Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/326

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320 Southern Historical Society Papers.

few days ago by the announcement in the papers that ladies would be present on this occasion; and to talk to them about rapid artillery movements would be a piece of stupidity. I have therefore con- cluded to begin this address on a subject that may possibly interest them. My theme will be

"HOW I KEPT HOUSE IN CAMP."

I have been trying for some years to get some clever fellow to write an essay on "The World Without Women," but have failed. I have been asked to write myself, but am not qualified. I have always concluded if the women left the world I would so soon fol- low them that the discussion would not personally help me.

WOULD NOT HAVE WASHING.

In camp life we have some hint of what would happen if the fair sex should suddenly take wings and fly away, like doves, toward Heaven. One of the things that would soon take place would be the departure of the wash-tub. It is a good thing that sheets are not known in the army. They would never be washed. Were the women to disappear suddenly, no man would have a clean sheet on his bed or a clean shirt on his back two weeks after their departure. I only once attempted to wash a handkerchief in the army, and the result was that the white parts were made black, and the soiled parts greatly extended. I used sand instead of soap.

Sleeping between blankets in winter is well enough. In summer we slept on them. We had, as a rule, dirty shoes, as well as dirty shirts, dirty hands, and dirty faces, dish-rags incredibly and uni- versally dirty. Whether the water was dirty or not seemed never to concern any one; it was this or none. I used to be surprised at the ease with which men found water on a cloudy night, when you could hardly see your hand before you. So soon as the company was halted for the night, a man from each mess would hasten with his wooden bucket and tin dipper to get water to begin cooking. Knowing nothing about the country, it would seem difficult to know which way to go; but as water is found in low places, the soldier would plunge down hills, and continue to go until he came to a creek, and when found he would begin to use his dipper. Some- times a fellow would be too lazy to go, and would run the risk of begging a little water to make his coffee. They would frequently