Sunday, January 8, 2017

"Tenting on the old campground..."

The Third Michigan volunteer infantry has been encamped for two weeks near Falmouth Virginia.  Between campaigns Colonel Champlin sees to it that there is no idleness among the men and that each day is filled with much drill and the usual military routine.

At first light the drums beat reveille rousing the sleepers from their slumber.

Men begin to shuffle sleepily from their tents and build small breakfast fires. As always, black coffee and hardtack are the sole menu items.

Sentries gather under a shebang...

to be reminded by the corporal of the guard of the orders of the day.

As men attend to morning chores and duties...

officer's call forms outside of Colonel Champlin's tent.

The drums beat "sick call" and the usual malingerers line up outside the surgeons tent...

frequently to find out that the cure can be worse than the cause.

Save for the men on fatigue duty or restriction, the regiment marches off to the plain for a long day of drill and instruction.

The men of the Wolverine state are nearly all veterans and take the discomfort and tedium of camp life in their stride.

In formation by companies, a major of the staff reads out selected Articles of War as well as the plan of the day.

Following the usual preliminaries the companies undergo a rigorous inspection.

The ritual of "firing in nine times" has been drilled into the men daily for over a year, although generally in the Army of the Potomac no such attention is routinely directed toward training in marksmanship.

Colonel Champlin is an exception to that rule; when in camp he ensures that all men, under direction of senior sergeants, perform organized target practice at a range of 200 yards.

The results, over the months, have become admirable - reflected in the battlefield successes of the men of western Michigan.

After ten hours of drill and instruction, one event remains to be rare among the ranks of the Third Michigan.

The last formation of the day is a sobering one for the veterans and
a cautionary tale for the rookies.

Between a double rank by company, a sole drummer beats out "The Rouge's March".

Processing with an armed guard is a miscreant, his offence indicated by the rough sign around his neck and the letter "T" burned indelibly into his cheek with a branding iron.

Truly a "marked man", he is drummed out of the army and into an uncertain future.
A harsh lesson to all present.

Drill over, the men return to camp for a few brief hours of rest and relaxation.

Not all men are attentive to duty and even the storied Third Michigan has its shirkers.  Revealed here is a quartet of men detailed to fatigue duty who seem to be quenching a terrible thirst.

A foolish and inattentive sutler left his wagon unattended for just a moment...

but it proved enough time for one barrel of whiskey to be removed from his inventory.

This visitor from the 4th US artillery (battery B) will be much the worse for wear
at morning muster.

A lackluster sentry is swapping gossip with his messmates...

who all seem to suddenly have commitments elsewhere, leaving our sentry...

blissfully unaware that he is about to receive a whack across the shoulders. Tomorrow he'll be wearing a barrel rather than lounging on one.

In the moments before supper, messmates enjoy a quick game of checkers.

Supper time draws near and water and wood are collected for the meals of salt pork, hardtack, and the ubiquitous black coffee.

Stories are swapped of sweethearts and lost comrades.

Dan Butterfield's melody "Taps", borrowed from the V Corps, signals to the weary wolverines that the day is over and silence must prevail throughout the camp...

Until the beat of drums begins it all once again tomorrow.


Soldier on!