August 1

Marched for Frederick at 5 o'clock a. m.; dusty and hot; arrived at 9 o'clock a. m.; camped in a shady grove; Chambersburg reported burnt by the enemy because it couldn't or wouldn't meet a levy by McCausland of $500,000 in currency; also that Grant has blown up a sixteen-gun battery and taken one complete line of works; have been mustered today; took command of Company E as First Lieutenant of that Company.

August First

The Southampton Insurrection, which occurred in August, 1831, was one of those untoward incidents which so often marked the history of slavery. Under the leadership of one Nat Turner, a negro preacher of some education, who felt that he had been called of God to deliver his race from bondage, the negroes attacked the whites at night, and before the assault could be suppressed, fifty-seven whites, principally women and children, had been killed. This deplorable event assumed an even more portentous aspect when it was realized that the leader was a slave to whom the privilege of education had been accorded, and that one of his lieutenants was a free negro. In addition, there existed a wide-spread belief among the whites that influences and instigations from without the State were responsible for the insurrection.

Beverly B. Munford

 

 

August 1, 1863

Saturday. A year ago to-day I cradled rye for Theron Wilson, and I remember we had chicken pie for dinner with home-made beer to wash it down. To-day I have hard-tack, with coffee for a wash-down. Have I ever described a hard-tack to you? If not I will try, but I am doubtful of being able to make anyone who has not used them understand what they are. In size they are about like a common soda cracker, and in thickness about like two of them. Except for the thickness they look very much alike. But there the resemblance ends. The cracker eats easy, almost melts in the mouth, while the hard-tack is harder and tougher than so much wood. I don't know what the word "tack" means, but the "hard" I have long understood. We soak them in our coffee and in that way get off the outside. It takes a long time to soak one through, but repeated soakings and repeated gnawing finally uses them up. Very often they are mouldy, and most always wormy. We knock them together and jar out the worms, and the mould we cut or scrape off. Sometimes we soak them until soft and then fry them in pork grease, but generally we smash them up in pieces and grind away until either the teeth or the hard-tack gives up. I know now why Dr. Cole examined our teeth so carefully when we passed through the medical mill at Hudson. I tried some of the southern cooking to-day and am better contented with army fare than I have been for some time. Marching orders. Must get the commissary stores ready right away. Good-bye till next time.

August 1

August 1, 1853.--I have just finished Pelletan's book, "Profession de foi du dix-neuvième Siècle." It is a fine book Only one thing is wanting to it--the idea of evil. It is a kind of supplement to the theory of Condorcet--indefinite perfectibility, man essentially good, life, which is a physiological notion, dominating virtue, duty, and holiness, in short, a non-ethical conception of history, liberty identified with nature, the natural man taken for the whole man. The aspirations which such a book represents are generous and poetical, but in the first place dangerous, since they lead to an absolute confidence in instinct; and in the second, credulous and unpractical, for they set before us a mere dream man, and throw a veil over both present and past reality. The book is at once the plea justificatory of progress, conceived as fatal and irresistible, and an enthusiastic hymn to the triumph of humanity. It is earnest, but morally superficial; poetical, but fanciful and untrue. It confounds the progress of the race with the progress of the individual, the progress of civilization with the advance of the inner life. Why? Because its criterion is quantitative, that is to say, purely exterior (having regard to the wealth of life), and not qualitative (the goodness of life). Always the same tendency to take the appearance for the thing, the form for the substance, the law for the essence, always the same absence of moral personality, the same obtuseness of conscience, which has never recognized sin present in the will, which places evil outside of man, moralizes from outside, and transforms to its own liking the whole lesson of history! What is at fault is the philosophic superficiality of France, which she owes to her fatal notion of religion, itself due to a life fashioned by Catholicism and by absolute monarchy.

Catholic thought cannot conceive of personality as supreme and conscious of itself. Its boldness and its weakness come from one and the same cause--from an absence of the sense of responsibility, from that vassal state of conscience which knows only slavery or anarchy, which proclaims but does not obey the law, because the law is outside it, not within it. Another illusion is that of Quinet and Michelet, who imagine it possible to come out of Catholicism without entering into any other positive form of religion, and whose idea is to fight Catholicism by philosophy, a philosophy which is, after all, Catholic at bottom, since it springs from anti-Catholic reaction. The mind and the conscience, which have been formed by Catholicism, are powerless to rise to any other form of religion. From Catholicism, as from Epicureanism there is no return.

