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Full text of "Letters of William Wheeler of the class of 1855, Y.C"



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LETTERS 



OF 



WILLIAM WHEELER 



OF THE CLASS OF 1855, Y. C. 



My heart leaps up when I behold 

A rainbow in the sky ; 
So was it when my life began ; 
So is it now I am a man ; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
Or let me die. 

WORDSWORTH. 

The childhood shows the man 
As morning shows the day. 

MILTON, Paradise Regained. 



PRINTED FOR PRIVATE DISTRIBUTION 
1875 



RIVERSIDE, CAMBRIDGE: 
PRINTED BY H. O. HOUOHTON AND COMPANY. 



1/55 



TO THOSE IN THE CLASS OF '55 

WHO LOVED MY SON, 
AND WHO CHERISH HIS MEMORY, 

THIS VOLUME 
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED, 

BY fffS MOTHER. 



PREFACE. 



THOSE for whom these letters are especially compiled will 
not need an apology if some brief sketch of the early life of 
the writer is prefixed to them. 

William Wheeler was born in the city of New York, August 
14, 1836. He was very attractive as a little child, and early 
manifested those qualities which made him a great favorite 
with his friends and companions. 

His love of knowledge, exhibited at a very early age, led 
him to learn to read, and then he gratified this love without 
restraint. He was very happy, when four years old, to sit 
by his mother's side, with the Family Bible, and entertain 
himself by the hour, with the stories which it contained. 
He became a diligent student of the Bible, and attendance 
at the Sabbath-school was to him a pleasure, as well as a 
duty. 

He did not go to school till he was eight years of age, 
when he was ready to take his place with those considerably 
older than himself. His teacher had a remarkable faculty 
of inspiring his pupils with a love of study, and William 
was not slow in responding to the influence. He loved 
play as well as study, and when released from school, he 
and his friend, Robert Edwards, who was a near neighbor, 
found, in a lot which had been inclosed next his home, as 
a play-ground, unfailing means of amusement, where inven- 



iv PREFACE. 

tion could be allowed full play without interfering with the 
rights and pleasures of others. 

When between eight and nine years of age, he would col 
lect his boy playmates on some door-step in his neighborhood, 
and entertain them with stories of his own imagining, which 
would be continued from evening to evening, a youthful 
Improvisatore. 

His father being unable to use his eyes except for the 
necessary duties of his profession, William spent his winter 
evenings in reading to him such books as Prescott's " Mexico," 
Shakespeare, Alison's ''History of Europe," etc. 

The next day he would entertain himself in arranging his 
toy soldiers in the order of the battles of the Great Captain, 
which impressed them very forcibly upon his mind. He was 
also instructed by his father in the game of chess, for which 
he had ever a great fondness, and in which he was much 
skilled. When ten years of age he was sent to boarding- 
school at Stamford, where he made much progress in some 
branches of study. 

In the spring of 1847 his parents removed to Brooklyn, 
and in the fall of that year, after the death of his father, in 
August, William was placed at the school of Rev. B. W. 
Dwight, where he continued until he entered college in 
September, 1851. At this school he advanced in his vari 
ous studies with great rapidity and delight, varying them with 
sports favorable both to physical and mental development. 
He here formed friendships which were a source of happiness 
during his life. His friend, Robert Edwards, having removed 
to Brooklyn shortly before him, the childish friendship was 
here continued (R. being also at Mr. D.'s school), and formed 
one element of his future enjoyment, sadly ended for this life 
by Robert's death at the taking of Fort Wagner. 



PREFACE, V 

Those who knew William at College do not need to be 
informed of his character or acquirements, as they had better 
opportunities of judging of him, in both respects, than those 
whose relationship might lead them to look upon him with 
partial eyes. 

He was not without faults, being of an excitable tempera 
ment, and was led sometimes to exhibitions of passion ; but 
he was generous in acknowledging when he had wronged any 
one \ he was unselfish, giving up his own pleasure for the 
gratification of others, a loving son, a devoted and tender 
brother and friend. 

His course in College was pursued, not so much to take 
the first honors of his Class, as to acquire such stores of 
knowledge, on various subjects, as would fit him to enjoy and 
appreciate learning. Of science he was not very fond, nor 
was the character of his mind such as to make high attain 
ment in it practicable. 

His letters will show what his course was after leaving 
College, and their perusal is submitted to the kindly regard 
of those who have urged their preparation for the press. 



I. 



LETTERS OF THE WOODS, AND 
COLLEGE DAYS. 

1850-56. 



I. 



