The Complete PG Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (The Physician and Poet)

Part 39 out of 51

behalf of her own sex, and sterner in her judgment of the other. She
declares that she never would marry any man who was not an advocate
of female suffrage, and as these gentlemen are not very common
hereabouts the chance is against her capturing any one of the hostile

What do you think? I happened, just as I was writing the last
sentence, to look out of my window, and whom should I see but Lurida,
with a young man in tow, listening very eagerly to her conversation,
according to all appearance! I think he must be a friend of the
rector, as I have seen a young man like this one in his company. Who

Affectionately yours, etc.


MY BELOVED WIFE,--This letter will tell you more news than you would
have thought could have been got together in this little village
during the short time you have been staying away from it.

Lurida Vincent is engaged! He is a clergyman with a mathematical
turn. The story is that he put a difficult problem into one of the
mathematical journals, and that Lurida presented such a neat solution
that the young man fell in love with her on the strength of it. I
don't think the story is literally true, nor do I believe that other
report that he offered himself to her in the form of an equation
chalked on the blackboard; but that it was an intellectual rather
than a sentimental courtship I do not doubt. Lurida has given up the
idea of becoming a professional lecturer,--so she tells me,--thinking
that her future husband's parish will find her work enough to do. A
certain amount of daily domestic drudgery and unexciting intercourse
with simple-minded people will be the best thing in the world for
that brain of hers, always simmering with some new project in its
least fervid condition.

All our summer visitors have arrived. Euthymia Mrs. Maurice
Kirkwood and her husband and little Maurice are here in their
beautiful house looking out on the lake. They gave a grand party the
other evening. You ought to have been there, but I suppose you could
not very well have left your sister in the middle of your visit: All
the grand folks were there, of course. Lurida and her young man--
Gabriel is what she calls him--were naturally the objects of special
attention. Paolo acted as major-domo, and looked as if he ought to
be a major-general. Nothing could be pleasanter than the way in
which Mr. and Mrs. Kirkwood received their plain country neighbors;
that is, just as they did the others of more pretensions, as if they
were really glad to see them, as I am sure they were. The old
landlord and his wife had two arm-chairs to themselves, and I saw
Miranda with the servants of the household looking in at the dancers
and out at the little groups in the garden, and evidently enjoying it
as much as her old employers. It was a most charming and successful
party. We had two sensations in the course of the evening. One was
pleasant and somewhat exciting, the other was thrilling and of
strange and startling interest.

You remember how emaciated poor Maurice Kirkwood was left after his
fever, in that first season when he was among us. He was out in a
boat one day, when a ring slipped off his thin finger and sunk in a
place where the water was rather shallow. "Jake"--you know Jake,--
everybody knows Jake--was rowing him. He promised to come to the
spot and fish up the ring if he could possibly find it. He was seen
poking about with fish-hooks at the end of a pole, but nothing was
ever heard from him about the ring. It was an antique intaglio stone
in an Etruscan setting,--a wild goose flying over the Campagna. Mr.
Kirkwood valued it highly, and regretted its loss very much.

While we were in the garden, who should appear at the gate but Jake,
with a great basket, inquiring for Mr. Kirkwood. "Come," said
Maurice to me, "let us see what our old friend the fisherman has
brought us. What have you got there, Jake?"

"What I 've got? Wall, I 'll tell y' what I've got: I 've got the
biggest pickerel that's been ketched in this pond for these ten year.
An' I 've got somethin' else besides the pickerel. When I come to
cut him open, what do you think I faound in his insides but this here
ring o' yourn,"--and he showed the one Maurice had lost so long
before. There it was, as good as new, after having tried Jonah's
style of housekeeping for all that time. There are those who
discredit Jake's story about finding the ring in the fish; anyhow,
there was the ring and there was the pickerel. I need not say that
Jake went off well paid for his pickerel and the precious contents of
its stomach. Now comes the chief event of the evening. I went early
by special invitation. Maurice took me into his library, and we sat
down together.

"I have something of great importance," he said, "to say to you. I
learned within a few days that my cousin Laura is staying with a
friend in the next town to this. You know, doctor, that we have
never met since the last, almost fatal, experience of my early years.
I have determined to defy the strength of that deadly chain of
associations connected with her presence, and I have begged her to
come this evening with the friends with whom she is staying. Several
letters passed between us, for it was hard to persuade her that there
was no longer any risk in my meeting her. Her imagination was almost
as deeply impressed as mine had been at those alarming interviews,
and I had to explain to her fully that I had become quite indifferent
to the disturbing impressions of former years. So, as the result of
our correspondence, Laura is coming this evening, and I wish you to
be present at our meeting. There is another reason why I wish you to
be here. My little boy is not far from the--age at which I received
my terrifying, almost disorganizing shock. I mean to have little
Maurice brought into the presence of Laura, who is said to be still a
very handsome woman, and see if he betrays any hint of that peculiar
sensitiveness which showed itself in my threatening seizure. It
seemed to me not impossible that he might inherit some tendency of
that nature, and I wanted you to be at hand if any sign of danger
should declare itself. For myself I have no fear. Some radical
change has taken place in my nervous system. I have been born again,
as it were, in my susceptibilities, and am in certain respects a new
man. But I must know how it is with my little Maurice."

Imagine with what interest I looked forward to this experiment; for
experiment it was, and not without its sources of anxiety, as it
seemed to me. The evening wore along; friends and neighbors came in,
but no Laura as yet. At last I heard the sound of wheels, and a
carriage stopped at the door. Two ladies and a gentleman got out,
and soon entered the drawing room.

"My cousin Laura!" whispered Maurice to me, and went forward to meet
her. A very handsome woman, who might well have been in the
thirties,--one of those women so thoroughly constituted that they
cannot help being handsome at every period of life. I watched them
both as they approached each other. Both looked pale at first, but
Maurice soon recovered his usual color, and Laura's natural, rich
bloom came back by degrees. Their emotion at meeting was not to be
wondered at, but there was no trace in it of the paralyzing influence
on the great centres of life which had once acted upon its fated
victim like the fabled head which turned the looker-on into a stone.

"Is the boy still awake?" said Maurice to Paolo, who, as they used to
say of Pushee at the old Anchor Tavern, was everywhere at once on
that gay and busy evening.

"What! Mahser Maurice asleep an' all this racket going on? I hear
him crowing like young cockerel when he fus' smell daylight."

"Tell the nurse to bring him down quietly to the little room that
leads out of the library."

The child was brought down in his night-clothes, wide awake,
wondering apparently at the noise he heard, which he seemed to think
was for his special amusement.

"See if he will go to that lady," said his father. Both of us held
our breath as Laura stretched her arms towards little Maurice.

The child looked for an instant searchingly, but fearlessly, at her
glowing cheeks, her bright eyes, her welcoming smile, and met her
embrace as she clasped him to her bosom as if he had known her all
his days.

The mortal antipathy had died out of the soul and the blood of
Maurice Kirkwood at that supreme moment when he found himself
snatched from the grasp of death and cradled in the arms of Euthymia.


In closing the New Portfolio I remember that it began with a prefix
which the reader may by this time have forgotten, namely, the First
Opening. It was perhaps presumptuous to thus imply the probability
of a second opening.

I am reminded from time to time by the correspondents who ask a
certain small favor of me that, as I can only expect to be with my
surviving contemporaries a very little while longer, they would be
much obliged if I would hurry up my answer before it is too late.
They are right, these delicious unknown friends of mine, in reminding
me of a fact which I cannot gainsay and might suffer to pass from my
recollection. I thank them for recalling my attention to a truth
which I shall be wiser, if not more hilarious, for remembering.

No, I had no right to say the First Opening. How do I know that I
shall have a chance to open it again? How do I know that anybody
will want it to be opened a second time? How do I know that I shall
feel like opening it? It is safest neither to promise to open the
New Portfolio once more, nor yet to pledge myself to keep it closed
hereafter. There are many papers potentially existent in it, some of
which might interest a reader here and there. The Records of the
Pansophian Society contain a considerable number of essays, poems,
stories, and hints capable of being expanded into presentable
dimensions. In the mean time I will say with Prospero, addressing my
old readers, and my new ones, if such I have,

"If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I'll walk,
To still my beating mind."

When it has got quiet I may take up the New Portfolio again, and
consider whether it is worth while to open it.



By Oliver Wendell Holmes



(September, 1861.)

This is the new version of the Panem et Circenses of the Roman
populace. It is our ultimatum, as that was theirs. They must have
something to eat, and the circus-shows to look at. We must have
something to eat, and the papers to read.

Everything else we can give up. If we are rich, we can lay down our
carriages, stay away from Newport or Saratoga, and adjourn the trip
to Europe sine die. If we live in a small way, there are at least
new dresses and bonnets and every-day luxuries which we can dispense
with. If the young Zouave of the family looks smart in his new
uniform, its respectable head is content, though he himself grow
seedy as a caraway-umbel late in the season. He will cheerfully calm
the perturbed nap of his old beaver by patient brushing in place of
buying a new one, if only the Lieutenant's jaunty cap is what it
should be. We all take a pride in sharing the epidemic economy of
the time. Only bread and the newspaper we must have, whatever else
we do without.

How this war is simplifying our mode of being! We live on our
emotions, as the sick man is said in the common speech to be
nourished by his fever. Our ordinary mental food has become
distasteful, and what would have been intellectual luxuries at other
times, are now absolutely repulsive.

All this change in our manner of existence implies that we have
experienced some very profound impression, which will sooner or later
betray itself in permanent effects on the minds and bodies of many
among us. We cannot forget Corvisart's observation of the frequency
with which diseases of the heart were noticed as the consequence of
the terrible emotions produced by the scenes of the great French
Revolution. Laennec tells the story of a convent, of which he was
the medical director, where all the nuns were subjected to the
severest penances and schooled in the most painful doctrines. They
all became consumptive soon after their entrance, so that, in the
course of his ten years' attendance, all the inmates died out two or
three times, and were replaced by new ones. He does not hesitate to
attribute the disease from which they suffered to those depressing
moral influences to which they were subjected.

So far we have noticed little more than disturbances of the nervous
system as a consequence of the war excitement in non-combatants.
Take the first trifling example which comes to our recollection. A
sad disaster to the Federal army was told the other day in the
presence of two gentlemen and a lady. Both the gentlemen complained
of a sudden feeling at the epigastrium, or, less learnedly, the pit
of the stomach, changed color, and confessed to a slight tremor about
the knees. The lady had a "grande revolution," as French patients
say,--went home, and kept her bed for the rest of the day. Perhaps
the reader may smile at the mention of such trivial indispositions,
but in more sensitive natures death itself follows in some cases from
no more serious cause. An old, gentleman fell senseless in fatal
apoplexy, on hearing of Napoleon's return from Elba. One of our
early friends, who recently died of the same complaint, was thought
to have had his attack mainly in consequence of the excitements of
the time.

We all know what the war fever is in our young men,--what a devouring
passion it becomes in those whom it assails. Patriotism is the fire
of it, no doubt, but this is fed with fuel of all sorts. The love of
adventure, the contagion of example, the fear of losing the chance of
participating in the great events of the time, the desire of personal
distinction, all help to produce those singular transformations which
we often witness, turning the most peaceful of our youth into the
most ardent of our soldiers. But something of the same fever in a
different form reaches a good many non-combatants, who have no
thought of losing a drop of precious blood belonging to themselves or
their families. Some of the symptoms we shall mention are almost
universal; they are as plain in the people we meet everywhere as the
marks of an influenza, when that is prevailing.

