23rd Independent Battery, NY Volunteers
Civil War Newspaper Clippings
FROM THE 23d N. Y. BATTERY.
WASHINGTON, N. C., JULY 10.
Editors Journal & Courier:
There never was, perhaps, such an army as now carries the banner of the North.
In its ranks are the extremes and intermediate grades of society and minds.
Science, art, literature and religion creed are well represented. And it is
this fact which makes the great mass so restive after abortive efforts and
undecisive results. They volunteered, not for the love or sake of soldiering,
but for the great principles which they deemed worthy of vindication and perpetuation,
and woe be to the officers, who, for love of needed "greenbacks" or
transient authority, shall fool away the time and health of these noble defenders
of the cause they adore. Oh, how fruitful is this theme! A reform is needed,
for we commenced in this war under a full head of steam, and how can we be
regulated and controlled without a safety-valve and balance wheel. There are
several superfluities which ought not only to be declared contraband, but rigorously
treated as such, prominent among which are intoxicating drinks, gaudy females,
(transported at government expense as officers wives,) and camp faro tables
for fleecing the young and unskillful boy reluctantly taken from his home by
the necessities and urging of the cause of freedom. These, and others still,
are grave evils, and stare the reflecting man in the face day by day.
To begin with the first army evil, if an officer is known to get the worse
for liquor, cashier him and consign him to home infamy. Of course, why not?
Is he better than a private? Only as he proves himself capable of governing
himself and leading others to successful victories. Why should he be allowed
the use of that which unfits him to do his duty in camp and field? Then again,
depriving the rank and file of what is freely allowed the officers, tempts
the sutlers, which by the way are and ought to be accursed, to smuggle the
vilest and most poisonous stuff into the lines, and sell it out at prices which
would stagger the conscience of a jew, to men who have limited pay and needy
families at home.
The next point is a delicate one. It is an old evil and has its foundation
in the weakness of human nature. And that mother at home who has a pure and
idolized son to save, or wife a wavering husband to keep, but is interested
in the closing up and banishment of these chambers of hell. It is strange that
such shameless wantonness should be allowed. One need not disbelieve in total
depravity, for the doctrines is too well substantiated.
Of games of chance there is no end. It has become contagious like camp fever.
There are thousands upon thousands who can date their ruin when they entered
the army of the Union, and why? simply because the regulations are not enforced.
Shall the commanders of organizations punish others for the same offences they
themselves commit? It were folly to insist upon such unjust measures. If the
officers are "on a gay old drunk" every other day, the men will "follow
suit." If a regimental brothel is guarded and patronized, and shoulder-straps
rummage captured towns for forbidden pleasures, why the men are of ''like passions" and
will not probably be outdone in that particular. And if the officers "go
five dollars blind" in a game of bluff, and "see" ten dollars,
or twenty or fifty more, on a "three strike, with an ace, or pair of kings,
at the head" why the boys will play "five cent anty" or euchre
for the cigars. Strike at the root or else not meddle with the tree at all.
How goes the war? The volunteers want peace but not until the last gun has
been fired. We came here to take the arms out of rebellious hands, and crush
the abominable idea of State Rights out of conbustible minds; and neither heat
or cold, hunger or thirst, fatigues or sickness, the strained superiority or
studied indifference of callous officers; or lack of pay or food, or raiment,
or attention and sympathy in want or sickness, shall turn us from our determined
purpose. Our trials and disappointments are many, but we try and bear up bravely
under them all. Give us the evidences of your commenda- ...be and sympathy,
and it will ease the burden .... Our love to all our friends. ...t forgotten,
is a comforting re-...
Yours for the Union.
W. E. K.
Back to the 23rd Independent Battery
during the Civil War
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military
May 4, 2006