Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/204

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

their guns to disturb the quiet routine of the camp. The river bank was picketed by details from the artillery armed as infantry, but without the usual equipments. The guard duty was so heavy that half the men were always on guard.

The huts, built by the troops who had formerly occupied the place, were located, with a view to protection from the enemy's fire, under the hills on the sides of the ravines or gullies which divided them, and were underground to the eaves of the roof. Consequently, the soil being sandy, there was a constant filtering of sand through the cracks, and in spite of the greatest care the grit found its way into the flour and meal, stuck to the greasy frying-pan and even filled the hair of the men as they slept in their bunks.

At this time rations were reduced to the minimum of quantity and quality, being generally worm-eaten peas, sour or rancid mess-pork and unbolted corn meal, relieved occasionally with a small supply of luscious canned beef imported from England, good flour (half-rations), a little coffee and sugar, and, once, apple brandy for all hands. Ragged, barefooted and even bareheaded men were so common that they did not excite notice or comment, and did not expect or seem to feel the want of sympathy. And yet there was scarcely a complaint or murmur of dissatisfaction and not the slightest indication of fear or doubt. The spirit of the men was as good as ever and the possibility of immediate disaster had not cast its shadow there.

Several incidents occurred during the stay of the battalion at Fort Clifton which will serve to illustrate everyday life on the lines. It occurred to a man picketing the river bank that it would be amusing to take careful aim at the man on the other side doing the same duty for the enemy, fire, laugh to see the fellow jump and dodge, and then try again. He fired, laughed, dropped his musket to reload, and while smiling with satisfaction heard the "thud" of a bullet and felt an agonizing pain in his arm. His musket fell to the ground and he walked back to camp with his arm swinging heavily at his side. The surgeon soon relieved him of it altogether. The poor fellow learned a lesson. The "Yank" had beat him at his own game.

The guard-house was a two-story framed building about twelve feet square, having two rooms, one above the other. The detail for guard duty was required to stay in the guard-house; those who wished to sleep going up stairs, while others just relieved or about to go on duty clustered around the fire in the lower room. One