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John D. Billings, Hardtack and Coffee: The Unwritten Story of Army Life, X. Raw recruits. (search)
ds up directly to the theme about to be considered. After I had obtained the reluctant consent of my father to enlist,--my mother never gave hers,--the next step hecessary was to make selection of the organization with which to identify my fortunes. I well remember the to me eventful August evening when that decision to enlist was arrived at. The Union army, then under McClellan, had been driven from before Richmond in the disastrous Peninsular campaign, and now the Rebel army, under General Lee, was marching on Washington. President Lincoln had issued a call for three hundred thousand three-years' volunteers. One evening, shortly after this call was made, I met three of my former school-mates and neighbors in the chief village of the town I then called home, and, after a brief discussion of the outlook, one of the quartette challenged, or stumped, the others to enlist.. The challenge was promptly accepted all around, and hands were shaken to bind the agreement. I will add in
learness to both Yanks and Rebs, it was that there was surely no safe rear. This being so, the vivacious mule did not always have a plain and peaceful pilgrimage as a member of the wagontrain. I vividly recall the enjoyment of my company, during Lee's final retreat, whenever our guns were unlimbered, as they were again and again, to be trained on the columns of retreating wagon-trains. The explosion of a shell or two over or among them would drive the long-ears wild, and render them utterly valiant from the scene of conflict, or, what was just as likely, rush madly into the ranks of the enemy. The same observations would suit equally well as objections to his service with artillery. On the 5th of April, 1865, during the retreat of Lee, we came upon a batch of wagons and a battery of steel guns, of the Armstrong pattern, I think, which Sheridan's troopers had cut out of the enemy's retreating trains. The guns had apparently never been used since their arrival from England. Th
larly disposed of. When Hooker started on the Chancellorsville Campaign, eleven days rations were issued to the troops. Sometimes marching orders came when least expected. I remember to have heard the long roll sounded one Saturday forenoon in the camp of the infantry that lay near us in the fall of ‘63; it was October 10. Our guns were unlimbered for action just outside of camp where we had been lying several days utterly unsuspicious of danger. It was quite a surprise to us; and such Lee intended it to be, he having set out to put himself between our army and Washington. We were not attacked, but started to the rear a few hours afterwards. Before the opening of the spring campaign a reasonable notice was generally given. There was one orderly from each brigade headquarters who almost infallibly brought marching orders. The men knew the nature of the tidings which he cantered up to regimental headquarters with under his belt. Very often they would good-naturedly rail
inments not far from Culpeper, in a large hexagonal stockade, which would seat six or seven hundred persons, and which had been erected for the purpose by one Lieutenant Lee, then on either General French's or General Birney's staff — I cannot now say which. To convey us thither over the intervening distance of four or five miless a load, not so much because of its weight as because a wagon would hold no more. It even excluded the forage to carry this number. In the final campaign against Lee, Grant allowed for baggage and camp equipage three wagons to a regiment of over seven hundred men, two wagons to a regiment of less than seven hundred and more than the most striking reminiscences of the wagon-train which I remember relates to a scene enacted in the fall of ‘63, in that campaign of manoeuvres between Meade and Lee. My own corps (Third) reached Centreville Heights before sunset — in fact, was, I think, the first corps to arrive. At all events, we had anticipated the most of t<
olmes, Oliver Wendell, 26 Hood, John B., 400,406 Hooker, Joseph, 71, 257, 259-62, 331,338-40 Hospitals, 298-303,308 Hough, John, 263 Howard, Oliver O., 406 Huts, 56-58, 73-89 Ingalls, Rufus, 359,371-72, 375 Irwin, B. J. D., 301 Jackson, Andrew, 18 Jackson, Thomas J., 71 Jeffersonville, Ind., 121 Johnston, Joseph E., 340 Jonahs, 90-94 Jones, Edward F., 36 Kearney, Philip, 254-57 Kelly's Ford, Va., 315 Kenesaw Mountain, 400,404 Kingston, Ga., 400 Lee, Robert E., 198, 291-92,331, 362,367 Letterman, Jonathan, 303,305 Lewis' milk, 125 Lice, 80-82 Lincoln, Abraham, 15-16,18-20, 22, 34, 42, 44-45, 60, 71, 157, 162, 198,250,253,315 Longstreet, James, 296,403 Logan, John, 262-63 Long Island, Mass., 44-45 Lowell, Mass., 44 Ludington, Marshall I., 371-76 Lyon, Nathaniel, 118-19 Lynchburg, Va., 350 Lynnfield, Mass., 44 McClellan, George B., 51, 71, 157, 176, 198,251-54, 257,259,277, 298,303-4, 355-56,378 McDowell, Irvin, 7