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[385] staff, and the reserve picket would likely have gotten upon the ground in time to have seen them vanish beyond the river.

Only a week or two elapsed when our brigade commander obtained a leave of absence, and an order was issued by the division commander assigning another officer to the command. This necessitated a removal to the village, and a more familiar acquaintance with the surroundings. The few weeks of command here looms up as a most unpleasant period in that officer's military experience. There was nothing at that time interesting in or about the village; indeed, everything almost seemed to be the reverse. The citizens, however, so far as could be ascertained, claimed to be loyal to the old flag. Most of the persons visible were very hard-looking cases, and most of them lounged about, or were attracted about, one or two very unattractive taverns, where it was quite certain bad whisky was freely issued, and perhaps more freely used, and that, too, to the detriment of morals, health, and discipline, notwithstanding a “boy in blue” kept watch, day and night, musket in hand, not very far from the spigot. A few of them, as well as many others from different quarters, had passes from General McClellan, which was about the only thing that gave them any fair degree of grade, and on this ground were allowed to pass the river, and enter the enemy's lines.

The next most interesting and attractive object to the citizens of the vicinity, was one of the old-fashioned fish-baskets in the middle of the stream, just opposite the village. Persons could approach this basket along the wing walls that formed the dam from either side of the river; for this reason, it was regarded as affording convenience for any small party of the enemy to enter our lines without the use of a boat, and thus required at our hands special attention. The commanding officer was greatly annoyed by persons requesting passes to visit the fish-basket, and was frequently troubled to reconcile the giving of a pass for this purpose with the general order from army headquarters — not to allow any one to cross the river unless he could show a pass signed by the general-in-chief. The thing was as wisely managed as could be under the peculiar circumstances, having in view the important fact of preserving the fish from getting into the hands of the enemy. To have allowed this, would have been distressing to the flesh. The pleasant recollection remains of the fact of the fish always reaching the north bank of the river, and contributing aid and comfort to loyal and patriotic appetites. This incident is mentioned as being the only thing in the character of a fish-basket that became an object of

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H. B. McClellan (1)
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