The first is a nervous restlessness of a very peculiar character.
Men cannot think, or write, or attend to their ordinary business.
They stroll up and down the streets, or saunter out upon the public
places. We confessed to an illustrious author that we laid down the
volume of his work which we were reading when the war broke out. It
was as interesting as a romance, but the romance of the past grew
pale before the red light of the terrible present. Meeting the same
author not long afterwards, he confessed that he had laid down his
pen at the same time that we had closed his book. He could not write
about the sixteenth century any more than we could read about it,
while the nineteenth was in the very agony and bloody sweat of its
great sacrifice.

Another most eminent scholar told us in all simplicity that he had
fallen into such a state that he would read the same telegraphic
dispatches over and over again in different papers, as if they were
new, until he felt as if he were an idiot. Who did not do just the
same thing, and does not often do it still, now that the first flush
of the fever is over? Another person always goes through the side
streets on his way for the noon extra,--he is so afraid somebody will
meet him and tell the news he wishes to read, first on the bulletin-
board, and then in the great capitals and leaded type of the

When any startling piece of war-news comes, it keeps repeating itself
in our minds in spite of all we can do. The same trains of thought
go tramping round in circle through the brain, like the
supernumeraries that make up the grand army of a stage-show. Now, if
a thought goes round through the brain a thousand times in a day, it
will have worn as deep a track as one which has passed through it
once a week for twenty years. This accounts for the ages we seem to
have lived since the twelfth of April last, and, to state it more
generally, for that ex post facto operation of a great calamity, or
any very powerful impression, which we once illustrated by the image
of a stain spreading backwards from the leaf of life open before as
through all those which we have already turned.

Blessed are those who can sleep quietly in times like these! Yet,
not wholly blessed, either; for what is more painful than the awaking
from peaceful unconsciousness to a sense that there is something
wrong, we cannot at first think what,--and then groping our way about
through the twilight of our thoughts until we come full upon the
misery, which, like some evil bird, seemed to have flown away, but
which sits waiting for us on its perch by our pillow in the gray of
the morning?

The converse of this is perhaps still more painful. Many have the
feeling in their waking hours that the trouble they are aching with
is, after all, only a dream,--if they will rub their eyes briskly
enough and shake themselves, they will awake out of it, and find all
their supposed grief is unreal. This attempt to cajole ourselves out
of an ugly fact always reminds us of those unhappy flies who have
been indulging in the dangerous sweets of the paper prepared for
their especial use.

Watch one of them. He does not feel quite well,--at least, he
suspects himself of indisposition. Nothing serious,--let us just rub
our fore-feet together, as the enormous creature who provides for us
rubs his hands, and all will be right. He rubs them with that
peculiar twisting movement of his, and pauses for the effect. No!
all is not quite right yet. Ah! it is our head that is not set on
just as it ought to be. Let us settle that where it should be, and
then we shall certainly be in good trim again. So he pulls his head
about as an old lady adjusts her cap, and passes his fore-paw over it
like a kitten washing herself. Poor fellow! It is not a fancy, but
a fact, that he has to deal with. If he could read the letters at
the head of the sheet, he would see they were Fly-Paper.--So with
us, when, in our waking misery, we try to think we dream! Perhaps
very young persons may not understand this; as we grow older, our
waking and dreaming life run more and more into each other.

Another symptom of our excited condition is seen in the breaking up
of old habits. The newspaper is as imperious as a Russian Ukase; it
will be had, and it will be read. To this all else must give place.
If we must go out at unusual hours to get it, we shall go, in spite
of after-dinner nap or evening somnolence. If it finds us in
company, it will not stand on ceremony, but cuts short the compliment
and the story by the divine right of its telegraphic dispatches.

War is a very old story, but it is a new one to this generation of
Americans. Our own nearest relation in the ascending line remembers
the Revolution well. How should she forget it? Did she not lose her
doll, which was left behind, when she was carried out of Boston,
about that time growing uncomfortable by reason of cannon-balls
dropping in from the neighboring heights at all hours,--in token of
which see the tower of Brattle Street Church at this very day? War
in her memory means '76. As for the brush of 1812, "we did not think
much about that"; and everybody knows that the Mexican business did
not concern us much, except in its political relations. No! war is
a new thing to all of us who are not in the last quarter of their
century. We are learning many strange matters from our fresh
experience. And besides, there are new conditions of existence which
make war as it is with us very different from war as it has been.

The first and obvious difference consists in the fact that the whole
nation is now penetrated by the ramifications of a network of iron
nerves which flash sensation and volition backward and forward to and
from towns and provinces as if they were organs and limbs of a single
living body. The second is the vast system of iron muscles which, as
it were, move the limbs of the mighty organism one upon another.
What was the railroad-force which put the Sixth Regiment in Baltimore
on the 19th of April but a contraction and extension of the arm of
Massachusetts with a clenched fist full of bayonets at the end of it?

This perpetual intercommunication, joined to the power of
instantaneous action, keeps us always alive with excitement. It is
not a breathless courier who comes back with the report from an army
we have lost sight of for a month, nor a single bulletin which tells
us all we are to know for a week of some great engagement, but almost
hourly paragraphs, laden with truth or falsehood as the case may be,
making us restless always for the last fact or rumor they are
telling. And so of the movements of our armies. To-night the stout
lumbermen of Maine are encamped under their own fragrant pines. In a
score or two of hours they are among the tobacco-fields and the
slave-pens of Virginia. The war passion burned like scattered coals
of fire in the households of Revolutionary times; now it rushes all
through the land like a flame over the prairie. And this instant
diffusion of every fact and feeling produces another singular effect
in the equalizing and steadying of public opinion. We may not be
able to see a month ahead of us; but as to what has passed a week
afterwards it is as thoroughly talked out and judged as it would have
been in a whole season before our national nervous system was

"As the wild tempest wakes the slumbering sea,
Thou only teachest all that man can be!"

We indulged in the above apostrophe to War in a Phi Beta Kappa poem
of long ago, which we liked better before we read Mr. Cutler's
beautiful prolonged lyric delivered at the recent anniversary of that

Oftentimes, in paroxysms of peace and good-will towards all mankind,
we have felt twinges of conscience about the passage,--especially
when one of our orators showed us that a ship of war costs as much to
build and keep as a college, and that every port-hole we could stop
would give us a new professor. Now we begin to think that there was
some meaning in our poor couplet. War has taught us, as nothing else
could, what we can be and are. It has exalted our manhood and our
womanhood, and driven us all back upon our substantial human
qualities, for a long time more or less kept out of sight by the
spirit of commerce, the love of art, science, or literature, or other
qualities not belonging to all of us as men and women.

It is at this very moment doing more to melt away the petty social
distinctions which keep generous souls apart from each other, than
the preaching of the Beloved Disciple himself would do. We are
finding out that not only "patriotism is eloquence," but that heroism
is gentility. All ranks are wonderfully equalized under the fire of
a masked battery. The plain artisan or the rough fireman, who faces
the lead and iron like a man, is the truest representative we can
show of the heroes of Crecy and Agincourt. And if one of our fine
gentlemen puts off his straw-colored kids and stands by the other,
shoulder to shoulder, or leads him on to the attack, he is as
honorable in our eyes and in theirs as if he were ill-dressed and his
hands were soiled with labor.

Even our poor "Brahmins,"--whom a critic in ground-glass spectacles
(the same who grasps his statistics by the blade and strikes at his
supposed antagonist with the handle) oddly confounds with the,
"bloated aristocracy;" whereas they are very commonly pallid,
undervitalized, shy, sensitive creatures, whose only birthright is an
aptitude for learning,--even these poor New England Brahmins of ours,
subvirates of an organizable base as they often are, count as full
men, if their courage is big enough for the uniform which hangs so
loosely about their slender figures.

A young man was drowned not very long ago in the river running under
our windows. A few days afterwards a field piece was dragged to the
water's edge, and fired many times over the river. We asked a
bystander, who looked like a fisherman, what that was for. It was to
"break the gall," he said, and so bring the drowned person to the
surface. A strange physiological fancy and a very odd non sequitur;
but that is not our present point. A good many extraordinary objects
do really come to the surface when the great guns of war shake the
waters, as when they roared over Charleston harbor.

Treason came up, hideous, fit only to be huddled into its
dishonorable grave. But the wrecks of precious virtues, which had
been covered with the waves of prosperity, came up also. And all
sorts of unexpected and unheard-of things, which had lain unseen
during our national life of fourscore years, came up and are coming
up daily, shaken from their bed by the concussions of the artillery
bellowing around us.

It is a shame to own it, but there were persons otherwise respectable
not unwilling to say that they believed the old valor of
Revolutionary times had died out from among us. They talked about
our own Northern people as the English in the last centuries used to
talk about the French,--Goldsmith's old soldier, it may be
remembered, called one Englishman good for five of them. As Napoleon
spoke of the English, again, as a nation of shopkeepers, so these
persons affected to consider the multitude of their countrymen as
unwarlike artisans,--forgetting that Paul Revere taught himself the
value of liberty in working upon gold, and Nathaniel Greene fitted
himself to shape armies in the labor of forging iron.
These persons have learned better now. The bravery of our free
working-people was overlaid, but not smothered; sunken, but not
drowned. The hands which had been busy conquering the elements had
only to change their weapons and their adversaries, and they were as
ready to conquer the masses of living force opposed to them as they
had been to build towns, to dam rivers, to hunt whales, to harvest
ice, to hammer brute matter into every shape civilization can ask

Another great fact came to the surface, and is coming up every day in
new shapes,--that we are one people. It is easy to say that a man is
a man in Maine or Minnesota, but not so easy to feel it, all through
our bones and marrow. The camp is deprovincializing us very fast.
Brave Winthrop, marching with the city elegants, seems to have been a
little startled to find how wonderfully human were the hard-handed
men of the Eighth Massachusetts. It takes all the nonsense out of
everybody, or ought to do it, to see how fairly the real manhood of a
country is distributed over its surface. And then, just as we are
beginning to think our own soil has a monopoly of heroes as well as
of cotton, up turns a regiment of gallant Irishmen, like the Sixty-
ninth, to show us that continental provincialism is as bad as that of
Coos County, New Hampshire, or of Broadway, New York.

Here, too, side by side in the same great camp, are half a dozen
chaplains, representing half a dozen modes of religious belief. When
the masked battery opens, does the "Baptist" Lieutenant believe in
his heart that God takes better care of him than of his
"Congregationalist" Colonel? Does any man really suppose, that, of a
score of noble young fellows who have just laid down their lives for
their country, the Homoousians are received to the mansions of bliss,
and the Homoousians translated from the battle-field to the abodes of
everlasting woe? War not only teaches what man can be, but it
teaches also what he must not be. He must not be a bigot and a fool
in the presence of that day of judgment proclaimed by the trumpet
which calls to battle, and where a man should have but two thoughts:
to do his duty, and trust his Maker. Let our brave dead come back
from the fields where they have fallen for law and liberty, and if
you will follow them to their graves, you will find out what the
Broad Church means; the narrow church is sparing of its exclusive
formulae over the coffins wrapped in the flag which the fallen heroes
had defended! Very little comparatively do we hear at such times of
the dogmas on which men differ; very much of the faith and trust in
which all sincere Christians can agree. It is a noble lesson, and
nothing less noisy than the voice of cannon can teach it so that it
shall be heard over all the angry cries of theological disputants.

