THE STORY OF A COMMON SOLDIER OF ARMY LIFE IN THE CIVIL WAR 1861-1865
Late of Co. D, 61st Illinois Infantry
Excerpt from Shiloh:
After rallying at our third position, we were moved a short distance to
the rear, and formed in line at right angles to the road from our camp
to the landing. While standing there I casually noticed a large wall
tent at the side of the road, a few steps to my rear. It was closed up,
and nobody stirring around it. Suddenly I heard, right over our heads, a
frightful "s-s-wis-sh,"--and followed by a loud crash in this tent.
Looking around, I saw a big, gaping hole in the wall of the tent, and on
the other side got a glimpse of the cause of the disturbance--a big
cannon ball ricochetting down the ridge, and hunting further mischief.
And at the same moment of time the front flaps of the tent were
frantically thrown open, and out popped a fellow in citizen's clothes.
He had a Hebrew visage, his face was as white as a dead man's, and his
eyes were sticking out like a crawfish's. He started down the road
toward the landing at probably the fastest gait he had ever made in his
life, his coat tails streaming behind him, and the boys yelling at him.
We proceeded to investigate the interior of that tent at once, and found
that it was a sutler's establishment, and crammed with sutler goods. The
panic-struck individual who had just vacated it was of course the
proprietor. He had adopted ostrich tactics, had buttoned himself up in
the tent, and was in there keeping as still as a mouse, thinking,
perhaps, that as he could see nobody, nobody could see him. That cannon
ball must have been a rude surprise. In order to have plenty of "han'
roomance," we tore down the tent at once, and then proceeded to
appropriate the contents. There were barrels of apples, bologna
sausages, cheeses, canned oysters and sardines, and lots of other truck.
I was filling my haversack with bologna when Col. Fry rode up to me and
said: "My son, will you please give me a link of that sausage?" Under
the circumstances, I reckon I must have been feeling somewhat impudent
and reckless, so I answered rather saucily, "Certainly, Colonel, we are
closing out this morning below cost;" and I thrust into his hands two or
three big links of bologna. There was a faint trace of a grin on the old
man's face as he took the provender, and he began gnawing at once on one
of the hunks, while the others he stowed away in his equipments. I
suspected from this incident that the Colonel had had no breakfast that
morning, which perhaps may have been the case. Soon after this I made
another deal. There were some cavalry in line close by us, and one of
them called out to me, "Pardner, give me some of them apples." "You
bet;" said I, and quickly filling my cap with the fruit, handed it to
him. He emptied the apples in his haversack, took a silver dime from his
pocket, and proffered it to me, saying, "Here." "Keep your money--don't
want it;" was my response, but he threw the coin at my feet, and I
picked it up and put it in my pocket. It came agreeably handy later.