Colonel Given and the Bugs
Transcribed by Larry StevensExcerpt from "History of the 102nd Regiment, O.V.I"
Published and Compiled by George S. Schmutz, Co. I. 1907.
During the first several months of our service in the field, Col. Given was very adverse to graybacks. He expressed himself very decidedly on that point, indicating that a soldier who would permit himself to become lousy, was negligent and neccessarily filthy and should be punished severely.
It was not very long until his personal experience changed his views in regard to the staying qualaities of a grayback. One day the Colonel complained of an itching and a breaking out under his arms and other parts of his body. Someone suggested "graybacks." "No sir," was his reply. "I do not thank any one for intimating that I am lousy."
One night we discovered something unusual going on in the Colonel's tent, and discovered the Colonel disrobed and carefully examining his shirt. The alarm was given to some of Co. K boys, we surrounded the tent at a safe distance. Occasionally we heard what resembled the faint report of a cap exploding and the Colonel make some emphatic expression. Then some one called out "how are you grayback?" "Slap him again, Colonel." "Grab a root." "If you can't catch him, shoot him!" and such like expressions, until the Colonel got so mad that he had a guard detailed to keep the boys away. He never condemned us for having graybacks afterward.
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Last updated May 29 1999