May 12

Wednesday, May 12th, 6.30 p.m.—Slept very well. I hear from Gabrielle that they have had a hard day at the O.D.S.; no new cases, but all the bad ones very ill.

My little room is crammed with enormous lilac, white and purple, from our wee garden, which I am going to take to our graves to-morrow in jam tins.

May 12, 1864

Thursday. Another day of the same. While the most of them do as well as can be expected, yet the ignorance and stupidity of the others is enough to try the patience of a saint. A boat came up to-day and was only fired on at one point. This looks as if the Rebs are planning some new move which will develop later. The moving preparations go steadily on, and the dam is progressing finely.

May Twelfth

General Lee, you shall not lead my men in a charge!



General Lee to the rear!—His Soldiers.

I do wish somebody would tell me where my place is on the field of battle! Wherever I go to look after the fight, I am told, “This is no place for you; you must go away.”

Robert E. Lee


Lee, with 50,000 men, repulses Grant with 100,000, at Spottsylvania Court House; Lee “ordered” to the rear, 1864



May 12, 1863

"Pass Man Shak ," or South Pass, La. Tuesday. We left camp in charge of an officer and the convalescents and marched out on the plain about a mile, where a train stood waiting early this morning, and after a short ride stopped here, the most God-forsaken looking place I have yet seen. It is a sort of connecting link between Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Marapaugh.[5] Our regiment and the 6th Michigan came. We soon came to the woods we had so often looked at from camp, and from that on it was one unbroken forest of the biggest and tallest trees I have yet seen. There was water in pools all along and on every hand as far as can be seen. The railroad is built on piles driven in the mud, sawed off on a line and huge hewn timbers laid on them to support the ties and track. Not a foot of dry ground anywhere and not a ray of sunshine could get through. But mosquitoes, I thought we had them in camp, but we did not. It was only the skirmish line; the main body is here. I am writing this with one hand while the other is waving a bush to keep them from eating me alive. The men were ferried across on a small steamer and they went on out of sight, scrambling over the ties as best they could, for in places the woodwork has been burned out and then they had to climb down and wallow through the mud and then up on the ties again until the last of them were out of sight. I have really no business to be here as the captain objected, fearing I would be more bother than I was worth. Dr. Andrus was not even consulted. When the train started I could not resist the temptation to go and I swung on and here I am with the quartermaster and the commissary stores, which are to go up the pass to where the men have gone. There is a large space planked over, and we are in the dry and waiting for the boat to come for us. Men are busy rebuilding the burned out places in the trestlework and bridging the river, which is narrow here. Everyone calls it a "pass," but it has quite a current and is a river just the same.

[5]Spelled as they sound.

Rained all night and incessantly till 10 o'clock a. m. There has been desperate fighting by the Sixth and Second Corps on our left all day at the "Bloody Angle" where they have held the enemy back as well as tried to take its works, but with great loss of life. This will evidently go down as one of the most bloody and desperate battles of the war. The Tenth Vermont was relieved by some of the Fifth Corps about 3 o'clock p. m., our Division having been ordered further to the left adjoining the "Bloody Angle" or "Slaughter Pen." Just after we had stacked arms under the brow of a slight ridge next the bloody angle, Captain H. R. Steele wandered a little distance in front and almost immediately returned hopping along holding up his foot saying he was shot. I ordered some of the men to take him to the hospital.

I am now in command of Company K. The men seem pleased, and I'm sure I am for I like the Company. The men seem sensible, and I know them to be reliable good fighters. I am not sure but what they will win my esteem from Company B, but I never have been fickle; there's room in my heart for all the men of the gallant old Tenth Vermont. They have faith in me and it's mutual. They will never be turned down by me. We are to bivouac on our arms in a dense growth of pine forest with the enemy immediately a short distance in front. Surely  this fierce struggle of giant armies can't last more than a day more. Either one or the other will have to yield, and as we have had the best of it here thus far, it will be Lee.

It is wet and depressing for the "Slaughter Pen" will be our portion next without Lee withdraws to-night which God grant he may do if it is His will. The thought that we may have to assault into the jaws of death at the bloody angle in the gray of the morning is appalling for I am told there are thousands of dead and uncared for wounded on the field between the lines, and in the rebel works the dead and wounded lay in piles, the wounded bound in by the dead several deep. The rattle and roar of musketry and artillery is dreadful as I write and may continue all night. I am about to lie down perhaps for my last sleep, but I'm too exhausted to have the thought keep me awake for seldom has sleep, sweet sleep, been more welcome. But I have never thought I should be killed in battle. It's delightful to have perfect faith—the faith of a child in such a way. It helps one to go into battle, although I dread being wounded, it shocks the system so. I never go into a fight or take a railroad journey, though, without feeling reconciled to yield up my spirit to Him who gave it if it is His will. This gives one calmness and reconciliation unspeakable. God be praised for giving me such peace. This is my prayer.

