August 31

Pleasant and warm; got our muster and pay rolls this morning; completed two; not much skirmishing to-day; paper states that probably General McClellan will be the Democratic nominee for president; got a mail but no letter for me.

August 31, 1862

Sunday. Spent the day in camp and a very quiet day at that. A paper has been circulated among us asking that the Rev. Mr. Parker, who preached for us once, be sent with us as chaplain. I understand every regiment has a chaplain (a minister) to look out for the spiritual welfare of the regiment. Judging from this one, they must find plenty to do.

277. John Adams

Hague, 31 August, 1782.

All well; you will send these papers to some printer when you have done with them.

We have found that the only way of guarding against fevers is to ride. We accordingly mount our horses every day. But the weather through the whole spring and most of the summer has been very dull, damp, cold, very disagreeable and dangerous. But shaking on horseback guards pretty well against it.

I am going to dinner with a Duke and a Duchess and a number of Ambassadors and Senators in all the luxury of this luxurious world; but how much more luxurious it would be to me to dine upon roast beef with Parson Smith, Dr. Tufts, or Norton Quincy! or upon rusticoat potatoes with Portia! Ah! Oh! hi, ho, hum, and her daughter and sons!

August Thirty-First

My deep wound burns, my pale lips quake in death,
I feel my fainting heart resign its strife,
And reaching now the limit of my life.
Lord, to thy will I yield my parting breath,
Yet many a dream hath charmed my youthful eye;
And must life's visions all depart?
Oh, surely no! for all that fired my heart
To rapture here shall live with me on high;
And that fair form that won my earliest vow,
That my young spirit prized all else above,
And now adored as Freedom, now as Love,
Stands in seraphic guise before me now;
And as my failing senses fade away
It beckons me on high, to realms of endless day.

[Sonnet composed by John Laurens as he lay dying of wounds and fever incurred in a campaign against the British in South Carolina.—Editor]

August 31

August 31, 1869.--I have finished Schopenhauer. My mind has been a tumult of opposing systems--Stoicism, Quietism, Buddhism, Christianity. Shall I never be at peace with myself? If impersonality is a good, why am I not consistent in the pursuit of it? and if it is a temptation, why return to it, after having judged and conquered it?

Is happiness anything more than a conventional fiction? The deepest reason for my state of doubt is that the supreme end and aim of life seems to me a mere lure and deception. The individual is an eternal dupe, who never obtains what he seeks, and who is forever deceived by hope. My instinct is in harmony with the pessimism of Buddha and of Schopenhauer. It is a doubt which never leaves me even in my moments of religious fervor. Nature is indeed for me a Maïa; and I look at her, as it were, with the eyes of an artist. My intelligence remains skeptical. What, then, do I believe in? I do not know. And what is it I hope for? It would be difficult to say. Folly! I believe in goodness, and I hope that good will prevail. Deep within this ironical and disappointed being of mine there is a child hidden--a frank, sad, simple creature, who believes in the ideal, in love, in holiness, and all heavenly superstitions. A whole millennium of idylls sleeps in my heart; I am a pseudo-skeptic, a pseudo-scoffer.

"Borné dans sa nature, infini dans ses voeux, L'homme est un dieu tombé qui se souvient des cieux."

Monday, August 31st.—We all got up at 5.30 to be ready, but I daresay we shan't move to-day. Yesterday we had two starved, exhausted, fugitive (from Amiens) No.— Sisters in to tea on our floor, and heard their stories. The last seventeen of them fled with the wounded. A train of cattle-trucks came in at Rouen with all the wounded as they were picked up without a spot of dressing on any of their wounds, which were septic and full of straw and dirt. The matron, M.O., and some of them got hold of some dressings and went round doing what they could in the time, and others fed them. Then the No.— got their Amiens wounded into cattle-trucks on mattresses, with Convent pillows, and had a twenty hours' journey with them in frightful smells and dirt. Our visitor had five badly-wounded officers, one shot through the lungs and hip, and all full of bullets and spunk. They were magnificent, and asked riddles and whistled, and the men were the same. They'd been travelling already for two days. An orderly fell out of the train and was badly injured, and died next morning.

It is very interesting to read on Monday the 'Times' Military Correspondent's forecast of Friday. He seems to know so exactly the different lines of defence of the Allies, and exactly where the Germans will try and break through. But he has never found out that Havre has been a base for over a fortnight. He speaks of Havre or Cherbourg as a possible base to fall back upon, if fortified against long-distance artillery firing, which we are not. And now we are abandoning Havre!

August 31, 1863

MONDAY. Was too busy yesterday to even write in my diary. A general order from department headquarters came and was read to us in the morning. Several enlisted men and some commissioned officers from the 128th are ordered to report to the general mustering officer in New Orleans, for muster into the Corps de Afrique for recruiting service, your humble servant being one of them. Just when we go I cannot say, but suppose as soon as we can get transportation. Reuben Reynolds and Henry C. Lay from Company A; Charles C. Bostwick, George S. Drake, George H. Gorton and L. Van Alstyne from Company B; Captain George Parker, Charles Wilson and Wm. Platto from Company D; Lieutenant Rufus J. Palon, Martin Smith and Charles M. Bell from Company G; Garret F. Dillon, John F. Keys and George A. Culver from Company H; Richard Enoch and Charles Heath from Company I; Jacob M. Ames from Company K, and several other names of people I never heard of before, and have no idea to what regiment they belong. The most of us are sergeants, and as we are ordered to rip our stripes off and turn them into the quartermaster we are expecting to have shoulder straps instead. We were not discharged from the service, only from the regiment, but we are in honor bound to report for this new service, and then the shackles will be put on for three years more, if the war should last that long. Just what to think of this new move none of us seem to know. Some feel an inch or two taller already. I have not fully come to my senses so as to know how I do feel. Things have happened so fast it has kept me busy to keep up with them. We seem to have no choice in the matter. Men are transferred from one company or regiment to another every little while, and now our turn has come, and that is all there is of it.