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

Post image for Reminiscences of the Civil War by William and Adelia Lyon.

Reminiscences of the Civil War by William and Adelia Lyon.

July 13, 2012

Reminiscences of the Civil War, William and Adelia Lyon

To Mrs. Lyon.

Camp Clear Creek, Miss., Sunday, July 13,1862 — This is the only way I can celebrate your birthday, to write a long letter. Well, my dear, you are thirty-six years old, are you? Old enough to be a grandmother! I think it about time for you to give up thinking you are good looking, and begin to learn how to grow old gracefully. Confidentially, however, to me you are, etc., etc. I wonder what you will have for dinner today, and speaking of dinner reminds me that some time ago you asked me to tell you how I live, which I believe I have neglected to do thus far. I do not mean that I have neglected to live, but I have failed to give you the modus operandi—to tell you how the thing is done.

Reveille beats at daylight. We get up, clean our tents and quarters, shake blankets, wash, and at 5:30 a, m. turn out and drill for an hour. Then we have breakfast —ham, warm biscuit and very good butter, black tea, pickles, blackberries or currant sauce, is the usual bill of fare for breakfast; ditto for dinner, ditto for supper. I consume very large quantities. We get ham, flour and tea of the commissary; pickles, butter, cheese, etc., of the sutler. Once in a great while I smoke. I have done so today. I think I may possibly repeat it before night. We have battalion drill at 5:30 p. m., and dress parade until sundown; tattoo at 8:30, and then to our downy beds. Mine is luxurious. I smoothed it off the other day with a spade. As usual, I shirk a good deal. For instance, I make the sergeants and corporals take charge of the company at morning drill, under pretense of their learning how to give the commands! Then I divide the company into squads, and put a sergeant over each squad, charged with the duty of seeing to the men— their cleanliness, their arms—in short, everything. This I do under pretense that the ‘Regulations’ require it. ‘Regulations’ is a great institution in the army. It teaches us ‘how not to do it,’ which is the true philosophy of thinking. Blessed be the man who invented the ‘Regulations.’ So, when I say, ‘we’ do anything, you will understand that I speak in a sort of Pickwickian sense. I mean that the boys do it and I help them if I can’t dodge. This last remark applies with peculiar force to the one item of getting up in the morning before daylight.

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