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Old Jim Cushman (search for this): chapter 12
heir pride as soldiers to make them do their duty. I could not have spared any of these incentives. Those of our officers who were personally the least influenced by such considerations, still saw the need of encouraging them among the men. I am bound to say that this strongly devotional turn was not always accompanied by the practical virtues; but neither was it strikingly divorced from them. A few men, I remember, who belonged to the ancient order of hypocrites, but not many. Old Jim Cushman was our favorite representative scamp. He used to vex his righteous soul over the admission of the unregenerate to prayer-meetings, and went off once shaking his head and muttering, Too much goat shout wid de sheep. But he who objected to this profane admixture used to get our mess-funds far more hopelessly mixed with his own, when he went out to buy us chickens. And I remember that, on being asked by our Major, in that semi-Ethiopian dialect into which we sometimes slid, How much wi
h her shy little girl clinging to her skirts. Fanny was a modest little mulatto woman, a soldier's wife, and a company laundress. She had escaped from the main-land in a boat, with that child and another. Her baby was shot dead in her arms, and she reached our lines with one child safe on earth and the other in heaven. I never found it needful to give any elementary instructions in courage to Fanny's husband, you may be sure. There was another family of brothers in the regiment named Miller. Their grandmother, a fine-looking old woman, nearly seventy, I should think, but erect as a pine-tree, used sometimes to come and visit them. She and her husband had once tried to escape from a plantation near Savannah. They had failed, and had been brought back; the husband had received five hundred lashes, and while the white men on the plantation were viewing the punishment, she was collecting her children and grandchildren, to the number of twenty-two, in a neighboring marsh, prepara
Lancelot Gobbo (search for this): chapter 12
I remember, his captain had given him a fowling-piece to clean. Henry Ward had left it in the captain's tent, and the latter, finding it, had transferred the job to some one else. Then came a confession, in this precise form, with many dignified gesticulations:-- Cappen! I took dat gun, and I put him in Cappen tent. Den I look, and de gun not dar! Den Conscience say, Cappen mus' hab gib dat gun to somebody else for clean. Den I say, Conscience, you reason correck! Compare Lancelot Gobbo's soliloquy in the Two gentlemen of Verona! Still, I maintain that, as a whole, the men were remarkably free from inconvenient vices. There was no more lying and stealing than in average white regiments. The surgeon was not much troubled by shamming sickness, and there were not a great many complaints of theft. There was less quarrelling than among white soldiers, and scarcely ever an instance of drunkenness. Perhaps the influence of their officers had something to do with this; f
Charles T. Trowbridge (search for this): chapter 12
Chapter 12: the negro as a soldier. There was in our regiment a very young recruit, named Sam Roberts, of whom Trowbridge used to tell this story. Early in the war Trowbridge had been once sent to Amelia Island with a squad of men, under direction of Commodore Goldsborough, to remove the negroes from the island. As the offind a flat-boat which had been rejected as unseaworthy, got on board,--still under the old woman's orders,--and drifted forty miles down the river to our lines. Trowbridge happened to be on board the gunboat which picked them up, and he said that when the flat touched the side of the vessel, the grandmother rose to her full heightommissions for him and several others before I left the regiment, had their literary education been sufficient; and such an attempt was finally made by Lieutenant-Colonel Trowbridge, my successor in immediate command, but it proved unsuccessful. It always seemed to me an insult to those brave men to have novices put over their hea
ly a matter of principle. Once I heard one of them say to another, in a transport of indignation, Ha-a-a, boy, s'pose I no be a Christian, I cuss you so! --which was certainly drawing pretty hard upon the bridle. Cuss, however, was a generic term for all manner of evil speaking; they would say, He cuss me fool, or He cuss me coward, as if the essence of propriety were in harsh and angry speech,--which I take to be good ethics. But certainly, if Uncle Toby could have recruited his army in Flanders from our ranks, their swearing would have ceased to be historic. It used to seem to me that never, since Cromwell's time, had there been soldiers in whom the religious element held such a place. A religious army, a gospel army, were their frequent phrases. In their prayer-meetings there was always a mingling, often quaint enough, of the warlike and the pious. If each one of us was a praying man, said Corporal Thomas Long in a sermon, it appears to me that we could fight as well with
Fanny Wright (search for this): chapter 12
this officer wished to adopt her, but the mother said, I would do anything but that for oonah, --this being a sort of Indian formation of the second-person-plural, such as they sometimes use. This same officer afterwards saw a reward offered for this family in a Savannah paper. I used to think that I should not care to read Uncle Tom's cabin in our camp; it would have seemed tame. Any group of men in a tent would have had more exciting tales to tell. I needed no fiction when I had Fanny Wright, for instance, daily passing to and fro before my tent, with her shy little girl clinging to her skirts. Fanny was a modest little mulatto woman, a soldier's wife, and a company laundress. She had escaped from the main-land in a boat, with that child and another. Her baby was shot dead in her arms, and she reached our lines with one child safe on earth and the other in heaven. I never found it needful to give any elementary instructions in courage to Fanny's husband, you may be sure.
