May 22

The enemy appeared on our right flank about 3 o'clock a. m. evidently with the intention of cutting us off from the rest of the army, but didn't succeed. It has been very warm all day, and by far the most difficult marching we have had during the campaign; encamped near Bowling Green. General Hancock is reported ten miles ahead of us; no fighting to-day.

May Twenty-Second

How brilliant is the morning star;
The evening star how tender;
The light of both is in her eyes,—
Their softness and their splendor;
But for the lash that shades their sight,
They were too dazzling for the light,
And when she shuts them all is night,—
The daughter of Mendoza.
Mirabeau B. Lamar

 

 

May 22

May 22, 1860.--There is in me a secret incapacity for expressing my true feeling, for saying what pleases others, for bearing witness to the present--a reserve which I have often noticed in myself with vexation. My heart never dares to speak seriously, either because it is ashamed of being thought to flatter, or afraid lest it should not find exactly the right expression. I am always trifling with the present moment. Feeling in me is retrospective. My refractory nature is slow to recognize the solemnity of the hour in which I actually stand. An ironical instinct, born of timidity, makes me pass lightly over what I have on pretence of waiting for some other thing at some other time. Fear of being carried away, and distrust of myself pursue me even in moments of emotion; by a sort of invincible pride, I can never persuade myself to say to any particular instant: "Stay! decide for me; be a supreme moment! stand out from the monotonous depths of eternity and mark a unique experience in my life!" I trifle, even with happiness, out of distrust of the future.

May 22, 1863

Friday morning. We awoke from the little sleep we were able to get and found ourselves at anchor opposite Baton Rouge. The dropping of the anchor nearly scared the life out of me. I slept under a built up portion of the deck where the anchor chain lay coiled and when it went out it made a terrible racket. I wonder none of us were hit by it, for every space around it was occupied by a sleeping soldier. The city lies on high ground, which gave us a pretty good view of it. There seems to be a few fine buildings, but the most are small and not over two or three stories high. About 9 a. m. we went alongside the steamer Creole and got some rations, which we needed badly. We soon started, still going up-stream and felt certain Port Hudson would be our next stopping-place. We stopped finally and landed in the woods. Not a foot of cleared land in sight. There are four regiments here with ours. The Sixth Michigan, Fifteenth New Hampshire and a negro regiment. Boats kept coming and unloading all the afternoon. The Indiana Mule Battery is here and it appeared to be a gathering-place for all sorts of troops. It rained most of the afternoon, but it rained warm water, so we didn't mind it. The troops all moved forward during the night, leaving only a guard for the commissary and quartermaster's stores.

May 22

May 22,1879. (Ascension Day).--Wonderful and delicious weather. Soft, caressing sunlight--the air a limpid blue--twitterings of birds; even the distant voices of the city have something young and springlike in them. It is indeed a new birth. The ascension of the Saviour of men is symbolized by this expansion, this heavenward yearning of nature.... I feel myself born again; all the windows of the soul are clear. Forms, lines, tints, reflections, sounds, contrasts, and harmonies, the general play and interchange of things--it is all enchanting! The atmosphere is steeped in joy. May is in full beauty.

In my courtyard the ivy is green again, the chestnut tree is full of leaf, the Persian lilac beside the little fountain is flushed with red, and just about to flower; through the wide openings to the right and left of the old College of Calvin I see the Salève above the trees of St. Antoine, the Voiron above the hill of Cologny; while the three flights of steps which, from landing to landing, lead between two high walls from the Rue Verdaine to the terrace of the Tranchées, recall to one's imagination some old city of the south, a glimpse of Perugia or of Malaga.

All the bells are ringing. It is the hour of worship. A historical and religious impression mingles with the picturesque, the musical, the poetical impressions of the scene. All the peoples of Christendom--all the churches scattered over the globe--are celebrating at this moment the glory of the Crucified.

And what are those many nations doing who have other prophets, and honor the Divinity in other ways?--the Jews, the Mussulmans, the Buddhists, the Vishnuists, the Guebers? They have other sacred days, other rites, other solemnities, other beliefs. But all have some religion, some ideal end for life--all aim at raising man above the sorrows and smallnesses of the present, and of the individual existence. All have faith in something greater than themselves, all pray, all bow, all adore; all see beyond nature, Spirit, and beyond evil, Good. All bear witness to the Invisible. Here we have the link which binds all peoples together. All men are equally creatures of sorrow and desire, of hope and fear. All long to recover some lost harmony with the great order of things, and to feel themselves approved and blessed by the Author of the universe. All know what suffering is, and yearn for happiness. All know what sin is, and feel the need of pardon.

Christianity reduced to its original simplicity is the reconciliation of the sinner with God, by means of the certainty that God loves in spite of everything, and that he chastises because he loves. Christianity furnished a new motive and a new strength for the achievement of moral perfection. It made holiness attractive by giving to it the air of filial gratitude.

