Reducing the Surplus
Why wouldn’t it be a graceful thing for Uncle Sam to do to give all the old soldiers that wished it a free pass to re-visit the scenes of their battles and camps in the South? Of course with restrictions as to foraging that we did not always respect before. It would help reduce the surplus. If we went by water, I should want to stipulate that when we got off Cape Hatteras, we should keep farther off than we did before, and make a shorter stop on Frying Pan Shoals. We could hear that old familiar cry “Every man on deck, and the rest in the hold.”
Co. F. could recall the war-cry of its Ministerial Orderly of “Keep cool, Co. F., the vinegar will be here in a moment.” Once more get a taste of the warm condensed water that sickened, but did not inebriate, much. Banquet, again, on salt horse, and wormy hard bread. Hilton Head, where the peach trees were in bloom, but I suffered as much from the cold the first night there as in Pittsfield. Ship Island, I guess I will stay on board, I got enough of that my last visit. It was an easy place to dig wells – as Bob Ridley said about his bed. It was in New Orleans, Rob was on guard and came in supremely happy. The Lieut. to see how far gone he was ordered him to make up his bed on the floor. Bob was so nicely balanced that he did not dare to bend over for fear the ballast would shift, so after several ineffectual dives, he says “Never mind the bed, Lieutenant. A couple of kicks will make her any time.” And on Ship Island, a couple of kicks in the sand would dig a well, that’s all the good thing I saw there.
I would go to the corner of the Custom House and examine the flagstone in the pavement on the sidewalk where I made my bed nearly every night the first month we were there, wonder if they ever filled up the holes my hip bones wore in them.
Then Fort Pike, with those wonderful crooked Bayous, where after travelling (paddling) twenty miles you would be no nearer the Fort than when you started. Where the Steamer Brown had to be handled so carefully to avoid crushing her stern with her bow, in those sudden turns. I want to double-quick down the shell-road to the old marine hospital, raising, as of yore, a great black cloud of mosquitoes with every step. What fun it was to crush them by the handfuls until your hands and face were one clot of gore (not John L. Gore). I would not mind going down to the lighthouse tower, where we used to stay for a week’s picket duty, but should want the privilege of crossing to Hog Island, and shooting a pig occasionally, as we used to do.
Perhaps it would be as well to wait for an appropriation before going any farther, not that I weary of the march, for I think I stand it full as well as I did the first one.