August 1, 1915

Well, dear girl, not a bit of news to tell you. I have really done nothing this last month but look at my flowers, superintend the gathering of my plums, put up a few pots of confiture, mow the lawn, and listen to the guns, now and then, read the communiqués, and sigh over the disasters in the east and the deadlock at Gallipoli.

At the end of the first year of the war the scene has stretched out so tremendously that my poor tired brain can hardly take it in. I suppose it is all clear to the general staff, but I don't know. To me it all looks like a great labyrinth,—and the Germans are at the gates of Warsaw. Of course this does not "alter the final result"—when that comes—but it means more destruction, more land to win back, and, I imagine, such desolation in Poland as makes even the Belgian disaster look, by comparison, small.

Oddly enough, while we know that this will brace up the Germans, fighting all about their borders on invaded territory, it does not effect the faith of the people here, who have even the courage to turn aside from their own grief, with tears in their eyes, to pity Poland. What a price Belgium pays for her courage to be honorable, and at what a price Poland must accept her independence! Everyone is philosophical here, but one does not have to be heartless to be that.

I find it ironical that my flowers bloom, that gay humming-birds hover over my Mas de Perse, that I have enough to eat, that sleep comes to me, and that the country is so beautiful.

Our dragoons have ridden away—on to the front, I am told, and silence has settled down on us.

I am well—there ends the history of a month, and I am not the only one in France leading a life like that,—and still the cannon are pounding on in the distance.

August 6, 1915

Well, the sans gêne days seem to be passed.

Up to now, as I have told you, the sauf-conduit matter, except on the last day I was at Meaux, was the thinnest sort of formality. I had to have one to leave the commune, but the blank forms were lying around everywhere. I had only to stop at the hotel at Couilly, step into the café, pick up a form and ask the proprietor to fill it out, and that was all that was necessary. I might have passed it on to anyone, for, although my name was written on it, no one ever took the trouble to fill out the description. The ticket-seller at the station merely glanced at the paper in my hand when I bought a ticket, and the gendarmes at the ticket window in Paris, when there were any,—often there were none—did no more. Of course, the possession of a sauf-conduit presupposes all one's papers en règle, but I never saw anyone examining to make sure of that.

All this is ended. We are evidently under a new régime.

I had my first intimation yesterday, when I had a domiciliary visit from the gendarmes at Esbly. It was a very formal, thorough affair, the two officers treating me, at the beginning of the interview, as if I were a very guilty person.

I was upstairs when I saw them arrive on their wheels. I put down my sewing, and went down to be ready to open the door when they knocked. They didn't knock. I waited a bit, then opened the door. There was no one on the terrace, but I heard their voices from the other side of the house. I went in search of them. They were examining the back of the house as if they had never seen one like it before. When they saw me, one of them said sharply, without the slightest salute: "There is no bell?"

I acknowledged the self-evident fact.

"How does one get in, since you keep your door locked?" he added.

"Well," I replied, with a smile, "as a rule, one knocks."

To that his only reply was: "Your name?"

I gave it to him.

He looked on his paper, repeated it—mispronouncing it, of course, and evidently sure that I did not know how to pronounce it myself.

"Foreigner," he stated.

I could not deny the charge. I merely volunteered "Américaine."

Then the inquiry continued like this. "Live here?"

"Evidently."

"How long have you lived here?"

"Since June, 1914."

That seemed to strike him as a very suspicious date, and he stared at me hard for a moment before he went on: "What for?"

"Principally because I leased the house."

"Why do you remain here in war-time?"

"Because I have nowhere else to go," and I tried not to smile.

"Why don't you go home?"

"This is my home."

"Haven't you any home in America?"

I resisted telling him that it was none of his business, and did my best to look pathetic—it was that, or laugh—as I answered: "Alas! I have not."

