2007, 04:44 PM
Amateur bakers do a brisk business, until overcome by their own success! Read it here at Rambling Anecdotes.
Two of the boys (of Eastern Shore celebrity in mischief) procured about a bushel of flour, and some sugar and saleratus (Gary's note: baking soda), borrowed a sheet-iron kettle of one of the officers' servants, obtained a lot of fat salt pork, and went into business. They first washed all the salt from the pork, dried it out, mixed their flour with sugar and saleratus, let it rise, and then made some of the finest doughnuts, as they supposed, that were ever served up; at all events they were 'done brown.' When they had made a great pile of them, they opened shop, and never before was there such a rush to procure some of those elegant doughnuts. The pile was soon gone at five for twenty-five cents, and the demand soon exceeded the supply. Occasionally a man was found who had the temerity to express the opinion that they were rather tough, and were good specimens of home-made India rubber; but he was immediately frowned down as a barbarian, and a man devoid of epicurian tastes. The sale kept up so briskly that by night the batter was almost exhausted, and the firm closed up their business for the day, estimated their profits, and talked over their plans for the future. But they were in a quandry. The batter was nearly gone, and no more flour could be obtained within range of their guns. Suddenly the contracted brow of H. relaxed from its thoughtful aspect, and his face lit up with a genial smile. He had struck an idea, and was like a goldminer when he pans out a rich lot of 'pay dirt.' 'Eureka!' he exclaimed, quoting Archimedes. They had still on hand a quantity of saleratus, which up to this time was looked upon as dead stock, but now it was worth its weight in gold. 'What idea have you struck, pards?' asked H.'s colleague. 'Why, you noodle-head, its very plain - put in more saleratus!' 'That's the cheese! Why didn't you think of that before?' The saleratus was added in generous quantity, and they turned in and went to sleep, probably dreaming of light doughnuts for the million - so light, in fact, that a piece of dough the size of a walnut would turn into a doughnut the size of a pumpkin. At all events, they must have dreamed on promiscuous subjects, for they had partaken of their own stock in trade to show their faith in home manufactures. I am not positive that this was the identical night that the whole camp was aroused by fearful screams, and the men gasped their rifles, and the officers rushed out of their tents clad in Georgia costumes (Gary's note: undergarments), swords and revolvers in hand, supposing at first that then enemy had captured the camp and were bayonetting the men in their tents, until it was discovered that a somnambulist of Company F had jumped up in a nightmare and was trying to climb a tree before he was awakened, having dreamed that one of Hood's Texas Rangers was trying to scalp him. At all events this was the camp where this identical thing happened, and this naturally ought to have been the night, for never before were the men's stomachs so full.
In the morning the firm were roused from their dreams of wealth by reveille, and jumped up in a hurry. But what a sight met their eyes! Dough, dough, dough everywhere! The fact of it was, their stock had risen about one hundred and fifty per cent, above par, and kept on rising. The floor of their tent, blankets, rifles, cartridge-boxes, and everything else, were covered in layers of dough, and they could be traced out to the line for roll call by a string of dough. This was something that had not entered into their calculations. They, however, did well in business that day, and added saleratus, as their batter decreased, until the compound was so sour that all the sugar they could beg, borrow, or steal was not sufficient to sweeten it enough to suit the most depraved taste. Accordingly one night, after a very dull day's trade, they buried what remained of their stock in a hole outside their tent, in the company street. But their astonishment was great in the morning at the finding that the stuff refused to stay buried, and had burst through the crust of earth over it, and, like a fountain, was sending out its streams, whereupon they were obliged to heap several bushels of dirt over the spot to prevent its ressurection. The next morning they looked out of their tent with anything but confidence, expecting to see a new eruptoin. The were agreeable disappointed, and thus ends the long, but true story of the 'Zouave' doughnuts.
Thus concludes our story of a misadventure on the Yorktown Peninsula. D*mn Yankees. :p
March 4, 2007, 11:10 PM
This rambling anecdote is a break from tradition. Rather than focus on one incident, here's some stories to tickle your funny bone. Enjoy!
“I have spiked their gun for them.” - Capt. Hubert Dilger, Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, after personally sighting his Napoleon and knocking out a Confederate gun on Oak Hill by striking it on the muzzle with a single shot.
Rev. Henry Ward Beecher to a London audience, one of whom asked “If your cause is so righteous with your great Northern strength, why don’t you put the rebellion down?”
“Because we are fighting Americans and not Englishmen.”
Sen. Benjamin F. Wade, on Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase: “Chase is a good man, but his theology is unsound. He thinks there is a fourth person in the Trinity.”
“I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have played the part of a **** scoundrel, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it…”
Nathan B. Forrest to Braxton Bragg
“Too late, sir, the battle is won.”
Richard Taylor after the Battle of Mansfield to a messenger from Kirby Smith ordering him to retreat
March 10, 2007, 06:46 PM
In his review of Washington's Army in July, 1781, Baron Ludwing von Closen, a member of Rochambeau's staff, made the following observations:
It is really painful to see these brave men, almost naked, with only some trousers and linen jackets, most of them without stockings, but, would you believe it? Very cheerful and happy in appearance...
The only American regiment that impressed Bavarian von Closen was the Rhode Island Regiment which was largely composed of black troops.
the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in manuevers.
French Chaplain Claude Robins aso commented that the Americans travelled with only forty pounds of baggage per 3-4 men whereas the French were almost doubled over because of their baggage in addition to each regiment requiring 14 wagons!
March 12, 2007, 11:50 PM
OK, I'm sure many of you who have read about gray as a uniform color. It certainly blended in better with the woods than the blue worn by the Federal soldiers. It didn't take much for a Confederate to lie down, throw some leaves atop of himself and virtually disappear from sight. One 15 year old girl in Gettysburg commented how bad the Confederates looked, until her father pointed to some a nearby fellow who was sitting down tying his shoelaces. She was shocked he was so close and yet escaped her sight. In the blackpowder era, the white sulphourous clouds of smoke also made it difficult to see an opponent dressed in gray. It blended and other colors stood out more and therefore were shot more. The British Army proved it in experiments (but still didn't discard the red for gray). Well, there's another advantage to gray and you can learn it from one Confederate:
THere I learned that in moving and occupying the same grounds occupied by others, that cleanliness is no bar to lice. The color of the Confederate uniform had the advantage over the Federal in not showing them when on the outside of the clothing.
You learned it here first, at The Firing Line.
March 16, 2007, 02:11 AM
Earlier I posted what some 19th Century Americans felt towards tobacco and it was not seen in a positive light. Today, I present another aspect and this time, the utility of tobacco is clearly proven as a life saving device.
Imagine two Army scouts in Indian Country. As volunteers, they've left their surrounded command which has been shot up and besieged on a tiny island in the middle of a shallow river. They're attempting to cross 100 miles of hostile terrority to reach an army post to summon help to rescue their comrades. Surrounded by nothing but prairie grass, they lay motionless in a buffalo wallow. About 100 feet away is a large party of Indians. But there is a closer threat: a rattlesnake that is wriggling towards the scouts. To shoot it would alert the Indians to their presence. To remain still would invite death by snakebite. Either prospect was not promising for our gallant heroes. Here's where the tobbaco chewing habits of Jack Stillman came in handy. As the snake slithered closer, its tongue flickering menacingly, the men tensed. Either luck or years of practice came into play as Jack shot a wad of tobacco juice right into the snake's face. Immediately the rattler veered away from Jack and his comrade and disappeared into the wallow. Our scouts remained undetected by the Indians. Jack and his comrade made it through and their command was saved by a rescue party of the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers).
March 18, 2007, 09:11 PM
This really happened... no sh*t.
After the Battle of Beecher Island, many surviving U.S. Army scouts forever had a hatred of the red man. Scout Pierre Trudeau and Jack Donovan, riding in advance of their command, had paused to allow their mules water themselves in the South Fork of the Republican River. They saw three stray horses and thought it peculiar. Suddenly, four Indians jumped up and three mounted the horses and fled. The fourth attempted to flee on foot. Having only mules, Trudeau and Donovan were too slow to catch the Indians on horses but they knew they could run down the one on foot. So, off they rode in pursuit. The indian zig zag as he ran, preventing the scouts from getting a good shot at him and their bullets struck on either side of him.
Firing a rifle, Trudeau hit the Indian in the leg, crippling him. After hopping a short distance, the Indian stops and gallantly makes a stand and tries to make the scouts pay dearly for their pursuit. He turns about and fires his Colt revolver at them. They fire back and he is seen to throw away his Colt. :eek:
Since Indians never showed mercy to prisoners caught on the plains, the scouts decided that no mercy would be shown to the Indian despite his being wounded and unarmed. After dispatching him, they recover the discarded Colt and discovered why he threw it aside. A bullet lodged between the barrel and the cylinder, thereby preventing the cylinder from rotating. Use only good ammo folks.
Now that's bad ammo!
April 3, 2007, 08:18 PM
From Charles James's "A New and Enlarged Military Dictionary," of 1805 vintage, we find the following defintions:
CROATS. Light irregular troops. "They are ordered upon all desperate services.
ARMS. A long firelock with rifled barrel, a short bayonet, a brace of pistols. Maria Theresa employed 5,000 of these irregular troops, "the greater part of which had no pay, but lived on plunder, on the acquisition of which they are remarkably dexterous.
PANDOURS, SCLAVARIANS, who inhabit the banks of the Drave. "The pandours were originally a corps of infantry named Ruitza; and their chief occupation or duty was to clear the highroads of thieves." They first made their appearance in Germany under Baron Trenck, 1741...
Tolpatches or Talpatches. A nickname of the Hungarian foot soldier, usually used as an insult.
CRABBATES. I have not yet discovered what type of rascals these were.
Gotta love that last group, the Crabbates. :p
April 4, 2007, 06:07 AM
Theodore Roosevelt: Raising the Regiment
April 12, 2007, 09:19 PM
"Corporal Si Klegg and his 'Pard'" is a novelised account of the average Civil War soldier. It was written by 65th Ohio Infantry Lt. Col. Wilbur F. Hinman in 1887 and from what I know of the Civil War soldier, is pretty accurate. On page 254 is a note by the author in which he describes a future president of the United States of America.
During a long midsummer march, the writer saw a robust brigadier-general, who was afterward President of the United States, engaged in hunting the pediculus, with his nether garment spread out upon his knees in the popular style. It was just after the army had bivouacked for the night at the end of a hard day's march. The soldiers had no tents, nor anything else to speak of - except graybacks. These were exceedingly numerous and active. The general had wandered out back of his headquarters, and, squatting behind a large tree, applied his energies to the work of "skirmishing," while the setting sun cast a mellow glow over the touching scene. Not far way, behind the other big trees, were two of his staff officers similarly engaged - cracking jokes and graybacks.
"Skirmishing" was a soldier's term not only for fighting in open order but also for pest control. Grayback or pediculus is body lice. The general mentioned is likely Grant.
May 1, 2007, 09:27 PM
Sometimes its good that some traditions die. Here's some salty talk from the Seventeenth Century.
The Lyar. The Liar is to hold his place but for a weeke, and hee that is first taken with a lie, every Munday is so proclaimed at the maine mast by a generall cry, a Liar, a Liar, a Liar, hee is under the Swabber, and onely to keepe cleane the beake head, and chaines.
So, what is a Swabber you ask?
The Swabber. The Swabber is to wash and keepe cleane the ship and maps.
