May 6

May 6, 1863

Nothing unusual has happened since my last entry. I have written and have received several letters; have been on duty all the time, although I am supposed to be in the hospital yet. Have seen the doctor every day and he keeps tinkering at me. We hear all sorts of rumors of big battles and big victories and believe what we are a mind to. My office, commissary of Company B, is not very exacting while in camp. It keeps me out of the ranks though and until I get round again I am glad of it.

Thursday, May 6th, 3 a.m.—It was a very noisy day, and I didn't sleep after 2 p.m. There is a good lot of firing going on to-night.

A very muddy officer of 6 ft. 4 was brought in early yesterday morning with a broken leg, and it is a hard job to get him comfortable in these short beds.

Yesterday at 4 a.m. I couldn't resist invading the garden opposite which is the R.A. Headquarters. It is full of lovely trees and flowers and birds. I found a blackbird's nest with one egg in. From the upper windows of this place it makes a perfect picture, with the peculiarly beautiful tower of the Cathedral as a background.

May Sixth

It depends on the State itself, to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue a member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principle on which all our political systems are founded, which is, that the people have, in all cases, a right to determine how they will be governed.

(Rawle's text-book on the Constitution, taught at West Point before the War between the States)

 

JUDAH P. BENJAMIN, AMERICAN DISRAELI

Who is the man, save this one, of whom it can be said that he held conspicuous leadership at the bar of two countries?

Sir Henry James
(England)

 

Tennessee and Arkansas secede, 1861

Judah P. Benjamin, Confederate Secretary of State, dies, 1884

 

 

May 6, 1864

Friday. "It never rains but it pours." About noon Lieutenant Colonel Foster of the 128th and about thirty others came in. They are all that are known to have escaped from the John Warner. They report the river blocked for anything short of our ironclads, which at present are lying above the rapids waiting for the dam to be finished. Colonel Foster thinks Sim may have destroyed the mail, but the time was rather short for it. Our pay rolls and the monthly returns were in his bag, and five letters from me to different friends. If the captors get any comfort out of them they are welcome. Colonel Foster had some dispatches with him, but managed to get away with them. As a reminder, he brought with him a ball in the calf of his leg which Dr. Andrews cut out with his jackknife. It was just under the skin and popped out at the first cut. Just at night more came in. They had escaped in the confusion of the attack and our cavalry scouts had found them and brought them in. These say that Captain Dane was hung, but we hardly think they had time to see all they tell of. However, it may be true, for he left the Confederate service when Butler took New Orleans, and has since been in our service, and true to it. He is the one who ran the A. G. Brown on our Texas trip. He has made several trips to Grand Ecore, the last of which was when we came down with him. The 128th had another brush with the enemy last night and took several prisoners.

May 6

May 6, 1852.--It is women who, like mountain flowers, mark with most characteristic precision the gradation of social zones. The hierarchy of classes is plainly visible among them; it is blurred in the other sex. With women this hierarchy has the average regularity of nature; among men we see it broken by the incalculable varieties of human freedom. The reason is that the man on the whole, makes himself by his own activity, and that the woman, is, on the whole, made by her situation; that the one modifies and shapes circumstance by his own energy, while the gentleness of the other is dominated by and reflects circumstance; so that woman, so to speak, inclines to be species, and man to be individual.

Thus, which is curious, women are at once the sex which is most constant and most variable. Most constant from the moral point of view, most variable from the social. A confraternity in the first case, a hierarchy in the second. All degrees of culture and all conditions of society are clearly marked in their outward appearance, their manners and their tastes; but the inward fraternity is traceable in their feelings, their instincts, and their desires. The feminine sex represents at the same time natural and historical inequality; it maintains the unity of the species and marks off the categories of society, it brings together and divides, it gathers and separates, it makes castes and breaks through them, according as it interprets its twofold rôle in the one sense or the other. At bottom, woman's mission is essentially conservative, but she is a conservative without discrimination. On the one side, she maintains God's work in man, all that is lasting, noble, and truly human, in the race, poetry, religion, virtue, tenderness. On the other, she maintains the results of circumstance, all that is passing, local, and artificial in society; that is to say, customs, absurdities, prejudices, littlenesses. She surrounds with the same respectful and tenacious faith the serious and the frivolous, the good and the bad. Well, what then? Isolate if you can, the fire from its smoke. It is a divine law that you are tracing, and therefore good. The woman preserves; she is tradition as the man is progress. And if there is no family and no humanity without the two sexes, without these two forces there is no history.

178. Abigail Adams

6 May, 1777.

'T is ten days, I believe, since I wrote you a line, yet not ten minutes pass without thinking of you. 'T is four months wanting three days since we parted. Every day of the time I have mourned the absence of my friend, and felt a vacancy in my heart which nothing, nothing can supply. In vain the spring blooms or the birds sing. Their music has not its former melody, nor the spring its usual pleasures. I look around with a melancholy delight and sigh for my absent partner. I fancy I see you worn down with cares, fatigued with business, and solitary amidst a multitude.

And I think it probable before this reaches you that you may be driven from the city by our barbarous and hostile foes, and the city sharing the fate of Charlestown and Falmouth, Norfolk and Danbury. So vague and uncertain are the accounts with regard to the latter, that I shall not pretend to mention them. 'T is more than a week since the event, yet we have no accounts which can be depended upon. I wish it may serve the valuable purpose of arousing our degenerated countrymen from that state of security and torpitude into which they seem to be sunk.

9 May.

I have been prevented writing for several days by company from town. Since I wrote you I have received several letters; two of the 13th of April, one of the 19th, and one of the 22d. Though some of them were very short, I will not complain. I rejoice to hear from you though you write but a line.

