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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 259

              [loose newspaper clipping continued]
  Out into the calm moonlight of this deli-
cious Indian summer, along lines of tents,
through whose canvass walls to which the lights
inside give a dull glow, comes the sound of
laughter and singing.  Ah, this is the time to
realize the poetry of the scene, common places
hidden in the broad deep shadows, or lost in
still broader fields of pure effulgence, no longer
intrude themselves upon the attention.  One
scene in the romance of the army is before us,
none the less enchanting, because a peaceful
one.  From the band, Schuberth�s serenade
floats dreamily, adding the only charm wanting
to the time, linking it with other moonlit
nights of past summers, on whose placid hours
no thought of war intruded.  The spell is of 
brief continuance, for from hill side and valley
along the whole extent of our lines bursts forth
the music of innumerable military bands, play-
ing marches, waltzes, overtures, and opera airs,
according to the sweet fancy of the band mas-
ters, or by particular request of the comman-
dants.  Trumpets, bugles, drums and fifes, anon
strike in, with a noisy selection of calls it be-
ing time for tattoo.  The bands still struggle 
on with an universal predilection for the �Star
Spangled Banner,� till the signalis sounded for
the extinguishing of lights.  The tents lose
their semi-transparency, and with the exception
of the lamp in the guard tent, and another in
that of the Colonel there is no opposition to the
cold light of the moon, unless when the breeze
wafts a shower of sparks from a decaying fire,
by which a sentry leaning on his musket is
waiting statue-like fo the approaching relief.
  As I am outside the lines, I receive a peremp-
tory command to halt, to which the German
sentinel bringing his piece to the charge, adds
the usual: �Who goes there?�  �A friend
with the countersign� I answer. �Approach
friend and give the countersign.�  Walking up
to within six or seven feet of the man, who
then repeats the order to halt, I lean towards
the bayonet, and�overcoming a strong desire
to say Pumpernickel�whisper �Anderson.�
�Countersign is right,� says the sentry, �pass
  About fifteen minutes later the Lieut. Colonel
makes his appearance before the Colonel�s tent,
with some nine or ten others, not apparently
in the same good spirits as their leader.  It
appears that the quartermaster of the regiment
with some friends and other quartermasters,
mostly Hebrews, had grown pot valiant and ex-
pressed anxiety to met the enemy at any odds;
the Lieut. Colonel, as officer of the day, readily
acceded to their desire to accompany him on
the grand rounds.  Taking them on the out-
posts and giving them a wrong countersign,
they were instructed to proceed, while he visited
a point near by.  Naturally the first guard
they met, pronounced them imposters, and at
once confined the poor quartermasters in the
guard tent, not to be released till daylight.  The
Colonel having made his arrangements, came
and let his quondam associates out however,
and they continued the inspection till the heart
of a thick wood was reached.  In the middle
of a dreadful anecdore of the ferocity of the
rebels, and while contemplating the propriety
of an immediate return to camp, bayonet and
sabres gleamed around, and a savage voice or-
dered immediate surrender; at once the Colo-
nel dashed away, calling all to charge and fol-
low; this in view of the levelled pieces hardly
seemed safe; so more dead than alive [unclear words] dis-
mounted, and were immediately disarmed, and
tied, their eyes at the same time [unclear word] ban-
daged, and in this plight were hurried through
close undergrowth, swamps, water courses, and
fields of Indian corn, till worn out, they sud-
denly, and to their great relief, once more
confronted the Colonel in company with their
horses, on which one and all declared that they
had seen through the joke from the very first,
and in fact had been engaged in deceiving the
Colonel the whole time. 
  After this, an occasional distant challenge 
from the guard, the drowsy hum and twitter of
the innumerable insects, and the footsteps of
the sentinel in front of the tent, are the only
sounds that reach me; these gradually seem
subdued, the panorama in front of the open
tent fades, and a day in camp is closed by the
perfect repose that accompanies sleep in the
open air.			  ALF. WAUD.               
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