Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

August 14, 2012

Three Years in the Confederate Horse Artillery — George Michael Neese.

August 14 — It is strictly against orders to draw rations in a cornfield, but some how or way our mess commissary managed to procure a very toothsome meal yesterday that came from such source. I asked no questions how he got it, but I expect he smashed the army orders as well as one of the Ten Commandments in procuring the needed supplies, or else he bought it on credit and had it charged to Jeff Davis.

When we sit down to an extra meal in the army we never ask the landlord where it comes from, simply for the fact that the world considers it ill manners to always be inquiring of your host where he obtains his supplies; and, moreover, every soldier knows that his rations invariably come from the commissary department.

When the comforts, conveniences, and luxuries of life are few and far between, necessity is ever ready to step in like a kind mother, making gracious suggestions for the amelioration of man’s condition under adverse circumstances and discomforting situations. Yesterday evening I hearkened to the kind and motherly admonitions of the grandmother of inventions, and gathered up all the green corn shucks that were scattered around our kitchen, with the gratifying anticipation of indulging in the exquisite luxury of a soft, downy shuck pillow for at least one night. The partly wilted shucks made a good, sweet pillow, as the women would say, and it served the purpose splendidly till about midnight, when I was awakened by something on the order of a blacksmith’s bellows blowing in my ear. I thought perhaps some of Pope’s Yanks were after me with a blowing machine, but when I raised my head to make observations I saw an old cow standing right by my head pulling corn shucks from my pillow. I saw some cows in the field when I retired, but had no idea that the fools would come and eat my pillow from under my head. The mother of inventions would have done very well this time if the old dame had kept the cow away, for I had a very good pillow until midnight—when the old cow ate it.

The foregoing incident caused some philosophical reflections on the utility and economy of nature and its pertaining affairs to creep through my brain. Yesterday morning the shucks that I used for a pillow last night shielded the juicy corn from the obnoxious depredations of birds and the direful effects of raw sunshine and rain. Last night they supplied me with a pillow until an old cow ate them, and perhaps by to-morrow we will eat the cow; and anyhow by day after to-morrow General Pope would like to make fertilizer out of us suitable for raising corn; that would be but a short journey from corn to corn and shucks to shucks. However, it would require a little metaphysical analysis to trace the ramifications of the process of transformation.

This morning we went on picket again near Orange Court House and remained just south of town all day. This evening at four o’clock we had preaching at the headquarters of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry, which was camped near our picket post. It was a sermon of thanksgiving, and by a special order of General Jackson. Text I. Samuel vii: 12. Late this evening we, through a mistaken order, started back to our wagons, which are six miles from Orange Court House on the Gordonsville road. We passed four large infantry camps and a train of about eighty wagons in camp. When we arrived within one mile of our wagons we learned that our order was a mistake. We stopped right on the spot and camped.

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