April 20

April 20, 1863

No real news yet. Lots of rumors though, one of which is that they are all cut up and the rest captured. We don't believe it.

Not very pleasant to-day; brigade drill this forenoon; regiment so busy putting up quarters it is excused from all other duties; officers of Tenth Vermont all ordered out to witness the new movements in tactics at brigade drill. My leave has come back approved, but shan't go to Washington till Sunday; clear moonlight night.

April Twentieth

The tempting prize offered Lee in the shape of supreme command of the Army of the Union did not swerve him from his integrity for an instant. It was currently reported at the time that Gen. Winfield Scott implored him, “For God's sake, don't resign!” Every argument that power, luxury, limitless resources, and the untrammeled control of the situation could devise was brought to bear upon him.

Henry E. Shepherd


Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army, 1861



April 20

GENEVA, April 20, 1849.--It is six years [Footnote: Amiel left Geneva for Paris and Berlin in April, 1848, the preceding year, 1841-42, having been spent in Italy and Sicily.] to-day since I last left Geneva. How many journeys, how many impressions, observations, thoughts, how many forms of men and things have since then passed before me and in me! The last seven years have been the most important of my life: they have been the novitiate of my intelligence, the initiation of my being into being.

Three snowstorms this afternoon. Poor blossoming plum-trees and peach trees! What a difference from six years ago, when the cherry-trees, adorned in their green spring dress and laden with their bridal flowers, smiled at my departure along the Vaudois fields, and the lilacs of Burgundy threw great gusts of perfume into my face!...

April 20, 1864

Wednesday. On board the John Warner, bag and baggage. When we got up this morning we found everybody pulling up and getting ready for a move. We watched and waited for orders to do likewise. The major, who had gone to investigate, came back and said the Red River campaign had been given up and all hands were going back to Alexandria. He secured passage for us on the Warner and here we are. For fear someone would press him into the service and forget that he was only a convalescent, I took the horse I had patched up, and after stuffing his wound with bacon fat, I took him across the pontoon bridge and turned him loose in the big grass on the other side. When I came back Tony had my few things picked up and ready to go on board. The bulk of the army goes by land and a portion of it is already on the way to Alexandria, our first stopping-place. Major Palon says the expedition had to be abandoned on account of the falling of the water in the river, and if the boats get over the rapids at Alexandria they must do it right away. At any rate a retreat is now in order and the major says I will have plenty of filling for my diary before it is over.

Night. Four thirty-pounder Parrot guns have been mounted on the forward deck, and the men and ammunition necessary for their use is on board. Every preparation for trouble is being made, whether we have any or not. The cause of the retreat is common talk now among the officers. Banks is blamed for the failure of the expedition, though I fail to see how he is to blame for the falling of the water in the Red River.

A man fishing from the boat this afternoon hooked onto something which when pulled up proved to be a dead soldier with his skull smashed in. The boatmen remembered him as one who had a quarrel with a deck hand last night, and as he, too, is missing, it is thought he killed this soldier and after throwing him in the river cleared out. I could not get his name or regiment, but am sure he did not belong to the 128th. It is easy to die here and there are many ways of doing it. A dead man was found on the upper deck of the Mattie Stevens yesterday. He was thought to be asleep until a comrade went to wake him up and found he was sleeping his last sleep. He was shot through the heart, but as no shot had been fired on the boat it is supposed it came from some distance away, missing the thousands that are here and finding only this sleeper. He was of the 33d Massachusetts. What I have seen to-day would fill a book. The major's prophecy that I would find plenty of filling for my diary is coming true. I had noticed a prisoner handcuffed fast to a post in the cabin, but had paid no attention to him until some loud talking in his neighborhood led me to it. A soldier, one of the Western men, with a bloody bandage around one leg, was giving this prisoner thebiggest kind of a tongue-lashing, and was with difficulty kept from clubbing him with his cane. I finally got at the Westerner and found out what it was about. He said his regiment was waiting in the road below here for the line to be made up. Noticing a house and other buildings in a grove not very far away, he and two of his comrades set out for some eggs and perhaps something else good to eat. They were met by this prisoner, who acted very friendly, giving them milk to drink and to fill their canteens. When they asked for eggs he told them there were none in the house but plenty in the loft, pointing to a loft with a ladder reaching to it. Without a suspicion of treachery they set their guns up by the side of the building and went up the ladder after the eggs. When they started to come down they found their own guns pointed at them, in the hands of this prisoner and two other men they had not seen before. There was nothing to do but surrender, which they decided to do. They came down and were marched into the woods for some distance, stood up in line and fired upon. One was killed instantly, my informant was shot through the leg and fell more from the expectation of certain death than from his hurt. The third man was missed clean and started to run with the three devils after him. That gave this fellow a chance and he legged it for his regiment and fell fainting from terror and the loss of blood. When he came to, his comrades were returning with this prisoner, the only one they could find. They did find the man that ran away, lying where he had been overtaken and stabbed to death with bayonets. The wonder and the pity is they ever brought this murderer away with them. Why they didn't shoot him full of holes instead of taking him prisoner is what none of us can understand. I suppose he will live on Uncle Sam for a while and then go free. This must do for one day's record. It is late and I am almost blind from writing by the light of a lantern.