May 22, 1864

SUNDAY. The sun was shining bright, and the flies were crawling over my bloody face, and hands when I awoke. Tony had got in and had found some hard-tack and a piece of beef for my breakfast. The skeletons of the cattle were picked clean. The field looked like a battleground. Men were stretched on the ground everywhere and in every position, and others were picking their way about among them. But unlike a battlefield, the dead began to rise up and move about. At 8 o'clock the order "Fall in" came and soon after we started again. I had to walk on my heel, for something was grinding the ends of my toes off. No attention was paid to the order of our going; it was simply a question of going at all. We only went about a mile, when we stopped in a grove of big trees between the road and the river, and preparations for camping were soon under way. Captain Laird appeared and took charge of his company. He said he had lost us while fighting fire in Alexandria. I joined the multitude in the river. The dirt our clothes and our bodies had picked up on the way was astonishing. Enough of it to make a garden was soon floating down the river. My feet were in terrible shape, one much worse than the other. The blisters had broken and bled and the dirt had formed a scab, which had acted like a grater on the raw flesh underneath.

A good swim in the river and a good beating of our clothes, together with a good dinner after it, made the world seem different to all of us. The hard tramp was over and we cared little what came next. The 90th had had the hardest time of all. We had to hustle from the rear to the front with the pontoons, marching mile after mile and hour after hour, while others were sleeping soundly by the way. Upon comparing notes I had the satisfaction of knowing I was the only white man in the regiment that had walked the entire distance. Every other one confessed to having ridden some part of the way. From the time we formed in line at Yellow Bayou until we stopped at Morgan's Bend was forty-one hours of hard marching, on scant rations and with less than an hour's sleep all put together. I had heard and read of forced marching, and now that I had taken part in one, I was ready to believe anything that was ever said or written on the subject. Major Palon's prophecy that I would find plenty of filling for my diary had certainly come true. I have only skimmed over the account, but will never forget the rest. It would fill a book if written out, and then only give a faint idea of the reality. The sufferings of the horses and mules made me sick at heart. Men, when they could go no farther, said so and gave up trying, but the poor beasts' sufferings went right on until neither whip nor spur could get another move out of them.

106. John Adams

Philadelphia, 22 May, 1776.

When a man is seated in the midst of forty people, some of whom are talking, and others whispering, it is not easy to think what is proper to write. I shall send you the newspapers, which will inform you of public affairs, and the particular flickerings of parties in this colony. I am happy to learn from your letter that a flame is at last raised among the people, for the fortification of the harbor. Whether Nantasket or Point Alderton would be proper posts to be taken, I can't say. But I would fortify every place which is proper, and which cannon could be obtained for. Generals Gates and Mifflin are now here. General Washington will be here to-morrow, when we shall consult and deliberate concerning the operations of the ensuing campaign.

We have dismal accounts from Europe of the preparations against us. This summer will be very important to us. We shall have a severe trial of our patience, fortitude, and perseverance. But I hope we shall do valiantly, and tread down our enemies.

I have some thoughts of petitioning the General Court for leave to bring my family here. I am a lonely, forlorn creature here. It used to be some comfort to me that I had a servant and some horses. They composed a sort of family for me. But now, there is not one creature here that I seem to have any kind of relation to. It is a cruel reflection, which very often comes across me, that I should be separated so far from those babes whose education and welfare lie so near my heart. But greater misfortunes than these must not divert us from superior duties.

Your sentiments of the duties we owe to our country are such as become the best of women and the best of men. Among all the disappointments and perplexities which have fallen to my share in life, nothing has contributed so much to support my mind as the choice blessing of a wife whose capacity enabled her to comprehend, and whose pure virtue obliged her to approve, the views of her husband. This has been the cheering consolation of my heart in my most solitary, gloomy, and disconsolate hours. In this remote situation, I am deprived in a great measure of this comfort. Yet I read and read again your charming letters, and they serve me, in some faint degree, as a substitute for the company and conversation of the writer. I want to take a walk with you in the garden, to go over to the common, the plain, the meadow. I want to take Charles in one hand and Tom in the other, and walk with you, Abby on your right hand and John upon my left, to view the corn fields, the orchards, etc.

Alas, poor imagination! how faintly and imperfectly do you supply the want of originality and reality. But instead of these pleasing scenes of domestic life, I hope you will not be disturbed with the alarms of war. I hope, yet I fear.

184. John Adams

Philadelphia, 22 May, 4 o'clock in the morning.

After a series of the severest and harshest weather that ever I felt in this climate, we are at last blessed with a bright sun and a soft air. The weather here has been like our old easterly winds to me and southerly winds to you. The charms of the morning at this hour are irresistible. The streaks of glory dawning in the east, the freshness and purity in the air, the bright blue of the sky, the sweet warblings of a great variety of birds intermingling with the martial clarions of a hundred cocks now within my hearing, all conspire to cheer the spirits.

