Friday, June 01, 2012

Charles H. Cox, With "Lice."

This is a story about Charles "Charlie " H. Cox, and the men of the North Carolina Fourteenth regiment, Company C.  This regiment was known as the Anson Guards.  This story is about their battle with "Lice."

We had been here not many days when scratching was in order. Search found lice, body lice! Horror of horrors ! A gentleman with lice on him so ashamed would not confess it. The troops camping here, when they moved left these pests behind and we fell heir to their leavings.  " Don't know who they were and don't want to know, damn 'em and damn their filthy rags," was the mildest of many oaths. E. F. Fenton writes, " The boys kept it hid as long as they could. They would sneak off by themselves, disrobe and the slaughter would commence.  I had a full supply on my person and on retiring to the woods came across Charlie cox. He had his top garments off and was busy slaughtering in the usual way, by pressing them between his thumb nails." " Hello, Charlie ! What you doing ? " " Mending my shirt," was the prompt reply and slipped on his shirt.  " Now, old boy," I replied, " you know you were killing lice. I am full of them and so are all the boys in the company. No more lies; we are in for it and you know it, so let's own up."

After this there was no more retiring out of sight. The boys would strip off and go to killing in the camp. This was a slow process. Building a blaze, holding the garment over it and scraping them off we found was the best method, and usually did it at night before retiring. They would pop like salt. When near the enemy we had to be wary; a fire would invite a minie ball from their long-range rifles and when one of these balls interviewed you it was not always attended by a thirty-day furlough.

It was impossible to destroy them. One filthy man would scatter them over the whole regiment. They were very prolific, and no man ever saw an unfertile egg. The season of incubation was every day in the year the nights between the days and their appetite was never satisfied. To crawl and bite and bite and crawl over one's anatomy was their incessant delight to your great discomfort. The good Lord never created anything in vain but the Confederate soldier never appreciated this blessing. A chinch stops biting when he gets full; flea is satisfied on a dog, but a louse is never full, never tires and is never satisfied.  They were not confined to the rank and file. The company officers, the field officers and the generals attested the ubiquitousness of this infernal, shameful, but not disgraceful pest.

Charles H. Cox

We called him " Charlie " for short because he was so jolly and good. A better soldier never trod shoe soles.  When without shoes he kept up to the mark, " however anyhow." Never shirked duty, bore the fatigue of the march in good spirit, made light of short rations, stole apples and fruits in season, lived and fought on roasting ears without complaining. A brigade sharpshooter. August 21, '64, was mortally wounded at Charlestown and died two days after. His colonel speaks of him, " He was brave, eager and true." He was mourned by his comrades  in arms and by his parents at home.

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