Tuesday, June 11, 2013
When Duty Calls !
Defending Dixie was done from a sense of duty, not pay !
DETAILED MINUTIAE OF SOLDIER LIFE IN THE ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA
PRIVATE SECOND COMPANY RICHMOND HOWITZERS,
To offer a man promotion in the early part of the war was equivalent to an insult.
The higher the social position, the greater the wealth ,the more patriotic it would be to serve in the humble position of a private ; and many men of education and ability in the various professions, refusing promotion, served under the command of men greatly their inferiors, mentally, morally, and as soldiers. It soon became apparent that the country wanted knowledge and ability, as well as muscle and endurance, and those who had capacity to serve in higher positions were promoted. Still it remained true that inferior men commanded their superiors in every respect, save one rank ; and leaving out the one difference of rank, the officers and men were about on a par.
It took years to teach the educated privates in the army that it was their duty to give unquestioning obedience to officers because they were such, who were awhile ago their playmates and associates in business. It frequently happened that the private, feeling hurt by the stern authority of the officer, would ask him to one side, challenge him to personal combat, and thrash him well. After awhile these privates learned all about extra duty, half rations, and courts-martial. It was only to conquer this independent resistance of discipline that punishment or force was necessary. The privates were as willing and anxious to fight and serve as the officers, and needed no pushing up to their duty.
It is amusing to recall the disgust with which the men would hear of their assignment to the rear as reserves. They regarded the order as a deliberate insult, planned by some officer who had a grudge against their regiment or battery, who had adopted this plan to prevent their presence in battle, and thus humiliate them. How soon did they learn the sweetness of a day s repose in the rear !