This kind of puerile description is a very pretty employment for an old fellow whose brow is furrowed with the cares of politics and war. I shall be on horseback in a few minutes, and then I shall enjoy the morning in more perfection. I spent last evening at the war office with General Arnold. He has been basely slandered and libeled. The regulars say "he fought like Julius Cæsar."[173] I am wearied to death with the wrangles between military officers, high and low. They quarrel like cats and dogs. They worry one another like mastiffs, scrambling for rank and pay like apes for nuts. I believe there is no one principle which predominates in human nature so much, in every stage of life from the cradle to the grave, in males and females, old and young, black and white, rich and poor, high and low, as this passion for superiority. Every human being compares itself in its imagination with every other round about it, and will find some superiority over every other, real or imaginary, or it will die of grief and vexation. I have seen it among boys and girls at school, among lads at college, among practitioners at the bar, among the clergy in their associations, among clubs of friends, among the people in town-meetings, among the members of a House of Representatives, among the grave councillors on the more solemn bench of justice, and in that awfully august body, the Congress, and on many of its committees, and among ladies everywhere; but I never saw it operate with such keenness, ferocity, and fury as among military officers. They will go terrible lengths in their emulation, their envy, and revenge in consequence of it.

So much for philosophy. I hope my five or six babes are all well. My duty to my mother and your father, and love to sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. Pray how does your asparagus perform? etc. I would give three guineas for a barrel of your cider. Not one drop is to be had here for gold, and wine is not to be had under six or eight dollars a gallon, and that very bad. I would give a guinea for a barrel of your beer. The small beer here is wretchedly bad. In short, I can get nothing that I can drink, and I believe I shall be sick from this cause alone. Rum, at forty shillings a gallon, and bad water will never do in this hot climate in summer, when acid liquors are necessary against putrefaction.

Footnotes:

[173]At Danbury. This caused a temporary reaction in Congress in his favor.

Saturday, May 22nd, 6.30 a.m.—Things have been happening at a great pace since the above, and we are now in our camp-beds in an empty attic at the top of an old château about three miles back, which is No.— C.H., at ——.

Just as I was thinking of getting up yesterday evening they began putting shells over into the town, and soon they were raining in three at a time. My little room here is a sort of lean-to over the kitchen with no room above it; so I cleared out to dress in one of the others, and didn't stop to wash. Gabrielle came running up to fetch me downstairs. At the hospital, which was only about 200 yards down the road, the wounded officers were thinking it was about time Capt. —— moved his Field Ambulance. One boy by the window had got some débris  in his eye from the nearest shell, which burst in my blackbird's garden, or rather on the doorstep opposite. (That was the one that got me out of bed rather rapidly.) The orders soon came to evacuate all the patients. At the French Hospital, about six minutes away, three wounded had been hit in a M.A. coming in, and the Officers' Mess had one (none of them were in), and they were dropping all round it. Then the order came from the D.D.M.S. to the A.D.M.S. to evacuate the whole of the —th, —th, and —th Field Ambulances, and within about two hours this was done.

Everybody got the patients ready, fixed up their dressings and splints, gave them all morphia, and got them on to their stretchers.

The evacuation was jolly well done; their servants appeared by magic, each with every spot of kit and belongings his officer came in with (they are in all  cases checked by the Sergeant on admission, no matter what the rush is), and the place was empty in an hour. The din of our guns, which were bombarding heavily, and the German guns, which are bombarding us at a great pace, and the whistle and bang of the shells that came over while this was going on, was a din to remember.

Then we went back to our billet to hurl our belongings into our baggage, and came away with the A.D.M.S. and his Staff-Major in their two touring-cars. The Division is back resting somewhere near here. We got to bed about 2 a.m. after tea and bread and butter downstairs, but slept very little owing to the noise of the guns, which shake and rattle the windows every minute.

We don't know what happens next.

At about four this morning I heard a nightingale trilling in the garden.

p.m.—In the Château garden. It is a glorious spot, with kitchen garden, park, moat bridge, and a huge wilderness up-and-down plantation round it, full of lilac, copper beeches, and flowering trees I've never seen before, and birds and butterflies and buttercups. You look across and see the red-brick Château surrounded by thick lines of tents, and hear the everlasting incessant thudding and banging of the guns, and realise that it is not a French country house but a Casualty Clearing Hospital, with empty—once polished—floors filled with stretchers, where the worst cases still are, and some left empty for the incoming convoys. Over two thousand have passed through since Sunday week. The contrast between the shady garden where I'm lazing now on rugs and cushions, with innumerable birds, including a nightingale, singing and nesting, and the nerve-racking sound of the guns and the look of the place inside, is overwhelming. It is in three Divisions—the house for the worst cases—and there are tent Sections and the straw-sheds and two schools in the village. We had our lunch at a sort of inn in the village. I've never hated the sound of the guns so much; they are almost unbearable.

It is a good thing for us to have this sudden rest. I don't know for how long or what happens next.

The General of the Division had a narrow escape after we left last night. The roof of his house was blown off, just at the time he would have been there, only he was a little late, but an officer was killed; six shells came into the garden, and the seventh burst at his feet and killed him as he was standing at the door. I'm glad they got the wounded away in time. Aeroplanes are buzzing overhead. The Aerodrome is here, French monoplanes chiefly as far as one can see.

10 p.m.in bed.—We have now been temporarily attached to the Staff here.

Miss —— has given me charge of the Tent Section, which can take eighty lying down.