May 21, 2007, 10:19 PM
Here's a story of an overbearing officer and the men he chastised:
...While engaged in another artillery encounter, our detachment received a very peremptory and officious order from Major Shoemaker, commanding the artillery of the division. My friend and former messmate, W. G. Williamson,now a lieutenant of engineers, having no duty in that line to perform, had hunted us up, and, with his innate gallantry, was serving as a cannoneer at the gun. Offended at Shoemaker's insolent and ostentatious manner, we answered him as he deserved. Furious at such impudence and insubordination, he was almost ready to lop our heads off with his drawn sword, when Williamson informed him that he was a commissioned officer and would see him at the devil before he would submit to such uncalled-for interference.
'If you are a commissioned officer,' Shoemaker replied, 'why are you here, working at a gun?'
'Because I had not been assigned to other duty,' was Williamson's reply, 'and I chose to come back, for the time being, with my old battery.'
'Then I order you under arrest for your disrespect to a superior officer!' said Shoemaker.
The case was promptly reported to General Jackson, and Williamson was promptly released. The bombastic major had little idea that among the men he was so uselessly reprimanding was a son of General [Robert E.] Lee, as well as Lieutenant Williamson, who was a nephew of Gen. Dick Garnett, who was later killed in Pickett's charge at Gettysburg.
One time Lee's son was in a begrimed state when he saw his father and called out to him. The great general failed to recognize the common soldier who hailed him. Lee's son the pleaded, "Father, do you not recognize me?" Opps.
May 27, 2007, 08:59 AM
There were many names, words and phrases in the free-and-easy language of soldiers that were universal. It seemed as though some of them had their origin spontaneously, and at the same time, in armies hundreds of miles apart; or, starting at one point, they were carried upon the winds to the remotest camps. Whenever the flag floated, the staff of army life was called "hardtack." Its adjunct, bacon, was known by that name only on the requisitions and books of the commissaries. An officer's shoulder-straps were 'sardine-boxes' and his sowrd was a "toad-stabber" or "cheese-knife." A brigade commander was a "jidadier-brindle'" camp rumors were "grapevines;" marching was "hoofing it;" troops permanently stationed in the rear were known as "feather-bed soldiers;" and raw recruits were "fresh-fish." Among scores of expressions, many of them devoid of sense or meaning except as they were used by the soldiers, were "Grab a root:" "Hain't got the sand;" "Git Thar', Eli;" "Here's yer mule;" "Same old rijiment only we've drawed new clothes;" "Go for 'em;" "Hunt yer holes;" "Bully fer you." The word "bully" - more expressive than elegant - entered largely into the army vernacular; it seemed to "fit" almost anything.
As far as I can tell, "fish" is still used today with reference to newly arrived inmates. The term "fresh-fish" was used as far back as the American Revolution. The only other term that is still used today that I'm aware of is grapevine.
May 27, 2007, 11:11 AM
Well I remember My Grandfather saying he was going to "Hoof it to town" on "Shanks Mare". "Ain't got the sand" is still used some places.
May 27, 2007, 11:49 AM
". . . the staff of army life was called "hartack." Clearly, this is a minor corruption of “hard tack,” the VERY hard and frequently weevily ration biscuit – really, more like a thick, unsalted cracker. It was standard fare aboard Royal Navy vessels in the early 1800s, as referenced in the writings of C. S. Forester (the Horatio Hornblower series.)
“Grab a root” is likely a shortening of the phrase, “Grab a root and growl.” I often heard in my mother's family, which came to East Texas from the Carolinas both before and after the War of Northern Aggression. It apparently originally referred to field bowel evacuation, with no privy handy. It came to mean that one should “buckle down” and complete an unpleasant but necessary task.
I never even thought of “Hunt your holes” as a particularly quaint turn of phrase. It is simply a heads up, warning that “We're about come under fire; find cover.” In the past couple of decades, I've heard it most often in the context of local politics. ;)
May 27, 2007, 02:11 PM
misspelling of "hardtack" corrected later. Sorry.
May 28, 2007, 12:43 PM
My great-grandfather was a lumberjack in northern Michigan, where I live now. Not just a lumberjack, but an Axeman, begad! It's interesting to think he might have cleared the original forest right in my own back yard.
He was proud that he'd been an Axeman. He considered himself elite, and dressed as a lumberjack whenever he could for as long as he lived. I've thought of using that as part of a CAS persona, if I ever create one.
He was also proud that he was an Orangeman, a Protestant Irishman. Grandpa said his dad had to leave Canada and come to Michigan in the first place because the Green Irish were always trying to kill him.
But then Grandpa also said his father had to leave the lumber camps because he'd killed a man there. Great-Grandpa always had some mawkish poem on the wall of his bedroom, some poorly-written thing about an accidental death in lumbering. Grandpa thought that was Great-Grandpa's penance for an act of manslaughter. It could just have been that Great-Grandpa was Victorian. Those people were morbid.
In any case, Great-Grandpa ended up in Nebraska, where he was involved in one frontier gunfight, right out on the main street (so-called). I wrote about that in another post in this thread, long ago.
One year Great-Grandpa happened to be in Greely, Nebraska, on St. Patrick's Day. Now, to me, one of Great-Grandpa's most endearing qualities was a complete lack of sense about a number of matters. One would think that an Orangeman who had issues with the Green Irish from way back would not go into an Irish bar on St. Patrick's Day. But that's what Great-Grandpa did. Had a few belts of good whiskey, too.
The place was crowded with Green Irish toasting their patron saint. Great Grandpa, suitably lubricated, stood up in the middle of all that and shouted "To Hell with Saint Patrick! I'm as good a man as he ever was."
This statement was not well received.
In the midst of the ensuing discussion, Great Grandpa grabbed a leg from the broken pool table and therewith smote the Catholic foemen hip and thigh. He always claimed he was holding his own until they started throwing the pool balls at him. After that, he was happy enough when a couple of his friends burst in and held the enraged Irishmen back long enough for Great-Grandpa to get away.
I have often said that CAS is not authentic because of the number of guns involved. But there's also the issue of the type. Rifles would have been fairly common. Cheap pocket revolvers would have been. The big single-actions we all love were expensive, and usually illegal to carry in town plus hard to conceal, so I doubt they would have been commonly seen there at all.
But every store, bar, or sod hut would have had a shotgun stashed behind a door somewhere.
Or, in this case, under the seat of Great-Grandpa's wagon. Which was fortunate, because as he left Greely two men jumped out from hiding and tried to grab the reins of his drafthorse. Great-Grandpa fetched the shotgun from beneath the seat. This action reminded his attackers that they had pressing business to attend to elsewhere.
I don't know if he actually fired his gun on this occasion, but it would not have been like him to deny himself that pleasure.
May 28, 2007, 08:50 PM
I missed your earlier post about the gunfight, suppose you could find it in your heart to post it again.
My grandfather used to talk about the local town Sheriff, that he was a hard man. now mind you this was in the late 1950's that the sheriff he was talking about was near the turn of the century.
My grandad dad told of the time when the train was blocking the main road in and out of town and the sheriff climbed aboard and asked the engineer to move the train so commerce could commence. There was some rift going on between the trainmen and the locals that my granddad didn't know about or remember, but what ensued pretty much ended it. The Engineer told the Sheriff in no uncertian terms what he could do, and the Sheriff thumb cocked his 45 and shot the engineer in the head killing him instantly, the fireman jumped ship, and the Sheriff just reached down, set the throttle and moved the train far enough to clear the tracks, climbed down, walked to the local undertaker and told him he had a customer in the cab of the train.
This happened in Redkey, Indiana, not in the wild, wild west.
May 28, 2007, 10:57 PM
It's easy to find. It's Post #111 in this very thread, which puts it about halfway down Page 5. If it isn't showing up for you, I'll repost or PM it or something.
May 29, 2007, 11:56 AM
Found it! Good Story. Let's hear some more...maybe ina Great stories thread....so as not to hijack this one. LOL
June 2, 2007, 10:38 AM
We know how drug dealers cut their stuff and it stretches sales and profits. Well, it turns out that's nothing new. The ancient Greeks (think about the time of the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War) used to mix their wine with water before consuming it. One Spartan king, Cleomenes, is said to have gone mad after drinking Persian wine (unwatered wine - thus he became an alcoholic). Well, during the Fur Trade Era a distillery was opened in New Mexico by Simeon Turley. In 1836, Turley hired Charley Autobees, brother of Tom Tobin (mountain-man, scout, hunter), to be the first traveling whiskey salesman and sales was good. Packed in casks carried by mules (2 casks per mule), Charley would lead his mule train to Fort Lupton (25 miles NE of Denver) and Fort Vasquez (7 miles further north). There he would sell his cask for $4 a gallon. The traders would then water it down with river water and sell it for ten times that amount. Sometimes, because it was watered down too much, tobaccco was added to it for color and flavor. :barf: The business prospered until the Mexicans burned down the distillery and killed Turley (Jan. 20, 1847). It appears that the Mexicans were none too happy with the Mexican-American War, did not want to live under the Stars 'n Stripes, and tried to kill the Anglos. Well, they killed a bunch o' them (for which they were hanged) and in the process, burned down Turley's distillery.
June 4, 2007, 01:40 AM
OK, I'm reading about Tom Tobin who was one of the mountainmen scouts of the Nineteenth Century. Apparently besides being adept at tracking, farming, hunting (game & people), he also picked up skills as a frontier doctor. Here are somethings out of the book (which I bought from the Pueblo Historical Society):
"...powdered sagebrush leaves were a remedy for diaper rash and any moist area chafing. Boil the sagebrush leaves in water and you have a strong disinfectant and body cleaning wash. A tea made from the twigs, bark and pods of the mesquite plant will inhibit diarrhea and other gastrointestinal tract inflammation, including ulcers and hemmorhoids. Boil just the mesquite pods for an eyewash that helps any conjunctivitis of any type and will cure pink eye in children or livestock. Then there is silver sage, which is not a true sage but a small wormwood that grows everywhere in the San Luis Valley. Grind up some silver sage leaves and twigs, place in a glass jar with enough Taos Lightning to cover, shake the jar every few days, and in about a week you have a tincture which, when diluted with twenty to thirty drops of cold water, will effectively retard acid indigestion. Make a simple tea from the silver sage leaves and the result is a strong diuretic and a mild laxative. And, always, there is the marveloous yerba mansa plant which can be used to treat infection of the mouth, lungs, and urinary tract. It is also an astringent and a diuretic, and is aspirin-like in its anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it effective for the treatment of arthritis. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal as well as an excellent first aid for abrasions, contusions; also yerba mansa will heal boils, cure athlete's foot and other fungus-type infections, including vaginitis. It is effective against gout, reduces fever, and makes a good enema or douche solution. This versatile herb is virtually a medicine chest in itself."
I don't vouch for any of the above, but it's fun to read.
June 9, 2007, 11:50 AM
The following is quoted from Jessica Warner's "John the Painter." It is the story of a painter turned highwayman, who, hoping to achieve the recognition he believed he deserved, became an American Agent (terrorist) in England bent on destroying military installations like the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth. He devised his own incendiary devices and attempted to start fires that would cripple England. Poor matches doomed his enterprise and after several attempts, he was caught and hung. It's a great look at the Scots in England and in America during the Colonial period and of the people in general. While not strictly a military book, Warner provides an excellent account of one man's struggle in the 18th Century.
