January 12

Retired at 2 a. m. last night; learned by heart before retiring fifty pages in tactics; got up at 9 a. m. and went at it again; have conquered fifty pages more to-day and recited them to Lieut. Farr: had them fairly well learned before; only review; weather warm and comfortable; had a dress parade at 5 p. m. This evening twenty recruits armed and equipped arrived from Vermont for Company B; got some newspapers from cousin Abby Burnham to-night.

Tuesday, January 12th.—At S. all day. By some mistake it hasn't rained all day, so we took the opportunity to get on with painting the train. We worked all the morning and afternoon and got a lot done, and it looks very smart: huge red crosses on white squares in the middle of each coach, and the number of the ward in figures a foot long at each end: this on both sides of the coaches. We have done not quite half the coaches, and are praying that it won't rain before it dries; if it does, the result is pitiable. The orderlies have been shining up the brass rails and paraffining the outside of the train, and have also played and won a football match against No. 1 A.T.

January Twelfth

We are a band of brothers, and native to the soil,
Fighting for our liberty, with treasure, blood, and toil.
And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far:
Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that bears a single star!
Harry McCarthy

 

 

January 12, 1864

Tuesday. "Glory, Hallelujah!" I'm going home. Just as I was crawling under my blanket to-night, after a miserable cold, wet day of routine duty, the colonel's servant came and said the colonel wanted me to come to his tent. I got up and dressed, wondering what it could mean. Just then I recalled hearing a horseman ride in and out, and I said to myself—that means Texas sure. I found pretty much all the colonel's family packed in his tent and all with long, sober faces on them. The colonel asked me what sort of a caper I had been up to when out on a pass yesterday, adding, before I could reply, that I was the last one he expected to get such a report about from headquarters, at the same time handing me an official-looking document and requested me to read for myself. In a sort of a daze I opened it and at a glance saw it was my leave of absence. I came to life then. Whether they are glad to be rid of me for a while, or what, I don't know, but they all appeared as glad as I was. Appeared, I say, for it is not possible they could feel as I did, and do, about it. We kept the colonel up until he drove us off and then the most of them went home with me, and we kept up the clatter of talk until almost morning. The errands and the messages I have promised to do and deliver will make a hole in my vacation, but I don't care, for anyone of them would do the same for me. The day had been so dull that I was not going to write a word about it, but the wind-up was too momentous not to mention it on the day and date thereof. And now for a nap, or a try for one.

Guzzeepuddee, 8 miles from Balasore, January 12

SPORTING.

Yesterday morning about four o'clock we started from Balasore on horseback. The party consisted of the magistrate, the surgeon, and myself. It was a brilliant moonlight, but somehow I thought I should like to finish my night's rest, and therefore soon got into my palanquin, and had a most comfortable nap. I was awakened at daybreak by my bearers stopping and telling me that they did not know the way to Guzzeepuddee. I got out of my palanquin, loaded my gun, inquired my way of the first native I saw, sent my palanquin on, and then with two servants entered the jungle. Whereabout the magistrate and the doctor were I had not the slightest idea. I had a delightful ramble through a jungle, many of the natives following me from each village through which I passed, and appearing to take great interest in the success of my sport.

I went on, with my broad-brimmer hat and brown leather gaiters, followed by twenty or thirty black fellows, forcing my way through the thickest, densest shrubberies, thinking at every instant that I might come suddenly on a large bear. Every now and then a break would occur in the jungle, and I would emerge from the tangled thicket into a broad open space of three or fouracres, covered with the smoothest turf, interspersed here and there with the graceful bamboo, and surmounted on all sides with a literal wall of trees and underwood. On their branches sat the splendid wild fowls and the beautiful peacocks, whilst from all sides I heard the soft cooing of the doves.

Then again I would find myself in a similar open space; but instead of the turf there was a broad sheet of water, with the red and white lotus-flowers floating on the surface, and the glittering white paddy-bin (a sort of small stock) stretching along the edge. A little farther on I came suddenly on a large jheel (a piece of shallow muddy water), with the heron and the pelican, and I think the spoonbill, standing on the sides and busily catching their breakfast of fish. Several of the most curious of the birds I shot, in order to preserve their skins, and occasionally, as a hare darted across my path, I would raise my gun and fire. But one bird I must describe more particularly.

I was standing by the side of a large jheel, when a native called out, "A bird, very good: look, sir." I looked in the direction in which he pointed, but could see nothing, and was going to scold him, when he said, "It will come." I continued watching, when presently I saw what appeared to be a long snake rising from the water. It was some little time before I could make up my mind that this was actually part of a bird, and by that time the long neck was again drawn under water, and nothing was visible.

