October 17

Went over to see Cousin George Simons last evening, who is in poor health, as well as Cousin Martha. Aunt Sarah is usually well; weather fair. Aunt Polly Howe seems depressed; expect she's anxious about me; arrived at Mr. David Mower's this evening; came down in Mr. Snow's crowded stage very uncomfortably.

October Seventeenth

JOHN BROWN'S RAID

Of course a transaction so flagitious with its attendant circumstances ... could but produce the profoundest impression upon the people of the South. Here was open and armed “aggression”; whether clearly understood and encouraged beforehand, certainly exulted in afterwards, by persons of a very different standing from that of the chief actor in this bloody incursion into a peaceful State.

George Lunt
(Massachusetts)

 

“Saint John the Just” was the verdict of the Concord philosophers concerning John Brown. “The new Saint ... will make the gallows glorious like the Cross” was the sentiment of Emerson that drew applause from a vast assemblage in Boston.

Henry A. White

 

 

Saturday, October 17th.—We are to stay here till Monday, to go on taking up the wounded from the 1st Division. They went on coming in all yesterday in motor ambulances. They come straight from the trenches, and are awfully happy on the train with the first attempts at comforts they have known. One told me they were just getting their tea one day, relieving the trenches, when "one o' them coal-boxes" sent a 256 lb. shell into them, which killed seven and wounded fifteen. One  shell! He said he had to help pick them up and it made him sick.

10 p.m.—Wrote the last before breakfast, and we haven't sat down since. We are to move back to Villeneuve to-morrow, dropping the sick probably at Versailles. Every one thankful to be going to move at last. The gas has given out, and the entire train is lit by candles.

Imagine a hospital as big as King's College Hospital all packed into a train, and having to be self-provisioned, watered, sanitated, lit, cleaned, doctored and nursed and staffed and officered, all within its own limits. No outside person can realise the difficulties except those who try to work it.

The patients are extraordinarily good, and take everything as it comes (or as it doesn't come!) without any grumbling. Your day is taken up in rapidly deciding which of all the things that want doing you must let go undone; shall they be washed or fed, or beds made, or have their hypodermics and brandies and medicines, or their dressings done? You end in doing some of each in each carriage, or in washing them after dinner instead of before breakfast.

The guns have been banging all the afternoon; some have dropped pretty near again to-day, but you haven't time to take much notice. Our meals are very funny—always candles stuck in a wine bottle—no tablecloth—everything on one plate with the same knife and fork—coffee in a glass, served by a charming dirty Frenchman; many jokes going on between the three tables—the French officials, the M.O.'s, and us. Our own bunks are quite civilised and cosy, though as small as half a big bathing-machine—swept out by our batman.

We have some French wounded and sick on the train.

I see some parsons are enlisting in the R.A.M.C. I hope they know how to scrub floors, clean lavatories, dish out the meals, sleep on the floor, go without baths, live on Maconochie rations, and heave bales and boxes about, and carry stretchers; the orderlies have a very hard life—and no glory.

Must turn in.

October 17, 1863

Saturday. To-day Lieutenants Heath, Reynolds, the quartermaster and myself took a long ride about the country spreading the news of our headquarters for recruits. The white people we met were civil, but their hatred of us could not be entirely covered up. I could not find it in my heart to blame them, and I much regretted that one of our party saw fit to trade horses with one of them and entirely against his will. But the blacks are wild with joy, and eager to become "Linkum Sogers."

In the afternoon a detail was sent out with the quartermaster's wagon for mutton or beef, for our family is getting so large they will soon eat up the government rations at hand. They came back soon with a choice lot of dressed mutton. The guides apparently knew just where to go. Later in the day Reynolds, Gorton and myself made another tour of the country towards the Mississippi River. We came to a house over towards the Great Cypress Swamp, as the folks here call it, and which is a belt of big timber lying between the Teche prairie and the Mississippi River, in which outlaws and wild beasts are said to abound, and in which bands of guerrillas have their hiding places. We have heard much of the Great Cypress Swamp and its terrors, and felt quite brave as we looked at it from a half mile distance. No one appeared to be at home, so we investigated. The weeds were as high as our heads, but a path led back to a stable in which was the most perfect picture of a horse I ever looked at. He appeared to be scared out of his head at the sight of us, and plunged and snorted as if a bear was after him. The path continued and soon we came to a mulatto and his wife busy digging peanuts. We introduced the subject of enlistment and found he was ready and willing to go at once if he could take his horse with him. They could both talk English, and a jargon we supposed was French. When speaking to us they used English, but to each other they talked French. After a short confab he agreed to go with us, and his wife made no objection. He got his horse from the stable, and his saddle from the house and we set out for camp.

I thought it strange that either of them showed so little concern at parting for what might be forever, and wondered the wife did not ask to go also, as so many of the others had done. We reached camp just at night, where both the horse and man attracted the attention of all hands. Colonel Parker at once wanted to buy the horse, and a bargain was soon struck, the horse to be paid for on the next pay day, which was agreeable to the mulatto. He was so frank and open in all his talk, that when he asked if he might ride the horse home and remain till morning the colonel readily consented, telling him to be in camp by noon the next day.