April 15

Weather fine this forenoon but began to cloud up towards night. Major Harper has paid off the regiment to-day. The sutler is also selling off his stock of goods, as to-morrow is the time appointed for all sutlers to leave the army; looks like a move in a few days; am detailed for picket to-morrow; no letter from home to-night, am sorry to say.

April 15

April 15, 1881.--To-morrow is Good Friday, the festival of pain. I know what it is to spend days of anguish and nights of agony. Let me bear my cross humbly.... I have no more future. My duty is to satisfy the claims of the present, and to leave everything in order. Let me try to end well, seeing that to undertake and even to continue, are closed to me.

April 15, 1864

Friday. This has been an interesting day. An attack was expected and preparations were made to receive it. Troops were shifted from one place to another. The pickets on the Natchitoches road were driven in. The woods were chopped away to give the artillery a chance in that direction. A negro came running out of the woods saying the Rebs were within three miles and were coming on the double-quick, but this report was not believed, for someone besides him would have found it out. At any rate no attack was made and the day passed and left things very much as it found them.

April 15, 1863

Reported for duty with the company this morning, but have to report to the doctor every day until I get my discharge from there. Have been appointed commissary sergeant. See to drawing the rations for Company B, and shall look out that they get their share. This relieves me from guard duty and from everything that interferes with my duties as commissary. It relieves me from duty in the ranks, adds another stripe to my arm, and two dollars per month to my pay. I am glad to have something to do. At night a citizen tried to go through camp and when halted by the guards started to run and was shot. What he was, or why he acted as he did I don't know, and he can't tell.

April 15

April 15,1867--(Seven A. M.).--Rain storms in the night--the weather is showing its April caprice. From the window one sees a gray and melancholy sky, and roofs glistering with rain. The spring is at its work. Yes, and the implacable flight of time is driving us toward the grave. Well--each has his turn!

"Allez, allez, ô jeunes filles, Cueillir des bleuets dans les blés!"

I am overpowered with melancholy, languor, lassitude. A longing for the last great sleep has taken possession of me, combated, however, by a thirst for sacrifice--sacrifice heroic and long-sustained. Are not both simply ways of escape from one's self? "Sleep, or self-surrender, that I may die to self!"--such is the cry of the heart. Poor heart!

April Fifteenth

There was but one exception to the general grief too remarkable to be passed over in silence. Among the extreme Radicals in Congress, Mr. Lincoln's determined clemency and liberality towards the Southern people had made an impression so unfavorable that, though they were shocked at his murder, they did not, among themselves, conceal gratification that he was no longer in their way.

Nicholay and Hay
(Life of Lincoln )

 

FORESHADOWING RECONSTRUCTION

The Union League of America was organized in Cleveland, Ohio, during the war by friends of Thaddeus Stevens, the Radical leader of Congress. Its prime object was the confiscation of the property of the South. The chief obstacle to this program was Abraham Lincoln. Hence the first work of the League was to form a conspiracy against Lincoln and prevent his renomination for a second term.

E. W. R. Ewing

 

Abraham Lincoln dies, 1865

Federal Government issues a call for 75,000 volunteers, 1861

 

 

April 15

April 15, 1870.--Crucifixion! That is the word we have to meditate to-day. Is it not Good Friday?

To curse grief is easier than to bless it, but to do so is to fall back into the point of view of the earthly, the carnal, the natural man. By what has Christianity subdued the world if not by the apotheosis of grief, by its marvelous transmutation of suffering into triumph, of the crown of thorns into the crown of glory, and of a gibbet into a symbol of salvation? What does the apotheosis of the Cross mean, if not the death of death, the defeat of sin, the beatification of martyrdom, the raising to the skies of voluntary sacrifice, the defiance of pain? "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" By long brooding over this theme--the agony of the just, peace in the midst of agony, and the heavenly beauty of such peace--humanity came to understand that a new religion was born--a new mode, that is to say, of explaining life and of understanding suffering.

