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Justin Runyon
01-05-2007, 01:26 AM
From: Diary of a Yankee Engineer by John H. Westervelt, 1st NY Engineers

Letter written from near Charleston, Jan. 20, 1864

In discussing rations, (the "little corporal" was his nickname for his tentmate).

"I havenot undertaken to make mince pies yet, but from the number of rats with which our camp abounds I think a delicious article might be made with verry little expense. They grow verry large here, but not quite so large as a bullock, say about the size of a piece of chalk, with tails as long as a piece of string. Their color is that of a dog about two years old. They will run as fast as a good time piece, or about 60 minutes to the hour, some even assert they will run equal to 24 hours per day. My opinion is however that their speed can be set down as somewhere between the end of the war, and the north of Ireland. The most noticeable feature about these animals is that he has four(fore)feet, theie great ancestor it is said having left the other two behind his quarters one night when a cat,astrophe happened near him while eating the cream of the joke continued in a serious family jar about the date of the laying of the cornerstone of the house that jack built. The little corporal says it was during the period which occurred between the expulsion of Adam from the garden of paradise and the 1st of jan 1864. but it is clear he never read the life and death of Cock Robin which distinctly says it occurred previously before the flood or subsequently afterwards. I am sure it was one or the other if either and if not why then positively was during the period between Hellsgate and Hilton Head. Having settled this knotty question beyond a doubt to the satisfaction of nobody, who by the way, is the same fellow that ate the mince pie made to adorn, the feast of the lady nobly born, married by the priest close shaven and shorn, unto the man all tattered and torn, that kissed the maiden all forlorn that milked the cow with the crooked horn, that tossed the dog,that worried the cat, that caught the rat, that ate the malt, that lay in the house that jack build[sic].While I am about it and just in the humor for storys, I will tell you another. Good night