would indeed have been a most admirable arrangement in many respects could each man have been provided with an excellent Magee Range with copper-boiler annex, and set tubs near by; but the line had to be drawn somewhere, and so everything in the line of impedimenta
was done away with, unless it was absolutely essential to the service.
For this reason we could not take along a well equipped laundry, but must make some articles do double or triple service.
It may be asked what kind of a figure the men cut as washerwomen.
Well, some of them were awkward and imperfect enough at it; but necessity is a capital teacher, and, in this as in many other directions, men did perforce what they would not have attempted at home.
It was not necessary, however, for every man to do his own washing, for in most companies there was at least one man who, for a reasonable recompense, was ready to do such work, and he usually found all he could attend to in the time he had off duty.
There was no ironing to be done, for “boiled shirts,” as white-bosomed shirts were called, were almost an unknown garment in the army except in hospitals.
Flannels were the order of the day. If a man had the courage to face the ridicule of his comrades by wearing a white collar, it was of the paper variety, and white cuffs were unknown in camp.
In the department of mending garments each man did his own work, or left it undone, just as he thought best; but no one hired it done.
Every man had a “housewife” or its equivalent, containing the necessary needles, yarn, thimble, etc., furnished him by some mother, sister, sweetheart, or Soldier's Aid Society, and from this came his materials to mend or darn with.
Now, the average soldier was not so susceptible to the charms and allurements of sock-darning as he should have been; for this reason he always put off the direful day until both heels looked boldly and with hardened visage out the back-door, while his ten toes ranged themselves en echelon