Leaves From an Officer's Journal

A white Civil War officer recounts his experience as Colonel of the first black regiment

[Read the November 1864 and January 1865 installments of Higginson's Leaves From an Officer's Journal]


Camp Saxton, near Beaufort, S.C.
December 11, 1862.

Haroun Alrashid, wandering in disguise through his imperial streets, scarcely happened upon a greater variety of groups than I, in my evening strolls among our own camp-fires.

Beside some of these fires, the men are cleaning their guns or rehearsing their drill,--beside others, smoking in silence their very scanty supply of the beloved tobacco,--beside others, telling stories and shouting with laughter over the broadest mimicry, in which they excel, and in which the officers come in for a full share. The everlasting "shout" is always within hearing, with its mixture of piety and polka, and its castanet-like clapping of the hands. Then there are quieter prayer-meetings, with pious invocations, and slow psalms, "deaconed out" from memory by the leader, two lines at a time, in a sort of wailing chant. Elsewhere, there are conversazioni around fires, with a woman for queen of the circle,--her Nubian face, gay head-dress, gilt necklace, and white teeth, all resplendent in the glowing light. Sometimes the woman is spelling slow monosyllables out of a primer, a feat which always commands all ears,--they rightly recognizing a mighty spell, equal to the overthrowing of monarchs, in the magic assonance of cat, hat, pat, bat, and the rest of it. Elsewhere, it is some solitary old cook, some aged Uncle Tiff, with enormous spectacles, who is perusing a hymn-book by the light of a pine splinter, in his deserted cooking-booth of palmetto-leaves. By another fire there is an actual dance, red-legged soldiers doing right-and-left, and "now-lead-de-lady-ober," to the music of a violin which is rather artistically played, and which may have guided the steps, in other days, of Barnwells and Hugers. And yonder is a stump-orator perched on his barrel, pouring out his exhortations to fidelity in war and in religion. To-night for the first time I have heard an harangue in a different strain, quite saucy, skeptical, and defiant, appealing to them in a sort of French materialistic style, and claiming some personal experience of warfare. "You don't know notin' about it, boys. You tink you's brave enough; how you tink, if you stan' clar in de open field,--here you, an' dar de Secesh? You's got to hab de right ting inside o' you. You must hab it 'served [preserved] in you, like dese yer sour plums dey 'serve in de barr'l; you's got to harden it down inside o' you, or it's notin'." Then he hit hard at the religionists:--"When a man's got de sperit ob de Lord in him, it weakens him all out, can't hoe de corn." He had a great deal of broad sense in his speech; but presently some others began praying vociferously close by, as if to drown this free-thinker, when at last he exclaimed, "I mean to fight de war through, an' die a good sojer wid de last kick,--dat's my prayer!" and suddenly jumped off the barrel. I was quite interested at discovering this reverse side of the temperament, the devotional side preponderates so enormously, and the greatest scamps kneel and groan in their prayer-meetings with such entire zest. It shows that there is some individuality developed among them, and that they will not become too exclusively pietistic.

Their love of the spelling-book is perfectly inexhaustible,--they stumbling on by themselves, or the blind leading the blind, with the same pathetic patience which they carry into everything. The chaplain is getting up a school-house, where he will soon teach them as regularly as he can. But the alphabet must always be a very incidental business in a camp.

December 14.

Passages from prayers in the camp:--

"Let me so lib dat when I die I shall hab manners, dat I shall know what to say when I see my Heabenly Lord."

"Let me lib wid de musket in one hand, an' de Bible in de oder,--dat if I die at de muzzle ob de musket, die in de water, die on de land, I may know I hab de bressed Jesus in my hand, an' hab no fear."

"I hab lef' my wife in de land o' bondage; my little ones dey say eb'ry night, Whar is my fader? But when I die, when de bressed mornin' rises, when I shall stan' in de glory, wid one foot on de water an' one foot on de land, den, O Lord, I shall see my wife an' my little chil'en once more."