104. John Adams

Philadelphia, 12 May, 1776.

Yours of 21 April came to hand yesterday. I send you regularly every newspaper, and write as often as I can; but I feel more skittish about writing than I did, because, since the removal of headquarters to New York, we have no express, and very few individual travellers; and the post I am not quite confident in; however, I shall write as I can.

What shall I do with my office?[139] I want to resign it for a thousand reasons. Would you advise me?

There has been a gallant battle in Delaware River between the galleys and two men-of-war, the Roebuck  and Liverpool, in which the men-of-war came off second best; which has diminished, in the minds of the people on both sides of the river, the terror of a man-of-war.

I long to hear a little of my private affairs; yet I dread it, too, because I know you must be perplexed and distressed. I wish it was in my power to relieve you. It gives me great pleasure to learn that our rulers are, at last, doing something towards the fortification of Boston. But I am inexpressibly chagrined to find that the enemy is fortifying on George's Island. I never shall be easy until they are completely driven out of that harbor, and effectually prevented from ever getting in again. As you are a politician and now elected into an important office, that of judgess of the Tory ladies, which will give you, naturally, an influence with your sex, I hope you will be instant, in season and out of season, in exhorting them to use their influence with the gentlemen, to fortify upon George's Island, Lovell's, Pettick's, Long, or wherever else it is proper. Send down fire ships and rafts, and burn to ashes those pirates. I am out of patience with the languid, lethargic councils of the province, at such a critical, important moment, puzzling their heads about twopenny fees, and confession bills, and what not, when the harbor of Boston is defenseless. If I was there, I should storm and thunder like Demosthenes, or scold like a tooth-drawer. Do ask Mr. Wibird and Mr.

Weld and Mr. Taft to preach about it. I am ashamed, vexed, angry to the last degree. Our people, by their torpitude, have invited the enemy to come to Boston again, and I fear they will have the civility and politeness to accept the invitation.

Your uncle has never answered my letter. Thank the Dr.; he has written me a most charming letter, full of intelligence and very sensible and useful remarks. I will pay the debt, as far as my circumstances will admit, and as soon. But I hope my friends will not wait for regular returns from me. I have not yet left off pitying "the fifty or sixty men;" and if my friends knew all that I do, they would pity too.


[139]That of Chief Justice.

1. John Adams

Boston, 12 May, 1774.

I am extremely afflicted with the relation your father gave me of the return of your disorder. I fear you have taken some cold. We have had a most pernicious air a great part of this spring. I am sure I have reason to remember it. My cold is the most obstinate and threatening one I ever had in my life. However, I am unwearied in my endeavors to subdue it, and have the pleasure to think I have had some success. I rise at five, walk three miles, keep the air all day, and walk again in the afternoon. These walks have done me more good than anything. My own infirmities, the account of the return of yours, and the public news [15] coming altogether have put my utmost philosophy to the trial.

We live, my dear soul, in an age of trial. What will be the consequence, I know not. The town of Boston, for aught I can see, must suffer martyrdom. It must expire. And our principal consolation is, that it dies in a noble cause—the cause of truth, of virtue, of liberty, and of humanity, and that it will probably have a glorious resurrection to greater wealth, splendor, and power, than ever.

Let me know what is best for us to do. It is expensive keeping a family here, and there is no prospect of any business in my way in this town this whole summer. I don't receive a shilling a week. We must contrive as many ways as we can to save expenses; for we may have calls to contribute very largely, in proportion to our circumstances, to prevent other very honest worthy people from suffering for want, besides our own loss in point of business and profit.

Don't imagine from all this that I am in the dumps. Far otherwise. I can truly say that I have felt more spirits and activity since the arrival of this news than I had done before for years. I look upon this as the last effort of Lord North's despair, and he will as surely be defeated in it, as he was in the project of the tea.

I am, with great anxiety for your health,

Your     John Adams.


[15]Four of the spring fleet of merchant ships, designated in the newspapers according to custom, only by the names of their respective commanders, Shayler, Lyde, Maratt, and Scott, had just arrived. They brought accounts of the effect upon the mother country of the destruction of the tea. The ministry had carried through Parliament their system of repressive measures: the Boston Port Bill, the revision of the charts, materially impairing its popular features, and the act to authorize the removal of trials in certain cases to Great Britain. General Gage, the commander-in-chief of his Majesty's forces in America, appointed Governor to execute the new policy,—in the place of Hutchinson, who had asked leave of absence,—was on his way, and arrived in his Majesty's ship Lively, Captain Bishop, in twenty-six days from London, on the 13th, the day after the date of this letter.