Suffering was a curse from which man fled; now it becomes a purification of the soul, a sacred trial sent by eternal love, a divine dispensation meant to sanctify and ennoble us, an acceptable aid to faith, a strange initiation into happiness. O power of belief! All remains the same, and yet all is changed. A new certitude arises to deny the apparent and the tangible; it pierces through the mystery of things, it places an invisible Father behind visible nature, it shows us joy shining through tears, and makes of pain the beginning of joy.

And so, for those who have believed, the tomb becomes heaven, and on the funeral pyre of life they sing the hosanna of immortality; a sacred madness has renewed the face of the world for them, and when they wish to explain what they feel, their ecstasy makes them incomprehensible; they speak with tongues. A wild intoxication of self-sacrifice, contempt for death, the thirst for eternity, the delirium of love--these are what the unalterable gentleness of the Crucified has had power to bring forth. By his pardon of his executioners, and by that unconquerable sense in him of an indissoluble union with God, Jesus, on his cross, kindled an inextinguishable fire and revolutionized the world. He proclaimed and realized salvation by faith in the infinite mercy, and in the pardon granted to simple repentance. By his saying, "There is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth than over ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance," he made humility the gate of entrance into paradise.

Crucify the rebellious self, mortify yourself wholly, give up all to God, and the peace which is not of this world will descend upon you. For eighteen centuries no grander word has been spoken; and although humanity is forever seeking after a more exact and complete application of justice, yet her secret faith is not in justice but in pardon, for pardon alone conciliates the spotless purity of perfection with the infinite pity due to weakness--that is to say, it alone preserves and defends the Idea of holiness, while it allows full scope to that of love. The gospel proclaims the ineffable consolation, the good news, which disarms all earthly griefs, and robs even death of its terrors--the news of irrevocable pardon, that is to say, of eternal life. The Cross is the guarantee of the gospel.

Therefore it has been its standard.

April 15, 1843

FURNITURE.

I will now endeavour to give you an idea of some of our arrangements. We have moved to the other side of the house in order to have our bed-room to the west; because the sea-breeze, which blows every night, is a south-west wind. The room in which I am sitting was my wife's dressing-room; the one I use is fifty feet long. Dressing-rooms are absolutely necessary in this country, because nothing is put into the sleeping apartment except the bed, because of the mosquitoes, which harbour in swarms wherever they can find shelter. The bed is never placed against the wall, but always in the middle of the room; and the feet are placed in pans of water, to prevent the white ants, centipedes, &c. from paying you a visit during the night.

The room I am now in has one French window opening into the verandah in front, another towards the church, a door opening into the next room, and another into the godown or store-room. All these windows and doors are now open, and I am sitting as near the centre as I can, to catch what little breeze there is, for the weather is fearfully hot; the thermometer at noon about 90° in-doors. It is now eleven in the evening, and my wife is gone to bed. The floor, which is of cement (wooden floors are never used here on account of the white ant), is covered with a curious sort of matting, made of the leaves of the date-tree. We always use mats instead of carpets in India, because they are much cooler. The walls and the ceilings are whitewashed, the universal substitute for paper or paint in the Mofussil. When I say the ceiling, I mean the ceiling-cloths, which are great sheets of canvas covering the tops of the rooms, and fastened up with cords.

Over my head swings a punkah or fan, about eighteen feet long and three wide, made of canvas stretched on a wooden frame, and also whitewashed. This hangs from the ceiling, or rather from some bamboos placed upon the ceiling. Suspended from the lower edge of the punkah is a sort of full flounce of white calico circling along the whole length. The punkah is swung backwards and forwards over my head by means of a long rope pulled by a bearer sitting in the verandah. This man is now fast asleep, but still he continues to pull the rope, and so he would do for hours if I required it.

