Posted 7-19-01
19th Massachusetts Funeral


"While at Falmouth, the men received many boxes from home. Adjt. Hill received one that contained a turkey. Unfortunately the box had been on the road for a long time and the bird was so moldy that the meat was hardly visible. The adjutant's good humor was superior to disappointment, however, and he at once arranged with the other officers to have the bird suitably interred. The "corpse" lay "in state" during the day, and was properly "waked" until midnight, when a number of officers assembled in line. First came the largest Negro in camp as drum major; then Capt. "Jack" Adams as marshal, master of ceremonies and comb-band. Behind him was Quartermaster Winthrop, with reversed carbine, as firing party. Directly behind him were four Negroes, two large and two small, bearing between them two sticks, upon which rested a cracker box, - the casket of the "deceased." Then came the mourners (officers who had anticipated eating the turkey), all so disguised that even their mothers would not have known them.

With bowed head and solemn mien, the somber column moved with measured tread to the creek. Capt. Adams, in his capacity of the band, was "combing out" the Dead March from Saul. As they reached the creek, filled to the brink by the recent rains, the column halted and pall bearers deposited their burden upon the bank. The others formed in half circle around it, with uncovered heads and then Capt. "Jack," after a few earnest words as to the goodness and virtue of the dear departed, cast the cracker box and its contents into the flood. As the turbid waters bore it out of sight, the column re-formed, and to the tune of Yankee Doodle on the comb, marched back to camp."

© Dan Moran - 2001