Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/19
Detailed Minutitæ of Soldier Life.
An artilleryman was camped for a day where no water was to be had. During the night, awakened by thirst, he arose and stumbled about in search of water. To his surprise he found a large bucketful. He drank deep and with delight. In the morning he found that the water he drank had washed a bullock's head and was crimson with his blood.
Some stragglers came up one night and found the camp silent. All hands asleep. Being hungry they sought and to their great delight found a large pot of soup. It had a peculiar taste, but they "worried" it down, and in the morning bragged of their good fortune. The soup had defied the stomachs of the whole battery, being strongly impregnated with the peculiar flavor of defunct cockroaches.
Shortly before the evacuation of Petersburg, a country boy went hunting. He killed and brought to camp a muskrat. It was skinned, cleaned, buried a day or two, disinterred and eaten with great relish. It was splendid.
During the seven days' battles around Richmond, a studious private observed the rats as they entered and emerged from a corn-crib. He killed one, cooked it privately and invited a friend to join him in eating a fine squirrel. The comrade consented, ate heartily, and when told what he had eaten, forthwith disgorged. But he confesses that up to the time when he was enlightened he had greatly enjoyed the meal.
It was at this time, when rats were a delicacy, that the troops around Richmond agreed to divide their rations with the poor of the city, and they were actually hauled in and distributed. Comment here would be like complimenting the sun on its brilliancy or warmth.
Orators dwell on the genius and skill of the general officers; historians tell of the movements of divisions and army corps, and the student of the art of war studies the geography and topography of the country and the returns of the various corps: they all seek to find and to tell the secret of success or failure.The Confederate soldier knows the elements of his success courage, endurance and devotion. He knows also by whom he was defeated sickness, starvation, death. He fought not men only, but food, raiment, pay, glory, fame and fanaticism. He endured privation, toil and contempt. He won, and despite the cold indifference, of all and the hearty hatred of some, he will have for all time, in all places where generosity is, a fame untarnished.