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Later in the service Si learned the inestimable value of coffee to the soldier on the march. Then he stript the cloth from his canteen, fastened the strand with bits of wire and made a fine coffee-pot of it. In the morning he would half fill it with the splendid coffee ihe Government furnished, fill it up with water and hang it from a bush or a stake over the fire, while he went ahead with his other culinary preparations. By the time these were finished he would have at least a quart of magnificent coffee that the cook of the Fifth Avenue could not surpass, and which would last him until the regiment halted in the afternoon.
"Why, we've drawn a full mile o' sides from the Commissary, and haint struck a ham yit. I'm wonderin' jest how long that hog is!"
The fact was that Si and his companions hardly had a fair shake in this respect, and entered the field at a decided disadvantage. It had been customary for a regiment to be constantly drilled for a month or two in camp in its own State before being sent to the front; but the 200th was rushed off to Kentucky the very day it was mustered in. This was while the cold chills were running up and down the backs of the people in the North on account of the threatened invasion by Bragg's army. The regiment pushed after the fleeing rebels, but whenever Suell's army halted to take breath, "Fall in for drill!" was shouted through its camp three or four times a day. It was liable to be called into action at any moment, and it was deemed indispensable to begin at once the process of making soldiers out of those tender-footed Hoosiers, whose zeal and patriotism as yet far exceeded their knowledge of military things. Most of the officers of the 200th were as green as the men, though some of them had seen service in other regiments; so, at first, officers and non-commissioned officers who had been in the field a few months and were considered veterans, and who knew, or thought they knew, all about tactics that was worth knowing, were detailed from the old regiments to put the boys through a course of sprouts in company and squad drill.
"Unfix—Bay'net!" came from half the regiment.
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