The whole Peninsula, that portion of Virginia between the York and the James River, was low and swampy and it was common talk at the time that one could not pat the earth three times with his foot anywhere without bringing water. Great mortality occurred among the troops, chiefly from malarial fever, and often, when a poor fellow was about to be laid away in the earth, his grave would be full of water before it had been dug two feet deep. Quinine and whiskey were issued daily, companies being formed in line for the purpose, and the ration was drunk under the supervision of the surgeon.
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It was hot and muggy most of the time. It rained frequently and the men made the acquaintance of the "wood-tick, and enumerable bugs and specimens of insect life hitherto unknown to them. The very earth moved with "new life." Sticks and twigs were endowed with motion. The men would watch a black twig two or three inches long, apparently dead wood among the leaves, when it would scamper off and the acquaintance of a new insect called the "walking stick" was made, although it was a very old inhabitant of this section. They had the "Gold Bug" not the political specimen of later days but a handsome round yellow "feller." Lieut. James G. C. Dodge, of Company F, made quite a collection of these bugs.
It was a common thing to see two or three men, huddled together, poking at something on the ground. Others would join them on the run. Soon a crowd would collect, running and yelling "What's Up?" Some one of the crouchers would answer, "Oh, got a new bug," and the crowd would laugh and disperse. Like everything else, this was soon an old story and "buggy" was immediately dispatched, given to the lieutenant for his collection, or allowed to fly or run. away. One specimen, however, stuck and abided long. It was the common louse.
-History of the Nineteenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865Ernest Linden Waitt, 1906