Form a line (with one man)
A private on picket duty, under orders to allow no one to pass inside the Confederate lines without giving the countersign, was approached by his brigadier-general, who asked,
"What would you do, sir, were you to see a man coming up that road toward you?"
"I should wait, General," said the private, "until he came within twenty feet of me, and then halt him and demand the countersign."
"Very good, very good," commented the General; "but suppose twenty men approached by the same road, what would you do then?"
"Halt them before they got nearer than a hundred feet, sir, and covering them with my gun, demand that the officer in command approach and give the countersign."
"Ah! my brave fellow," began the general in his most flattering voice, "I see you are remarkably well posted concerning your duties. But let me put still another case. Suppose a whole regiment were coming in this direction, what would you do in that case?"
"Form a line immediately, sir," answered the private unhesitatingly, and without a smile.
"Form a line? form a line? repeated the officer, in his most contemptuous tone. "What kind of line, I should like to know, could a single man form?"
"A bee-line for camp, sir," explained the picket.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!