Showing posts with label Homesickness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homesickness. Show all posts

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Diary of 5th Sergeant Osborn H. Oldroyd: Sunday, June 14, 1863

No bells to ring us to church. I wish we had one day in seven for rest and freedom from care; but there is no such thing now for the soldier. It is shoot, shoot, dodge, dodge, from morning to night, without cessation, except when we are asleep. When the time comes, we can lie down and sleep soundly all night, right under our cannon, firing over us all the time, without disturbing us in the least. But let the long roll be sounded—every man is up at the first tap-for that sound we know means business for us. 

Occasionally the rebs plant a mortar in some out of the way spot and drop a shell or two into our midst; but a few well directed shots from our big guns at the rear soon settle them. These rebels obey very well. 

We have several large siege guns, lately planted in the rear of our division, which it took ten yoke of oxen to haul, one at a time, to their places. I had been told that the balls from these guns could be seen on their journey, and could not believe it until I put myself in range of the monsters, just behind them, when I found I could see the balls distinctly, as they flew across the hills towards Vicksburg. These guns are nine-inch calibre and they are about twelve feet long. They are monsters, and their voices are very loud. 

Sunday is general inspection day, and the officers passed through our quarters at 10 A. M., finding our guns and accoutrements bright and clean. If any young lady at the North needs a good housekeeper, she can easily be accommodated by making a requisition on the 20th Ohio. In fact we can all do patchwork, sew on buttons, make beds and sweep; but I do not think many of us will follow the business after the war is done, for the “relief” always so anxiously looked for by the soldiers must then come. 

I heard one of our boys—a high private in the rear rank-lament that he was 

“Only a private, and who will care 
When I shall pass away?” 

Poor lad, he was in a sad way! But it was mere homesickness that ailed him. If dissatisfied with his position as a private, let him wait, for if he survives the war, he will, no doubt, have a chance to be captain of an infantry company. 

SOURCE: Osborn Hamiline Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg, p. 53-4

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: April 25, 1862


We have now been several weeks in the city and the boys are beginning to tire of it. This every-day, humdrum life is getting irksome, and the boys are anxious for a change. Frequent changes and excitement are what keeps up the soldier's spirits. In the dull routine and idleness of camp, they grow uneasy, homesick and despondent. 

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 55

Friday, May 1, 2020

Diary of Corporal David L. Day: January 19, 1862


Witnessing boat collisions and wrecks is getting old, and the boys are amusing themselves by writing letters, making up their diaries, playing cards, reading old magazines and newspapers which they have read half a dozen times before; and some of them are actually reading their Bibles. Of all the lonely, God-forsaken looking places I ever saw this Hatteras island takes the premium. It is simply a sand-bar rising a little above the water, and the shoals extend nearly 100 miles out to sea. The water is never still and fair weather is never known; storms and sea gulls are the only productions. Sometimes there is a break in the clouds, when the sun can get a shine through for a few moments, but this very rarely happens. The island extends from Cape Henry, Virginia, to Cape Lookout, North Carolina, with occasional holes washed through it, which are called inlets. It is from one-half to two miles wide, and the only things which make any attempt to grow, are a few shrub pines and fishermen. I don’t think there is a bird or any kind of animal, unless it is a dog, on the island, not even a grasshopper, as one would have to prospect the whole island to find a blade of grass, and in the event of his finding one would sing himself to death. The inlet is very narrow, not over half a mile in width, and the channel is still narrower, consequently it makes an indifferent harbor. Still it is better than none, or as the sailors say, any port in a storm. But as bad as it looks and bad as it is, it is, after all, a very important point, perhaps as important in a military point of view as any on the coast. It is the key or gate-way to nearly all of eastern North Carolina, and places us directly in the rear of Norfolk, Va. This island is not without its history, if we may believe all the fearful and marvelous stories that have been written of it, of its being the habitation of wreckers and buccaneers in ye good old colony times.


