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IN COMMON with every other young man who enlisted to defend the glorious Stars and Stripes, Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., had a profound superstition concerning the bayonet. All the war literature he had ever read abounded in bloodcurdling descriptions of bayonet charges and hand-to-hand conflicts, in which bayonets were repeatedly thrust up to the shanks in the combatants' bodies just as he had put a pitch-fork into a bundle of hay. He had seen pictures of English regiments bristling with bayonets like a porcupine with quills, rushing toward French regiments which looked as prickly as a chestnut-bur, and in his ignorance he supposed that was the way fighting was done. Occasionally he would have qualms at the thought of how little his system was suited to have cold steel thrust through it promiscuous-like, but he comforted himself with the supposition that he would probably get used to it in time—"soldiers get used to almost anything, you know."
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.
But his blood was up, and laying the cracker upon a log, he brought the butt of his gun down upon it like a pile-driver.
The pickled pork was comparatively free from this cause of irritation. It was all alike, and was simply "Hobson's choice." Si remembered the fragrant and delicious fried ham that so often garnished his mother's breakfast table and wondered why there was not the same proportion of hams and sides in the Commissary that he remembered in the meathouse on the Wabash. He remarked to Shorty one day:
"Must grow funny kind o' hogs out there—a mile long each, I should say. What do you mean?"
"I—I th—thought you did!" said Si, trembling as if he had the Wabash ague. "You said for us to load nine times. I thought nine loads would fill 'er chuck full and bust 'er and I didn't see any way but to shute 'em oft as fast as I got 'em in."
'company--right Wheel!' 077
"Have him carry a rail in front of my tent for an hour!" thundered the Captain. "Don't let it be a splinter, either; pick out a good, heavy one. And, Orderly, detail a guard to keep Mr. Klegg moving."
"Now this is something like!" said Si, as he squatted on the ground along with Shorty and half a dozen messmates. They surrounded a camp-kettle full of steaming ears and half a bushel or so of apples heaped on a poncho.
When Si got up he burst off half the buttons on his clothes. He looked as if he was carrying a bass-drum in front of him. After he began to shrink he had to tie up his clothes with a string until he had a chance to repair damages. But during the next 24 hours he had something else to think of.
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