Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Peek Inside Orange Langford's Civil War Tent

As I have previously posted, Orange Langford had a long enlistment in the Second Iowa Infantry. This regiment served in a number of  Civil War battles beginning in Missouri shortly after their enlistment.
Fort Donelson was notable because of a bayonet charge that the Second Iowa Infantry led which was critical to penetrate Confederate lines and capture the fort. They were recognized for their bravery in this battle. They were also recognized at Shiloh where there is a monument to the Second Iowa and another for their leader, General Tuttle.

One of the other leaders of the Second Iowa was Captain Harry H. Green. Capt. Green, also from Lyons, Iowa, was mustered in and out on the same days as Orange Langford. Like Orange Langford, he enrolled as a soldier and was promoted to Captain. Orange was his Second Lieutenant for more than a year. Captain Green went on to a successful career as a Methodist Minister in Iowa, becoming a Presiding Elder. He was also elected to the Iowa State House for a term. He had such a distinguished life, that his family implored him to write it down and he did. The result was "The Simple Life of A Commoner", an autobiography by H. H. Green.
I found links to this book when I did a google book search for Orange Langford, who is mentioned in it three times. I ordered it and read it last week.
Green relates an incident when the soldiers were on a supply train bringing needed goods and food to Iuka, Mississippi. On one of these trains the following occurred:
"On one of the trains which carried the troops there had been loaded a few barrels of whiskey belonging to the commissary and medical departments. Some of the members of my company which, for the time being was under the command of Lieutenant Langford, discovered the liquor and at once determined to appropriate it to their own use. So they managed to get possession of a small gimlet, and boring a hole in one of the barrels, inserted a goose quill or pipe stem and drew off enough to fill their canteens, then carefully plugging the hole they proceeded to imbibe the  stuff which, by the time Iuka was reached, began to get in its work. As a matter of fact several of the boys were soon riotously drunk and some of them in a very ugly humor. I had no sooner reached my tent than the Colonel sent for me. "
Green goes on to explain that he poured out the remaining liquor and the following day all of his boys "manfully apologized".
The next time he mentions Orange Langford follows:
"Now I think if you could look inside my tent you would have a good laugh at my expense. The tent is about six feet square and about five feet high. For the want of a bedstead our blankets are spread on the ground and for want of a table Lieutenant Langford and myself are writing on our trunks. On one side of the tent is lying in rich profusion coats, candles, a chair, our swords, a knapsack, two or three pairs of boots, a canteen, two pair of gloves, a table cloth, a looking glass, a broom, two old hats and a variety of things which I need not name."
"Just behind my tent are a couple of young unbleached Americans, singing and telling each other stories as happy as they can be. "Billy", my boy, has just joined them. He is Major General of all of the young darkies in the camp. They congregate around my tent and generally stay there, serenading me, until I have to go out and drive them off."
Captain Green's last mention of Orange is general in nature. Captain Green was able to rely on letters he had written home during the war to recall such vivid details. 

The last week also brought in the mail the pension file of Orange Langford and his wife, Anna Eliza (Howard) Langford. On his original application Orange listed his commanding officer as Captain H. H. Green. Orange Langford died on September 10, 1892. Anne followed him in 1896. It is a sad story of war and its lasting effects. The last major battle that Orange Langford fought was at Corinth Mississippi. Around the time of that battle, he contracted dysentery from poor nutrition and poor hygienic living conditions. He never recovered from that condition and was left unable to perform any strenuous work, dying at age 57. He left Anne destitute and unable to pay for his funeral. I believe from reading the file that they both are buried near Alexander or Collegeville, Arkansas, in either Pulaski County or Saline County.

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