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Diary entries for today

December 12

Very cold all day; remained with Kingsley until about 11 o'clock a. m. and then went over to the regiment some distance away; found the men stationed at Ft. Dushane doing garrison duty. Colonel W. W. Henry has sent in his resignation; sorry to lose him; has been the most popular field officer we have ever had, all and all. Major L. T. Hunt has gone for good. Colonel C. G. Chandler has been courtmartialed; will probably go home; shall stay with Dr. Almon Clark; quarters in a house near the fort; men are without quarters; have never seen the regiment so uncomfortably fixed.

Saturday, December 12th.—The French engine-drivers are so erratic that if you're long enough on the line it's only a question of time when you get your smash up. Ours came last night when they were joining us up to go out again. They put an engine on to each end of one-half of the train (not the one our car is in), and then did a tug-of-war. That wasn't a success, so they did the concertina touch, and put three coaches out of action, including the kitchen. So we're stuck here now (Boulogne) till Heaven knows when. Fortunately no casualties.

December Twelfth

I have taken the greatest pains to perfect another kind of boat, upon the principles I mentioned to you at Richmond, in November last, and have the pleasure to inform you that I have brought it to a great perfection ... and I have quite convinced myself that boats of passage may be made to go against the current of the Mississippi  or Ohio  rivers, or in the Gulf Stream  (from the Leeward  to the Windward -Islands) from sixty to one hundred miles per day. I know this will appear strange and improbable to many persons, yet I am very certain it may be performed, besides, it is simple (when understood) and is also strictly philosophical.

James Rumsey
(In letter to George Washington after construction of steamboat model seen in action by the latter in 1784 )

 

 

December 12, 1862

At daylight Company B was called on deck and made to form in a three-sided square, the open side towards the rail. Poor Haight was then brought up in a rough box, which was set across the rail, the most of it projecting over the water, the end towards us being fastened down by a rope fastened to an iron on the deck. The chaplain made a prayer, and just as the sun rose out of the water the rope was slipped off, and the box plunged down into the water. I should have said that the engines were stopped and except for the chaplain's words the utmost silence prevailed. I shall never forget this, my first sight of a burial at sea. It has all been so sudden, and so unexpected. He was only sick a few days. Never complained no matter what came, but always was foremost in any fun that can be got out of a life like this. It was at his father's house I took tea when home on my five-day furlough, and I am glad I could give his mother such a good account of him. It is hard for us to understand why Lieutenant Sterling's body can be kept for shipment home, while that of Haight could not.

December 12, 1863

Saturday morning, and almost time for guard mount. Lieutenant Reynolds pulled me out or I would have lost my breakfast. I reached guard headquarters just in time to march the new guard out for inspection. Then the colonel reminded me that I was not dressed according to regulations, and excused me while I returned for my dress suit, sash, sword and cap. Not having a sash I took the colonel's and was soon on hand, "armed and equipped as the law directs." I met with no other adventures, and had little to do, for the men show the training we have given them and are not the awkward things they once were. At 3 p. m. an officers' drill was had on the parade ground. Colonel Parker was drill-master, and had everyone out. Being on duty, I had only to look on, and enjoy seeing the awkward work done by some of them. It was not all fun for the drilled, for the driller seemed determined to get the last drop of sweat out of them. He afterwards said he did it for the good of the service, that enlisted men were looking on, and he wished to set them a good example. For that same reason none of them dared to make any objections until they were back in their quarters and then the drill-master got his medicine. He claimed he wanted to find out just how long it took to wilt a paper collar. I presume if another drill of that kind comes off Colonel B. will act as drill-master and the lieutenant colonel will get as good as he gave.

Midnight. Some of the shoulder-strappers have gone to the theatre and the others are snoring away in their tents. In order to keep awake I am writing up the day's doings. A prayer meeting has been going on in the men's quarters since dark and is in full blast yet. It would be laughable only for their earnestness, which beats all I have yet witnessed. They sing more than they pray, and their hymns I have never seen in print. One of them I can repeat the first and last lines of, the middle being made up of variations. It starts "This lower world's a hell for us," and closes with "Where Jesus rides on a big white hoss." It was not funny, they were too much in earnest. Matt, who has just got in from the theatre, says he hopes it sounds better in heaven than it does here, and I haven't a doubt that it does. Abe Linkum comes in for a full share, his name being used as often in their praises as that of the Deity.

258. John Adams

Ferrol, 12 December, 1779.

The French consul had agreed to carry me, Mr. Dana, Mr. Allen, and my three children and our three servants, this day to Corunna, which is about five leagues from this place, by water, in a barge of fourteen oars, but the weather proved so boisterous that it was impossible to go.

To give you some idea of the place where we are, Cape Finisterre and Cape Ortegal are two long arms of land stretched out into the sea, which embrace a large body of water. Within this bay are two other points of land, within one of which is Ferrol, where we now are, and within the other is Corunna, where we intended to have gone this day, if the weather had permitted; but we hope to go to-morrow. We can get neither horses nor mules nor carriages, in this place, for ourselves or our baggage, which I am much surprised at, as it is so grand a port. Living and conveniences for conveyance are very dear in this place, which will run my expenses very high. There is nothing remarkable here but the natural strength of the place and the artificial fortifications, together with the arsenals, dry docks, barracks, and military matters by sea and land. The city is small, not very well built nor accommodated. Very little commerce or manufactures, industry or diversions. There are two or three elegant Churches, and there is an Italian opera. There is the appearance of much devotion, and there are many ecclesiastics.

It is dull enough to be in a country, so wholly ignorant of the language and usages; but we have furnished ourselves with a dictionary and grammar, and are learning every hour. Charles is much pleased with what he sees and hears, and behaves very discreetly. John is writing to you and his sister and brother. I excused myself from dining to-day on board the Souverain  and on board the Jason, two French men-of-war. Yesterday I dined on board the Triomphant, and the children on board the Jason. The French officers appear to-day with cockades in honor of the triple alliance—-a large white ribbon for the French, a smaller red one for the Spaniards, and a black one for the Americans, which makes a pretty appearance.

Upon looking a little into the Spanish language, I find it so very nearly like the Latin that I am persuaded we shall learn more of it in a month than we did of French in half a year. The manners of the Spaniards and French are as opposite as grave and gay. The dress of the Spanish officers is much like the French. That of the people a little different. Men and women, gentlemen and ladies, are very fond of long hair, which often reaches, braided in a queue or bound round with a black ribbon, almost to their hams. The ladies wear cloaks, black or white, which come over their heads and shoulders and reach down to their waists. They have fine black eyes, and consequently dark but yet lively complexions.

When, oh when shall I see you again, and live in peace?

The Russian ambassador lately appointed to relieve the one lately in London, passed through France and was a fortnight or three weeks at Paris, from whence the shrewd politicians have conjectured that peace was about to be mediated by that power. But it is said that England is as reluctant to acknowledge the independence of America as to cede Gibraltar, the last of which is insisted upon as well as the first. But this is only bruit. Adieu.