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The men had that year a Christmas present which they enjoyed to the utmost,--furnishing the detail, every other day, for provost-guard duty in Beaufort. It was the only military service which they had ever shared within the town, and it moreover gave a sense of self-respect to be keeping the peace of their own streets. I enjoyed seeing them put on duty those mornings; there was such a twinkle of delight in their eyes, though their features were immovable. As the “reliefs” went round, posting the guard, under charge of a corporal, one could watch the black sentinels successively dropped and the whites picked up,--gradually changing the complexion, like Lord Somebody's black stockings which became white stockings,--till at last there was only a squad of white soldiers obeying the “Support arms! Forward, March!” of a black corporal.

Then, when once posted, they glorified their office, you may be sure. Discipline had grown rather free-and-easy in the town about that time, and it is said that the guard-house never was so full within human memory as after their first tour of duty. I remember hearing that one young reprobate, son of a leading Northern philanthropist in those parts, was much aggrieved at being taken to the lock — up merely because he was found drunk in the streets. “Why,” said he, “the white corporals always showed me the way home.” And I can testify that, after an evening party, some weeks later, I heard with pleasure the officers asking eagerly for the countersign. “Who has the countersign?;” said they. “The darkeys are on guard to-night, and we must look out for our lives.” Even after a Christmas party at General Saxton's, the guard at the door very properly refused to let the ambulance be brought

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Beaufort, S. C. (South Carolina, United States) (1)

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Rufus Saxton (1)
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