every worthless recruit he sends to this army is one card in the hand of General Lee and is the cause, very likely, of the death of a good soldier. The trouble is this: we have not the machinery to work up poor material. They won't let us shoot the rascals, and few regiments have the discipline to mould them into decent troops; the consequence is, they are the stragglers, pillagers, skulkers and run-aways of the army. If you had seen as many thousands as I, you would understand what sort of fellows they are. I don't believe in recruiting another man! We have recruited already more volunteers than any country ever saw. Volunteers are naturally exhausted; and now we pay huge bounties to every sort of scoundrel and vagabond and alien. These men will not fight and you can't make 'em fight. But draft men and you will get good ones, without bounty. They will not want to go, but they have the pride of native-born Americans, and they fight like devils. The very men that desert the next day will fight the day before, for sake of avoiding shame. I have written quite a disquisition, but the topic is an important one, and I have the honor, in conclusion, to suggest to the honorable City of Boston that, when the Germans arrive, they should be let out as gardeners, and the poor remnants of the old regiments should be allowed to fight it out alone.
August 9, 1864In the forenoon, as we were sitting in camp, we heard a noise, like a quick, distant clap of thunder, but sharper. We concluded it must be an explosion, from the sound, and in a few minutes came a telegraph from Grant, at City Point, saying that an ordnance barge had blown up, with considerable loss of life. I think the number of killed will not exceed thirty-five; and,of the wounded, perhaps eighty;