The boys are up to all sorts of inventions to kill time. In the amusement line the officers have started an exhibition or theatre up in the saloon. It is a clever device to break the dull monotony; to cheer up the loneliness and homesickness which seem to prevail. The exercises consist of recitations, dialogues, singing and music, and make a very good evening's entertainment. A limited number from each company are nightly admitted, and I can see no reason why it will not prove a success, as there seems to be no lack of talent, music or patronage. For a comic performance, one should be down in the after-cabin of an evening, especially about the time the officer of the day, who is a lieutenant, comes around to silence the noise and order the lights out. This after-cabin is a sort of independent community, having its own by-laws, and throwing off pretty much all restraint and doing about as it pleases. The officer of the day is pretty sure to keep out of the cabin during the day, but comes to the head of the stairs in the evening, and gives his orders. Very little attention will be given them, until finally he will venture down stairs, when he will be greeted by an hundred voices with, “Officer of the day! turn out the guard!” And a hundred more will respond, “Never mind the guard!” and this will be kept up until they finally drive him out. Sometimes, after the officer of the day has sailed to restore order, the colonel will come to the stairs and say, “Boys, it is getting late; time to be quiet.” That is the highest known authority, and order will come out of confusion immediately. Without any disparagement to the lieutenants, the boys have a great respect for Col. Upton; he has only to speak and his wishes are cheerfully and instantly complied with.

SOURCE: David L. Day, My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, p. 23-4

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Diary of Captain Luman Harris Tenney: June 26, 1865

A very cool, pleasant morning. Went to the city to see Ren Bosworth off on leave. Expect to be homesick now living alone. Got back to camp before supper. Got me some pants, vest, shirts and other necessaries for comfort.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 168

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Diary of Captain Luman Harris Tenney: June 16, 1865

Went to town to see about selling my horse. Chester left for Davenport, Iowa. I feel most homesick. I do dislike to leave the boys for many reasons. I love them all.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 167

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Diary of Captain Luman Harris Tenney: Thursday, February 2, 1865

Several furloughs came back. Boys happy. Am almost homesick, but put on as good a face as possible. Who knoweth the heart?

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 143

Monday, March 19, 2018

Gustavus V. Fox to Virginia Woodbury Fox, March 19, 1861

Washington D.C.
Mch 19, ’61
Dr V.

I am real homesick for the kind company of the dearest wife in the world — the best and the sweetest. But our Uncle Abe Lincoln has taken a high esteem for me and wishes me to take dispatches to Major Anderson at Fort Sumpter with regard to its final evacuation and to obtain a clear statement of his condition which his letters, probably guarded, do not fully exhibit. I have really great curiosity to see the famous Fort and several of my naval intimates are there in command. Gov. Pickens may turn me back but I think not. I leave this eve and ought to return here Sunday and N. Y. Tuesday or Wednesday. Minna thinks I am going to N. Y. and knows nothing of my visit here, though very inquisitive: be careful in all your letters. Write me Friday or Sat. and tell me how you are and all about the Dr and where you are.


SOURCES: Robert Means Thompson & Richard Wainwright, Editors, Publications of the Naval Historical Society, Volume 9: Confidential Correspondence of Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, 1861-1865, Volume 1, p. 9-10

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Luman Harris Tenney: December 23, 1863

Hillhouse came around early. Hurried breakfast and wrote a few lines home and to Fannie, for Thede to take. Got George a saddle and Lewis govt. horse. How I dislike to have Thede leave me. I shall be homesick. Still it is best. Poor fellow. God grant he may get well soon. Command moved at 9 A. M. following Woolford's division. I waited till near dark. Lu (Emmons) and I went together. Awful ford over Holston. Found brigade at Newmarket. Took supper with Maj. Nettleton. Slept on floor.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 102

Monday, August 7, 2017

Captain Charles Wright Wills: December 3, 1862

December 3, 1862.

