Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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Letter from Orpheus C. Kerr


March/April 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, March 13, 1862.

Letter from Orpheus C. Kerr.

EDITOR T.T.: Sunshine has at least resumed specie payment, my boy, and every man that chooses can walk under golden beams once more. The sacred soil is drying up as rapidly as an old maid after forty-two, and boot-blacks begin to quote at high figures. The General of the Mackerel brigade is so blissful at having a polish on his boots once more, that he puts them on the mantel piece every time he enters a room, and treads on all the toes he can find in the street. This latter operation, my boy, has produced much profanity, especially among the chaplains.

Speaking of chaplains, reminds me of a reverend veteran who attended to the soul of Captain Bob Shorty yesterday, and found it in a high state of preservation. Captain Bob Shorty rashly over-estimated his power of endurance, and undertook to read Fremont’s defence. When he got to the twenty-first column he was seized with vertigo, and only recovered to find himself taking measure of a bedstead, with a chaplain standing by him.

“My friend,” says the parson, “I consider it my duty to tell you are a very sick man, and I take this opportunity to remind you of your latter end.”

Captain Bob Shorty scratched his head, and says he: “Am I bound for the kingdom?”

“You may recover,” says the chaplain, “but now is the time to settle your worldly affairs if you don’t. Think of your wife and progeny.”

“My wife!” says Captain Bob Shorty, hysterically. “Ah! There is a woman for you!”

“Is she a worthy help-mate?” says the chaplain.

“Why,” says Captain Bob Shorty, “She’s mate and captain both in my ship. She’s frugal”—says Captain Bob Shorty—“she’s amiable, she’s neat, and she’s only got one fault in the world.”

“Ah!” says the chaplain, “only one fault? Then she must be an uncommon woman.”

“Yes, ” says Captain Bob Shorty dreamily, “my wife’s only got one fault in the world—she likes another chap better than she does me.”

At this juncture, my boy, the chaplain was seized with a severe cough; but as soon as he recovered he assumed a very grave expression, and says he:

“My friend, let me beseech you to forget worldly things for a moment, and think of something more needful.”

“Drive on.” says Captain Bob Shorty.

The chaplain gave a grievous sniff, and says he:

“Is there not something above all created things that you feel in need of now? Suppose, my friend, that you were out at sea in a terrible storm, with the thunder roaring, the lightning flashing and the rain falling in torrents all around you, what would you do to make yourself feel peaceful?”

“You say the rain was falling in torrents?” says Captain Bob Shorty.

“Yes verily.” Says the chaplain.

“I think,” says Captain Bob Shorty, reflectively—“I think I should call for an umbrella and something hot.”

Upon hearing this beautiful answer, my boy, the chaplain buried his face in his hands.

“So should I,” he murmured, “so should I.”

Depend upon this, my boy, there is a bond of sympathy between all men, that no difference of education or circumstances can sever; and when some nice touch of nature causes it to contract, it seldom fails to bring men together on the common platform of whiskey hot.

It would afford me great pleasure, my boy, to report a great victory for our cause in Virginia, but no such result is yet visible to the eye in a state of nudity.

The gunboats to break the rebel blockade have not started up the Potomac yet, owing to a mistake made by the General of the Mackerel Brigade.

Some months ago, my boy, the General gave an order to an Eastern contractor for a couple of peculiarly made gunboats for this service; but happening to pass the White House shortly after, saw what he took to be the models of two just such gunboats protruding out of one of the windows. Thinking that the President had concinded to attend to the matter himself, he immediately telegraphed to the contractor not to go on with the job.

Quite recently, the contractor came here again, and says he to the General:

“I’d like to see the models of the White House gunboats.”

The General conducted him toward the White House, my boy, and the two stood admiring the models, which protruded from the window as usual.

Pretty soon a Western Congressmen came along, and says the contractor to him: “Can you tell me, sir, whether those models of gunboats up there are on exhibition?”

“Gunboats!” says the Western chap, looking up, “Do you take those things for gunboats?” “Of course,” says the contractor.

“Why you durned fool!” says the Congressman, “those are the President’s boots. The President always sits with his feet out of the window when he’s at home, and those are the ends of his boots.”

Without another word, my boy, the general and the contractor turned gloomily from the spot, convinced that they had witnessed the most terrific feet of the campaign.

Yours, sedately,                                      ORPHEUS C. KERR.