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

Post image for “The enemy have again begun to shell us…”–Adams Family Letters, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to his father.

“The enemy have again begun to shell us…”–Adams Family Letters, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., to his father.

June 28, 2012

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

James Island, S.C., June 28, 1862

I Received yours of May 30th last week and it found me still here. Since then, however, the news of the engagement of the 16th has been carried home and today we receive the return blast from Washington. They tell us we are to see Charleston, but not now to enter it; that we are to go back to Hilton-head and generally to confess ourselves as out-generaled, while Benham is to be made the scape-goat for all our misfortunes — and the last is the only item of news which gives us any satisfaction. The army is a great place to learn philosophy, I find, and in it you not only get careless of danger, but indifferent as to what disposition is made of you. The enemy have again begun to shell us and yet I find I do not even any longer go to the door of my tent to see where and how their shells burst. And today, though under every circumstance I have looked on riding into Charleston as a sure and ample reward for all I might be called on to undergo, I hear that the chances are immense against my ever receiving that reward with an indifference which surprises me. I am ordered and I can’t help it; though it seems strange to me that we must turn our backs on these fellows for lack of ten poor regiments out of the grand army of the republic. I do so know we could whip these men if we had two chances out of five, and we would so like to do it; and now to go back with nothing but failure — oh! for one hour of generalship!! Everything here but honor has been sacrificed to the fussy incompetence of Benham, the unmilitary amiability of Hunter, and the misplaced philanthropy of Edward L. Pierce…. Philanthropy is a nuisance in time of war and I sympathised somewhat with Governor Stanley. There are 3000 men at Beaufort in the service of philanthropy and tomorrow we turn our backs on Charleston because they are not here. What good is Beaufort to us? A gun-boat can take it any day. I respect the missionaries for their objects and perseverance, but they have no business here. Their time is not yet and they make us fight in fetters. . . .

General Williams has seen fit in a special order to his brigade to make honorable mention, among others, of each member of his staff by name. He also yesterday requested me in my next letter to you to mention from him his extreme satisfaction with my conduct in the action….

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