Now, too, we have a chance to test the sagacity of our friends, and
to get at their principles of judgment. Perhaps most, of us, will
agree that our faith in domestic prophets has been diminished by the
experience of the last six months. We had the notable predictions
attributed to the Secretary of State, which so unpleasantly refused
to fulfil themselves. We were infested at one time with a set of
ominous-looking seers, who shook their heads and muttered obscurely
about some mighty preparations that were making to substitute the
rule of the minority for that of the majority. Organizations were
darkly hinted at; some thought our armories would be seized; and
there are not wanting ancient women in the neighboring University
town who consider that the country was saved by the intrepid band of
students who stood guard, night after night, over the G. R. cannon
and the pile of balls in the Cambridge Arsenal.

As a general rule, it is safe to say that the best prophecies are
those which the sages remember after the event prophesied of has come
to pass, and remind us that they have made long ago. Those who, are
rash enough to predict publicly beforehand commonly give us what they
hope, or what they fear, or some conclusion from an abstraction of
their own, or some guess founded on private information not half so
good as what everybody gets who reads the papers,--never by any
possibility a word that we can depend on, simply because there are
cobwebs of contingency between every to-day and to-morrow that no
field-glass can penetrate when fifty of them lie woven one over
another. Prophesy as much as you like, but always hedge. Say that
you think the rebels are weaker than is commonly supposed, but, on
the other hand, that they may prove to be even stronger than is
anticipated. Say what you like,--only don't be too peremptory and
dogmatic; we know that wiser men than you have been notoriously
deceived in their predictions in this very matter.

Ibis et redibis nunquam in bello peribis.

Let that be your model; and remember, on peril of your reputation as
a prophet, not to put a stop before or after the nunquam.

There are two or three facts connected with time, besides that
already referred to, which strike us very forcibly in their relation
to the great events passing around us. We spoke of the long period
seeming to have elapsed since this war began. The buds were then
swelling which held the leaves that are still green. It seems as old
as Time himself. We cannot fail to observe how the mind brings
together the scenes of to-day and those of the old Revolution. We
shut up eighty years into each other like the joints of a pocket-
telescope. When the young men from Middlesex dropped in Baltimore
the other day, it seemed to bring Lexington and the other Nineteenth
of April close to us. War has always been the mint in which the
world's history has been coined, and now every day or week or month
has a new medal for us. It was Warren that the first impression bore
in the last great coinage; if it is Ellsworth now, the new face
hardly seems fresher than the old. All battle-fields are alike in
their main features. The young fellows who fell in our earlier
struggle seemed like old men to us until within these few months; now
we remember they were like these fiery youth we are cheering as they
go to the fight; it seems as if the grass of our bloody hillside was
crimsoned but yesterday, and the cannon-ball imbedded in the church-
tower would feel warm, if we laid our hand upon it.

Nay, in this our quickened life we feel that all the battles from
earliest time to our own day, where Right and Wrong have grappled,
are but one great battle, varied with brief pauses or hasty bivouacs
upon the field of conflict. The issues seem to vary, but it is
always a right against a claim, and, however the struggle of the hour
may go, a movement onward of the campaign, which uses defeat as well
as victory to serve its mighty ends. The very implements of our
warfare change less than we think. Our bullets and cannonballs have
lengthened into bolts like those which whistled out of old arbalests.
Our soldiers fight with weapons, such as are pictured on the walls of
Theban tombs, wearing a newly invented head-gear as old as the days
of the Pyramids.

Whatever miseries this war brings upon us, it is making us wiser,
and, we trust, better. Wiser, for we are learning our weakness, our
narrowness, our selfishness, our ignorance, in lessons of sorrow and
shame. Better, because all that is noble in men and women is
demanded by the time, and our people are rising to the standard the
time calls for. For this is the question the hour is putting to each
of us: Are you ready, if need be, to sacrifice all that you have and
hope for in this world, that the generations to follow you may
inherit a whole country whose natural condition shall be peace, and
not a broken province which must live under the perpetual threat, if
not in the constant presence, of war and all that war brings with it?
If we are all ready for this sacrifice, battles may be lost, but the
campaign and its grand object must be won.

Heaven is very kind in its way of putting questions to mortals. We
are not abruptly asked to give up all that we most care for, in view
of the momentous issues before us. Perhaps we shall never be asked
to give up all, but we have already been called upon to part with
much that is dear to us, and should be ready to yield the rest as it
is called for. The time may come when even the cheap public print
shall be a burden our means cannot support, and we can only listen in
the square that was once the marketplace to the voices of those who
proclaim defeat or victory. Then there will be only our daily food
left. When we have nothing to read and nothing to eat, it will be a
favorable moment to offer a compromise. At present we have all that
nature absolutely demands,--we can live on bread and the newspaper.


In the dead of the night which closed upon the bloody field of
Antietam, my household was startled from its slumbers by the loud
summons of a telegraphic messenger. The air had been heavy all day
with rumors of battle, and thousands and tens of thousands had walked
the streets with throbbing hearts, in dread anticipation of the
tidings any hour might bring.

We rose hastily, and presently the messenger was admitted. I took
the envelope from his hand, opened it, and read:


To__________ H ______

Capt H______ wounded shot through the neck thought not mortal at


Through the neck,--no bullet left in wound. Windpipe, food-pipe,
carotid, jugular, half a dozen smaller, but still formidable vessels,
a great braid of nerves, each as big as a lamp-wick, spinal cord,--
ought to kill at once, if at all. Thought not mortal, or not thought
mortal,--which was it? The first; that is better than the second
would be.--"Keedysville, a post-office, Washington Co., Maryland."
Leduc? Leduc? Don't remember that name. The boy is waiting for his
money. A dollar and thirteen cents. Has nobody got thirteen cents?
Don't keep that boy waiting,--how do we know what messages he has got
to carry?

The boy had another message to carry. It was to the father of
Lieutenant-Colonel Wilder Dwight, informing him that his son was
grievously wounded in the same battle, and was lying at Boonsborough,
a town a few miles this side of Keedysville. This I learned the next
morning from the civil and attentive officials at the Central
Telegraph Office.

Calling upon this gentleman, I found that he meant to leave in the
quarter past two o'clock train, taking with him Dr. George H. Gay, an
accomplished and energetic surgeon, equal to any difficult question
or pressing emergency. I agreed to accompany them, and we met in the
cars. I felt myself peculiarly fortunate in having companions whose
society would be a pleasure, whose feelings would harmonize with my
own, and whose assistance I might, in case of need, be glad to claim.

It is of the journey which we began together, and which I finished
apart, that I mean to give my "Atlantic" readers an account. They
must let me tell my story in my own way, speaking of many little
matters that interested or amused me, and which a certain leisurely
class of elderly persons, who sit at their firesides and never
travel, will, I hope, follow with a kind of interest. For, besides
the main object of my excursion, I could not help being excited by
the incidental sights and occurrences of a trip which to a commercial
traveller or a newspaper-reporter would seem quite commonplace and
undeserving of record. There are periods in which all places and
people seem to be in a conspiracy to impress us with their
individuality, in which every ordinary locality seems to assume a
special significance and to claim a particular notice, in which every
person we meet is either an old acquaintance or a character; days in
which the strangest coincidences are continually happening, so that
they get to be the rule, and not the exception. Some might naturally
think that anxiety and the weariness of a prolonged search after a
near relative would have prevented my taking any interest in or
paying any regard to the little matters around me. Perhaps it had
just the contrary effect, and acted like a diffused stimulus upon the
attention. When all the faculties are wide-awake in pursuit of a
single object, or fixed in the spasm of an absorbing emotion, they
are oftentimes clairvoyant in a marvellous degree in respect to many
collateral things, as Wordsworth has so forcibly illustrated in his
sonnet on the Boy of Windermere, and as Hawthorne has developed with
such metaphysical accuracy in that chapter of his wondrous story
where Hester walks forth to meet her punishment.

Be that as it may,--though I set out with a full and heavy heart,
though many times my blood chilled with what were perhaps needless
and unwise fears, though I broke through all my habits without
thinking about them, which is almost as hard in certain circumstances
as for one of our young fellows to leave his sweetheart and go into a
Peninsular campaign, though I did not always know when I was hungry
nor discover that I was thirsting, though I had a worrying ache and
inward tremor underlying all the outward play of the senses and the
mind, yet it is the simple truth that I did look out of the car-
windows with an eye for all that passed, that I did take cognizance
of strange sights and singular people, that I did act much as persons
act from the ordinary promptings of curiosity, and from time to time
even laugh very much as others do who are attacked with a convulsive
sense of the ridiculous, the epilepsy of the diaphragm.

By a mutual compact, we talked little in the cars. A communicative
friend is the greatest nuisance to have at one's side during a
railroad journey, especially if his conversation is stimulating and
in itself agreeable. "A fast train and a 'slow' neighbor," is my
motto. Many times, when I have got upon the cars, expecting to be
magnetized into an hour or two of blissful reverie, my thoughts
shaken up by the vibrations into all sorts of new and pleasing
patterns, arranging themselves in curves and nodal points, like the
grains of sand in Chladni's famous experiment,--fresh ideas coming up
to the surface, as the kernels do when a measure of corn is jolted in
a farmer's wagon,--all this without volition, the mechanical impulse
alone keeping the thoughts in motion, as the mere act of carrying
certain watches in the pocket keeps them wound up,--many times, I
say, just as my brain was beginning to creep and hum with this
delicious locomotive intoxication, some dear detestable friend,
cordial, intelligent, social, radiant, has come up and sat down by me
and opened a conversation which has broken my day-dream, unharnessed
the flying horses that were whirling along my fancies and hitched on
the old weary omnibus-team of every-day associations, fatigued my
hearing and attention, exhausted my voice, and milked the breasts of
my thought dry during the hour when they should have been filling
themselves full of fresh juices. My friends spared me this trial.

So, then, I sat by the window and enjoyed the slight tipsiness
produced by short, limited, rapid oscillations, which I take to be
the exhilarating stage of that condition which reaches hopeless
inebriety in what we know as sea-sickness. Where the horizon opened
widely, it pleased me to watch the curious effect of the rapid
movement of near objects contrasted with the slow motion of distant
ones. Looking from a right-hand window, for instance, the fences
close by glide swiftly backward, or to the right, while the distant
hills not only do not appear to move backward, but look by contrast
with the fences near at hand as if they were moving forward, or to
the left; and thus the whole landscape becomes a mighty wheel
revolving about an imaginary axis somewhere in the middle-distance.

My companions proposed to stay at one of the best-known and longest-
established of the New-York caravansaries, and I accompanied them.
We were particularly well lodged, and not uncivilly treated. The
traveller who supposes that he is to repeat the melancholy experience
of Shenstone, and have to sigh over the reflection that he has found
"his warmest welcome at an inn," has something to learn at the
offices of the great city hotels. The unheralded guest who is
honored by mere indifference may think himself blessed with singular
good-fortune. If the despot of the Patent-Annunciator is only mildly
contemptuous in his manner, let the victim look upon it as a personal
favor. The coldest welcome that a threadbare curate ever got at the
door of a bishop's palace, the most icy reception that a country
cousin ever received at the city mansion of a mushroom millionaire,
is agreeably tepid, compared to that which the Rhadamanthus who dooms
you to the more or less elevated circle of his inverted Inferno
vouchsafes, as you step up to enter your name on his dog's-eared
register. I have less hesitation in unburdening myself of this
uncomfortable statement, as on this particular trip I met with more
than one exception to the rule. Officials become brutalized, I
suppose, as a matter of course. One cannot expect an office clerk to
embrace tenderly every stranger who comes in with a carpet-bag, or a
telegraph operator to burst into tears over every unpleasant message
he receives for transmission. Still, humanity is not always totally
extinguished in these persons. I discovered a youth in a telegraph
office of the Continental Hotel, in Philadelphia, who was as pleasant
in conversation, and as graciously responsive to inoffensive
questions, as if I had been his childless opulent uncle and my will
not made.

