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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

October 10, 1864

Georgia Soldiers Got Some Rare Fresh Beef

A Georgia soldier in Virginia wrote home to his wife, hoping she was safe in Georgia, then relating the following tale; while humorous it also shows the length soldiers would go to get some fresh meat to eat.

“…We had a rich beef or cow scrape just before I left the sharpshooters which I do not think I told you about. About an hour by sun one bright beautiful morning, a fine fat young cow was seen crossing the yankee pickette line, and making direct for our line, with a high head and quick step looking as wild as a buck. She halted in front of our outposts or videttes but two of our boys anxious to obtain some fat yankee beef succeeded by getting around her in forcing her to cross. They then yelled at her and on she came to our line in full tilt. Several of the boys gathered their guns, determined not to let her pass unmolested, myself among the rest. Just before she got up to our line the sharp crack of a rifle rang through the air, but as she was running, the ball missed her and the noise only made her more wild and quickened her pace. Bang! Bang! Crack! Crack! went another and another rifle but on she went or came; crossing our line and going to the rear. I shot at her about 150 yds. in full speed, the ball passing just over her shoulders and entering the ground beyond, making the dust rise but getting no beef. By this time several of the Sharpshooters from each Regt. were after her. Crack! Crack! went the sharp ring of the rifles till I think about the 20th shot she fell headlong to the ground. She was immediately butchered and divided among all the Sharpshooters from the Brigade, each man getting a large hunk of tender fat beef. Now the mournful part of the tune had not come. Up to that time it was all excitement and fine fun for us. The Col. commanding the Regt. in our rear, thinking sure we were attacked, had his men to Arms yet in the trenches wait patiently the approaching conflict as he thought. As no Yanks came he sent down to know the cause of the alarm. Learning the cause he sent for all that fired to appear before him immediately. I being Sergt. had to carry the squad up and myself with them. There were 6 of us from our Regt. being arraigned in his august presence, he called on me for full detail, which I gave, closing with a plea of defence, as we did it under excitement, etc. He gave us a long lecture, telling us he did not mind our getting the cow but the fuss we made. He sent us back and that night sent us word that he would acquit us but we must do so no more. The boys said they would not unless another cow came over. …” Source: Jeffrey C. Lowe and Sam Hodges (eds.), Letters to Amanda: The Civil War Letters of Marion Hill Fitzpatrick, Army of Northern Virginia (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1998), pp.176-177.