May 15

Cloudy, with a bracing air; have thrown up a line of rifle pits along our front. The army is quiet to-day; very little cannonading heard. Divine services were held in nearly every regiment in the Brigade; wrote to Pert this forenoon. The Sixth Corps is encamped on as beautiful a plantation as I ever saw. It seems a pity to spoil such finely laid out grounds, but such is war. The whole Division got ready to move about 6 o'clock a. m. but as the enemy remained quiet we did. There's no picket firing to-night. I'm so tired and lousy I do wish we could stay somewhere long enough to wash and boil our underclothing. However, the general officers are as lousy as the rest of us for lice in war times know no caste. I saw a General lousing to-day. I hope this won't shock anyone when they read it after I have passed along. It's a part of the history of the civil war though, and should be recorded.

May Fifteenth

Throughout the events that led up to the Revolution, it seemed ordained that Massachusetts was to suffer and Virginia to sympathize. Until the outbreak of actual hostilities scarcely anything of moment occurred on the soil of Virginia to incite her sons to champion the cause of freedom. Indeed, from the beginning of the controversy between the colonies and the mother country, the British Ministry seemed to have avoided any special cause of irritation to the people of the Old Dominion. The part, therefore, which Virginia took in the events of those days must be attributed to her devotion to the principles of liberty, to her interest in the common cause of the colonies, and particularly to her sympathy with Massachusetts in the suffering which that province was called upon to endure. If we lose sight of these motives as the springs of Virginia's conduct in that struggle, we shall be unable to appreciate either the nobility of her spirit or the wisdom and energy which marked her initiative.

S. C. Mitchell

 

Virginia opposes Boston Port Bill, 1774

 

 

May 15, 1864

Sunday. I was lying behind the log this morning, rubbing my eyes open, when a horseman rode right over it. The horse missed me and that was about all, but a miss is just as good as a mile. I found we were right by the wreck of the John Warner, her burned hull showing above the water. The letters that Sim carried were scattered over the ground, the wind having distributed them over several acres. I looked for some of my own, but did not find any. Some of those I read were curiosities, and possibly mine were carried off as such.

The train did not start until noon, and without any startling adventures we reached Marksville at 8 p. m. I wondered if this is the Marksville mentioned in "Uncle Tom's Cabin." At any rate, it doesn't seem to be much of a place. The Rebs are said to be at Avoyelles Plains [10] in force, only a little way from here. Sergeant Nace of the 176th New York appeared to me again, having lost his regiment, as he said. I thought it a queer thing for a sergeant to lose on a trip like this, and I made up my mind he was a shirk and was beating his way through. However, I invited him to share my bed and board for the night, and while he went after water I hunted for something to eat. He soon after came back, lugging a big feather bed, which he said he found at the house where he went for water and brought it along for a keepsake. After supper we planted ourselves on it and slept so sound that nothing short of a general engagement could have roused us.


[10]Better known as the Plains of Mansura.

May 15

May 15, 1876.--This morning I corrected the proofs of the "Etrangères." [Footnote: Les Etrangères: Poésies traduites de diverses littératures, par H. F. Amiel, 1876.] Here at least is one thing off my hands. The piece of prose theorizing which ends the volume pleased and satisfied me a good deal more than my new meters. The book, as a whole, may be regarded as an attempt to solve the problem of French verse-translation considered as a special art. It is science applied to poetry. It ought not, I think, to do any discredit to a philosopher, for, after all, it is nothing but applied psychology.

Do I feel any relief, any joy, pride, hope? Hardly. It seems to me that I feel nothing at all, or at least my feeling is so vague and doubtful that I cannot analyze it. On the whole, I am rather tempted to say to myself, how much labor for how small a result--Much ado about nothing! And yet the work in itself is good, is successful. But what does verse-translation matter? Already my interest in it is fading; my mind and my energies clamor for something else.

What will Edmond Scherer say to the volume?

