Blackford Takes a Look at His Superiors

Blackford’s pithy observations were not limited to the generals. He also was not shy about criticizing his immediate superiors, such as the recently elected Colonel Jones (who was in fact 49 years old) or the other Colonel Jones of the 12th Alabama. This letter to his mother, written on February 20th, 1862, also details the difficulties encountered in a recent payday.

I wish you could see old Col. [Allen C.] Jones – he is about 60 years old (49 by his count), with perfectly white hair & beard, and a face of deep red colour, except the nose which is purple. He is a very jolly old gentleman, and lets any one who has any tact do exactly as the pleases, but any one more unfit to command could scarcely be conceived. We have a great deal of fun with him sometimes, especially on Dress Parade or a Sunday inspection, on which occasions it is customary for the officers and men to look neater than usual. At such times the old gentleman comes out in a full Confederate suit, and furnishes the whole corps a rich treat in witnessing the drawing of his sword. So much does he enlarge on these occasions that he could not draw it were he confined to a room as large as any in our house, altho’ he has done it every evening since his promotion 4 months ago, the men never fail to laugh, and in such a manner that the officers cannot check it.

I received Pa’s letter Friday – General Rodes has spoken once to me about entering Col. R[obert] T. Jones’ 12th Ala. Regt., but as he said found me prejudiced against him. Col. J. is one of the men who has never been able [to] distinguish between the volunteer and the regular, tho’ he has had no experience in regard to the latter. He treats his men in such a way, that I am sure I could not live peaceably in his Regt., as I deem it my duty frequently to stand between the Cols., and the men, and would invariably have trouble with him. My best plan however will be to wait and see what turns up.

This has been pay day, and in addition to my other labours of reducing baggage, sending off the sick &c., I have been counting money, and handing it out. A fine study is presented on these occasions, the men are mostly indebted to one another to the whole amount of their pay, and immediately upon receipt of their money, they commence paying off one another. To give you some idea of the trouble attending one of these pay days, I can tell you that I am only furnished with $10 & $20 to pay with, and from this I have to pay out such sums as $23.75, $25.25 & so on, the fractions being occasioned by their having bought shoes &c. from the Quarter Master, to be deducted from their pay. Much ingenuity must be displayed to make any progress at all, but by means of the debt they owe one another, and by summing up the amount due one mess & turning over to its head I came through finally.


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