On the morning of the eighth of April, 1861 (just after the battle) Corporal Ed. H----, of Company B, ------ Illinois, came running to me with three playful little kittens under his arm, peeping maliciously out of his haversack.
"Why, H-----, where in the name of all that's wonderful did you come across these kittens?"
"Found 'em - ain't they beauties, though? I say, Captain, you may have one, if you'll promise to take real good care of it."
"Kittens! kittens on the Field of Shiloh ! Why," exclaimed a sergeant at my elbow, "I thought that every living thing in the shape of bird, beast and insect, was either killed by the iron hail or the thunder. Why, they're as natural as life. If you've no objection, I'll take one, H----."
Instantly, a score of eager hands were outstretched toward the demure pussies.
"Found 'em in a house over there," said H----, nodding toward a deserted cabin- "old pussy's gone off and left 'em. Never mind, we'll take care of 'em."
And well they did. To see the men who the day before breathed nothing but dire vengeance and slaughter, nursing and feeding those motherless kittens, would have effectually dissipated any doubts the observer might have entertained concerning their genuine tenderness and sympathy. Soldiers are immensely fond of pets ; those kittens were carried on knapsacks hundreds of miles, and when the black coffee was gulped down without a murmur, kitty would rub her paws and yawn contentedly over the cup from which she had just licked the last vestige of milk.
* * * * * * * * * *
From A Soldier
(A letter to the editor of Arthur's Home Magazine - June 1865)
What changes have been wrought by this war. A few weeks ago the writer hereof was enjoying the delights of home, and cheered by the regular visit of the "Home," and many other - but none more valued - Magazine. Now, instead of the editor's easy chair, I occupy a camp stool, and in lieu of writing "literary notices," I am inditing these lines for your pages - partly to while away the slow hours of camp life, and partly from a hope that that some heart may sympathize with my feelings. "Only a home-sick soldier," some fair reader is saying ; but you are wrong for once. You may better judge when you have read --
A Soldier's Revery
I see, far away among the pines of the frozen North, in a plainly-furnished room, a mother and a little eight-month-old girl, with a round face and thoughtful brown eyes -- a sweet little waif, who could say "dad dad," as plainly as you, reader ; who used to listen for the footfall on the stairs, and smile so sweetly as she recognized Papa ; then she would say, "Oh Dea! so funny when she yawned. An ambrotype is lying upon the table which was sent "for baby Mira, with a father's blessing." A look of sorrow is in the blue eyes of the mother -- one of wonder in the brown eyes of the child. Such eyes! one would think they saw far down the long vista of the coming years, and that the prospect was a sad one. They are alone! No footsteps for which to listen ; or, if any, those of strangers.
But "bright are the homes that sorrows never dim," and many who read these lines find their household band still unbroken. To such I say -- "Befriend the widow and the orphan of your soldiers -- not with money, but by lightening the load of sorrow which oppresses and sometimes overcomes them. Speak a kindly word to the lone woman and brown eyed darlings (my eyes fill with tears as I think of mine), who, all over the land, are waiting watching and listening for one who may never come. W.L.A. Camp Randall, Wis, 1865
Return to the list