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Old July 7, 2004, 07:40 PM   #1
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Rambling Anecdotes

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. 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.
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Old July 8, 2004, 12:53 AM   #2
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"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
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Old July 15, 2004, 06:52 PM   #3
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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:

Quote:
"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."
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Old July 16, 2004, 11:11 PM   #4
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Sam Houston Lashed! A real story.

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.
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Old July 17, 2004, 08:22 AM   #5
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Old July 17, 2004, 11:43 AM   #6
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The Napoleonic Era Infantryman

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."
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Old July 22, 2004, 08:19 PM   #7
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Marital Harmony

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.'"
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Old July 24, 2004, 04:10 PM   #8
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Absorbing!

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


Best,
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Old July 24, 2004, 04:32 PM   #9
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El gato (the cat)

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.
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Old July 24, 2004, 10:44 PM   #10
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Kicked out - literally

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).
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Old August 31, 2004, 11:08 AM   #11
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Here's your mule

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.
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Old September 7, 2004, 11:54 PM   #12
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Anti-aircraft, Confederate style and (II) Confederate airpower

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.
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Old September 14, 2004, 09:05 PM   #13
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Where's the beef?

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.
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Old September 16, 2004, 01:46 AM   #14
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No to Alhambra Water Company Human Resources - a "no-hire"

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."
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Old September 17, 2004, 02:35 PM   #15
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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:
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Old September 17, 2004, 07:46 PM   #16
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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!"
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Old September 19, 2004, 10:11 AM   #17
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Posting Guards - Confederate style

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.
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Old September 25, 2004, 06:22 PM   #18
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The Great Escape

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."
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Old September 26, 2004, 12:02 AM   #19
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Cussing

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."
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Old October 3, 2004, 11:29 AM   #20
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Got milk?

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."
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Old October 17, 2004, 01:03 PM   #21
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Brevet ranks

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."
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Old October 19, 2004, 06:19 PM   #22
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Man that is great stuff Gary - thanks. I like the deserting lieutenant getting his "stern" kicked - ha.
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Old October 28, 2004, 08:30 PM   #23
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The first Bucktails

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."
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Old October 30, 2004, 10:46 AM   #24
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A dream after fighting at Pickett's Charge

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."
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Old October 30, 2004, 04:19 PM   #25
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Spare me the military bearing

"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.
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