as nurse are not as arduous now as they were at first, as those of my comrades most severely wounded have died, while the others are rapidly approaching recovery, and can almost take care of themselves. I am too seldom reminded that I am a prisoner, and as the hospital is not wholly destitute of books, I am able to while away the leisure hours. Besides several novels and English reviews, I have found a “Life of Jefferson,” which is, under the circumstances, a treasure. I also have had opportunities of talking with the rebel doctors, officers, and privates, and find it interesting to hear their side of the question, while at the same time I am by no means backward in stating and defending ours. One of the rebel captains appeared to take quite a fancy to me, and wanted me to go home with him to Texas, where he said he would direct my energies and my spunk into better courses than the defence of abolitionism. He thought I must have been raised in a perfect hot-bed of radicalism, which is a compliment to you and father. I find these Southern champions are more doughty in the use of the sword than of the tongue, and their logic is easy to controvert. Unfortunately, this very want of logic renders them unable to see when they are discomfited, and by dint of frequent reiterations in a loud tone of voice, interrupting their opponent whenever he is about to say any thing provoking, and breaking off the contest with the sound of their own voice still ringing in their ears, they often leave off with the impression that they have been very successful. This mode of arguing does not arise so much from want of courtesy as from ungovernable impetuosity of temperament. M----may have mentioned to you, one of the reasons given her for secession is “the President's Emancipation Proclamation.” Ridiculous as it may seem, I have heard that and similar reasons assigned by many men who ought to know better. Many of the privates have very confused ideas of what they are fighting for, and in fact, being illiterate in the first degree, they have few opportunities of information, and have to believe what their officers tell them about the North and the war. One Texas captain to whom I offered some books told me there was not a man in his company could read. Testaments are almost unknown amongst them, and I have heard of but one regiment that had a chaplain. (Better even to have no chaplain than have one like ours.) Both officers and men of course talk very confidently about their prospects in the war before us, but now and then, when caught off their guard, they don't speak so boldly, admit that it is impossible for them to fill up their ranks further, that they are short of clothing, food, and accoutrements, and that there is more or less discontent among their men. Many of the privates say openly they would give much if some accommodation could be made, in order to bring the war to an end, and give them a chance to see their homes again. We can only hear rumors of what is going on between Banks and Taylor, at Vicksburgh, on the Cumberland, and in Virginia, and the want of reliable news from the army and the impossibility of communicating with home are the principal causes of the irksomeness of our present position. Yesterday a little fellow died whom I had had under my especial care, and whose loss is much felt by all of us. He was hardly eighteen, and had one of the purest, most beautiful faces I ever saw on a boy. He came from New-Haven, and spoke much of his happy home and good mother. Although he was severely wounded, he was always patient, and even cheerful. I think I hardly ever saw a boy who had gone through the temptations of camp life so unstained as he seemed to have done. He must have been well brought up, and I am afraid his mother will feel his loss deeply, as he was an only son — and such a lovable son! I wrote to her a few lines, which will be a softer way of breaking the news to her than the dry hospital report. It is hard to think how many such lives have been lost in this cruel war, and it is fearful to think of the possibility of their being thrown away, of no great and good object being gained by this expenditure, of the war being a failure, and this carnage murder. I cannot believe that God will permit it. The longer the war lasts the more impossible does it seem that it should not be intended for the regeneration of the land. May God grant that such may be the result! July 16.--I remember some years ago reading aloud to you “Eothen,” which I then considered a very dull book, and the only thing that struck me as sprightly was an account of a dervish who arrogated to himself the power of raising the devil at his will. Undertaking the experiment, however, before a large audience, he proved unsuccessful, and actually died of mortification. The comment of Sir Francis was: “As the mountain wouldn't come to Mohammed, Mohammed went to the mountain.” It is even so with our captor, General Taylor, who, as his supporting force does not come up, must needs fall back to see what has become of it, and it is also so in another sense with us prisoners, who, as we can't go to our lines, are going to have the pleasure of seeing our lines come to us. The simple truth is, that the rebels, discouraged by the loss of their two great strongholds on the Mississippi, and by the checks they received at Lafourche and Raceland, and their total defeat at Donaldsonville, have relinquished their ambitious designs upon the Crescent City, and are retreating bag and baggage toward Texas, pursued by Banks's victorious forces. Yesterday and to-day they have been crossing over their heavy stores and artillery, and in two or three days this place will be entirely evacuated. I only hope Banks comes up before they get through their work here and bags some of them. If they go, they leave our sick and wounded
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.