These sentences I noted down, as best I could, beside the glimmering camp-fire last night. The same person was the hero of a singular little contre-temps at a funeral in the afternoon. It was our first funeral. The man had died in hospital, and we had chosen a picturesque burial-place above the river, near the old church, and beside a little nameless cemetery, used by generations of slaves. It was a regular military funeral, the coffin being draped with the American flag, the escort marching behind, and three volleys fired over the grave. During the services there was singing, the chaplain deaconing out the hymn in their favorite way. This ended, he announced his text,--"This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and delivered him out of all his trouble." Instantly, to my great amazement, the cracked voice of the chorister was uplifted, intoning the text, as if it were the first verse of another hymn. So calmly was it done, so imperturbable were all the black countenances, that I half began to conjecture that the chaplain himself intended it for a hymn, though I could imagine no prospective rhyme for trouble, unless it were approximated by debbil,--which is, indeed, a favorite reference, both with the men and with his Reverence. But the chaplain, peacefully awaiting, gently repeated his text after the chant, and to my great relief the old chorister waived all further recitative and let the funeral discourse proceed.

Their memories are a vast bewildered chaos of Jewish history and biography; and most of the great events of the past, down to the period of the American Revolution, they instinctively attribute to Moses. There is a fine bold confidence in all their citations, however, and the record never loses piquancy in their hands, though strict accuracy may suffer. Thus, one of my captains, last Sunday, heard a colored exhorter at Beaufort proclaim, "Paul may plant, and may polish wid water, but it won't do," in which the sainted Apollos would hardly have recognized himself.

Just now one of the soldiers came to me to say that he was about to be married to a girl in Beaufort, and would I lend him a dollar and seventy-five cents to buy the wedding outfit? It seemed as if matrimony on such moderate terms ought to be encouraged, in these days; and so I responded to the appeal.

December 16.

To-day a young recruit appeared here, who had been the slave of Colonel Sammis, one of the leading Florida refugees. Two white companions came with him, who also appeared to be retainers of the Colonel, and I asked them to dine. Being likewise refugees, they had stories to tell, and were quite agreeable: one was English-born, the other Floridian, a dark, sallow Southerner, very well-bred. After they had gone, the Colonel himself appeared. I told him that I had been entertaining his white friends, and after a while he quietly let out the remark,--

"Yes, one of those white friends of whom you speak is a boy raised on one of my plantations; he has travelled with me to the North and passed for white, and he always keeps away from the negroes."

Certainly no such suspicion had ever crossed my mind.

I have noticed one man in the regiment who would easily pass for white,--a little sickly drummer, aged fifty at least, with brown eyes and reddish hair, who is said to be the son of one of our commodores. I have seen perhaps a dozen persons as fair or fairer, among fugitive slaves, but they were usually young children. It touched me far more to see this man, who had spent more than half a lifetime in this low estate, and for whom it now seemed too late to be anything but a "nigger." This offensive word, by the way, is almost as common with them as at the North, and far more common than with well-bred slave-holders. They have meekly accepted it. "Want to go out to de nigger-houses, Sah," is the universal impulse of sociability, when they wish to cross the lines. "He hab twenty house-servants, an' two hundred head o' nigger," is a still more degrading form of phrase, in which the epithet is limited to the field-hands, and they estimated like so many cattle. This want of self-respect of course interferes with the authority of the non-commissioned officers, which is always difficult to sustain, even in white regiments. "He needn't try to play de white man ober me," was the protest of a soldier against his corporal the other day. To counteract this, I have often to remind them that they do not obey their officers because they are white, but because they are their officers; and guard-duty is an admirable school for this, because they readily understand that the sergeant or corporal of the guard has for the time more authority than any commissioned officer who is not on duty. It is necessary also for their superiors to treat the non-commissioned officers with careful courtesy, and I often caution the line-officers never to call them "Sam" or "Will," nor omit the proper handle to their names. The value of the habitual courtesies of the regular army is exceedingly apparent with these men: an officer of polished manners can wind them round his finger, while white soldiers seem rather to prefer a certain roughness. The demeanor of my men to each other is very courteous, and yet I see none of that sort of upstart conceit which is sometimes offensive among free negroes at the North, the dandy-barber strut. This is an agreeable surprise, for I feared that freedom and regimentals would produce precisely that.