"In the Middle Ages, only painters knew how to mix colors and apply them properly; by the eighteenth century, these skills had lost their specailist standing, and the trade faced competition from several directions. The biggest threat came from paint shops, which were starting to spring up in the larger towns. These shops were a threat because they could mix and sell paints at a fraction of the price charged by professional painters. ONe such shop was already operating in London by 1734, and its enterprising proprietor , Alexander Emerton, was only too happy to provide his customers with printed directions. With Emerton's paints and Emerton's little manual, homeowners were known to have "painted whole houses without the assistance or direction of a painter, which when examined by the best judges could not be distinguished from the work of a professional painter." Homewoners who did not wish to dirty their hands and clothes might hire common laborers to do the job instead. These, too, Emerton was only too happy to provide."
Thanks to entrepreneurs like Emerton, there was already a glut of professional painters by 1747, the year when Robert Campbell published his career guide for boys and their parents. As far as Campbell was concerned, "no parent ought to be so mad as to bind his child apprentice for seven years, to a branch that may be learned almost in as many hours, in which he cannot earn a subsistence when he got it, runs the risk of breaking his neck every day, and in the end turns out a mere blackguard." "This branch," he added, "is now at a very low ebb, on account of the methods practised by some colour-shops, who have set up horse-mills to grind the colours, and sell them to noblemen and gentlemen ready, mixed at a low price, and by the help of a few printed directions, a house may be painted by any common labourer at one third of the expence it would have cost before the mystery was made public." In 1761, the same year that Aitken was admitted to Heriot's, the trade was still hopelessly "overstocked," and parents were being discouraged from selecting it as a future occupation for their sons."
June 24, 2007, 12:14 AM
General John Geary was an Alcade (mayor) in San Francisco before the war. He served in Sherman's Army.
I forgot which book I read it in but he got some of the boys -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- off. The boys pounced on him and pummeled him. Afterwards, they fled into the crowd. After recovering, an angry Geary demanded from the audience the identity of his assailants, but nobody saw anything. The American Citizen Soldier was quite a different man back then. Today the Army, Army Reserves and National Guard all receive the same boot camp training and the likelihood of a soldier hitting an officer is remote or if he does, he'll pay for it.
June 24, 2007, 07:07 PM
Like today, soldiers of yesterday stood in formation and were inspected. An officer would pass along the ranks and inspect the cleanliness of the soldier, his uniform, his accoutrements and his weapon.
Well, in the British Army of the Napoleonic era, one soldier was very fond of his drink. So fond, that when he ran out of money, he sold his shoes to pay for his liquid refreshments. Ordered to stand in formation for inspection, he knew his white feet would stand out and draw attention to him. Questions would follow and determine that he had sold his shoes. He could then be lashed as a penalty. Well, our brave hero was no slow thinker. He applied soot to his feet, blackening them for the parade.
It didn't quite work. He was caught. It was memorialized. Nice try anyway.
July 4, 2007, 07:34 PM
The following is taken from page 147 of Mike Pride and Mark Travis's, "My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross & the Fighting Fifth." While awaiting this luxury, the men supplemented their diets with food from the sutlers - sometimes with comic results. Several officers, including Captain Jacob Keller, a Prussian immigrant who had come to Claremont just a dozen years earlier, bought tins of preserved pigeon meat.. The other officers opened their tins, gagged at the first whiff, and returned the spoiled meat to the sutler. That night, as the officers drank hot toddies and told stories around the campfire, one of them related how he had gone into Keller's tent and seen empty pigeon cans there. He asked Keller if he had eaten the pigeons, and Keller acknowledged that he had. "Why, Keller!" the officer said. "They were bad. Didn't you know it?" Keller replied, "Fy, no. I thought dey was a little fwild." The officers around the campfire burst into laughter.
The book is a good read about Col. Edward Cross and the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. Cross, only a colonel, was commanding a brigade that Hancock ordered (when he ordered Caldwell's Division) into the Wheatfield at Gettysburg to save Sickle's Corps. Hancock promised Cross, "This day will bring you a star." Cross replied, "No, general, this is my last battle." Instead of the customary red bandana wrapped around his head, he wore a black one. The color alarmed the men of the 5th. In the heat of battle, Cross was shot in the stomach, the minie punching through his bowels before exiting from his back. Mortally wounded, Cross fell and was carried off the field to die.
Note to self: don't send canned pigeons to the troops in the sandbox.
Also from the book: In the last five months of 1863, nearly six hundred men joined its ranks. Many of these were bounty soldiers, and most proved unreliable. The law allowed draftees t pay other men to take their places. As Livermore explained it, the prices quickly rose, and a 'class of 'substitute borkers' sprang up, who imported men from other states, chiefly from New York City; who enlised for moeny.' Because the brokers had no interest in the quality of the substitutes, 'there came out to us crowds of disreputable rascals whose determination it was to desert at the earliest opportunity, as well as idiots and cripples whom these brokers foisted upon us by collusion with the medical and enlistment of officers." The men built a fence around the camp in Concord to try to keep the recruits in. Hapgood recorded the first desertion in his diary on August 27, writing that the general was 'mighty mad about it, and justly too'; desertions soon became so frequent that the colonel seldom saw fit to record them. During the siege of Petersburg a year later, so many deserted to the enemy that the Rebels put up a sign on their works reading "Headquarters, 5th New Hampshire volunteers. RECRUITS WANTED."
That's from page 254. It's an excellent read. Check it out!
July 7, 2007, 09:20 PM
On April 3rd, 1677, at the British fort in Bombay, India, the storekeeper decided to send up some gunpowder to dry on the North East bastion. Meanwhile, at the guard house, a certain Corporal Staunton had a sense of humour and, took:
‘an old bandileer and filled it with with wild fire, intending to tie it to the tail of a dog, then in the guard [house], and [Corporal Staunton] running to the gate, the dog not being [found] in the way, he took the bandileer, there being a string tied to it and flung it towards the Old Judge’s House, but the wind being very strong, it blew it upon the bastion and fired all the powder which was 35 barrels all English. There were 8 Coolies tending it and 1 Centry who were all burnt to death, whereof 6 blown into the ditch and the parade, and some limbs blown over the fort. All the doors in the Fort were blown open, and made most part of the Town shake.’
Corporal Staunton was not hurt but was kicked out of the garrison after being made to run the gauntlet three times for his little prank. One is amazed he was not executed!
Arthur E. Mainwaring, Crown and Company: Records of the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers (103rd ) foot. Formerly the 1st Bombay European Regiment, 1662-1911, London, A.L. Humphries, 1911, p. 60, quoting a 1677 report.
(with thanks to Rene Chartrand).
July 8, 2007, 10:03 PM
Observed by a Confederate PoW near Sheridan's HQ (Oct. 12) in the Shenandoah Valley.
Yesterday evening I head two Irishmen quarrel until they got up to the fighting pitch, but they were afraid to fight then, for fear it would round up in the guardhouse or end in doing double duty, consequently they made an appointment to meet at midnight and go through with the gratifying exercise of hammering each other without hindrance or foreign intervention until subjugation proclaimed peace and honor fully vindicated and satisfied. According to the arrangement the combatants stepped into the arena at midnight, close to our lodging place; I was awake and a witness to the conflict. When they met I heard one of them say, "Faith and be Hivin, now we will knock it out!" and they commenced vigorous operations without skirmishing. They fought in the dark, so I did not see them, but I heard the heavy blows fall thick and fast for some little time, then all was still; the engagement was over, and I heard no more. The men that fought belonged to a Massachusetts regiment of infantry.
July 8, 2007, 11:21 PM
The story of Staunton's prank gone wrong and the resulting punishment shows a British legal distinction that is still around today both in England and in the US. I think the reason he had to walk thrice through the gauntlet rather than meeting the rope was that the court or whatever body dispensed punishment believed that the deaths were a result of gross boobery. If they had found that he acted with a "depraved heart" by intentionally creating a situation likely to result in death he would have swung for murder. This distinction is the difference between modern involuntary manslaughter and 2nd degree murder charges.
Three times through the gauntlet was no joke, though.
July 29, 2007, 01:34 PM
I love this account of Gen. Putnam & the Tory Innkeeper.
After crossing the river, we were put into the back part of a tavern; the tavern-keeper refused to take rebel money, as he called it. I went to Gen. Putnam and told him that he had every thing we wanted, but he will not take paper money, he calls it rebel money. You go and tell him, from me, that if he refuses to take our money, take what you want, without any pay—I went and told the man what the General said. Your yankee Gen. dare not give such orders, said he. I placed two men at the cellar door, as centries; let nobody whatever go down, I said. I called for a light, and two men to go down cellar with me.—We found it full of good things, a large pile of cheeses, hams of bacon, a large tub of honey, barrels of cider, and i do. marked cider-royal, which was very strong; also, all kinds of spirit. The owner went to the Gen. to complain. The sergeant told me, said the Gen. that you refused to take paper money. So I did, said he, I do not like your rebel money. The Gen. flew round like a top, he called for a file of men; a corporal and four men came—take this tory rascal to the main guard house.
I sent a ham of bacon, one large cheese, and a bucket full of cider-royal, to general Putnam. He asked who sent them, he told him the sergeant that he gave leave to take them. Tell him I thank him, said he.
July 29, 2007, 02:31 PM
American Heritage magazine article (http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1957/6/1957_6_48.shtml)
DOCTOR GATLING AND HIS GUN
Professing humanitarian motives, he gave gangsters a word for their artillery and the world its first practicable machine gun
By PHILIP VAN DOREN STERN
All was not quiet along the Potomac early in 1862. The 28th Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment, under command of Colonel John W. Geary of Kansas fame, was guarding a 24-mile stretch of the river, and there were occasional skirmishes between the opposing armies. On February 7, Geary shelled Harpers Ferry, and a lew weeks later marched in and recaptured the town from the Confederates.
At some time between January 2 and February 24, 1862, somewhere along the shores of the Potomac, one of the unknown Confederate soldiers who was killed in these minor skirmishes may have been the world’s first victim of machine-gun fire. Geary’s regiment had two strange-looking new weapons into which cylindrical steel containers loaded with Minié balls, powder charges, and primed with percussion caps, were fed through a hopper while the single-barreled gun was operated by a hand crank. The new weapon, whose inventor is now unknown, was officially named the Union Repeating Gun but everyone, including President Lincoln, who had urged the Army to adopt it, called it the “coffee-mill” gun because it looked like an old-fashioned coffee grinder.
Geary’s machine guns were first fired in actual battle in the Shenandoah Valley at Middleburg, Virginia, on March 29. A few weeks later an army officer, speaking in New York at Cooper Union, said: “One of these guns was brought to bear on a squadron of cavalry at 800 yards, and it cut them to pieces terribly, forcing them to fly.” But Geary was not satisfied with the new guns’ performance, finding them “inefficient and unsafe to the operators,” so he returned them to the Washington Arsenal, where they were later disposed of as old metal for eight dollars each.
Lincoln’s efforts to persuade his slow-thinking, slowmoving Army Ordnance Department to adopt more modern weapons have been described by Robert V. Bruce in Lincoln and the Tools of War. After the failure of the coffee-mill gun Lincoln stopped backing machine guns and concentrated on repeating rifles. But inventors kept working on the problem which had fascinated mechanically minded men ever since Leonardo da Vinci had made a sketch for a multi-barreled “organ gun.” In 1718 an Englishman named fames Puckle was granted a patent for what, on paper, looks like a workable machine gun. But since Puckle’s patent drawing shows that his gun was supposed to fire round bullets against Christians and square ones against infidels, there is some doubt about his seriousness.
