Gen. Hunter is in earnest about arming the blacks, so we may confidently expect the well-done to increase. The little opposition to our movement will fall to the ground so soon as we can prove our worthiness by marked success. Remember, it requires not only time but deeds, to undo the hateful lesson this Republic (!) has been so long teaching. The public heart has virus in it, and nothing but the flow of arterial blood can purify it. The innocent must suffer for the guilty.
I am beginning to find a little leisure for noting verbatim some of the individual histories of these soldiers and shall endeavor to forward them to you. The Colonel and young captain have transcribed many of their songs and hymns, but, without the music of their peculiar voices, I confess the words do not much interest me. Now and then a fine, poetical expression, but as a rule, somewhat dry, like the human skull Serg't Rivers brought me one day. Their autobiographies, on the contrary, if one has the time and patience to draw them out, are often so unique that I feel deeply interested in them.
At dress parade, tonight, the Colonel had some of my sanitary measures embodied in a general order and read by the Adjutant. One of the most important details was that each tent is hereafter to have a fire in it at evening. We have tried it long enough in James's company, to be satisfied of its utility. The men do not greatly mind the smoke and I have convinced the Colonel that it is one of the best purifiers and antiseptics we could have.
SOURCE: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 43, October, 1909—June, 1910: February 1910. p. 346