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"Si Klegg, of the 200th Ind., and Shorty, his Partner," were born more than 25 years ago in the brain of John McElroy, editor of The National Tribune, who invented the names and characters, outlined the general plan, and wrote a number of the chapters. Subsequently, the editor, having many other important things pressing upon his attention, called in an assistant to help on the work, and this assistant, under the direction and guidance of the editor, wrote some of these chapters. Subsequently, without the editor's knowledge or consent, the assistant adopted all the material as his own, and expanded it into a book which had a limited sale and then passed into the usual oblivion of shortlived subscription books.
Si saw the boys around him lightening their knapsacks. He abominated waste above all things, but there seemed no help for it, and, reaching into that receptacle that bore, down upon his aching shoulders like a glacier on a groundhog, he pulled out and tossed into the fence corner the educational works he had anticipated so much benefit from. The bottle of "No. 6" followed, and it seemed as if the knapsack was a ton lighter, but it yet weighed more than any stack of hay on the home farm.
The long march the 200th Ind. made after Bragg over the dusty turnpikes the first week in October, 1862, taught Si the value of a canteen. After that it was rarely allowed to get empty.
So poor Si marched to the guard-house, where he had to stay for 24 hours, as a punishment for not knowing, until he found out by this experience, that rice would "s-well." The Captain wouldn't let him have anything to eat except that scorched and half-cooked stuff cut of the kettles, and Si thought he never wanted to see any more rice as long as he lived.
If the new Hoosier regiment had been quartered for a while in long-used barracks, or had pitched its tents in an old camp, Si would very soon have learned, in the school of experience, the delightful uses of finger-nails. But the 200th stayed only a single night in Louisville and then joined the procession that started on the chase after the rebel army. It generally camped on new ground, and under these circumstances the insect to which allusion has been made did not begin its work of devastation with that suddenness that usually marked its attack upon soldiers entering the field. But he never failed to "git there" sooner or later, and it was more frequently sooner than later.
"I reck'n that'll do 's well 's any."
"It's purty hard business," said Si, reflectively, "an' I s'pose we haint seen the worst on it yet, either, from what I've hearn tell. Pity the men that got up this war can't be made to do all the trampin' 'n' fitin'. An' them fellers up in old Injjeanny that come 'round makin' such red-hot speeches to git us boys to 'list, wouldn't it be fun to see 'em humpin' 'long with gun 'n' knapsack, 'n' chawin' hardtack, 'n' stan'in' guard nights, 'n' pourin' water on their blisters, 'n' pickin' graybacks off their shirts, 'n' p'leecin' camp, 'n' washin' their own clothes?"
In five minutes after arms were stacked not a cornstalk remained standing in the field. During the afterfnoon the troops had gone over a long stretch of swamp road that was almost impassable for teams. Fears were entertained that the wagons of the regiment would not be up that night, and they would not have their tents to shelter them from the storm. In anticipation of such a calamity the boys, gathered in the cornstalks, having a vague idea that they would help out in case of emergency.
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