Saturday, November 5, 2016

Captain William Thompson Lusk to Horace Barnard, April 12, 1862

Beaufort, S. C. April 12th, 1862.

I hardly know how, writing from peaceful Beaufort, I can find themes so exciting as to gratify the tastes of the public, used to tales of victories purchased at bloody rates; yet the importance of the work now quietly being wrought at Beaufort must not be underrated.

Here too, as well as on the splendid fields of the West, the spirit of John Brown is marching on. Toward the close of last autumn our troops entered Beaufort, then deserted by its inhabitants, and looking sad and desolate. Now the winter has passed away and the spring is far advanced. Nature has put on her most lovable hues. The dense dark foliage of the pine and the magnolia harmoniously mingle with the bright new leaves of the forest. The streets of the city are once more busy with life. Vessels float in the harbor. Plantations are being cultivated. Wharves are being built. Business is prosperous. And the quondam proud resort of the proudest of Aristocrats is being inundated with Yankees acquainted with low details regarding Dollars and Cents. There are all sorts of Yankee ventures in town, from the man with the patent armor recommended by McClellan, which no one buys, to the enterprising individual who manufactures pies in the old Connecticut style, and who has laid the foundation of an immense fortune. Even the "one only man of Beaufort," catching the spirit of trade, displays a few dingy wares in a shop-window. “But why,” the impatient public asks, “is our Army so far away from Savannah?” “Strategy, my dear public,” I answer. Can anything be more beautiful than the strategy of our Leaders, which strips war of its terrors and makes it so eminently safe? Tell me, if Mars chooses to beat his sword into a ploughshare, and devote himself to the cultivation of sea-island cotton, and invites live Yankees to assist him therein, ought not the satire of the thing to please the restless spirit of John Brown and excite it to renewed efforts in its great performance of marching on? Now there is no doubt that our Army ought long ago to have been in possession of both Charleston and Savannah. Common sense teaches us that much, although we know nothing whatever of military affairs forsooth, and still less of the peculiar circumstances which happen to govern the action of our Generals. Well, when we see matters in this condition, common sense teaches us that the proper remedy is to decapitate incompetency, and to put the "right man in the right place." The proper time for doing this is when, after long and earnest labor, a Commander is seen to be ready to strike a blow. Then is the moment to clamor loudly for his dismissal, and insist that another be put in his place, and when this one shall reap the harvest his predecessor sowed, we will all nod our heads approvingly at such evidence of our own ineffable wisdom. This is decidedly the most pleasant mode of proceeding for a public unacquainted with military matters but governed by common sense, and it is so satisfactory to all parties concerned, excepting perhaps the poor devil that gets decapitated. This, however, is a digression, intended possibly as a sort of “hӕc fabula docet” derived from the recent capture of Pulaski. So, to return —

Oh, darn it all, my dear Horace, I'll send the subscription price of the Evening Post without further delay. Here I've been floundering around, using up whole reams of paper trying to work up a newspaper style, but I have only succeeded in getting together a vast amount of material to kindle fires with. I thought I was doing beautifully when I commenced this, but, becoming disgusted with myself, I have concluded to give you the benefit of the production and spare the public. Thanks many times for your long, kind letter. You don't know how enjoyable it was. It has got to be late at night and soldiers must rise early you know. I have just been reading over this epistle and see that I have been making a feeble effort to be funny. Prithee forgive me. I didn't mean to. Give my love to Cousin Lou, Miss Hattie, Anima Mia, Miss Alice (if it be proper), and friends upon Murray Hill.

Very afFec'y.,
Will Lusk.

SOURCE: William Chittenden Lusk, Editor, War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, p. 138-40

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