How a Yankee Soldier kept a Hotel in Dixie.—When General Banks' army moved on up the Shenandoah valley from New Market, Quartermaster-Sergeant Reuben W. Oliver, of Cochran's New York battery, had to be temporarily left in a barn, on account of injuries he had received. Soon after our departure he made application at the lady's house adjoining for board; but he was informed, in true Virginia style, that she did not board “Yankee barbarians.”
“Very well,” replied Oliver, “if you wont board me I shall keep a hotel in your barn, but shall probably call upon you occasionally for supplies;” and ho hobbled back to the barn.
Oliver was every inch a soldier, and he went to work at once. Taking a revolver, he shot madam's finest young porker, which his assistant immediately dressed. His able assistant next went to the apiary and “took us” a hive of bees, and transferred the honey to the barn. He then went to the lot and milked a pail of milk from her ladyship's cows. Then, going to her servants' house, he made a “requisition” for a quantity of fresh corn-dodgers that had been prepared for supper. The addition of these articles to his ordinary rations placed him far beyond the point of starvation.
True to his Yankee instincts, he invited the lady to take tea with him, at the hotel across the way − at which she became spitefully indignant. But Oliver was as happy as a lark, and for the time almost forgot his injuries.
Soon he had several sick soldiers added to his list of boarders; and in due time a sheep, and another young porker, and a second hive of bees, were gathered under the roof of his “hotel;” and furthermore, not a cock remained to proclaim when the morning dawned. By this time her ladyship thought she could “see it,” and sent for Oliver, who, as promptly as the nature of his injuries would permit, reported at the door.
“See here, young man,” said she, “I perceive that it would be cheaper for me to board you in my house − and, if you will accept, you can have board and a room free.”
“Thank you, madam, thank you,” replied Oliver, removing his cap and bowing politely; “but I prefer boarding at a first-class Yankee hotel to stopping at any secession house in Virginia at the same price. You will therefore be so kind as to excuse me for declining your generous offer, as it comes too late!” And back he hobbled to the barn − and actually remained there two weeks − taking in and boarding every sick soldier that came along; making frequent “requisitions” upon her for supplies.
Her ladyship was mightily pleased when Oliver's Yankee hotel was discontinued, but it taught her a valuable lesson, and Yankee soldiers never thereafter applied to her in vain for food and shelter. They always got what they wanted, she evidently not relishing the Yankee hotel system.
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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