Dick's Conflagration

Transcribed by Larry Stevens

Anecdote Told of the New Commander of Indian Territory, G.A.R.

EDITOR NATIONAL TRIBUNE: In your issue of June 10 I was pleased to note that at the sixth annual Encampment, held at Muscogee, May 20, the Department of the Indian Territory elected R.M.J. Shriver, of Post 11, Miama, as Commander.
Comrade Shriver - or "Dick," as he was familiarly called - was one of the "all-around" good boys of the old 78th Ohio, and, if I am not mistaken, was on every march and took part in every skirmish and general engagement participated in by that organization, from the surrender of Fort Donelson, in February, 1861, to the musterout of the regiment, in July, 1865.
The very complimentary announcement made brings fresh to mind a circumstance that the comrade may have forgotten.
One day while we were marching through Georgia, or some other State south, the writer and possibly a score of others were surprised to see Dick step quickly out of ranks, and without a word fling his trusty old Springfield onto the ground. Before a stuttering boy could count to ten he had unburdened himself of knapsack and accoutrements, tossing them in a promiscuous heap, and then, in one time and two motions, off came his blouse.
We looked on in astonishment, and while cogitating in our own minds as to whether he had suddenly made up his mind to muster himself out and quit the service, or was getting ready to climb some fellow's frame, the sight of smoke issuing from the inner folds of the blouse, and the odor of "fried wool" and brimstone, revealed pretty clearly to our bewildered minds the true status of the case, accounting for Dick's strange actions, the only time we had ever known him to become "rattled."
A bunch of matches, rolled in paper and placed in the inside pocket of his blouse, from friction or outside pressure, had been ignited, and were making things hot in that locality.
The whole scene from beginning to end occupied less time than required to write this, and Dick was back in ranks and cool as a cucumber. The only serious results were a red spot on his left side and a partially-consumed blouse pocket, the latter a total loss, for Uncle Billy's boys didn't care to assume the additional burden of carrying a fire or life insurance policy, particularly when the other fellows were the ones who needed such things most. J.P.Ross, 78th Ohio, Indianola, Iowa.

From: The National Tribune, Washington D.C.
Source: News clipping with no date found in a 78th Ohio regimental history at U.S. Army Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, Bldg 22, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013-5008.

Web Publishing Copyright © 1995 Larry Stevens

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Last updated September 1 1995