Great American Soldiers on Poor Rations
The text below is taken from Judge D.F. Pugh’s address at the dedication of the Camp Chase Cemetery in 1902. He was at the time Past Department Commander of the GAR of Ohio, and spoke of the valor and dedication of the brave, half-fed and barefooted former adversaries from the American South.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Great American Soldiers on Poor Rations:
“That the Confederate soldiers were gallant, that they were hard fighters, can be proved by every Union soldier who struggled against them in the fiery front of battle.
After the battle of Missionary Ridge I was attracted by the extreme youthful appearance of a dead Tennessee Confederate soldier who belonged to a regiment of Cheatham’s Division, against which we had fought the
day before. He was not over fifteen years of age and very slender. He was clothed in a cotton suit and was barefooted – barefooted!—on that cold and wet 24th day of November, 1863.
I examined his haversack. For a day’s rations there were a handful of black beans, a few slices of sorghum, and a half dozen roasted acorns. That was an infinitely poor outfit for marching and fighting, but that Tennessee soldier had made it answer his purpose. The Confederates who, half fed, looked bravely into our faces for many long, agonizing weeks over the ramparts of Vicksburg; the remnants of Lee’s magnificent army, which, fed on raw corn and persimmons, fluttered their heroic rags and interposed their bodies for a year between Grant’s army and Richmond, only a few miles away – all these men were great soldiers. I pity the American who cannot be proud of their valor and endurance.
We can never challenge the fame of those men whose skill and valor made them the idols of the Confederate army. The fame of Lee, Jackson, the Johnston’s, Gordon, Longstreet, the Hills, Hood and Stuart, and many
thousands of noncommissioned and private soldiers of the Confederate armies, whose names are not mentioned on historic pages, can never be tarnished by the carping criticisms of the narrow and shallow-minded.”
(Judge Pugh’s Address, Confederate Veteran, July 1902, page 295)