Promotion Time!



From Burke Davis’ Sherman’s March:


It was late afternoon before the good news reached the 100th Indiana. Sergeant Theodore Upson was posting guards for the night's camp when General Woods called to him, "Dismiss the guard, Sergeant, and come into my tent."


Upson stared in disbelief. "Why, General? What's the matter?"


"Don't you know Lee has surrendered? No man shall stand guard at my quarters tonight. Bring all the detail here."


Upson's men were ushered into the general's tent two at a time to drink with officers from a bowl of strong punch. A tin cup passed swiftly among the crowd. General Woods made a speech: "Boys, Lee's given up, Richmond is ours, the war's over, and we're going to celebrate as we never have before." Upson's guards joined with enthusiasm, but the boy sergeant restrained himself: "I was pretty careful. I never had drank liquor, and I didn't know what it would do to me."


A regimental band began to play, but its men drank so much punch that they were finally playing "two or three tunes at once."


Upson's commander, Colonel Johnson, under the inspiration of the punch, seized Upson by an arm and presented him to General Woods as the finest sergeant in the army. Woods shook the boy's hand.


"Sergeant, I'm promoting you right now. Consider yourself a Lieutenant."


When Colonel Johnson continued his praise of Upson, Woods said, "By God, Sergeant, I'm promoting you to Captain."


Upson thought he might have risen to the rank of Colonel if Woods had not been dejected by the collapse of the band, which fell asleep.


Theodore was demoted in the aftermath of this celebration: "A day or two later the General addressed me as Sergeant the same as ever. But one thing is sure. Lee has surrendered and Richmond is ours.”