classmates,—Almy and Doolittle,—to be found later in this volume, this working of inward solicitude is to be plainly traced. When permission was finally obtained for Massachusetts to send out colored regiments, and he saw how they would need brave, intelligent, sympathizing, Christian officers, his duty seemed to him plain,—so plain that neither the entreaties nor the arguments of friends, who thought his usefulness as a patriot would be greater in the study than in the camp, could convince him that he was mistaken. In this state of mind he writes:
I regret now that I did not enter the struggle earlier. My mind is pretty well decided that I shall take the first commission I can get. I may go even as a private,—at least I am willing to go in that capacity.Another extract from a letter will show that it was to him a privilege as well as a duty to take up arms in his country's defence.
You suggest a doubt whether it is my duty to go to the war. . . . . Ought I to wait till it is proved to a demonstration that it is my duty to go? Or should I feel any happier, if I should one day have it to reflect upon, that though the country was ruined, I had been so prudent as to save myself harmless. Is it not as much a privilege as a duty to fight in this holy war?Accordingly, at the recommendation of his classmate Hallowell, then the prospective Colonel of the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts, Alden was commissioned Second Lieutenant in that regiment, May 12, 1863; and he reported at Readville, without a day's delay. We have the comforting assurance in his own words that he did not regret his decision; for he says, ‘I have felt happier since I have known that I am going, for I have been a looker — on long enough.’ He was not one to take such a step without the most serious consideration of all the possible consequences. He did not await the summons of disease before preparing