Friday, March 18, 2011

Soldier to Soldier

Learning that the army had gone into camp, the skirmishers went on in the direction of the village, and found the battalion in the woods near the main road. Fires were burning, and those who had been fortunate enough to find anything eatable were cooking. Federal troops were riding up and down the road and loafing about the camps trying to be familiar. They seemed to think that How are you, “Johnny “? Spoken in condescending style, was sufficient introduction.

During the day a line of men came single file over the hill near the camp, each bearing on his shoulder a box of “ hard-tack or crackers”. Behind these came a beef, driven by soldiers. The crackers and beef were a present from the Federal troops near, who, knowing the famishing condition of the surrounded army, had contributed their day s rations for its relief. All honor to them. It was a soldierly act which was thoroughly appreciated.

The beef was immediately shot and butchered, and before the animal heat had left the meat, it was impaled in little strips on sticks, bayonets, swords, and pocket-knives, and roasting over the fires.Though numbers of the enemy visited the camps and plied the men with all sorts of questions, seeming very curious and inquisitive, not an unkind word was said on either side that day.

When the skirmishers under McRaeen, entered the camp of the battalion, their enthusiastic descriptions of driving the enemy and being driven in turn failed to produce any effect. Many of the men were sobbing and crying, like children recovering from convulsions of grief after a severe whipping. They were sorely grieved, mortified, and humiliated. Of course they had not the slightest conception of the numbers of the enemy who surrounded them.Other men fairly raved with indignation, and declared their desire to escape or die in the attempt ; but not a man was heard to blame General Lee. On the contrary, all expressed the greatest sympathy for him and declared their willingness to submit at once, or fight to the last man, as he ordered. At no period of the war was he held in higher veneration or regarded with more sincere affection, than on that sad and tearful day.

(by Carlon McCarthy 2nd Co Richmond Howitzers)

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