We have heard and read a great many stories about the rat; but in all our experience, we never before had one brought before us in the character of a surgeon. At one of our large hospitals, an operation was successfully performed upon an invalid soldier, by a common rat; which the surgeon in charge had himself delayed for a time, with the hope of causing less suffering to the patient. This patient was suffering from the effects of a fracture of the frontal bone of the skull, a piece of which projected outwards to some length; and the healing of the fleshy parts depended upon its removal. The bone was so firmly fixed, however, as, in the opinion of the surgeon, would cause unnecessary pain in its forcible removal; and such remedies were applied as would assist nature in eventually ejecting it. A soothing poultice was placed upon the part a night or two ago, a hole being made through the application for the insertion of the projecting bone. The patient was soon asleep in his bed, but during the night was aroused by the sting of pain, and awoke, to discover a rat making off with the piece of bone in his mouth. He struck at and hit the rat, but did not hurt him. The rat had probably been drawn to the bed of the soldier by the scent of the poultice, which was pleasant to his olfactories; but on reaching it, his keen appetite, no doubt, caused him to relish, in a large degree, the juicy bone so convenient to his teeth. He, therefore, seized, and drew it from its position, and was made to scamper off by the patient, whom he had aroused with pain. It was a skilful operation, quickly performed, and with result beneficially to the invalid.–Petersburg Express.

Originally posted 2008-11-18 00:06:55.

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Among the beauties of the war in Western Virginia was the “mixed-up” way in which the combatants manoeuvre among the mountains. Here is an instance where a single loyal soldier halted an entire rebel regiment:

Serg. Carter, of Tippecanoe, Ohio, was upon the post first attacked by the enemy. The advance-guard of the Second Virginia, (rebel,) consisting of twelve men, came suddenly upon him and his three companions. The bright moonlight revealed the flashing bayonets of the advancing regiment. He was surrounded and separated from his reserve. With great presence of mind he stepped out and challenged: “Halt! Who goes there?” The advance-guard, supposing they had come upon a scouting party of their own men, answered, “Friends, with the countersign.” At his order, “Advance, one, and give the countersign.” they hesitated. He repeated the order peremptorily, “Advance and give the countersign or I’ll blow you through.” They answered, without advancing, “Mississippi.” “Where do you belong?” he demanded. “To the Second Virginia regiment” “Where are you going?” “Along the ridge.” They then in turn questioned him,–“Who are you?” “That’s my own business,” he answered, and taking deliberate aim, he shot down his questioner.

He called for his boys to follow him, and sprung down a ledge of rock, while a full volley went over his head. He heard his companions summoned to surrender, and the order given to the Major to advance with the regiment. Several started in pursuit of him. He had to descend the hill on the side towards the enemy’s camp. While he eluded his pursuers, he found himself in a new danger. He had got within the enemy’s camp pickets! He had, while running, torn the U. S. from his cartridge box, and covered his belt plate with his cap box, and torn the strips from his pantaloons. He was challenged by their sentinels while making his way out, and answered, giving the countersign, “‘Mississippi,’ Second Virginia regiment.” They asked him what he was doing there. He said that the boys had gone off on a scout after the Yankees, that he had been detained in camp, and in trying to find them he had got bewildered.

As he passed through, to prevent further questioning, he said, “Our boys are up on the ridge; which is the best way up?” They answered, “Bear to the left, and you’ll find it easier to climb.” Soon again his pursuers were after him, as he expressed it, “breaking brush” behind him; this time with a hound on his trail. He made his way to a brook, and running down the shallow stream, threw the dog off the scent, and, as the day was dawning he suddenly came upon four pickets, who brought their arms to a ready, and challenged him. He gave the countersign, “Mississippi,” and claimed to belong to the Second Virginia regiment. His cap box had slipped from his belt plate. They asked him where he got that belt. He told them he had captured it that might from a Yankee. They told him to advance, and, as he approached, he recognized their accoutrements, and knew that he was among his own men, a picket guard from the First Kentucky.

He was taken before Col. Enyart, and dismissed to his regiment. His motive in halting a whole column of the enemy was to give intimation to the reserve of their advance, that they might open upon them on their left flank, and so, perhaps, arrest their progress.

Originally posted 2008-11-17 03:00:08.

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The typos of the Thirteenth Illinois regiment of volunteers amused themselves at Camp Rolla, Mo., by printing a paper entitled “Our Regiment.” A correspondent thus made his shot:

CAMP ROLLA, July 17, 1861.

