August, 2Rode with Colonel Taylor to Cowan; dined with Colonel Hobart, and spent the day very agreeably. Returning we called on Colonel Scribner, remained an hour, and reached Decherd after nightfall. My request for leave of absence was lying on the table approved and recommended by Negley and Thomas, but indorsed not granted by Rosecrans. General Rousseau has left, and probably will not return. The best of feeling has not existed between him and the commanding general for some time past. Rousseau has had a good division, but probably thought he should have a corps. This, however, is not the cause of the breach. It has grown out of small matters-things too trifling to talk over, think of, or explain, and yet important enough to create a coldness, if not an open rupture. Rosecrans is marvelously popular with the men.
August, 3The papers state that General R. B. Mitchell has gone home on sick leave. Poor fellow! he must have been taken suddenly, for when I saw him, a day or two ago, he was the picture of health. It is wonderful to me how a fellow as fat as Bob can come the  sick dodge so successfully. He can get sick at a moment's notice.
August, 4Called on General Thomas; then rode over to Winchester. Saw Garfield at department Headquarters. He said he regretted very much being compelled to refuse my application for a leave. Told him I expected to command this department soon, and when I got him and a few others, including Rosecrans and Thomas, under my thumb, they would obtain no favors. I should insist not only upon their remaining in camp, but upon their wives remaining out. In company with Colonel Mihalotzy I called on Colonel Burke, Tenth Ohio, and drank a couple of bottles of wine with him and his spiritual adviser, Father O'Higgin. Had a very agreeable time. The Colonel pressed us to remain for dinner; but we pleaded an engagement, and afterward obtained a very poor meal at the hotel for one dollar each. The Board for the examination of applicants for commissions in colored regiments, of which I have the honor to be Chairman, met, organized, and adjourned to convene at nine o'clock to-morrow. Colonel Parkhurst, Ninth Michigan, and Colonel Stanley, Eighteenth Ohio, are members. I am anxious to go home; but it is not possible for me to get away. Almost every officer in the army desires to go, and every conceivable excuse and argument are urged. This man is sick; another's house has burned, and he desires to provide for his family; another has lawsuits coming off involving large  sums, and his presence during the trial is necessary to save him from great loss; still another has deeds to make out, and an immense property interest to look after.
August, 6This is the day appointed by the President for thanksgiving and prayer. The shops in Winchester are closed. Colonel Parkhurst has obtained a leave, and will go home on Monday.
August, 7Captain Wilson and Lieutenant Ellsworth arose rather late this morning, and found a beer barrel protruding from the door of their tent, properly set up on benches, with a flaming placard over it: “New Grocery!!
Wilson & Ellsworth.
Fresh Beer, 3 a Glass.
Give us a call.” Later in the day a grand presentation ceremony took place. All the members of the staff and hangers — on about Headquarters were gathered under the oaks; Lieutenant Calkins, One Hundred and Fourth Illinois, was sent for, and, when he appeared, Lieutenant Ellsworth proceeded to read to him the following letter:
The box containing the gift was carefully opened, and the necks and upper parts of two whisky bottles, fastened together by a piece of wood, taken out and delivered in due form to the Lieutenant. He seemed greatly surprised, and for a few minutes addressed the donors in a very emphatic and uncomplimentary way; but finding this only added to the merriment of the party, he finally cooled down, and, lifting the field-glass to his eyes, leveled it upon the staff, and remarked that they appeared to be thirsty. This, of course, was hailed as undeniable evidence that the glass was perfect, and Lieutenant Calkins was heartily congratulated on his good luck, and on the proof which the testimonial afforded of the high estimation in which he was held by the people of his native town. Many of his brother officers, in their friendly ardor, shook him warmly by the hand.
