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."
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!