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Date Posted: 20:10:51 11/20/06 Mon
Author: Mrs. Lawson
Subject: A Pot of Hominy

From time to time, I'll be posting some accounts to get you in the proper frame of mind for this little walk in the woods..........

With thanks to Vicki Betts, 'cause goodness knows I don't spend nearly as much time in libraries as she does.......

Poe, Clarence, comp.. True Tales of the South at War: How Soldiers
Fought and Families Lived, 1861-1865. Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1961, pp. 90-92.

More often than not, however, the scarcity of food was no laughing
matter as is illustrated in this portrait of weary soldiers returning
from battle. This reminiscence was handed down to Mr. Rance J. McLeroy
of Natchitoches, Louisiana, by his grandmother, Mrs. Mary Higgenbotham,
and he writes: "Sixty years after that memorable Saturday afternoon, I
have seen big hot tears come down Grandma's cheeks as she told of this
incident:"

'Twas now Saturday afternoon of April [1864] and we heard the
roar of cannon at Mansfield the afternoon before and received rumors
that a desperate battle had been fought. We knew not whether we'd see
the Yankee army or our army before the day was over. Then about 1:30 we
heard the low rumble of drums in the direction of Grove Hill and in a
few minutes the sound of marching feet. The children ran to the house
from the bend of the road excitedly telling us, "There they come-there
come the soldiers!" Just as they told us we saw a column of ragged,
weary, gray-clad men marching in columns of four, coming around the bend
of the road. Walker's Texas Infantry Brigade [Walker's Texas Division]
had fought at Moss' Lane and the Bridwell place the afternoon before.
They halted in front of our house, then stacked arms in the road and
were told to "fall out" for a fifteen minute rest.

Some had blood-stained bandages on their heads-some had an arm
suspended in a bloody bandage or wore bandages on their necks of
shoulders. Many of them fell prostrate on the ground, too exhausted to
move. Others staggered toward the house to beg for a bite to eat. The
yard and house were soon full of the tired and haggard men-some with the
most haunted look in their eyes I have ever seen. She (my mother) gave
them all the leftovers from dinner (in fact we had been too excited toe
at any dinner at all) but still they kept begging, "Mom, save some for
me. I haven't had a bite since Thursday evening. Please, just one
bite."

Next Ma went out to the backyard followed by dozens of ragged,
bearded men. Our big old washpot (probably a hundred years old) was
full of freshly cooked lye hominy, warm and ready to eat. So she began
issuing it out with a large wooden cooking spoonful to each man. Some
of them took it in the crown of their dirty hats, some in their bare,
dirty hands, some in cups or on pieces of boards they had picked up. All of
them ate it right there like a pack of hungry wolves.

When the hominy was gone she next went to the smokehouse, which
contained the family's meager supply of bacon for the coming months.
There she began cutting up sides of bacon into portions half as large as
your hand, handing a piece to each man as with tears in their eyes they
begged for it. An officer on horseback at the road sent his orderly to
the house to beg for a piece of bacon for him and the man begged Ma to
"please give him some bacon for his Captain." Before the man reached
the gate on his way back with the precious morsel the officer galloped
up to the fence and was leaning far over into the yard when the orderly
reached him. The look of hunger and despair in his face and eyes was
something that has haunted me ever since that day. Grabbing the piece
of meat he tore into it with his teeth at once.

Soon the smokehouse as well as the washpot was empty. But the
men seemed reluctant to leave, crowding around Ma to thank her again and
again and to invoke the blessings of Heaven upon her. Some handed her a
dollar bill, some two dollars or even five (Confederate money) and
others hugged her as they left the yard. They had marched all night
Thursday night, marched and fought all day Friday, then buried their
dead at Moss' Lane during that night-all with only a few hours sleep and
without a bite to eat since Thursday.

A blast of the bugle soon brought the men back to the road where
they secured their rifles and quickly lined up. Then the order rang out
sharp and clear, "Attention! F-o-h-r-w-a-r-d-M-a-h-r-c-h!" Then the
order, "Double quick!-M-a-h-r-c-h!" Soon they disappeared in a cloud of
dust in the direction of Pleasant Hill.

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