darkness of night, throw down his tent, help themselves liberally to whatever they wanted, and then get back speedily and quietly to quarters.
It did not do to carry stolen goods to the tents, for the next day was likely to see a detachment of men, accompanied by the sutler, searching the quarters for the missing property.
Sometimes this raiding was done in a spirit of mischief, by unprincipled men, sometimes to get satisfaction for what they considered his exorbitant charges.
Sometimes the officers of a regiment sympathized in such a movement, if they thought the sutler's exactions deserved a rebuke.
When this was the case, it was no easy task to find the criminals, for the officers were very blind and stupid, or, if the culprits were detected, they were quietly reminded that if they were foolish enough to get caught they must suffer the penalty.
But sutlers, like other people, profited by the teachings of experience, and, if they had faults, soon mended them, so that late'in the war they rarely found it necessary to beg deliverance from their friends.
The following incident came under my own knowledge in the winter of ‘64, while the Artillery Brigade of the Third Corps lay encamped in the edge of a pine woods near Brandy Station, Virginia
Just in rear of the Tenth Battery camp, near company headquarters, the brigade sutler had erected his tent, and every wagon-load of his supplies passed through this camp under the eyes of any one who cared to take note.
A load of this description was thus inspected on a particular occasion, and while the wagon was standing in front of the tent waiting to be unloaded, and without special guarding, an always thirsty veteran stole up to it, seized upon a case of whiskey, said to have been destined for a battery commander, and was off in a jiffy.
Less than three minutes elapsed before the case was missed.
At once the captain of the company was notified, who immediately gave his instructions to the officer of the day. The bugler blew the Assembly
, summoning every man into line; and