Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Diary of John Hay: February 22, 1864

. . . There was a ball to-night at Beaufort, gotten up by young officers there in honor of the 22d. Gen'l Gillmore went up for a few moments to lend his influence to counteract the gloom which was overspreading the camp. We got there early and loafed about till the dancing began. The room was exquisitely decorated; several very clever pictures, eagles, etc., were done on the walls with magnolia leaves; flags of all nations, from the Navy, etc.

I left with Gen'l Gillmore and went on board the Hospital Ship, filled with wounded; went through hold and up-stairs where the artillery boys were. Saw many desperately wounded; Col. R—— mortally, clutching at his bed-clothes and passing garments; picked up, bed and all, and carried away, picking out his clothes from a pile by shoulder-straps — “Major?” “No! Lieutenant-Colonel.” H——, M——, D—— and E——, all very chipper and jolly; M—— shot in toes and hat (like a parenthesis) and sabre; H—— between seat and saddle, and in fore-arm. M proposed to H—— "to go to party; I'll do dancing, and you hugging.”

Suddenly Gen'l S——, who had been much moved by R——’s appearance, started off up to the ball. He arrived during a moment's pause in the Lanciers. He stamped his foot: “Let the music stop!” and it did. “The ball cannot go on. Lights to be out in half an hour.” A friend of the General asked: — “Can we eat supper?” “Anyone who has the heart to eat at such a time.” All had a heart of that peculiar construction, for all ate. He came back glowing with the triumph of a generous action performed, and asked us up to his room, where we drank champagne and whiskey, and ate cake. Coming out found the grumbling feasters and went to Hilton Head after two o'clock.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 168-9.

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