We received marching orders at Lagrange, Tenn., at 9 o'clock p. m. on the 27th, and moved at 6 a. m. on the 28th, on the Holly Springs road. We marched some five miles and then waited four or five hours for the divisions of Ross and McArthur from Grand Junction, and Quinby and Moscow to file into the road ahead of us. About 4 p. m. we were again set in motion, and at 7 p. m. (moonlight) we turned into the woods, about 10 miles from Lagrange, and bivouacked for the night. Fell in at 7 a. m., 29th, marched nine miles by 2:30 p. m. to Coldwater, a very nice little stream, the water in which is as cold in July as in December. Here we rested until 6:30 p. m. and then marched six miles by moonlight to Holly Springs, Miss., where we camped for the night. At 8 a. m., 30th, moved out and arrived at the present camp about 2 p. m. The last five miles we were cheered by the enlivening music of artillery firing ahead, pretty lively at times and then subsiding into an ocasional bellow, bringing the good old Madrid and Corinth times very distinctly to my mind. It's astonishing what an amount of ignorance I am guilty of in regard to the situation of affairs here, but I really haven't inquired of or listened to any of the powers that be on the subject. I've had my mind set on a fight in the neighborhood, and if we get that I don't care about details, if not I'll find out what I can, though 'tis an awful sight of trouble to sift sense and matter to be credited out of camp rumors, and that is about the only source a line officer has for getting information. Believe I'll give you a little list of rumors condensed. (1) Enemy 50,000 strong fortified on this side of Tallahatchie. (2) Rebels driven across the river, only rifle pits on this side. (3) Sherman has turned their right flank and we've got them sure. (4) Enemy only 30,000 strong in tremendous fortifications opposite side of river; bridge burned, will be rebuilt by midnight, when we'll pitch into them, etc. (5) Pemberton wants to fight; Price opposes the idea. (6) Fortifications evacuated night of 1st inst., and Sherman pushing the enemy's right as they retreat (To back this No. 6 rumor, heavy columns were pushing past us all day yesterday in a driving rain). (7) Steel and Curtis have pushed across from Helena or Napoleon and taken possession of Grenada, cutting off the Rebel line of retreat; Curtis' force 25,000. (8) Price has cut through Curtis' force and escaped. (9) Price attacked Curtis, was repulsed and is now coming back this way, etc.

There has been cannonading the last three days some four or six miles ahead, but none to-day. Squads of prisoners pass us going to the rear every day. The country from Lagrange to this place is very good, clearings much more extensive and more evidences of wealth than on the Mobile and Ohio road. We were on picket the 1st inst. some two miles in advance of our camp and had a grand time. This 103d out jayhawks old Jennison himself. The regiment went on picket the last time with one day's rations, and I swear I believe they came in with six days'. My company “found” 150 pounds of flour, a hog, a beef, two and one-half bushels of sweet potatoes, chickens, ducks, milk, honey and apples. The night we stopped at Holly Springs, Company G must have confiscated $300 (the way these people figure) worth of eatables, among which were one barrel of molasses, 300 pounds of sugar, one barrel of flour, four hogs, etc. But I don't allow them to take anything but eatables. I think it right, and can find no arguments for any other side of the question. Holly Springs is a beautiful little town, but not so rich, I think, as Jackson, Tenn., which beats everything for its size, I ever saw. Our army, trains and all, stretched out in marching shape, is, I think, 30 miles long. Believe without Sherman it numbers from 40,000 to 45,000. Anyway we have enough to skin Mississippi. Major General McPherson commands our right wing of two divisions, Logan's and McKean's. Hamilton has the left wing of three divisions, McArthur, Ross and Quinby. Don't know what Sherman has, but he holds a good hand and has some trumps that we know of, particularly Hurlbut and Lanman. I never saw men in as good spirits and so confident as this army now appears. We are splendidly equipped and want nothing. The only drawback is the men's having to carry their knapsacks, but if the fine weather will only continue we'll stand that. We don't use any tents at night when marching, and 'tis no hardship to lie out at night yet. The boys strip to their underclothing, with only two blankets, and never grumble. I can't see why people will stay at home when they can get to soldiering. I think a year of it is worth getting shot for to any man. I believe I used to get a little homesick or girl sick, but my brief furloughs have taught me the vanity and vexation of spirit folks are liable to in the States, and I think I'll hanker thereafter no more. If I can get into the regular army, I'll do it sure.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 130-2

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Private Charles Wright Wills: September 17, 1861

September 17, 1861.

