In Lieu of a Gym Membership

Captain Samuel H. Overton of A Company, 44th Virginia Infantry Regiment and A Company, 20th Battalion Virginia Heavy Artillery Regiment in uniform and kepi with bayoneted musket (between 1861 and 1862; LOC: LC-DIG-ppmsca-32457)

In the pink of health ...

Do Newspaper Editors Lead Sedentary Lives, too?

The soldier-power shortage is nothing new, but this sales ploy sure surprised me.

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch March 23, 1862:

The soldier’s life.

–It is said that the frequenters of the gymnasium experience its advantages in renewed vigor, expanded muscle and the robust health that usually follows judicious exercise. The languor of the student, and the weakness of the sedentary alike disappear under the health inspiring influences it produces. If this be so, in regard to the gymnasium, it is doubly true in regard to the life of the soldier. The exercise necessary to be taken by the soldier is the true medicine of nature, and a “pain extracter” that thousands of dyspeptic and consumptive young men have felt the benefit of. It imparts a healthy step and vigorous mind, and gives a firm tone to both, by a happy combination by which every part of the system receives appropriate care and development. If some of those who seek to escape the responsibilities of military duty by getting substitutes on the equally reprehensible practice of discovering ailments and diseases for the occasion to bring about the desired exemption, were to try this panacea, they would fall in love with it. As the song says, “a soldier’s life is always gay,” unless we may add, you get a mean commander, and if this be so, it is your own fault and can be remedied. The formation of various companies in this city at the present time presents favorable opportunities to those who desire not only to benefit themselves but their country.

From the same issue of the Dispatch:

The ladies and the militia.

To the Editors of the Dispatch:

The militia of Louisa county have been mustered in full force at the Court-Bousedays. Out of two hundred and fifty or three hundred able-bodied men, one hundred and thirty have been exampled on account of physical inability. Men who before this war commenced were never heard to utter one word of complaint, have suddenly become lame, blind, and in fact beset with “all the evils flesh is heir to.” Under these pitiable circumstances, the ladies of the county feel that the protection of the militia is very little to be relied on, so they have concluded to form a “Home Guard,” composed of ladies, to protect the above mentioned unfortunates individuals, who are not strong enough to defend themselves.

Very respectfully,

Some Ladies of Louisa.

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