The general looked down from his open office window at the Irving Block prison in disgust.
An enlisted man was embarrassingly drunk in the yard below. Through a series of overly loud protestations, he was attempting to convince his commanding officer otherwise. These being what had drawn the general to the window in the first place.
“What an absolute disgrace,” He grumbled back to his staff. “Everyday the whole of my troop is bifurcated between the sober and the drunk. I’m left at half force at any given moment.”
He shut the window and turned back to the half dozen officers gathered in his office.
“These are the fighting men sent here to ensure the future of the union, and they’re more of a threat to this city than any rebel raid or negro riot. Something must be done.”
The officers looked at each other, knowing anyone might get stuck with the responsibility if they opened their mouth.
“At my father’s factory, he forbade any man under his employ to drink.” Said a young, unaware officer. “To keep productivity up.”
“Then that’s just what you’ll do.”
“Sir?” Responded the officer, suddenly aware of his blunder.
“You’ll keep them from drinking.”
After the Union occupation of Memphis during the Civil War, there wasn’t a whole lot for the troops to do. The city was concerned with keeping up trade and normal life, plus most of the Confederate loyalists had fled before the occupation. So, the soldiers found another way to occupy themselves. They drank. Oh, God, did they drink. They drank so much that beer was banned, and then the sale of any spirits. For most of the occupation, Memphis was a dry town. Which, interestingly enough, this was remarked to be one of the safest periods in Memphis history.