"Didn't think they'd allow gambling in so good a regiment as the 200th Ind.," remarked Alf Russell, who was a devoted attendant on Sunday school.
"Don't allow it. It's strictly prohibited."
"But I thought that in the army you carried out orders, if you had to kill men."
"Well, there's orders and orders," said Shorty, philosophically. "Most of 'em you obey to the last curl on the letter R, and do it with a jump.
Some of 'em you obey only when you have to, and take your chances at improving the State o' Tennessee by buildin' roads and diggin' up stumps in the parade ground if you're ketched not mindin'. Of them kind is the orders agin gamblin'."
"Shorty, stop talkin' to the boys about gamblin'. I won't have it,"
commanded Si. "Boys, you mustn't play cards on no account, especially with older men. It's strictly agin orders, besides which I'll break any o' your necks that I ketch at it. You must take care o' your money and send it home. Forward, march."
They went up the road from the John Ross house until they came to that turning off to the right by a sweet gum and a sycamore, as indicated by Gen. Sherman, and then began a labored climbing of the rough, stony way across Mission Ridge. Si's and Shorty's eagerness to get to the regiment increased so with their nearness to it that they went at a terrific pace in spite of all obstacles.
"Please, Sarjint," begged Gid Mackall, as they halted for an instant near a large rock, "need we go quite so fast? We're awfully anxious to git to the regiment, too, but I feel like as if I'd stove two inches offen my legs already against them blamed rocks."
"I can't keep up. I can't keep up at all," whimpered little Pete Skidmore. "You are just dead certain to lose me."
"Pull out just a little more, boys," Si said pleasantly. "We must be almost there. It can't be but a little ways now."
"Close up there in front!" commanded Shorty. "Keep marchin' distance--19 inches from back to breast. Come on, Pete. Gi' me your hand; I'll help you along."
"I ain't no kid, to be led along by the hand," answered Pete sturdily, refusing the offer. "I'll keep up somehow. But you can't expect my short legs to cover as much ground as them telegraph poles o' your'n."
The summit of the ridge was crossed and a number of camps appeared along the slope.
"Wonder which one o' them is the 200th Injianny's?" said Si to Shorty.
"I thought the 200th Injianny was so much finer rijimint than any other that you'd know it at sight," said Harry Joslyn, with a shade of disappointment in his voice.
"I would know it if I was sure I was lookin' at it," answered Shorty.
"But they seem to have picked out all the best rijimints in the army to go into camp here this side o' Mission Ridge. Mebbe they want to make the best show to the enemy."
"That looks like the camp o' the 200th Injianny over there," said Si, pointing to the right, after scanning the mountain-side. "See all them red shirts hangin' out to dry? That's Co. A; they run to red flannel shirts like a nigger barber to striped pants."
"No," answered Shorty; "that's that Ohio rijimint, made up o' rollin'
mill men and molders. They all wear red flannel shirts. There's the 200th Injianny just down there to the left, with all them men on extra duty on the parade ground. I know just the gang. Same old crowd; I kin almost tell their faces. They've bin runnin' guard, as usual, and comin'
back full o' apple-jack and bad language and desire to give the camp a heavy coat o' red paint. Old McBiddle has tried to convince 'em that he was still runnin' the rijimint, and his idees wuz better 'n theirs, and there they are. There's Jim Monaghan handlin' that pick as if he was in the last stages o' consumption. There's Barney' Maguire, pickin' up three twigs 'bout as big as lead pencils, and solemnly carryin' 'em off the parade ground as if they wuz fence-rails. I'll just bet a month's pay that's Denny Murphy marchin' up and down there with his knapsack filled with Tennessee dornicks. Denny's done that feather-weight knapsack trick so often that his shoulders have corns and windgalls on 'em, and they always keep a knapsack packed for him at the guard-house ready for one of his Donnybrook fair songs and dances. Mighty good boy, Denny, but he kin git up a red-hotter riot on his share of a canteen of apple-jack than any three men in the rijimint. That feller tied to a tree is Tony Wilson. He's refused to dig trenches agin. O, I tell you, they're a daisy lot."
"Shorty," admonished Si. "You mustn't talk that way before the boys.
What'll they think o' the rijimint?"
"Think of it?" said Shorty, recovering himself. "They've got to think of it as the very best rijimint that ever stood in line-of-battle. I'll punch the head of any man that says anything to the contrary. Every man in it is a high-toned, Christian gentleman. Mind that, now, every one of you brats, and don't you allow nobody to say otherwise."
"No," said Si, after further study of the camps, "neither o' them 's the 200th Injianny. They've both got brass bands. Must be new rijimints."
"Say," said Shorty, "there's a royal lookin' rooster standin' up in front of that little house there. Looks as if the house was headquarters for some highroller, and him doin' Orderly duty. If he knows as much as he's got style, he knows more'n old Sherman himself. Go up and ask him."
It was the first time in all their service that either of them had seen a soldier in the full dress prescribed by the United States Army regulations, and this man had clearly won the coveted detail of Orderly by competition with his comrades as being the neatest, best-dressed man in the squad. He was a tall, fine-looking young man, wearing white gloves and a paper collar, with a spotless dress coat buttoned to the chin, his shoes shining like mirrors, his buttons and belt-plates like new gold, and his regulation hat caught up on the left side with a feather and a gilt eagle. The front of his hat was a mass of gilt letters and figures and a bugle, indicating his company, regiment and State. On his breast was a large, red star.
