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Anecdotes of the war.

By Major John A. Hamilton.
A young Englishman—a specimen Dalgetty, joined our command. When asked, why? he replied, ‘I happened over here.’ Had he ‘happened’ over there, he'd have shot at us briskly as he shot for us. In those days field glasses pretentiously decorated the lowest order of officers as well as the higher. Our Dalgetty saw this, and got him three joints of cane which he adjusted to imitate a spy-glass. Fastening it with a profusion of tarred string he mounted a lofty lookout and leveled his mock glass at the enemy's batteries. Soon after he slid with a thump to the ground, and threw away his spying tube; when asked, ‘what ailed him,’ he replied, ‘I brought the Yanks too close up.’ Field glasses were seen only with field officers after that.

An order had gone out, ‘furloughs only when death is in the family.’ Our Englishman applied for leave; his paper read, ‘I've lost my grandmother.’ It was approved, and Dalgetty was passing Colonel——, a splendid officer, ‘I am sorry to hear of your affliction, when did your grandmother die?’ ‘She was very old, Colonel, and could not have lasted longer.’ Dalgetty moved on. ‘But when did the old lady die?’ returned the ex-West Pointer. ‘It is quite an affliction, sir, and we'll miss her,’ said Dalgetty, still on the move. ‘Perhaps you are hard of hearing— when did she die?’ asked the Colonel with a voice sufficient for a brigade front. ‘She's been dead forty years, sir; I can't lie about it, but I ought to get a furlough on it.’ The Colonel had to break out in a laugh as he saw Dalgetty going doggedly back to camp. A few days after Dalgetty got a ball in his leg; as it hit him he slapped the limb and shouted: ‘Thirty days and no death in the family.’

One dark and rainy winter's night the writer was ordered to carry food to the men in the trenches. A team was hitched up, and with a loaded wagon and driver we started out. Every challenge was made with the least noise, as the enemy were only a few rods in front. ‘Halt, dismount, and give the countersign,’ came at every thirty paces. It was rough on my teamster, who was rheumatic and cold. However, we made the trip, and halted at a cavalry post. Major——, a very Palladin for courage and strength, had rolled [319] in my blanket for a snooze; he had driven the enemy with slaughter that day. My Jehu began to recite his annoyances thus, ‘cuss the durned infantry, they mek me halt, dismount, and give the countersign, till I was weary and tarrify wid their foolishness.’ A roar followed from the couriers. At this moment a trim staff officer of a General, who had lost an arm, put in his say so: ‘I say, hold that noise, the General wants to rest; don't let me hear any more of it.’ Staff had hardly gone into darkness before Jehu began his old story. It was folly to try to keep back the laugh. A second outburst, and a second entry of staff; ‘——it, did I not order you to stop this noise. Who is it? I'll have him arrested.’ Just then, by some strange accident, a donkey put his demure snout in at our fire, and flapping his ears, began his unmistakable bray. Jehu jumped to his feet, and shaking his fist at donkey, said, ‘One at a time, if you please.’ Staff left amid a burst of laughter, as Major—— (the prince of soldiers) rolled over and over with my blanket, trying to restrain a big laugh.

Lieutenant——was drill-master. He could polish a steel bit or scabbard, or roll a blanket as neatly as any of the ‘Queen's Horse Guard,’ of which he had been. He messed alone—cause, a huge appetite, and personal want of regard for soap. One morning I met him standing with one boot on, the other laying about fifty feet away, and his tout ensemble of morning toilet in sorry plight. ‘What is the matter, Lieutenant?’ ‘The matter is it? The devils the matter, I'm thinking.’ He pointed tragically at the boot, then at his log shanty. ‘Anything wrong?’ ‘Wrong is it, down with the sheebang; blow her up wid gunpowder; she's full of shnakes; look in my boot.’ Sure enough a little grass snake had gone to bed in his boot, and the Lieutenant put his foot in it. He felt the squirm and his Celtic nature disgusted fled from boot and house with horror. The drill-master could face the foe but could not foot a grass snake.

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