On the road again the next morning, over the ferry, into the cars
with sliding panels and fixed windows, so that in summer the whole
side of the car maybe made transparent. New Jersey is, to the
apprehension of a traveller, a double-headed suburb rather than a
State. Its dull red dust looks like the dried and powdered mud of a
battle-field. Peach-trees are common, and champagne-orchards.
Canal-boats, drawn by mules, swim by, feeling their way along like
blind men led by dogs. I had a mighty passion come over me to be the
captain of one,--to glide back and forward upon a sea never roughened
by storms,--to float where I could not sink,--to navigate where there
is no shipwreck,--to lie languidly on the deck and govern the huge
craft by a word or the movement of a finger: there was something of
railroad intoxication in the fancy: but who has not often envied a
cobbler in his stall?

The boys cry the "N'-York Heddle," instead of "Herald"; I remember
that years ago in Philadelphia; we must be getting near the farther
end of the dumb-bell suburb. A bridge has been swept away by a rise
of the waters, so we must approach Philadelphia by the river. Her
physiognomy is not distinguished; nez camus, as a Frenchman would
say; no illustrious steeple, no imposing tower; the water-edge of the
town looking bedraggled, like the flounce of a vulgar rich woman's
dress that trails on the sidewalk. The New Ironsides lies at one of
the wharves, elephantine in bulk and color, her sides narrowing as
they rise, like the walls of a hock-glass.

I went straight to the house in Walnut Street where the Captain would
be heard of, if anywhere in this region. His lieutenant-colonel was
there, gravely wounded; his college-friend and comrade in arms, a son
of the house, was there, injured in a similar way; another soldier,
brother of the last, was there, prostrate with fever. A fourth bed
was waiting ready for the Captain, but not one word had been heard of
him, though inquiries had been made in the towns from and through
which the father had brought his two sons and the lieutenant-colonel.
And so my search is, like a "Ledger" story, to be continued.

I rejoined my companions in time to take the noon-train for
Baltimore. Our company was gaining in number as it moved onwards.
We had found upon the train from New York a lovely, lonely lady, the
wife of one of our most spirited Massachusetts officers, the brave
Colonel of the __th Regiment, going to seek her wounded husband at
Middletown, a place lying directly in our track. She was the light
of our party while we were together on our pilgrimage, a fair,
gracious woman, gentle, but courageous,

---"ful plesant and amiable of port,
---estatelich of manere,
And to ben holden digne of reverence."

On the road from Philadelphia, I found in the same car with our party
Dr. William Hunt of Philadelphia, who had most kindly and faithfully
attended the Captain, then the Lieutenant, after a wound received at
Ball's Bluff, which came very near being mortal. He was going upon
an errand of mercy to the wounded, and found he had in his
memorandum-book the name of our lady's husband, the Colonel, who had
been commended to his particular attention.

Not long after leaving Philadelphia, we passed a solitary sentry
keeping guard over a short railroad bridge. It was the first
evidence that we were approaching the perilous borders, the marches
where the North and the South mingle their angry hosts, where the
extremes of our so-called civilization meet in conflict, and the
fierce slave-driver of the Lower Mississippi stares into the stern
eyes of the forest-feller from the banks of the Aroostook. All the
way along, the bridges were guarded more or less strongly. In a vast
country like ours, communications play a far more complex part than
in Europe, where the whole territory available for strategic purposes
is so comparatively limited. Belgium, for instance, has long been
the bowling-alley where kings roll cannon-balls at each other's
armies; but here we are playing the game of live ninepins without any

We were obliged to stay in Baltimore over night, as we were too late
for the train to Frederick. At the Eutaw House, where we found both
comfort and courtesy, we met a number of friends, who beguiled the
evening hours for us in the most agreeable manner. We devoted some
time to procuring surgical and other articles, such as might be
useful to our friends, or to others, if our friends should not need
them. In the morning, I found myself seated at the breakfast-table
next to General Wool. It did not surprise me to find the General
very far from expansive. With Fort McHenry on his shoulders and
Baltimore in his breeches-pocket, and the weight of a military
department loading down his social safety-valves, I thought it a
great deal for an officer in his trying position to select so very
obliging and affable an aid as the gentleman who relieved him of the
burden of attending to strangers.

We left the Eutaw House, to take the cars for Frederick. As we stood
waiting on the platform, a telegraphic message was handed in silence
to my companion. Sad news: the lifeless body of the son he was
hastening to see was even now on its way to him in Baltimore. It was
no time for empty words of consolation: I knew what he had lost, and
that now was not the time to intrude upon a grief borne as men bear
it, felt as women feel it.

Colonel Wilder Dwight was first made known to me as the friend of a
beloved relative of my own, who was with him during a severe illness
in Switzerland; and for whom while living, and for whose memory when
dead, he retained the warmest affection. Since that the story of his
noble deeds of daring, of his capture and escape, and a brief visit
home before he was able to rejoin his regiment, had made his name
familiar to many among us, myself among the number. His memory has
been honored by those who had the largest opportunity of knowing his
rare promise, as a man of talents and energy of nature. His
abounding vitality must have produced its impression on all who met
him; there was a still fire about him which any one could see would
blaze up to melt all difficulties and recast obstacles into
implements in the mould of an heroic will. These elements of his
character many had the chance of knowing; but I shall always
associate him with the memory of that pure and noble friendship which
made me feel that I knew him before I looked upon his face, and added
a personal tenderness to the sense of loss which I share with the
whole community.

Here, then, I parted, sorrowfully, from the companions with whom I
set out on my journey.

In one of the cars, at the same station, we met General Shriver of
Frederick, a most loyal Unionist, whose name is synonymous with a
hearty welcome to all whom he can aid by his counsel and his
hospitality. He took great pains to give us all the information we
needed, and expressed the hope, which was afterwards fulfilled, to
the great gratification of some of us, that we should meet again when
he should return to his home.

There was nothing worthy of special note in the trip to Frederick,
except our passing a squad of Rebel prisoners, whom I missed seeing,
as they flashed by, but who were said to be a most forlorn-looking
crowd of scarecrows. Arrived at the Monocacy River, about three
miles this side of Frederick, we came to a halt, for the railroad
bridge had been blown up by the Rebels, and its iron pillars and
arches were lying in the bed of the river. The unfortunate wretch
who fired the train was killed by the explosion, and lay buried hard
by, his hands sticking out of the shallow grave into which he had
been huddled. This was the story they told us, but whether true or
not I must leave to the correspondents of "Notes and Queries" to

There was a great confusion of carriages and wagons at the stopping-
place of the train, so that it was a long time before I could get
anything that would carry us. At last I was lucky enough to light on
a sturdy wagon, drawn by a pair of serviceable bays, and driven by
James Grayden, with whom I was destined to have a somewhat continued
acquaintance. We took up a little girl who had been in Baltimore
during the late Rebel inroad. It made me think of the time when my
own mother, at that time six years old, was hurried off from Boston,
then occupied by the British soldiers, to Newburyport, and heard the
people saying that "the redcoats were coming, killing and murdering
everybody as they went along." Frederick looked cheerful for a place
that had so recently been in an enemy's hands. Here and there a
house or shop was shut up, but the national colors were waving in all
directions, and the general aspect was peaceful and contented. I saw
no bullet-marks or other sign of the fighting which had gone on in
the streets. The Colonel's lady was taken in charge by a daughter of
that hospitable family to which we had been commended by its head,
and I proceeded to inquire for wounded officers at the various
temporary hospitals.

At the United States Hotel, where many were lying, I heard mention of
an officer in an upper chamber, and, going there, found Lieutenant
Abbott, of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, lying ill with
what looked like typhoid fever. While there, who should come in but
the almost ubiquitous Lieutenant Wilkins, of the same Twentieth, whom
I had met repeatedly before on errands of kindness or duty, and who
was just from the battle-ground. He was going to Boston in charge of
the body of the lamented Dr. Revere, the Assistant Surgeon of the
regiment, killed on the field. From his lips I learned something of
the mishaps of the regiment. My Captain's wound he spoke of as less
grave than at first thought; but he mentioned incidentally having
heard a story recently that he was killed,--a fiction, doubtless,--a
mistake,--a palpable absurdity,--not to be remembered or made any
account of. Oh no! but what dull ache is this in that obscurely
sensitive region, somewhere below the heart, where the nervous centre
called the semilunar ganglion lies unconscious of itself until a
great grief or a mastering anxiety reaches it through all the non-
conductors which isolate it from ordinary impressions? I talked
awhile with Lieutenant Abbott, who lay prostrate, feeble, but
soldier-like and uncomplaining, carefully waited upon by a most
excellent lady, a captain's wife, New England born, loyal as the
Liberty on a golden ten-dollar piece, and of lofty bearing enough to
have sat for that goddess's portrait. She had stayed in Frederick
through the Rebel inroad, and kept the star-spangled banner where it
would be safe, to unroll it as the last Rebel hoofs clattered off
from the pavement of the town.

Near by Lieutenant Abbott was an unhappy gentleman, occupying a small
chamber, and filling it with his troubles. When he gets well and
plump, I know he will forgive me if I confess that I could not help
smiling in the midst of my sympathy for him. He had been a well-
favored man, he said, sweeping his hand in a semicircle, which
implied that his acute-angled countenance had once filled the goodly
curve he described. He was now a perfect Don Quixote to look upon.
Weakness had made him querulous, as it does all of us, and he piped
his grievances to me in a thin voice, with that finish of detail
which chronic invalidism alone can command. He was starving,--he
could not get what he wanted to eat. He was in need of stimulants,
and he held up a pitiful two-ounce phial containing three
thimblefuls--of brandy,--his whole stock of that encouraging article.
Him I consoled to the best of my ability, and afterwards, in some
slight measure, supplied his wants. Feed this poor gentleman up, as
these good people soon will, and I should not know him, nor he
himself. We are all egotists in sickness and debility. An animal
has been defined as "a stomach ministered to by organs;" and the
greatest man comes very near this simple formula after a month or two
of fever and starvation.

James Grayden and his team pleased me well enough, and so I made a
bargain with him to take us, the lady and myself, on our further
journey as far as Middletown. As we were about starting from the
front of the United States Hotel, two gentlemen presented themselves
and expressed a wish to be allowed to share our conveyance. I looked
at them and convinced myself that they were neither Rebels in
disguise, nor deserters, nor camp-followers, nor miscreants, but
plain, honest men on a proper errand. The first of them I will pass
over briefly. He was a young man of mild and modest demeanor,
chaplain to a Pennsylvania regiment, which he was going to rejoin.
He belonged to the Moravian Church, of which I had the misfortune to
know little more than what I had learned from Southey's "Life of
Wesley." and from the exquisite hymns we have borrowed from its
rhapsodists. The other stranger was a New Englander of respectable
appearance, with a grave, hard, honest, hay-bearded face, who had
come to serve the sick and wounded on the battle-field and in its
immediate neighborhood. There is no reason why I should not mention
his name, but I shall content myself with calling him the

So we set forth, the sturdy wagon, the serviceable bays, with James
Grayden their driver, the gentle lady, whose serene patience bore up
through all delays and discomforts, the Chaplain, the Philanthropist,
and myself, the teller of this story.

