I had intended to recap the results of our Ladies on the Battlefield poll, but Blogger's polls seem to have been eaten by google (here and elsewhere). So, instead, a short letter from camp--this weekend's activities and diversions whilst the regiment remained encamped in the wilds of Illinois.
My Dear Miss S--,
You are quite fortunate to have avoided the wretchedness of the weather these past few days, as it has been as hot and damp as the inside of a tea kettle. We were only briefly reprieved by the arrival of torrential thunderstorms which, with their impressive winds, nearly bowled over the dining fly of Mr. D--. It was saved at the last moment by several men from the regiment, who caught and restaked the canvas before it was blown away entirely, taking the tea set on the table with it.
I have discovered in my time here that the men are afflicted with an astonishingly virulent form of the vulgar habit of swearing. The Corporal is a particular embarassment, allowing streams of profanities to escape for even the most minor of inconveniences, taking even the Lord's name in vainglorious swearing on many occasions. Having procured from the chaplain a pamphlet entitled "An Admonition against Profane and Common Swearing," I felt that it would be most advantageous for this particular young man to read its contents. Unfortunately, the poor lad's education is as poorly developped as his restraint, and he is quite incapable of reading the more strenuous passages in the book. So, despite the instructions on the pamphlet cover that the material be placed privately in the hands of those so addicted to swearing, my husband the Lieutenant gave me permission to read the most rivetting portions of the pamphlet aloud to his company after Church Parade on Sunday, and I was helped in this endeavor by the Sergeant, who had also been quite ashamed of the men's verbal conduct over the preceding months. They were all quite ashamed by the time I had finished, and were, for the remainder of the day, at least, were quite improved in the restraint of their tongues.
In an effort to curtail the lassitude brought on by the onslaught of heat, the Sergeant also suggested a most amusing lark--to train all the ladies in camp on the artillery drill. Two of the privates' wives have arrived in camp for the duration of our stay outside their city C--, one of whom brought her two sisters, which has caused quite a stir in the camp. I am not quite sure it is wise to permit unmarried ladies in camp, but my husband the Lieutenant assures me his men are known for naught but the most decent behaviour around Ladies. We shall see. Regardless, the Sergeant placed us all on the cannon, and ran us through our posts so thoroughly that I would wager we could fare well enough in an artillery duel, though we have yet, of course, to experience the thunder of the cannon in action. He insisted that I, as Lieutenant's wife, give the commands after being trained to do so, and I must confess that I did not muddle them in the slightest--perhaps I am a military lady after all? Our little farce earned us many laughs from the other companies and some scorn from a few of the more serious of the officers, but my husband thought it a merry joke.
Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,