September 30

I intended to have taken the 7 o'clock a. m. train, but overslept; left on the 10.30 o'clock a. m. train up the Hudson river. The scenery is the most beautiful I have ever seen; arrived at Albany about sundown; changed cars at Troy for Rutland; arrived there at 9 o'clock p. m. Ed. Russell has been with me today.

September Thirtieth

Thistles send their missives white
To the sky;
Robins southward wing their flight,
(Sad goodbye!)
But where Summer, yellow-gowned,
Last has trod,
Thorn-torn fragments strew the ground—
Virginia Lucas

September 30, 1862

Battalion-drill to-day. It was just as hot as yesterday, and some say hotter. The lieutenant colonel, James Smith, came last night, and has taken charge of our military education. He has been in the service, and was in the battle of Antietam. Some say he is a West Pointer. At any rate we have a drill-master who understands his business. One thing that has already made him dear to us is that he makes the officers come to time just as well as the men. He told them, in so many words, that they had as much to learn as we. If he holds out as he has started off, he will stand well with the rank and file, however he may stand with the officers. Hurrah for Colonel Smith!

Wednesday, September 30th.—Have been doing the sick officers all day (or rather wounded). They are quite nice, but the lack of equipment makes twice the work. We are still having bright sunny days, but it is getting cold, and I shall be glad of warmer clothes. The food at the still filthy Inn in a dark outhouse through the back yard has improved a little! My Madame (in my billet) gives me coffee and bread and butter (of the best) at 7, and there is a ration tin of jam, and I have acquired a pot of honey.

On duty at 7.30 a.m.—At 12 or 1 we go to the Inn for déjeûner : meat of some sort, one vegetable, bread, butter, and cheese, and pears. Tea we provide ourselves when we can.

At 7 or 8 we go to the Inn and have pôtage  (which is warm water with a few stray onions or carrots in it), and tough cold meat, and sometimes a piece of pastry (for pudding), bread, butter, and cheese, and a very small cup of coffee, and little, rather hard pears. I am very well on it now since they changed the bread, though pretty tired.

214. John Adams

Yorktown, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, 30 September, 1777.

It is now a long time since I had an opportunity of writing to you, and I fear you have suffered unnecessary anxiety on my account. In the morning of the 19th instant, the Congress were alarmed in their beds by a letter from Mr. Hamilton, one of General Washington's family, that the enemy was in possession of the ford over the Schuylkill and the boats, so that they had it in their power to be in Philadelphia before morning. The papers of Congress belonging to the Secretary's office, the War office, the Treasury office, etc., were before sent to Bristol. The President and all the other gentlemen were gone that road, so I followed with my friend Mr. Marchant, of Rhode Island, to Trenton, in the Jerseys. We stayed at Trenton until the 21st, when we set off to Easton, upon the forks of Delaware. From Easton we went to Bethlehem, from thence to Reading, from thence to Lancaster, and from thence to this town, which is about a dozen miles over the Susquehanna River. Here Congress is to sit. In order to convey the papers with safety, which are of more importance than all the members, we were induced to take this circuit, which is near a hundred and eighty miles, whereas this town, by the direct road, is not more than eighty-eight miles from Philadelphia. This tour has given me an opportunity of seeing many parts of this country which I never saw before.

This morning Major Troup arrived here with a large packet from General Gates, containing very agreeable intelligence, which I need not repeat, as you have much earlier intelligence from that part than we have. I wish affairs here wore as pleasing an aspect. But alas, they do not.

I shall avoid everything like history, and make no reflections. However, General Washington is in a condition tolerably respectable, and the militia are now turning out from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, in small numbers. All the apology that can be made for this part of the world is that Mr. Howe's march from Elk to Philadelphia was through the very regions of passive obedience. The whole country through which he passed is inhabited by Quakers. There is not such another body of Quakers in all America, perhaps not in all the world.

I am still of opinion that Philadelphia will be no loss to us. I am very comfortably situated here in the house of General Roberdeau, whose hospitality has taken in Mr. S. Adams, Mr. Gerry, and me. My health is as good as common, and I assure you my spirits not the worse for the loss of Philadelphia. Biddle in the Continental frigate, at South Carolina, has made a noble cruise and taken four very valuable prizes.

September 30, 1916

This has been the strangest summer I ever knew. There have been so few really summer days. I could count the hot days on my fingers. None of the things have happened on which I counted.