Well, I've slept half of this day and feel sleepy yet. I had a tough time on picket last night. We were divided into four squads and owing to the small number of men we had out (only 50) the corporals had to stand guard as privates; so I had all the stationing of reliefs to do myself and did not get a minute's sleep all night. We were not troubled any by the enemy but the mosquitoes and fleas gave us the devil.

A coon came sliding down the tree Sam Nutt was stationed under, and he thought he was taken sure. The people here say that there are lots of bears and tiger cats killed here every winter. Sam has been to Cairo to-day and says that Keef, Fred Norcott and Cooper are all much better. There is a rumor now that our right is going to Virginia, but I don't believe it. It is too good to be true. Our cook has been sick for several days and we have been just about half living on account of our being too lazy to cook. I don't mean to be disrespectful when I say I was about as glad to see him cooking again this morning, as I would be to see you. He is a splendid nigger, seems to think the world of us boys. He buys a great many little things for us with his own money, which as we are all out, is a good institution. We are to get our pay next week the officers say. My pay is some $18 or $20 a month now. I am entitled to a straight sword now, but as I have to carry a musket also, I'll trade it off for gingerbread if they'll let me, and if they won't I'll lose it sure for I have enough to carry without it. I can hear the tattoo now before the colonel's quarters at the other end of the camp and our boys are singing, “Home Again” as they lie around me in our tent. I thank goodness that none of them get homesick like some do that I know in our right. I do despise these whiners. I expect (I have just this instant heard that they have been fighting in Washington for the last 24 hours. Now I'll finish the sentence I had commenced) to be with those I love in eight months if the expected battle in Washington results favorably for our country, if not, do not look for me for three years. If they whip us again there I want to fight the rest of my life if necessary, and die before we recognize them as anything but Rebels and traitors who must be humbled. I don't believe yet awhile the news but I kind o' feel it all through me that there is a battle more to be recorded and that we are the victors. All that we have heard is that they are fighting. Colonel Turchin's 19th left Cairo last night for the east somewhere. We are rapidly learning to appropriate and confiscate. On our last scout one of our boys rode a stray horse back and another came in with a female jackass and her child. Chickens are very scarce here now and the natives complain that sweet potato hills have turned into holes since we have been here. Our mess have this p. m. confiscated the roof of a man's barn to cover our cook house with.

SOURCE: Charles Wright Wills, Army Life of an Illinois Soldier, p. 31-2

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Diary of Sergeant Major Luman Harris Tenney: Tuesday, November 18, 1862

Still rainy and muddy. Lay in the tent unless obliged to get out. Almost homesick. Body guard came back. Sore throat.

SOURCE: Frances Andrews Tenney, War Diary Of Luman Harris Tenney, p. 44

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Diary of Brigadier-General William F. Bartlett: Monday, August 29, 1864

Pleasant, comfortable day. Nothing new. Read “Heart of Mid-Lothian.” Played chess, Captain Adams, Fifty-sixth. Sedgwick, Twentieth, is here; not well, looks badly. Very homesick I expect. I hope the flag of truce boat will be here by Wednesday. Still improving in health. I shall be quite well by the time I get home if I keep on, and the boat doesn't come for a month or two!

SOURCE: Francis Winthrop Palfrey, Memoir of William Francis Bartlett, p. 132-3

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Diary of Sarah Morgan: Monday Night, February 9, 1863

A letter from my dear little Jimmy! How glad I am, words could not express. This is the first since he arrived in England, and now we know what has become of him at last. While awaiting the completion of the ironclad gunboat to which he has been appointed, like a trump he has put himself to school, and studies hard, which is evident from the great improvement he already exhibits in his letter. . . .

