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John D. Billings, Hardtack and Coffee: The Unwritten Story of Army Life 10 0 Browse Search
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onnected by ripping the central seam in the two ends that came in contact. By looping back the flaps thus liberated, the tents were thrown together, and quite a commodious hospital was in that way opened with a central corridor running its entire length between a double row of cots. Tile smaller size of wall tent was in general use as the tent of commissioned officers, and so far as I now recall, was used by no one else. While the Army of the Potomac was at Harrison's Landing, under McClellan, he issued a General Order (Aug. 10, 1862) prescribing among other things wall tents for general field and staff officers, and a single shelter tent for each line officer; and the same order was reissued by his successors. But in some way many Officer's wall tent with fly. of these line officers managed to smuggle a wall tent into the wagon train, so that when a settled camp was entered upon they were provided with those luxurious shelters instead of the shelter tent. Over the top a
ran substantially as follows:-- We are the boys of Potomac's ranks, Hurrah! Hurrah! We are the boys of Potomac's ranks, We ran with McDowell, retreated with Banks, And we'll all drink stone blind-- Johnny, fill up the bowl. We fought with McClellan, the Rebs, shakes and fever, Hurrah! Hurrah! Then we fought with McClellan, the Rebs, shakes and fever, But Mac joined the navy on reaching James River, And we'll all drink, etc. Then they gave us John Pope, our patience to tax, Hurrah! HurraMcClellan, the Rebs, shakes and fever, But Mac joined the navy on reaching James River, And we'll all drink, etc. Then they gave us John Pope, our patience to tax, Hurrah! Hurrah! Then they gave us John Pope our patience to tax, Who said that out West he'd seen naught but Gray backs. An allusion to a statement in the address made by Pope, on taking command of the Army of Virginia, I have come to you from the West where we have always seen the backs of our enemies. He said his headquarters were in the saddle, Hurrah! Hurrah! He said his headquarters were in the saddle, But Stonewall Jackson made him skedaddle. Then Mac was recalled, but after Antietam, Hurrah!
ough the pitiful intercession of the young man's mother. Whether it was a chapter from real life, I am in doubt. I certainly never heard of a sentinel being visited with this extreme penalty for this offence. The penalty attaching to desertion is death by shooting, and this was no uncommon sight in the army; but it did not seem to stay the tide of desertion in the least. I have seen it stated that there was no time in the history of the Army of the Potomac, after its organization by McClellan, when it reported less than one-fourth its full membership as absent without leave. The general reader will perhaps be interested in the description of the first execution of a deserter that I ever witnessed. It took place about the middle of October, 1863. I was then a member of Sickles' Third Corps, and my company was attached for the time being to General Birney's First Division, then covering Fairfax Station, on the extreme left of the army. The guilty party was a member of a Penns
e cavalry repaired to the picket-rope, and, taking their horses, set out to water them. This was a very simple and The picket rope. expeditious matter when the army was encamped near a river, as it frequently was; but when it was not, the horses were ridden from one-half a mile to two miles before a stream or pond was found adequate to the purpose. It was no small matter to provide the animals of the Army of the Potomac with water, as can be judged from the following figures: After Antietam McClellan had about thirty-eight thousand eight hundred horses and mules. When the army crossed the Rapidan into the Wilderness, in 1864, there were fifty-six thousand four hundred and ninety-nine horses and mules in it. Either of these is a large number to provide with water. But of course they were not all watered at the same pond or stream, since the army stretched across many miles of territory. In the summer of 1864, the problem of water-getting before Petersburg was quite a serious one