Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field eBook

Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

On the morning of the 11th of July I left St. Louis, to join General Lyon in the Southwest.  It was a day’s ride by rail to Rolla, the terminus of the Southwest Branch of the Pacific road.  I well recollect the strange and motley group that filled the cars on that journey.  There were a few officers and soldiers en route to join their comrades in the field.  Nearly all of them were fresh from civil life.  They wore their uniforms uneasily, as a farmer’s boy wears his Sunday suit.  Those who carried sabers experienced much inconvenience when walking, on account of the propensity of those weapons to get between their legs.  In citizen’s dress, at my side, sat an officer of the old army, who looked upon these newly-made warriors with much contempt, mingled with an admiration of their earnestness.  After an outburst of mild invective, he pronounced a well-merited tribute to their patriotism.

“After all,” said he, “they are as good as the material the Rebels have for their army.  In some respects, they are better.  The Northern blood is cold; the Southern is full of life and passion.  In the first onset, our enemies will prove more impetuous than we, and will often overpower us.  In the beginning of the struggle, they will prove our superiors, and may be able to boast of the first victories.  But their physical energy will soon be exhausted, while ours will steadily increase.  Patience, coolness, and determination will be sure to bring us the triumph in the end.  These raw recruits, that are at present worthless before trained soldiers, distrusting themselves as we distrust them, will yet become veterans, worthy to rank with the best soldiers of the Old World.”

The civilian passengers on a railway in Missouri are essentially different from the same class in the East.  There are very few women, and the most of these are not as carefully dressed as their Oriental sisters.  Their features lack the fineness that one observes in New York and New England.  The “hog and hominy,” the general diet of the Southwest, is plainly perceptible in the physique of the women.  The male travelers, who are not indigenous to the soil, are more roughly clothed and more careless in manner than the same order of passengers between New York and Boston.  Of those who enter and leave at way-stations, the men are clad in that yellow, homespun material known as “butternut.”  The casual observer inclines to the opinion that there are no good bathing-places where these men reside.  They are inquisitive, ignorant, unkempt, but generally civil.  The women are the reverse of attractive, and are usually uncivil and ignorant.  The majority are addicted to smoking, and generally make use of a cob-pipe.  Unless objection is made by some passenger, the conductors ordinarily allow the women to indulge in this pastime.

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Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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