While perusing Ms. Bett's fine newspaper archives, I came across a rather disturbing story from the
MOBILE REGISTER AND ADVERTISER, April 22, 1864, p. 1, c. 7
[From the Texas Telegraph.]
. . . Very well; but now to the incident foreshadowed. On a certain occasion, my friend's company was ordered out, with other forces, to check an anticipated raid of the enemy. They went, of course, and it so happened that they were then in the vicinity of Gaines' Mill, where thousands of the enemies of our country had left their imbecile bodies in the implacable arms of death. Unlike ourselves, the living had simply buried their dead on the top of the ground, or so shallowly that arm and leg bones and skulls were plenty and rather in the way. Our boys had seen nothing of the enemy. The scouts reported that nothing could be seen or heard of them. The boys were not weary, but thirsting, so to speak, for something to do, and one proposed they should have a game of ten pins. The proposition seemed ill-timed and unreasonable; so another asked, "how can this be done here, where the bones and skulls of our enemies are lying around us?" "Easy enough," replied the eccentric and original, "the thigh and leg bones scattered around will answer for pins and the skulls will suit for balls."
The strangeness of the proposition, together with an inexpressible interest all felt in it, won the day, and soon the pins were set up, and the skulls filled with sand to give them specific gravity, care being taken to select the round skulls (a rather difficult thing to find among Yankees), and thus our revellers bowled away for several hours. Just think of it! The invaders of our country having fallen in battle葉heir bones left by their own friends to cumber the surface of the earth, and our glorious boys meeting with these harmless relics, made them still subserve for the enjoyment of an idle hour. To tell the truth, I should like to have been there to participate. I think at every bowl I should have shouted one more cry for Liberty! and have rolled the balls with a vehemence unusual. The pastime was something so unusual, so piquant, so rich, recherche様ike Byron's drinking wine from a skull葉hat to me doting upon graveyards and delighting in wrecks as I do, the narrative gave exquisite pleasure. This is one of the pleasant features of the Death Dance now going on. Who will get tired first?
With the popularity of corpse photos, uniform "souvineering", and a seemingly unyielding fascination with death, I'm curious if there are any works that detail how/to what extent soldiers/civilians dealt with this issue. Did they gawk and point at the gruesome scenes they were surrounded by, or were they simply awe-struck by the efficiency of their killing machines, or perhaps, did they simply pass it off with a quick glance? Does there seem to be differing attitudes with regard to age, "allegiances", or faith? Did veterans react to this in a different fashion than did fresh fish (I'm thinking so)?
I'm not suggesting that our next LH feature "skull bowling", but for the sake of discussion, how might these attitudes be incorporated into our living history programs?