Since the above we have some account of the affair at Danbury, and of the loss of General Wooster.[171] That they had no more assistance, 't is said, was owing to six expresses being stopped by the Tories. We shall never prosper till we fall upon some method to extirpate that blood-thirsty set of men. Too much lenity will prove our ruin. We have rumors too of an action at Brunswick much to our advantage, but little credit is yet given to the report. I wish we may be able to meet them in the field, to encounter and conquer so vile an enemy.

The two Continental frigates lie windbound, with three brigs of twenty guns and some others, which are all going out in company. The wind has been a long time at east and prevented the vessels from going out.

I was mistaken in my brother's going with MacNeal. He is going in the Darter, a vessel which mounts twenty-four guns, is private property, but sails with the fleet.

I cannot write you half so much as I would. I have left company because I would not lose an opportunity of sending this. Believe me, etc.

I must add a little more. A most horrid plot has been discovered of a band of villains counterfeiting the Hampshire currency to a great amount. No person scarcely but what has more or less of these bills. I am unlucky enough to have about five pounds L. M. of it, but this is not the worst of it. One Colonel Farrington, who has been concerned in the plot, was taken sick, and has confessed not only the counterfeiting, but says they had engaged and enlisted near two thousand men, who, upon the troops' coming to Boston, were to fall upon the people and make a general havoc.

How much more merciful God is than man, in thus providentially bringing to light these horrid plots and schemes. I doubt not Heaven will still continue to favor us unless our iniquities prevent. The Hampshire people have been stupid enough to let one of the principal plotters, Colonel Holland, out upon bail, and he has made his escape.

Footnotes:

[171]Inclosed with the letter appears an official copy of a report of the loss of men and stores at Danbury.

We slept on our arms last night. Report says that we forced the enemy's right flank back about three miles yesterday besides capturing a goodly number of prisoners, but I doubt it. It is also rumored that the Vermont Brigade of our Corps was badly cut up yesterday afternoon, but I hope it's not true; it was hotly engaged, though, on our left. We were led further off into the woods this forenoon to form another line of battle evidently, but General Seymour who was in charge seemed to be dazed, and while poking around alone in front of and too far away from his command without a skirmish line in his front, was taken prisoner.[1] A part of our brigade was finally detached and taken north of and just to the right of the Orange turnpike including our regiment where we formed line behind some natural breastworks with the enemy's earthworks about fifty yards more or less in our front across a pretty, level, green field, in the edge of the woods; this work of theirs was in front, I am told, of the enemy's main line. We were shelled more or less at times through the day until about mid-afternoon when we were let alone.

Later in the day all at once hearing heavy firing on the right flank of our army not far away, Colonel W. W. Henry excitedly called us to attention, faced us to the right and then turning the head of the column directly to the rear we ran with all speed possible—there was no double quick about it—for a mile or more into the woods in rear of where the heavy firing on our right was, stumbling over logs, ditches, brush, etc., till our faces, hands and shins smarted from bruises and scratches, when we were halted all out of breath, faced to the left and ordered to give the charging war cry which, being a good deal wrought up, not knowing what had happened but that a disaster had occurred to our forces as panic-stricken men were hastening to the rear from our defeated right through our lines, and not knowing our own position relatively speaking to any other of our forces, or but what we would be pounced upon any moment, for we had but a small part of our brigade even, with us, so far as I could see in the woods, and annihilated, we, together with the One Hundred and Sixth New York Volunteer Infantry and Fourteenth New Jersey repeatedly gave the war cry as we had never given it before or did give it again afterwards. It reverberated again and again in the forest until the echo died away in the gloaming as softly as a fond mother's lullaby, and it pleased me at the time to think that perhaps it was God's offering through us and the medium of nature, or His lullaby to the thousands of wounded and dying heroes both of the blue and the grey within hearing, for the softly dying echoes certainly were soothing and restful in the quiet twilight even to me. This war cry had the effect not only to stop the enemy's firing but its advance, thinking probably it was a counter-assault to meet theirs, and it saved many a poor fellow from being captured, as the enemy ceased its aggressive tactics in order to reform and be prepared to meet our anticipated assault.

General Jubal A. Early's Division of three brigades had stolen round in rear of General Shaler's veteran brigade of the First Division and the Second Brigade (formerly General Seymour's) of green men of the Third Division, Sixth Corps, which were on the right of our army in the order mentioned, attacked vigorously both in rear and front, threw Shaler's veterans into disorder as well later as the Second Brigade, captured Shaler and created temporary confusion among the trains and hospital corps nearby. Seemingly it was the result of bad generalship by someone on our side. If I had been a General in command there, I'll bet the Johnnies wouldn't have got away with me! It was evidently lack of alertness, and the Johnny fellow got the best of it because the most alert.

Generals Meade and Sedgwick probably returning from an investigation of that part of the battlefield after the fight just after dark near our regiment where I was, inquired what troops were there and on being told it was the Tenth Vermont at that particular point Sedgwick said to Meade, "We are safe enough with that regiment!" as though they doubted the security of their surroundings.

[1]In a letter to Chaplain E. M. Haynes of my regiment by me which he used in his history of our regiment, I state that Seymour was taken prisoner when the right flank of our army was thrown into confusion late May 6, 1864. From what source I got the information I don't recollect, but supposed it correct. I had not then seen my diary for many years, and had forgotten about the matter. My diary is correct, for I recall having heard of Seymour being taken prisoner that day before the fighting on our right flank later in the day. I wondered when I saw him so far in front of his column why he didn't have a skirmish line in his front. An alert General wouldn't have been captured, I don't think.—L. A. A.