Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 22, 1863: "Not a Straggler" from the Atlantic Southern Confederacy

From the Atlantic Southern Confederacy on May 22, 1863.
Not a Straggler

On the morning after the great battle of Manassas Plains, Sergeant ---, Co. A, 16th Mississippi regiment, being bare-footed, straggled off from his command, traversing the battlefield in pursuit of a pair of shoes which some frightened Yankee might have thrown away in his fright. After looking for a time in vain, he at last saw a pretty good pair on the pedal extremities of a dead Yankee. He sat down at the feet of the dead Yankee, pulled off his shoes and put them on his own feet. Admiring the fit, and complimenting himself upon this addition to his searching abilities, he arose, and with knapsack on his back, and gun in hand, was about starting to overtake his regiment, when he observed coming towards him a small squadron of cavalry, all of whom, as it was drizzling rain, were wrapped in their large rubber or oil-cloth overcoats. It will be remembered that cavalry are frequently assigned to the duty of picking up stragglers, and hence there is not good feelings between the infantry and the cavalry. As they approached the Sergeant, the foremost one asked:

"What are you doing here, sir, away from your command?"

"That's none of your business," answered the Sergeant.

"You are a straggler, sir, and deserve the severest punishment."

"It's a lie, sir, I am not a straggler-I only left my regiment a few minutes ago, to hunt me a pair of shoes. I went all through the fight yesterday, and that's more than you can say-for where were you yesterday when Gen. Stuart wanted your cavalry to charge the Yankees after we put' em running? You were lying back in the pine thickets and couldn't be found; but today, when there is no danger, you can come out and charge other men with straggling."

The cavalry man, instead of getting mad, seemed to enjoy his ranking over from the plucky little Sergeant, and as he rode on, laughed heartily at it. As the squadron was filing nearly past the Sergeant, one of them remarked: "Do you know who you are talking to?"
"Yes-to a cowardly Virginia cavalryman."
"No, sir-that's General Lee."
"And his staff."
"Thunderation!" With this exclamation the Sergeant pulled off his hat, and readjusted it over his eyes, struck a double quick on the straightest line for his regiment.

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