They seem the world's perpetual children, docile, gay, and lovable, in the midst of this war for freedom on which they have intelligently entered. Last night, before "taps," there was the greatest noise in camp that I had ever heard, and I feared some riot. On going out, I found the most tumultuous sham-fight proceeding in total darkness, two companies playing like boys, beating tin cups for drums. When some of them saw me they seemed a little dismayed, and came and said, beseechingly,--"Cunnel, Sah, you hab no objection to we playin', Sah?"--which objection I disclaimed; but soon they all subsided, rather to my regret, and scattered merrily. Afterward I found that some other officer had told them that I considered the affair too noisy, so that I felt a mild self-reproach when one said, "Cunnel, wish you had let we play a little longer, Sah." Still I was not sorry, on the whole; for these sham-fights between companies would in some regiments lead to real ones, and there is a latent jealousy here between the Florida and South-Carolina men, which sometimes makes me anxious.

The officers are more kind and patient with the men than I should expect, since the former are mostly young, and drilling tries the temper; but they are aided by hearty satisfaction in the results already attained. I have never yet heard a doubt expressed among the officers as to the superiority of these men to white troops in aptitude for drill and discipline, because of their imitativeness and docility, and the pride they take in the service. One captain said to me to-day, "I have this afternoon taught my men to load-in-nine-times, and they do it better than we did it in my former company in three months." I can personally testify that one of our best lieutenants, an Englishman, taught a part of his company the essential movements of the "school for skirmishers" in a single lesson of two hours, so that they did them very passably, though I feel bound to discourage such haste. However, I "formed square" on the third battalion-drill. Three-fourths of drill consist of attention, imitation, and a good ear for time; in the other fourth, which consists of the application of principles, as, for instance, performing by the left flank some movement before learned by the right, they are perhaps slower than better-educated men. Having belonged to five different drill-clubs before entering the army, I certainly ought to know something of the resources of human awkwardness, and I can honestly say that they astonish me by the facility with which they do things. I expected much harder work in this respect.

The habit of carrying burdens on the head gives them erectness of figure, even where physically disabled. I have seen a woman, with a brimming water-pail balanced on her head,--or perhaps a cup, saucer, and spoon,--stop suddenly, turn round, stoop to pick up a missile, rise again, fling it, light a pipe, and go through many evolutions with either hand or both, without spilling a drop. The pipe, by the way, gives an odd look to a well-dressed young girl on Sunday, but one often sees that spectacle. The passion for tobacco among our men continues quite absorbing, and I have piteous appeals for some arrangement by which they can buy it on credit, as we have yet no sutler. Their imploring, "Cunnel, we can't lib widout it, Sah," goes to my heart; and as they cannot read, I cannot even have the melancholy satisfaction of supplying them with the excellent anti-tobacco tracts of Mr. Trask.

December 19.

Last night the water froze in the adjutant's tent, but not in mine. To-day has been mild and beautiful. The blacks say they do not feel the cold so much as the white officers do, and perhaps it is so, though their health evidently suffers more from dampness. On the other hand, while drilling on very warm days, they have seemed to suffer more from heat than their officers. But they dearly love fire, and at night will always have it, if possible, even on the minutest scale,--a mere handful of splinters, that seems hardly more efficacious than a friction-match. Probably this is a natural habit for the short-lived coolness of an out-door country; and then there is something delightful in this rich pine, which burns like a tar-barrel. It was perhaps encouraged by the masters, as the only cheap luxury the slaves had at hand.

As one grows more acquainted with the men, their individualities emerge; and I find first their faces, then their characters, to be as distinct as those of whites. It is very interesting the desire they show to do their duty and to improve as soldiers; they evidently think about it, and see the importance of the thing; they say to me that we white men cannot stay and be their leaders always, and that they must learn to depend on themselves, or else relapse into their former condition.

Beside the superb branch of uneatable bitter oranges which decks my tent-pole, I have to-day hung up a long bough of finger-sponge, which floated to the riverbank. As winter advances, butterflies gradually disappear: one species (a Vanessa) lingers; three others have vanished since I came. Mocking-birds are abundant, but rarely sing; once or twice they have reminded me of the red thrush, but are inferior, as I have always thought. The colored people all say that it will be much cooler; but my officers do not think so, perhaps because last winter was so unusually mild,--with only one frost, they say.

December 20.

Philoprogenitiveness is an important organ for an officer of colored troops; and I happen to be well provided with it. It seems to be the theory of all military usages, in fact, that soldiers are to be treated like children; and these singular persons, who never know their own age till they are past middle life, and then choose a birthday with such precision,--"Fifty year old, Sah, de fus' last April,"--prolong the privilege of childhood.

