February 17

Clear and intensely cold, with high wind; have been studying in Dr. Almon Clark's quarters to-day; had a mock court-martial this evening at the chapel to entertain the ladies; sat up with Lieut. C. G. Newton till 1 a. m. Lieut. H. H. Dewey left for home this morning; no wind to-night, but very cold.

February Seventeenth

A NORTHERN VIEW

* * * It was the most monstrous barbarity of the barbarous march. There is no reason to think that General Sherman knew anything of the purpose to burn the city, which had been freely talked about among the soldiers through the afternoon. But there is reason to think that he knew well enough who did it, that he never rebuked it, and made no effort to punish it.

Whitelaw Reid
(Ohio )

 

Sherman burns Columbia, 1865

 

 

February 17

February 17, 1851.--I have been reading, for six or seven hours without stopping the Pensées of Joubert. I felt at first a very strong attraction toward the book, and a deep interest in it, but I have already a good deal cooled down. These scattered and fragmentary thoughts, falling upon one without a pause, like drops of light, tire, not my head, but reasoning power. The merits of Joubert consist in the grace of the style, the vivacity or finesse of the criticisms, the charm of the metaphors; but he starts many more problems than he solves, he notices and records more than he explains. His philosophy is merely literary and popular; his originality is only in detail and in execution. Altogether, he is a writer of reflections rather than a philosopher, a critic of remarkable gifts, endowed with exquisite sensibility, but, as an intelligence, destitute of the capacity for co-ordination. He wants concentration and continuity. It is not that he has no claims to be considered a philosopher or an artist, but rather that he is both imperfectly, for he thinks and writes marvelously, on a small scale. He is an entomologist, a lapidary, a jeweler, a coiner of sentences, of adages, of criticisms, of aphorisms, counsels, problems; and his book, extracted from the accumulations of his journal during fifty years of his life, is a collection of precious stones, of butterflies, coins and engraved gems. The whole, however, is more subtle than strong, more poetical than profound, and leaves upon the reader rather the impression of a great wealth of small curiosities of value, than of a great intellectual existence and a new point of view. The place of Joubert seems to me then, below and very far from the philosophers and the true poets, but honorable among the moralists and the critics. He is one of those men who are superior to their works, and who have themselves the unity which these lack. This first judgment is, besides, indiscriminate and severe. I shall have to modify it later.

160. John Adams

Baltimore, 17 February, 1777.

It was this day determined to adjourn, to-morrow week, to Philadelphia.

Howe, as you know my opinion always was, will repent his mad march through the Jerseys. The people of that Commonwealth begin to raise their spirits exceedingly and to be firmer than ever. They are actuated by resentment now, and resentment, coinciding with principle, is a very powerful motive.

I have got into the old routine of war office and Congress, which takes up my time in such a manner that I can scarce write a line. I have not time to think nor to speak. There is a United States Lottery abroad. I believe you had better buy a ticket and make a present of it to our four sweet ones. Let us try their luck. I hope they will be more lucky than their papa has ever been, or ever will be. I am as well as can be expected. How it happens I don't know, nor how long it will last. My disposition was naturally gay and cheerful, but the prospects I have ever had before me and these cruel times will make me melancholy. I, who would not hurt the hair of the head of any animal, I, who am always made miserable by the misery of every susceptible being that comes to my knowledge, am obliged to hear continual accounts of the barbarities, the cruel murders in cold blood even by the most tormenting ways of starving and freezing, committed by our enemies, and continued accounts of the deaths and diseases contracted by their own imprudence. These accounts harrow me beyond description. These incarnate demons say in great composure, that "humanity is a Yankee virtue, but that they are governed by policy." Is there any policy on this side of hell that is inconsistent with humanity? I have no idea of it. I know of no policy, God is my witness, but this, piety, humanity, and honesty are the best policy. Blasphemy, cruelty, and villainy have prevailed and may again. But they won't prevail against America in this contest, because I find the more of them are employed the less they succeed.

Ash Wednesday, February 17th, 6 a.m.—We took on a very bad load of wounded at Poperinghe, more like what used to happen three months ago in the same place; they were only wounded the night before, and some the same day. The Clearing Hospital had to be cleared immediately.

We have just got to B., and are going to unload here at 8.30 a.m.

Must stop. Hope to get a week's mails to-day.

A brisk air battle between one British and one French and two Taubes was going on when we got there, and a perfect sky for it. Very high up.

A wounded major on the train was talking about the men. "It's not a case of our leading the men; we have a job to keep up with them."

It was a pretty sad business getting them off the train this morning; there were so many compound fractures, and no amount of contriving seemed to come between them and the jolting of the train all night. And, to add to the difficulties, it was pouring in torrents and icy cold, and the railway people refused to move the train under cover, so they went out of a warm train on to damp stretchers in an icy rain. They were nearly all in thin pyjamas, as we'd had to cut off their soaking khaki: they were practically straight from the trenches. But once clear of trains, stretchers, and motor ambulances they will be warmed, washed, fed, bedded, and their fractures set under an anæsthetic. One man had his arm blown to pieces on Monday afternoon, had it amputated on Monday night, and was put into one of our wards on Tuesday, and admitted to Base Hospital on Wednesday. But that is ticklish work.

One boy, a stretcher-bearer, with both legs severely wounded, very nearly bled to death. He was pulled round somehow. About midnight, when he was packed up in wool and hot-water bottles, &c., when I asked him how he was feeling, he said gaily, "Quite well, delightfully warm, thank you!" We got him taken to hospital directly the train got in at 4 a.m. The others were unloaded at 9 a.m.

We are now—5 p.m.—on our way to Étaples, probably to clear the G.H. there, either to-night or to-morrow morning. It hasn't stopped pouring all day. It took me till lunch to read my enormous mail.

Major T. has heard to-day that the French railway people want his train back again for passenger traffic, so the possibility of our all being suddenly disbanded and dispersed is hanging over us; but I believe it has been threatened before.