And now, as we emerged from Frederick, we struck at once upon the
trail from the great battle-field. The road was filled with
straggling and wounded soldiers. All who could travel on foot,--
multitudes with slight wounds of the upper limbs, the head, or face,
--were told to take up their beds,--alight burden or none at all,--
and walk. Just as the battle-field sucks everything into its red
vortex for the conflict, so does it drive everything off in long,
diverging rays after the fierce centripetal forces have met and
neutralized each other. For more than a week there had been sharp
fighting all along this road. Through the streets of Frederick,
through Crampton's Gap, over South Mountain, sweeping at last the
hills and the woods that skirt the windings of the Antietam, the long
battle had travelled, like one of those tornadoes which tear their
path through our fields and villages. The slain of higher condition,
"embalmed" and iron-cased, were sliding off on the railways to their
far homes; the dead of the rank and file were being gathered up and
committed hastily to the earth; the gravely wounded were cared for
hard by the scene of conflict, or pushed a little way along to the
neighboring villages; while those who could walk were meeting us, as
I have said, at every step in the road. It was a pitiable sight,
truly pitiable, yet so vast, so far beyond the possibility of relief,
that many single sorrows of small dimensions have wrought upon my
feelings more than the sight of this great caravan of maimed
pilgrims. The companionship of so many seemed to make a joint-stock
of their suffering; it was next to impossible to individualize it,
and so bring it home, as one can do with a single broken limb or
aching wound. Then they were all of the male sex, and in the
freshness or the prime of their strength. Though they tramped so
wearily along, yet there was rest and kind nursing in store for them.
These wounds they bore would be the medals they would show their
children and grandchildren by and by. Who would not rather wear his
decorations beneath his uniform than on it?

Yet among them were figures which arrested our attention and
sympathy. Delicate boys, with more spirit than strength, flushed
with fever or pale with exhaustion or haggard with suffering, dragged
their weary limbs along as if each step would exhaust their slender
store of strength. At the roadside sat or lay others, quite spent
with their journey. Here and there was a house at which the
wayfarers would stop, in the hope, I fear often vain, of getting
refreshment; and in one place was a clear, cool spring, where the
little bands of the long procession halted for a few moments, as the
trains that traverse the desert rest by its fountains. My companions
had brought a few peaches along with them, which the Philanthropist
bestowed upon the tired and thirsty soldiers with a satisfaction
which we all shared. I had with me a small flask of strong waters,
to be used as a medicine in case of inward grief. From this, also,
he dispensed relief, without hesitation, to a poor fellow who looked
as if he needed it. I rather admired the simplicity with which he
applied my limited means of solace to the first-comer who wanted it
more than I; a genuine benevolent impulse does not stand on ceremony,
and had I perished of colic for want of a stimulus that night, I
should not have reproached my friend the Philanthropist, any more
than I grudged my other ardent friend the two dollars and more which
it cost me to send the charitable message he left in my hands.

It was a lovely country through which we were riding. The hillsides
rolled away into the distance, slanting up fair and broad to the sun,
as one sees them in the open parts of the Berkshire Valley, at
Lanesborough, for instance, or in the many-hued mountain chalice at
the bottom of which the Shaker houses of Lebanon have shaped
themselves like a sediment of cubical crystals. The wheat was all
garnered, and the land ploughed for a new crop. There was Indian
corn standing, but I saw no pumpkins warming their yellow carapaces
in the sunshine like so many turtles; only in a single instance did I
notice some wretched little miniature specimens in form and hue not
unlike those colossal oranges of our cornfields. The rail fences
were somewhat disturbed, and the cinders of extinguished fires showed
the use to which they had been applied. The houses along the road
were not for the most part neatly kept; the garden fences were poorly
built of laths or long slats, and very rarely of trim aspect. The
men of this region seemed to ride in the saddle very generally,
rather than drive. They looked sober and stern, less curious and
lively than Yankees, and I fancied that a type of features familiar
to us in the countenance of the late John Tyler, our accidental
President, was frequently met with. The women were still more
distinguishable from our New England pattern. Soft, sallow,
succulent, delicately finished about the mouth and firmly shaped
about the chin, dark-eyed, full-throated, they looked as if they had
been grown in a land of olives. There was a little toss in their
movement, full of muliebrity. I fancied there was something more of
the duck and less of the chicken about them, as compared with the
daughters of our leaner soil; but these are mere impressions caught
from stray glances, and if there is any offence in them, my fair
readers may consider them all retracted.

At intervals, a dead horse lay by the roadside, or in the fields,
unburied, not grateful to gods or men. I saw no bird of prey, no
ill-omened fowl, on my way to the carnival of death, or at the place
where it had been held. The vulture of story, the crow of Talavera,
the "twa corbies" of the ghastly ballad, are all from Nature,
doubtless; but no black wing was spread over these animal ruins, and
no call to the banquet pierced through the heavy-laden and sickening

Full in the middle of the road, caring little for whom or what they
met, came long strings of army wagons, returning empty from the front
after supplies. James Grayden stated it as his conviction that they
had a little rather run into a fellow than not. I liked the looks of
these equipages and their drivers; they meant business. Drawn by
mules mostly, six, I think, to a wagon, powdered well with dust,
wagon, beast, and driver, they came jogging along the road, turning
neither to right nor left,--some driven by bearded, solemn white men,
some by careless, saucy-looking negroes, of a blackness like that of
anthracite or obsidian. There seemed to be nothing about them, dead
or alive, that was not serviceable. Sometimes a mule would give out
on the road; then he was left where he lay, until by and by he would
think better of it, and get up, when the first public wagon that came
along would hitch him on, and restore him to the sphere of duty.

It was evening when we got to Middletown. The gentle lady who had
graced our homely conveyance with her company here left us. She
found her husband, the gallant Colonel, in very comfortable quarters,
well cared for, very weak from the effects of the fearful operation
he had been compelled to undergo, but showing calm courage to endure
as he had shown manly energy to act. It was a meeting full of
heroism and tenderness, of which I heard more than there is need to
tell. Health to the brave soldier, and peace to the household over
which so fair a spirit presides!

Dr. Thompson, the very active and intelligent surgical director of
the hospitals of the place, took me in charge. He carried me to the
house of a worthy and benevolent clergyman of the German Reformed
Church, where I was to take tea and pass the night. What became of
the Moravian chaplain I did not know; but my friend the
Philanthropist had evidently made up his mind to adhere to my
fortunes. He followed me, therefore, to the house of the "Dominie."
as a newspaper correspondent calls my kind host, and partook of the
fare there furnished me. He withdrew with me to the apartment
assigned for my slumbers, and slept sweetly on the same pillow where
I waked and tossed. Nay, I do affirm that he did, unconsciously, I
believe, encroach on that moiety of the couch which I had flattered
myself was to be my own through the watches of the night, and that I
was in serious doubt at one time whether I should not be gradually,
but irresistibly, expelled from the bed which I had supposed destined
for my sole possession. As Ruth clave unto Naomi, so my friend the
Philanthropist clave unto me. "Whither thou goest, I will go; and
where thou lodgest, I will lodge." A really kind, good man, full of
zeal, determined to help somebody, and absorbed in his one thought,
he doubted nobody's willingness to serve him, going, as he was, on a
purely benevolent errand. When he reads this, as I hope he will, let
him be assured of my esteem and respect; and if he gained any
accommodation from being in my company, let me tell him that I
learned a lesson from his active benevolence. I could, however, have
wished to hear him laugh once before we parted, perhaps forever. He
did not, to the best of my recollection, even smile during the whole
period that we were in company. I am afraid that a lightsome
disposition and a relish for humor are not so common in those whose
benevolence takes an active turn as in people of sentiment, who are
always ready with their tears and abounding in passionate expressions
of sympathy. Working philanthropy is a practical specialty,
requiring not a mere impulse, but a talent, with its peculiar
sagacity for finding its objects, a tact for selecting its agencies,
an organizing and art ranging faculty, a steady set of nerves, and a
constitution such as Sallust describes in Catiline, patient of cold,
of hunger, and of watching. Philanthropists are commonly grave,
occasionally grim, and not very rarely morose. Their expansive
social force is imprisoned as a working power, to show itself only
through its legitimate pistons and cranks. The tighter the boiler,
the less it whistles and sings at its work. When Dr. Waterhouse, in
1780, travelled with Howard, on his tour among the Dutch prisons and
hospitals, he found his temper and manners very different from what
would have been expected.

My benevolent companion having already made a preliminary exploration
of the hospitals of the place, before sharing my bed with him, as
above mentioned, I joined him in a second tour through them. The
authorities of Middletown are evidently leagued with the surgeons of
that place, for such a break-neck succession of pitfalls and chasms I
have never seen in the streets of a civilized town. It was getting
late in the evening when we began our rounds. The principal
collections of the wounded were in the churches. Boards were laid
over the tops of the pews, on these some straw was spread, and on
this the wounded lay, with little or no covering other than such
scanty clothes as they had on. There were wounds of all degrees of
severity, but I heard no groans or murmurs. Most of the sufferers
were hurt in the limbs, some had undergone amputation, and all had, I
presume, received such attention as was required. Still, it was but
a rough and dreary kind of comfort that the extemporized hospitals
suggested. I could not help thinking the patients must be cold; but
they were used to camp life, and did not complain. The men who
watched were not of the soft-handed variety of the race. One of them
was smoking his pipe as he went from bed to bed. I saw one poor
fellow who had been shot through the breast; his breathing was
labored, and he was tossing, anxious and restless. The men were
debating about the opiate he was to take, and I was thankful that I
happened there at the right moment to see that he was well narcotized
for the night. Was it possible that my Captain could be lying on the
straw in one of these places? Certainly possible, but not probable;
but as the lantern was held over each bed, it was with a kind of
thrill that I looked upon the features it illuminated. Many times as
I went from hospital to hospital in my wanderings, I started as some
faint resemblance,-the shade of a young man's hair, the outline of
his half-turned face,--recalled the presence I was in search of. The
face would turn towards me, and the momentary illusion would pass
away, but still the fancy clung to me. There was no figure huddled
up on its rude couch, none stretched at the roadside, none toiling
languidly along the dusty pike, none passing in car or in ambulance,
that I did not scrutinize, as if it might be that for which I was
making my pilgrimage to the battlefield.

"There are two wounded Secesh," said my companion. I walked to the
bedside of the first, who was an officer, a lieutenant, if I remember
right, from North Carolina. He was of good family, son of a judge in
one of the higher courts of his State, educated, pleasant, gentle,
intelligent. One moment's intercourse with such an enemy, lying
helpless and wounded among strangers, takes away all personal
bitterness towards those with whom we or our children have been but a
few hours before in deadly strife. The basest lie which the
murderous contrivers of this Rebellion have told is that which tries
to make out a difference of race in the men of the North and South.
It would be worth a year of battles to abolish this delusion, though
the great sponge of war that wiped it out were moistened with the
best blood of the land. My Rebel was of slight, scholastic habit,
and spoke as one accustomed to tread carefully among the parts of
speech. It made my heart ache to see him, a man finished in the
humanities and Christian culture, whom the sin of his forefathers and
the crime of his rulers had set in barbarous conflict against others
of like training with his own,--a man who, but for the curse which
our generation is called on to expiate, would have taken his part in
the beneficent task of shaping the intelligence and lifting the moral
standard of a peaceful and united people.