172. Abigail Adams

20 April, 1777.

The post is very regular, and faithfully brings me all your letters, I believe. If I do not write so often as you do, be assured that 't is because I have nothing worth your acceptance to write. Whilst the army lay this way I had constantly something by way of intelligence to write. Of late there has been a general state of tranquillity, as if we had no contending armies.

There seems to be something preparing against Newport at last. If we are not wise too late, it will be well. Two thousand militia are ordered to be drafted for that place, and last week the independent company marched very generally; expect to tarry six weeks, till the militia are collected.

Your obliging favors of various dates came safe to hand last week, and contain a fine parcel of agreeable intelligence, for which I am much obliged, and I feel very important to have such a budget to communicate.

As to the town of Boston, I cannot give you any very agreeable account of it. It seems to be really destitute of the choice spirits which once inhabited it, though I have not heard any particular charges of Toryism against it. No doubt you had your intelligence from better authority than I can name. I have not been into town since your absence, nor do I desire to go till a better spirit prevails. If 't is not Toryism it is a spirit of avarice and contempt of authority, an inordinate love of gain, that prevails not only in town but everywhere I look or hear from. As to dissipation, there was always enough of it in the town, but I believe not more now than when you left us.

There is a general cry against the merchants, against monopolizers, etc., who, 't is said, have created a partial scarcity. That a scarcity prevails of every article, not only of luxury but even the necessaries of life, is a certain fact. Everything bears an exorbitant price. The Act, which was in some measure regarded and stemmed the torrent of oppression, is now no more heeded than if it had never been made. Indian corn at five shillings; rye, eleven and twelve shillings, but scarcely any to be had even at that price; beef, eightpence; veal, sixpence and eightpence; butter, one and sixpence; mutton, none; lamb, none; pork, none; mean sugar, four pounds per hundred; molasses, none; cotton-wool, none; New England rum, eight shillings per gallon; coffee, two and sixpence per pound; chocolate, three shillings.

What can be done? Will gold and silver remedy this evil? By your accounts of board, horsekeeping, etc., I fancy you are not better off than we are here. I live in hopes that we see the most difficult time we have to experience. Why is Carolina so much better furnished than any other State, and at so reasonable prices?

I hate to tell a story unless I am fully informed of every particular. As it happened yesterday, and to-day is Sunday, I have not been so fully informed as I could wish. About eleven o'clock yesterday William Jackson, Dick Green, Harry Perkins, and Sargent, of Cape Ann, and A. Carry, of Charlestown, were carted out of Boston under the direction of Joice [170] junior, who was mounted on horseback, with a red coat, a white wig, and a drawn sword, with drum and fife following. A concourse of people to the amount of five hundred followed. They proceeded as far as Roxbury, when he ordered the cart to be tipped up, then told them if they were ever caught in town again it should be at the expense of their lives. He then ordered his gang to return, which they did immediately without any disturbance.

Whether they had been guilty of any new offense I cannot learn. 'T is said that a week or two ago there was a public auction at Salem, when these five Tories went down and bid up the articles to an enormous price, in consequence of which they were complained of by the Salem Committee. Two of them, I hear, took refuge in this town last night.

I believe we shall be the last State to assume government. Whilst we harbor such a number of designing Tories amongst us, we shall find government disregarded and every measure brought into contempt by secretly undermining and openly contemning them. We abound with designing Tories and ignorant, avaricious Whigs.

Monday, 21st.

Have now learned the crime of the carted Tories. It seems they have refused to take paper money, and offered their goods lower for silver than for paper; bought up articles at a dear rate, and then would not part with them for paper.

Yesterday arrived two French vessels—one a twenty, some say thirty-six gun frigate; dry goods, and four hundred stand of arms, 't is said they contain. I believe I wrote you that Manly had sailed, but it was only as far as Cape Ann. He and MacNeal both lie at anchor in the harbor.


[170]A man used to ride on an ass, with immense jack boots and his face covered with a horrible mask, and was called Joice junior. His office was to assemble men and boys in mob style, and ride, in the middle of them, to terrify the adherents to the royal government.—Niles's Principles and Acts of the Revolution, p. 490.