This seemed to strike both of them as unbelievable, and they only stared at me as if trying to put me out of countenance.

In the meantime, some of the people of Huiry, interested always in gendarmes, were standing at the top of the hill watching the scene, so I said: "Suppose you come inside and I will answer your questions there," and I opened the door of the salon, and went in.

They hesitated a moment, but decided to follow me. They stood, very stiffly, just inside the door, looking about with curiosity. I sat down at my desk, and made a motion to them to be seated. I did not know whether or not it was correct to ask gendarmes to sit down, but I ventured it. Evidently it was not correct, for they paid no attention to my gesture.

When they were done looking about, they asked me for my papers.

I produced my American passport. They looked at the huge steel- engraved document with great seriousness. I am sure they had never seen one before. It impressed them—as well it might, in comparison with the civil papers of the French government.

They satisfied themselves that the picture affixed was really I—that the name agreed with that on their books. Of course, they could not read a word of it, but they looked wise. Then they asked me for my French papers. I produced my permis de séjour—permitting me to stay in France provided I did not change my residence, and to which was affixed the same photograph as that on my passport; my declaration of my civil situation, duly stamped; and my "immatriculation," a leaf from the register on which all foreigners are written down, just as we would be if admitted to a hospital or an insane asylum.

The two men put their heads together over these documents— examined the signatures and the seals with great gravity—with evident regret to find that I was quite en règle.

Finally they permitted me to put the documents all back in the case in which I carry them.

I thought the scene was over. Not at all. They waited until I shut the case, and replaced it in my bag—and then:

"You live alone?" one asked.

I owned that I did.

"But why?"

"Well," I replied, "because I have no family here."

"You have no domestic?"

I explained that I had a femme de ménage.

"Where is she?"

I said that at that moment she was probably at Couilly, but that ordinarily when she was not here, she was at her own home.

"Where is that?" was the next question.

So I took them out on to the terrace again, and showed them
Amélie's house.

They stared solemnly at it, as if they had never seen it before, and then one of them turned on me quickly, as if to startle me. "Vous êtes une femme de lettres?"

"It is so written down in my papers," I replied.

"Journaliste?"

I denied my old calling without the quiver of an eyelash. I hadn't a scruple. Besides, my old profession many a time failed me, and it might have been dangerous to have been known as even an ex- journalist today within the zone of military operations.

Upon that followed a series of the most intimate questions anyone ever dared put to me,—my income, my resources, my expectations, my plans, etc.—and all sorts of questions I too rarely put to myself even, and never answer to myself. Practically the only question they did not ask was if I ever intended to marry. I was tempted to volunteer that information, but, as neither man had the smallest sense of humor, I decided it was wiser to let well enough alone.

It was only when they were stumped for another single question that they decided to go. They saluted me politely this time, a tribute I imagine to my having kept my temper under great provocation to lose it, went out of the gate, stood whispering together a few minutes, and gazing back at the house, as if afraid they would forget it, looked up at the plaque on the gate-post, made a note, mounted their wheels, and sprinted down the hill, still in earnest conversation.

I wondered what they were saying to one another. Whatever it was, I got an order early the next morning to present myself at the gendarmerie at Esbly before eleven o'clock.

Père was angry. He seemed to feel, that, for some reason, I was under suspicion, and that it was a man's business to defend me. So, when Ninette brought my perambulator to the gate, there was Père, in his veston and casquette, determined to go with me and see me through.

At Esbly I found a different sort of person—a gentleman—he told me he was not a gendarme by métier, but a volunteer—and, although he put me through practically the same paces, it was different. He was sympathetic, not averse to a joke, and, when it was over, he went out to help me into my baby cart, thanked me for troubling myself, assured me that I was absolutely en règle, and even went so very far as to say that he was pleased to have met me. So I suppose, until the commander at Esbly is changed, I shall be left in peace.

This will give you a little idea of what it is like here. I suppose I needed to be shaken up a bit to make me realize that I was near the war. It is easy to forget it sometimes.

Amélie came this morning with the tale that it was rumored that all foreigners were to be "expelled from the zone des armées." It might be. Still, I am not worrying. "Sufficient to the day," you know.