"Private HurricaneTeen, front and center!"
The words sent a wave of unexpected confusion over me. They didn't warn me about this, I thought. Vacating my place in the ranks, I marched clumsily to the front, facing the captain.
"Hand me your rifle," said the sergeant at his side.
Promptly, I handed it over.
The captain spoke again.
"Spit in your hands."
As I followed his orders, I could hear my fellow privates jokingly mock me by making snorting sounds with their throats.
"Ah, that ain't enough! Can we get a donation?!"
A couple of my fellow privates eagerly stepped out of rank and, bending over my cupped hands, spit in them.
"Now hand me a cartridge."
Reaching into my black leather cartridge box, I pulled out one of the paper tubes filled with black gunpowder and handed it over to the captain. He took it, ripped off the top, and emptied the contents into my hands.
"Now rub that around. Make a good paste."
I rubbed the concoction vigorously, watching my hands turning a slimy black as the men behind me stifled their snickers.
"Ah, yeah, that's good. Now rub that all over your face. Make yourself a nice beard."
I looked up and spotted the disgusted faces of the spectators who had been watching us form up as I rubbed the body fluid of three different people onto my face.
"Now wash the rest of that off."
The captain took his canteen and washed SOME of the powder off of my hands. The sergent handed back my borrowed 1861 Enfield musket.
"Right about face!"
I turned, and a cheer rose from the ranks - a rebel yell.
I am officially a member of the 7th Florida Infantry Volunteer Regiment, Company B of the Confederate States Army; also known as The Straw Hats.