Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant George G. Smith: November 18, 1864

Col. Fisk seized the freight house at the depot. It was about 200 feet long and was stowed just as full of hard bread as it could be packed; so he had a good large force of men detailed to clear the house and myself to take charge of it. Our occupation was changed from killing men to killing rats. We soon discovered that some of the boxes had rat holes gnawed in them and the bread most all eaten out. By and by we began to see rats. There were two or three little rat terriers running around and they began to see them too. Then they caught two or three. That nearly set them wild, so that every box that was moved they stood ready for the rats. Other dogs came, so that we had ten or a dozen dogs before we got through: but as we proceeded the rats would retreat, so that by the time we got half way through they began to be pretty plentiful. The dogs would not eat them, but as fast as they would kill one they would snatch up another; then the boys would pile them up, and at the final wind up it became a circus. The dogs had all they could do. Of course we did not count them, but the number ran into the hundreds. As the men had slept the night before in wet clothes, I went to the quartermaster and told him I wanted some whiskey for the men; he told me to get what I wanted, and said there was a pail. I got a pail full, and had the men fall in, in one rank, and carried the pail along and told them to drink all they wanted. Some of them would fill their cup pretty full, but they were equal to the occasion. Then I marched them back to their quarters, and broke ranks before the medicine began to take effect. However, I did not see any one any the worse for it. Sheetiron ranges were put in for each company, and they had good comfortable quarters. Most of the officers found accommodations at the hotel.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 137-8

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