Found in the Salida Record May 26th, 1911
An amusing instance of the frequent recurrence of the surname Smith among the soldiers of the civil war is given in Berdan’s “United States Sharpshooters.” A stranger lieutenant, requiring a detail of 20 men for special duty, called on a certain company and took their names. The men were in line at attention when the officer began at the end of the column.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“And what is yours?” to the next man.
They were put on the list as Smith 1, Smith 2.
“Well, what’s yours?”
“Smith,” replied No. 3.
The officer looked queer and grumbled something about the peculiarity of the thing.
“What may I call your name?” to the next.
“Your name?” to the fifth.
The lieutenant’s face was getting red. He looked the men over and said sternly:
“What do you mean?”
But it was no joke. The detail stood firm, like so many statues, and the officer proceeded.
“What on earth is your name?” he demanded.
“Smith,” came the monosyllabic answer from No. 6.
The officer fairly jumped. Then he stormed and fumed and wanted to know if every man in the company was named Smith. By this time a crowd had gathered, and the officer began to cool down. The list must be made, so he hurried through.
“Your name?” to the next man.
The officer was again becoming furious, and the crowd was laughing boisterously.
“Well, is your name Smith?” the lieutenant demanded of the tenth man.
“My name is Brown,” replied this soldier.