Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/142
Southern Historical Society Papers.
wear their heavy, unyielding helmets, and the French their little caps, is a mystery to a Confederate who has enjoyed the comfort of an old slouch.
Overcoats an inexperienced man would think an absolute necessity for men exposed to the rigors of a Northern Virginia winter, but they grew scarcer and scarcer. They were found a great inconvenience and burden. The men came to the conclusion that the trouble of carrying them hot days outweighed the comfort of having them when the cold day arrived. Besides they found that life in the open air hardened them to such an extent, that the changes in the temperature were not felt to any degree. Some clung to their overcoats to the last, but the majority got tired lugging them around, and either discarded them altogether, or trusted to capturing one about the time it would be needed. Nearly every overcoat in the army in the latter years was one of Uncle Sam's, captured from his boys.
The knapsack vanished early in the struggle. It was found that it was inconvenient to "change" the underwear too often, and the disposition not to change grew, as the knapsack was found to gall the back and shoulders, and weary the man before half the march was accomplished. It was found that the better way was to dress out and out, and wear that outfit until the enemy's knapsacks or the folks at home supplied a change. Certainly it did not pay to carry around clean clothes while waiting for the time to use them.
Very little washing was done, as a matter of course. Clothes once given up were parted with forever. There were good reasons for this. Cold water would not cleanse them or destroy the vermin, and hot water was not always to be had. One blanket to each man was found to be as much as could be carried, and amply sufficient for the severest weather. This was carried generally by rolling it lengthwise, with the rubber cloth outside, tying the ends of the roll together, and throwing the loop thus made over the left shoulder with the ends fastened together hanging under the right arm.
The haversack held its own to the last, and was found practical and useful. It very seldom, however, contained rations, but was used to carry all the articles generally carried in the knapsack; of course the stock was small. Somehow or other, many men managed to do without the haversack, and carried absolutely nothing but what they wore and had in their pockets. The infantry threw away their heavy cap-boxes and cartridge-boxes, and carried