My delight at hearing from Jimmy is overcast by the bad news Lilly sends of mother's health. I have been unhappy about her for a long while; her health has been wretched for three months; so bad, that during all my long illness she has never been with me after the third day. I was never separated from mother for so long before; and I am homesick, and heartsick about her. Only twenty miles apart, and she with a shocking bone felon in her hand and that dreadful cough, unable to come to me, whilst I am lying helpless here, as unable to get to her. I feel right desperate about it. This evening Lilly writes of her having chills and fevers, and looking very, very badly. So Miriam started off instantly to see her. My poor mother! She will die if she stays in Clinton, I know she will!

SOURCE: Sarah Morgan Dawson, A Confederate Girl's Diary, p. 326

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler to Blanche Butler, Sunday October 22, 1860

LoweLL, Oct. 22, 1860

MY GOOD GIRL: You know that I am not a constant correspondent, but I am now taking your mother's place. You need not feel alarm about your mother's eyes, as I believe the weakness to be temporary only. At least she was quite well enough last Friday evening to go with me to the Prince's Ball1 at Boston. Aunt Harriet went with us; both were much pleased, as ladies always are, with beautiful dresses, fine music, and a gay throng. I was obliged to go down to the review of the Military.2 I suppose you hardly saw the Prince; as a sight you have not lost much. He looks somewhat like your cousin Hal Read, but is not quite so intelligent in the face.

Pray do not pain me by hearing that you are homesick. A girl of good sense like you to be homesick! Never say it. Never feel it, never think it. The change, the novelty of your situation, will soon wear away, and with your duties well done, as I know they will be, you will be sustained by the pride of a well-earned joy in your return. You say the girls, your associates, seem strange to you. May they not find the same strange appearance in you? You say you think they do not like you much, and you do not like them much. Is not this because of the strangeness, and because you do not understand and know each other. It is one of the objects I desired to gain by sending you to Georgetown that you should see other manners, other customs and ways, than those around you at home. However good these may be, the difficulty is that one used to a single range of thoughts and modes of life soon comes to think all others inferior, while in fact they may be better, and are only different. This is a provincialism, and one of which I am sorry to say that Massachusetts people are most frequently guilty.

By no means give up your own manners simply because others of your associates are different. Try and see which are best, but do not cling to your own simply because they are yours. In the matter of pronunciation of which you wrote, hold fast your own, subject to your teachers. Do not adopt the flat drawl of the South. That is a patois. Avoid it. All educated people speak a language alike. T’is true Mr. Clay, said cheer for chair, but that from a defect of early association. Full, distinct, and clear utterance with a kindly modulated voice, will add a new accomplishment to a young lady, who is as perfect as Blanche in the eye of


1 H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, then on a visit to the United States.

2 General Butler was Brigadier General of the Massachusetts militia, having received his commission in 1857.

SOURCE: Jessie Ames Marshall, Editor, Private and Official Correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler During the Period of the Civil War, Volume 1: April 1860 – June 1862, p. 3-4

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to Josephine Shaw Lowell, Sunday, September 11, 1864 – 8 a.m.

Ripon, Sunday, 8 A. M. (Sept. 11).

A lovely morning after one of the most stormy nights I ever remember. Torrents of rain and continuous thunder and lightning and wind for six or eight hours, — the Doctor1 and I were quite washed out, — our tent seemed to be a through-drain for all the surrounding country. Did you see the moon last evening? — here, she was a perfect stage moon, — the whole scene what scene-painters aim at, when they have to put her to sleep on a bank. We had the band up and they were quite sentimental in their choice of music, and I grew as homesick as possible.

I received a long note yesterday from the Governor's Secretary, Colonel A. G. Brown, — it occupied me yesterday afternoon, and stimulated me to writing to such a degree that I wrote to Mr. H. L. Higginson and to Barlow and to Blagden and to Major-General Hitchcock and to Cousin John, — the latter about Will, who is soon to be released, and about Billy and about another little horse (two sizes smaller than Billy) which he wishes me to take and ride. I accepted the offer conditionally, and with scruples. It is a colt of “Countess's,” a “Bob Logic” colt, and Mr. F. says is good, though small. I hope it won't stop so many bullets as Billy.

I stopped here to send for a paper, and have read McClellan’s letter. It won’t do, though it’s much better than a Peace platform.

