Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Gaining every day"

Today at Brandy Station: April 20, 1864

The journal of Major Charles Maddocks, especially in the spring of 1864, is at times, blunt. On March 27, 1864, Maddocks was transferred from the 17th Maine to to the 1st United States Sharpshooters (Berdan's Sharpshooters), to take command of that unit. He found them the men unsoldierly, and undisciplined. The word he used was scallywags. The "Field officers have quarreled among themselves and with the Line continually." He also commented that "Courts martial, arrests, protests and insubordination have been always on the program."
It has been just short of a month, and Maddocks is beginning to warm to his new unit and they to them.

"This afternoon we had a very good skirmish drill. General Birney was riding by and paid us the compliment to stop and look on. He seemed very much pleased. These fellows are very proficient in the skirmish drill, but that is all they are good for. They are poor at marching in step, and it is not wondered at. They have had no music to march by, and, as soldiers, have been very much in the condition of “Topsy” in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” They are not “brought up,” but “growed.” They are however gaining every day, and I shall except to see soldiers in a month where I saw rowdies a month ago. The 17th [Maine] is improving every day and the Band is really splendid. We have a Brigade Dress Parade every afternoon. The Sharpshooters have the right of the Brigade."

Maddocks will not know how is rowdies were in a month, for on May 5th, Major Charles Maddocks would be taken prisoner in the Wilderness and on May 20, 1864 (a month later), he would be somewhere in route to a prison camp in Macon, Georgia.

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