Never yell fire in a crowded 'forest'

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An Incident of the Ninth Corp.. Editor National Tribune:

I have been much interested in the many good articles published in your paper, but think a little more variety would be an improvement. Most of the yarns told are too serious. and I am sure a little more nonsense would be quite a relief to most of your readers. Possibly a description of some of the experiences of my regiment may interest some of your readers, especially the boys of the Ninth Corps, and particularly those of the 186th N. Y. We were a lot of green young fellows, liable to do most anything.

Upon nor arrival in Virginia we were put to work throwing up a line of earthworks, which did not meet with the approval of many of the boys, who put up a big kick saying they had not enlisted to work in a ditch with pick and shovel, but to fight the Johnnies. The demonstration was so general that we were transferred to the Ninth Corps and immediately sent to the front. We joined the corps at Peebles's farm about the 23d or 24th of October, 1864 pitching our camp In Poplar Grove, though I could never see why it was called this, for there was not a poplar tree within a mile.

About three days after our arrival we were sent to take part in that little fracas called the second Hatcher's Run and I was very much amused to see that the boys who had been the biggest kickers while, working in the trenches at City Point, made the most strenuous efforts to fortify this position against the enemy taking the pick or shovel without a word and working with the greatest speed until the works were completed.

But the incident I wish to relate took place upon our return to camp after this light. As the head of the column struck the camp some one shouted "Fire!" Of all the exhibitions of rifle practice you ever saw that was the greatest. Our regiment numbered about 800, and you can imagine what a terrible racket 800 Springfield rifles would make in an evergreen wood. Branches of trees came tumbling about us and it was understood that the military telegraph along the road was put out of business, being cut in several places by the rifle balls. Several animals and a negro belonging to the brigade of colored troops attached to the Ninth Corps were killed.

A number of the boys were punished and I assure you the act was never committed again by our regiment, though I have heard of it being done by other regiments. So many strange and unusual occurrences took place in the various camps during the war that I wish the comrades would tell us about them. Many things were, done by the boys out of pure fun or because they did not know any better, as was the case of our regiment in the act before related on their return from their first fight.-J. B. Fowler, Co. C. 186th N. Y.. Rochester. N. Y.

The National Tribune July 19, 1906
 
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