as to scarcely excite remark, and many who were temperate, and some who were even total abstinence leaders at home, fell into the delusion that drinking was excusable, if not necessary, in the army.
The drunken brawls of even high officers were the common talk around the camp-fires, and the men of the rank and file claimed the privilege of imitating their leaders.
In a debate in the Confederate Senate on the proposition to cashier every officer found to be drunk, either on or off duty, Hon. Wm. L. Yancey
, of Alabama
, said: That, from his observation, he had come to the conclusion that drunkenness was not only the
vice of the army, but of the county
. Drinking from 12 M. to 12 midnight was habitual, and among those who called themselves gentlemen the vice was extensive.
Ours is a popular army, and if we find drunkenness in it, nothing more can be expected when the vice is so extensive among the people.
Abroad, he had read the unvarnished statement of a Richmond paper, which brought the blush of shame to the friends of the country.
He doubted its truth, but after travelling the length of the country he was convinced of its truth, and had arrived at the conclusion that drunkenness was the vice of the country.
An army surgeon, writing to the Richmond Dispatch
respecting the prevalence of drunkenness in the army, says: ‘I was greatly astonished to find soldiers in Virginia
, whom I had known in Georgia
as sober, discreet citizens, members of different Churches, some deacons and official members, even preachers, in the daily and constant habit of drinking whiskey for their health.’
The chaplain of the Twenty-third North Carolina Regiment writes from the camp between Union Mills
to the Biblical Recorder
: . . . ‘If we ever meet with a defeat in this army, it will be in consequence of drunkenness.
Young men that never drank at home are using spirits freely in camp.
I fear that while Lincoln
may slay his thousands, the liquor-maker at home will slay his tens of thousands
A Southern editor wrote, on this subject: ‘The prevalence of vice, of drunkenness and profanity in our camps on the Potomac
and elsewhere is attributable to the officers themselves.
A large number of the officers of our Southern army are both profane and hard drinkers, where they are not drunkards.
It has been prophesied that the South
will lose the next battle on the ’