The Muster in of the 105th Ohio

Transcribed by Larry Stevens

The long, blue line sways and rustles as the men straighten themselves into a more or less correct position, take touch of elbows, glance right and left to secure a better alignment, and wonderingly gaze to the front to see what will happen next. A group of spectators, among whom are a few ladies, who carry parasols, stand in front of the right wing. They are evidently interested in what is going on. Some of them intercept the mustering officer's view of that part of the line; he orders them back, but the group is a considerable one and do not understand what is wanted of them. An orderly is sent to repeat the command and see that it is obeyed. The crowd fall back willingly but wonderingly. Then the officer explains that, when the command is given, each one whose name has been called - officers and men alike - will take off his cap with the left hand and holding up his right one, with the open palm to the front, repeat after him the oath of service. Then came the command:
"Hats of!"
There was a scuffling in the ranks, each one looking to see if his neighbor has obeyed. A good many take off the cap with the right hand and have to shift it to the left. The crowd titters at the many mistakes.
"Hands up!"
Some raise the right hand and some the left. The officers look around and correct the mistakes. Near the middle of the line an intensely red head shows nigh a foot above the line of the other heads on either side, and a red-bearded face looks calmly over the head of the officer, whose station is directly in his front.
"Steady!" commands the Regular Army officer, running his eye sharply along the wavering, ill-dressed line.
"Get down!" he says, as his eye reaches the red head that overtops its neighbors. The red face turns one way and the other in wondering search of what has Photoawakened the officer's displeasure. All the other faces in the line turn also.
"You man in the Fifth Company there, with the red beard, get down off that stump!"
A titter runs along the line. Everyone knows what has happened. A shout goes up from the spectators. Some of the officers laugh. The colonel steps forward and says something in an undertone to the mustering officer. The officer looks foolish. The red bearded face ducks a few inches nearer the line of heads about it. The face is redder than ever. It was not Jerry Whetstone's fault that his comrades only came up to his shoulder. Yet, many thousand times on the march and in the camp - before he marches up the Avenue, in the grand review, with his un-erring rifle all out of line with the pieces of the little squad which are all that remains of the company - will the great, good natured giant be exhorted to "Get off of that stump!" And not once will the injunction fail to raise a laugh, no matter how weary those may be who hear it.
The tallest man in the army of the Cumberland was six foot seven inch Jerry Whetstone of Company H, 105th Ohio Infantry.

From: The Story Of A Thousand. A History of the 105th Ohio Infantry.
By: Albion W. Tourgee. 1896

Web Publishing Copyright © 1997 Larry Stevens

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Last updated April 12 1997