John Paul Jones by LBM

Company D, 55th OH

A note by Ron Mesnard: Note how the 55th dealt with an officer who wasn't doing his job properly by recruiting a man not up to the job. See how tolerant the officers were towards JPJ's antics because they thought he was in the right. The officers were probably held by a code of honor not to turn in Safford who was probably a good officer. You can feel how tight the solidarity of the 55th was across all ranks.

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Except when drilling or attending to other necessary duties, the other boys played cards, while I lay on the upper bunk and read books loaned me mostly by Lieut. Boalt, or watched the game of cards;- which I did till by the help of my bunkey Jones, I learned to keep track of most any game played. These were often very amusing as same of the parties were experts and up to all the tricks of professionals, and never were caught at it. Jones often talked their games over with me as we took a walk at evening. Here I would say more of my "bunkey", J. Paul Jones, a nephew of Col. Jones of Norwalk. He was a man some thirty years of age, fine athletic build, had been in the regular army eighteen months, and in

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the Navy a year or more. He had traveled a great deal and was an expert in most army duties, very neat and tidy as to his clothing, equipment, bunk and tent generally and took great pleasure in teaching me all the finer things about packing my knapsack and camp duties generally. Jones showed every kindness a messmate could. It seamed to do him no good to have a good thing unless he could share it with me. In sickness he was the best nurse I ever saw, and always seemed solicitous about my moral and spiritual welfare, and yet was unscrupulous as to himself and the most pro- fane man I ever knew at times, especially when angry. He was a great joker and the life of the mess generally, and was my chum and bunkey for a longer time than any other man in the army.

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Our Lt. Col. Safford had been sent home on recruiting service and among the recruits he brought back was a long eared "white livered" specimen less than half-witted, who was assigned to our company. My bunkey, Paul Jones, worked upon

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this recruit's ("Gabriel" the boys named him) credulity and imagination so that he thought a high privilege to bring our wood and water for us and it was as good as a circus to hear Paul talk to him the great hero he would make of him and his marvelous military bearing, culminating finally in the belief that "Gabe" would make a good "Lance Prezam", if --there's the test --if he would obey orders, obey orders right to the letter. "Gabe" allowed he would and Paul, after days of hesitancy decided to make the test. Somewhere he found a large three cocked hat and feather and an old artillery sword and took "Gabe" back into the woods for drill, teaching him to carry the sword up over his shoulder at an angle of about forty-five degrees and march in a grand and lofty manner, raising his feet very high and in every way perform in a ridiculous manner, not neglecting a form of challenge. Then after all this very impressive preparation, at a propitious time he placed "Gabe" on guard on a beat some fifty feet long between the company officers tent and the regimental street with orders that no one should cross his beat. Of course the boys in the company and many others knew of it and as. "Gabe" paraded along his beat manipulating his sword and making his turns at the end according to instructions all in grand solemnity, it was a sight to behold. As the show got well under way, Lieut. Wickham ( C. P. afterwards Col Wickham) came out of his tent and started to go across "Gabe's" beat. He was halted with more profanity than is usual and that old sword came down onto the ground with a stroke that sounded and then was cleaving the air all around in front of Wickham, while Gabe uttered a torrent of invective and profanity which was quite up to the

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"drill". Wickham caught on and quietly went back into his tent but said nothing. Soon Capt. Wildman came out and as "Gabe" began his demonstration, did not see the joke, ordering "Gabe" away and threatening arrest, but "Gabe" swung his sword and poured out defiance with a profanity that was appalling and made lunges at the Capt. with his sword that caused him to retreat into his tent. Then Lieut. Boalt came out to see to things, but 'Gabe" was invincible. He showed Boalt just how far he would run that sword into him if he came within reach of his beat and made such violent demonstration that Boalt also fell back in good order much to the amusement of all the boys who were watching the show. Paul, the only one from whom Gabe would take orders, soon slipped around and relieved Gabe from further duty praising his conduct, and pinned some lemon peel on his shoulders, declaring him "Lance Prezam" of the Co. One day Gen. Hooker called on our Col. Lee. Paul said, "Gabe", have you drawn your tobacco? Col. Lee is issuing tobacco now.  "Gabe" went up and walked right into Col. Lee's tent. "Hello, Col, give me some tobacco." Lee says, " I do not use it, but Safford does. He will give you some" and with a twinkle in his eye he said to Hooker, "this is Safford's recruit," to all of which the boys had a spy listening. Gabe was soon after discharged as non-compos-mentis.

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