The problem kept tantalizing inventors tor years, and some of them came up with ingenious—but not very practicable—solutions lor it. One truly remarkable patent was granted in 1863 to James O. whitcomb of New York for a four-barreled rapid-fire gun which was designed to be fired electrically. It was an intricate bit of mechanism which required split-second tuning that would never have stood up under battlefield conditions. The gun never got beyond the patentdrawing stage, but the inventor’s boldness of thinking put him far ahead of his time.
The Confederates, too, became interested in the machine gun. One of them, Captain D. R. Williams, of Covington, Kentucky, built a rather clumsy repeating one-pounder that was first used at the Battle of Seven Pines (or Fair Oaks) on May 31 and June 1, 1862. Several batteries of these guns saw service during the war. A few other primitive rapid-fire guns were used by the Confederates in isolated instances. One of them, a forerunner of the famous Lewis machine gun of the First World War, was invented by the father of William C. Gorgas, whose sanitary work in suppressing yellow fever made the digging of the Panama Canal possible.
The first practical machine gun, the quick-firing weapon that was to change the tactics of warfare throughout the entire world, was invented by a southerner, Dr. Richard J. Gatling, who had been born in North Carolina but who later moved to the North. His father had been an inventor before him, and Gatling kept creating new devices all his long life.
Like many other inventors of deadly weapons who believed that they could discourage the human race from fighting by making warfare ever more terrible, Gatling considered his motives humanitarian. In a letter written twelve years after the Civil War he said: “In 1861 … (residing at the time in Indianapolis, Ind.) I witnessed almost daily the departure of troops to the front and the return of the wounded, sick and dead: The most of the latter lost their lives, not in battle, but by sickness and exposure incident to the service. It occurred to me if I could invent a machine—a gun—which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a great extent, supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease be greatly diminished.”
This early proponent of push-button warfare went to work and by November 4, 1862, was granted his first patent for a machine gun with six revolving barrels turned by a crank. Since his first model, like t lie colfee-mill gun. used loaded steel containers, it was an improvement over that pioneer weapon only in that its multi barrel principle kept the Gatling from overhcating or from going out of commission if one barrel jammed. When Gatling redesigned his gun to take the newly developed metallic cartridge his weapon became the highly efficient, death-dealing machine that eventually was to make its inventor rich and famous. He finally reached popular immortality in gangsters’ speech in which any repeating hand weapon became, by the linguistic process known as apocope, a “gat.”
But the Gatling gun was so slow to win acceptance by the Army Ordnance Department that it never became important in the Civil War. The few Gatlings used saw service only because individual commanders procured them—sometimes with private funds.
Ben Butler was one of these commanders. He got a dozen findings for his troops, and at least one of them is said to have been in action at Petersburg in the spring of 1865. (A very early Gatling gun bearing Serial No. 2. now in the West Point Museum, is probably one of the guns Butler bought.) The Navy was generally more progressive in its attitude toward new weapons than (he Army, and Admiral David Dixon Porter ordered a Gatling sent to Cairo, Illinois. The Gatling gun’s usefulness in protecting boats and bridges was quickly appreciated, and records show that they were mounted on various kinds of watercraft and at bridgeheads. Three of them were brought to New York to guard the New York Times building on Park Row during the bloody Draft Riots of July, 1863.
On February 18, 1864. Gatling wrote to Lincoln to explain the virtues of his gun and to ask for his assistance in getting it put to wider use. But by this time the harassed President had lost interest in machine guns. And in a few weeks he was to hand over the responsibility of deciding about the Union Army’s strategy and equipment to Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln therefore ignored Gatling’s letter, and the gun lost its chance of turning the tide of battle in the Civil War.
But perhaps the real reason why the Galling gun did not have more influence on Civil AVar history is that its southern-horn inventor was found to be a member of the secret Copperhead organizations that were threatening to take over the border and northcentral states for the Confederacy. It was revealed, too, that he was offering his weapon for sale to anyone who would buy it—and this meant not only foreign governments but the Confederacy as well. One can hardly blame Galling, who had been constantly rebuffed by the Army Ordnance Department, but he became very unpopular with American military men until the war was over. Then, on August 24, 1866. the Gatling gun was officially adopted by the United States Army, which ordered 100 of them. Gatling had these built by the Colt Patent Fire Arms Company, which manufactured all his guns from then on.
July 29, 2007, 02:32 PM
continued from the previous post...
Once the official seal of American governmental approval was placed on his weapon, Gatling was in a good position to sell it to foreign countries. He did fairly well with the British, the Austrians, with various South American governments, and with the Russians (who called the gun the Gorloff after the general who adopted it), but he could not interest the French, who were busy inventing their own mitrailleuse.
This French volley gun with 25 stationary barrels using paper cartridges was based on an entirely differ cut principle from Gatling’s revolving gun, and it was developed under such great secrecy that when it was sent into battle during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the soldiers who were supposed to use it had never been taught how to operate it. As a result the German armies rolled over France, and rapid-firing weapons svcrc looked at skeptically by the military experts of the Avorld for a generation to come. Among those who saw the failure of the French mitrailleuse in battle was General Philip H. Sheridan.
In 1876, when one of Sheridan’s close personal friends and top cavalry commanders, General George A. Custer, led more than 250 doomed men of the famous 7th Cavalry into the Montana hill country to search for hostile Sioux Indians, he left behind a battery of Gatlings. If he had taken the then greatly improved machine guns with him the outcome of the much-discussed battle at the Little Big Horn would surely have been very different. But Custer thought that the wheeled gun carriages drawn by the condemned horses assigned to them would slow him down in the rough country through which he had to travel. He also is said to have believed that the use of so devastating a weapon would cause him to lose face with the Indians.
Two years later, however, three Gatling guns were used in a battle against the Shoshones and Bannocks, who were in a seemingly impregnable position on top of a bluff near the Umatilla Agency. The Indians were quickly driven off the heights by the Gatlings’ hail of bullets that swept along the crest and scattered the terrified warriors by their drumming rattle.
During the last part of the nineteenth century the Gatling’s devastating firepower was tested many times against poorly armed natives in various parts of the world. During the Russo-Turkish War, a Captain Litvinoff, who operated one of his regiment’s two guns, wrote what is perhaps the first account by an actual participant of the Gatling’s deadly might. When a horde of howling Wyonoods made a surprise attack on the Russian camp in the middle of the night, the Captain described what happened:
“Though it was dark we perceived in front of us the galloping masses of the enemy with uplifted, glittering swords. When they approached us within about twenty paces I shouted the command Tire!’ This was followed by a salvo of all men forming the cover and a simultaneous rattle of the two battery guns. In this roar the cries of the enemy at once became weak and then ceased altogether. … I ventured to get a look at the surrounding ground, availing myself of the first light of dawn. … At every step lay prostrated the dead bodies of the Wyonoods.”
In 1879 the British used Gatlings against the Zulus, and in one encounter a single gun mowed down 473 tribesmen in a few minutes. And in 1882, when British troops invaded Egypt after the massacre of foreigners at Alexandria, 370 men armed with a few Gatlings captured and held the city while thousands of rioters and Egyptian troops were held back for four days, overawed by “the guns that pumped lead.”
The definitive work on the subject is The Machine Gun, a four-volume work prepared for the Navy Bureau of Ordnance by Lieutenant Colonel George M. Chinn, lately of the Marine Corps. (Volumes two and three of this work are classified and not available to the public.) According to Colonel Chinn, machine guns have killed more people than any other mechanical device—including even the automobile—and the Maxim recoil movement alone has been responsible for the death of more than 8,000,000 human beings. In the First World War, he says, 92 per cent of the casualties were caused by machine guns.
According to Colonel Chinn, the Galling Gun Company sent trained operators abroad to stage demonstrations of the weapon. And, he says: “In their enthusiasm to put on a good show, they have been known to set up their guns against the enemy of a prospective customer and repel a charge, just to show its effectiveness as an instrument of annihilation.”
It was during the Spanish-American War that Gatling guns first demonstrated their ability to win battles in which troops on both sides were equipped with modern weapons. The Spaniards had smokeless powder—something the American Army had not yet bothered to adopt because it had so much black powder on hand. As a result, Spanish marksmen could spot American soldiers each time they fired and then pick them off one by one. But even under such conditions, when their positions were revealed by clouds of smoke from the obsolete black powder, the Gatlings worked with the efficiency of riveting hammers.
Under the command of Lieutenant John H. Parker, the first soldier anywhere to appreciate the tactical power of machine guns in offensive warfare, four Gatling and two Colt machine guns were employed in the attack on Santiago, Cuba. Quick to pay tribute to the Gatlings’ newly demonstrated value in such warfare was Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, who said: “The efficiency with which the Gatlings were handled by Parker was one of the most striking features of the campaign; he showed that a first-rate officer could use machine guns, on wheels, in battle and skirmish, in attacking and defending trenches, alongside of the best troops, and to their great advantage.” After the war Parker wrote the first American machine-gun manual, which was published in 1899.
American armed forces were so neglected during the half century after 1865 that American-born inventors of military weapons could not find employment in their own country. One after another they went abroad to work for foreign governments. Yet nearly all the important machine-gun inventions were made by Americans.
In 1871 Benjamin B. Hotchkiss of Connecticut, working in France, developed a rapid-fire cannon which had revolving barrels turned by a crank like the Gatling gun. In 1884 Maine-born Hiram Stevens Maxim invented his widely used gun in England. This took advantage of the recoil of the barrel to do the loading and firing and so was the first completely automatic machine gun. Then, in the early 1890’s, John Moses Browning of Utah invented an automatic weapon which made use of the discharge gases to operate the gun. Browning also spent much of his later life in Europe, for he lived and died in Belgium where his guns were manufactured.
These new automatic machine guns, many of them with single barrels cooled by a water jacket, made the manually operated Gatling seem out of date. In an effort to keep his invention alive, in 1893 Gatling developed an electric motor drive which fired his gun at the astounding rate of 3,000 rounds per minute. He also went on to build an automatic gas-operated gun, but by this time his product was meeting heavy competition throughout the world and was officially declared obsolete by the United States Army in 1911.
The Maxim recoil principle was used by all the nations engaged in the First World War. Mechanical technology in weapons design was then so far ahead of military thinking that in the early part of the war literally millions of men were slaughtered in senseless and hopeless frontal attacks against strongly held machine-gun positions. Then came several years of stalemate while the armies dug in. During this time new weapons were developed to attack troops protected by trenches and dugouts. Poison gas, tanks, and airplane bombs came into being while modern versions of old weapons like mortars and hand grenades were used to take machine-gun emplacements.
After more than half a century during which recoil and gas-operated machine guns dominated the military scene, a new and even more fearful weapon named the Vulcan was demonstrated at Maryland’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in August, 1956. Its rate of fire is so rapid that it does not have the drumming effect of an ordinary machine gun, but, as one observer described it, sounds like the violent ripping of cloth. With the Vulcan, machine-gun development has completed a full circle, for the new gun is obviously patterned on Gatling’s principle.
Both weapons have a rotating cluster of barrels and are externally powered. Long experience has shown that the multi-barreled system is easier to keep cool and that external power provides constant firing even if one barrel jams. Appropriately, the new Vulcan was first demonstrated alongside a Gatling gun. Now, more than sixty years after Galling failed to convince the Army that his electric motor-driven gun was basically better than any recoil or gas-operated machine gun, the principles of the weapon he invented at the beginning of the Civil War are being used in our latesl type of rapid-fire aircraft armament.
Philip Van Doren Stern, expert in such diverse fields as Lincoln, ordnance, and early automobiles, wrote “The Unknown Conspirator” for our February, 1951, issue.
