Friday, September 23, 2011

"A more precious set of villains I never saw..."

Today at Brandy Station: September 23, 1863

In 1862 and 1862, the majority of volunteers who enlisted in the Federal armies did so out of patriotism, civic pride and sense of duty. By 1863, those men were gone. But still; cities, counties and states still had an obligation to keep the ranks filled. Not wanting a draft, local and state governments turned to bounty's to entice men to join.

Unfortunately, many joined to collect the bounty and deserted at the first chance, usually before they departed their home station. If not then, while in transit from the north to Washington. If they still had no opportunity, then on the train from Alexandria to the army in Culpeper and Fauquier Counties.

Some actually arrived in camps. They were not wanted nor liked by those who had been through the hard 1863 campaigns of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

In a diary entry, Private John Haley describes his first meeting of a new set of recruits to the 17th Maine. The diary can be found in: The Rebel Yell and Yankee Hurrah: the Civil War Journal of a Maine Volunteer: Private John W. Haley, 17th Maine Regiment.

September 17: When we returned to Camp, we found a bunch of recruits had arrived and made themselves a very familiar with our tents and rations. They eyed us keenly, spoiling for a fight when we found out the extent of their depredations, we were more than willing to oblige. A more precious set of villains I never saw, reckless bounty jumpers and cut throats scoured up between New York and the British provinces. Doubtless they had enlisted several times and jumped a bounty on each occasion. They have found the right Regiment, if they wanted trouble! However, there was no help for it, and we must make the best of a bad matter.

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