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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Harvard Memorial Biographies, 1860. (search)
the conflagration policy is settled, I don't mind your speaking of what I wrote about it. Though I would never justify such acts for a moment, there is a spark of truth in the reasoning that, if we are to be treated as brigands if captured, we are not bound to observe the laws of war. But I think now, as I did at the time, that it is cruel, barbarous, impolitic, and degrading to ourselves and to our men; and I shall always rejoice that I expressed myself so at the time of the destruction of Darien. St. Helena Island, July 6. We don't know with any certainty what is going on in the North, but can't believe Lee will get far into Pennsylvania. No matter if the Rebels get to New York, I shall never lose my faith in our ultimate success. We are not yet ready for peace, and want a good deal of purging still. I wrote to General Strong this afternoon, and expressed my wish to be in his brigade. I want to get my men alongside of white troops, and into a good fight, if there is to b
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Harvard Memorial Biographies, 1865. (search)
camp and on parade. Still, much was wanting to their complete efficiency as soldiers; and in the performance of his duty their young Captain obeyed his own conscience and the kind and wise counsels of his Colonel, the bright exemplar of fidelity to whom he looked in his moments of doubt. On the 3d of June the Fifty-fourth reached Hilton Head, and on the 10th took part in an expedition to Florida, under command of Colonel Montgomery, in the course of which they burned the deserted town of Darien, by order of the commanding officer. He writes: This is not the sort of work I came for, nor do I believe it good work, but it is not for me to criticise. Colonel Montgomery, I think, has caught some Kansas ideas about retribution which hardly belong to civilized warfare. On the 15th of July the regiment was at James Island, and early on the next morning the three companies on picket duty, of which Company H was one, were attacked by a considerable force of the enemy. They behaved very w