I am perplexed nightly for counter-signs,--their range of proper names is so distressingly limited, and they make such amazing work of every new one. At first, to be sure, they did not quite recognize the need of any variation: one night some officer asked a sentinel whether he had the countersign yet, and was indignantly answered,--"Should tink I hab 'em, hab 'em for a fortnight"; which seems a long epoch for that magic word to hold out. To-night I thought I would have "Fredericksburg," in honor of Burnside's reported victory, using the rumor quickly, for fear of a contradiction. Later, in comes a captain, gets the countersign for his own use, but presently returns, the sentinel having pronounced it incorrect. On inquiry, it appears that the sergeant of the guard, being weak in geography, thought best to substitute the more familiar word, "Crockery-ware"; which was, with perfect gravity, confided to all the sentinels, and accepted without question. O life! what is the fun of fiction beside thee?

I should think they would suffer and complain, these cold nights; but they say nothing, though there is a good deal of coughing. I should fancy that the scarlet trousers must do something to keep them warm, and wonder that they dislike them so much, when they are so much like their beloved fires. They certainly multiply fire-light, in any case. I often notice that an infinitesimal flame, with one soldier standing by it, looks like quite a respectable conflagration, and it seems as if a group of them must dispel dampness.

December 21.

To a regimental commander no book can be so fascinating as the consolidated Morning Report, which is ready about nine, and tells how many in each company are sick, absent, on duty, and so on. It is one's newspaper and daily mail; I never grow tired of it. If a single recruit has come in, I am always eager to see how he looks on paper.

To-night the officers are rather depressed by rumors of Burnside's being defeated, after all. I am fortunately equable and undepressible; and it is very convenient that the men know too little of the events of the war to feel excitement or fear. They know General Saxton and me,--"de General" and "de Cunnel,"--and seem to ask no further questions. We are the war. It saves a great deal of trouble, while it lasts, this childlike confidence; nevertheless, it is our business to educate them to manhood, and I see as yet no obstacle. As for the rumor, the world will no doubt roll round, whether Burnside is defeated or succeeds.
Christmas Day.
"We'll fight for liberty
Till de Lord shall call us home;
We'll soon be free
Till de Lord shall call us home."

This is the hymn which the slaves at Georgetown, South Carolina, were whipped for singing when President Lincoln was elected. So said a little drummer-boy, as he sat at my tent's edge last night and told me his story; and he showed all his white teeth as he added,--"Dey tink 'de Lord' meant for say de Yankees."

Last night, at dress-parade, the adjutant read General Saxton's Proclamation for the New-Year's Celebration. I think they understood it, for there was cheering in all the company-streets afterwards. Christmas is the great festival of the year for this people; but, with New-Year's coming after, we could have no adequate programme for to-day, and so celebrated Christmas Eve with pattern simplicity. We omitted, namely, the mystic curfew which we call "taps," and let them sit up and burn their fires and have their little prayer-meetings as late as they desired; and all night, as I waked at intervals, I could hear them praying and "shouting" and clattering with hands and heels. It seemed to make them very happy, and appeared to be at least an innocent Christmas dissipation, as compared with some of the convivialities of the "superior race" hereabouts.

December 26.

The day passed with no greater excitement for the men than target-shooting, which they enjoyed. I had the private delight of the arrival of our much-desired surgeon and his nephew, the captain, with letters and news from home. They also bring the good tidings that General Saxton is not to be removed, as had been reported.

Two different stands of colors have arrived for us, and will be presented at New-Year's,--one from friends in New York, and the other from a lady in Connecticut. I see that "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly" of December twentieth has a highly imaginative picture of the muster-in of our first company, and also of a skirmish on the late expedition.

I must not forget the prayer overheard last night by one of the captains:--"O Lord! when I tink ob dis Kismas and las' year de Kismas. Las' Kismas he in de Secesh, and notin' to eat but grits, and no salt in 'em. Dis year in de camp, and too much victual!" This "too much" is a favorite phrase out of their grateful hearts, and did not in this case denote an excess of dinner,--as might be supposed,--but of thanksgiving.

December 29.

