View Full Version : Familiar Hints to Indiana Soldiers Taking the Field by Henry B. Carrington

12-31-2006, 12:27 AM


Keep the Body Clean - After marching, if feet are sore, bathe in salt and water. Keep the hair close; air your blankets well. You never take cold, no matter how wet, if in motion. When retring wet, rub the body until reaction comes on. If possible, never retire in a state of perspiration, until the body is clean and dry. Be regular in the calls of nature; constipation results in half the diseases of the camp.
Swearing profanes the name of the god of battles. Remove Him if you wish His blessing. Keep your own self-respect, and you cannot become a coward. The habit is unmanly, useless and degrading.
Drinking - unless under medical advice, is your greatest curse. A well man was made with nerves to sustain him under labor; he can depend upon them. - Liquor excites, but brings reaction and ruin. Coffee is a stimulus and is nutritious. Quit strong drink.
Lewdness makes beasts of men - never risk it. Be as pure as when at home. In a word, be as good citizens in the field as if at home, where mothers, wives and maidens look to you for support and favor.

You will cook for yourselves. Your rations are super-abundant; save them' you can. In cooking, remember that half cooked food is ruinous. Better use uncooked pork or bacon, hard bread and coffee, than eat victuals half cooked that need perfect cooking. Beans require thorough cooking; soak them over night; don't smoke them, you ruin them; boil them over a slow fire for three hours at least - the same with hominy. Skim your soups often, it will pay you. Start with clean cold water, in clean kettles. If your kettles are foul, your victuals will be foul also. Pepper and salt your soup half an hour before it comes off the fire. Onions in your soup are good. They are anti-scorbutic, and if you can get them, they are good against scurvy. If you fry bacon, get your fat hot before you put the bacon in a mess pan. The pores of the flesh close up at once, and prevent its becoming greasy and indigestible. Stale bread crumbled and put over it will help it. Start potatoes in cold water with salt; if the water boils sharply throw in cold water and chock it. When nearly done pour off the water, and leave the kettle on till the steam evaporates. You can have mealy potatoes if they are good for anything. To fry potatoes, put them first in cold water half an hour; then into hot fat till brown, cutting them into thin slices; if you don't they only accumulate fat.
Boil rice gently, stirring constantly until it is soft. Turn it into a kettle or coarse towel, and pour over it fresh cold water, then put it into a clean kettle until dry; serve hot or cold, as convenient, with molasses.
Don't burn your coffee [when roasting.] Use a little fat or sugar, stirring constantly over a slow fire. When browned, cover with a damp cloth to cool' then grind it passing the mill twice. Use clean kettles. When the water boils briskly, throw in the coffee, having first wet it, and let it boil for two minutes; then dash in a cup of cold water, and take it off the fire, let it stand five minutes, pour it through a flannel strainer, into another kettle, to be served. In measuring the water by rations, allow five per cent, --lee-way. -Poor coffee is secured by excessive boiling. Good coffee can be made in a few minutes, as directed.
Soup can be made of most anything; save your beef bones for the purpose - skim faithfully. After the first boil, and the scum begins to rise, chock your fire and only let the water simmer. If you boil too hard, the pores of the flesh close, the essence of the meat is retained with all impurities, no scum rises, the meat is hard and tough, the soup is thin and watery. Otherwise the juices are extracted, the meat is rich and tender, the soup is rich and nutritious. The fat skimmed off, keep if you can, for other cooking. Cook two hours. Don't put in too much salt or pepper; there is no remedy but thinning the soup, which spoils it. Better add more if necessary. In pork and bean soup boil briskly for an hour with the beans alone; then take the kettles off for fifteen minutes, pour off the water, and put in clean water, add your port without rind, and boil and hour and a half or two continuously.
Elbow grease and ashes applied to your kettles will not hurt what is to be cooked in them. Grease upon coffee, because of dirty kettles, is an abomination. Keep your kettles clean.
These are as a wife and family to the solider. Pet them. Keep your musket dry and bright. It may save your life. Don't use sand or brick dust. A little flour of emery will last long and be of service. Don't use oil to excess, a little carefully applied, and well rubbed, is better; deep flannel for the purpose; see that the cone is clear, the lock action, free and regular; your ball-screws and screw driver always on hand. After cleaning your piece, leave it perfectly dry. A little more time taken will pay the pains. After guard duty, at night, wipe off the dew; however weary, never sleep until this is done. Better lie down wet yourself, than leave your musket wet, if both cannot be attended to. See that there is no water in your bayonet scabbard.
Use common blacking for your belts and leather equipment. They will then last. It will pay. When oil or lard is used, use it sparingly and rub well. It is seldom needed. Don't use strong fat for the purpose. Keep your ammunition dry and your boxes full.
Soldiers need neither bowie-knives or revolvers. They are a secret weapon, too ready in case of brawl, and useless against a foe. Trust your musket and bayonet. If you have six shots, and are hard pressed, you will throw away your musket. You then cease to be a solider. Remember, here, that "crossing bayonets" is never done by any considerable force. Few well authenticated cases are found in history. Push on steadily, coolly and persistently, and you will win.
These are indispensable to make the good or successful soldier. A thousand Colonels to a regiment is not provided for by the regulation. Obey the one you are allowed. Better obey an officer of less experience, who is cool and courageous, than try to dictate to those who are responsible for the regiment.
Your safety is in your courage. The shock of battle is soon over. The cowards who bread and run, suffer most. If abused, or maltreated, remember these is a just and proper remedy. Don't try to execute the law yourselves. It don't pay. Manfully ask your rights, but obey orders. But soldiers who do their duty, seldom complain. Grumblers exist; always have; always will. But don't you grumble. Bear toil and labor patiently. You will be rewarded.