The furniture of the room consists of a table, a sideboard, and a large screen of common cloth, stretched on a frame of sissoo-wood (a sort of coarse rose-wood). It is about seven feet high and seven across, and is placed before the door of the garden. On the sideboard stands a flat candlestick, with a glass shade to keep the insects from the flame. The candle is wax; we cannot use tallow for two reasons: the climate of India is so hot that the candles would not remain upright, and the sheep here have very little fat upon them. On the table are two Indian table-lamps. I hardly know how to describe them. The lower part is like an upright candlestick, on which is placed a glass cup half filled with water, the other half with cocoa-nut oil. In the bottom is a little bit of lead with two thin cotton wicks in it, which reach a little above the surface of the oil. These are alight. Over the whole is a large inverted bell-glass to keep off the insects, which at present swarm around. Every minute I hear the mosquitoes buzzing about my ears; then they settle on my face, and on my clothes, through which they are enabled to bite with ease. This keeps me in a continued fidget.

There is also an incessant whistling all around from what we call crickets, though they are somewhat different from those in England. A number of large grasshoppers, about two inches long, of a light green, are hopping about on the table, and occasionally on my paper. On the wall are several long-tailed lizards: they are only slightly venomous; and, though extremely ugly, we are always glad to see them, because they eat the mosquitoes. Round the ceiling are circling three large bats, which my mungoose, sitting in a corner, keeps watching. Should one fall, he would seize and devour him in an instant. A wild cat came through the room just now, and took a peep at me; but the mungoose growled, and it ran way. It was small; but it has been very destructive in the poultry-yard.

OLD CUTTACK.

But I must now return to what I was telling. The place which we came upon in the jungle is called Old Cuttack; and it deserves the name, for I do not suppose it has been inhabited for the last thousand years. It appears from what little I saw of it to be a most wonderful place, and certainly proves that the population in the olden times must have been very numerous, and far advanced in mechanical arts. It consists of a deep ravine, the sides of which are composed of a dark rock of extreme hardness, and containing a great quantity of iron. On one side it has been made perfectly smooth, although certainly not less than seventy feet in height: on the other are numerous steps and staircases, cut out of the solid rock. The stone does not seem to have been broken off and then chiselled smooth, but it appears as if the steps had been cut out in solid pieces.

On the summit are the remains of houses built of large blocks, all perfectly smooth, saving from the effects of time and weather. Scattered about are heaps of rock, as if collected for building. At a little distance on the banks of the river is a sort of seawall, which I have not yet seen, but in which, they tell me, many of the masses of rock are sixteen or eighteen feet long.

All this appears doubly wonderful when you remember that the natives now, almost naked, build their houses of mud, without windows, and with a miserable thatch; that their fireplaces are nothing but little holes in the ground; and that in most respects they are absolute savages. Either they have very much degenerated, or, which is more probable, the race which built these mighty works is swept away.