On Sunday morning, the twenty-first, having engaged James Grayden and
his team, I set out with the Chaplain and the Philanthropist for
Keedysville. Our track lay through the South Mountain Gap, and led
us first to the town of Boonsborough, where, it will be remembered,
Colonel Dwight had been brought after the battle. We saw the
positions occupied in the battle of South Mountain, and many traces
of the conflict. In one situation a group of young trees was marked
with shot, hardly one having escaped. As we walked by the side of
the wagon, the Philanthropist left us for a while and climbed a hill,
where, along the line of a fence, he found traces of the most
desperate fighting. A ride of some three hours brought us to
Boonsborough, where I roused the unfortunate army surgeon who had
charge of the hospitals, and who was trying to get a little sleep
after his fatigues and watchings. He bore this cross very
creditably, and helped me to explore all places where my soldier
might be lying among the crowds of wounded. After the useless
search, I resumed my journey, fortified with a note of introduction
to Dr. Letterman; also with a bale of oakum which I was to carry to
that gentleman, this substance being employed as a substitute for
lint. We were obliged also to procure a pass to Keedysville from the
Provost Marshal of Boonsborough. As we came near the place, we
learned that General McClellan's head quarters had been removed from
this village some miles farther to the front.

On entering the small settlement of Keedysville, a familiar face and
figure blocked the way, like one of Bunyan's giants. The tall form
and benevolent countenance, set off by long, flowing hair, belonged
to the excellent Mayor Frank B. Fay of Chelsea, who, like my
Philanthropist, only still more promptly, had come to succor the
wounded of the great battle. It was wonderful to see how his single
personality pervaded this torpid little village; he seemed to be the
centre of all its activities. All my questions he answered clearly
and decisively, as one who knew everything that was going on in the
place. But the one question I had come five hundred miles to ask,--
Where is Captain H.?--he could not answer. There were some thousands
of wounded in the place, he told me, scattered about everywhere. It
would be a long job to hunt up my Captain; the only way would be to
go to every house and ask for him. Just then a medical officer came

"Do you know anything of Captain H. of the Massachusetts Twentieth?"

"Oh yes; he is staying in that house. I saw him there, doing very

A chorus of hallelujahs arose in my soul, but I kept them to myself.
Now, then, for our twice-wounded volunteer, our young centurion whose
double-barred shoulder-straps we have never yet looked upon. Let us
observe the proprieties, however; no swelling upward of the mother,--
no hysterica passio, we do not like scenes. A calm salutation,
--then swallow and hold hard. That is about the programme.

A cottage of squared logs, filled in with plaster, and whitewashed.
A little yard before it, with a gate swinging. The door of the
cottage ajar,--no one visible as yet. I push open the door and
enter. An old woman, Margaret Kitzmuller her name proves to be, is
the first person I see.

"Captain H. here?"

"Oh no, sir,--left yesterday morning for Hagerstown,--in a milk-

The Kitzmuller is a beady-eyed, cheery-looking ancient woman, answers
questions with a rising inflection, and gives a good account of the
Captain, who got into the vehicle without assistance, and was in
excellent spirits. Of course he had struck for Hagerstown as the
terminus of the Cumberland Valley Railroad, and was on his way to
Philadelphia, via Chambersburg and Harrisburg, if he were not already
in the hospitable home of Walnut Street, where his friends were
expecting him.

I might follow on his track or return upon my own; the distance was
the same to Philadelphia through Harrisburg as through Baltimore.
But it was very difficult, Mr. Fay told me, to procure any kind of
conveyance to Hagerstown; and, on the other hand, I had James Grayden
and his wagon to carry me back to Frederick. It was not likely that
I should overtake the object of my pursuit with nearly thirty-six
hours start, even if I could procure a conveyance that day. In the
mean time James was getting impatient to be on his return, according
to the direction of his employers. So I decided to go back with him.

But there was the great battle-field only about three miles from
Keedysville, and it was impossible to go without seeing that. James
Grayden's directions were peremptory, but it was a case for the
higher law. I must make a good offer for an extra couple of hours,
such as would satisfy the owners of the wagon, and enforce it by a
personal motive. I did this handsomely, and succeeded without
difficulty. To add brilliancy to my enterprise, I invited the
Chaplain and the Philanthropist to take a free passage with me.

We followed the road through the village for a space, then turned off
to the right, and wandered somewhat vaguely, for want of precise
directions, over the hills. Inquiring as we went, we forded a wide
creek in which soldiers were washing their clothes, the name of which
we did not then know, but which must have been the Antietam. At one
point we met a party, women among them, bringing off various trophies
they had picked up on the battlefield. Still wandering along, we
were at last pointed to a hill in the distance, a part of the summit
of which was covered with Indian corn. There, we were told, some of
the fiercest fighting of the day had been done. The fences were
taken down so as to make a passage across the fields, and the tracks
worn within the last few days looked like old roads. We passed a
fresh grave under a tree near the road. A board was nailed to the
tree, bearing the name, as well as I could make it out, of Gardiner,
of a New Hampshire regiment.

On coming near the brow of the hill, we met a party carrying picks
and spades. "How many?" "Only one." The dead were nearly all buried,
then, in this region of the field of strife. We stopped the wagon,
and, getting out, began to look around us. Hard by was a large pile
of muskets, scores, if not hundreds, which had been picked up, and
were guarded for the Government. A long ridge of fresh gravel rose
before us. A board stuck up in front of it bore this inscription,
the first part of which was, I believe, not correct: "The Rebel
General Anderson and 80 Rebels are buried in this hole." Other
smaller ridges were marked with the number of dead lying under them.
The whole ground was strewed with fragments of clothing, haversacks,
canteens, cap-boxes, bullets, cartridge-boxes, cartridges, scraps of
paper, portions of bread and meat. I saw two soldiers' caps that
looked as though their owners had been shot through the head. In
several places I noticed dark red patches where a pool of blood had
curdled and caked, as some poor fellow poured his life out on the
sod. I then wandered about in the cornfield. It surprised me to
notice, that, though there was every mark of hard fighting having
taken place here, the Indian corn was not generally trodden down.
One of our cornfields is a kind of forest, and even when fighting,
men avoid the tall stalks as if they were trees. At the edge of this
cornfield lay a gray horse, said to have belonged to a Rebel colonel,
who was killed near the same place. Not far off were two dead
artillery horses in their harness. Another had been attended to by a
burying-party, who had thrown some earth over him but his last bed-
clothes were too short, and his legs stuck out stark and stiff from
beneath the gravel coverlet. It was a great pity that we had no
intelligent guide to explain to us the position of that portion of
the two armies which fought over this ground. There was a shallow
trench before we came to the cornfield, too narrow for a road, as I
should think, too elevated for a water-course, and which seemed to
have been used as a rifle-pit. At any rate, there had been hard
fighting in and about it. This and the cornfield may serve to
identify the part of the ground we visited, if any who fought there
should ever look over this paper. The opposing tides of battle must
have blended their waves at this point, for portions of gray uniform
were mingled with the "garments rolled in blood" torn from our own
dead and wounded soldiers. I picked up a Rebel canteen, and one of
our own,--but there was something repulsive about the trodden and
stained relics of the stale battle-field. It was like the table of
some hideous orgy left uncleared, and one turned away disgusted from
its broken fragments and muddy heeltaps. A bullet or two, a button,
a brass plate from a soldier's belt, served well enough for mementos
of my visit, with a letter which I picked up, directed to Richmond,
Virginia, its seal unbroken. "N. C. Cleveland County. E. Wright to
J. Wright." On the other side, "A few lines from W. L. Vaughn." who
has just been writing for the wife to her husband, and continues on
his own account. The postscript, "tell John that nancy's folks are
all well and has a verry good Little Crop of corn a growing." I
wonder, if, by one of those strange chances of which I have seen so
many, this number or leaf of the "Atlantic" will not sooner or later
find its way to Cleveland County, North Carolina, and E. Wright,
widow of James Wright, and Nancy's folks, get from these sentences
the last glimpse of husband and friend as he threw up his arms and
fell in the bloody cornfield of Antietam? I will keep this stained
letter for them until peace comes back, if it comes in my time, and
my pleasant North Carolina Rebel of the Middletown Hospital will,
perhaps look these poor people up, and tell them where to send for

On the battle-field I parted with my two companions, the Chaplain and
the Philanthropist. They were going to the front, the one to find
his regiment, the other to look for those who needed his assistance.
We exchanged cards and farewells, I mounted the wagon, the horses'
heads were turned homewards, my two companions went their way, and I
saw them no more. On my way back, I fell into talk with James
Grayden. Born in England, Lancashire; in this country since be was
four years old. Had nothing to care for but an old mother; didn't
know what he should do if he lost her. Though so long in this
country, he had all the simplicity and childlike lightheartedness
which belong to the Old World's people. He laughed at the smallest
pleasantry, and showed his great white English teeth; he took a joke
without retorting by an impertinence; he had a very limited curiosity
about all that was going on; he had small store of information; he
lived chiefly in his horses, it seemed to me. His quiet animal
nature acted as a pleasing anodyne to my recurring fits of anxiety,
and I liked his frequent "'Deed I don't know, sir." better than I
have sometimes relished the large discourse of professors and other
very wise men.

I have not much to say of the road which we were travelling for the
second time. Reaching Middletown, my first call was on the wounded
Colonel and his lady. She gave me a most touching account of all the
suffering he had gone through with his shattered limb before he
succeeded in finding a shelter; showing the terrible want of proper
means of transportation of the wounded after the battle. It occurred
to me, while at this house, that I was more or less famished, and for
the first time in my life I begged for a meal, which the kind family
with whom the Colonel was staying most graciously furnished me.

After tea, there came in a stout army surgeon, a Highlander by birth,
educated in Edinburgh, with whom I had pleasant, not unstimulating
talk. He had been brought very close to that immane and nefandous
Burke-and-Hare business which made the blood of civilization run cold
in the year 1828, and told me, in a very calm way, with an occasional
pinch from the mull, to refresh his memory, some of the details of
those frightful murders, never rivalled in horror until the wretch
Dumollard, who kept a private cemetery for his victims, was dragged
into the light of day. He had a good deal to say, too, about the
Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and the famous preparations,
mercurial and the rest, which I remember well having seen there,--the
"sudabit multum." and others,--also of our New York Professor
Carnochan's handiwork, a specimen of which I once admired at the New
York College. But the doctor was not in a happy frame of mind, and
seemed willing to forget the present in the past: things went wrong,
somehow, and the time was out of joint with him.

Dr. Thompson, kind, cheerful, companionable, offered me half his own
wide bed, in the house of Dr. Baer, for my second night in
Middletown. Here I lay awake again another night. Close to the
house stood an ambulance in which was a wounded Rebel officer,
attended by one of their own surgeons. He was calling out in a loud
voice, all night long, as it seemed to me, "Doctor! Doctor! Driver!
Water!" in loud, complaining tones, I have no doubt of real
suffering, but in strange contrast with the silent patience which was
the almost universal rule.

The courteous Dr. Thompson will let me tell here an odd coincidence,
trivial, but having its interest as one of a series. The Doctor and
myself lay in the bed, and a lieutenant, a friend of his, slept on
the sofa, At night, I placed my match-box, a Scotch one, of the
Macpherson-plaid pattern, which I bought years ago, on the bureau,
just where I could put my hand upon it. I was the last of the three
to rise in the morning, and on looking for my pretty match-box, I
found it was gone. This was rather awkward,--not on account of the
loss, but of the unavoidable fact that one of my fellow-lodgers must
have taken it. I must try to find out what it meant.

"By the way, Doctor, have you seen anything of a little plaid-pattern

The Doctor put his hand to his pocket, and, to his own huge surprise
and my great gratification, pulled out two match-boxes exactly alike,
both printed with the Macpherson plaid. One was his, the other mine,
which he had seen lying round, and naturally took for his own,
thrusting it into his pocket, where it found its twin-brother from
the same workshop. In memory of which event, we exchanged boxes,
like two Homeric heroes.

