belt, cartridge-box belt-plate, gun-sling, canteen, haversack, knapsack, packed according to rule, forty cartridges, forty percussion caps
; and every one of these articles polished to the highest brightness or blackness as the case may be, and moreover hung or slung or tied or carried in precisely the correct manner.
What a vast and formidable housekeeping is here, my patriotic sisters!
Consider, too, that every corner of the camp is to be kept absolutely clean and ready for exhibition at the shortest notice; hospital, stables, guardhouse, cook-houses, company tents, must all be brought to perfection, and every square inch of this “farm of four acres” must look as smooth as an English lawn, twice a day. All this, beside the discipline and the drill and the regimental and company books, which must keep rigid account of all these details; consider all this, and then wonder no more that officers and men rejoice in being ordered on active service, where a few strokes of the pen will dispose of all this multiplicity of trappings as “expended in action” or “lost in service.”
For one, the longer I remained in service, the better I appreciated the good sense of most of the regular army niceties.
True, these things must all vanish when the time of action comes, but it is these things that have prepared you for action.
Of course, if you dwell on them only, military life becomes millinery life alone.
says that the Russian Grand-Duke Constantine
, contemplating his beautiful toy-regiments, said that he dreaded war, for he knew that it would spoil the troops.
The simple fact is, that a soldier is like the weapon he carries; service implies soiling, but you must have it clean in advance, that when soiled it may be of some use.