What a disappointment poor Russia has been to the big world, which knew nothing about her except that she could put fifteen millions of men in the field. However, as we say, "all that is only a detail." We are learning things every day. Nothing has opened our eyes more than seeing set at naught our conviction that, once the Rumanian frontier was opened to the Russians, they would be on the Danube in no time.

Do you remember how glibly we talked of the "Russian steam-roller," in September, 1914? I remember that, at that time, I had a letter from a very clever chap who told me that "expert military men" looked to see the final battle on our front, somewhere near Waterloo, before the end of October, and that even "before that, the Russian steam-roller would be crushing its way to Berlin." How much expert military men have learned since then!

Still, wasn't it, in a certain sense, lucky that, in spite of the warning of Kitchener, we did not, in the beginning, realize the road we had to travel? As I look back on the two years, it all looks to me more and more remarkable, seen even at this short perspective, that the Allied armies, and most of all, the civilians behind the lines have, in the face of the hard happenings of each day, stood up, and taken it as they have, and hoped on.

I have got into a mood where it seems simply stupid to talk about it, since I am, as usual, only eternally a spectator. I only long to keep my eyes raised in a wide arc towards the end, to live each day as I can, and wait. So why should I try to write to you of things which I do not see, and of which only the last, faint, dying ripples reach us here?

You really must not pity me, as you insist upon doing, because military restrictions draw a line about me, which I may not cross at my own sweet will. I am used to it. It is not hard. For that matter, it is much more trying to my French neighbors than it is to me.

I seem never to have told you that even they may not leave the commune without a sauf-conduit. To be sure, they have only to go to the mairie, and ask for it, to get it.

For months now the bridge over the Marne, at Meaux, has been guarded, and even those going to market cannot cross without showing their papers. The formality is very trying to them, for the reason that the mairie opens at eight, and closes at twelve not to reopen again until three and close at six. You see those hours are when everyone is busiest in the fields. The man or woman who has to go to market on Saturday must leave work standing and make a long trip into Quincy—and often they have three or four miles to go on foot to do it—just at the hour when it is least easy to spare the time.

To make it harder still, a new order went out a few weeks ago. Every man, woman, and child (over fifteen) in the war zone has to have, after October 1, a carte d'identité, to which must be affixed a photograph.

This regulation has resulted in the queerest of embarrassments. A great number of these old peasants—and young ones too—never had a photograph taken. There is no photographer. The photographer at Esbly and the two at Meaux could not possibly get the people all photographed, and, in this uncertain weather, the prints made, in the delay allowed by the military authorities. A great cry of protestation went up. Photographers of all sorts were sent into the commune. The town crier beat his drum like mad, and announced the places where the photographers would be on certain days and hours, and ordered the people to assemble and be snapped.

One of the places chosen was the courtyard at Amélie's, and you would have loved seeing these bronzed old peasants facing a camera for the first time. Some of the results were funny, especially when the hurried and overworked operator got two faces on the same negative, as happened several times.

Real autumn weather is here, but, for that matter, it has been more like autumn than summer since last spring. The fields are lovely to see on days when the sun shines. I drove the other day just for the pleasure of sitting in my perambulator, on the hillside, and looking over the slope of the wide wheat fields, where the women, in their cotton jackets and their wide hats, were reaping. The harvesting never looked so picturesque. I could pick out, in the distance, the tall figure of my Louise, with a sheaf on her head and a sickle in her hand, striding across the fields, and I thought how a painter would have loved the scene, with the long rays of the late September sunset illuminating the yellow stretch.

Last Wednesday we had a little excitement here, because sixteen German prisoners, who were working on a farm at Vareddes, escaped—some of them disguised as women.

I wasn't a bit alarmed, as it hardly seemed possible that they would venture near houses in this district, but Père was very nervous, and every time the dog barked he was out in the road to make sure that I was all right.

Oddly enough, it happened on the very day when two hundred arrived at Meaux to work in the sugar refinery. The next day there was a regular battue, as the gendarmes beat up the fields and woods in search of the fugitives.

If they caught them, they don't tell, but we have been ordered to harbor no strangers under a severe penalty. But that condition has really existed since the war broke out, as no one is even allowed to engage a workman whose papers have not been visé at the mairie.

I have had to have a wood fire today—it is alarming, with winter ahead, and so little fuel, to have to begin heating up at the end of September—three weeks or a month earlier than usual.