LETTERS OF THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE 
DAYS. 



HUNTER, August 14, 1850. 
In the Catskill Mountains. 

DEAR MOTHER, .... I am now fourteen years old, and 
yet I seem the same person that I was six years ago. Time ; 
how it flies !....! would like to give you a little account 
of an expedition which we made a week ago. Last Wednes 
day, Ogden, Robby, a young man named Jonas Mann, and 
myself, started off early in the morning for the Stony Cove, in 
an old wagon, with fishing-lines and a basketful of prov 
ender. We went on as far as it was possible for a wagon to 
go, and then Ogden unharnessed the horse and went over to 
Olive, while we three commenced the ascent of a high moun 
tain, on the other side of which was the brook in which we 
were to fish. After a tiresome journey over the mountain on 
foot we came to the brook down which, that is towards the 
mouth of which, we were going to fish till we should come to 
the shanty where we were to pass the night and meet Ogden, 
at the mouth of the brook. We fished and fished, sat down 
and ate our dinner, and then fished on, but no shanty ap 
peared. At length a most terrific thunder storm came on. 
Situated in a deep valley between two mountains, the thunder 
was echoed from cliff to cliff most awfully, the ground seemed 
to shake under us, the sky was one blaze of lightning, while 
torrents of rain poured down on our unprotected heads. Not 



4 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

a single fish could we catch during this shower, which lasted 
several hours. We toiled on through rain, and fallen logs, 
and brushwood, expecting every moment to see the shanty 
where we were to get our supper and spend the night. But 
seeing nothing but the brook with its thick woods on each 
side, we were almost ready to give up in despair ; when we 
saw a path leading up to the woods we followed it, got lost 
in the woods (all this time the rain pouring down in torrents), 
wandered about for a long time, and at length we got out of 
the woods into a clearing where we saw a house. We got our 
supper and stayed all night ; went off the next morning with 
out breakfast expecting to get it at the place where we were 
going to meet Ogden. We travelled on, but no house ap 
peared till in the evening, about 7 P. M., we came to a house 
where we got some supper and spent the night. The next day 
we hired a wagon to go home, being completely wearied out 
with the exertions of the preceding day, in which we had 
walked fifteen or twenty miles. We reached home well tired 
with our two days' expedition, and with two hundred trout. Of 
these my share was seventy-two, being the number that I had 
caught. Blackberries are becoming very plenteous. I went 
out this evening before supper time and picked four quarts 
in a very short time. Somebody rides on horseback every 
day at the Colonel's, and I have become quite a horseman. 

NEW HAVEN, February 23, 1852. 

While reckoning up the time this morning, I found that it 
was three weeks since I had written to you. I was very much 
surprised to discover that time had passed so rapidly. Indeed 
this whole term has seemed like a short dream of a day, so 
incessantly have I been occupied. My love for college life 
is continually increasing, and I think that Ike Marvel has done 
well in setting it down as the most pleasant part of the life 
of man .... Here is the place to form friendships for life, 
which shall be unending till death. Our class is a remark 
ably still, quiet, well behaved one, and has performed so far 
but very little mischief. I have seen here at college but very 



THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE DAYS. 5 

little of that spreeing which is laid so heavily to the charge 
of institutions of this kind. It is chiefly confined to the 
upper classes, Freshmen having better things to do than to 
carry on. 

So you have rented the house ! It really makes me feel 
very bad to think of leaving it so long. You give up a great 
deal for me, dear mother, and I will strive to repay you by my 
heart's affection, and by becoming worthy of such a sacrifice. 
But I doubt not that before long you will become as much 
attached to New Haven as to Brooklyn, if not more. For my 
part nothing can diminish my affection for the Empire State. 
The prizes for Greek translation were not read off this even 
ing after all ; if I take a first prize I will send you a telegraphic 
dispatch. But it is growing late, and I must get up early 
to-morrow morning to study. Wishing you all good that an 
affectionate son can, I am yours, lovingly, WILLIE. 

P. S. Please gently hint to Aunt E. that for some more of 
those snaps she will receive most hearty thanks. 

NEW HAVEN, March 13, 1852. 

DEAR MOTHER, On going to the Post Office Tuesday even 
ing I found your long-expected letter. I also, at the same 
time, received a long and very interesting letter from B. W. 
D. It was from beginning to end full of his go-ahead spirit. 
I think he is the most consistent man in carrying out his 
professed principles that I know of .... Tutor D. told 
W. that our class was a very moral one, and that it exerted a 
very good influence. Some are surprised to see so many 
"blue fellows," as they call them here, but. I must say that I 
have always had a very high opinion of those " blue fellows," 
ever since I have been in college. But the bell rang some 
time ago, and I must go to dinner, so good-by. 

