Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 23.djvu/332

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S26 Southern Historical Society Papers.

of one of Joe's fine white ambulance horses was struck off, with a sink- ing, hollow sound, and he dropped dead in the traces. I told Joe, as soon as he could, to go to the rear, and I galloped to the top of the hill at full speed to look out for the enemy. I think it was less than three minutes before I looked over my shoulder to see how Joe was getting on with his dead horse. To my surprise, he had cut out the dead animal and put in a live one, and was driving for life and death to the rear. I think Joe's was the fastest time on record. At Cold Harbor my battery was sheltered from the army by an inter- vening wood, and, while the shells passed near us, there was really no danger. After eating my breakfast, I said: "Joe, eat your breakfast and take the ambulance to the rear." The breakfast was served on a camp-chest. Instead of doing as I directed him, he hastily gathered up in the table-cloth, coffee-pot, sugar-dish, etc., and, with much agitation, said: " Lord, Marse William, this ain't no place to eat breakfast! " and he and his ambulance were gone in a twinkling. To Joe's good management I can say what probably few other men can say I suffered only one day in the four years for food, and that was the day I was separated from him. Till Joe's death, some years ago, we were great friends. Every Christmas he brought me a turkey, and would say to my wife: "Miss Ella, me and Marse William was jest like brothers in the war." His wife continues to eat her Christmas dinner at my house. Another piece of good luck, perhaps more remarkable than this, was that in the four years I was in the army I did not once get wet. I captured early in the war an excellent oil-cloth, made like a Spanish poncho, with a hole in the centre. With this on, and a slouch hat that turned the rain like a tin roof, and a pair of cavalry water-proof boots six inches above my knees, I have ridden two days and nights in a driving rain without getting a drop of water on me. I did what all soldiers should do; I would never lie down on the wet ground. Many a cold, rainy night I would sit on a log or stump before a fire and sleep with my head in my hands. At one time I had a hammock. They don't answer in wet weather. Sometimes I would sleep on the top of a worm-fence, by separating the two upper rails. It was in these four years that I had no rheumatism. No writer will ever tell of the sorrows and sufferings of our noble private soldiers (I hate the old phrase, "common soldier"), who, badly clad, and without shelter, marched day and night in mud and water, barefooted, and hungry, till disease ended their misery. These