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Christmas, 1861, and
Saving the Bacon

There was only about one hundred population in the town. Gathering what information we could of the place and its surroundings the next morning, we returned to camp at West Point that day. On Christmas Day, 1861, we broke camp and started for Morristown. The snow made heavy and slow progress for our teams, and we did not reach there until noon the next day. The few buildings of the town were along a street running east and west, on a side hill sloping south to the ravine. North and west of the town was a corn field. Directly opposite the town, across the ravine, was a side hill sloping to the north and interspersed with scrub Oaks, extending to a fine grove on the east. Our camp was pitched on that side hill south of the ravine. Our company was on the east side of the camp, just at the edge of the grove. The only building on that side of the ravine was right where the tents of the mess to which I belonged should have been pitched. Instead of pitching them, we occupied the building. Although it was only a one room shack of rough boards with a window in one side and a door in the other, it was a palace compared with a tent in a snow-bank. To add to our luxury and comfort, we got a cook stove for the shack. That was a luxury and made us feel quite aristocratic. The tents we used at that time were what were called wedge tents because they were wedge shape, or the shape of an inverted V, large enough for only four men each. We used our saddles for pillows.

We had no more than got our horses tied when there was a lively time in camp. There were a lot of fine shoats and hogs running in the grove. We knew it would not do to have hogs rummaging around camp, so we fell to and "made a killing." Each company secured a good supply of fresh pork. My mess was not be behind in the raid. The next day citizens entered complaint at headquarters of missing porkers. The colonel was very sympathetic and assured them that the matter should be looked into at once. Lieutenant Downing was detailed to search the camp for the lost swine. Before he started he said to us, " Boys, I am going to search camp for lost hogs, dead or alive. It will go hard with any persons who are found with anything of that kind about them." Needless to say no one suffered as a result of his search. I do not know how other comrades "saved their bacon," but our mess poked theirs into the attic in our shack and when Lieutenant Downing and his squad came around we looked as innocent as infants. What was called a mess was a number of comrades, from four to twelve or more, who ate together. They had their mess box and cooking outfit. One would serve as cook, unless we could hire a colored boy to cook, in which we case we paid him one dollar each month.

Soon after the establishment of our camp at Morristown, detachments were sent out under Captain Houston and Major Herrick. That part of my army experience from the time of my enlistment to this time which I had kept in diary form was lost by a comrade to whom I loaned it. The substance of it is given in the foregoing narrative, though I cannot recall dates. From this on I followed my later diary.

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If you want additional information, contact: Email David Habura at dave.paul@ worldnet.att.net