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Si's Chum, 'shorty' Elliott 026
As a general combustion of powder by the armies of Buell and Bragg was hourly expected, it was thought best for the 200th to learn first something about shooting. If called suddenly into action it was believed the boys could "git thar," though they had not yet mastered the science of company and battalion evolutions. Co. Q was divided into squads of eight for exercise in the manual of arms. The man who took Si's squad was a grizzled Sergeant, who had been "lugging knapsack, box and gun" for a year. He fully realized his important and responsible functions as instructor of these innocent youths, having at the same time a supreme contempt for their ignorance. "Attention, Squad!" and they all looked at him in a way that meant business.
Si already had his blue clothes on. By enlisting early he had a good pick of the various garments, and so got a suit that fitted his form—which was plump as an apple-dumpling tolerably well. It was left for the tail-enders of the company to draw trousers that were six inches too long or too short, and blouses that either wouldn't reach around, and left yawning chasms in front, or were so large that they looked as if they were hung on bean-poles.
"I reck'n 'twont be long, now, till yer catches on ter the meanin' ol what a grayback is. Ye'll know all 'bout it purty sudden. This ain't the first one I ever seen."
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