Sunday, July 26, 2009

Washing Day In Camp

" This is washing day' with us," writes a soldier of the Forty-first Onio regiment " Washing day! You know at home what a terrible disturber of domestic comfort it is. My recollections of it are associated with cold feet, damp floors, meagre dinners, cros* mothers, and birch rods. The servant girls and I used to fight more on washing days than on any other. Washing is as much a duty as fighting. Woe to the unlucky sloven that appears at Sunday morning inspection with dirty clothes, dirty hands, long hair, or untrimmed beard. We are expected to bathe all over once or twice a week. This requirement is one of the soldier's greatest blessings. At first, clothes washing was o difficult and tedious operation; but now there is not one of us that is not thoroughly initiated into the mysteries of washing, rinsing, and wringing. It is genuine satisfaction to see a fastidious youth, who, perhaps, has often found fault with his mother or sister on account of fancied imperfections in his linen, knee deep in water, worrying about some garment, in vain endeavors to wash it. Justice comes round at last. When I was a little brat I frequently used to throw down my bread and butter when it was not sugared to suit my whim. My mother would then say, ' You'll see the day, my boy, when you'll be glad to get that crust.' I have realized the truth of her words scores of times within the last year. Washing day with us has its amusements. On one occasion, last summer, while we were stationed at Murfreesboro', a party of about a hundred of us were washing at a large spring on the opposite side of the town from where we were encamped. Buell's army was, at that time, exceedingly short of supplies. But few of us had more than one shirt — some were not even that fortunate. It was a warm, pleasant day. We had removed our clothes, placed them in kettles, built fires, and were boiling them out, busying ourselves, meanwhile, in playing ' leap-frog,' ' tag,'' blackman,' and divers other games, when lo! a party of rebel cavalry came thundering down upon us in pursuit of a forage train that had been sent out in the morning. What were we to do ? We had no arms with us ; our clothes were in boiling hot water; the enemy were drawing near, fearfully near. Jumping over the fence, the whole party of us scud right through the town for camp like* so many wild Indians, as fast as our legs could carry us. The citizens, supposing we would all be captured, came out in great glee, shouting,' Run, Yanks! run Yanks!' as we fled through the streets. We reached camp in safety, to the great astonishment and amusement of our comrades. It was a long time before we heard the last of that washing day. I asked one. old black woman if she didn't blush when she saw us running through town. She replied, ' Why, de Lord God A'mi'ty bress ye, child — I couldn't blush for laughing.'"

Emma Sansom Of Cherokee

Emma Sansom Of Cherokee. — The following is the story of her exploit, as related by Gen. Forrest to a party of his friends at Chattanooga:

Our readers have doubtless seen one or two short versions of the romantic part played by the above-named indomitable girl, in the great raid of Gen. Forrest from Murfreesboro', Tenn., to Rome, Ga., in pursuit of Streight's cavalry; but never the story as related by the General himself. The romantic and heroic conduct of Miss San- som will long live in the memory of the survivors of this war; and we are pleased in this connection to add, by late action of the Legislature of our State, she has been granted a valuable donation of land, as a token of appreciation for the undaunted bravery and fearless patriotism she evinced on the occasion referred to. The editor of the Southern Confederacy remembers the story, as related by Gen. Forrest, shortly after the capture of Streight and his command, and says:

He had been pursuing the enemy all day, and was close upon their heels, when the pursuit was effectually checked by the destruction, by the enemy, of a bridge over a deep creek, which, for the time, separated pursuer and pursued. The country was exceedingly wild and rugged, and the banks of the creek too steep for passage on horseback. Gen. Forrest rode up to a modest little farm-house on the road-side, and seeing a young maiden standing upon the little stoop in front of the dwelling, he accosted her, and inquired if there was any ford or passage for his men across the creek, above or below the destroyed bridge. The young girl proceeded to direct him with animated gesture, and cheeks flushed with excitement, and almost breathless in her eagerness to aid die noble cause of the gallant Confederate General.

It was a scene for a painter — the Southern girl, her cheeks glowing, and her bright eyes Dashing ; while her mother, attracted by the colloquy, stood holding the door, and gazing upon the cavalcade over her venerable spectacles, the cavalry chieftain resting his legs carelessly over the saddle pommel, his staff drawn up around him, and his weather-worn veterans scattered in groups about the road, and some of them actually

During the war the ship George Griswold was nt to England with a cargo for her starving poor.

»ent to

nodding in their saddles from excessive fatigue. After some further inquiry, Gen. Forrest asked the young lady if she would not mount behind him, and show him the way to the ford. She hesitated, and turned her mother an inquiring look. The mother, with a delicacy becoming a prudent parent, rather seemed to object to her going with the soldiers. "Mother," she said, " I am not afraid to trust myself with as brave a man as Gen. Forrest."

"But, my dear, folks- will talk about you." " Let them talk," responded the heroic girl; " I must go." And with that she lightly sprang upon the roots of a fallen tree. Forrest drew his mettled charger near her; she grasped the hero fearlessly about the waist, and sprang up behind him; and away they went — over brake and bramble, through the glade, and on towards the ford. The route was a difficult one, even for as experienced a rider as Forrest; but his fair young companion and guide held her seat, like an experienced horsewoman, and without the slightest evidence of fear. At length they drew near to the ford. Upon the high ridge above, the quick eye of Forrest descried the Yankee sharpshooters, dodging from tree to tree; and pretty soon an angry minie whistled by his car.

" What was that, Gen. Forrest ? " asked the maiden.

" Bullets," he replied; " are you afraid ? " She replied in the negative, and they proceeded on. At length it became necessary, from the density of the undergrowth and snags, to dismount; and Forrest hitched his horse, and the girl preceded him, leading the way herself—remarking that the Yankees would not fire upon her; and they might fire, if he went first. To this Forrest objected, not wishing to screen himself behind the brave girl; and taking the lead himself, the two proceeded on to the ford, under the fire of the Yankee rear-guard. Having discovered the route, he returned, brought up his axe-men, and cleared out a road, and safely crossed his whole column.

Upon taking leave of his fair young guide, the General asked if there was anything he might do for her, in return for her invaluable services. She told him that the Yankees on ahead had her brother prisoner, and if Gen. Forrest would only release him, she should be more than repaid. The General took out his watch, and examined it. It was just five minutes to eleven. " Tomorrow," he said, " at five minutes to eleven o'clock, your brother shall be returned to you." And so the sequel proved. Streight, with his whole command, was captured at ten the next morning. Young Sansom was released, «od despatched on the fleetest horse in the command, to return to his heroic sister, whose courage and presence of mind had contributed so much to the success of one of the most remarkable cavalry pursuits and captures known in the world's history.