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[440] the army with a commission as Captain in the Forty-fourth Massachusetts, which regiment was then being filled up for immediate service. He rejoined his Class at Cambridge; but other thoughts than those of quiet study were uppermost in his mind. He wrote immediately to his father to ask his consent to his entering the service. That consent was instantly given, with an assurance of full sanction and approbation, even should he have been impelled to take the decisive steps before the answer could reach him. Such had, indeed, been the case,—his mother having, with unflinching loyalty, assumed the responsibility of the sacrifice; and before he could hear from his father he was mustered in as Corporal in Company H, Forty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, September 20, 1862.

His own letter of October 12, written just before the regiment left Boston for North Carolina, is here given at some length, because it unconsciously narrates the experience of many besides himself. Perhaps nothing has been printed which depicts more clearly the mental struggle through which multitudes of young men were then passing; and it singularly recalls the celebrated passage in Alfred de Vigny's reminiscences, describing the state of mind among the students of Paris during the last days of the Empire.

Boston, October 12, 1862.

my dear father,—Before you arrive here our regiment will have reached Newbern, to enter at once upon active service. I feel, therefore, that it is right and proper for me, before going, to state to you plainly, and as well as I am able to by writing, the circumstances under which I have taken this step in your absence, and the various motives from which I have acted. It is very hard to do this satisfactorily and completely without a personal interview, which, for a thousand reasons, I hope may take place before long.

On the 10 of August I left Fayal to return home. I had heard no news later than that of the long-continued and fiercely-contested battles of the last week in June, which resulted in a change in the position of our army before Richmond, and the adoption of a new base of operations, which, as it then seemed to me,


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