July 29, 2007, 11:19 PM
The highwayman. Read it Here! (http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1966/1/1966_1_50.shtml)
The Case of the Plodding Highwayman or The Po8 of Crime
By KEN and PAT KRAFT
“All right,” said the hollow voice from inside the flour sack. “You may drive on.”
The driver didn’t waste time. On this particular day—the third of August, 1877—he was alone on the stagecoach; not even a passenger was with him. Glancing down at the tall figure by the roadside holding the old-fashioned shotgun, he released the big hand brake on the Wells Fargo coach and slapped the reins over the six-horse team. He risked one look back (the man with the gun raised his left hand in a genial farewell) and then he was oft, hell for leather, bound for Duncan’s Mills to tell everybody about the most original damned bandit he’d ever run into in Sonoma County, California—or anywhere else.
Instead of a neat mask or a bandana to hide his face, this peculiar road agent was wearing one of the most awkward getups in the history of banditry: over his head—and over his derby hat as well—was a Hour sack with eye holes cut out of it; and a clinging linen duster flapped about his ankles like a Mother Hubbard. True, his shotgun looked businesslike (though there was something odd there, too, that would come to light in time), and his hollow voice, which seemed to be issuing from the deeps of an abandoned mine, had a strange, disquieting effect. He said very little. He was alone, so far as the driver knew, and on foot. Lone highwaymen were not unheard of, but even lone ones usually found a horse an indispensable professional asset.
If the driver could have seen what was happening next at the scene of the holdup as he pounded south over the curving road through the hills of the Russian River country, he would have had a still better story. The road agent whipped off his duster and his mask—revealing, beneath the dapper derby, a pair of sharp blue eyes, a waterfall mustache, and a jaunty imperial. At once he snatched up an axe and chopped open the green express box the driver had thrown to the ground. The take was disappointing: Sgoo in coin, a check that was loo risky to cash, and some odds and ends of mail.
If the road agent was annoyed witli this so-so luck, he did not show it. From its hiding place in the roadside shrubbery he produced a travelling-man’s leather valise; into it he tucked his loot, his flour sack and duster, and his shotgun. The axe he abandoned. Then, pausing a few minutes before picking up the valise and marching off through the wooded, hilly countryside, this bandit did one more very odd and unbanditlike thing: he took a waybill from the plundered express box, wrote a message on it—probably chuckling to himself as he wrote—and left it behind.
Then, cocking the derby slightly to the left on his head, and drawing himself up to his lull five feet seven and a half inches, he strode oil through the open country toward Guerneville, a hard six hours’ hike eastward; there a man could hire a ride toward San Francisco, seventy-five miles away.
By the lime our gentleman bandit reached the big city, a report of his crime was on the desk of fames B. Hume, head of the Wells Fargo police. And among the most important evidence was the message on the waybill. Jim Hume, a level-eyed, poker-faced man who had once ridden shotgun on stages himself, looked carefully at the four lines of the highwayman’s message. They constituted, if you please, a poem, or anyway a verse:
I’ve labored long and hard for bread
for honor and for riches
But on my corns too long you’ve tried,
You fine haired Sons of Bitches.
This poetical work was not titled but it was signed, complete with a clue in the form of a kind of rebus in case anyone didn’t recognize a poet when he read one: “BLACK BART, the Po8.”
Jim Hume had never seen the name before, but the holdup man’s method of operation was familiar. A hunt for just such a criminal had already been quietly under way for two years, ft would last for six more. Over those eight years Black Bart, who was neither Bart nor black (he had lifted the name from a magazine story) racked up the amazing score of twenty-seven successful stage robberies out of twenty-eight tries- better than anyone before or since. He was always alone and on foot, never resorted to violence, and worked as methodically as a bookkeeper. He came to be old California’s most famous road agent in spite of the fact that he went into the business when the lush days of the mining camps and S100,000 shipments of bullion were only golden memories. Old Bart’s juiciest haul came to less than .15,000, and he didn’t get to keep that one, for it was bis last, and the one that finally tripped him. The sad fact is, gentlemanly Black Bart never did make a handsome living at his risky occupation. But he did manage to make a bit of history, and he has not been entirely forgotten: today in Menclocino County, California, one of the areas where he robbed stages, there is an annual carnival-like celebration known as Black Bart Days.
The “Po8” had waited until he was forty-five years old before deciding to collect by force what he felt the world owed him. Before that, he was plain Charley Boles, an easterner born in Jefferson County, New York, who had originally hustled out to California with the Gold Rush in 1850. He was twenty then, and though he hadn’t found much gold by the time he drifted back eastward four years later, he had learned his way around parts of some mountainous northern California counties—Butte, Shasta, Trinity, El Dorado. He had an excellent sense of direction—and a long, long memory for topographical detail.
He never did get back to New York State. Illinois attracted him, and he bought a farm near Decatur. By the time the Civil War came he was married and had three little daughters, but he joined the iioth Illinois Infantry Volunteers nonetheless and served three years as a sergeant. (A decade or so later, like many another veteran of that war, he promoted himself—to captain.)
At war’s end he was thirty-five, had sustained some minor wounds, and had no desire to return to the farm. He sold it, moved his family to Oregon, Illinois, and then decided to go to Montana. He went alone, and it was the last his dear Mary and the children ever saw of him. He did send them money for about two years, but then he stopped writing, and Mary became convinced that Indians had massacred him. (Much later, after his career as a road agent had ended and he was doing time, he wrote to her again, for a while. His letters were loving, but vague about plans to return home. He was a born drifter, and by then he seemed to know it.)
In 1875 he found himself in San Francisco. He may have come in that direction because he had a sister living in the vicinity. At any rate, 1875 was the critical year for Charley Boles. So far as we know, he had never stolen so much as a penny pencil, but now something pushed him a little too far. Perhaps he suddenly saw himself for what he was, a graying, middle-aged failure. He was bitter, or told himself he was, at the vested interests, and he seized upon the notion of squaring accounts by robbing some Wells Fargo stages. But he would be scrupulous about it, he promised himself: no robbing of passengers, no bloodshed; all he wanted was what the entrenched, moneyed interests had kept him from getting legitimately all his life.
His first stage robbery was in mountainous CaIaveras County, east-northeast of San Francisco, the very county that Mark Twain’s jumping-frog story made famous. He had decided on robbing the Sonora-toMilton stage, and he’d picked a curve in the road flanked with big rocks. Shortly his technique was going to change in some respects, but on this first plunge he seems to lune felt nervous about working without help, and he supplied the need in a way schoolboys know by heart: he cut six or eight gunbarrel-sized tree branches and wedged them between roadside rocks, pointing toward the place the stage would stop. And it actually worked, even though the driver was a veteran in the service.
“No use trying to do anything,” he advised his passengers. “Look at those guns.”
Down came the express box, and Boles chopped it open. What it yielded, Wells Fargo did not reveal—they were often close-mouthed about losses, not caring to entice incipient thieves with too many luscious facts—but it was enough to encourage Boles in his new career. This was July; he lay low for five whole months and then planned another job three days after Christmas, shifting to the countryside about fifty miles north of Sacramento.
Again he got enough to make it interesting, and after another five-month layoff he pulled his third job, also in northern California. After his first holdup he dropped the tree-branch guns, maybe because he had not removed them and the ruse had been discovered on the stage’s return trip. But the flour-sack mask and the duster were enough to stamp all the holdups as the work of one man, and so was his invariable fourword command to the stage driver: “Throw down the box.”
July 29, 2007, 11:22 PM
We continue our saga of Black Bart.
[QUOTE]Until he gave himself a name, he was anonymous. Then, on his fourth holdup—he had let fourteen months pass this time between jobs—he gave the lawmen a handle to use, and he was from then on Black Bart the Po8.
No poet—or PoS—ever rode to fame on so meager an output. In his whole career Bart wrote but two poems, though he did claim to have had a third ready for job No. 29, the one he never got to pull. The second, and last, poem was again written on a waybill and was left at the scene of his fifth stage robbery. It consisted of two new stanzas with the first poem sandwiched between. The two new stanzas read:
here I lay me down to Sleep
to wait the coming Morrow
perhaps Success perhaps defeat
And everlasting Sorrow
let come what will ‘I’ll try it on
My condition can’t be worse
And if theres money in that Box
Tis Munny in my purse
He purposely vulgarized the spelling and punctuation for he knew better, as his letters home show very clearly.
This fifth stage robbery, on July 25, 1878, almost a year after the fourth one, was in the mountainous Feather River country of north-central California. While still no bonanza, it did bring Bart about $600 in coin and equivalents.
By this time, Bart had settled into a pattern for his robberies in every respect except the time lapse between them, which was erratic. That may have been dictated simply by economic need, for Bart was not greedy. The most amazing thing is that this quite conservative man should have become so successful a thief. Or perhaps his conservatism was the explanation: his cautious methods made him very difficult to catch.
Wells Fargo’s Detective Hume knew that he couldn’t expect a great deal of help from sheriffs in the counties where stage robberies occurred: few of them were really good at careful police work. Hume, a big, quiet man who usually had a cigar clamped between his teeth, was on his own. But in the duel of wits with Black Bart, Hume held the best cards, and in the end the winning ones: experience, the better mind, the organization to back him. Another trump was added after Bart’s fifth holdup—a reward. The governor of California, William Irwin, offered $300 for Bart’s capture; Wells Fargo matched it; the post office department—whose pouches Bart regularly slit open and plundered, ignoring the fact that the mail was not necessarily owned by the vested interests he was supposed to be fighting—added $200 more. To collect this total of $800, a person would have to capture Black Bart and produce the evidence needed to land him in jail. But for the one who succeeded there was the possibility of added compensation, for it was customary to give a road agent’s captor one-quarter of any booty that might be recovered.
For a while at least, instead of helping bring him to book, Black Bart’s victims exalted him into an awesome legend, a superman who appeared out of nowhere and vanished into nothingness. It was so unusual for a highwayman to walk any distance, let alone across rugged open country, that it is no wonder the legend was embroidered with tales of a phantom horse, or of a devil’s disciple flying by dark of night.
So it was that as he continued his road-agentry, the man who had been a failure all his life found himself an immense success. Although he relished it hugely, he hardly ever talked about it to anyone. But one day in the fall of 1880, about ten days after his thirteenth stage robbery, Bart was in Sonoma County, about 150 miles south of where the holdup had taken place. On foot as usual and finding himself still a distance from food and lodging at sundown, he took politick with a lone logger, one Elisha Shortridge, who had a ranch west of Santa Rosa.
By this time Bart had abandoned the use of the cumbersome valise. Law officers found it beside a creek but could extract no useful clues from it (fingerprints as a police tool did not come into use until after the nineteenth century had ended). When he met the logger, Bart was carrying a bedroll over his shoulder and was cradling his shotgun, so that Shortridge took him for a hunter. Afterward the logger said, “Just two things about him struck me. His voice sounded like he was talking into an empty barrel, and he had eyes that seemed to look clear through you.” He added: “I thought maybe he was looking the country over, sizing up land and timber.”
Bart corrected that error the next morning. After breakfast, Shortridge was giving the stranger’s gun a friendly once-over, a usual thing between gun fanciers, and noticed that it was an early type of breech-loader. He opened it, found that the barrels were clean and bright, and observed to its owner that it was a good weapon.
Bart smiled. “It always gets what I go after. I never waste ammunition. I save money in other ways, too,” he said. "1 don’t drink or smoke.”
