Army Letters From An Officer's Wife, 1871-1888, By Frances M.A. Roe

 -  It seemed a long
time before the companies got in line, and then I noticed that instead
of fire buckets - Page 290
Army Letters From An Officer's Wife, 1871-1888, By Frances M.A. Roe - Page 290 of 410 - First - Home

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It Seemed A Long Time Before The Companies Got In Line, And Then I Noticed That Instead Of Fire Buckets They Were Carrying Rifles.

Directly every company started off on double time and disappeared in between two sets of barracks at one corner of the parade ground.

Then everything was unusually quiet; not a human being to be seen except the sentry at the guardhouse, who was walking post.

It was pleasant, so I sat down, still feeling curious about the trouble that was serious enough to call out all the troops. It was not so very long before Lieutenant Todd, who was officer of the day, came from the direction the companies had gone, pistol in hand, and in front of him was a man with ball and chain. That means that his feet were fastened together by a large chain, just long enough to permit him to take short steps, and to that short chain was riveted a long one, at the end of which was a heavy iron ball hanging below his belt. When we see a prisoner carrying a ball and chain we know that he is a deserter, or that he has done something very bad, which will probably send him to the penitentiary, for these balls are never put on a prisoner who has only a short time in the guardhouse.

The prisoner yesterday - who seemed to be a young man - walked slowly to the guardhouse, the officer of the day following closely. Going up the steps and on in the room to a cot, he unfastened the ball from his belt and let it thunder down on the floor, and then throwing himself down on the cot, buried his face in the blankets, an awful picture of woe and despair.

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