The closer I come in contact with slavery, the more foul and hideous it appears to me.
Gloucester Point, June, 1863.My dear May,—We enjoy beautiful weather on this Point, —the evenings are lovely. I often take my favorite horse, Meg, about sunset, and take a gallop “over the hills and far away.” She is a fine horse, and as gentle and amiable as a kitten; she trots along demurely, curving her neck prettily, and I only have to speak to her, when she spreads her nostrils wide, tosses her head up, and, shaking her mane, shoots off like a thunderbolt into a rattling gallop, just as easy as a cradle. I will give her to you when I get home, to make you a famous rider; she leaps like a bird. ‘Certainly we have a quiet, pleasant life here. It is like spending a long vacation at the sea-shore, our work being interesting, while we are learning new drills, and not very fatiguing.’
June, 1863.My dear aunt Lucy,—I think myself fortunate in being connected in this regiment with so many officers who have been in service with Regular Army officers, and acquired their discipline and habit of command. Here all is fact and reality. We come face to face with the excesses and the horrors of war, with the misery which the leaders of secession have brought upon a people already piteously degraded by the curse of slavery, with its train of sin and outrage. But above and beyond the evils attending war, which are but the dust on the banner, is the strength that a great cause inspires, the energy and determination of acting instead of theorizing for the right, the indomitable, confident spirit which fills our army, and which years of apparent failure and mistake cannot subdue. Did I not consider this war a sacred duty to me and to all, the lessons which a soldier's life teaches, the training it gives, would be invaluable,—the scorn of trifles, the readiness to exert all one's faculties in an instant, and the stern self-control.
September, 1863.If success were obtained so that any reduction of our army would be safe, I should feel justified in leaving the service; but at present we want a larger army. Our regiment is not large, and, it is possible, may be at some time consolidated with others; in that case, if the war were clearly at an end, I should go home, for I sometimes remember that I have yet to prepare myself for some occupation, and there are men enough with more taste for bushwhacking
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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