This curious coincidence illustrates well enough some supposed cases
of plagiarism of which I will mention one where my name figured.
When a little poem called "The Two Streams" was first printed, a
writer in the New York "Evening Post" virtually accused the author of
it of borrowing the thought from a baccalaureate sermon of President
Hopkins of Williamstown, and printed a quotation from that discourse,
which, as I thought, a thief or catch-poll might well consider as
establishing a fair presumption that it was so borrowed. I was at
the same time wholly unconscious of ever having met with the
discourse or the sentence which the verses were most like, nor do I
believe I ever had seen or heard either. Some time after this,
happening to meet my eloquent cousin, Wendell Phillips, I mentioned
the fact to him, and he told me that he had once used the special
image said to be borrowed, in a discourse delivered at Williamstown.
On relating this to my friend Mr. Buchanan Read, he informed me that
he too, had used the image,--perhaps referring to his poem called
"The Twins." He thought Tennyson had used it also. The parting of
the streams on the Alps is poetically elaborated in a passage
attributed to "M. Loisne," printed in the "Boston Evening Transcript"
for October 23, 1859. Captain, afterwards Sir Francis Head, speaks
of the showers parting on the Cordilleras, one portion going to the
Atlantic, one to the Pacific. I found the image running loose in my
mind, without a halter. It suggested itself as an illustration of
the will, and I worked the poem out by the aid of Mitchell's School
Atlas.--The spores of a great many ideas are floating about in the
atmosphere. We no more know where all the growths of our mind came
from, than where the lichens which eat the names off from the
gravestones borrowed the germs that gave them birth. The two match-
boxes were just alike, but neither was a plagiarism.

In the morning I took to the same wagon once more, but, instead of
James Grayden, I was to have for my driver a young man who spelt his
name "Phillip Ottenheimer" and whose features at once showed him to
be an Israelite. I found him agreeable enough, and disposed to talk.
So I asked him many questions about his religion, and got some
answers that sound strangely in Christian ears. He was from
Wittenberg, and had been educated in strict Jewish fashion. From his
childhood he had read Hebrew, but was not much of a scholar
otherwise. A young person of his race lost caste utterly by marrying
a Christian. The Founder of our religion was considered by the
Israelites to have been "a right smart man and a great doctor." But
the horror with which the reading of the New Testament by any young
person of their faith would be regarded was as great, I judged by his
language, as that of one of our straitest sectaries would be, if he
found his son or daughter perusing the "Age of Reason."

In approaching Frederick, the singular beauty of its clustered spires
struck me very much, so that I was not surprised to find "Fair-View"
laid down about this point on a railroad map. I wish some wandering
photographer would take a picture of the place, a stereoscopic one,
if possible, to show how gracefully, how charmingly, its group of
steeples nestles among the Maryland hills. The town had a poetical
look from a distance, as if seers and dreamers might dwell there.
The first sign I read, on entering its long street, might perhaps be
considered as confirming my remote impression. It bore these words:
"Miss Ogle, Past, Present, and Future." On arriving, I visited
Lieutenant Abbott, and the attenuated unhappy gentleman, his
neighbor, sharing between them as my parting gift what I had left of
the balsam known to the Pharmacopoeia as Spiritus Vini Gallici. I
took advantage of General Shriver's always open door to write a
letter home, but had not time to partake of his offered hospitality.
The railroad bridge over the Monocacy had been rebuilt since I passed
through Frederick, and we trundled along over the track toward

It was a disappointment, on reaching the Eutaw House, where I had
ordered all communications to be addressed, to find no telegraphic
message from Philadelphia or Boston, stating that Captain H. had
arrived at the former place, "wound doing well in good spirits
expects to leave soon for Boston." After all, it was no great
matter; the Captain was, no doubt, snugly lodged before this in the
house called Beautiful, at * * * * Walnut Street, where that "grave
and beautiful damsel named Discretion" had already welcomed him,
smiling, though "the water stood in her eyes," and had "called out
Prudence, Piety, and Charity, who, after a little more discourse with
him, had him into the family."

The friends I had met at the Eutaw House had all gone but one, the
lady of an officer from Boston, who was most amiable and agreeable,
and whose benevolence, as I afterwards learned, soon reached the
invalids I had left suffering at Frederick. General Wool still
walked the corridors, inexpansive, with Fort McHenry on his
shoulders, and Baltimore in his breeches-pocket, and his courteous
aid again pressed upon me his kind offices. About the doors of the
hotel the news-boys cried the papers in plaintive, wailing tones, as
different from the sharp accents of their Boston counterparts as a
sigh from the southwest is from a northeastern breeze. To understand
what they said was, of course, impossible to any but an educated ear,
and if I made out "Starr" and "Clipp'rr," it was because I knew
beforehand what must be the burden of their advertising coranach.

I set out for Philadelphia on the morrow, Tuesday the twenty-third,
there beyond question to meet my Captain, once more united to his
brave wounded companions under that roof which covers a household of
as noble hearts as ever throbbed with human sympathies. Back River,
Bush River, Gunpowder Creek,--lives there the man with soul so dead
that his memory has cerements to wrap up these senseless names in the
same envelopes with their meaningless localities? But the
Susquehanna,--the broad, the beautiful, the historical, the poetical
Susquehanna,--the river of Wyoming and of Gertrude, dividing the
shores where

"Aye those sunny mountains half-way down
Would echo flageolet from some romantic town,"--

did not my heart renew its allegiance to the poet who has made it
lovely to the imagination as well as to the eye, and so identified
his fame with the noble stream that it "rolls mingling with his fame
forever?" The prosaic traveller perhaps remembers it better from the
fact that a great sea-monster, in the shape of a steamboat, takes
him, sitting in the car, on its back, and swims across with him like
Arion's dolphin,--also that mercenary men on board offer him canvas-
backs in the season, and ducks of lower degree at other periods.

At Philadelphia again at last! Drive fast, O colored man and
brother, to the house called Beautiful, where my Captain lies sore
wounded, waiting for the sound of the chariot wheels which bring to
his bedside the face and the voice nearer than any save one to his
heart in this his hour of pain and weakness! Up a long street with
white shutters and white steps to all the houses. Off at right
angles into another long street with white shutters and white steps
to all the houses. Off again at another right angle into still
another long street with white shutters and white steps to all the
houses. The natives of this city pretend to know one street from
another by some individual differences of aspect; but the best way
for a stranger to distinguish the streets he has been in from others
is to make a cross or other mark on the white shutters.

This corner-house is the one. Ring softly,--for the Lieutenant-
Colonel lies there with a dreadfully wounded arm, and two sons of the
family, one wounded like the Colonel, one fighting with death in the
fog of a typhoid fever, will start with fresh pangs at the least
sound you can make. I entered the house, but no cheerful smile met
me. The sufferers were each of them thought to be in a critical
condition. The fourth bed, waiting its tenant day after day, was
still empty. Not a word from my Captain.

Then, foolish, fond body that I was, my heart sank within me. Had he
been taken ill on the road, perhaps been attacked with those
formidable symptoms which sometimes come on suddenly after wounds
that seemed to be doing well enough, and was his life ebbing away in
some lonely cottage, nay, in some cold barn or shed, or at the
wayside, unknown, uncared for? Somewhere between Philadelphia and
Hagerstown, if not at the latter town, he must be, at any rate. I
must sweep the hundred and eighty miles between these places as one
would sweep a chamber where a precious pearl had been dropped. I
must have a companion in my search, partly to help me look about, and
partly because I was getting nervous and felt lonely. Charley said
he would go with me,--Charley, my Captain's beloved friend, gentle,
but full of spirit and liveliness, cultivated, social, affectionate,
a good talker, a most agreeable letter-writer, observing, with large
relish of life, and keen sense of humor. He was not well enough to
go, some of the timid ones said; but he answered by packing his
carpet-bag, and in an hour or two we were on the Pennsylvania Central
Railroad in full blast for Harrisburg.

I should have been a forlorn creature but for the presence of my
companion. In his delightful company I half forgot my anxieties,
which, exaggerated as they may seem now, were not unnatural after
what I had seen of the confusion and distress that had followed the
great battle, nay, which seem almost justified by the recent
statement that "high officers" were buried after that battle whose
names were never ascertained. I noticed little matters, as usual.
The road was filled in between the rails with cracked stones, such as
are used for macadamizing streets. They keep the dust down, I
suppose, for I could not think of any other use for them. By and by
the glorious valley which stretches along through Chester and
Lancaster Counties opened upon us. Much as I had heard of the
fertile regions of Pennsylvania, the vast scale and the uniform
luxuriance of this region astonished me. The grazing pastures were
so green, the fields were under such perfect culture, the cattle
looked so sleek, the houses were so comfortable, the barns so ample,
the fences so well kept, that I did not wonder, when I was told that
this region was called the England of Pennsylvania. The people whom
we saw were, like the cattle, well nourished; the young women looked
round and wholesome.

"Grass makes girls." I said to my companion, and left him to work
out my Orphic saying, thinking to myself, that as guano makes grass,
it was a legitimate conclusion that Ichaboe must be a nursery of
female loveliness.

As the train stopped at the different stations, I inquired at each if
they had any wounded officers. None as yet; the red rays of the
battle-field had not streamed off so far as this. Evening found us
in the cars; they lighted candles in spring-candle-sticks; odd enough
I thought it in the land of oil-wells and unmeasured floods of
kerosene. Some fellows turned up the back of a seat so as to make it
horizontal, and began gambling, or pretending to gamble; it looked as
if they were trying to pluck a young countryman; but appearances are
deceptive, and no deeper stake than "drinks for the crowd" seemed at
last to be involved. But remembering that murder has tried of late
years to establish itself as an institution in the cars, I was less
tolerant of the doings of these "sportsmen" who tried to turn our
public conveyance into a travelling Frascati. They acted as if they
were used to it, and nobody seemed to pay much attention to their

We arrived at Harrisburg in the course of the evening, and attempted
to find our way to the Jones House, to which we had been commended.
By some mistake, intentional on the part of somebody, as it may have
been, or purely accidental, we went to the Herr House instead. I
entered my name in the book, with that of my companion. A plain,
middle-aged man stepped up, read it to himself in low tones, and
coupled to it a literary title by which I have been sometimes known.
He proved to be a graduate of Brown University, and had heard a
certain Phi Beta Kappa poem delivered there a good many years ago.
I remembered it, too; Professor Goddard, whose sudden and singular
death left such lasting regret, was the Orator. I recollect that
while I was speaking a drum went by the church, and how I was
disgusted to see all the heads near the windows thrust out of them,
as if the building were on fire. Cedat armis toga. The clerk in the
office, a mild, pensive, unassuming young man, was very polite in his
manners, and did all he could to make us comfortable. He was of a
literary turn, and knew one of his guests in his character of author.
At tea, a mild old gentleman, with white hair and beard, sat next us.
He, too, had come hunting after his son, a lieutenant in a
Pennsylvania regiment. Of these, father and son, more presently.

After tea we went to look up Dr. Wilson, chief medical officer of the
hospitals in the place, who was staying at the Brady House. A
magnificent old toddy-mixer, Bardolphian in hue, and stern of aspect,
as all grog-dispensers must be, accustomed as they are to dive
through the features of men to the bottom of their souls and pockets
to see whether they are solvent to the amount of sixpence, answered
my question by a wave of one hand, the other being engaged in
carrying a dram to his lips. His superb indifference gratified my
artistic feeling more than it wounded my personal sensibilities.
Anything really superior in its line claims my homage, and this man
was the ideal bartender, above all vulgar passions, untouched by
commonplace sympathies, himself a lover of the liquid happiness he
dispenses, and filled with a fine scorn of all those lesser
felicities conferred by love or fame or wealth or any of the
roundabout agencies for which his fiery elixir is the cheap, all-
powerful substitute.

