Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/251

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Recollections of Army Life with General Lee. 243

was a hearty token of soldierly regard to an "orphan brigade " from a remote Gulf State, cut off from home and supplies, and was greatly appreciated by all. If we camped near a barn woe be to the con- tents, if edible, for an entrance would be found somehow. Soap, even, became a luxury, and was hard to get, except when in prox- imity to the Federal lines, where we could readily exchange for it tobacco, which was issued as rations to us. Our blacking, if we fancied it, we would make out of powdered charcoal, and set it with molasses. It answered well enough in dry weather, but drew myrads of flies to our feet. We made a march in February, 1865, down the Meherrin river, in North Carolina, to head off a raid. Returning to camp, with a comrade, we struck through the country to " pick up something."

Passing through a farmyard we saw a large pot full of boiled tur- nips, corn and shucks for cattle and hog feed. While it did not look so tempting, it smelled appetizing. Yielding to our appetites, we dipped in our tin cups and drew up some of the mess. The soft corn was real good, and, stripping the turnips of the peel, we found a savory meal indeed. Filling our empty haversacks with the soft- boiled corn, we soon overtook our messmates and divided our find. Next day we crossed a turnip patch concealed in the woods. I went into the patch and pulled up a liberal supply. My companion had sought the house, and the owner gave him a peck of cowpeas. Here was a feast, and nine miles from camp, the ground partly covered with sleet and snow, and the streams frozen over. Nothing daunted, we spread a blanket on the ground and made a long row of turnips, three high, on it, wrapping carefully the blanket around the pile. Pinning it securely with skewers of wood we then gave the whole a twist, tied the ends, then swung it to one of our rifles and started for camp, determined to "do or die." This load consisted of 124 turnips, two rifles and accoutrements, ammunition, two knapsacks, one peck of peas, one ax, two haversacks, etc.

About 3 P. M. it suddenly dawned upon my comrade that he was that day in charge of the company's ax, and its delay or absence involved a serious punishment. Finally he took the peas, ax and both knapsacks and set off for the probable camp. The turnips were a load in themselves, and I soon found it becoming a burden. One of my shoes rubbed my heel sore. I cut a hole in it, and that made it worse. I finally cut the whole heel out, and then it wouldn't stay on; so, pulling it off, I trudged along in wet and cold, and was soon overcome with a chill. I lay down by the lonely roadside to await