June 11

June 11, 1864

Saturday. On duty as officer of the guard to-day. The duty is nothing, but the wearing of uniform, with a sword, belt and sash, for twenty-four hours came near using me up. I thought I would have to beg off, but I lived through it. There were plenty ready to take my place but were not allowed to.

June Eleventh

We believed that it was most desirable that the North should win; we believed in the principle that the Union is indissoluble; but we equally believed that those who stood against us held just as sacred convictions that were the opposite of ours, and we respected them, as every man with a heart must respect those who gave all for their belief.

Justice O. W. Holmes
(Massachusetts)

 

 

Goodness! We traveled all night and haven't got out of sight of our old position. Did ever anyone see such stupidity? I'm getting more fault-finding than an old maid, but loss of sleep and shattered nerves from being overtaxed in every way will account for it. Nature will collapse when continually over-taxed. I'm all out of patience, but it will do no good to mutter, so I'll stop. We relieved a portion of the Second Corps to-day; don't know where they are going; probably some strategic movement afoot; was sent out on picket about noon. It's not a very agreeable job to relieve the skirmish line in daylight when the enemy is so near, yet we did it; heavy cannonading to-night.

June 11, 1863

Thursday. About three this morning one of the hardest showers we have had broke right over us, and we were nearly drowned. So much water ran down the tree that I thought I was going to be washed away. So I crawled out and found that by standing up I did not catch half as much water as when lying down. But a little more or less made no difference, for I was soaked as wet as water could make me. The lightning was something awful and the thunder beat even the bombardment on the day of the fight. The lightning lit up the woods in great shape, and between flashes it was blackness itself. As soon as it was over and daylight came, we stripped and wrung the water out of our clothes, after which we had some hot coffee, which made it all right again. The batteries kept up their five-minute firing just as if the sun shone, and about the usual number of replies were made by the Johnnies.

A detail from Company B and another from Company H had a wrangle over a spring where the Rebs had been getting water in the night. One of Company H was badly wounded. Deserters come out every morning, and all tell the same story, that Port Hudson is ours just as soon as we are a mind to go and take it.

A Wisconsin regiment marched past our quarters to-day going towards the left. Next the colors was a man with a pole like a flagstaff, on the top of which was a board about three feet square. The board was set on a slant and the staff appeared to run through it for a foot or so, and ended up with a short crosspiece, upon which sat a live eagle. He looked like a hawk, only larger. He had a chain on one leg, the other end of which was fast to his perch. Sometimes he would rise as high as the chain would allow, and fly along, no faster than the man walked. I quizzed one of the men, who said the eagle was given the regiment before it left home and that they had kept it with them ever since. That a man was detailed to carry and care for it, who had nothing else to do. There is something mysterious going to happen soon. Loads and loads of cotton bales are being piled up to the left of our position, and hundreds of picks and shovels and axes are stacked up near the cotton. I guess they are going to bury it.

43. John Adams

Philadelphia, 11 June, 1775.

I have been this morning to hear Mr. Duffield, a preacher in this city, whose principles, prayers, and sermons more nearly resemble those of our New England clergy than any that I have heard. His discourse was a kind of exposition on the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah. America was the wilderness, and the solitary place, and he said it would be glad, "rejoice and blossom as the rose." He labored "to strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees." He "said to them that were of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you," "No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, but the redeemed shall walk there," etc. He applied the whole prophecy to this country, and gave us as animating an entertainment as I ever heard. He filled and swelled the bosom of every hearer. I hope you have received a letter, in which I inclosed you a pastoral letter from the synod of New York and Philadelphia; by this you will see, that the clergy this way are but now beginning to engage in politics, and they engage with a fervor that will produce wonderful effects.

17 June.

I can now inform you that the Congress have made choice of the modest and virtuous, the amiable, generous, and brave George Washington, Esquire, to be General of the American army, and that he is to repair, as soon as possible, to the camp before Boston. This appointment will have a great effect in cementing and securing the union of these colonies. The continent is really in earnest, in defending the country. They have voted ten companies of riflemen to be sent from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, to join the army before Boston. These are an excellent species of light infantry. They use a peculiar kind of musket, called a rifle. It has circular or ——[80] grooves within the barrel, and carries a ball with great exactness to great distances. They are the most accurate marksmen in the world.

I begin to hope we shall not sit all summer. I hope the people of our province will treat the General with all that confidence and affection, that politeness and respect, which is due to one of the most important characters in the world. The liberties of America depend upon him, in a great degree. I have never been able to obtain from our province any regular and particular intelligence, since I left it. Kent, Swift, Tudor, Dr. Cooper, Dr. Winthrop, and others wrote me often last fall; not a line from them this time.

I have found this Congress like the last. When we first came together, I found a strong jealousy of us from New England, and the Massachusetts in particular; suspicions entertained of designs of independency; an American republic; Presbyterian principles, and twenty other things. Our sentiments were heard in Congress with great caution, and seemed to make but little impression; but the longer we sat, the more clearly they saw the necessity of pushing vigorous measures. It has been so now. Every day we sit, the more we are convinced that the designs against us are hostile and sanguinary, and that nothing but fortitude, vigor, and perseverance can save us.

But America is a great, unwieldy body. Its progress must be slow. It is like a large fleet sailing under convoy. The fleetest sailers must wait for the dullest and slowest. Like a coach and six, the swiftest horses must be slackened, and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even pace.

It is long since I heard from you. I fear you have been kept in continual alarms. My duty and love to all. My dear children, come here and kiss me. We have appointed a Continental fast. Millions will be upon their knees at once before their great Creator, imploring his forgiveness and blessing; his smiles on American councils and arms.

My duty to your uncle Quincy; your papa, mamma, and mine; my brothers and sisters, and yours. Adieu.

Footnotes:

[80]The word effaced in the manuscript.