1 Dr. De Wolf, then acting as brigade surgeon, occupied the same tent with the colonel. Some years after the war, he became the head of the Board of Health of Chicago.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 345-6, 463

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Diary of Corporal Alexander G. Downing: Saturday, July 30, 1864

It is quite warm and sultry. We have a man in our ward who is very homesick; he sits on his cot and cries like a child. He has been promised a furlough, and I believe that if he could not get it he would die. All the wounded here able to take care of themselves on the way, are going home on thirty-day furloughs. Three from our company, Thomas R. McConnoll, John Zitler and John Hilton, are going. John Esher is not going until his wound gets better. A great many of the wounded men are dying, for the weather is so hot the wounds quickly mortify. No news from the front.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 207-8

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Major Wilder Dwight: August 3, 1861

Maryland Heights, August 3, 1861, in Bivouac.

Our new leafy camp presents an odd appearance. Two or three ingenious men belonging to the band have fitted me up a bedstead of branches and boughs, and have thatched my tent with leaves, so that the breeze rustles cool through it as I write. But we have few incidents. The bugler is teaching the skirmish calls, which makes a confused variety of very bad music; but except that, we are in the sultry stillness of high noon. . . .

I think we are doomed to a life of warm inaction for many weeks, while the awakened North will, I trust, give itself cordially to the task of organization. We must have an immense army. We must feed it, teach it, equip it, and all this must be done without delay. We must pay it promptly too. Our men all suffer now for want of the few comforts their pay would bring. Again, we must feed them well, honestly, not with bad meat or mouldy bread. I believe a little attention to these two matters will shorten the war six months. We demand a great deal of the men, we must give them all they are entitled to, and we must do this a great deal better than it has been done. I could write much on this score, but I am not inspector-general, my report will not go to head-quarters, so I will try to give you something more lively. Yet these are the pressing thoughts of one in the system who feels its pressure. Men willing and devoted you can have; but one central, organizing will you cannot have, I fear. Never mind, we have got to accomplish the result sooner or later. Only I think I can see most clearly how it ought to be done. Health is a condition of courage, and without it you cannot have an army Yet there are colonels, within three miles of us, who have not had their men in bathing within a month, though the rivers flow close by. Discipline is another condition of concerted and organized movement; yet, in several regiments, obedience is the exception, and orders take the shape of diffident requests. This has been unavoidable in the three months' militia. It must be corrected in the three years' army that is to fight the war. Here I am preaching away on the same text. I will stop and try again tomorrow.

Sunday has come, and brought with it the usual inspection of the regiment. Under the glaring sun, it was a severer work than common. The Colonel was bent upon having it thoroughly done, however, and so we made a long story of it. On our outpost, special duty, the regiment must be kept efficiently ready for sudden emergencies; and all matters which at Camp Andrew might have seemed merely formal, here assume practical and obvious importance. The hard work, hot weather, and soldier's fare begin to tell upon the men, and they are not as well satisfied as they were. They see the undertaking in a new form, and they are in the worst stages of homesickness too. The contagious disorderliness of other regiments, with lower standards of discipline and drill, also has its bad effect on them. Again, the inaction is depressing to the men, and they long for an occasion to fight. Still further, the want of vigorous health is a predisposing cause of discontent. The result is, that the regiment seems to lack willingness, obedience, enthusiasm, and vigor. It wants what is called tone morale. How to get it? There is the problem. Colonel Andrews has been over to see me to-day, and we have been talking regiment for a couple of hours. Vexing our minds with problems, and inquiring eagerly for solutions. I do not mean to intimate that we are not better off than others. I trust we are, much. In all military and material advantages, we certainly have got the start of them. And in these respects we are making every effort to hold our own. But there are and will be new problems before us at every step. Several of our officers are sick or disabled, and we are working with a short allowance. This adds to the bother. There you have the lees of a conversation with the Lieutenant-Colonel, which I have just finished. It indicates a few of the perplexities that belong to my position, but you need not let them discourage you. Nor do I allow them to halt me on my way. The march is to be kept up, and the obstacles are to be overcome or removed. Still, let no one think that because we are not fighting battles, therefore we are not serving our country. With all diffidence, and awaiting the correction of experience, I think we are now doing our hardest work. I should not write so much on this subject if it were not filling my mind completely. The same languor, undoubtedly, is creeping over the army everywhere. The only remedy for the trouble is to bring the men to their duty with a strong hand. The romance is gone. The voluntariness has died out in the volunteer. He finds himself devoted to regular service. A regular he must be made, and the rules and articles of war, in all their arbitrary severity, will not sit lightly upon him. So much for my Sunday sermon. I got your pleasant note of Thursday yesterday afternoon. I hope the boys will enjoy the Adirondacks. I am having my camp-life, this summer, on other terms. Everything goes well with me. I never was happier in my life.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 65-8