Our new surgeon has begun his work most efficiently: he and the chaplain have converted an old gin-house into a comfortable hospital, with ten nice beds and straw pallets. He is now, with a hearty professional faith, looking round for somebody to put into it. I am afraid the regiment will accommodate him; for, although he declares that these men do not sham sickness, as he expected, their catarrh is an unpleasant reality. They feel the dampness very much, and make such a coughing at dress-parade that I have urged him to administer a dose of cough-mixture, all round, just before that pageant. Are the colored race tough? is my present anxiety; and it is odd that physical insufficiency, the only discouragement not thrown in our way by the newspapers, is the only discouragement which finds any place in our minds. They are used to sleeping in-doors in winter, herded before fires, and so they feel the change. Still, the regiment is as healthy as the average, and experience will teach us something.[B]

December 30.

On the first of January we are to have a slight collation, ten oxen or so, barbecued,--or not properly barbecued, but roasted whole. Touching the length of time required to "do" an ox, no two housekeepers appear to agree. Accounts vary from two hours to twenty-four. We shall happily have enough to try all gradations of roasting, and suit all tastes, from Miss A.'s to mine. But fancy me proffering a spare-rib, well done, to some fair lady! What ever are we to do for spoons and forks and plates? Each soldier has his own, and is sternly held responsible for it by "Army Regulations." But how provide for the multitude? Is it customary, I ask you, to help to tenderloin with one's fingers? Fortunately, the Major is to see to that department. Great are the advantages of military discipline: for anything perplexing, detail a subordinate.

New-Year's Eve.

My housekeeping at home is not, perhaps, on any very extravagant scale. Buying beefsteak, I usually go to the extent of two or three pounds. Yet when, this morning at daybreak, the quartermaster called to inquire how many cattle I would have killed for roasting, I turned over in bed, and answered composedly, "Ten,--and keep three to be fatted."

Fatted, quotha! Not one of the beasts at present appears to possess an ounce of superfluous flesh. Never were seen such lean kine. As they swing on vast spits, composed of young trees, the fire-light glimmers through their ribs, as if they were great lanterns. But no matter, they are cooking,--nay, they are cooked.

One at least is taken off to cool, and will be replaced to-morrow to warm up. It was roasted three hours, and well done, for I tasted it. It is so long since I tasted fresh beef that forgetfulness is possible; but I fancied this to be successful. I tried to imagine that I liked the Homeric repast, and certainly the whole thing has been far more agreeable than was to be expected. The doubt now is, whether I have made a sufficient provision for my household. I should have roughly guessed that ten beeves would feed as many million people, it has such a stupendous sound; but General Saxton predicts a small social party of five thousand, and we fear that meat will run short, unless they prefer bone. One of the cattle is so small, we are hoping it may turn out veal.

For drink, we aim at the simple luxury of molasses-and-water, a barrel per company, ten in all. Liberal housekeepers may like to know that for a barrel of water we allow three gallons of molasses, half a pound of ginger, and a quart of vinegar,--this last being a new ingredient for my untutored palate, though all the rest are amazed at my ignorance. Hard bread, with more molasses, and a dessert of tobacco, complete the festive repast, destined to cheer, but not inebriate.

On this last point, of inebriation, this is certainly a wonderful camp. For us, it is absolutely omitted from the list of vices. I have never heard of a glass of liquor in the camp, nor of any effort either to bring it in or to keep it out. A total absence of the circulating-medium might explain the abstinence,--not that it seems to have that effect with white soldiers,--but it would not explain the silence. The craving for tobacco is constant and not to be allayed, like that of a mother for her children; but I have never heard whiskey even wished for, save on Christmas Day, and then only by one man, and he spoke with a hopeless ideal sighing, as one alludes to the Golden Age. I am amazed at this total omission of the most inconvenient of all camp-appetites. It certainly is not the result of exhortation, for there has been no occasion for any, and even the pledge would scarcely seem efficacious where hardly anybody can write.

I do not think there is a great visible eagerness for to-morrow's festival: it is not their way to be very jubilant over anything this side of the New Jerusalem. They know also that those in this Department are nominally free already, and that the practical freedom has to be maintained, in any event, by military success. But they will enjoy it greatly, and we shall have a multitude of people.

January 1, 1863 (evening).

A happy New-Year to civilized, people,--mere white folks. Our festival has come and gone, with perfect success, and our good General has been altogether satisfied. Last night the great fires were kept smouldering in the pits, and the beeves were cooked more or less, chiefly more,--during which time they had to be carefully watched, and the great spits turned by main force. Happy were the merry fellows who were permitted to sit up all night, and watch the glimmering flames that threw a thousand fantastic shadows among the great gnarled oaks. And such a chattering as I was sure to hear, whenever I awoke, that night!