To the Editor of Our Regiment:

Heavy? Yes, sir! Bound to shoot rebels. This is the report. Chicago boy, the undersigned. I’m always boasting of Chicago. I’m full of fight. Although fighting is not my forte, I do not think I would stand being knocked down. I joined this August body in April, and we May March daily, for we are getting stronger weekly. I may say in good season, if we Spring upon the enemy he is sure to Fall, for our Summer-saults will be a dose that will prove “the Winter of his discontent.” He will have to evacuate. We won’t strike light, for the South is no match for us. When the country called all hands to arms, I thought it a proud legacy to leave posterity that I joined a division for the Union. I set my name down, and there it stands. Nice uniform. Had my hair cut with a knife and fork. Red hair, yellow jacket, blue shirt, white hat, plantation shoes, pink trousers, bell buttons on behind, where I never saw them before. Left the city under encouraging circumstances. Toothache, nail in my shoe, forgot my rations, something in my eye. Chap in rear file rasping my skins. Got out of step and hurt my instep. While marching, washwoman handed me a bill. Had no money, and she had no sense–wanted to know where our quarters were. Asked her who gave the order to charge. Bad boy on sidewalk crying out, “Pay the poor woman.” Loaded the little sun-of-a-gun with abuse, and he went off. Arrived at Camp Rolla all right, nobody being left. Intentions to sleep in tents, but were intensely disappointed as we slept on the grass, which, after all, served as well to all intents and purposes. Placed minute-men on watch, who moved all hands every second, until we really thought it time to strike. Took my turn in going round. Shot a cow and calf. “‘Tis meet to be here.” Fighting, you see, for the public weal, places our lives at stake. Took the hindquarters into headquarters. Pork in various shapes for rations heretofore. Not Jew-dishes. Serg. Hinmann would like to have some mutton. Told me to stir up, get a horse and find a saddle. Serg. Hinmann’s drilling is a complete bore, and he thinks he augurs well on the whole. Marches us around in a body, until he almost wears out our soles. Makes our squad run so we will be fully able to sail in when we have the enemy at bay. Of course we have our fine times. Had some light reading sent me by a Sexton: “Annual Report of Rose-Hill,” “Ghost Stories,” and his business circular, with price list of coffins, &c. I should like to overtake that undertaker. Serg. Hinmann speaks disparagingly of our literary tastes. Says the only thing red in the camp is my nose–my nasal “organ.” I mention it because it’s a military move to right about face. Music by the band. I must come to a full stop now for a period. Flip flap.

Your, jolly and con-tent-ed,
G. N. L. Scotty.

Originally posted 2008-11-16 00:06:28.

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On almost every vessel, after the fight, the men were called aft, and publicly thanked by their respective Captains. On the ship “Bienville,” particular mention was made, and special thanks returned, in presence of the ship’s company, to William Henry Steele, a boy not fourteen years old, who conducted himself with distinguished bravery. He is a powder boy, and not only never flinched or dodged a shot, but when two men were killed at his gun, he did not turn pale, or cease for an instant his duties, but handed the cartridge he had in hand to the gunner, stepped carefully over the bodies, and hastened below for more ammunition.

The case of Thomas Jackson, coxswain of the “Wabash,” deserves notice. He was struck by a shot, or a splinter, which so nearly cut his leg off as to leave it hanging but by a small portion of the muscle and skin. Partially rising, and leaning painfully against a gun, Jackson glanced at his mangled limb, and in an instant perceived as hopeless condition. Feeling behind his back in his belt, where seamen always carry their knives, he drew his sheath-knife from its leather scabbard, and deliberately began to saw away at his leg; but the knife was dull, and he could not cut the limb off. As he was borne below by his mates, and afterwards, he asked continually how the fight was going, and kept saying, “I hope we’ll win it; I hope we’ll win.” In two hours he died, his last words being a wish for our victory in this battle, and a word of thanks that he had been able to do something for the honor of the “dear old flag.”

The enthusiasm of the soldiers for the blue-jackets, after the action, literally knew no bounds. Whenever a boat’s crew of men-of-war’s-men came alongside a transport, there was a rush to the side to catch a nearer view of a gallant sailors, and, if possible, to clasp a tarry hand; and whenever they appeared, the cheers were frantically loud, and long drawn out, and the brave Jacks were as happy and proud as men can be.

Originally posted 2008-11-14 12:45:22.

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