Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/14

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

a farmer about ten miles from the camp was killing hogs, guided by soldier instinct, they went directly to his house, and found the meat nicely cut up, the various pieces of each hog making a separate pile on the floor of an outhouse. The proposition to buy met with a surprisingly ready response on the part of the farmer. He offered one entire pile of meat, being one whole hog, for such a small sum that the foragers instantly closed the bargain, and as promptly opened their eyes to the danger which menaced them. They give the old gentleman a ten dollar bill and request the change. He is pleased with their honest method and hastens away to his house for the desired change.

The two honest foragers hastily examine the particular pile of pork which the simple hearted farmer has designated theirs, find it very rank and totally unfit for food, transfer half of it to another pile, from which they take half and add to theirs, and await the return of the farmer. He returns, gives them their change and assures them they have a bargain. They agree that they have, toss the good and bad together into a bag, say good-bye, and depart as rapidly as artillerymen on foot can. The result of this trip was a "pot-pie" of large dimensions, and some six or eight men gorged with fat pork, declaring that they had never cared and would never again wish to eat pork—especially pork-pies.

A large proportion of the eating of the army was done in the houses and at the tables of the people—not by the use of force, but by the wish and invitation of the people. It was at times necessary that whole towns should help to sustain the army of defence, and when this was the case, it was done voluntarily and cheerfully. The soldiers—all who conducted themselves properly—were received as honored guests and given the best in the house. There was a wonderful absence of stealing or plundering, and even when the people suffered from depredation they attributed the cause to terrible necessity rather than to wanton disregard of the rights of property. And when armed guards were placed over the smokehouses and barns, it was not so much because the Commanding General doubted the honesty as that he knew the necessities of his troops. But even pinching hunger was not held to be an excuse for marauding expeditions.

The inability of the government to furnish supplies forced the men to depend largely upon their own energy and ingenuity to obtain them. The officers knowing this, relaxed discipline to an extent which would seem, to an European officer for instance, ruinous.