Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/141
Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life.
Many a ringing laugh and shout of fun originated in the queer remarks, shining countenance and glistening teeth of this now forever departed character.
It is amusing to think of the follies of the early part of the war, as illustrated by the outfits of the volunteers. They were so heavily clad, and so burdened with all manner of things, that a march was torture, and the wagon trains were so immense in proportion to the number of troops, that it would have been impossible to guard them in an enemy's country. Subordinate officers thought themselves entitled to transportation for trunks and even mattresses and folding bedsteads, and the privates were as ridiculous in their demands.
This much by way of introduction. The change came rapidly and stayed not until the transformation was complete. Nor was the change attributable alone to the orders of the general officers. The men soon learned the inconvenience and danger of so much luggage, and as they became more experienced, vied with each other in reducing themselves to light marching trim.
Experience soon demonstrated that boots were not agreeable on a long march. They were heavy and irksome, and when the heels were worn a little onesided, the wearer would find his ankle twisted nearly out of joint by every unevenness of the road. When thoroughly wet, it was a laborious undertaking to get them off, and worse to get them on in time to answer the morning roll-call. And so good, strong, broad-bottomed and big flat heeled brogues or brogans succeeded the boots, and were found much more comfortable and agreeable, easier put on and off, and altogether the most sensible.
A short waisted, single breasted jacket usurped the place of the long tail coat, and became universal. The enemy noticed this peculiarity, and called the Confederates gray jackets, which name was immediately transferred to those lively creatures, which were the constant admirers and inseparable companions of the Boys in Gray and Blue.
Caps were destined to hold out longer than some other uncomfortable things, but they finally yielded to the demands of comfort and common sense, and a good soft felt hat was worn instead. A man who has never been a soldier does not know, nor indeed can know, the amount of comfort there is in a good soft hat in camp, and now utterly useless is a "soldier hat" as they are generally made. Why the Prussians, with all their experience,