Friday, March 13, 2009

A Camp of Females at Island No. 10

One of the features of the deserted rebel camp, was a peculiarity which we have not met with before. On a beautiful hill surrounded by beautiful groves, budding wild flowers, and the accompanying charms of a rural retreat, we found a bevy of nymphs encamped and enjoying soldierly life, in real earnest. There were twelve or fifteen of them of different ages, but all young and more or less fair to look upon. They sat around the camp fire, and cooked their breakfast, a little disheveled and rumpled, as might, perhaps be expected, in remembrance of the scenes of excitement they had passed through, but yet as much composed, and as much at home, as though they had campaigned it all their lives. There was a stray lock of hair hanging out there, an unlaced bodice granting chary glimpses of vast luxuriance of bust, a stocking down at the heel, or a garter with visible downward tendences – all of which was attributable to our early visit. There were all the markers of femininity about the place. The embowering trees were hung with hoop-skirts, and flaunting articles, which looked on in the distance like abbreviated pantaloons. A glance at the interior of their tents showed magnificent disorder. Dimity and calico, silk, feathers, and all the appurtenance of a female boudoir were visible. It was a [rara acts in terra] – a new bird in the woods.

These feminine voyageurs were real campaigners. The chivalry of the South ever solicitous for the sex, could not resist the inclination for its society, and hence the camp of the nymphs by the river side, in the embowering shade, et cetera. I will not say much for their fair fame, or for the good name of the Confederate officers, whose baggage was mingled in admirable confusion with the rumpled dimity and calico, whose boots and spurs hung among the hoop skirts and unmentionables, and whose old hats ornamented the tent poles or decked the heads of fair adventuresses. It was a new feature in the war. – {Corres. Island No. 10.

– Published in the Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 19, 1862 & in The Athens Messenger, Athens, Ohio, Thursday Morning, April 24, 1862

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