* * * *

To the inmost self of me this literary attempt is quite indifferent--a Lilliputian affair. In comparing my work with other work of the same kind, I find a sort of relative satisfaction; but I see the intrinsic futility of it, and the insignificance of its success or failure. I do not believe in the public; I do not believe in my own work; I have no ambition, properly speaking, and I blow soap-bubbles for want of something to do.

"Car le néant peut seul bien cacher l'infini."

Self-satire, disillusion, absence of prejudice, may be freedom, but they are not strength.

181. John Adams

Philadelphia, 15 May, 1777.

General Warren writes me that my farm never looked better than when he last saw it, and that Mrs. —— was likely to outshine all the farmers. I wish I could see it. But I can make allowances. He knows the weakness of his friend's heart, and that nothing flatters it more than praises bestowed upon a certain lady. I am suffering every day for want of my farm to ramble in. I have been now for near ten weeks in a drooping, disagreeable way, constantly loaded with a cold. In the midst of infinite noise, hurry, and bustle, I lead a lonely, melancholy life, mourning the loss of all the charms of life, which are my family, and all the amusements that I ever had in life, which is my farm. If the warm weather, which is now coming on, should not cure my cold and make me better, I must come home. If it should, and I should get tolerably comfortable, I shall stay, and reconcile myself to the misery I here suffer as well as I can. I expect that I shall be chained to this oar until my constitution both of mind and body are totally destroyed and rendered wholly useless to myself and family for the remainder of my days.

However, now we have got over the dreary, dismal, torpid winter, when we had no army, not even three thousand men, to protect us against all our enemies, foreign and domestic, and now we have got together a pretty respectable army, which renders us tolerably secure against both, I doubt not we shall be able to persuade some gentleman or other in the Massachusetts to vouchsafe to undertake the dangerous office of delegate to Congress. However, I will neither whine nor croak. The moment our affairs are in a prosperous way and a little more out of doubt, that moment I become a private gentleman, the respectful husband of the amiable Mrs. A., of B., and the affectionate father of her children, two characters which I have scarcely supported for these three years past, having done the duties of neither.

Saturday, May 15th, 10 p.m.—Tension up again like last Saturday. Another TAG is happening to-morrow. Every one except three sick downstairs has been evacuated, and they have made accommodation for 1000 at the French Hospital, which is the 4th F.A. main dressing station, and headquarters. All officers, whether seriously or slightly wounded, are to be taken there to be dressed by the M.O.'s in the specially-arranged dressing-rooms, and then sent on to us to be put to bed and coped with.

Now we have got some French batteries of 75's in our lines to pound the earthworks which protect the enemy's buried machine-guns, which are the most murderous and deadly of all their clever arrangements, and to stop up the holes through which they are fired. We have also got more Divisions in it along the same front, and our heavy guns and all our batteries in better positions.

Some more regiments have been called up in a hurry, and empty ammunition-carts are galloping back already.

This morning I took some white lilac to the graves of our 12 officers who "died of wounds." Their names and regiments were on their crosses, and "Died of wounds.—F.A.," and R.I.P. It was better to see them like that Pro Patria than in those few awful days here.

10.30.—Just admitted a gunner suffering from shock alone—no wound—completely knocked out; he can't tell you his name, or stand, or even sit up, but just shivers and shudders. Now he is warm in bed, he can say "Thank you." I wonder what exactly did it.

The arrangements the — F.A. happen to have the use of at the French Hospital, with its up-to-date modern operating theatre for tackling the wounds in a strictly aseptic and scientific way within a few hours of the men being hit, are a tremendous help.

Certainly the ones who pass through No.— get a better chance of early recovery without long complications than most of those we got on the train. And while they are awaiting evacuation to the Clearing Hospitals they have every chance, both here and at the French Hospital, where all the trained orderlies except two are on duty, and practically all the M.O.'s. But, of course, there are a great many of the seriously wounded that no amount of aseptic and skilled surgery or nursing can save.