Monthly Archives: October 2018


In a small clump of woods near the battle field, the body of a dead Union soldier in a partially upright position, was found resting against a tree.

The expression of the man’s countenance was perfectly natural–in fact he appeared as if he was only asleep. Alongside of him was an old and worn Bible, which the poor fellow, knowing his time had come, was reading, and in this way, a soldier and Christian he died; and now, with thousands of others, his grave is unknown.

Originally posted 2008-12-21 16:24:56.

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I noticed upon the hurricane-deck, said a letter-writer, an elderly darkey with a very philosophical and retrospective cast of countenance, squatted upon his bundle toasting his shins against the chimney, and apparrently plunged in a state of deep meditation. Finding upon inquiry that he belonged to the Ninth Illinois, one of the most gallantly behaved and heavily losing regiments at the Fort Donelson battle, and part of which was aboard, I began to interrogate him upon the subject. His philosophy was so much in the Falstaffian wein that i will give his views in his own words, as near as my memory serves me.

“Were you in the fight?”

“Had a little taste of it, sa.”

“Stood your ground, did you?”

“No, sa, I runs.”

“Run at the first fire did you?”

“Yes,–sa, and I would have run soona, had I knoad it war coming.”

“Why, that wasn’t very creditable to your courage.”

“Dat isn’t in my line, sa–cookin’s my profeshun.”

“Well but have you no regard for your reputation?”

“Reputation’s nofin by the side of life.”

“Do you consider your life worth more than other people’s.”

“It’s worth more to me, sa.”

“Then you must value it very highly!”

“Yes, sa, I does –more dan all dis world–more dan a million ob dollas sa, for what would that be wuth to a man with the bref out of him? Self preserbashum am the first law wid me.”

“But why should you act upon a different rule from other men?”

“Because different men set different values upon dar lives–mine is not in the market.”

“But if you lost it, you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you died for your country.”

“What satisfaction would dat be to me when de power of feelin’ was gone?”

“Then patriotism and honor are nothing to you?”

“Nuffin whatever, sa,–I regard them as among de vanities.”

“If our soldiers were like you, traitors might have broken up the government without resistance.”

“Yes, sa, dar would have been no help for it. I would’nt put my head in de scale, ‘gainst no gobernment dat eber existed, for no gobernment could replace de loss to me.”

“Do you think any of your company would have missed you if you had been killed?”

“”May be not, sa–a dead white man ain’t much to dese sogers, let lone a dead nigga–but I’d a miss myself, and dat was de pint wid me.”

It is safe to say that the dusky corpse of that African will never darken the field of carnage.




Originally posted 2008-12-19 17:01:30.

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At the door of the Chronicle Office in Washington was a bulletin board, on which proof-slips of important telegrams were posted.

Passing the other day, said a correspondent, I found an old man there alone. Tall, erect, firm of mouth, tender of eye, nervous of nostril, of speech quick–he looked fifty or sixty years of age, and like a master mechanic. He stood close to the board slowly rolling a lead pencil down the list of killed and intently following it with his eye. He turned as he heard my step. “Young man, let me use your eyes a minute.” “Certainly, sir,” I answered. “I’ve lost my glasses–I’ve got a boy in the army–we first heard he was wounded and then we heard he was killed–help me.” He told me the name of the regiment–the twelfth New Jersey. I ran down the half column of “dead.” “Not there,” I said. “Ah!” –sharp and reserved, but there was a long relieving breath thereafter. Then I began the columns of “wounded.” Down the first one–down the second one–slowly, a little nervously, for I heard the labored breathing of the firm-mouthed old man close at my side, and through his dress and bearing was looking into his Newark home. Three or four inches down the third column I found the name. He knew I had found it before I took my finger from the paper. “Well?”–The boy is a hero if he is like his father. “In the arm and in Judiciary Square Hospital,” was my answer. I left him at the gate of the square. Next day I called at the hospital. The old man met me at the door. “All right; left arm just above the elbow: I’ve got him a furlough, and we go home to-morrow morning.” I shall not soon forget the proud tone in his voice as he said that “all right.”


Originally posted 2008-12-18 13:48:40.

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During the heat of the battle of Chickamauga, an owl, alarmed at the unusual tempests of sounds, was frightened from his usual haunts. Two or three crows spied him at once, and made pursuit, and a battle ensued.

The contest was observed by an Irishman of the Tenth Tennessee, which was at the time hotly engaged. Pat ceased firing, dropped the breach of his gun to the ground and exclaimed in astonishment, “Moses, what a country! The very birds in the air are fighting.”

Originally posted 2008-12-17 15:34:43.

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