Friday, August 24, 2012

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Friday, November 1, 1861

Our uniforms were brought up to camp from town, and several companies drew theirs today. Every company drills four hours a day now. Some of the men have a hard time remembering the commands of the officers and some of the officers cannot remember the correct commands to give. Some of them make as big blunders as the men.1

1 Upon one occasion a certain captain had his company out for a drill on the town commons. The company was marching “by platoon guide right,” and advancing toward a big open ditch full of water, when the captain, forgetting the correct command to give, “halt” or “right-about face,” called out, “Look out for that ditch!” Now according to military tactics soldiers are not expected to move or change their course except upon specific command, and so, to the chagrin of the captain, his men went right on, plunged into the water and crossed to the other bank. A few, however, did “look out for the ditch,” and the company was thrown into great confusion. — A. O. D.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 15-6

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