February 24.—By the way, I see that Bob Shaw and Norwood Hallowell are to be field officers of the Massachusetts blacks. I suppose they are much laughed at. I can't say I want to have anything to do with black troops, but I respect these young men for the part they have taken. They do it from principle, and are worthy of admiration. The organization of a black army is a grand experiment, which may be productive of splendid results, not only to the negro race, but the country. I saw last night an extract from Higginson's report of his Florida expedition, which is certainly encouraging, and should disarm the sneering sceptic for a while at least. . . . . The balls, theatricals, and operas revive pleasant memories, but I don't want yet to join in them; but if the war is ever over, and I live to see the end, I have no doubt I shall enjoy again just such things, for I feel as young as ever. . . . . I never was better in my life. Life in the open air and sleeping in a tent are just suited to my case. I have hardly had an ache or a pain or a symptom of any kind whatever since I entered the service. . . . . March 9.—We have doubtless a hard fight before us, but the troops are in good order, and high spirits. The stir and movement of the day of final preparation have been exhilarating in the extreme, after the monotony of camp life. . . . . The Thirty-eighth is all ready. I mean to do my duty. I don't feel as if I were to suffer; but, come what may, be assured of my unalterable love for you. March 29.—It will be a disappointment to have to give up all idea of taking part in any of the great scenes which we hope will go far towards ending the war, but something may turn up for us, and it is consoling to know that not always those most conspicuous are most useful. I shall be content to play an insignificant part, if the war can be brought to a close. . . . . April 18.—On road to Opelousas. It was pitch-dark; we rolled ourselves in our blankets and slept in line of battle. . . . . [April 13, date included in the foregoing.] Their artillery sent a shower of shell over our heads, and the zip-zip of the bullets was ever in one's ears; but although some came near, none were hit. I had, like most men, expected to be a little scared; but somehow I was not in the least so, and our boys all made fun of every shot that came very near us. Meanwhile I had hard work to keep the men flat, as they wanted of course to see what was going on; and, moreover, we were in the midst of an abundance of very fine blackberries,
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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