Then he asked what he owed his host for the hospitality. It was a somewhat peculiar question in a pioneer territory, where a stranger was welcomed as a guest. Shortridge courteously refused payment, but Bart couldn’t let it go at that. “Did you ever hear,” he said with a sudden smile, “of Black Bart?”
“Hear of him!” Shortridge cried. “He’s one of the main things talked about in these parts nowadays.”
“Well,” said Bart, “I’m Black Bart. I just thought that if you knew who I am, you might be willing to accept something for your kindness.”
The logger thought he was joking. “Sure you ain’t Joaqu
July 29, 2007, 11:23 PM
And the conclusionBart had seen this passenger through his field glasses and was rattled a bit when the stage arrived at the ambush without him. The driver told him the truth—that the boy had got off to hunt small game—but Bart’s timing was then thrown off a little more because Wells Fargo had recently decided to bolt their express boxes to the floors of the stages. Rather than waste time getting this one unbolted, Bart ordered the driver to unhitch the horses and take them up the road a piece while he himself climbed inside the stage and hacked open the box. He had got the treasure out and was already running for the woods when it happened.
The boy with the gun had found the driver standing with the unhitched team, and the two crept up on the stage and opened fire on the fleeing road agent. Bart was winged, but the main damage was not to his person but to his performance. As he scuttled away into the brush, he dropped things: his derby, his crackers and sugar, the case for his field glasses. Of all the miscellany he left behind, only one item proved a good clue, and it was as prosaic a clue as one could imagine—a handkerchief with the laundry mark F.X.O.7.
About six months earlier, Detective Hume had hired a special operative, Harry N. Morse, to spend all his time running Black Bart to earth. Now, with the laundry-marked handkerchief in his hand, Morse knew that he was finally closing in. By great good luck he began his search in San Francisco, where Black Bart was then living under the name of C. E. Bolton, supposedly a prosperous mining man—which, in a second-hand way, he was.
Morse ran the laundry mark down in a week, located Bart at a lodging house at 37 Second Street, and it was all over but the confession. Bart held out for three days, standing on his dignity, feigning outrage at being questioned, and even inventing an instant new alias, “T. Z. Spaulding.” Nevertheless, he was booked on suspicion of stage robbery, and when the authorities took him back to the holdup area and people began recalling him as having just been seen there, he cracked. By moonlight he led Morse and the local lawmen to a rotting log in which he had cached the gold amalgam—$4,200 worth—and told them everything they wanted to know.
In return for his co-operation Bart got a light sentence—six years, based on his confession to the one holdup. He became Prisoner No. 11,046 in San Quentin Prison on November 21, 1883, only eighteen days after his last stage robbery. With time off for good behavior, he was a free man once again on January 21, 1888, having served four years and two months.
As Black Bart the PoS he was still news. A reporter sent to interview him upon his release asked whether he had any more poetry to give out. The years behind bars had not destroyed Boles’ sense of humor. He replied with a grin: “Young man, didn’t you just hear me say I will commit no more crimes?”
Nor did he, so far as is known, though for a while Hume suspected him of two holdups that occurred later that year. Nevertheless, two more poems were linked to old Bart’s name. One was produced by a newspaper man in the mining country, who tried to palm it off as Bart’s work:
So here I’ve stood while wind and rain
Have set the trees a-sobbin’
And risked my life for that damned stage
That wasn’t worth the robbin’.
The other verse connected with his name was a long, rambling affair written by Ambrose Bierce, then running a column in the San Francisco Examiner, as a comment on Bart’s prison-release news conference. The most memorable stanza was this:
What’s that?—you ne’er again will rob a stage?
What! did you so? Faith, I didn’t know it.
Was that what threw poor Themis in a rage?
I thought you were convicted as a poet!
Black Bart’s poetry may have lacked Bierce’s classical allusions, but it scanned better.
Editor's Notes: Ken and Pat Kraft are a husband-and-wife writing team from Carmel, California. They ran across Black Bart in old California newspaper files while living in Santa Rosa, doing research for their seventh book, a biography of Luther Burbank to be published soon by Appleton-Century.
For further reading: Wild Oats in Eden, by Harvey J. Hansen and Jeanne Thurlow Miller (Hooper, Santa Rosa, 1962); Wells Fargo, by Edward Hungerford (Random House, 1949); Bad Company, by Joseph Henry Jackson (Harcourt, Brace, 1949).
July 30, 2007, 09:40 PM
IT DON’T HURT MUCH, MA’AM“
“Then how come they’re digging a grave behind the old corral, Luke?”
By JAMES S. PACKER
“Oh, Sam, what happened?”
“Nothing serious, Miss Sally—Luke just picked up a little bit of lead.”
“Now Miss Sally, don’t you fret. It’s just a little ol’ hole in his shoulder. He’ll be up and about in no time a-tall.”
Sure enough, in two or three days good old Luke is up and raring to resume his defense of sweet Miss Sally, the Bar-X spread, and the honor of the old, wild West. And Luke’s adventure and miraculous recovery, with slight alterations, occur over and over on the pages of western fiction and on the imaginative screens of Hollywood and television.
But what really happened to those gunshot heroes and villains in that tempestuous period of loose laws and fast gunplay? The reality was quite gruesomely different.
The disastrous effect of a large-caliber bullet on the human body can hardly be comprehended by those whose knowledge of shooting is limited to movie and television westerns. The favorite guns of the West were the .44 and .45 caliber revolvers. Bullet caliber is measured by the diameter in inches: the lead slugs for these guns were nearly half an inch in diameter. Such a bullet packs a terrific wallop, knocking the victim off his feet if it hits any solid part of the body. He doesn’t just drop dead, either. Here is a descriptionof a real gunfight by a man who knew the subject well, Dr. George Goodfellow, the “gunfighter’s surgeon” of Tombstone, Arizona:
In the Spring of 188l I was a few feet distant from a couple of individuals who were quarreling. They began shooting. The first shot took effect, as was afterward ascertained, in the left breast of one of them, who, after being shot, and while staggering back some i 2 feet, cocked and fired his pistol twice, his second shot going into the air, for by that time he was on his back.
It may be remarked that the recipient of the first shot was a tough man indeed to manage two shots himself before going down; but the significant phrase is “while staggering back some 12 feet.” Compare this, just for instance, with the climactic scene in the movie Vera Cruz (1954), in which Burt Lancaster and Gary Cooper are resolutely facing each other in a frontier street, their hands just above their guns. In a blurred movement they both draw, and two shots ring out; but neither man staggers back one foot, let alone twelve. The logical conclusion is, of course, that they have both missed. Not so; justice has triumphed again. After a long, tantalizing pause, bad-guy Lancaster crumples to the ground, dead. He has not moved an inch otherwise (or even stopped smiling), after being hit by that .45 caliber express train—an effect totally beyond belief. The U.S. Army, testing the Colt .45 in the Chicago stockyards, found that it would bowl over a 1,000pound steer with one shot, even if the wound was not fatal.
Another sentimental curiosity of western mythology is the hierarchy, so to speak, of wound areas. Good guys are almost invariably lucky and get hit in the arm, the shoulder, or the fleshy part of the leg. Bad guys are much more likely to take it in the chest, abdomen, or back, which means that they are thenceforth dead. And nobody ever gets hit in the face.
The explanations are not obscure. Even an audience comfortably deluded about the destructive power of a .44 or .45 slug would hardly believe a face wound that didn’t show up as more than a neat little hole. In reality, gunfighters were hit in the face fairly often, and the big lead bullets caused horrendous damage to mouths, teeth, noses, and eyes. You can’t show that on the family TV set, no matter how bad the bad guy is.
The reason that heroes so often are hit in the shoulder is that this is fondly imagined to be a relatively “safe” area, well removed from the vital organs. One would think that the human shoulder was made of some selfhealing material, rather like a puncture-proof tire. The fact is that except for fat men and weightlifters, you can’t penetrate much of the shoulder without striking a complicated arrangement of bones, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves. A shoulder wound from a high-caliber weapon could be not only incapacitating; it could be fatal. Civil war medical records showed that one third of the victims of shoulder-joint wounds died as a result of severe damage, such as severed arteries, or from subsequent infection. Even if the bullet hit the upper arm or forearm, sparing the shoulder joint, the injury was so great that the usual result was amputation. Any meeting between bone and the old high-caliber bullet was likely to be highly traumatic: in 1893 an Army medical report observed that “if a bone is struck, the destruction is enormous, the wound of exit frightful in size and irregularity.”
This brings up another important point that TV and movie writers might take more notice of—the great difference between the old lead slug and modern steel-jacketed bullets. The speed of today’s high-velocity slug in effect sterilizes the outer surface and at the same time usually enables the projectile to drill a rather neat, aseptic hole through tissue and bone alike. The old lead bullet, in contrast, readily lost shape on impact and tore viciously through the victim’s body, carrying along unstcrile pieces of skin and clothing. It made a large wound and often left a track out of all proportion to the size of the bullet. Extensive bleeding and shock were common, and infection virtually assured. Almost every gunshot wound was highly dangerous, no matter where the bullet hit.
If a gunfighter survived a gunfight but was wounded in the process, he still had to survive the medical conditions of the Old West. Doctors were scarce, and some of those available were of doubtful value. In most places there were few if any laws regulating the practice of medicine, and all too often a frontier doctor was anyone who chose to so designate himself. Perhaps a fourth of the “doctors” of the early American West held medical degrees; and even at that it must be remembered that in those days many medical schools would certify an M.D. after just a year or two of study.
No nurses were to be found, with the possible exception of a few tender-hearted schoolmarms or “soiled doves” from the dance halls; there were no hospitals worthy of the name, no laboratories, no antibiotics, and few medicines. The universal anesthetic and cure-all was whiskey, which, while it may have raised the morale of both patient and doctor, was not calculated to increase the efficacy of surgery
End of part I.
July 30, 2007, 09:41 PM
Part II, Continued.
Very often, incidentally, swift and accurate surgery meant the difference between life and death. “Given a gunshot wound of the abdominal cavity with one of the above caliber balls [.44 and .45],” Dr. Goodfellow wrote, “if the cavity be not opened within an hour, the patient by reason of hemorrhage is beyond any chance of recovery.” It hardly needs saying that blood transfusions were not to be had.
Parenthetically, it may be noted also that if there was actually a large percentage of abdominal and body wounds in western gunfights, it was not by accident. The arm, leg, and shoulder wounds so frequently enjoyed— that seems to be the right word—by heroes and subheroes on the screen were usually, in real life, the consequences of poor shooting and did not occur any more often than the shooter could help. He went for the broadest and most obvious target, namely the chest and abdomen of his opponent.
The opponent was well aware of this, naturally, and did his best to avoid full exposure. The dramatic showdown that has climaxed so many Hollywood and TV westerns, where two stalwarts deliberately stalk down the street toward each other, good guy waiting for bad guy to go for his gun, was certainly a rare occurrence. Far more often a man was shot without ever having had a chance to touch his gun. Jesse James was shot in the back; Virgil Earp was ambushed at night; Morgan Earp got it through a window while he was playing billiards; Billy the Kiel died in a darkened room without shooting back; Wild Bill Hickok was shot from behind while concentrating on a hand of poker.
A whole separate branch of the mythology of western fiction and film has to do with fist fights and barroom brawls. Ferocious encounters featuring multiple knockdowns, repeated haymakers to the lace, kicks to the stomach, thumps on the head with bottles, chairs, and miscellaneous furniture, and other egregious violence—usually produce nothing more than a temporary daze, with no visible bruises to speak of. Little boys find out better, of course, the first time they are in a real fist fight in the school yard.
