How often in later years did the disappointment I experienced at not obtaining membership in the company I at first decided upon recur to me, and how grateful I always felt for the fate which thus controlled my enlistment.
For the lot of a recruit in an old company was, at the best, not an enviable one, and sometimes was made very disagreeable for him. He stood in much the same relation to the veterans of his company that the Freshman in college does to the Sophomores, or did when hazing was the rule and not the exception.
It is to be remembered that he was utterly devoid of experience in everything which goes to make up the soldier, the details of camping, cooking, drilling, marching, fighting, etc., which put him at a disadvantage on all occasions.
For this reason he easily became the butt of a large number of his company — not all, for there were some men who were ever ready to extend sympathy and furnish information to him, when they saw it was needed, and did what they could to raise him to the same general plane occupied by the old members.
But many of the veterans seemed to forget how they themselves obtained their army education little by little, and so ofttimes bore down on recruits with great severity.
In the later years of the war, when large bounties were being paid by town, city, and State governments, to encourage enlistments, these recruits were often addressed as “bounty-jumpers” by the evil disposed among the old members.
But that term was a misnomer, unless these men proved later that they were deserving of it, for a bounty-jumper was a man — I hate to call him one-who enlisted only
to get the bounty, and deserted at the earliest opportunity.
Recruits, it should be said, as a class, stood the abuse which was heaped upon them with much greater serenity of temper than they should have done, and, indeed, so anxious were they to win favor with the veterans, and to earn the right to be called and pass for old soldiers,