previous next

[261] old Exeter boarding-house. The band produced that agreeable concord yesterday, and contributed from their success to my breakfast. Our triumphs just now are chiefly culinary; but an achievement of that kind is not to be despised. “A soldier's courage lies in his stomach,” says Frederick the Great; and I mean that the Commissary of our division, and the Commissary of our regiment, and the captains and the cooks, shall accept the doctrine, and apply its lessons, if I can make them.

Much as he enjoys the success of these achievements, he soon complains that no opportunity is offered them for ‘teaching the men to take care of themselves on the march and in active duty.’ At one time he writes: ‘It is idle to disguise the fact, that it is a heaviness to the natural and unregenerate heart to see no prospect of achievement, no opportunity of action.’ And again: ‘I must say, I think the tonic of victory would be of most happy and invigorating influence. Give me a little of the ecstasy of strife; bother this constant rehearsal.’ After rejoicing over the victories at Roanoke, in Tennessee, and in Missouri, he exclaims:—

Exploit, achievement, victory! and I not there! I may feel and express foolishness, and I think I do; but I had rather lose my life to-morrow in a victory than save it for fifty years without one! When I speak of myself as not there, I mean the Massachusetts Second, in whose fortunes and hopes I merge my own. I ought, perhaps, to burn this letter; but I'll send it, I believe. In an hour or two I shall be cheerful as ever, and continue the service of standing and waiting with good heart, I hope.

He did so; yet at times his eagerness for action would express itself. Once he exclaims:—

I presume I love life, and home, and friends as much as any one; but I should sooner give them all up to-morrow, than to have our regiment go home empty. . . . . If you have any prayers to give, give them all to the supplication that the Second Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers may find a field whereon to write a record of itself. Do not spend your days in weakly fearing or regretting this or that life,—lives whose whole sweetness and value depend upon their opportunities, not upon their length.

A day later we find him returning to the cheerful acquiescence

Creative Commons License
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.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: