Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 03.djvu/25
Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life.
hat, coat, saddle, or anything new, or odd, or fine, and how nicely he is attended to.
The expressions of good-natured fun, or contempt, which one regiment of infantry was capable of uttering in a day for the benefit of passers by, would fill a volume. As one thing or another in the dress of the "subject" of their remarks attracted attention, they would shout, "Come out of that hat!! you can't hide in thar!" "Come out of that coat, come out there's a man in it!!" "Come out of them boots!!" The infantry seemed to know exactly what to say to torment cavalry and artillery.
If any one on the roadside was simple enough to recognize and address by name a man in the ranks, the whole column would kindly respond, and add all sorts of pleasant remarks, such as, "Halloa, John, here's your brother!" "Bill !! oh Bill !!! here's your ma!" "Glad to see you!—How's your grandma?" "How-dey do!" "Come out of that 'biled shirt' !"
Troops on the march were generally so cheerful and gay that an outsider looking on them as they marched would hardly imagine how they suffered. In summer time, the dust, combined with the heat, caused great suffering. The nostrils of the men, filled with dust, became dry and feverish, and even the throat did not escape. The "grit" was felt between the teeth, and the eyes were rendered almost useless. There was dust in eyes, mouth, ears and hair. The shoes were full of sand, and penetrating the clothes, and getting in at the neck, wrists, and ankles, the dust, mixed with perspiration, produced an irritant almost as active as cantharides. The heat was at times terrific, but the men become greatly accustomed to it, and endured it with wonderful ease. Their heavy woollen clothes were a great annoyance. Tough linen or cotton clothes would have been a great relief; indeed, there are many objections to woolen clothing for soldiers even in winter. The sun produced great changes in the appearance of the men. Their skins were tanned to a dark brown or red, their hands black almost, and, added to this the long, uncut beard and hair, they too burned to a strange color, made them barely recognizable to the homefolks.
If the dust and the heat were not on hand to annoy, their very able substitutes were. Mud, cold, rain, snow, hail and wind took their places. Rain was the greatest discomfort a soldier could have. It was more uncomfortable than the severest cold with clear weather. Wet clothes, shoes and blankets; wet meat and bread; wet feet and wet ground; wet wood to burn, or, rather, not to burn;