In a few short hours (here on the east coast anyway) it will be 2013. I hope the New Year finds all the readers and visitors of this site healthy and happy.
To mark the occasion I’m posting an account of the 17th’s New Year’s Day 1864 celebration. The previous year had found the regiment suffering through the winter of 1862-63, dealing with an aborted officer’s “mutiny”, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg (and the death of 2 lieutenant-colonels at those battles), and the breakup of their XI Corps. It was a long, hard year for Connecticut men (and boys, really). New Year’s Day in South Carolina was markedly different. From an account by George Partric of Company F, here is 17thcvi.org’s New Year’s 2013 present:
“The first day of January, 1864, found the Seventeenth still on Folly Island. There was no drill nor other duty excepting guard, and the day was given up to idleness and other enjoyment, the chief feature being the examination of the boxes sent us by the soldiers’ aid societies in Bridgeport and Danbury.
A barrel of genuine Connecticut apple juice in camp was a striking feature. Such a token of good will from the North was received by a George A. Partric, of Company F. It came from his Norwalk friends, and he describes its hearty reception as follows:
“I was on camp guard duty when the barrel arrived. When I came off duty I saw the barrel being rolled by Sergeant St. John and several others toward my tent. I told them to take it to the company’s eating house. They did so, and we immediately tapped it. The cider had been made about three weeks, and was found to be in prime condition. The boys wouldn’t partake of it until I would consent to take compensation for it. We finally agreed on five cents a quart for the juice until a certain number of gallons were gone, and then the balance should be free. The precious liquid then began to flow from the barrel and down the throats of the men in blue, and, as it was the pure juice, the men were loud in its praise. As the news spread some of the 25th Ohio boys heard of it, and they came on to test the virtue of Connecticut apple juice. They were made heartily welcome, and were as loud as the others in praise of the stuff. As we had the night to ourselves, we made a night of it—we and the cider. The cider had had no opportunity to work until now, and it put in its best licks. Perhaps no cider was ever more industrious than was this. As the night advanced the cider in the barrel lowered, and the spirits of the boys rose. There were songs, dances on the table, toasts and applause. In the morning the interior of the cook house presented a very discouraging spectacle.”