Great sutler transaction
From: The Civil War Years: A Day by Day Chronicle by Robert E Denney
Sunday September 4th 1862. Harpers Ferry, westernVirginia
Private Miller, 87th Ohio Infantry.
During the bombardment of Harpers Ferry I was sent down with a dollar to get some tobacco for the men. You will understand that the men, compelled to stand in line and be shot at, and the shots being large oblong shells that screamed through the air with a peculiar noise and made the hair stand on end and the heart get way up in the throat, and the men unable to fight back at the fellows who were shooting from the top of a mountain, across a river – only stand and take it – such men get very nervous, and they chew a great deal of tobacco, or at least they seek an excuse to get out of line to go after tobacco, and get out of danger. Well, the Captain, wishing to hold men in line, detailed me to take an Indiana paper dollar and go down to the sutler and get tobacco to supply the men who were asking for it.
While I was parlaying with the sutler, who had refused to accept the Indiana money, which was below par at the time, a wounded Indiana soldier came in from Maryland heights, his hand being shot and a handkerchief tied around it. As soon as he learned what the controversy was about, he ordered the sutler to take the money – and take it p.d.q. The sutler refused. The soldier said “I am an Indiana soldier, and you refuse to take Indiana money of Indiana soldiers in the line fighting for your protection. I’ll see about it.” And he quietly began loading his gun, against his wounded hand. Then he took a cartridge and tore off the end and inserted the charge of powder and the ball in the muzzle of his gun; then taking hold of the ramrod he drew it up, and turned it into his gun barrel. By this time the sutler begun to explain that, of course I could have the tobacco, but the money was of no use to him. Indianala money is good enough for any damned sutler,” said the soldier, and he proceeded to put a cap on his gun. The sutler wilted and proposed to accept the money for 10 plugs of black strap tobacco and never again under any circumstances refuse the money of any loyal state.
As we started out together, the soldier smiled and remarked that he was wanting a chaw of tobacco himself pretty bad. I handed him a plug, and thanked him for helping me out of a tight place, and we separated, he saying, “You were not in as tight a place as that damned sutler.”
Justin Runyon; Pumpkin Patch Mess: WIG-GHTI
Organization of American Historians
Company of Military Historians
CWPT, W.M., Terre Haute #19 F&AM
Terre Haute Chapter 11 RAM