August, 8Hewitt's battery has been transferred to the Corps of Engineers and Mechanics, and Bridges' battery, six guns, assigned to me. I gain two guns and many men by the exchange.  Our Board grinds away eight or nine hours a day, and turns out about the usual proportion of wheat and chaff. The time was when we thought it would be impossible to obtain good officers for colored regiments. Now we feel assured that they will have as good, if not better, officers than the white regiments. From sergeants applying for commissions we are able to select splendid men; strong, healthy, well informed, and of considerable military experience. In fact, we occasionally find a non-commissioned officer who is better qualified to command a regiment than nine-tenths of the colonels. I certainly know colonels who could not obtain a recommendation from this Board for a second lieutenancy. Saw General Garfield yesterday; he was in bed sick. I have no fears of his immediate dissolution; in fact, I think he could avail himself of a twentyday leave. I know if I were no worse than he appears to be, I would, with the permission of the general commanding, undertake to ride the whole distance home on horseback, and swim the rivers. In a little over a week I think my wife would see me, and the black horse, followed by the pepper-and-salt colt, charging up to the front door in such style as would remind her of the days of chivalry and the knights of the olden time. I should cry out in thunder tones, “Ho! Within! Unbar the door!” The colt would kick up his heels with joy at sight of the grass in the yard, while the black would champ his bit with impatience to get into a comfortable stall once more.  Altogether the sight would be worth seeing; but it will not be seen. The Board holds its sessions in the office of an honorable Mr. Turney, who left on our approach for a more congenial clime, and left suddenly. His letters and papers are lying around us in great confusion and profusion. Among these we have discovered a document bearing the signatures of Jeff. Davis, John Mason, Pierre Soule, and others, pledging themselves to resist, by any and every means, the admission of California, unless it came in with certain boundaries which they prescribed. The document was gotten up in Washington, and Colonel Parkhurst says it is the original contract. Dined with Colonel D. H. Gilmer, Thirty-eighth Illinois. Dinner splendid; corn, cabbage, beans; peach, apple, and blackberry pie; with buttermilk and sweetmilk. It was a grand dinner, served on a snowwhite table-cloth. Where the Colonel ootained all these delicacies I can not imagine. He is an out-andout Abolitionist, and possibly the negroes had favored him somewhat. Colonel Gilmer is delighted to find the country coming around to his ideas. He believes the Lord, who superintends the affairs of nations, will give us peace in good time, and that time will be when the institution of slavery has been rooted up and destroyed. He is a Kentuckian by birth, and says he has kinfolks every-where. He is the only man he knows of who can find a cousin in every town he goes to.
August, 9Dined with Colonel Taylor. Colonels Hobart, Nicholas, and Major Craddock were present. After dinner we adjourned to my quarters, where we spent the afternoon. Hobart dilated upon his adventures at New Orleans and elsewhere, under Abou Ben Butler. He says Butler is a great man, but a d-d scoundrel. I have heard Hobart say something like this at least a thousand times, and am pleased to know that his testimony on this point is always clear, decisive, and uncontradictory. My visitors are gone. The cars are bunting against each other at the depot. The katydids are piping away on the old, old story. The trees look like great shadows, and unlike the substantial oaks they really are. The camps are dark and quiet. This is all I can say of the night without. In a little booth made of cedar boughs is a table, on which sputters a solitary tallow candle, in a stick not remarkable for polish. This light illuminates the booth, and reveals to the observer — if there be one, which is very unlikely, for those who usually observe have in all probability retired — a wash basin, a newspaper, a penknife, which originally had two blades, but at present has but one, and that one very dull, a gentleman of say thirty, possibly thirty-five, two steel pens, rusty with age, an inkstand, and one miller, which miller has repeatedly dashed his head against the wick of the candle and discovered that the operation led to unsatisfactory results. Wearied, disappointed, and disheartened, the miller now sits quietly on the table, mourning, doubtless, over the  unpleasant lesson which experience has taught him. His head is now wiser; but, alas! his wings are shorter than they were, and of what use is his head without wings? He feels very like the man who made a dash for fame, and fell wounded and bleeding on the field, or the child who, for the first time, discovers that all is not gold that glitters. The gentleman referred to-and I trust it may be no stretch of the verities to call him a gentleman-leans over the table writing. He has an abundant crop of dark hair on his head, under his chin, and on his upper lip. He is not just now troubled with a superabundance of flesh, or, in other words, no one would suspect him of being fat. On the contrary, he might remind one of the lean kine, or the prodigal son who had been feeding on husks. He is wide awake at this late hour of the night, from which I conclude he has slept more or less during the day. No one, to look at this gentleman, would take him to be a remarkable man; in fact, his most intimate friends could not find it in their hearts to bring such an accusation against him. His face is browned by exposure, and his blue eyes look quite dark, or would do so if there were sufficient light to see them. When he straightens upand he generally straightens when up at all-he is five feet eleven, or thereabouts. His appetite is good, and his education is of that superior kind which enables him, without apparent effort, to misspell threefourths of the words in the English language; in fact, at this present moment he is holding an imaginary discussion with his wife, who has written him  that the underclothing for gentlemen's feet should be spelled s-o-c-k-s, and not “s-o-x.” He begs leave to differ with her, which he would probably not dare to do were she not hundreds of miles away; and he argues the matter in this way: S-o-x, o-x, f-o-x — the termination sounds alike in all. Now how absurd it would be to insist that ox should be spelled o-c-k-s, or fox f-o-c-k-s. The commonest kind of sense teaches one that the old lady is in error, and “sox” clearly correct. Much learning hath evidently made her mad. Having satisfied himself about this matter, he takes a photograph from an inside pocket; it is that of his wife. He makes another dive, and brings out one of his children; then he lights a laurel-wood pipe, and, as the white smoke curls about his head and vanishes, his thoughts skip off five hundred miles or less, to a community of sensible, industrious, quiet folks, and when he finally awakes from the reverie and looks about him upon the beggarly surroundings-he does not swear, for he bethinks him in time that swearing would do no good.