Henry Ward Beecher (search for this): chapter 12
g, Too much goat shout wid de sheep. But he who objected to this profane admixture used to get our mess-funds far more hopelessly mixed with his own, when he went out to buy us chickens. And I remember that, on being asked by our Major, in that semi-Ethiopian dialect into which we sometimes slid, How much wife you got, Jim? the veteran replied, with a sort of penitence for lost opportunities, On'y but four, Sah! Another man of somewhat similar quality went among us by the name of Henry Ward Beecher, from a remarkable resemblance in face and figure to that sturdy divine. I always felt a sort of admiration for this worthy, because of the thoroughness with which he outwitted me, and the sublime impudence in which he culminated. He got a series of passes from me, every week or two, to go and see his wife on a neighboring plantation, and finally, when this resource seemed exhausted, he came boldly for one more pass, that he might go and be married. We used to quote him a good de
Goldsborough (search for this): chapter 12
Chapter 12: the negro as a soldier. There was in our regiment a very young recruit, named Sam Roberts, of whom Trowbridge used to tell this story. Early in the war Trowbridge had been once sent to Amelia Island with a squad of men, under direction of Commodore Goldsborough, to remove the negroes from the island. As the officers stood on the beach, talking to some of the older freedmen, they saw this urchin peeping at them from front and rear in a scrutinizing way, for which his father at last called him to account, as thus:-- Hi! Sammy, what you's doin‘, chile? Daddy, said the inquisitive youth, don't you know mas'r tell us Yankee hab tail? I don't see no tail, daddy! There were many who went to Port Royal during the war, in civil or military positions, whose previous impressions of the colored race were about as intelligent as Sam's view of themselves. But, for one, I had always had so much to do with fugitive slaves, and had studied the whole subject with such inte
built on contract the greater part of the town of Micanopy in Florida, and was a thriving man when his accustomed discretion failed for once, and he lost all. He named his child William Lincoln, and it brought upon him such suspicion that he had to make his escape. I cannot conceive what people at the North mean by speaking of the negroes as a bestial or brutal race. Except in some insensibility to animal pain, I never knew of an act in my regiment which I should call brutal. In reading Kay's Condition of the English Peasantry I was constantly struck with the unlikeness of my men to those therein described. This could not proceed from my prejudices as an abolitionist, for they would have led me the other way, and indeed I had once written a little essay to show the brutalizing influences of slavery. I learned to think that we abolitionists had underrated the suffering produced by slavery among the negroes, but had overrated the demoralization. Or rather, we did not know how t
I no be a Christian, I cuss you so! --which was certainly drawing pretty hard upon the bridle. Cuss, however, was a generic term for all manner of evil speaking; they would say, He cuss me fool, or He cuss me coward, as if the essence of propriety were in harsh and angry speech,--which I take to be good ethics. But certainly, if Uncle Toby could have recruited his army in Flanders from our ranks, their swearing would have ceased to be historic. It used to seem to me that never, since Cromwell's time, had there been soldiers in whom the religious element held such a place. A religious army, a gospel army, were their frequent phrases. In their prayer-meetings there was always a mingling, often quaint enough, of the warlike and the pious. If each one of us was a praying man, said Corporal Thomas Long in a sermon, it appears to me that we could fight as well with prayers as with bullets,--for the Lord has said that if you have faith even as a grain of mustard-seed cut into four p
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