In July the assault on Fort Wagner took place, in which the heroic leader of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts fell at the head of his men. and whether or no we are ready for them depends upon ourselves; if we are not ready, we shall fail,—voila tout. If you ask what if we do fail, I have nothing to say; I should n't cry over a nation or two, more or less, gone under!. . . . I don't at all like the duty here, serving against bushwhackers; it brings me in contact with too many citizens, and sometimes with mothers and children. The other night a fine-looking young fellow stumbled against our pickets and was captured. It proved that he had been out to visit his mother. She came to bid him good-by the next morning, a Quaker-like looking old lady, very neat and quiet. She did n't appeal to us at all. She shed a few tears over the son, repacked his bundle carefully, slipped a roll of greenbacks into his hand, and then kissed him farewell. I was very much touched by her. Yesterday we took a little fellow only sixteen years old. He had joined one of these gangs to avoid the conscription, which is very sweeping. He told us all he knew about the company to which he belonged; but he was such a babe that it seemed to me mean to question him.
July 26.——has just sent me the report about dear Rob, and it does not seem to me possible it should be true. Was he not pre-eminently what every man-at-arms should wish to be? The manliness and patriotism and high courage of such a man never die with him, they live in his comrades; it should be the same with the gentleness and thoughtfulness which made him so lovable a son and brother and friend. We have been talking over the good fellows who have gone before in this war,—fellows whom Rob loved so much, many of them. There is none who has been so widely and so dearly loved as he. If “life is but a sum of love,” Rob had had his share and done his share. It is pleasant to feel sure, without knowing any particulars, that his regiment has done well; we all feel perfectly sure of it. I hope he knew it too.
July 26.[To his mother.] ‘He was to me one of the most attractive men I ever knew,—he had such a single and loyal and kindly heart; I don't believe he ever did an unkind or thoughtless act without trying to make up for it afterwards. In that he was like Jimmy. It cannot be so hard for such a man to die: it is not so hard for his ’