August, 10Colonel Hobart, Twenty-first Wisconsin, and Colonel Hays, Tenth Kentucky, have been added to the Board — the former at my request.
August, 11To-day I dined with a Wisconsin friend of Colonel Hobart's; had a good dinner, Scotch ale and champagne, and a very agreeable time. Colonel Hegg, the dispenser of hospitalities, is a Norwegian by birth, a Republican, a gentleman who has held important public positions in Wisconsin, and who stands well with the people. In the course of the table talk I  learned something of the history of my friend Hobart. He is an old wheel-horse of the Democratic party of his State; was a candidate for governor a few years ago, and held joint debates with Randall and Carl Schurz. He is the father of the Homestead Law, which has been adopted by so many States, and was for many years the leader of the House of Representatives of Wisconsin. All this I gathered from Colonel Hegg, for Hobart seldom, if ever, talks about himself. I imagine that even the most polished orator would obtain but little, if any, advantage over Hobart in a discussion before the people. He has the imagination, the information, and the oratorical fury in discussion which are likely to captivate the masses. He was at one time opposed to arming the negroes; but now that he is satisfied they will fight, he is in favor of using them. To-night Colonels Hays and Hobart held quite an interesting debate on the policy of arming colored men, and emancipating those belonging to rebels. Hays, who, by the way, is an honest man and a gallant soldier, presented the Kentucky view of the matter, and his arguments, evidently very weak, were thoroughly demolished by Hobart. I think Colonel Hays felt, as the controversy progressed, that his position was untenable, and that his hostility to the President's proclamation sprang from the prejudice in which he had been educated, rather than from reason and justice.
August, 12Old Tom, known in camp as the veracious nigger, because of a “turkle” story which he tells, is  just coming along as I wait a moment for the breakfast bell. The “turkle,” which Tom caught in some creek in Alabama, had two hundred and fifty eggs in “him.” “Yas, sah, two under an‘ fifty.” Tom has peculiar notions about certain matters, and they are not, by any means, complimentary to the white man. He says: “It jis' ‘pears to me dat Adam was a black man, sah, an‘ de Lord he scar him till he got white, cos he was a sinner, sah.” “Tom, you scoundrel, how dare you slander the white man in that way?” “‘Pears to me dat way; hab to tell de truf, sah; dat's my min‘. Men was ‘riginally black; but de Lord he scare Adam till he got white; dat's de reasonable supposition, sah. Do a man's har git black when he scared, sah? No, sah, it gits white. Did you ebber know a man ter get black when he's scard, sah? No, sah, he gits white.” “That does seem to be a knock-down argument, Tom.” “ Yas, sah, I've argied with mor'n a hunder white men, sah, an‘ they can't never git aroun dat pint. When yer strip dis subjec ob prejdice, an‘ fetch to bar on it de light oa reason, sah, yer can ‘rive at but one ‘clusion, sah. De Lord he rode into de garden in chariot of fire, sah, robed wid de lightnin‘, sah, thunder bolt in his han‘, an‘ he cried Adam, in de voice of a airthquake, sah, an‘ de ‘fee on Adam was powerful, sah. Dat's my min‘, sah.” And so Tom goes on his way, confident that the first man was black, and that another white man has been vanquished in argument.