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which makes the strongest smoke of any fuel; and that, together with the brightness of the snow, so blinded the men, that they almost had to feel their way. Had the enemy come, we would have been powerless. Before the snow thawed, we were ordered to send off all the baggage, except what we could carry. And in another day, about the time the snow began to melt, we were ordered to take up our bed and walk through snow, mud and slush in the direction of Pine Bluff. The road ran along the river bank, which made it the most wearisome march of the war. The mud was knee deep in many places -- a number of men lost their shoes. John Meek plodding through mud, sick, was one of the number. This time, for once, during the war, I failed to make the march -- slept in a pea pen, six miles in rear of the Command. I over took them next day at 10:00 o'clock a.m. Went to the Capt. and got a mule, and had the least man in the Company detailed, so both could ride, to go back after John Meek, but just as he was starting, he came up barefooted, having lost his shoes in the mud.

Where I slept in the pea pen, there occurred a funny little incident -- the corn crib was also occupied by soldiers, until it was very much crowded, and caused two men to fall out, or disagree in the night. They cursed each other, and one challenged the other for a fight next morning; he accepted, but when morning came, behold, they were good friends, and had failed to recognize each other in the darkness. They were the worst plagued men, I ever saw, and they slipped away as easily as possible.

At the last named camp, we only remained one night after I came up. We marched about two miles above Pine Bluff, and camped for several weeks. Here John Meek obtained a furlough on account of disability, but finding himself too feeble to make the trip home, concluded to spend it in the country, near camp, and he obtained a place four miles from camp, at Dr. Ursery's. I tried to go with him, but could not get leave from the fact that I was able for duty; but got a convalescent man to go and stay a week. He returned and reported him better. In a few days, I obtained a permit to visit him. I found him more feeble than I anticipated. I took erysipelas [streptococcal skin infection with fever] on my arm that day, so I could not stay and wait on him. I had to return to camp for medical attention, so I got the authorities to send Gus Carpenter (the best nurse we had) to stay a week with him. He and I were first cousins and were reared near each other.

I will record the remedy the surgeon gave for the erysipelas, which was a poultice of common lye soap. It relieved me in a few hours.

While here at this camp, they shot two men, by the sentence of Court Martial, in an old field below Pine Bluff. In a few days afterward, they shot another a few miles from there. A young man, named Dale, a member of Col. Waterhouse's Regiment. This man was in such ill health, and so feeble, that I am satisfied he would have died in a few days.

The manner of execution by military authority, may be of interest to the young; so I will state that their grave is generally dug in some old field, where the army may be assembled, and they and their coffins are hauled there in a wagon, followed by the band playing some mournful piece;

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Life of John C. Porter and Sketch of His Experiences in the Civil War

John C. Porter 1874