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[428] made a great parade of saving from a mob (composed of corps and division commanders, a nephew of Henry Ward Beecher, and so on down, by sending to each house an officer of his staff, after my brother's had been pillaged and my father's to some extent. By some accidental good fortune, however, my mother secured a guard before the ‘bummers’ had made much progress in the house, and to this circumstance we are indebted for our daily food, several month's supply of which my father had hid the night before he left, in the upper rooms of the house, and the greater part of which was saved.

You have, doubtless, heard of Sherman's ‘bummers.’ The Yankees would have you believe that they were only the straggling pillagers usually found, with all armies. Several letters written by officers of Sherman's army, intercepted near this town, give this the lie. In some of these letters were descriptions of the whole bumming process, and from them it appears that it was a regularly organized system, under the authority of General Sherman himself; that one-fifth of the proceeds fell to General Sherman, another fifth to the other general officers, another fifth to the line officers, and the remaining two-fifths to the enlisted men. There were pure silver bummers, plated-ware bummers, jewelry bummers, women's-clothing bummers, provision bummers, and, in fine, a bummer or bummers for every kind of stealable thing. No bummer of one specialty interfering with the stealables of another. A pretty picture of a conquering army, indeed, but true.

Well, I am scribbling away just as if I were talking to you, for I feel to-night in humor for having one of our late-at-night tent talks, which poor Ed. Nicholson used to laugh about, while he would mimic you punching the fire and puffing your pipe. Ah! how the pleasures of winter quarters and the biovuac come back to us now, divested of a remembrance of every disagreeable incident. I can see the big tent on the Rapidan; I feel as if I were with you in the cosy little one on Jones's farm, smoke, smoke, smoke, talk, talk, talk—how we rattled away the hours far into the morning. Is our present humiliating freedom from danger a change for the better?

But I must blow away these spectres of tobacco smoke and battle smoke, and tell you still more about myself, and I know you will pardon so much talk about self when you remember how necessarily egotistical must be the first letter to a friend, after an interval of months, since a parting such as ours at ill-starred Appomattox.

I forgot to say that I have not yet taken the oath, but, of course,

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