Root Beer Lover
back to top
|Hey, you did say stories of soldiers lives during the Christmas season .
Think I'll stick to 1861 for this next one, but will go with a Federal officer. How about from Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, pages 168-169:
Guard-Tent Second Massachusetts
Camp Hicks, near Frederick, Md, 31/2 o'clock, A.M.
December 25, 1861
It is Christmas morning, and I hope it will be a happy and merry one for you all, though, it looks so stormy for our poor country, one can hardly be in a merry humour.
I should be very sorry to have a war with England, even if we had a fine army, instead of a pack of politicians for officers, with their constituents for rank and file; and all the more so, of course, thinking that we shall have to take many "whoppings" before we are worth much. War isn't declared yet but it doesn't it look very much like it to every one at home? Here, we have made up our minds that we shall have much more soldiering to do than we expected when we started. I think we may as well consider ourselves settled for life, if we are to have a war with England!
My Christmas Eve has been very much like many other eves during the last six months. On the whole, I have passed quite a pleasant night, though what our men call the "fore-part" of it was principally occupied in taking care of two drunken men (one of tem with a broke pate), and in tying a sober one to a tree. After this was over, I did a goo deal of reading, and, towards 1 o'clock, A.M., had some toast and hot coffee,--having previously invited my Sergeant to take a nap, so that I might not be troubled by hungry eyes, and made to feel mean, for there wasn't enough to give any way. The drummer (who, with the Sergeant of the Guard, for some reason which I never discovered, sits and sleeps in the officers' tent) kept groaning in his sleep, and I couldn't help imagining that his groan always came in just as I took a bite of toast, or a large gulp of coffee. This diminished my enjoyment; and when he suddenly said, "Martha! there isn't any breakfast," I was certain that my proceedings were influencing his dreams!
It began to snow about midnight about midnight, and I suppose no one ever had a better chance of seeing "Santa Claus"; but, as I had my stockings on, he probably thought it not worth his while to come down to the guard-tend. I didn't see and of the guard's stockings pinned outside their tent, and indeed it is contrary to army regulations for them to divest themselves of any part of their clothing during the twenty-four hours.
Please ask Father to bring me a pocket-revolver, if he can get it, when he comes,--one small enough to carry in the breast-pocket. Also, tell the girls that Harry would be very much obliged if they would send him seventy or eighty pairs of mittens. I heard him say he would like to have some. The men were all glad to get them, though, as usual, they didn't express their thanks. They get so many things that they are spoilt, and think they have a right to all these extras. Thirteen dollars per month, with board, lodging, and clothes, is more than nine men out of ten could make at home. Poor soldiers! poor drumsticks! But this is not the sort of language for me to use, who am supposed to stand in the light of half mother to the men of my company. I should like about fifteen more pairs mittens; and some warm flannel shirts and drawers would be very useful, if there are any spare ones. "Uncle Sam's" are miserable things. "Merry Christmas" and love to all, dear Mother. I suppose Sue is at Mrs. Schuyler's. I am so glad she is coming with you next month! Alex. and Annie will be here next week.
Your loving son,
Robert G. Shaw.