Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/135

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The Wee Nee Volunteers of Williamaburg District. 129

panies A and B, under the command of Captain C. H. Simonton. They brought with them Muller's band, composed mostly of Germans, who were professional musicians. The music made by this band was greatly enjoyed by the men. Stag dances became a very popular amusement. Private W. D. Dukes procured a suit of female apparel and played the belle to perfection. There was quite a rivalry among the dancers for the regards of the handsome young "lady."

In order to pass off the long winter evenings, the men organized a debating society. The barracks, where they slept, was the debating hall. My presence seemed to be a damper on their eloquence, though I encouraged every innocent pastime. I heard but one debate, and then the speakers did not know that I was present. I stood back among the crowd of spectators. The debaters were Pri- vates Singletary, E. G. Ard and one of the Camerons. The question for debate was: "Which exercises the greater influence over man, the love of money or the love of woman? " Cameron took the side of money, and greatly amused his hearers by some joke on Single- tary as to his destroying a counter worth a good many dollars in pursuit of a ten-cent piece which had fallen into a crack. The joke was taken in good part and very much enjoyed by the society. Ard took the side of woman and "brought the house down" by his argu- ment.

" Mr. President," said he, "if I had a five-dollar bill in my hand and you were to say ' that is bad money,' I would not be vexed with you, but suppose a fellow should have his sweetheart on his arm and you were to say ' that is a bad girl,' wouldn't he knock you down and wouldn't he serve you right? " A slight impediment of speech made Ard's reply much funnier than it is on paper. Before the laugh raised by this argument subsided, I left the room and did not hear Cameron's reply.

General Robert E. Lee came to Charleston early in March to take command. Our great leader had not then made his immortal repu- tation. He had not been successful in his operations in West Vir- ginia, and our soldiers had not learnt to appreciate him and love him as they afterwards did. He visited the various military posts around the city and made himself acquainted with the system of fortifications. I saw him when he came to examine the works on Cole's Island, and might have made his acquaintance, but not knowing then that I was losing the opportunity of taking by the hand the greatest man that America ever produced, I failed to improve that opportunity. My friend, O. M. Dantzler, of whom I have spoken, had just finished