October 14

October 14

October 14, 1869.--Yesterday, Wednesday, death of Sainte-Beuve. What a loss!

Well, I wonder if winter's come! It has rained and snowed all day; face badly swollen today, but my jaws don't ache much for which I'm thankful; shall go down to Aunt Polly Howe's to-morrow if it don't storm. It's snowing tonight.

October Fourteenth

LEE

He sent to the suffering private in the hospitals the delicacies contributed for his personal use from the meagre stores of those who were anxious about his health. If a handful of real coffee came to him, it went in the same direction, while he cheerfully drank from his tin cup the wretched substitute made from parched corn or beans.

Gen. John B. Gordon

 

 

October 14

October 14, 1872.--The man who gives himself to contemplation looks on at, rather than directs his life, is rather a spectator than an actor, seeks rather to understand than to achieve. Is this mode of existence illegitimate, immoral? Is one bound to act? Is such detachment an idiosyncrasy to be respected or a sin to be fought against? I have always hesitated on this point, and I have wasted years in futile self-reproach and useless fits of activity. My western conscience, penetrated as it is with Christian morality, has always persecuted my oriental quietism and Buddhist tendencies. I have not dared to approve myself, I have not known how to correct myself. In this, as in all else, I have remained divided, and perplexed, wavering between two extremes. So equilibrium is somehow preserved, but the crystallization of action or thought becomes impossible.

Having early a glimpse of the absolute, I have never had the indiscreet effrontery of individualism. What right have I to make a merit of a defect? I have never been able to see any necessity for imposing myself upon others, nor for succeeding. I have seen nothing clearly except my own deficiencies and the superiority of others. That is not the way to make a career. With varied aptitudes and a fair intelligence, I had no dominant tendency, no imperious faculty, so that while by virtue of capacity I felt myself free, yet when free I could not discover what was best. Equilibrium produced indecision, and indecision has rendered all my faculties barren.

Wednesday, October 14th.—Still in the siding "waiting for orders" to move on. There's a lot of waiting being done in this war one way and another, as well as a lot of doing. What a splendid message the French Government have sent the Belgian Government on coming to Havre! exciting for the people at Havre: they used to go mad when dusty motor-cars with a few exhausted-looking Belgians arrived in Havre.

We seem to be going to Rouen and up from there. Villeneuve is going to be evacuated as a military P.O. centre and other headquarters, and Abbeville to be the place—west of Amiens.

I had an excellent night, no sheets (because of the difficulties of washing), my own rug next me, and lots of blankets: the view, with trucks on each side, is not inspiring, but will improve when we move: have only been allowed walks alongside the train to-day because it may move at any minute (although it has no engine as yet!), and you mayn't leave the train without a pass from the Major.

M.O.'s and Sisters live on one waggon, all our little doors opening into the same corridor, where we have tea; it is a very easy family party. Our beds are all sofas in the daytime and quite public, unless we like to shut our doors. It is pouring to-day—first wet day for weeks.

Orders just come that we move at 8.46 for Abbeville, and get orders for the Front from there.

6.30 p.m.—Another order just come that our destination is Braisne, not Abbeville. They have always seen shells bursting at Braisne. I'm glad it's Braisne, as we shall get to the other part next journey, I expect.

8.45 p.m.—Started at last.

October 14, 1862

Tuesday. Well, I have had a good sleep, if I did have a hard time getting it. Our cornstalk bed which promised so well, did not prove so. The stalks were like bean poles, and the ears big in proportion. After turning and twisting every way, Walt and I left the others and started on an exploring expedition. It was pitch dark, and we had to feel our way, but finally came to a building. We felt along until we came to a door and went in. It appeared to be an empty barn, but soon after we spread our blankets and got into bed we found we were in a henroost. We got outside much quicker than we got into the building and soon after came against another building. This we felt our way around, and on the opposite side found it to be a house, and the people not yet gone to bed. We urged them to let us sleep on the floor by the fire, but while the man seemed willing, the wife objected, and there was nothing to do but try elsewhere. Finally we decided to try and find the cornfield again, and by taking the back track we succeeded in getting back where we started from. We made a bed under the fence and at last got asleep, being too tired to be very particular. We were not going to say anything about our adventure, but the others woke up first and in some way found out about it. We had breakfast, the stragglers were called in, and were soon in line waiting for the order to march.[4]

2 p. m. In Hanover, Pa., again. About 8 o'clock we marched through Gettysburg and tumbled into the cars. We soon reached Hanover, where we have since been. Along towards noon, we began to wonder if we would get another such feed as they gave us on Sunday. Somehow the people didn't seem as glad to see us as they did then. In fact they seemed rather to avoid us. Not all, for some were handing out everything eatable they had. Rather than ride these free horses to death, Snyder and I decided on another plan and it worked beautifully. We saw a house where the people were ready to sit down to the table—a man and a woman were already at the table—when we set our guns by the door and walking in, took seats at the table without as much as saying "by your leave." I passed my plate to the man, who all at once seemed to see a funny side to our impudence and burst out laughing. We had a good dinner and a jolly good time, and felt as if we had gotten even with one of them at any rate.

Night. Have stopped, and the report is that a bridge is broken down somewhere ahead of us and that we must stay here all night; a lonesome dismal spot, not a house in sight and only the remains of our army rations for supper.


[4]I was in Gettysburg in 1909 and was told by people who remembered our visit in 1862, that there were no Rebels anywhere near Gettysburg except in the imagination of the people, who were scared out of their senses.