Early in the war, Union troops were forbidden from plundering Southern property. On September 8, 1861, Captain Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry couldn't restrain his starving men from feasting on the local livestock while stationed along the Potomac River outside Washington, D.C.
Our regiment has been doing picket duty along the Potomac river on the Maryland side from Chain Bridge to Falling Waters. My company has been deployed along about four miles. The rebel pickets and cavalry could be occasionally seen along the other side of the river.
I have really enjoyed this week's work. The scenery on the Potomac here, is very romantic. The people generally sympathize with the rebels.
Our boys have fared sumptuously every day. They declared that even the pigs were secessionists and they burned them at the stake for their treason. Turkeys and chickens shared the same fate. It was impossible for me to restrain men who had been starved on salt-beef and hard tack, when they were scattered over four miles of territory and sneered at as Yankees by the people. The fact is I ate some pig myself.
Source: Dawes, Rufus R. "Service With the Sixth Wisconsin Volunteers," Chapter 2, page 22.
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