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Old July 31, 2006, 09:16 PM   #159
4V50 Gary
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Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 16,594
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
Quote:

"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:

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
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