Monday, March 15. I would have completed my letter on 
Saturday, but I was interrupted. We have just completed five 
books of Euclid, which is more than any class before us has ever 
done. The fifth book was in my humble opinion very tough. I 
had to study on it pretty hard, as we had no _diagrams to 



6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

assist us. In Homer's Odyssey we have nearly completed 
the tenth book, and in Livy are laboring away towards the 
end of the twenty-second. There was quite a time here yester 
day on account of four students, two Sophs and two Juniors, 
who were caught in the interesting occupation of cementing 
up the bell. Five tutors besieged them in the belfry, and 
caught these four, while several more escaped. The delin 
quents will be either suspended or rusticated; that is, they 
will have the benefit of country air for a term or two. You 
need not fear that I will embroil myself in any of these 
scrapes. I am improving in speaking and reciting in my Secret 
Society, which I would uphold did the -Faculty condemn 
them never so much. They bring one into connection and 
intercourse with some of the best scholars and finest fel 
lows in the class. It cherishes that social feeling which 
is so necessary to the student, and makes him feel as if 
his society fellows were his brothers. I look forward with 
much pleasure to the time when I shall be gobbling poor 
Freshmen for the Brothers'. I shall have a very fine op 
portunity for so doing, as I shall have all vacation as well as 
at Commencement ... I should like to have a little time 
during vacation to solve the prize mathematical problems, 
which will at that time be given out. 

From a letter written when alone at 

NEW HAVEN, January 24, 1854. 

I am very lonely here all by myself. I give a German les 
son three times a week, which affords me an opportunity of 
seeing other specimens of humanity, besides our two domestics 
and the old gray cat. I seriously contemplate getting a house 
keeper who won't charge wages, and presenting mother when 
she returns with a second edition of " Mrs. Wheeler." It is 
most stupendously cold here. The fire itself froze the other 
morning. I would send you a piece, but for fear it would 
melt and burn a hole in the paper. The thermometer stood 
last night at one below zero in the shade ! Ah ! you can't com 
prehend how peculiarly adapted is this season of the year for 



THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE DAYS. 7 

going out to prayers at 6| A. M. The delightful sensation of 
finding the water frozen in the bowl, and the morning so dark 
that it would take a Drummond light to brighten it up. Then 
the pleasure, of tumbling down a half dozen times or more in 
running up to chapel, the unmitigated hardness of the seats, 
the sudden change to an over-heated recitation-room, all ren 
der "sleeping over morning prayers," "a consummation de 
voutly to be wished." 

NEW HAVEN, May 24, 1854. 

.... I do not dare to write " as funny as I can," for 
I should then be obliged to send you several grosses of but 
tons, and hooks and eyes, to repair the damages which my irre 
sistible humor had caused. ... I feel dreadfully sentimental 
this morning. Primo, because it is one of the fairest days that 
ever shook the dew from her " saffron robe ; " secundo, be 
cause I passed close by Miss 's house this morning ; ter- 

tio, because we are going to have a whaling big eclipse, and 
the Junior class are dismissed from recitation to look at it. 
We don't have it annular here ; it is going to look like a mod 
erate-sized cheese-paring ! 

YALE COLLEGE, September 18, 1854. 

The long vacation is over, and we students have got back 
again to our books, universally recruited in health and spirits. 
You are most probably aware of the important and interest 
ing fact that I have arrived at the dignity of Senior ! And 
what dignity ! Could you behold the ineffable majesty with 
which I pace the streets, ogle the ladies, and cut my friends 
in the lower classes, you would be impressed with a vast 
idea of mental and moral grandeur. It is indeed hard work 
for me to maintain my Senior dignity, and in fact during the 
vacation, I thought of summoning to my aid a pair of whis 
kers ! With this in view I began assiduously to cultivate said; 
whiskers ; but finding that their powers of increasing were ex 
actly the opposite of Jack's bean-stalk, and that in all human 
probability I should be Woliged to wait many months before 
they would become distinctly visible,, I seized a razor and 



8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

with one fell swoop detached them from my countenance. 
Alas ! humanity weeps over such wholesale destruction, and I 
draw the veil over the heart-rending recital. 

NEW HAVEN, February 20, 1855. 