Dr. Wilson was in bed, though it was early in the evening, not having
slept for I don't know how many nights.

"Take my card up to him, if you please." "This way, sir."

A man who has not slept for a fortnight or so is not expected to be
as affable, when attacked in his bed, as a French Princess of old
time at her morning receptions. Dr. Wilson turned toward me, as I
entered, without effusion, but without rudeness. His thick, dark
moustache was chopped off square at the lower edge of the upper lip,
which implied a decisive, if not a peremptory, style of character.

I am Dr. So-and-So of Hubtown, looking after my wounded son. (I gave
my name and said Boston, of course, in reality.)

Dr. Wilson leaned on his elbow and looked up in my face, his features
growing cordial. Then he put out his hand, and good-humoredly
excused his reception of me. The day before, as he told me, he had
dismissed from the service a medical man hailing from ******,
Pennsylvania, bearing my last name, preceded by the same two
initials; and he supposed, when my card came up, it was this
individual who was disturbing his slumbers. The coincidence was so
unlikely a priori, unless some forlorn parent without antecedents had
named, a child after me, that I could not help cross-questioning the
Doctor, who assured me deliberately that the fact was just as he had
said, even to the somewhat unusual initials. Dr. Wilson very kindly
furnished me all the information in his power, gave me directions for
telegraphing to Chambersburg, and showed every disposition to serve

On returning to the Herr House, we found the mild, white-haired old
gentleman in a very happy state. He had just discovered his son, in
a comfortable condition, at the United States Hotel. He thought that
he could probably give us some information which would prove
interesting. To the United States Hotel we repaired, then, in
company with our kind-hearted old friend, who evidently wanted to see
me as happy as himself. He went up-stairs to his son's chamber, and
presently came down to conduct us there.

Lieutenant P________ , of the Pennsylvania __th, was a very fresh,
bright-looking young man, lying in bed from the effects of a recent
injury received in action. A grape-shot, after passing through a
post and a board, had struck him in the hip, bruising, but not
penetrating or breaking. He had good news for me.

That very afternoon, a party of wounded officers had passed through
Harrisburg, going East. He had conversed in the bar-room of this
hotel with one of them, who was wounded about the shoulder (it might
be the lower part of the neck), and had his arm in a sling. He
belonged to the Twentieth Massachusetts; the Lieutenant saw that be
was a Captain, by the two bars on his shoulder-strap. His name was
my family-name; he was tall and youthful, like my Captain. At four
o'clock he left in the train for Philadelphia. Closely questioned,
the Lieutenant's evidence was as round, complete, and lucid as a
Japanese sphere of rock-crystal.

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS! The Lord's name be praised! The dead pain in the
semilunar ganglion (which I must remind my reader is a kind of
stupid, unreasoning brain, beneath the pit of the stomach, common to
man and beast, which aches in the supreme moments of life, as when
the dam loses her young ones, or the wild horse is lassoed) stopped
short. There was a feeling as if I had slipped off a tight boot, or
cut a strangling garter,--only it was all over my system. What more
could I ask to assure me of the Captain's safety? As soon as the
telegraph office opens tomorrow morning we will send a message to our
friends in Philadelphia, and get a reply, doubtless, which will
settle the whole matter.

The hopeful morrow dawned at last, and the message was sent
accordingly. In due time, the following reply was received:
"Phil Sept 24 I think the report you have heard that W [the Captain]
has gone East must be an error we have not seen or heard of him here
M L H"

DE PROFUNDIS CLAMAVI! He could not have passed through Philadelphia
without visiting the house called Beautiful, where he had been so
tenderly cared for after his wound at Ball's Bluff, and where those
whom he loved were lying in grave peril of life or limb. Yet he did
pass through Harrisburg, going East, going to Philadelphia, on his
way home. Ah, this is it! He must have taken the late night-train
from Philadelphia for New York, in his impatience to reach home.
There is such a train, not down in the guide-book, but we were
assured of the fact at the Harrisburg depot. By and by came the
reply from Dr. Wilson's telegraphic message: nothing had been heard
of the Captain at Chambersburg. Still later, another message came
from our Philadelphia friend, saying that he was seen on Friday last
at the house of Mrs. K________, a well-known Union lady in
Hagerstown. Now this could not be true, for he did not leave
Keedysville until Saturday; but the name of the lady furnished a clew
by which we could probably track him. A telegram was at once sent to
Mrs. K_______, asking information. It was transmitted immediately,
but when the answer would be received was uncertain, as the
Government almost monopolized the line. I was, on the whole, so well
satisfied that the Captain had gone East, that, unless something were
heard to the contrary, I proposed following him in the late train
leaving a little after midnight for Philadelphia.

This same morning we visited several of the temporary hospitals,
churches and school-houses, where the wounded were lying. In one of
these, after looking round as usual, I asked aloud, "Any
Massachusetts men here?" Two bright faces lifted themselves from
their pillows and welcomed me by name. The one nearest me was
private John B. Noyes of Company B, Massachusetts Thirteenth, son of
my old college class-tutor, now the reverend and learned Professor of
Hebrew, etc., in Harvard University. His neighbor was Corporal
Armstrong of the same Company. Both were slightly wounded, doing
well. I learned then and since from Mr. Noyes that they and their
comrades were completely overwhelmed by the attentions of the good
people of Harrisburg,--that the ladies brought them fruits and
flowers, and smiles, better than either,--and that the little boys of
the place were almost fighting for the privilege of doing their
errands. I am afraid there will be a good many hearts pierced in
this war that will have no bulletmark to show.

There were some heavy hours to get rid of, and we thought a visit to
Camp Curtin might lighten some of them. A rickety wagon carried us
to the camp, in company with a young woman from Troy, who had a
basket of good things with her for a sick brother. "Poor boy! he
will be sure to die," she said. The rustic sentries uncrossed their
muskets and let us in. The camp was on a fair plain, girdled with
hills, spacious, well kept apparently, but did not present any
peculiar attraction for us. The visit would have been a dull one,
had we not happened to get sight of a singular-looking set of human
beings in the distance. They were clad in stuff of different hues,
gray and brown being the leading shades, but both subdued by a
neutral tint, such as is wont to harmonize the variegated apparel of
travel-stained vagabonds. They looked slouchy, listless, torpid,--an
ill-conditioned crew, at first sight, made up of such fellows as an
old woman would drive away from her hen-roost with a broomstick. Yet
these were estrays from the fiery army which has given our generals
so much trouble,--"Secesh prisoners," as a bystander told us. A talk
with them might be profitable and entertaining. But they were
tabooed to the common visitor, and it was necessary to get inside of
the line which separated us from them.

A solid, square captain was standing near by, to whom we were
referred. Look a man calmly through the very centre of his pupils
and ask him for anything with a tone implying entire conviction that
he will grant it, and he will very commonly consent to the thing
asked, were it to commit hari-kari. The Captain acceded to my
postulate, and accepted my friend as a corollary. As one string of
my own ancestors was of Batavian origin, I may be permitted to say
that my new friend was of the Dutch type, like the Amsterdam galiots,
broad in the beam, capacious in the hold, and calculated to carry a
heavy cargo rather than to make fast time. He must have been in
politics at some time or other, for he made orations to all the
"Secesh," in which he explained to them that the United States
considered and treated them like children, and enforced upon them the
ridiculous impossibility of the Rebels attempting to do anything
against such a power as that of the National Government.

Much as his discourse edified them and enlightened me, it interfered
somewhat with my little plans of entering into frank and friendly
talk with some of these poor fellows, for whom I could not help
feeling a kind of human sympathy, though I am as venomous a hater of
the Rebellion as one is like to find under the stars and stripes. It
is fair to take a man prisoner. It is fair to make speeches to a
man. But to take a man prisoner and then make speeches to him while
in durance is not fair.

I began a few pleasant conversations, which would have come to
something but for the reason assigned.

One old fellow had a long beard, a drooping eyelid, and a black clay
pipe in his mouth. He was a Scotchman from Ayr, dour enough, and
little disposed to be communicative, though I tried him with the "Twa
Briggs," and, like all Scotchmen, he was a reader of "Burrns." He
professed to feel no interest in the cause for which he was fighting,
and was in the army, I judged, only from compulsion. There was a
wild-haired, unsoaped boy, with pretty, foolish features enough, who
looked as if he might be about seventeen, as he said he was. I give
my questions and his answers literally.

"What State do you come from?"


"What part of Georgia?"


--[How odd that is! My father was settled for seven years as pastor
over the church at Midway, Georgia, and this youth is very probably a
grandson or great grandson of one of his parishioners.]

"Where did you go to church when you were at home?"

"Never went inside 'f a church b't once in m' life."

"What did you do before you became a soldier?"


"What do you mean to do when you get back?"


Who could have any other feeling than pity for this poor human weed,
this dwarfed and etiolated soul, doomed by neglect to an existence
but one degree above that of the idiot?

With the group was a lieutenant, buttoned close in his gray coat,--
one button gone, perhaps to make a breastpin for some fair traitorous
bosom. A short, stocky man, undistinguishable from one of the
"subject race" by any obvious meanderings of the sangre azul on his
exposed surfaces. He did not say much, possibly because he was
convinced by the statements and arguments of the Dutch captain. He
had on strong, iron-heeled shoes, of English make, which he said cost
him seventeen dollars in Richmond.

I put the question, in a quiet, friendly way, to several of the
prisoners, what they were fighting for. One answered, "For our
homes." Two or three others said they did not know, and manifested
great indifference to the whole matter, at which another of their
number, a sturdy fellow, took offence, and muttered opinions strongly
derogatory to those who would not stand up for the cause they had
been fighting for. A feeble; attenuated old man, who wore the Rebel
uniform, if such it could be called, stood by without showing any
sign of intelligence. It was cutting very close to the bone to carve
such a shred of humanity from the body politic to make a soldier of.

We were just leaving, when a face attracted me, and I stopped the
party. "That is the true Southern type," I said to my companion. A
young fellow, a little over twenty, rather tall, slight, with a
perfectly smooth, boyish cheek, delicate, somewhat high features, and
a fine, almost feminine mouth, stood at the opening of his tent, and
as we turned towards him fidgeted a little nervously with one hand at
the loose canvas, while he seemed at the same time not unwilling to
talk. He was from Mississippi, he said, had been at Georgetown
College, and was so far imbued with letters that even the name of the
literary humility before him was not new to his ears. Of course I
found it easy to come into magnetic relation with him, and to ask him
without incivility what he was fighting for. "Because I like the
excitement of it," he answered. I know those fighters with women's
mouths and boys' cheeks. One such from the circle of my own friends,
sixteen years old, slipped away from his nursery, and dashed in
under, an assumed name among the red-legged Zouaves, in whose company
he got an ornamental bullet-mark in one of the earliest conflicts of
the war.

"Did you ever see a genuine Yankee?" said my Philadelphia friend to
the young Mississippian.

"I have shot at a good many of them," he replied, modestly, his
woman's mouth stirring a little, with a pleasant, dangerous smile.

The Dutch captain here put his foot into the conversation, as his
ancestors used to put theirs into the scale, when they were buying
furs of the Indians by weight,--so much for the weight of a hand, so
much for the weight of a foot. It deranged the balance of our
intercourse; there was no use in throwing a fly where a paving-stone
had just splashed into the water, and I nodded a good-by to the boy-
fighter, thinking how much pleasanter it was for my friend the
Captain to address him with unanswerable arguments and crushing
statements in his own tent than it would be to meet him upon some
remote picket station and offer his fair proportions to the quick eye
of a youngster who would draw a bead on him before he had time to say
dunder and blixum.


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