Monday, July 11, 2011

A Baptism of Soup

This entry is from A Soldier's Recollections:  Leaves from the Diary of a Young Confederate with an Oration on the Motives and Aims of Soldiers of the South  by Randolph Harrison McKim, Late 1st Lieutenant and A. C. D. 3d Brigade, Johnston's Division, Army of Northern Virginia.

McKim was first as a private soldier, then as a staff officer, and finally a chaplain in the field during the conflict.

This is from an early letter home to his family dated July 11, 1861

 . . . about four P.M. we stacked arms, broke ranks, and charged upon the camp-fires, eager for dinner, which had been interrupted by the call to arms. Having had nothing to eat since early morning, and having ridden eighteen miles, and stood in the ranks several hours, my appetite was keen, and I gladly accepted Giraud Wright's invitation to "dine" with him. My host provided the "dinner" by dipping a tin cup into a black camp kettle and procuring one iron spoon. He then invited me to a seat on a rock beside him and we took turns at the soup with the spoon, each also having a piece of hard-tack for his separate use. Alas! my dinner, so eagerly expected, was soon ended, for one or two spoonfuls of the greasy stuff that came out of the camp kettle completely turned my stomach, and I told my friend and host I was not hungry and would not take any more. Inwardly, I said, "Well, I may get used to standing up and being shot at, but this kind of food will kill me in a week!"

I had expected a baptism of fire, and looked forward to it with some nervousness, but, instead I had had a baptism of soup which threatened an untimely end to my military career!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
War views -- Army of the Potomac -- the way they cook dinner in camp
From the Library of Congress Collection

No comments:

Post a Comment