June 7

June Seventh

Peace to the dead! though peace is not
In the regal dome or the pauper cot;
Peace to the dead! there's peace, we trust,
With the pale dreamers in the dust.
James Ryder Randall

 

Monument created, 1910, to the memory of Confederate officers who perished from starvation and exposure at Johnson's Island

 

 

June 7, 1864

Tuesday. Was called before the commission to show cause why I should not be punished for being absent without leave. Colonel Fuller of the 73d, Captain Morton, acting assistant adjutant general of the Engineer Brigade, and Lieutenant Colonel Parker of the 90th comprised the board. I was not put under oath, but just told my story and was acquitted. The findings of the court, however, will have to go to Washington for approval. Colonel P. was the only one of the 90th who did not congratulate me. He appears more cranky than ever.

It has been very quiet along the lines all day; both sides seem to be tired of sharpshooting. Another flag of truce was sent out to-day, I think to get permission to bury our dead between the lines of which there are many  plainly to be seen and they are commencing to smell bad; am told Major Crandall of the Sixth Vermont, just to the right of us, was shot to-day by a sharpshooter. He was a popular student once at Barre Academy, Vermont. Captain Edwin Dillingham reported for duty to-day; has been prisoner of war at Richmond since the battle of Locust Grove, Va. last fall; never saw him looking better; is a handsome man, anyway, and a gentleman. Our army seems to be lying idle now, except the heavy artillery which is building forts in our rear; occasionally hear the report of siege guns to our left—or we suppose them to be siege guns.

June 7

June 7, 1880.--I am reading Madame Necker de Saussure [Footnote: Madame Necker de Saussure was the daughter of the famous geologist, De Saussure; she married a nephew of Jacques Necker, and was therefore cousin by marriage of Madame de Staël. She is often supposed to be the original of Madame de Cerlebe in "Delphine," and the Notice sur le Caractère et les Écrits de Mdme. de Staël, prefixed to the authoritative edition of Madame de Staël's collected works, is by her. Philanthropy and education were her two main interests, but she had also a very large amount of general literary cultivation, as was proved by her translation of Schlegel's "Lectures on Dramatic Literature."] again. "L'Education progressive" is an admirable book. What moderation and fairness of view, what reasonableness and dignity of manner! Everything in it is of high quality--observation, thought, and style. The reconciliation of science with the ideal, of philosophy with religion, of psychology with morals, which the book attempts, is sound and beneficent. It is a fine book--a classic--and Geneva may be proud of a piece of work which shows such high cultivation and so much solid wisdom. Here we have the true Genevese literature, the central tradition of the country.

Later.--I have finished the third volume of Madame Necker. The elevation and delicacy, the sense and seriousness, the beauty and perfection of the whole are astonishing. A few harshnesses or inaccuracies of language do not matter. I feel for the author a respect mingled with emotion. How rare it is to find a book in which everything is sincere and everything is true!

June 7, 1863

Sunday. Lieutenant Pierce has gone off sick. This leaves Sergeant Hummiston in command of Company B. He is a good fellow and no doubt will give a good account of himself. The day has been a busy one. Just as if the final preparations for some great move were being made. We all expect it to-morrow. Now while I have a chance I must tell how a snake scared me to-day. Some of the boys told of great big blackberries about a mile out, and we went for them. They were even bigger than we were told, and we ate all we could, and put some in our haversacks for the rest. An old rail fence ran into the bushes, which were thick for a rod or more on each side. We walked the fence, holding onto the bushes, and picking as we went. I happened to be the farthest in, and seeing some that looked even better than any we had yet found, I kept crawling along on the rickety old fence until I was out of sight from the rest. Just as I was going to quit, I saw such a big bunch that I could not resist getting them. The bush was high above me and I could only reach a leaf by which I gently pulled it down until I got a better hold, and almost had the berries within reach when a great big black head and neck raised up and looked right at me. If my eyes did not magnify, the head was as big as my fist, and such part of the neck as I saw was as big as my wrist. I had only my bare hands to fight with, and was at a terrible disadvantage on the top of that shaky old fence, with no place to jump off for a long ways. I was scared nearly out of my senses. I let the bush go back in the same careful manner in which I had pulled it down, and then made my way out as fast as I could go, which by the way seemed awfully slow to me. What the snake did, or what became of him, I don't know. I saw the last of him as the bush came between us. I made the mistake of telling how big the snake was. The boys were ready to believe I had seen one, for they said my looks showed I had seen something, but when I told its size they rolled on the ground and laughed. The idea of such a thing as I described lying on the top of a blackberry bush was too much for them. I don't know what he lay on nor do I care. All I know is that he was there. What held him up was of no consequence to me. He was the biggest snake I ever saw by all odds, and I don't yet think I stretched the story at all. But the boys added to it every time they told it. It is going about with all the variations they can think of. It is the first real good one they have had on me, so let them go it. If the expected battle comes off to-morrow it is time to go to bed, so here goes.