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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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[Gunn s handwriting]
Mort Thomson on
the  Federal
joined the

[newspaper clipping including engraving]
	Doesticks  First Night s Soldiering.
			The first two hours 
			drill of a raw recruit
			must be excrutiatingly
			funny to the disinter-
			ested observer.  My
			own experience is as
			  Up five flights of
			stairs, as narrow and
			as crooked as if the
			maker had contracted
			to build a circular stair-
			way inside a chimney,
			and had done it.  Into 
			a large room at the
			very top of the house.
			In fact, our drill-room
			is so high up, that in
			case of a thunder-
			shower, we have clear
			sky up there before
			the first drops of the
			rain reach the ground.
			It takes so long to get
up stairs, that Haney always takes a lunch to eat when he
gets half-way up, and always smokes nineteen pipes to re-
fresh himself before he enters on his evening s arduous du-
ties of criticizing the recruits, and making bad jokes about
the awkward squad.  Haney has measured the distance from
the sidewalk to the drill-room, and finds that it is four cigars,
six clay-pupes, and a meerschaum and a half.
  Got into the drill-room on the eventful first night.  Lot
of fellows sitting round to make fun of the raw recruits,
and run rigs on the awkward squad  Felt awkward myself;
awkwarder than four dozen awkward squads ought to feel,
all rolled into one.  Thought I d like to step on the toes of
the bystanders; also, to punch a few of their heads; also,
to knock a few of their eyes out; also, to hurt some of them
a little.
  Then I remembered that I can have my revenge when I
get to be a General; resolved that the first man that laughed
at me should be appointed as my Special Aid, and I would
take special pains in aiding him to get himself killed, by
sending him to all the posts of danger when I get to be a
General.  Determined, also, that if any man should make
fun of me, I shall court-martial that man and shoot him the
very first opportunity when I get to be a General.  Firm-
ly made up my mind that if any daring man should make a
joke about my awkwardness, I shall pistol him on pretence
of insubordination when I get to be a General.  Swore a
solemn oath, inside, way down in my bowels, that should
any bystander wink, or smile, or grin, I would put that man
in irons, set him to work on my fortifications, and confiscate
all his ready cash when I get to be a General.
  When you go for the first time to drill, your drill-officer
proceeds upon the supposition that you don t know any-
thing at all, and, as a general thing, drill officer is about right:
so he teaches you to stand, to walk, and to turn around.
Officer told me how to stand in the  position of a soldier  
listened carefully thought I understood it but I saw so
many grins on the faces of the spectators, that in two min
utes I didn t know whether he had told me to  turn out 
my feet or my eyes; whether to  project my stomach  out
before or behind; whether my eyes or my chin was to
 strike the ground at the distance of fifteen paces;  and
couldn t tell whether my head or my heels were to be
 square to the front.   Tried to do as the rest did, for the
present, but resolved to pay off all the grinners in the future
 when I get to be a General.
  Then he told us how to walk tried it, but was so afraid
of stepping on the heels of the man in front of me, that I
straddled my legs about a rod apart, and it would have been
two rods, if the legs had only been longer; then he showed
us how to turn around and we turned around some one
way, and some another.  We couldn t step together, nor
turn round together, nor stand still together.
  He tried to make us stand in line line was just the
shape of a fish hook: he got us into a straight line by back-
ing us up against the wall; told us to  Right face  nearly
twisted my head off trying to see through a window behind
me; then he said  Right face  again told him I couldn t
unless he d let me step out, and get my head set on a swivel
 begged our pardon, and told us he ought to have said
 Front face  before he  Right-faced  the second time 
tried to make us march, and we tumbled over each other,
tangled our heels in each others  trousers, stepped on the
calves of each others  legs, knocked our chins on each others 
shoulders, and slipped down lost step, and couldn t get it 
lost time, and couldn t get that lost presence of mind, and
couldn t get that poked our elbows in each other s ribs 
tumbled down tripped over each other rolled over lost
our caps unbuckled our belts unbuttoned our jackets 
tore our trousers smashed our cartridge boxes, and finally
when he gave the command to  Halt,  we halted some time
in the course of a minute.  And, on examination, it was
found that no two were facing the same way that all were
out of breath, and about eight were out of temper of whom
two wanted to thrash the drill sergeant, and the other six
were bent on having a free-fight among themselves.
  After a few more trials, things went a little better, and we
can now go through all our squad-drills, without risk of
walking through the windows without endangering the
lives of the bystanders without tearing our clothes, and
without getting so mad that the officers have to lock up the
  Military discipline develops the curious facts, that not one
man in a hundred can stand properly, not one man in a
thousand can walk decently, and not one in ten thousand
can turn around so gracefully as not to deserve a good sound
spanking for his awkwardness.
  That recruit has done wonders who, in two months  severe
drill has, in the three simple matters of standing up, walk-
ing forward, and turning round, become a tenth part as nat-
ural as a child, as sturdy as a man, and as graceful as a
woman.			{Sunday Mercury.
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Sixteen: page two hundred and twenty-nine
Description:Newspaper article by Mort Thomson (Doesticks) regarding the ''Federal Chasseurs.''
Subject:Gunn, Thomas Butler; Haney, Jesse; Military; New York Infantry Regiment, 22nd; Thomson, Mortimer (Doesticks)
Coverage (City/State):[New York, New York]
Scan Date:2010-06-08


Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Sixteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of the scene in New York at the commencement of the Civil War, boarding house living, visits to the Edwards family, Mort Thomson's engagement to Fanny Fern's daughter Grace Eldredge, Frank Cahill's return to New York from London, Frank Bellew's dissatisfaction with living in England, Thomas Nast's engagement to Sally Edwards, the scene in New York during the departure of the 7th New York Regiment for Washington, attending the wedding of Olive Waite and Hamilton Bragg, a visit with Frank Cahill to the camp of the 1st Regiment of New York Volunteers and the 2nd Regiment of New York State Militia on Staten Island, the death of Charles Welden, and his reporting work.
Subject:Boardinghouses; Bohemians; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marriage; Military; Publishers and publishing; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.