Saturday, November 13, 2010

Off to War!

Lately, I have been perusing Michael E. Banasik, ed., Missouri in 1861: The Civil War Letters of Franc B. Wilkie, Newspaper Correspondent (Iowa City: Camp Pope Bookshop, 2001) that is part of the Camp Pope Bookshop’s Unwritten Chapters of the Civil War West of the River series. Franc B. Wilkie, an accomplished journalist, traveled south to Missouri with the Washington Guards and the Governor’s Greys, two militia companies from Dubuque, Iowa. While cruising down the Mississippi River in April 1861, Wilkie reported on the humorous behavior of these Iowans:

“The Greys took their stations on one side of the cabin, the Guards the other….Profound silence soon covered the whole boat, till suddenly some ‘rough’ on the floor gave a tremendous ‘Baa!’ Another at the other end responded, then the chorus was taken up in all parts, and in three seconds the whole crowd was Baa-ing with the force of a thousand calf-power. So it went till day-light. There were cat voices, sheep voices, and coon voices. There were goslings and crowings. There were fellows there who could beat any jackass on a bray, and give him fifty. In short there were more noises than ever were made or ever will be again, unless all jackasses, mules, gobblers, roosters, cats, coons, and cattle in creation are assembled for a grand concert. Nobody slept; some laughed a little, others swore a great deal, and thus wore away the night” (p. 9).

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