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Old November 4, 2007, 01:49 PM   #241
4V50 Gary
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Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 16,728
Don't wear new clothes in battle

Quote:
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.
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