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Chapter 2:

  • Off the Peninsula
  • -- sojourn at Ship Point -- up York river -- west Point -- organization of the Sixth Corps -- up the Peninsula -- artillery duel at Mechanicsville -- roster of the Sixth Army Corps in Peninsula campaign

Reaching Alexandria at nightfall we encamped in the old town, on a waste tract which sloped from the Cloud's Mills road toward Hunting Creek. On the south side of this old pike, under the guns of Fort Ellsworth, nearly opposite the old slave mart, whose warehouse and dismal pen had served during the previous winter respectively for guardhouse and prison of the provost, we tarried three days while arrangements were perfected for our embarkation and departure.

As the paymaster appeared upon the day following our arrival, the camp soon presented a curious scene to an observer, who might have witnessed incidents suggestive of a country fair,—the boys in groups surrounding venders of sundry wares, purchasing of the dealers or chaffing and badgering them. ‘Variety is the spice of life,’ and doubtless the bold soldier boys realized that the modification of the regular camp diet by the pies, cakes, chocolate, and beer, and the furbishing of old jokes and games, or the institution of new ones, imparted piquancy to the brief enjoyment of the halt by the old slave-pen. Whiskey enjoys the bad eminence of exaggerating the idiosyncracies of individuals, more than any other alcoholic beverage: if, for example, an individual is naturally deficient in judgment when sober, so that he might chance to undertake an impracticable enterprise, only dimly perceiving the difficulties attending its execution, under the influence of half a pint of whiskey not a vestige of these difficulties remains to him; he essays his task with sublime self-confidence. We noticed during our stay here, an artilleryman of one of the corps in town at the time, fruitlessly endeavoring to drive a pair of horses, one of which he was riding, through the door of a grocery store. No doubt the width of the aperture seemed ample for the purpose. A comrade

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York (Virginia, United States) (1)
Ship Point (Virginia, United States) (1)
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