Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letter From Orpheus C, Kerr

Pegasus Recovered – the Dog Bologna – Repudiation of Captain Villiam Brown’s Proclamation – the Sambory Guard – Advance on Richmond

(From the N. Y. Sunday Mercury.)

Rejoice with me, my boy, that I have got back my gothic steed, Pegasus, from the Government chap who borrowed him for a desk.  The splendid architectural animal has just enough slant from his backbone to his hips to make a capital desk, and then his tail is so handy to wipe pens on.  In a moment of thirst he swallowed a bottle of ink, and some fears were entertained for his life, but a gross of steel pens and a ream of blotting paper immediately administered caused him to come out all write.

In a gothic sense, my boy the charger continues to produce architectural illusions.  He was standing on a hillside the other day with his rear elevation toward the spectators, his head up and ears touching at the top, when a chap who had been made pious by frequent conversation with the contrabands, noticed him afar off, and says he to the soldier, “What church is that I behold in the distance, my fellow worm of the dust?”  The military veteran looked and says he, “It does look like a church, but it’s only an animated hay rack belonging to the cavalry.”

“I see,” says the pious chap, moving on, “the beast looks like a church because he’s been accustomed to steeple chases.”

I have also much satisfaction in the society of my dog, Bologna, who has already become so attached to me that I believe he would defend me against any amount of meat.  Like the Old Guard of France, he’s always around the bony parts thrown, and like a bon vivant is much given to whining after his dinner.

The last time I was at Paris my boy, this interesting animal made a good breakfast off the calves of the General of the Mackerel Brigadier’s leg’s, causing that great strategical commander to issue enough oaths for the whole Southern Confederacy.  “Thunder!” says the General, at the conclusion of his cursory remarks, “I shall have the hydrophobia and bite somebody.  It’s my opinion,” says the General, hastily licking a few grains of sugar from the spoon he was holding at the time, “It’s my opinion, that I shall go rabid as soon as I see water.”

“Then you’re perfectly safe, my conquering hero,” says I, “for when you see water, the Atlantic ocean will be principally composed of brandy pale.”

Speaking of Paris, it pains me, my boy, to say that Captain Villiam Brown’s proclamation for the conciliation of Southern Union men has been repudiated by the General of the Mackerel Brigade.  “Thunder!” says the General, taking a cork from his pocket in mistake for a watch key, “it’s against the Constitution to open a bar so far away from where Congress sits.”  And he at once issued the following:


WHEREAS There appears in the public prints what presumptuously pretends to be a proclamation of Captain Villiam Brown, Eskevire, in the words following, to wit.

PROCLAMATION – The Union men of the South are hereby informed, that the United States of America has reasserted hisself, and will shortly open a bar-room in Paris.  Also, cigars and other necessaries of life.

By Order of


And whereas, the same is producing much excitement among those members from the border States who would prefer that said bar-room should be nearer Washington in case of sickness, Therefore, I, General of the Mackerel Brigade, do proclaim and declare that the Mackerel Brigade cannot stand this sort of thing, and that neither Captain Villiam Brown, nor any other commander, has been authorized to declare free lunch, either by implication or otherwise, in any State, much less in a state of intoxication, of which there are several.

To persons in this State, now, I earnestly appeal.  I do not argue, I beseech you to mix your own liquors.  You can not, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times, when such opportunity is offered to see double.  I beg of a calm and immense consideration of them (signs), ranging, it may be, above personal liquor establishments.  The change you may receive after purchasing your materials will come gently as the dues from heaven – not rending nor wrecking anything.  Will you not embrace me?  May the extensive future not have to lament that you have neglected to do so.

Yours, respectfully, the

(Green seal.)

When Villiam read this conservative proclamation, my boy, he looked thoughtfully into a recently occupied tumbler for a few moments, and then says he:

“There’s some intelleck in that.  The General covers the whole ground.  Ah!” says Villiam, preparing, in a dreamy manner, to wash out the tumbler with something from a decanter, “the General so completely covers the whole ground sometimes that the police departmink is required to clear it.”

I believe him, my boy!

The intelligent and reliable contrabands, my boy, who have come into Paris from time to time, with the valuable news concerning all recent movements not taking place in the Confederacy were formed lately, by Villiam, into a military company, called the Sambory Guard, Captain Bob Shorty being deputed to drill them in the colored manual of arms.  They were dressed in flaming read breeches and black coats, my boy, and each chaotic chap looked like a section of stove pipe walking about on two radishes.

I attended the first drill my boy, and found the oppressed Africans standing in line about as regular as so many trees in a maple swamp.

Captain Bob Shorty whipped out his sleepless sword, straightened it on a log, stepped to the front, and was just about to give the first order, when, suddenly he started, threw up his nose, and stood paralyzed.

“What’s the matter, my blue and gilt,” says I.

He stood like one in a dream and says he:

“‘Pears to me I smell something.”

“Yes,” says I, “‘tis the scent of the roses that hang around it still.”

“True,” says Captain Bob Shorty, recovering, “it does smell like a cent, and I haven’t seen a cent of my pay for such a long time, that the novelty of the odor knocked me.  Attention, company!”

Only five of the troops were enough startled by the sudden order, my boy, to drop their guns, and only four stooped down to tie their shoes.  One very reliable contraband left the ranks, and says he:

“Mars’r, hadn’t Brudder Rhett bett gub out de hymn before de service commence?”

“Order in the ranks!” says Capt. Bob Shorty, with some asperity, “Attention, company! – Order arms.”

The troops did this very well, my boy, the muskets coming down at intervals of three minutes, bringing each man’s cap with them and pointing so regularly toward all points of the compass, that no foe could possibly approach from any direction without running on a bayonet.

“Excellent!” says Captain Bob Shorty, with enthusiasm.  “Only, Mr. Rhett, you needn’t hold your gun quite so much like a hoe.  Carry Arms!”

Here Mr. Dana stepped out from the ranks, and says he: “Carry who, mars’r?”

“Go to the rear,” says Capt. Bob Shorty, indignantly.  “Present Arms!”

If Present Arms means to sick your bayonet into the next mans side, my boy, the troops did it very well.

Splendid!” says Capt. Bob Shorty.  “Shoulder Arms – Eyes right – double quick, march!  On to Richmond!”

The troops obeyed the order, my boy, and haven’t been seen since.  Perhaps they’re going yet, my boy.

Company Three, Regiment 5 Mackerel Brigade, started for an advance on Richmond yesterday, and by a forced march got within three miles of it.  Another march brought them within five miles of the place, and the last dispatch stated that they had but ten miles to go before reaching the rebel capital.

Military travel, my boy, is like the railroad at the West, where they had to make chalk marks on the track to see which way the train was going.

Yours on time,

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, June 7, 1862, p. 1

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