Recollections of Co. H, 148th NY State Volunteers
The Rear Guard
Published in Neighbor's Home Mail, August 1874, page 117
All remember a few days after our arrival at Suffolk, VA, [October, 1862], we were ordered to fall in. There had been some sharp work with our forces and the enemy at the Blackwater, and the order came at night. Now whether we were ordered only to try our mettle and see how many would be taken suddenly sick, or whether there was any real danger expected, I have never been able to ascertain, but one thing I do know, that when the order came every man as far as heard from leaped to his place in the ranks. All of our company excepting the laundress [Mary Gahan] and cook were armed and equipped, ready for anything, and we expected the cook who was a tough, healthy, strong man for his age, to look after our personal property while we were gone. But alas! Poor Sylvester was either very sleepy or awfully scared, for he went into his tent and covered up so completely that no one could detect any one there.
Not so our brave and gallant laundress; if, dear reader, you could have been there and cast your eye up to the head of the Company street, you have seen "Molly" (a true picture of Molly Pitcher of Monmouth) with brawny arms wielding a club of immense proportions, daring "The bloody southern spalpeens to come on, a whole regiment of them and she would make jelly of the whole beggarly crew." So while we were out as we supposed at the front expecting a sudden attack, watching every brush and quivering leaf, our faithful "Molly" was pacing the Company street with hair streaming and gleaming eyes, the very picture of the furies. Whether she would have stood her ground had a gray coat made its appearance of course is only a matter of speculation, but we are convinced that she would do what she said if she had the power, judging from several encounters she had afterwards.
The Regiment returned to camp the next day, not having occasion to fire a shot, not withstanding the many stories that were written home describing the struggle on that eventful night, and right here I would observe that many boys seemed to glory in writing home of what danger and hairbreadth escapes they had been through, when they had not as yet fired a gun or seen a gray coat; but such was the case as many can testify.
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