November 10.You thought, walking in those splendid autumn woods, it would be far preferable to die there than to die shut up in a sick-chamber with all the paraphernalia of sickness about you. Yes, I think so; but perhaps the idea as it presents itself to my mind, of a sudden, painless death in full activity, even in battle, is not so pleasant for you to think of. To me it seems the most desirable form in which to meet it.
camp Benton, November 20, 1861.The principal discomfort here arises from the impossibility of being neat. I was never fastidious, but cannot reconcile myself to the estate of things here and to our crowded condition. We have eleven or twelve in tents which were made to hold eight. I shall break off, for the crowd of men and clatter of voices in this smoky tabernacle of ours seem to make the letter unfit to send to you, the pattern of fastidious neatness. I wonder if any of the smoke or other odors goes in the letter to Boston. I believe it can't be helped in the present state of things.
camp Benton, December 4, 1861.Will——go into the army? If he does, I should advise him to get a commission. I have come to the conclusion that a man of ability and education is not only under no obligation to go into the ranks as a private, but that he ought not to. He thereby puts it out of his power to use his advantages. He has no opportunity to do any good proportioned to his ability. By looking about,—— may find a situation suited to him. In short, “every man in his place.” You will see I have come to this conclusion by reflecting on my own case. You must not infer from this that I am unhappy. I can wait patiently for the end of this dull life, and much of it I enjoy.
December 13, 1861.Send something more to read or study as soon as you find from my accounts that the mails are tolerably reliable.
Cumberland, January 12, 1862.I have had more pleasure and more hard work this week than in any month in camp. This is a mountain country, as you know, —the Alleghanies and the Blue Ridge. I like the mountain travelling; and to me it is easier than any other, there is so much pleasant scenery all the way. The air is fresher and more invigorating. There is plenty of water, and. the people are far more hospitable and intelligent than in the counties lower down on the river.
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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