Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/13

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Detailed Minutiæ of Soldier Life.

last several comrades start out, and as they disappear the preparations for immediate consumption commence. The meat is too little to cook alone, and the flour will scarcely make six biscuit. The result is that "slosh" or "coosh" must do. So the bacon is fried out till the pan is half full of boiling grease. The flour is mixed with water until it flows like milk, poured into the grease and rapidly stirred till the whole is a dirty brown mixture. It is now ready to be served. Perhaps some dainty fellow prefers the more imposing "slap jack." If so, the flour is mixed with less water, the grease reduced, and the paste poured in till it covers the bottom of the pan, and, when brown on the underside, is by a nimble twist of the pan turned and browned again. If there is any sugar in camp it makes a delicious addition.

About the time the last scrap of "slap jack" and the last spoonful of "slosh" are disposed of, the unhappy foragers return. They take in the situation at a glance—realize with painful distinctness that they have sacrificed the homely slosh for the vain expectancy of apple butter, shortcake and milk, and, with woeful countenance and mournful voice, narrate their adventure and disappointment thus: "Well, boys, we have done the best we could. We have walked about nine miles over the mountain, and haven't found a mouthful to eat. Sorry, but it's a fact." "Billy Brown fell down the mountain and mashed his nose; Patso nearly scratched his eyes out with the briars, and we are all hungry as dogs—give us our biscuit." Of course there are none, and, as it is not contrary to army etiquette to do so, the whole mess professes to be very sorry, and is greatly delighted.

Sometimes, however, the foragers returned well laden with good things, and, as good comrades should, shared the fruits of their toilsome hunt with the whole mess. Foragers thought it not indelicate to linger about the house of the unsuspecting farmer till the lamp revealed the family at supper, and then modestly approach and knock at the door. An invitation to enter was almost certain to follow and was certainly accepted. The good hearted man knew that his guests were "posted" about the meal which was in progress in the next room, the invitation to supper was given, and, shall I say it, accepted with an unbecoming lack of reluctance.

The following illustrates the ingenuity of the average forager: There was great scarcity of meat, and no prospect of a supply from the wagons. Two experienced foragers were sent out, and as