In the meantime, the gunfight myths of the West live on in books, movies, and on television. Only the other night I watched Escape from Fort Bravo on TV, and 1 kept wondering when William Holden, the star, would acquire his mandatory flesh wound. Sure enough, he gets shot in (what else?) the shoulder, and for a while it looks as if he is done for—almost as if the screenwriter had been studying up on the real effects of large-caliber bullets. Then, just before the ornery redskins move in to finish him off, the U.S. cavalry thunders to the rescue. Minutes later, there is our hero, sitting straight and tall in the saddle and galloping away at the head of his own cavalry troop as if nothing has happened. Oh yes, he does have his arm in a sline.
Mr. Packer is a western history buff who is studying for a doctor’s degree in entomology at Utah State University.
August 1, 2007, 10:49 PM
Francis Bannerman article. Here. (http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1974/5/1974_5_52.shtml)
August 20, 2007, 11:39 PM
A Virginian, Joe Meek was not one to live the plantation life. He sought adventure in the far west instead and became a trapper. His story is told by Frances Fuller Victor in her two volume, Adventures of Joe Meek. Vol. 1 concerns Meek's adventures as a greenhorn tenderfoot who quickly learns and becomes an independent trapper. It's well worth reading if you're into the Fur Trade era. Vol. II tells about Meek after the Fur Trade Era when he helps to settle Oregon. Less interesting, it is more of a history of Oregon with incidents involving Meek. Still, Vol. II has some interesting things. I share one with you now.
They came across a mission and encouraged them to prayer. Most mountain men declined.
Not so scrupulous, however, was Jandreau, a lively French Canadian, who was traveling in company with the Americans. On being repeatedly importuned to pray, with that tireless zeal which distinguishes the Methodist preacher above all others, Jandreau appeared suddenly to be smitten with a consciousness of his guilt, and kneeling in the midst of the 'meeting,' began with clasped hands and upturned eyes to pour forth a perfect torrent of words. With wonderful dramatic power he appeared to confess, to supplicate, to agonize, in idiomatic French. His tears and ejaculations touched the hearts of the missionaries, and filled them with gladness. They too ejaculated and wept, with frequently uttered "amens" and "hallelujahs," until the scene became highly dramatic and exciting. In the midst of this grand tableau, when the enthusiasm was at its height, Jandreau suddenly ceased and rose to his feet, while an irrepressible outburst of laughter from his associates aroused the astonished missionaries to a partial comprehension of the fact that they had been made the subjects of a pratical joke, though they never knew to exactly how great an extent.
The mischevious Frenchman had only recited with truly artistic power, and with such variations as the situation suggested, one of the most wonderful and effective tales from the Arabian Nights Entertainment, with wich he was wont to delight and amuse his comrades beside the winter camp-fire!"
More on Jandreau later.
August 22, 2007, 07:26 AM
This is the conclusion of our story on Jandreau, the French mountainman.
But Jandreau was called to account when he arrived at Vancouver. Dr. McLaughlin had heard the story from some of the party, and resolved to punish the man's irreverace, at the same time that he gave himself a bit of amusement. Sending for the Rev. Father Blanchet,who was then resident at Vancouver, he informed him of the circumstance, and together they arranged Jandreau's punishment. He was ordered to appear in their united presence, and make a true statement of the affair. Jandreau confessed that he had done what he was accused of doing - made a mock prayer, and told a tale instead of offering supplication. He was then ordered by the Rev. Father to rehearse the scene excatly as it occured, in order that he might judge the amount of his guilty, and apportion him his punishment.
Trembling and abashed, poor Jandreau fell upon his knees and began the recital with much trepidation. But as he proceeded he warmed with his subject, his dramatic instinct asserted itself, tears streamed, and voice and eyes supplicated, until this second representation threatened to outdo the first. With outward gravity and inward mirth his two solemn judges listened to the close, and when Jandreau rose quite exhausted from his knees, Father Blanchet hastily dismissed him with an admonition and a light penance. As the door of Dr. McLaughlin's office closed behind him, not only the Doctor, but Father Blanchet indulged in a burst of long restrained laughter at the comical absurdities of this impious Frenchman.
August 25, 2007, 12:16 PM
One of Joe Meek's first task as sheriff was to serve a writ upon a man accused of attempting to murder another. Knowing the man's desperate nature, many urged Meek to wait for help, but Meek was not one to shy from his duties and went to arrest him alone. Predictably, the man resisted and grabbed a carpenter's axe with which he intended to strike Meek. Meek was prepared. He pulled out a pistol and pointing it at the suspect, assured him that he was on the losing end. The suspect surrendered. Lesson: Don't bring an axe to a gunfight.
August 27, 2007, 12:51 AM
Just wanted to express my thanks again for your sharing.
September 2, 2007, 06:09 PM
So I'm trying to find the 19th Century standards for a surgeon to declare someone an imbecile. Here's what I found that, while not useful to me, is amusing.
Genre: Letter, Spoof
Subjects: Mental Illness, Commerce, Gender
Criticizes the amount of money (£15–£20,000) spent on the legal case to determine whether 'a young man', William F Windham Windham, William F (1840–66), 'is insane or no in order to decide as to his fitness for managing his affairs'. Points out that 'Every wild young man almost is unfit to manage his affairs' and so 'proper people should be appointed to take care of his estates' and he should be made 'incapable of running into debt or of marrying without the consent of his guardians'. The writer believes that if one of her seven daughters were to marry a 'simpleton' she would enjoy a quiet life, and in a postscript asks for a 'rich imbecile young man that would suit my child' for 'the only true Asylum for Idiots is Woman's Heart'.
September 3, 2007, 10:59 AM
Death of “Buffalo Chips”
Buffalo Bill Cody had a sidekick, Jim White, who followed him on the plains. Unlike Buffalo Bill who served the Union during the Civil War, White fought for the Confederacy under Jeb Stuart. Like Bill, White was a capable scout and Indian fighter who idolized Cody and went so far as to imitate his “dress, his gait, his carriage, his speech - everything he could copy; he let his long yellow hair fall low upon his shoulders in wistful imitation of Bill’s glossy brown curls.” He took care of Cody’s guns, horses and Cody. When Buffalo Bill declined accompanying the 5th Cavalry to Arizona, Jim White decided to remain with the regiment as its scout. One night he decided to be known as something other than Jim White and a wag of a quartermaster dubbed him “Buffalo Chips.” The name stuck.
Under General Carr, the 5th Cavalry and Jim White rode to assist of Maj. Mills who trapped some Indians in a ravine but couldn’t extract them. Furthermore, ahead of the ravine was a cave in which several Indians had hidden themselves. As the soldiers attempted to maneuver around the cave’s entrance, they were attacked by those in the ravine. Capt. Charles King described what followed: “The misty air rang with shots, and the chances looked bad for those redskins. Just at this moment, as I was running over from the western side, I caught sight of ‘Chips’ on the opposite crest. All alone, he was cautiously making his way, on hands and knees, towards the had of the ravine, where he could look down upon the Indians beneath. As yet he was protected from their fire by the bank itself - his lean form distinctly outlined against the eastern sky. He reached a stunted tree that grew on the very edge of the gorge, and there he halted, brought his rifle close under his shoulder in readiness to aim, and then raised himself slowly to his feet, lifted his head higher, higher, as he peered over. Suddenly a quick, eager light shone on his face, a sharp movement of his rifle, as though he were about to raise it to the shoulder, when, bang! - a puff of white smoke floated up from the head of the ravine, ‘Chips’ sprang convulsively in the air, clasping his hands to his breast, and with one startled, agonizing cry, ‘Oh, my God, boys!’ plunged heavily forward, on his face, down the slope - shot through the heart.
‘Two minutes more, what Indians were left alive were prisoners, and that costly experiment at an end. That evening, after the repulse of the grand attack of Roman Nose and Stabber’s warriors, and, ‘twas said, hundreds of Crazy Horse’s band, we buried poor ‘Chips’ with our other dead in the dead ravine. Wild Bill, California Joe, and Cosgrove have long since gone to their last account, but, among those who knew them, no scout was more universally mourned that Buffalo Bill’s devoted friend, Jim White.”
September 25, 2007, 09:54 PM
Earlier we mentioned Sam Houston and his interactions with women. Here's Sam and how he interacted with men.
The army was marching through a lane which passed in front of Donahue's house. General Houston was in front, and just as he got opposite the house Donahue stepped out on the porch and said, "General, I don't want you to camp on my land or cut my timber." General Houston said, "All right Mr. Donahue, we'll not cut your timber." He then turned to the men in front and said, "Make a gap in the fence by taking out two panels." They did so, and he then said, "Forward, march, and follow me!" He marched around the fence enclosing the house, and by the time he got back to the gap the whole army was inside the enclosure. Houston turned to his men and said, "Mr. Donahue does not want you to cut his timber, and if any one cuts a tree I'll punish him. Take the rails from that inside fence, but don't break the outside fence." So they took the rails and made fires. This, of course, made Donahue mad, and he stepped back into the house and gave expression to his feelings in very strong language.
In our next installment, we'll find out how Sam Houston's men got Donahue even madder.
September 26, 2007, 08:35 PM
More on Sam Houston's army and their unwilling host, Mr. Donahue.After supper some of the boys proposed that they have a dance. "All right, if we can get the ladies." A dozen or more families were camped near, so some of the boys were sent to see if the ladies would come, which they agreed to do. While we were waiting for the ladies to get ready some of the boys went to see Mr. Donahue and said, "Mr. Donahue, we want you to move the furniture out of one of the rooms; we are going to have a dance here." "I'll not move a ____ (using a very strong adjective) thing." "All right, we'll move them for you." So they took everything out of one of the rooms and piled it up in the hall. It was a double log house with a hall between. They danced nearly all night. I leave you to imagination how well Donahue enjoyed it. It was still fresh in his memory when we went to borrow the skillet..."
October 3, 2007, 12:49 AM
after they had torn down his fence for firewood, had a dance in his house without his consent, Mr. Donahue refused to loan out his skillet. I'm surprised that they just didn't borrow it anyway.:p
November 2, 2007, 03:00 PM
On Nov 2, 1998 you posted an anecdote about Pvt. Terence O'Connor. Could you please tell me the source of this story. I believe Pvt. O'Connor may be my great-grandfather.
November 2, 2007, 09:14 PM
You lucked out. I've well over 500 volumes on the Civil War and other than it being a Union source, I didn't know where to begin.
It comes from page 137 (revised and enlarged 1905 edition published by F. McManus, Jr. & Co. of Philadelphia) of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Chamberlin's book, "History of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, Second Regiment, Bucktail Brigade."
Page 330 states Pvt. Terrance O'Conner enlisted as a private in Capt. George W. Jones' Company B and was mustered in on Aug. 19, 1862. He was promoted to Corporal on May 1, 1865 and mustered out with his company on June 23, 1865 and died in 1896. Jones' company was raised in Germantown (page 19) and was to have been a flank company (p25). They were armed with Enfield rifles (p 29).
You owe me a beer.
