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Not afraid of Yanks.

However we resigned ourselves to our hard lot as philosophically [17] as we could. Little Joe Peebles, who was captured in his shirt and pants, was the only one who kept his spirits up. His lively sallies and impudent retorts amused the Federal soldiers immensely and he was made quite a pet of.

During the day we were taken up to Butler's headquarters. Along with two lads, mere boys, who were severely wounded, I was assigned to a tent immediately opposite the General's luxuriously appointed quarters, and we were brought some very excellent vermicelli soup. As we had had but little to eat for twenty-four hours, excepting the aforesaid fat pork and hard tack, it was to us as nectar brewed in the garden of the gods, and refreshed us greatly. The rest of our company did not fare so well. They were kept in an open field all day with the hot sun beating down upon them, and I truly commisserated their lot.

In the same tent with us were two ill-favored looking chaps, deserters from Wise's brigade. They informed me they had ‘come over’ two days before. Doubtless Butler derived much information from them as to the defenceless condition of the town.

During the day Butler sent for some of our party and Mr. A. M. Keiley, B. T. Archer and one or two others came up to his tent, where he interviewed them. Mr. Keiley in his book ‘In Vinculus,’ has given a full account of his conversation with the general.

Butler in his letter to General Gilmore thus refers to this interview: ‘You made no such demonstration as caused any alarm in Petersburg until nine o'clock, as is evidenced by the fact that General Kautz's command captured a school-master whom I have examined, who was in his school in Petersburg after nine o'clock when the first alarm was given.’ It is an interesting coincidence that the school-master to whom Butler refers in his letter was young Archer, who was teaching in his school at the Anderson Seminary the day before when I summoned him to report for duty at the front, as I have already related.

You will notice that Butler used the word ‘examined’ in his letter to Gilmore. It is a term that a military man to the manner born and bred would hardly use. In truth, he was more at home [18] in ‘examining’ witnesses than in commanding armies, and doubtless many an unlucky wight has quailed before the searching interrogatories of the astute Massachusetts lawyer and pseudo warrior.

During the day a piece of artillery was brought up before Butler's tent for his inspection, and I recognized it as the gun of Sturdivant's latter which was captured the day before.

Late in the afternoon we were taken down to Bermuda Hundred, where our quarters for the night were in a small frame house, subjected to the humiliation of being guarded by a company of negro cavalry. The next day we were put on board a steamboat on our way to Fortress Monroe. There was great activity at City Point; a steamboat had just arrived with a company of infantry. As we passed by they made a great show of brandishing their guns, drawing out their ramrods and sending them home with a loud, ringing sound. This was done, doubtless, for the purpose of impressing us with the fact of their being awful fellows to encounter, and what short work they were going to make of the rebels in the field.

Arriving at the fort we remained there over Sunday. The wounded were assigned temporarily to hospital quarters. I do not know how the rest fared, but our bill of fare consisted of a thin decoction of rice and molasses. It reminded me no little of the famous dish served up by the excellent hostess of Do-the-Boys' Hall.

In the afternoon our entire company was ordered out in line to participate in religious services conducted by the Post Y. M. C. A. We did not present a very Sunday-go-to-meeting appearance. The dudish Federal officers, who turned out in their brand-new paper collars, then coming into vogue, serveyed us with high disdain. Remarks might be heard as they passed by. ‘That's a hard looking crowd you have got there, Captain.’

Of course we were a shabby-looking set. Yet among us were men of the best social position in Petersburg. Captured in our old clothes, in which we had been on duty day and night, is could hardly be expected we would have been attired as on dressparade.

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Benjamin F. Butler (6)
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