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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.
"Don't do it, Si," admonished Shorty, "They'd git another one that'd be just as bad. All orderlies are cusses."
There he stopped, and while he was scratching his head and thinking what he would say next the Orderly came around detailing guards for the night, and directed Klegg to get his traps and report at once for duty.
Si waited till his turn came, and received his rations from the Hospital Steward. Of course, he was excused from duty for the day, and as he speedily recovered his normal condition he really had a good time.
There was not a moment to spare. Si dashed out into the storm and darkness, followed by his comrades. Seizing the ropes, some of which were already loosened, they braced themselves and hung on for dear life, in the drenching rain, their hair and garments streaming in the wind.
In this way the soldiers spent the remainder of the night. Before daybreak the blast of a hundred bugles rang out, but there was little need for the reveille.
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