November 4, 2007, 01:49 PM
A writer on "Fact and Fable" has said that most of the striking anecdotes of modern soldiers and eminent public men may be traced to the ancients. This is doubtless true to a great extent; nevertheless, a large proportion of those that relate to soldiers are very truly their own expressions of wit, humor, and sentiment as though the ancients had never lived. Men of all times fall into similar trains of thought in similar circumstances-certain apposite reflections or ludicrous whims suggest themselves with the occasion, and are as much the offspring of the last brain from which they are coined as though no other head had ever done so. Grimshaw, in his History of the United States, spices a page with a story of an American captain who went with a new hat on into battle with the British and got a bullet through it, which raked his skull with sufficient force to knock him senseless. When he was removed and had recovered consciousness, some began to condole with him about the severity of his wound, to which he replied: "Ah! Time and the doctors will mend that; but the rascals have spoiled my new hat!" Speeches with the same turn of thought were heard after almost every battle in which the brigade was engaged, from men who had probably never read Grimshaw's story. A soldier detailed for picket duty one day was observed to pull off a new shirt and put on an old and tattered one. "What's that for?" asked an astonished comrade. "Oh!" he answered, "I'm not going to let the Yankees shoot my new shirt!" And another, whose clothes had been badly torn by a piece of shell, settled the question of comparative merits of shell and solid shot by declaring that if a man was hit without being killed the shell was the worse missile because it tore his clothes up so."
Some digression on MarcusHook's (Joe) inquiry. To determine which book the anecdote involving Pvt. Terrence O'Connor came from, the unit was first determined to be a Union unit that fought at Gettysburg (how else is there any fighting around Hagerstown?). Anyhow, the National Park Service Soldier & Sailor registry listed several O'Connors and the most likely unit was found. The unit history (book) retrieved and by glancing on my handwritten notes on the endpapers, the source was confirmed. Darn lucky.
November 10, 2007, 02:12 AM
With Grant and Foote's capture of Fort Donelson, the lynchpin that held the chain of Confederate defenses in the west collasped. Bowling Green, Kentucky was abandoned. While not the commander of the captured Confederate forces, Gen. Simon Buckner was left to surrender the command. He had helped Grant out before the war when Grant was broke. Buckner was surprised when Grant offered Buckner no terms, no honors of war.
"Though Grant treated Gen. Buckner with characteristic manliness, there were not wanting smart fellows among his officers who could not profit by their cheif's example. As Buckner, with his faithful staff, stepped on the board the boat that was to convey them northward, one of his regiments raised a thrilling cheer, when a Federal band, apparently in derision, struck up Yankee Doodle. An officer afterward asked Buckner in Grant's presence, and in a very sarcastic tone, whether the national air did not revive in his mind some pleasant associations of the past. "Yes, Colonel," he replied, "but it also reminds me of an incident which occurred a few days ago in our camp. A soldier was being drummed out of one of the regiments for a serious offense. The musicians were playing the Rogue's March. 'Stop,' cried the fellow, you have mistaken the tune. Play Yankee Doodle; a half million of rogues march to that every day.'"
If you have a chance, visit Fort Donelson National Battlefield Park. It is well preserved and the site of some early sharpshooting in the Western Theatre.
December 9, 2007, 08:09 PM
Some folks might find this amusing. It illustrates the contempt the sailors had for soldiers of the period.
A mess mate before a shipmate, a shipmate before a stranger, a stranger before a dog, a dog before a soldier.
December 15, 2007, 10:32 AM
In the middle of the James River in Richmond, Virginia, is Belle Isle, an island used during the Civil War as a PoW camp. Here's an incident from Belle Isle:
During the first day of their sojurn on the island, Mayhorn observed a rebel lieutenant.. wearing a pair of magnificient boots... [H]e watched the officer, followed him from place to place, and haunted him like a shadow till night. When, at last, the officer retired, Mayhorn succeeded in hooking the boots and making off with them. Next morning, however, he began to grow ill at ease, lest the officer, missing his boots, discover the boots in his possession, and deal summarily with him... He, therefore, carried the boots to another part of the island, and sold them to one of the rebel sentinels for twenty dollars...
Meanwhile, the bereaved officer missed his dear boots, and took active measures to recover them, in the shpae of offering twenty dollars reward. Mayhorn heard of it and, seeking out the officer, he said: "Will you give me the reward if I tell you who has your boots?"
"Yes, certainly; why not?"
"I thought because I was a Yankee--"
Oh, that makes no sort of difference; tell me who has my boots... and here are twenty dollars;" and the officer produced a twenty-dollar Confederate note.
"Well," said Mayhorn, "I will point out the fellow who has your boots, but I don't want him to know who informed on him... He would kill me if-"
"Very well; he shall not see you. Come with me and point him out, and here is your money."
The unfortunate sentinel was on post at the time, and wearing the stolen boots, large as life.
"Yonder he is! He has them on!" exclaimed Mayhorn, as he led the officer to a point from which the sentinel could be seen.
"So he has!... The barefaced scoundrel... here, take your money - Oh, I'll fix him!... To steal my - and from an officer...."
"It's too bad," said Mayhorn, sympathizingly; and he thrust his twenty-dollar bill into his pocket, and sought a position from which he could see the - as he called it - fun.
The rebel officer approached the sentinel, who was walking his eat displaying his boots to the best advantage-his pantaloons thrust within the tops.
"You burglar!" exclaimed the officer savagely....
"What!" and the rebel sentinel expanded his optics to an incredible size....
"What have I done?"
"What have you done! Varlet, look at those boots!"
The sentinel surveyed his boots with evident pleasure; he began to think that the officer was jesting with him. Supposing this to be a piece of unpardonable impudence and reckless defiance, the officer grew violent.
"You infernal rascal! OFF WITH THOSE BOOTS!" he vociferated.
The sentinel now perceived that the officer was in earnest; and he asked:
"What do you mean, anyhow?"
"What do I mean! You d__d thief!... Those boots are mine! You stole 'em; you know you did!"
"They're my boots; I bought 'em."
"You lie! You didn't!"
"I did; I bought 'em off a Yankee."
"You lying scoundrel! I"ll- CORPORAL OF THE GUARD!..."
"Corporal," said the officer, "bring another man here, and put him in this one's place. He has stolen my boots, and he must be arrested...."
"I didn't steal the boots," persisted the hapless sentinel....
"Not a word, or I'll punch a hole right through you, you miserable scamp."
As the adverturous-some would suggest suicidal-Mayhorn was among those Union prisoners exchanged, it may be concluded that neither the wrongfully accused sentinel, nor the outraged officer, managed to deduce that the brazen Yankee had outwitted both of them and gained 40 dollars in the bargain. Unfortunately, Mayhorn's Confederate bills would be useless along "Robbers' Row," as the sutlers' area at Harrison's Landing was called.
December 25, 2007, 11:08 AM
First Federal attempt to regulate fishing was during the Civil War.
Monday-Tuesday, May 25-26, 1863, Camp near Fredericksburg. We were told that Gen. Hooker requested General Lee to stop our men from fishing (seining) in the river. No doubt Hooker thinks the fish are Yankee and objects to their being caught by Southerners. Or perhaps he sympathizes with the fish. No, actually, he objects to the "communication" fishing brings between his troops and ours. Apparently he has some secrets (such as what he is going to do next) that he wants to keep from us.
December 30, 2007, 01:09 PM
At Vicksburg, the Union soldiers hurled their handgrenades into the nearby Confederate trenches. The Confederates were dug in along the ridge line, which silhouetted them against the skyline and made them easy to pick off. The Federal trenches were downhill from the Confederates.
The hand-grenades were small shells about the size of a goose egg, filled with little bullets, probably larger than a buck-shot; they never exploded before hitting the ground, and only then when hitting a hard place, as they were fired by friction, and not by fuses. They wounded several of the regiment in the legs, generally slightly, but killed no one within my knowledge, always bursting too low to strike a vital park.
In return for the hand-grenades, our regiment, whose position was more elevated than the enemy's, threw shells, varying from six to ninety pounds, into his works, many of which did great execution; but we did not know it at the time, and this sort of shelling was not kept up: it was only after the siege that we learned, if it had been sustained, especially with the heavy shells, the works there would have been untenable.
January 8, 2008, 11:35 PM
Here's something that caught me by surprise. Most of us have heard about civilian John Burns who walked up to the Iron Brigade and asked to fight in their ranks. Burns was a veteran of earlier wars and age did not diminish his fighting spirit. Injured several times, he was hailed as the Hero of Gettysburg. This is about another civilian who joins the Yankees in fighting the Confederates at Gettysburg. He is unknown to us today but was seen by 5th Ohio Sergeant Peter A. Cozine who was fighting atop of Culp's Hill.
"On the left of our regiment an American citizen of African descent had taken position, and with a gun and a cartridge box, which he took from one of our dead men, was more than piling hot lead into the Graybacks. His coolness and bravery was noticed and commented upon by all who saw him. If the negro regiments fight like he did, I don't wonder that the Rebs and Copperheads hate them so."
I can understand why he fought. He may have been a runaway or may have had relatives nabbed by the Confederates and turned over to bondage. He may have been patriotic and defending home and hearth.
January 10, 2008, 12:18 PM
Sorry Gary, don't meant to hijack the thread (I love this thread as I am a history buff), just a bit of information: "Copperheads" were anti-war pro-slavery Northerners.
January 10, 2008, 11:15 PM
in the Vicksburg City Jail. Some boys in blue were captured and were sent to the Vicksburg City Jail. Their food was prepared by a black cook.
Upon reaching Vicksburg we were placed in the city jail, an old two story brick bulding situated in the heart of the city near the Court House. The building was enclosed by a brick wall about twelve feet in height, the enclosure containing about half an acre. In one corner of the yard was built a small brick cook house, used in cooking the food for the inmates of the jail. The cook was a great big buck Negro weighing about 250 pounds, and as important as a chef at Delmonicos in New York City, but I don't think it required as much skill to prepare a meal in the prison cook house as it would be in the above named place, as about all he had to cook was corn meal, corn cob, and all ground together, and stirred up with water, which was our regular fare... We received two meals a day at this place, breakfast at 9 a.m., supper at 4 p.m., no change of diet which consisted of a chunk of the aforesaid corn bread, pieces about four inches square. It was laughable to see our old d____y cook after having prepared our corn bread. He would step outside of the cook house door and yell, "Hellow dar yo pore white trash, fall in two ranks and come and done git yoah grub." If one of the boys should happen to get a little out of line he would yell out, "you get back in line Sah imejately sah." After they had formed ranks to suit him and we would march past and receive our rations.
It's better than what happened later in the war ('64-65) when prisoners on both sides were regularly starved. Let's not get into a discussion about Andersonville, Elmira, Camp Douglas or Libby Prison. If you want, go to http://www.CivilWarTalk.com/forums, gwine (Civil War parlance for "join") 'em and speak your civil mind there.
BTW Sorch, thanks for pointing out the meaning of copperhead to our non Civil War audience.
January 13, 2008, 04:29 PM
Here's something I found on-line from the Richmond Whig. Talk about substitutes.
RICHMOND [VA] WHIG, June 24, 1864, p. 1, c. 5
Lactucarium—A Cheap Substitute for Opium.—Port Gibson, Miss., May 23, 1864.—With a pocket knife cut the top of the lettuce off, just before or during blooming time. Scrape on a piece of glass the milk from the severed top, then apply the edge of the glass to the cut end of the plant and scrape off the milk.—The exudation will now cease unless you cut a wafer from the top of the tem, when it will pour out as before; this may be repeated with success for half a dozen times at that milking, when it ceases for that day. Repeat the process daily until the plant is exhausted of its milky fluid. This extract dries and turns brown. On the day succeeding the gathering, scrape the glass and collect the extract by pressing it into a lump, wrap it in paper and bottle tight.
A. . Peck, M. D.
[We have a sample of this substitute for opium, which we will take pleasure in showing to any one desiring to examine it. It is easily made, and is for many uses superior to genuine opium.—Mobile Advertiser.
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