Here’s the story of how Confederate Private Sam Watkins got promoted to corporal. You may remember from earlier stories that Sam was a Rebel, in uniform from one end of the Civil War to the other. It seems that one day he was involved in several charges at the Battle of Atlanta. On the final charge, Sam was shot in his ankle and heel. He took cover in a ditch, but managed to pick up a flag from the battlefield. Sam got patched up and then promoted. Here is how he tells it. You’ll see that he as quite a sense of humor:
“Why, hello, corporal, where did you get those two yellow stripes from on your arm?” said Sloan.
“Why, sir, I have been promoted for gallantry on the battlefield, by picking up an orphan flag, that had been run over by a thousand fellows, and when I picked it up I did so because I thought it was pretty, and I wanted to have me a shirt made out of it.”
“I could have picked up forty, had I known that,” said Sloan.
Sam goes on to explain:
“Reader mine, the above dialogue is true in every particular. As long as I was in action, fighting for my country, there was no chance for promotion, but as soon as I fell out of ranks and picked up a forsaken and deserted flag, I was promoted for it. I felt ‘sorter’ cheap when complimented for gallantry, and the high honor of fourth corporal was conferred upon me… had I only known that picking up flags entitled me to promotion and that every flag picked up would raise me one notch higher, I would have quit fighting and gone to picking up flags, and by that means I would have soon been President of the Confederate States of America.”