A WATER-RACE.

I continued to watch, and presently, at some yards from the spot where it had before appeared, the same snaky form was again elevated into the air. It was almost like shooting at a reed, but however I raised my gun and fired. There was an instant struggle in the water, and then I saw the body of a large dark-coloured bird floating on the surface. Wishing to obtain the body, I turned to the natives and said, "The man that wants a pice, bring that bird to me." The pice is a little more than a farthing, but enough to find a family for a day. Six or eight boys and men dashed into the water, and there was a regular race, struggling and swimming in order to obtain the prize. One boy had just reached the spot, when suddenly it disappeared; now the long neck rose in a different place, and again there was a rush to obtain the pice. The bird, which was evidently much wounded, began to move across the water, keeping its long neck about eighteen inches above the surface, no other part being visible. I was running round the banks to have another shot, when the bird suddenly rose, and, with its long legs extending behind, flew over the jungle. I saw it fall at a short distance, but the bushes were so thickly matted together that I could not get near the place.

As I advanced farther from Balasore the natives of the village appeared astonished at my appearance, many of them probably never having seen a white man before. Some stood still staring at me, others ran and hid themselves in their houses. At last I came to a large open space of a mile or more in diameter, and here a most singular scene presented itself. Throughout the whole extent of the space, large masses of black rock, perfectly smooth and rounded at the edges, rose at intervals to the height of twelve or sixteen feet, at an angle of about 70°. It appeared as if some mighty city had been swept over by a hurricane, and all the walls were tottering to their fall.

Some time after this, to my great satisfaction, I arrived at the tent, which had been sent there the day before, and found a plentiful breakfast ready, and the rest of the party anxiously awaiting my arrival. I had been nearly six hours on foot. Our tent is about eighteen feet square, with one pole in the centre, a table and chairs inside, and our palanquins, in which we sleep at night, standing under a sort of canvas verandah. There is another very small tent for a bath-room, and also a part composed of a single piece of canvas for the servants. The latter is about thirty feet long and fifteen broad.

ENCAMPMENT.

And now let us look around the encampment. The immediate neighbourhood consists of rice-fields, from which the paddy has been cut. At about half a mile from the tents on either side is a thick jungle, and in the distance are the rugged and magnificent hills of the Neilghur, which I have already described.

At six o'clock in the evening the sun was just setting as we three sahibs returned from our day's shooting. The magistrate is just washing his hands in a chillumchee, or brass basin, at the door of the tent. In the front-ground, on two chairs, are seated the doctor and myself; the former is having his long leather gaiters or overalls pulled off. I have one foot in a chillumchee of warm water, the other resting on the black knee of one of my servants, who is shampooing and cracking each joint of the toes. Now he has done that, wiped the foot dry, put on the shoe, and is squeezing or kneading each muscle in the calf of the leg. No one but those who have experienced it can have any idea what a luxury this is when you are very tired!

Behind us stands a long-bearded turbaned khitmutgar, with sherry and glasses. Our guns are leaning against the side of the tent, our horses are picketed to a tree close by, and the grooms are busily rubbing them down. A hundred or a hundred and fifty black natives are separating into groups according to their castes, and are lighting fires all around in order to cook their dinners. Behind the servants' tent is a fire of charcoal, over which a black man is turning a hare, some partridges, a peacock, and several other results of our day's sport. Close by is another fire of wood crackling and sparkling, on which are stew-pans with salmon, oysters, &c. &c., which have come from England.

It grows late: the moon rises over the hills; the fires blaze up in all directions; I see the swarthy natives moving around them, and hear them chattering or singing their low monotonous song; everything looks wild; I begin to indulge in all sorts of reveries—when a man approaches with his hands clasped together, and, bending low before me, says "Cana meg" (dinner-table). The peacock takes the place of the reverie; visions of the partridges and oysters flit across my mind; and I run to help in demolishing a most substantial and well-earned meal. I then go to my palkee. The howling of the jackals does not awake me, I am too well used to it; but at last, about two o'clock in the morning, I was aroused by a sort of sniffing and a scratch at the door. I guessed at once what it was, and debated for an instant whether I should open it a little and try the effect of my pistols, or call out so as to rouse my companions, or lie still and leave him tohimself. I determined on the latter; as, supposing I had not killed him, my visitor might have come into my palanquin and killed me before I could get assistance. I therefore lay quietly with a pistol in my hand; and I felt much happier when I heard the bear at last trot off.