Saturday, March 31, 2012

The 42nd Indiana and the Dogs of War

At Fayetteville, before leaving the place for Huntsville, an officer of the command returning from outpost duty and passing a house was suddenly confronted by a vicious dog that savagely threatened to dispute every inch of ground with the officer in the discharge of duty. Plainly there could be no compromise, and then the officer drew his sword and “smote the dog, hip and thigh, to the death.”

The viciousness of the dog was as the gentlest zephyr is to the tornado when compared to the unbridled fury of the “woman of the house”, as she hastily appeared before the officer, sleeves rolled to the elbows, and shaking her fist under the officer's nasal protuberance, in a voice that awakened the echos demanded:

What did you kill my dog for?”

                      Officer: “What did your dog run at me for?”

                                                      Woman: “Why didn't you hit him with the other

                                                                         end of that thing?”

                                                       Officer: “Why didn't your dog run at me with the

                                                                          the other end?” “

This story was found while I was researching a related, though more serious, future post, and it appears in the “History of the Forty- Second Indiana Volunteer Infantry” by S. F. Horrall, captain of Company G.

I added this for a variety of reasons. Firstly and hopefully obviously, its just a darn funny story!

Where else would you find a story such as this outside of a contemporary regimental history unless a famous figure was involved? Probably nowhere, unless of course you are fortunate enough to have ready access to primary sources such as diaries and letters. That brings me to the second and maybe the most important reason. The regimental histories are becoming more numerous and available to the amateur historian, such as myself, and contain a wealth of information derived from the private soldiers of the American Civil War. Many are written several years after the fact and memories fade, but the purpose of these chronicles was not to give a history of the grand scheme of things, but to give old comrades a written record of their service to pass down to the generations to come. They give us a sense of what the common soldier was experiencing during the conflict and they offer details that add to our understanding of the war. They are always worth reading.

While I have not had time to sit and read the “History of the Forty Second” I did find fodder for future posts as well as insights into the post I hinted at earlier, so keep watching for more from the 42nd Indiana!

The Picket

1 comment:

  1. Poor, poor doggy! However, I did give a chuckle when I read the officer's response to the distraught woman! Regimental histories and diaries are the way to go, a wealth of information to give us a true idea of what it was like for the common soldier.