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[321] making a wide detour in the rear of our lines the chances were good for them to add a few rations of fresh beef to the bacon and corn-meal diet of the Rebel army, a strong force of cavalry under Wade Hampton made the attempt, capturing twenty-five hundred beeves and four hundred prisoners, and getting off with them before our cavalry could intervene. The beeves were a blessing to them, far more precious and valuable than as many Union prisoners would have been; for they already had more prisoners than they could or would feed. As for us, I do not remember that fresh meat was any the scarcer on account of this raid, for the North, with its abundance, was bountifully supplying the government with whatever was needed, and the loss of a few hundred cattle could scarcely cause even a temporary inconvenience. Had the army been on the march, away from its base of supplies, the loss might have been felt more severely.

Whenever the army made a move its supply of fresh meat went along too. Who had charge of it? Men were detailed for the business from the various regiments, who acted both as butchers and drovers, and were excused from all other duty. When a halt was made for the night, some of the steers would be slaughtered, and the meat furnished to the troops upon presentation of the proper requisitions by quartermasters. The butcher killed his victims with a rifle. The killing was not always done at night. It often took place in the morning or forenoon, and the men received their rations in time to cook for dinner.

The manner in which these cattle were taken along was rather interesting. One might very naturally suppose that they would be driven along the road just as they are driven in any neighborhood; but such was not exactly the case. The troops and trains must use the roads, and so the cattle must needs travel elsewhere, which they did. Every herd had a steer that was used both as a pack animal and a leader. As a pack animal he bore the equipments and cooking utensils

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Wade Hampton (South Carolina, United States) (1)

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