By Cars. - Load and unload by platoons, one to the car. A train can load in ten minutes. If in a hostile country, unite the knapsacks of comrades on a set, hang them between the windows, covering the vital parts. The man by the window can have a ready fire, having butt of musket against leg of seat, leaning to window. Comrade carries his piece erect, between his feet. He can load while the other fires, exchanging pieces. The men by the windows are number one - their comrades in the seat are number two. If train stops, number twos pass out opposite side from attack - falling upon the ground, firing beneath the car, until the whole command can form. If attack be made upon both sides, the men should remain firm until the commanding officer selects his place of formation, and then steadily, by files, march to their position. - Haste will only disorganize. Meanwhile a fire may be maintained by a squad from each car to divert attack from forming parties. Coolness in such circumstances is indispensable to safety; and a prompt formation will defeat the enemy.
Remember no train will be urged into the face of a large force. Such attacks are by guerillas, or small detachments. Your self-possession will save you, and a brisk attack will ruin your assailants.
On Steamboats. - Don't spread over the boat at first. Twice as many men as you suppose may be quartered on a steamer. If formed in a single rank, in any space seven feet deep - face to the partion - unsling knapsacks; deposit them six inches apart - number your men by companies in whole numbers - unsling and spread blankets - four double - and you have room and every man has his place.
Remember that loud talking is unbecoming a solider. Never be so situated that the call of your officer cannot at once be heard and responded to. You are minute men in this war. A minute lost, is lost forever. Save the minutes, and your toils and labors will soon be at an end.

Be brothers to those who suffer. Your turn may come next. Be unselfish, for you are comrades. Stint yourselves for those who languish. Don't fret because one breaks down. The best men may give out. Share your canteen of cold coffee or water with the weary. You'll not repent it. Better that you suffer in part, than have your regiment strewed for miles by the wayside. Remember a bandage, even a handkerchief, tightly bound above an artery, or both above and below, if there be much effusion of blood, may check the flow until relief comes. In the hot sun, a sponge, or green leaves, in the hat, slightly wet, may prevent sunstroke. If threatened with frosted feet, or fingers, promptly apply cold water until reaction comes on. If very cold and drowsy, don't give way to sleep until your extremities are warm again. If gruel cannot be procured for the sick, on the march, crush corn, extemporize corn meal, and you can, with salt and crackers make a very respectable substitute. Stale bread, toasted hard, soaked and seasoned, will give nutriment, refresh the sick, and will require but a few minutes stop.
In all things, cherish the unity of feeling, which makes men one in sympathy, as they must be one in danger and adventure.

Remember this is not a mercenary war - a war for pay or plunder. Our true condition is that of peace. Armies are but an expansion of police authority, when civil process is inadequate to maintain order in the States. You fight to maintain civil authority; that our country whole and complete again, may know peace. You are soldiers now - you are again to become citizens. Let all your acts, therefore, however earnest and aggressive upon the enemies of the State, prepare you to become better citizens, inasmuch, as by your toil and sacrifice, you have learned how precious our institutions are, and can realize the value of a well ordered, peaceful Republic.
Dare, do and endure, and you will be blessed.

Your fellow soldier,
Col. 18th Inf. U.S.A., Com'd'g at Indianapolis. And Mustering officer for Indiana.
[Putnam Republican Banner of Greencastle, IN--early 1862]

Article Submitted by Mark Jaeger (markj@purdue.edu) of Purdue University Libraries