Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/139
Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life.
Private of Second Company Richmond Howitzers, Cutshaw's Battalion.
By Carlton McCarthy,
[Many of our "boys who wore the gray" will be glad to see these vivid pictures of what they experienced, and many others will rejoice to have these details of soldier life. And these "minutiae" are by no means beneath the notice of the grave historians who would know and tell the whole truth concerning our grand old army.]
With the men who composed the Army of Northern Virginia will die the memory of those little things which made the Confederate soldier peculiarly what he was.
The historian who essays to write the "grand movements" will hardly stop to tell how the hungry private fried his bacon, baked his biscuit and smoked his pipe; how he was changed from time to time by the necessities of the service, until the gentleman, the student, the merchant, the mechanic and the farmer were merged into a perfect, all-enduring, never-tiring and invincible soldier. To preserve these little details, familiar to all soldiers, and by them not thought worthy of mention to others, because of their familiarity, but still dear to them and always the substance of their "war talks," is the object of this paper.
The volunteer of 1861 made extensive preparations for the field. Boots, he thought, were an absolute necessity, and the heavier the soles and longer the tops the better. His pants were stuffed inside the tops of his boots, of course. A double-breasted coat, heavily wadded, with two rows of big brass buttons and a long skirt, was considered comfortable. A small stiff cap, with a narrow brim, took the place of the comfortable "felt" or the shining and towering tile worn in civil life.
Then over all was a huge overcoat, long and heavy, with a cape reaching nearly to the waist. On his back he strapped a knapsack containing a full stock of underwear, soap, towels, comb, brush, looking-glass, tooth-brush, paper and envelopes, pens, ink, pencils, blacking, photographs, smoking and chewing tobacco, pipes, twine string and cotton strips for wounds and other emergencies, needles and thread, buttons, knife, fork and spoon, and many other things as each man's idea of what he was to encounter varied. On the outside of the knapsack, solidly folded, were two great blankets and