With his trusty gun in hand - an Enfield rifle, also captured from the enemy and substituted for the old flint-lock musket or the shotgun with which he was originally armed - Johnny reb, thus imperfectly sketched, stands in his shreds and patches a marvelous ensemble - picturesque, grotesque, unique - the model citizen soldier, the military hero of the nineteenth century.
There is none of the tinsel or trappings of the professional about him. From an esthetic military point of view he must appear a sorry looking soldier. But Johnny is not one of your dress parade soldiers. He doesn't care a copper whether anybody likes his looks or not. He is the most independent soldier that ever belonged to an organized army.
He has respect for authority, and he cheerfully submits to discipline, because he sees the necessity of organization to affect the best results, but he maintains his individual autonomy, as it were, and never surrenders his sense of personal pride and responsibility. He is thoroughly tractable, if properly officered, and is always ready to obey necessary orders, but he is quick to resent any official incivility, and is a high private who feels, and is, every inch as good as a general.
He may appear ludicrous enough on a display occasion of the holiday pomp and splendor of war, but place him where duty calls, in the imminent deadly breach or the perilous charge, and none in all the armies of the earth can claim a higher rank or prouder record. He may be outre and ill-fashioned in dress, but he has sublimated his poverty and rags.
The worn and faded grey jacket, glorified by valor and stained with the life blood of its wearer, becomes, in its immortality of association, a more splendid vestment than mail of medieval knight or the rarest robe of royalty.
That old, weather-beaten slouch hat, seen as the ages will see it, with its halo of fire, through the smoke of battle, is a kinglier covering than a crown. Half clad, half armed, often half fed, without money and without price, the Confederate soldier fought against the resources of the world.
When at last his flag was furled and his arms were grounded in defeat, the cause for which he had struggled was lost, but he had won the faceless victory of soldiership.
Source: Written by G.H. Baskett, Nashville, Tenn., published in the Confederate Veteran, Vol. I, No. 12, Nashville, Tenn., December 1893.
Illustration from Clipart Etc