Two days after the Battle of Fredericksburg, an officer stopped to talk with some of the men who had defended the famous stone wall and bloodily repulsed the Federal army. The officer was wearing an overcoat that concealed his rank, so some infantrymen invited him to join them. While sitting around a campfire, “a country lad, a farmer boy at home,” described what it had been like to stand against the Federal attack. “I have heard men say that they were spillin for a fight, but I never did spile for a fight. Stranger, I’ve been in every fight with my rigiment, but I never did likes fighting. But when we was killing them Yankees so party behind that are wall and they wasn’t hitting us, I was rale sorry to see ‘em run. And I tell you ... that was the only time I ever did likes fighting.”
In "The Haversack," in The Land We Love V (September 1868), No. V, 443, D.H. Hill shares an entertaining anecdote of an over-eager, and not so bright, Confederate soldier:
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From The Land We Love I (May-October 1866): In his very first Haversack column, General D.H. Hill related several comical incidents. The first came from the waning days of the war, when Joseph E. Johnston’s army, in camp near Smithfield, N.C., struggled to find enough to eat. “One day a nice dapper young man, elegantly mounted and handsomely dressed, with a bell-crowned hat, rode by the fun-loving regiment, and was immediately greeted with the old cry, ‘Get out of that hat; we know you are thar; see your toes working under it,’ etc. etc. Colonel R---- immediately dashed up, crying ‘Stop that hallooing; it is coarse and ill-mannered; no well-bred gentleman would be guilty of it!’ ‘I don’t know, Colonel,’ replied a Mississippi boy, with a merry twinkle in his eye. ‘How do you expect men to be well-bred on two corn-dodgers a day.’ The Colonel had no further remarks to make on that interesting occasion.”
Another incident Hill related occurred when “Stonewall” Jackson’s command passed Virginia's Massanutten Mountains. The area was “full of old peach and honey, and the men thought it would be a pity, almost a sin, to leave so much spoil to the enemy. Besides, they needed, or thought they needed, something to support their strength on the forced march. General Jackson happened to ride in rear of this division that day, and he found the men scattered for miles along the road in every possible attitude, from dancing the polka to sprawling on the ground; in every possible mood, from ‘grave to gay, lively to severe;’ some fighting over their battles again, others of a more sentimental turn, weeping about the wives and children far away. General Jubal had expended his his eloquence and his emphatic Saxon in vain. He had even spread the report that the mountain huts were full of small-pox, but this had only stimulated the curiosity of his prying followers. Conquered at last, he had gone to camp and was toasting his shins that frosty night by a bright fire, when an orderly rode up with a note. ‘Dispatch from General Jackson, General.’ He rose from his seat and fumbled for his spectacles. But let the correspondence tell its own tale:
‘Headquarters Left Wing.
General: General Jackson desires to know why he saw so many of your stragglers in rear of your division to-day? (Signed) A.S. Pendleton, A.A.G.
To Major-General Early.’
‘Headquarters Early’s Division
Captain: In answer to your note I would state that I think it probable that the reason why General Jackson saw so many of my stragglers on the march to-day is that he rode in rear of my division. Respectfully, J.A. Early, Major-General.
To Capt. A.S. Pendleton.’
The word saw was duly underscored with the General’s boldest dash. Contrary to general expectation, General Jackson only smiled and made no further inquiries …..”
Welcome to my blog! In this space, I will share thoughts, news, and notes about my latest book, The Lost Soldier, as well as other projects. I also have something special in mind for content.
I call this blog the Haversack. The name comes from my next project, a new biography of Daniel Harvey Hill, one of the Confederacy's most controversial soldiers. My research into Hill's life has inevitably drawn me to the monthly magazine he launched in 1866, The Land We Love. Described as "A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Literature, Military History, and Agriculture," the publication included a monthly column Hill named the Haversack.
Hill envisioned that the Haversack would be a compilation of army notes from his personal Civil War experiences as well as those of fellow Confederate soldiers. He chose the title, he wrote, "because, like the Confederate article of the same name, though it may be occasionally crammed with good things by a successful raid, we fear that too often it will contain only the thin cake and lean beef, or the homeopathic slice of bacon." His objective was a simple one. "We have often enjoyed the puns of our soldiers," he wrote, "and think that our readers will relish them too." (The Land We Love I:67 ff.)
Over 150 years later, I think you will relish those puns as well. So, with a tip of the cap to General Hill, I plan to occasionally include selected gems from Hill's Haversack in this blog. What better title to use than THE HAVERSACK?