Blood and Bees at Malvern Hill

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NH Civil War Gal

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This is from a larger story called "Blood and Feathered" at Malvern Hill by Brigha Buswell, from a Civil War Times, April 1996.

"..... For over 3 1/2 days we had not had one particle of any kind of food to eat. We subsisted entirely on coffee of which fortunately we had a plentiful supply. Twice during this time we had an opportunity to build a fire and boil it. The rest of the time we ate it raw, grinding it as fine as possible with our teeth, swallowing as best we could from our canteens. If any of my readers think this might be an agreeable operation let them try it once on a small scale and they will soon be able to understand what it would be like when taken at wholesale as in our case we were compelled to do.

Speaking of water, I will say the weather was intensely hot and dry during all of those seven terrible days..... Fortunately there were many small streams or creeks running through that section of the country and as we paddled through one of these we would take our caps and scoop up and drink it from this receptacle , scarcely halting on our march. Remember, 50,000 men and horses or more had passed through the same stream ahead of us so this statement will be sufficient to indicate to the imagination of my readers what the water was like.

It was not too thin to say the least.

About 2:00 pm of June 30th we arrived within a few miles of the James River and rested awhile but as I have just stated there was no rest for us. Our first need was to satisfy our hunger and although somewhat weak and exhausted we were still able to hunt for food. At no great distance away we were fortunate to enough to run onto a granary containing several tons of corn meal. Rapidly filling our haver-sacks we returned to camp eating it up with our tongues in much the same manner as cattle and horses would do. We made another trip soon and ran into 50 hives of bees. We demolished them with the butts of our rifles, tearing the honey from the old fashioned boxes or hives with our hands regardless of bees or anything else. With our faces and hands covered with bee stings and honey dripping all over us from head to foot we must have presented a comical appearance as we returned to our comrades among whom we divided the luxury we had obtained. Towards evening after partaking of a hearty meal of warm mush and hot coffee we lay down to rest...the garments covering my body consisted of one heavy woolen shirt, army blue pants, one dark blue army blouse a pair of socks, a pair of shoes and a cap. The remainder of my wardrobe consisted of the mentioned little black rubber blanket which I spread on the ground and laid myself on for a long night's sleep. We were fortunate not to be called out during the night but rested sleeping soundly until daylight. It does not take strong, healthy boys of eighteen and upward long to recuperate and regain their wasted energies and we awoke refresed and ready for the day's work ahead of us.

During those terrible days of continuous fighting and marching without food we would every morning draw our belts a notch which seemed to increase our strength in a way that gave us the ability to march easier. I have aimed to relate the facts as I remember them without exaggeration.
 
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NH Civil War Gal

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I can't imagine what these guys went through either AND I can't imagine they didn't get a belly ache from drinking the water that 50,000 horses and men tramped through, but there it is and apparently they didn't.
 
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Bruce Vail

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The mention of the fouled water reminded me of reading Sears "To the Gates of Richmond."

During the battle of Seven Days some 150,000 men were all squeezed into a small area just east of Richmond with no sanitary facilities to speak of. Thousands of horses made their own additions to the sanitary disaster. Factor in that it was intolerably hot in the swampy lowlands, and it is no surprise that the Union army suffered terribly from sickness.
 

kholland

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View attachment 273672

This is from a larger story called "Blood and Feathered" at Malvern Hill by Brigha Buswell, from a Civil War Times, April 1996.

"..... For over 3 1/2 days we had not had one particle of any kind of food to eat. We subsisted entirely on coffee of which fortunately we had a plentiful supply. Twice during this time we had an opportunity to build a fire and boil it. The rest of the time we ate it raw, grinding it as fine as possible with our teeth, swallowing as best we could from our canteens. If any of my readers think this might be an agreeable operation let them try it once on a small scale and they will soon be able to understand what it would be like when taken at wholesale as in our case we were compelled to do.

Speaking of water, I will say the weather was intensely hot and dry during all of those seven terrible days..... Fortunately there were many small streams or creeks running through that section of the country and as we paddled through one of these we would take our caps and scoop up and drink it from this receptacle , scarcely halting on our march. Remember, 50,000 men and horses or more had passed through the same stream ahead of us so this statement will be sufficient to indicate to the imagination of my readers what the water was like.

It was not too thin to say the least.

About 2:00 pm of June 30th we arrived within a few miles of the James River and rested awhile but as I have just stated there was no rest for us. Our first need was to satisfy our hunger and although somewhat weak and exhausted we were still able to hunt for food. At no great distance away we were fortunate to enough to run onto a granary containing several tons of corn meal. Rapidly filling our haver-sacks we returned to camp eating it up with our tongues in much the same manner as cattle and horses would do. We made another trip soon and ran into 50 hives of bees. We demolished them with the butts of our rifles, tearing the honey from the old fashioned boxes or hives with our hands regardless of bees or anything else. With our faces and hands covered with bee stings and honey dripping all over us from head to foot we must have presented a comical appearance as we returned to our comrades among whom we divided the luxury we had obtained. Towards evening after partaking of a hearty meal of warm mush and hot coffee we lay down to rest...the garments covering my body consisted of one heavy woolen shirt, army blue pants, one dark blue army blouse a pair of socks, a pair of shoes and a cap. The remainder of my wardrobe consisted of the mentioned little black rubber blanket which I spread on the ground and laid myself on for a long night's sleep. We were fortunate not to be called out during the night but rested sleeping soundly until daylight. It does not take strong, healthy boys of eighteen and upward long to recuperate and regain their wasted energies and we awoke refresed and ready for the day's work ahead of us.

During those terrible days of continuous fighting and marching without food we would every morning draw our belts a notch which seemed to increase our strength in a way that gave us the ability to march easier. I have aimed to relate the facts as I remember them without exaggeration.
And the Yankees had a little "bee battle" 2 1/2 months later at Antietam. Here is an excerpt from my post a few years ago:

The 132nd Pennsylvania Volunteers were mustered into service only about a month before they found themselves in the Maryland campaign. Because the regiment was a rookie unit, Antietam would soon become its baptism of fire. As the 132nd was advancing on the Roulette farm, a shot from a Confederate battery slammed into the Roulette farm yard, hitting some bee houses and releasing the angry critters. Some men dropped their muskets and ran into nearby fields, while others slapped their clothes and batted at the angry honey bees.

In the meantime, more Confederate artillery shells and bullets were causing confusion among the Union troops. Brigade commanders were quickly concerned that the hysteria that gripped the 132nd could rapidly spread to wholesale panic among the other troops. An order of "double quick" allowed the Pennsylvanians to advance past the Roulette farm and eventually outdistance the bees. As the regiment advanced across open fields toward the Sunken Road, the Confederates opened with a terrific volley of musketry that brought down many of the Union line. With no cover from the fire, the 132nd was ordered to lie down and crawl toward the Rebel lines. Exposed to musketry, artillery fire, and the choking smoke from black powder, some of the 132nd also "suffered from welts left by William Roulettes' angry bees. The 132nd Pennsylvania felt the full fury of two enemies that September day in 1862.


https://civilwartalk.com/threads/bee-battle-at-the-roulette-farm.73233/#post-475176
 
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