To the colored soldiers especially, with their love of country life, and their extensive personal acquaintance on the plantations, it seemed quite like a Christmas festival.
Besides, they would be in sight of the enemy, and who knew but there might, by the blessing of Providence
, be a raid or a skirmish?
If they could not remain on the St. John's River
, it was something to dwell on the Coosaw
In the end they enjoyed it as much as they expected, and though we “went out” several times subsequently, until it became an old story, the enjoyment never waned.
And as even the march from the camp to the picket lines was something that could not possibly have been the same for any white regiment in the service, it is worth while to begin at the beginning and describe it.
A regiment ordered on picket was expected to have reveille at daybreak, and to be in line for departure by sunrise.
This delighted our men, who always took a childlike pleasure in being out of bed at any unreasonable hour; and by the time I had emerged, the tents were nearly all struck, and the great wagons were lumbering into camp to receive them, with whatever else was to be transported.
The first rays of the sun must fall upon the line of these wagons, moving away across the wide parade-ground, followed by the column of men, who would soon outstrip them.
But on the occasion which I especially describe the sun was shrouded, and, when once upon the sandy plain, neither camp nor town nor river could be seen in the dimness; and when I rode forward and looked back there was only visible the long, moving, shadowy column, seeming rather awful in its snake-like advance.
There was a swaying of flags and multitudinous weapons that might have been camels' necks for all one could see, and the whole thing might