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VI THE PEACEFUL SIDE OF WAR ON a sparkling January morning, when Lee's army had gone into winter quarters beside the Rappahannock, Dan stood in the doorway of his log hut smoking the pipe of peace, while he watched a messmate putting up a chimney of notched sticks across the little roadway through the pines. "You'd better get Pinetop to daub your chinks for you," he suggested. "He can make a mixture of wet clay and sandstone that you couldn't tell from mortar." " You j est wait till I git through these shoes an' I'll show you," remarked Pinetop, from the woodpile , where he was making moccasins of untanned beef hide laced with strips of willow. "I ain't goin' to set my bar' feet on this frozen groun' agin, if I can help it. 'Tain't so bad in summer, but, I d'clar it takes all the spirit out of a fight when you have to run bar-footed over the icy stubble." " Jack Powell lost his shoes in the battle of Fredericksburg," said Baker, as he carefully fitted his notched sticks together. "That's why he got promoted, I reckon. He stepped into a mud puddle, and his feet came out but his shoes didn't." 437 43 8 The Battle-Ground "\Vell, I dare say, it was cheaper for the Government to give him a title than a pair of shoes," observed Dan, cynically. "Why, you are going in for luxury! Ts that pile of oak shingles for your roof ? We made ours of rails covered with pine tags." " And the first storm that comes along sweeps them off - yes, I know. By the way, can anybody tell me if there's a farmer with a haystack in these parts? " "Pinetop got a load about three miles up," replied Dan, emptying his pipe against the door sill. "I say, who is that cavalry peacock over yonder? By George, it's Champe! " "Perhaps it's General Stuart," suggested Baker witheringly, as Champe came composedly between the rows of huts, pursued by the frantic jeers of the assembled infantry. "Take them earrings off yo' heels - take 'em off! Take 'em off!" yelled the chorus, as his spurs rang on the stones. "My gal she wants 'em - take 'em off! " "Take those tatters off your backs - take 'em off!" responded Champe, genial and undismayed, swinging easily along in his worn gray uniform, his black plume curling over his soft felt hat. As Dan watched him, standing in the doorway, he felt, with a sudden melancholy, that a mental gulf had yawned between them. The last grim months which had aged him with experiences as with years, had left Champe apparently unchanged. All the deeper knowledge, which he had bought with his youth for the price, had passed over his The Peaceful Side of War 439 cousin like the clouds, leaving him merely gay and kind as he had been of old. "Hello, Beau!" called Champe, stretching out his hand as he drew near. "I just heard you were over here, so I thought 1'd take a look. How goes the war?" Dan refilled his pipe and borrowed a light from Pinetop. " To tell the truth," he replied, " I have come to the conclusion that the fun and frolic of war consist in picket duty and guarding mule teatns." " Well, these excessive dissipations have taken up so much of your time that I've hardly laid eyes on yoU since you got routed by malaria. Any news frotn home?" "Grandma sent tne a Christmas box, which she smuggled through, heaven knows how. We had a jolly dinner that day, and Pinetop and I put on our first clean clothes for three months. Big Abel got a linsey suit made at Chericoke - I hope he'll cotne along in it." "Oh, Beau, Beau!" lamented Champe. " How have the mighty fallen ? You aren't so particular now about wearing only white or black ties, I reckon." " Well, shoestrings are usually black, I believe," returned Dan, with a laugh, raising his hand to his throat. Chatnpe seated himself upon the end of an oak log, and taking off his hat, ran his hand through his curling hair. "I was at home last summer on a furlough," he remarked, "and I declare, I hardly knew the valley. If we ever come out of this war 440 The Battle-Ground it will take an army with ploughshares to bring the...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817388294
Related ISBN
9780817310417
MARC Record
OCLC
47010965
Pages
559
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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