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A Sticky Situation

When some Yankee looters tried to supplement their rations with stocks from Fredericksburg homes and businesses in December of 1862, they bit off more than they could chew.

December 14th, 1862
In Fredericksburg, Va.

...Today there was a very amusing thing that took place with Dye Davis and John Howells and Bill Hill, who was killed with the falling of the Chimney the day of the 12th. When we crossed into the town of Fredericksburg, the men captured many things and these three, Davis, Howells, and Hill got into a house and a carpenter's store room and Dye Davis said, 'We be got him now, lads. Fill your haversacks.' And the haversacks was filled. Dye Davis said, 'Now, lads, lets go down to the fire and we will have some johnny cakes.' And when they reached the fire, Dye said, 'John Howells, do we get some wood and make a fire?', and 'Bill Hill, do we get some water and I will make some johnny cake' and the work went on and Dye made a cake on the old plate and he turned it up to see if it was done, but it was not browned yet and Jack said, 'turn 'em over any'ow.'

Dye turned it over and said, 'Jack he is hard any'ow,' and they got the other side hard and Dye wanted to get it browned but Bill Hill got impatient and said, 'Damn, 'em, Dye, less have him!' The cake was handed to Bill and the cook put another on the pan and while Dye was working at the second one, Bill Hill could not get his knife to split the first one and Jack Howells says, 'Bill, get a stone and break'em.' They got a stone and broke it and tried to bit it, but it was no go and Jack examined it carefully and exclaimed, 'Damn 'em, Dye, 'e is plaster of Paris, and the cook stopped instantly and he examined and exclaimed, 'Well, Jack, I did think he was damn heavy flour in my haversack.' And sure enough, it was white plaster of Paris.

Excerpts from Civil War Diary of Captain James Wren of Pottsville, Pennsylvania Forty-eighth Regiment, Company B

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