"Jehosephat," sighed Shorty. "I wish I had as many dollars as he has style. Must be one of old Abe's body guards, sent out here with Grant's commission as Lieutenant-General. Expect that red star passes him on the railroads and at the hotels. I'd like to play him two games out o'
three, cut-throat, for it. I could use it in my business."
"No," said the Orderly to Si, with a strong Yankee twang, "I don't know a mite about the 200th Ind. Leastwise, I don't remember it. Everybody down here's from Indiana, Ohio or Illinois. It's one eternal mix, like Uncle Jed Stover's fish--couldn't tell shad, herring nor sprat from one another. It seems to me more like a 'tarnal big town-meeting than an army. All talk alike, and have got just as much to say; all act alike.
Can't tell where an Indiana regiment leaves off and Ohio one begins; can't tell officer from private, everybody dresses as he pleases, and half of them don't wear anything to tell where they belong. There wasn't a corps badge in the whole army when we come here."
"Corps badges--what's them?" asked Si.
"Corps badges? Why this is one," said the man, tapping his red star.
"This shows I belong to the Twelfth Corps--best corps in the Army of the Potomac, and the First Division--best division in the corps. We have to wear them so's to show our General which are his men, and where they be.
Haven't you no corps badges?"
"Our General don't have to tag us," said Shorty, who had come up and listened. "He knows all of us that's worth knowin', and that we'll go wherever he orders us, and stay there till he pulls us off. Our corps badge's a full haversack and Springfield rifle sighted up to 1,200 yards."
"Well, you do fight in a most amazing way," said the Orderly, cordially.
"We never believed it of such rag-tag and bobtail until we saw you go up over Mission Ridge. You were all straggling then, but you were straggling toward the enemy. Never saw such a mob, but it made the rebels sick."
"Well, if you'd seen us bustin' your old friend Long-street at Snodgrass Hill, you'd seen some hefightin'. We learned him that he wasn't monkeyin' with the Army o' the Potomac, but with fellers that wuz down there for business, and not to wear paper collars and shine their buttons. He come at us seven times before we could git that little fact through his head, and we piled up his dead like cordwood."
"Well, you didn't do any better than we did with Early's men at Gulp's Hill, if we do wear paper collars," returned the other proudly. "After we got through with Johnston's Division you couldn't see the ground in front for the dead and wounded. And none of your men got up on Lookout Mountain any quicker'n we did. Paper collars and red stars showed you the way right along."
"My pardner's only envious because he hain't no paper collars nor fine clothes," said Si, conciliatorily. "I've often told him that if he'd leave chuck-a-luck alone and save his money he'd be able to dress better'n Gen. Grant."
"Gen. Grant's no great shakes as a dresser," returned the other. "I was never so surprised in my life as one day when I was Orderly at Division Headquarters, and a short man with a red beard, and his clothes spattered with mud, rode up, followed by one Orderly, and said, 'Orderly, tell the General that Gen. Grant would like to see him.' By looking hard I managed to make out three stars on his shoulder. Why, if Gen. McClellan had been coming you'd have seen him for a mile before he got there."
"If Gen. Grant put on as much style in proportion to what he done as McClellan, you could see him as far as the moon," ventured Shorty.
"Well, we're not gettin' to the rijimint," said the impatient Si. "Le's rack on. So long, Orderly. Come and see us in the 200th Injianny and we'll treat you white. Forward, march!"
"There's a couple of boys comin' up the road. Probably they kin tell us where the rijimint is," suggested Shorty.
The two boys were evidently recruits of some months' standing, but not yet considered seasoned soldiers.
"No," they said, "there is no 200th Ind. here now. It was here yesterday, and was camped right over there, where you see that old camp, but before noon came an order to march with three days' rations and 40 rounds. It went out the Lafayette Road, and the boys seemed to think they wuz goin' out to Pigeon Mountain to begin the general advance o'
the army, and wuz mightily tickled over it."
"Gone away," said Si, scanning the abandoned camp sadly; "everybody couldn't have gone. They must've left somebody behind that wasn't able to travel, and somebody to take care o' 'em. They must've left some rijimintal stuff behind and a guard over it."
"No," the boys assured him. "They broke up camp completely. All that wasn't able to march was sent to the hospital in Chattynoogy. Every mite of stuff was loaded into wagons and hauled off with 'em. They never expected to come back."
"That camp ground don't look as it'd bin occupied for two weeks," said Shorty. "See the ruts made by the rain in the parade ground and the general look o' things. I don't believe the rijimint only left there yisterday. It don't look as if the 200th Injianny ever had sich a camp.
It's more like one o' the camps o' them slack-twisted Kaintucky and Tennessee rijimints."
"If Oi didn't belave that Si Klegg and Sharty was did intoirely, and up home in Injianny, Oi'd be sure that was their v'ices," said a voice from the thicket by the side of the road. The next instant a redheaded man, with a very distinct map of Ireland in his face, leaped out, shouting:
"Si and Sharty, ye thieves of the worruld, whin did ye get back, and how are yez? Howly saints, but Oi'm glad to see yez."
"Jim Monaghan, you old Erin-go-bragh," said Shorty, putting his arm around the man's neck, "may I never see the back o' my neck, but I'm glad to see you. I was just talkin' about you. I thought I recognized you over there in one of the camps, at your favorite occupation of extry dooty, cleanin' up the parade ground."