American History Stories—Volume IV - Mara L. Pratt

Stealing Potatoes

The soldiers often got tired enough of these hard, dry biscuits and the salt meat, and would go out, in the night time, on stealing expeditions. The farmers used to complain bitterly of the soldiers; for they not only would steal everything they could find, but they would trample down the growing vegetables wherever they went.

One day, a good natured old farmer, whose potato fields had been nearly ruined by these half-starved soldiers, came into the camp hoping to find some trace of the thieves. While strolling around among the tents, he saw one of the boys serving up a dish of fine potatoes, which he thought looked very much like his own.

"Have fine potatoes here, I see," he said, halting before the tent.


"Where do you get them?"

"Draw them."

"Does the government furnish potatoes for rations?"

"Nary tater."

"But I thought you said you drew them."

"Did. We just do that thing."

"But how—if they are not included in your rations?"

"Easiest thing in the world. Won't you take some with us?"

"Thank you. But you will oblige me if you will tell me how you draw your potatoes."

"Nothing easier. Draw 'em by the tops, mostly; sometimes with a hoe, if there's one left in the field."

"Ha! yes! I understand. Well, now, see here. If you won't draw any more of my potatoes, I'll bring you a basketful every morning and draw 'em myself."

"Now will you? Good for you, old fellow!"

And three cheers and a tiger were given for the farmer, who had the pleasure in future of drawing his own potatoes.