Thursday, April 15th.—This afternoon has been a day to remember. We've had our journey up to the firing line, to a dressing station just over half a mile from the first line of German trenches! It is between the two villages of Givenchy and Cuinchy, this side of La Bassée. The journey there was through the village I walked to with Marie Thérèse (which has been shelled twice since we came), and along the long, wide, straight road the British Army now knows so well—paved in the middle and a straight line of poplars on each side. As far as you could see it was covered with two streams of khaki, with an occasional string of French cavalry—one stream going up to the trenches after their so many days' "rest," and the other coming from the trenches to their "rest." We soon got up to some old German trenches from which we drove them months ago; they run parallel with the road. On the other side we saw one of our own Field Batteries, hidden in the scrub of a hedge—not talking at the moment. There were also some French batteries hidden behind an embankment. "The German guns are trained always on this road," said our A.S.C. driver cheerfully, "but they don't generally begin not till about 4 o'clock," so, as it was then 2.30, we weren't alarmed. They know it is used for transport and troops and often send a few shells on to it. We sat next him and he did showman. Before long we got into the area of ruined houses—and they are a sight! They spell War, and War only—nothing else (but perhaps an earthquake?) could make such awful desolation; in a few of the smaller cottages with a roof on, the families had gone back to live in a sort of patched-up squalor, but all the bigger houses and parts of streets were mere jagged shells. The two villages converge just where we turned a corner from the La Bassée road into a lane on our left where the dressing station is. A little farther on is "Windy Corner," which is "a very hot place." We had before this passed some of our own reserve unoccupied trenches, some with sandbags for parapets, but now we suddenly found ourselves with a funny barricade of different coloured and shaped doors, taken from the ruined houses, about 8 feet high on our right. This was to prevent the German snipers from seeing our transport or M.A.'s pass down that lane to the communication trench, which has its beginning at the ruined house which is used by the F.A. as one of its advanced dressing stations. It is called No. 1 Harley Street. Here we got out, and the first person we saw was Sergt. P., who was theatre orderly in No. 7 at Pretoria. He greeted us warmly and took us to Capt. R., who was the officer in charge. He also was most awfully kind and showed us all over his place. We went first into his two cellars, where the wounded are taken to be dressed, instead of above, where they might be shelled. They had a queer collection of furniture—a table for dressings, and some oddments of chairs, including two carved oak dining-room chairs. Round the front steps is a barricade of sandbags against snipers' bullets. The officer's room above the cellars was quite nice and tidy, furnished from the ruined houses, and with a vase of daffodils! He had been told the day before to allow no one up the staircase, because snipers were on the look-out for the top windows, and if it were seen to be used as an observing station it might draw the shells. However, just before we left he changed his mind and took us up and showed us all the landmarks, including the famous brick-stacks, where there must be many German graves, but we all had to be very careful not to show ourselves. The garden at the back has a row of graves with flowers growing on them, and neat wooden crosses with little engraved tin plates on, with the name and regiment. One was, "An unknown British Soldier." There were no wounded in the D.S. this afternoon.

The orderlies showed us lots of interesting bits of German shells and time fuses, &c. The house was full of big holes, with dirty smart curtains, and hats and mirrors lying about the floors upstairs among the brickwork and ruins.

They then took us a little way down the communication trench called "Hertford Street," under the "Marble Arch" to "Oxford Circus!" It is quite dry mud over bricks and very narrow, and goes higher than your head on the enemy side, and has zigzags very often. You can only go single file, and we had to wait in a zigzag to let a lot of men go by—they stream past almost continually. One officer invited us to come and see his dug-out, but it was farther along than we might go without being awfully in the way. We had before this given one stream of ingoing men all the cigarettes, chocolates, writing-paper, mouth-organs, Keating's, pencils, and newspapers we could lay hands on before we started, and we could have done with thousands of each. Every few minutes one of our guns talked with a startlingly loud noise somewhere near, but Captain R. said it was an exceptionally quiet day, and we didn't hear a single German gun or see any bursting shells. It was a particularly warm sunny day, and the men going into the trenches were so cheerful and jolly that it didn't seem at all tragic or depressing, and there was nothing but one's recollections of the Aisne and Ypres after what they call "a show" to remind one what it all meant and what it might at any moment turn into. One hasn't had before the opportunities of seeing the men who are in it (and not at the Bases or on the Lines of Communication) while they are fit, but only after they are wounded or sick, and the contrast is very striking. All these after their "rest" look fit and sunburnt and natural, and the one expression that never or rarely fails, whether fit, wounded, or sick, is the expression of acquiescence and going through with it that they all have. If it failed at all it was with the men with frost-bite and trench feet, who stuck it so long when winter first came on before they got the braziers, and in the long rains when they stood in mud and water to their waists. Now, thank Heaven, the ground is hard again.

I saw three small children playing about just behind the dressing station, where some men unloading a lorry were killed a few days ago. The women and children are all along the road, absolutely regardless of danger as long as they are allowed to stay in their own homes. The babies sit close up against the Tommies who are resting by the roadside.

We saw a great many wire entanglements, so thick that they look like a field of lavender a little way off. From the top windows of the ruined house we could see long lines of heads, picks and shovels, going single file down "Hertford Street," but they couldn't be seen from the enemy side because of the parapet.