Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll Shoot You Tomorrow

A quote from the passage I just read in Shelby Foote's second volume on the recent unpleasantness.
The ground in front of the sunken road, formerly carpeted blue, had taken on a mottled hue, with patches of startling white. Binoculars disclosed the cause. Many of the Federal dead had been stripped stark naked by shivering Confederates, who had crept out in the darkness to scavenge the warm clothes from the bodies of men who needed them no longer... No one assigned to one of the burial details ever forgot the horror of what he saw; for here, up-close and life-size, was an effective antidote to the long-range, miniature pageantry of Saturday's battle as it had been viewed from the opposing heights.

Up close, you heard the groans and smelled the blood... Not even amid such scenes as this, however, did the irrepressible rebel soldier's wry sense of honour desert him. One, about to remove a shoe from what he though was a Federal corpse, was surprised to see the 'corpse' lift its head and look at him reproachfully. "Beg pardon sir," the would-be scavenger said, carefully lowering the leg; "I thought you have gone above." Another butternut scarecrow, reprimanded by a Union officer for violating the terms of the truce by picking up a fine Belgian rifle that had been dropped between the lines, looked his critic up and down, pausing for a long stare at the polished boots the officer was wearing. "Never mind," he said dryly. "I'll shoot you tomorrow and git them boots."
This is Foote's description of the aftermath of Fredericksburg.

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