June 30

Quite warm, but a fairly cool breeze. The First and Second Divisions of our Corps worked all night destroying the railroad and are at it now, our forces having burnt the depot; have made thorough work of it; think it must have been quite a business place here once, but it is now a mass of ruins. Our division has been building breastworks; had just got them nicely completed when we were ordered back late in the day to our old position as we supposed, but 9 o'clock p. m. finds us in camp for the night two miles from there.

June 30, 1863

Tuesday. Last night the Zouaves made another try to get the guns from the water battery. Two of them came back on stretchers, and the guns are still there. A man was killed to-day while lying on the ground right among us. He was resting his head on one hand, when a shell burst and a piece as large as my hand came down and passed through his shoulder and so on through his body, coming out near his hip. He merely sank down and did not stir. An order has just come from General Dwight for every man to sleep with his accoutrements on, ready to move at a minute's notice.

June Thirtieth

Yes, there's a charm about the name of Mary
Which haunts me like some old enchanter's spell,
Or rather like the voice of some sweet fairy,
Singing low love-songs in a lonely dell.
It hath a music that can never weary,
A strain that seems of love and grief to tell,
The echoes of an anthem from the shrine
Of peace, and bliss, and rest, and love divine.
William Woodson Hendree

 

Robert E. Lee marries Mary Page Custis, great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, 1831

3. John Adams

York, June 30, 1774.

I have nothing to do here but to take the air, inquire for news, talk politics, and write letters.

I regret that I cannot have the pleasure of enjoying this fine weather with my family, and upon my farm. Oh, how often am I there! I have but a dull prospect before me. I have no hope of reaching Braintree under a fortnight from this day, if I should in twenty days.

I regret my absence from the county of Suffolk this week on another account. If I was there, I could converse with the gentlemen [19]who are bound with me to Philadelphia; I could turn the course of my reading and studies to such subjects of Law, and Politics, and Commerce, as may come in play at the Congress. I might be furbishing up my old reading in Law and History, that I might appear with less indecency before a variety of gentlemen, whose educations, travels, experience, family, fortune, and everything will give them a vast superiority to me, and I fear even to some of my companions.

This town of York is a curiosity, in several views. The people here are great idolaters of the memory of their former minister, Mr. Moody. Dr. Sayward says, and the rest of them generally think, that Mr. Moody was one of the greatest men and best saints who have lived since the days of the Apostles. He had an ascendency and authority over the people here, as absolute as that of any prince in Europe, not excepting his Holiness.[20]

This he acquired by a variety of means. In the first place, he settled in the place without any contract. His professed principle was that no man should be hired to preach the gospel, but that the minister should depend upon the charity, generosity, and benevolence of the people. This was very flattering to their pride, and left room for their ambition to display itself in an emulation among them which should be most bountiful and ministerial.

In the next place, he acquired the character of firm trust in Providence. A number of gentlemen came in one day, when they had nothing in the house. His wife was very anxious, they say, and asked him what they should do. "Oh, never fear; trust Providence, make a fire in the oven, and you will have something." Very soon a variety of everything that was good was sent in, and by one o'clock they had a splendid dinner.

He had also the reputation of enjoying intimate communication with the Deity, and of having a great interest in the Court of Heaven by his prayers.

He always kept his musket in order, and was fond of hunting. On a time, they say, he was out of provisions. There came along two wild geese. He takes gun and cries, "If it please God I kill both, I will send the fattest to the poorest person in this pariah." He shot, and killed both; ordered them plucked, and then sent the fattest to a poor widow, leaving the other, which was a very poor one, at home,—to the great mortification of his lady. But his maxim was, Perform unto the Lord thy vow.

But the best story I have heard yet was his doctrine in a sermon from this text: "Lord, what shall we do?" The doctrine was that when a person or people are in a state of perplexity, and know not what to do, they ought never to do they know not what. This is applicable to the times.

He brought his people into a remarkable submission and subjection to their spiritual rulers, which continues to this day. Their present parson does and says what he pleases, is a great Tory, and as odd as Moody.

Footnotes:

[19]Thirteen days before, the writer had been chosen with four others, J. Bowdoin, W. Cushing, Samuel Adams, and R. T. Paine, to go to Philadelphia, for the purpose of meeting delegates of other colonies for consultation.

[20]Samuel Moody, born in 1675, graduated at Cambridge in 1697, and died in 1747; one of a class peculiar to colonial times, the like of whom are no longer to be found in the rural districts.

