Challenging The Sentinel

It was the custom of the colonel of the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers to make the rounds every night in person, and satisfy himself that every sentinel was, at his post and doing his duty. On one occasion, while in the discharge of that self-imposed duty, he approached a post, and received the challenge as usual, “Who comes there?”

“Friend with the countersign,” was the colonel's reply.

Here the poor sentinel was at a loss. The rest of his instructions had been forgotten. The colonel was a very particular man, and insisted that every thing should be done exactly right. So, after spending considerable time in the endeavor to impress the “role” upon the mind of the sentinel, he suggested that he would act as sentinel while the other should personate the colonel. “Blinky”for such was this soldier's surname in the regimentmoved back a few paces and then turned to approach the colonel.

“Who comes there?” challenged the colonel.

“Why, Blinky; don't you know me, colonel?”

This was too much for even so patient and forbearing  man as Colonel Howell. “As green as verdigris,” thought he. The gun was handed over, and the colonel assed on to the next post, meditating upon the vanity of all earthly things in general, and of things military in particular.


Brockett, Dr. L. P., The Camp, The Battle Field, and the Hospital; or, Lights and Shadows of the Great Rebellion, Philadelphia: National Publishing Company, 1866


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