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[46]

It is an indirect illustration of the laborious life which Richardson must have led, that he, who had always before been a rather voluminous writer, now scarcely wrote letters or diary. ‘I have so much to do that I have no time,’ was all he could usually say. Again he wrote:—

I shall try to get time soon to copy my journal; but it is hard to keep it up, as I literally have not a moment, between the wants of officers and men, to call my own. If I could know what my work for the day was to be, I could get some time for myself; but every day there are some new reports or records to make. Then all our sick boys come to me for help and comfort. As I am writing, two boys, one with a sprained foot and one with an ulcerated sore throat, are waiting for me.

Again he wrote, more despondingly:—

Nothing, however, troubles me much that concerns myself. But for my country, at times, I almost despair. How terrible this nightmare of a war, that never seems to advance or accomplish anything! I sometimes feel that the day of grace has passed, that our repentance of our sin is too late, and that our nation is doomed. This defeat of Burnside, and butchery of the boys, the sufferings of the unpaid soldiers, without tents, poor rations, a single blanket each, with no bed but the hard, damp ground,—--it is these things that kill me.

In February, 1863, he was detailed by Colonel Ross, his regimental commander, to report for duty to the Sanitary Commission at Washington. He was to serve in the ‘Special Relief’ Department, planned and directed by his old friend, Rev. Frederick N. Knapp, whose name should be forever remembered in history as one of the ‘more than conquerors’ in that great work of peace. This was a post entirely to his mind, and in this he labored until he died. ‘I have a great satisfaction,’ he says, ‘in having a place of usefulness, where I am conscious of doing great service to the soldiers, and where continually a large field is opening before me.’

But the strain upon him proved very great. He wrote, for instance, after the battle of Chancellorsville:—

I am worn down with the general grief and horror that has fallen

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