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Colonel Charles Russell Lowell to John C. Bancroft, May 24, 1863

Camp Near Washington, May 24, '63.

We have been ten pleasant, sultry, summer days in camp here, monotonous, but enough occupied not to dislike the monotony, — dry and cool and dewy in the morning, and still and cool in the evenings, — with a very pretty view from my tent front (where we sit under a fly) — nothing striking, only green hills and fields and cattle, and off on the right the Potomac, and beyond rise the heights, where they have put forts, — you would not suppose it, however, it looks as peaceful as a Sunday should. It makes me infernally homesick, John, — I should like to be at home, even to go to church, — nay, I should even like to have a chaplain here to read the service and a few chapters I would select from the New Testament, — you’ll think it must be a peaceful scene to lull me into such a lamblike mood.1

Lamblike, however, seems to be the order of the day, — unless, indeed, Grant's success at Vicksburg is to be believed. The Army of the Potomac is commonly reported to be going into summer quarters.

1 Soon after, Rev. Charles A. Humphreys was appointed Chaplain of the Second Cavalry, and joined the regiment in Virginia. He was cordially received and treated with consideration by Colonel Lowell, and remained with the regiment until the close of the war, except during some months in the summer and autumn of 1864, when he was in a Southern prison with Major Forbes and Lieutenant Amory, all having been captured in a disastrous fight at Zion's Church. Mr. Humphreys held his Colonel in the highest esteem. He wrote an article about him, in the Harvard Monthly, in February, 1886, to which I am indebted. It was through Chaplain Humphreys' instrumentality that the marble bust of Colonel Lowell., which adorns the Memorial Hall, at Cambridge, was made by the sculptor Daniel Chester French, — a gift of the officers and friends of the regiment.

SOURCE: Edward Waldo Emerson, Life and Letters of Charles Russell Lowell, p. 247, 418

Saturday, July 12, 2014

John Brown to Mary Ann Day Brown, January 17, 1851

Springfield, Mass., Jan. 17, 1851.

Dear Wife, — . . . Since the sending off to slavery of Long from New York, I have improved my leisure hours quite busily with colored people here, in advising them how to act, and in giving them all the encouragement in my power. They very much need encouragement and advice; and some of them are so alarmed that they tell me they cannot sleep on account of either themselves or their wives and children. I can only say I think I have been enabled to do something to revive their broken spirits. I want all my family to imagine themselves in the same dreadful condition. My only spare time being taken up (often till late hours at night) in the way I speak of, has prevented me from the gloomy homesick feelings which had before so much oppressed me: not that I forget my family at all.

SOURCE: Franklin B. Sanborn, The Life and Letters of John Brown, p. 132

Monday, June 16, 2014

Diary of Alexander G. Downing: Monday, August 17, 1863

Our company went out on picket this morning. There is always danger of cavalry raids, particularly evenings. Some more of the sick boys were examined this morning by the doctor. The boys were hoping to get a sick furlough. There is some homesickness in the regiment, but a number will be made well by a thirty-day furlough. I am in good health and it is more than a year since I have had to report to the doctor, and then he marked me "not fit for duty" for only three days.

Source: Alexander G. Downing, Edited by Olynthus B., Clark, Downing’s Civil War Diary, p. 135