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A Seat at the Table

By Frank Moore, The Civil War in Song and Story 1860-1865, P.F. Collier, New York, 1889, p. 488 and illustration facing.


At Gen. Magruder's Table

“Sir, have you any idea with whom you are talking?”.

Just after the battle of Williamsburg, General Magruder and his staff stopped at the house of a widow lady on the road, and engaged dinner. Soon after their arrival a Louisiana soldier came up, and accosted the landlady with:

“Madam, can I get dinner?”

“Yes, sir,” was the reply;“ but as I am preparing dinner for General Magruder and staff, and have not room at my table for more, you will have to wait for a second table.”

“Very well, ma'am. thank you,” said the soldier, taking his seat in a position to command a view of the dining-room. Watching the movements of the servants, he waited until the feast was on the table, and while his hostess proceeded to the parlor to announce dinner to her distinguished guests, he entered the dining-room, and, seating himself at the table, awaited further developments, trusting to his impudence to get him out of the scrape.

Upon the entrance of the party of officers, there was found to be seats for all but one, and one politely returned to the parlor to wait. The General took a seat next to the solder, and, after the first course was finished, turned to him, and asked:

“Sir, have you any idea with whom you are dining?”

“No,” coolly replied the soldier; “I used to be very particular on that score; but since I turned soldier, I don't care whom I eat with, so that the victuals are clean.”

The joke was so good that Magruder laughed heartily at it, and even paid for the soldier's dinner, and sent him on his way.”