Who Stole My Fence Post?
Although he served all through the war as a Union soldier and has an honorable discharge, Joseph W. Allen of Atchison, Kas., has never joined the G.A.R. His reason is that he wants to forget cruelties of the struggle and not keep alive unpleasant recollections.
He is slow to talk of the battles, but he doesn't mind conversing about the humerous incidents.
Mr. Allen tells of a free-for-all fight among themselves, which his regiment [First Vermont Cavalry] had the night after the great battle. A tremendous rain had fallen and much of the battleground was covered with water. When it came time for "turning in" the cavalrymen found they had no place to turn except to a long rail fence. The whole company to which Mr. Allen belonged dismounted and made a rush for the fence, each man carrying away one or two rails.
"Then followed the maddest scramble I ever saw in my life," Mr. Allen said. "It was worse than dodging rebel bullets. Every man who had not succeeded in getting a rail to sleep on tried to steal some other fellow's rail. The men were serious at first, but after two or three hours of such antics the humor of the situation dawned upon us and probably prevented real trouble. And just think every blessed on of those men had gone through the thick of the Battle of Gettysburg and yet there we were fighting like cats for an old weather beaten rail to sleep on. I managed to keep my two rails and was about the only man in my company who didn't waken up next morning soaked through and through."
Note: For an expanded version of Joe Allen's experiences immediately following the battle of Gettysburg, see Joe Allen and old Abe, Gettysburg and Beyond.
Source: Undated newsclipping from the Atchison [Kansas] Daily Globe, circa 1918; used with the kind permission of Bryon Cannon, managing editor. Contributed by George Hughes, Annapolis, MD, Joe Allen's great-grandnephew.