Submitted by Allen Ockerlander, 6th Va. Reg’t
I had a corporaL in my company, called Manuel Trayson,–a German by birth,–about thirty-six years of age,– active, sprightly,–a sort of soldier of fortune. He had been in the German service-also in the Spanish and Portuguese service. He spoke, in his broken English, more like a Frenchman than a German. Some old soldiers in Europe, –(perhaps in this country too),–have got a conception that by some cant words or prayer, they can ward off all bullets in battle.
Some days antecedent to the battle of Germantown, Manuel come to me,–(I was in my tent alone),–and said to me: “Veil Ca-pe-a-teen, I does vant to spake vid you.” “Sit down, Manuel,” says I. “If you vil gif me de von quart visky, I deli you a barticular brayer;–shall touch you not von bullet in all battles.” “Manuel,” I replied, “a canteen of whisky stands by the tent-pole, take a joram.” He did so. “But suppose I want confidence and faith in this prayer?” “Den I pe sorree,–vairy sorree, sar;–for mitout de fait, it too you no coed.”
Manuel went away. Much grape-shot was fired from Chew’s House in Germantown on the day of the battle. Manuel was a gallant fellow and behaved well in the battle. A grape-shot had gone through the face of his cocked hat,–of which he was not a little proud.
A few days after the battle, I spoke to him. Manuel,” says I, “what do you think of that particular prayer you wanted to learn me before the battle?” Manuel stamped with his right foot three or four times on the ground. “I vil tell you, Ca-pe-a-teen, vat I tink ov dem dings;–de brayer pees vairy coot and strong vor de small pullets,–put var tem tam crape-shot; I don’ know vat do dink!”