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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/114

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106 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Branagan, while somewhat more than half drunk, approached the writer, and, touching his kepi, said: " Leftenant, I don't know what oi'll do. You want us to drill in English, and the divil a wurd I know but French." Absurd as it may appear, he spoke the truth. He had never been a soldier before, and when he had learned to drill by French commands, they were all the military terms he knew. " Right shoulder shift arms " was something far beyond his compre- hension and he was forced to learn anew.

As the battalion was formed by the enlistment of recruits who were assigned to companies without regard to their wishes or desires, and as no two men had ever seen each other previous to enlistment, there was only one thing in common between them, and that was to get all the fun and all the whiskey possible, and this they did to the great annoyance of the officers. It must not be understood that by this statement that the men were low vagabonds, for they were not. They were simply young and wild and were going to war, probably never to return, and when the clash of battle came none were braver, none more loyal to the cause, and none more easily handled in fight or controlled in quarters. There were bad men among them, but good soldiers predominated.

We had barracks at the foot of Conti street, where recruits were sent as enlisted, and where uniforms and blankets were issued to them, and from whence they were sent under guard to the old Pont- chartrain Depot for shipment to Mandeville. They were not guarded to prevent desertion, but simply as a precaution against straggling and drunkenness. Among others, I was sent upon recruiting serv- ice, and selecting Baton Rouge as the point of advantage, opened office and secured some thirty-five or forty recruits. There were a few young Baton Rougeans left behind by the many volunteer com- panies which from time to time had left for the seat of war, so I was compelled to depend upon strangers, with four or five notable ex- ceptions. There were a few who, for one reason or another, had remained at home, and among those was one who had joined and quit almost every company raised in the parish. He was a drunken, reckless little scamp, whom the police and citizens were anxious to get rid of, and I was early approached and begged to enlist him. Objecting at first, I finally consented, and the Chief of Police hunted him up and brought him before me. " Do you wish to become a soldier, ?" I asked, and receiving a favorable response, I in- formed him that if he enlisted I would compel him to go; that he would not be permitted to back out, as he had been doing. "All