234. Abigail Adams

30 June, 1778.

Dearest of Friends,—Shall I tell my dearest that tears of joy filled my eyes this morning at the sight of his well-known hand?—the first line which has blessed my sight since his four months' absence, during which time I have never been able to learn a word from him or my dear son, till, about ten days ago, an English paper, taken in a prize and brought into Salem, contained an account, under the Paris news, of your arrival at the abode of Dr. Franklin; and last week a cartel from Halifax brought Captain Welch, of the Boston, who informed that he left you well the 11th of March, and that he had letters for me, but destroyed them when he was taken; and this is all the information I have ever been able to obtain. Our enemies have told us the vessel was taken, and named the frigate which took her, and that she was carried into Plymouth. I have lived a life of fear and anxiety ever since you left me. Not more than a week after your absence the horrid story of Dr. Franklin's assassination was received from France, and sent by Mr. Purviance, of Baltimore, to Congress and to Boston. Near two months before that was contradicted. Then we could not hear a word from the Boston, and most people gave her up as taken or lost. Thus has my mind been agitated like a troubled sea.

You will easily conceive how grateful your favor of April 25th, and those of our son, were to me and mine; though I regret your short warning, and the little time you had to write, by which means I know not how you fared upon your voyage, what reception you have met with (not even from the ladies, though you profess yourself an admirer of them), and a thousand circumstances which I wish to know, and which are always particularly interesting to near connections. I must request you always to be minute and to write me by every conveyance. Some, perhaps, which may appear unlikely to reach me, will be the first to arrive. I own I was mortified at so short a letter, but I quiet my heart with thinking there are many more upon their passage to me. I have written several before this, and some of them very long.

Now I know you are safe, I wish myself with you. Whenever you entertain such a wish, recollect that I would have willingly hazarded all dangers to have been your companion; but, as that was not permitted, you must console me in your absence by a recital of all your adventures; though, methinks, I would not have them in all respects too similar to those related of your venerable colleague, whose Mentor-like appearance, age, and philosophy most certainly lead the politico-scientific ladies of France to suppose they are embracing the god of wisdom in a human form; but I, who own that I never yet "wished an angel, whom I loved a man," shall be full as content if those divine honors are omitted. The whole heart of my friend is in the bosom of his partner. More than half a score of years have so riveted it there that the fabric which contains it must crumble into dust ere the particles can be separated. I can hear of the brilliant accomplishments of any of my sex with pleasure, and rejoice in that liberality of sentiment which acknowledges them. At the same time, I regret the trifling, narrow, contracted education of the females of my own country. I have entertained a superior opinion of the accomplishments of the French ladies, ever since I read the letters of Dr. Shebbeare, who professes that he had rather take the opinion of an accomplished lady, in matters of polite writing, than the first wits of Italy; and should think himself safer with her approbation than with that of a long list of literati; and he gives this reason for it, that women have, in general, more delicate sensations than men; what touches them is for the most part true in nature, whereas men, warped by education, judge amiss from previous prejudice, and, referring all things to the mode of the ancients, condemn that by comparison, where no true similitude ought to be expected.

But, in this country, you need not be told how much female education is neglected, nor how fashionable it has been to ridicule female learning; though I acknowledge it my happiness to be connected with a person of a more generous mind and liberal sentiments. I cannot forbear transcribing a few generous sentiments which I lately met with upon this subject.

"If women," says the writer, "are to be esteemed our enemies, methinks it is an ignoble cowardice, thus to disarm them, and not allow them the same weapons we use ourselves; but if they deserve the title of our friends, 't is an inhuman tyranny to debar them of the privileges of ingenuous education, which would also render their friendship so much the more delightful to themselves and us. Nature is seldom observed to be niggardly of her choicest gifts to the sex. Their senses are generally as quick as ours, their reason as nervous, their judgment as mature and solid. To these natural perfections add but the advantages of acquired learning, what polite and charming creatures would they prove; whilst their external beauty does the office of a crystal to the lamp, not shrouding, but disclosing, their brighter intellects. Nor need we fear to lose our empire over them by thus improving their native abilities; since, where there is most learning, sense, and knowledge, there is always observed to be the most modesty and rectitude of manners."[191]

Footnotes:

[191]This letter did not reach its destination. The rough copy remaining terminates with this quotation.