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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/253

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Recollections of Army Life with General Lee. 245

owner. Our hats and caps were taken from * ' our friends, the enemy," and you could see all styles, shapes and makes, generally ornamented with letters denoting the command of the owner. The "alpine hat" or " Excelsior," of New York, was the most com- mon, and were preferred to all others. Caps were not sought after, as they neither turned sun nor rain. Slouch hats are peculiar to the South, and were affected a great deal. We also had palmetto, pine straw and quilted cloth hats. At Petersburg our captain went up to Richmond and purchased some thirty-odd hats for his company, paying for the same ninety dollars each. " Oh, what a swell we did cut." They were a drab color, and took well as long as the weather was fine.

The first rain took out all pretension of style, and in place of a neat, nobby-looking hat, we were the possessors of a limp mass of rabbit fur and glue. When the sun shone out the hats, in spite of all contrary efforts, dried to suit themselves, and cracked when again pressed into shape, and before long drooped again and fell to pieces as we trudged the ways of the march. Our buttons were made of wood, and soon parted company with our wretched garments. In camp we boiled our underwear in the mess kettle. A good boiling of our clothes twice a month got rid of the vermin, but enough was always left for spring seed, for you could not get all the men to clean up at the same time. On the long march, not having time to boil, and our body servants having unlimited rations, increased rapidly. To find some comfort we would, where an opportunity offered, strip off and hunt them with fire. The usual and most effective way was to heat the end of a stick into coal, and with this run it up and down the several seams of your garments until all were destroyed.

A favorite yarn of the times runs thus: " A soldier was seated by the wayside, shirt off, busily hunting the vermin. A farmer passing by stopped and watched the operation for awhile, and then exclaimed: 'Mister! be those fleas you are killing?' With wrathful mien, the soldier responded: 'Say, you look here, do you think I am a dog? No, sir: these be lice.' " These clothes being always of heavy and coarse material, always dried rough. To obviate the disagreeable feeling and to prevent chafing, we rubbed them around smooth- barked saplings. On the winter marches we fared wretchedly, for our clothing was not "overly warm," nor was it material that would turn water readily. When we got into camp we were soon comforta- ble before huge fires. When we "retired" it was on the side of the fire over which the smoke curled, as affording us more warmth.