Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for They wish to know before they re-enlist whether I am going to remain in the regiment.

They wish to know before they re-enlist whether I am going to remain in the regiment.

January 16, 2014

Adams Family Civil War letters; US Minister to the UK and his sons.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to his father

Camp of 1st Mass. Cav’y
January 16, 1864

As I wrote in my last my company has re-enlisted. It is the only one in the regiment which has done so, and it did it in a way inexpressibly gratifying to me. Under these circumstances I am privileged to take it to Massachusetts for thirty-five days and I expect to receive my orders every day. They can hardly fail to come by tomorrow, in which case I should leave here on Monday and push right through to Boston. In case my leave does not arrive by the time I am forced to start, I shall at once, on getting my Company home, turn round and come back here and put my leave through myself. At any rate rest assured I mean to be with you in February and I shall allow no trifling obstacle to turn me from my purpose. Getting my leave through will be child’s play compared with the difficulty of getting my Company home and I succeeded in tiding over the many shoal places which perplexed me through that operation. . . .

Meanwhile the re-enlistment question has destroyed all discipline and nearly broken our hearts. It has reduced our regiment to a Caucus and finally three quarters did not re-enlist. My Company alone has kept up to the mark. I told them that I expected myself to go to Europe for sixty days and that I would therefore have nothing to do with individual re-enlistments, but that if the whole Company would re-enlist I would remain here and see them home, if I had to remain here all winter. The result was highly satisfactory and more than three-quarters of my men have been mustered into the service for three years from the first of this month. I cannot express how gratified and yet how pained I am at this, as well as almost innumerable little evidences lately of the great confidence in, rather than attachment to me, of the men of my Company. They seem to think that I am a devil of a fellow. They come to me to decide their bets and to settle questions in discussion; they wish to know before they re-enlist whether I am going to remain in the regiment; and finally they came to the conclusion that it would be safe to recruit if I promised not to go away until I saw them home for their furloughs. To be egotistical, I think I see the old family traits cropping out in myself. These men don’t care for me personally. They think me cold, reserved and formal. They feel no affection for me, but they do believe in me, they have faith in my power of accomplishing results and in my integrity. . . .

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