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Friday, August 5, 2011

The Civil War History of the 57th Indiana (#1 of 52)

Raw Recruits Get Used to the Military
“Roused from our slumbers at the dawn of the day by fife and drum, each soldier bounded from his rude couch to his place in the line, answered to his name, and engaged with deep interest in the squad-drill before breakfast, which would often close with a “double-quick” around the circle; and after a hearty ablution he could appear at the breakfast table with ruddy cheeks and hearty appetite.
“Everything was done with order and dispatch. After breakfast came the drawing of rations, when you might have seen filing out from the quarters of each company ten or a dozen men in two ranks, headed by a sergeant, carrying buckets and pans, all moving towards the commissary. . .Thus for more than a month, we lived and enjoyed the pleasant routine of camp-life, within our own state.”
The Men Get Their Rifles
“At last the monotony of our comfortable and quiet life in Camp Wayne was disturbed by exciting war news. . . Up to this time but four companies had been supplied with arms. The two flank and center companies, A, B, C, and H, had received the Enfield rifles heretofore used by the regiment on company and battalion drill. . . It was with a feeling of the deepest mortification that the remaining five companies would be expected to use Prussian muskets, a class of arms of the very largest caliber used in the infantry. . . Two of the companies, D and F, stacked the arms on their company grounds, and refused to accept them. The movement, once commenced, spread rapidly and it soon became evident that the other companies would follow the example.
“The regiment was immediately called into lines, and the order explained by the field officers. It was not the intention that they should be used in action, but that they were issued to be used in drilling, and could probably be replaced by more improved arms before the command was called into the field. With this understanding the arms were accepted, and the affair caused no further trouble. . . Persons unacquainted with the experience of a soldier’s life can have no just conception of the humiliating effect it will produce upon good soldiers to arm them with inferior weapons of defense.”
(Late November/Early December, 1861, Camp Wayne, Indiana)

Excerpts taken from “Annals of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry: Marches, Battles, and Incidents of Army Life” written by Asbury L. Kerwood immediately after the war. He was a member of the 57th  Indiana himself.

To read an overview of this series, see the blog posting of August 2nd.

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