August 11

August Eleventh

Against the night, a champion bright,
The glow-worm, lifts a spear of light;
And, undismayed, the slenderest shade
Against the noonday bares a blade.
John B. Tabb
(Heroes )



Marched at 6 o'clock a. m. Our regiment has been train guard; cavalry has had warm work in the locality of Winchester, Va., as considerable cannonading has been heard in that vicinity. We are camped on the same ground the rebs were on last night; should judge we were making for Manassas Gap by the course we are taking; made an easy march to-day.

August 11, 1863

Hickory Landing, La. Tuesday. No move yet. We stuck up some tents in the night and crawled in. Fresh orders this morning are to keep one day's rations cooked ahead, and be ready to go at a moment's notice. Eph. Hammond is dreadful sick to-day. He is our acting orderly and one of the best fellows that ever lived.

Later. Eph. is dead. Whatever it was that struck him it took him quick and nothing the doctor could do seemed to help him. Poor Eph., we shall miss him. He was a leading spirit in any deviltry that was going on, but was one of the sort that no one could find fault with. He was a general favorite. There are a dozen others that would not be missed as he will. John Pitcher, the same John who helped me get the honey at Port Hudson, was taken to the hospital to-day. We have just buried Hammond. I have marked some boards for his grave and Rider's, for it is possible they will be sent for. What hardened wretches we have become. The word came, "Eph. Hammond is dead, hurry up and make a box for him." He was one of the best-liked men in the regiment. Yet not a tear was shed, and before his body was cold he was buried in the ground. We will talk about him more or less for a day or two and then forget all about him. That is what less than a year has done to us. At that rate two years more and we will be murdering in cold blood. The day has been sultry hot, but for a wonder we have had no shower. Good-bye, before I get another chance to write we will be somewhere else.

August 11

August 11, 1877.--The growing triumph of Darwinism--that is to say of materialism, or of force--threatens the conception of justice. But justice will have its turn. The higher human law cannot be the offspring of animality. Justice is the right to the maximum of individual independence compatible with the same liberty for others; in other words, it is respect for man, for the immature, the small, the feeble; it is the guarantee of those human collectivities, associations, states, nationalities--those voluntary or involuntary unions--the object of which is to increase the sum of happiness, and to satisfy the aspiration of the individual. That some should make use of others for their own purposes is an injury to justice. The right of the stronger is not a right, but a simple fact, which obtains only so long as there is neither protest nor resistance. It is like cold, darkness, weight, which tyrannize over man until he has invented artificial warmth, artificial light, and machinery. Human industry is throughout an emancipation from brute nature, and the advances made by justice are in the same way a series of rebuffs inflicted upon the tyranny of the stronger. As the medical art consists in the conquest of disease, so goodness consists in the conquest of the blind ferocities and untamed appetites of the human animal. I see the same law throughout--increasing emancipation of the individual, a continuous ascent of being toward life, happiness, justice, and wisdom. Greed and gluttony are the starting-point, intelligence and generosity the goal.

195. John Adams

Same date.

I think I have sometimes observed to you in conversation, that upon examining the biography of illustrious men, you will generally find some female about them, in the relation of mother or wife or sister, to whose instigation a great part of their merit is to be ascribed. You will find a curious example of this in the case of Aspasia, the wife of Pericles. She was a woman of the greatest beauty and the first genius. She taught him, it is said, his refined maxims of policy, his lofty imperial eloquence, nay, even composed the speeches on which so great a share of his reputation was founded. The best men in Athens frequented her house and brought their wives to receive lessons from her of economy and right deportment. Socrates himself was her pupil in eloquence, and gives her the honor of that funeral oration which he delivers in the "Menexenus" of Plato. Aristophanes, indeed, abuses this famous lady, but Socrates does her honor.

I wish some of our great men had such wives. By the account in your last letter, it seems the women in Boston begin to think themselves able to serve their country. What a pity it is that our Generals in the northern districts had not Aspasias to their wives!

I believe the two Howes have not very great women for wives. If they had, we should suffer more from their exertions than we do. This is our good fortune. A woman of good sense would not let her husband spend five weeks at sea in such a season of the year. A smart wife would have put Howe in possession of Philadelphia a long time ago.

194. John Adams

Philadelphia, 11 August, 1777.

Your kind favor of July 30th and 31st was handed me just now from the post-office. I have regularly received a letter from you every week, excepting one, for a long time past, and as regularly send a line to you, inclosing papers. My letters are scarcely worth sending. Indeed, I don't choose to indulge much speculation, lest a letter should miscarry, and free sentiments upon public affairs intercepted from me might do much hurt.

Where the scourge of God and the plague of mankind is gone, no one can guess. An express from Sinnepuxent, a place between the Capes of Delaware and the Capes of Chesapeake, informs that a fleet of one hundred sail was seen off that place last Thursday. But whether this is fishermen's news, like that from Cape Ann, I know not. The time spends and the campaign wears away, and Howe makes no great figure yet. How many men and horses will he cripple by this strange coasting voyage of five weeks?

We have given New England men what they will think a complete triumph in the removal of Generals from the northward and sending Gates there. I hope every part of New England will now exert itself to its utmost efforts. Never was a more glorious opportunity than Burgoyne has given us of destroying him by marching down so far towards Albany. Let New England turn out and cut off his retreat. Pray, continue to write me every week. You have made me merry with the female frolic with the miser. But I hope the females will leave off their attachment to coffee. I assure you the best families in this place have left off, in a great measure, the use of West India goods. We must bring ourselves to live upon the produce of our own country. What would I give for some of your cider? Milk has become the breakfast of many of the wealthiest and genteelest families here.

Fenno put me into a kind of frenzy to go home, by the description he gave me, last night, of the fertility of the season, the plenty of fish, etc., etc., etc., in Boston and about it. I am condemned to this place, a miserable exile from everything that is agreeable to me. God will my banishment shall not last long.