My first greeting to-day was from one of the most stylish sergeants, who approached me with the following little speech, evidently the result of some elaboration:--

"I tink myself happy, dis New-Year's Day, for salute my own Cunnel. Dis day las' year I was servant to a Cunnel ob Secesh; but now I hab de privilege for salute my own Cunnel."

That officer, with the utmost sincerity, reciprocated the sentiment.

About ten o'clock the people began to collect by land, and also by water,--in steamers sent by General Saxton for the purpose; and from that time all the avenues of approach were thronged. The multitude were chiefly colored women, with gay handkerchiefs on their heads, and a sprinkling of men, with that peculiarly respectable look which these people always have on Sundays and holidays. There were many white visitors also,--ladies on horseback and in carriages, superintendents and teachers, officers and cavalry-men. Our companies were marched to the neighborhood of the platform, and allowed to sit or stand, as at the Sunday services; the platform was occupied by ladies and dignitaries, and by the band of the Eighth Maine, which kindly volunteered for the occasion; the colored people filled up all the vacant openings in the beautiful grove around, and there was a cordon of mounted visitors beyond. Above, the great live-oak branches and their trailing moss; beyond the people, a glimpse of the blue river.

The services began at half-past eleven o'clock, with prayer by our chaplain, Mr. Fowler, who is always, on such occasions, simple, reverential, and impressive. Then the President's Proclamation was read by Dr. W. H. Brisbane, a thing infinitely appropriate, a South-Carolinian addressing South-Carolinians; for he was reared among these very islands, and here long since emancipated his own slaves. Then the colors were presented to us by the Rev. Mr. French, a chaplain who brought them from the donors in New York. All this was according to the programme. Then followed an incident so simple, so touching, so utterly unexpected and startling, that I can scarcely believe it on recalling, though it gave the key-note to the whole day. The very moment the speaker had ceased, and just as I took and waved the flag, which now for the first time meant anything to these poor people, there suddenly arose, close beside the platform, a strong male voice, (but rather cracked and elderly,) into which two women's voices instantly blended, singing, as if by an impulse that could no more be repressed than the morning note of the song-sparrow,--
"My Country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing!"

People looked at each other, and then at us on the platform, to see whence came, this interruption, not set down in the bills. Firmly and irrepressibly the quavering voices sang on, verse after verse; others of the colored people joined in; some whites on the platform began, but I motioned them to silence. I never saw anything so electric; it made all other words cheap; it seemed the choked voice of a race at last unloosed. Nothing could be more wonderfully unconscious; art could not have dreamed of a tribute to the day of jubilee that should be so affecting; history will not believe it; and when I came to speak of it, after it was ended, tears were everywhere. If you could have heard how quaint and innocent it was! Old Tiff and his children might have sung it; and close before me was a little slave-boy, almost white, who seemed to belong to the party, and even he must join in. Just think of it!--the first day they had ever had a country, the first flag they had ever seen which promised anything to their people, and here, while mere spectators stood in silence, waiting for my stupid words, these simple souls burst out in their lay, as if they were by their own hearths at home! When they stopped, there was nothing to do for it but to speak, and I went on; but the life of the whole day was in those unknown people's song.

Receiving the flags, I gave them into the hands of two fine-looking men, jet-black, as color-guard, and they also spoke, and very effectively,--Sergeant Prince Rivers and Corporal Robert Sutton. The regiment sang "Marching Along," and then General Saxton spoke, in his own simple, manly way, and Mrs. Frances D. Gage spoke very sensibly to the women, and Judge Stickney, from Florida, added something; then some gentlemen sang an ode, and the regiment the John Brown song, and then they went to their beef and molasses. Everything was very orderly, and they seemed to have a very gay time. Most of the visitors had far to go, and so dispersed before dress-parade, though the band stayed to enliven it. In the evening we had letters from home, and General Saxton had a reception at his house, from which I excused myself; and so ended one of the most enthusiastic and happy gatherings I ever knew. The day was perfect, and there was nothing but success.

I forgot to say, that, in the midst, of the services, it was announced that General Fremont was appointed Commander-in-Chief,--an announcement which was received with immense cheering, as would have been almost anything else, I verily believe, at that moment of high-tide. It was shouted across by the pickets above,--a way in which we often receive news, but not always trustworthy.