.... Speaking of Commencement reminds me that my 
course here is almost completed ; already we have begun to 
make preparation for Presentation Day, the day on which we 
are " presented " for graduation. In the morning of this day, 
after the ceremony of presentation is completed, we have the 
Class Valedictory Oration, and Poem ; these are not appoint 
ments for scholarship, but elected by the class. On the after 
noon of this day we have a grand pow-wow on the college 
green. We have a circle of seats constructed on which the 
class sit, and in the hollow space within is the orchestra, which 
is composed entirely of members of the class. 

We are going to have a very good orchestra. The air is to 
be supported by about four flutes, and by two flageolets ; the 
second, by four flutes ; the tenor, by five violins and two gui 
tars ; the bass by the violoncello and sax-horn. Besides this, 
we are to have a piano, a triangle, the bones, and drum. 

We practice every Wednesday afternoon, and are coming 
along very finely. Perhaps you have been surprised at hear 
ing me say " we " all along here, and perchance are already 
inquiring, " Pray, what instrument does my tuneful cousin 
play ? " Be it known unto you then, oh most scornful and satir 
ical of females, that actuated by a desire to help the class 
along in their laudable endeavors after good music, I have 
taken hold of Jack's sax-horn and am learning with the most 
astounding rapidity. 

Occasionally I amuse myself by throwing North College 
into an uproar by a few well-timed blasts, which bring Pro 
fessor Hadley to my door with the injunction of " a little 
less noise in study-hours." We do our practicing in the 
new hall of the Brothers' Society, and after we get through, 
we have dancing of all sorts, wishing, moreover, that ladies of 
our acquaintance were present. I wish you could be here at 



THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE DAYS. 9 

Presentation Day, for the exercises are much more interesting 
than those of commencement. It is the last time we all meet 
together as a class, before breaking up, never to meet again, 
as in all human probability some will die before our meeting 
in 1858. It is a very strange circumstance that not one of all 
our class has died during the college course, and we are so 
nearly through 

NEW HAVEN, March 23, 1855. 

DEAR M., .... This term hath flown away literally on 
eagle wings ; it seems scarcely yesterday that I came from 
New York, where I had such a delightful vacation, and pre 
pared to " bone down " to study again. And it makes me feel 
sad enough to see the end of this term approaching, and now so 
near, and to think that in a few short weeks our class, who 
have stood together for four long but pleasant years, must 
now separate, and go away to the four winds of heaven, 
never, perhaps, to meet again, and never, surely, to meet 
again with their young thoughts, and hopes, and aspirations. 
Perhaps, when a lessening band of time-worn and world- 
battered old men, we, the class of Fifty-five, may once more 
gather in sadness around the hearth-stone of our Alma 
Mater, and relight the torches of our hearts at the ceaseless 
flame which ever burns there, from the sources of science and 
of truth, But stop, I appear to be falling into a sermon, or 
rather a funeral discourse ; but in good truth, dear coz, the 
thoughts of parting make me so sad that it is hard to be 
still, for you know that " out of the abundance of the heart 
the mouth speaketh." 

NEW HAVEN, April 7, 1855. 

.... The principal circumstance which has made me so 
busy lately, is the fact that I am entering into competition for 
the Berkeley Scholarship, as perhaps I told you in my last 
letter. The examination is upon Homer's Iliad, Greek 
Testament, Xenophon's Cyropsedia, Tacitus, Horace, and 
Cicero's Tusculan Disputations. I have read eight books of 



IO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Homer's Iliad, and felt very glad that we did not have it in 
Freshman year, when we could not appreciate it one half so 
well, and when we would have studied it upon compulsion. 
It is a vast field of beauty and power, where a student may 
roam for hours and days, and yet be perpetually culling 
fresh flowers of noble thought it is a perennial stream 
where he can for a lifetime satisfy his thirst for the sublime 
and the beautiful I do indeed, agree with you, in lov 
ing best "the happy summer time;" and through all pleas 
ures of gayety in winter, and the capricious fancies of spring, 
I am ever looking forward to the time when 

"From brightening fields of ether fair disclosed, 
Child of the Sun, refulgent Summer comes." 

I am keeping my "Isaak Walton," which your dear father 
gave me, to read then, lying under a shady tree, or perhaps 
with a fishing-rod in my hand, upon the bank of some good 
trout-stream. I have only dipped into it (the book, not the 
trout-stream), but I came across one exquisite passage which 
I must give you : 

" The lark when she means to rejoice, to cheer herself and 
those that hear her, she then quits the earth and sings as she 
ascends higher into the air ; and having ended her heavenly 
employment, grows then mute and sad to think she must de 
scend to the dull earth which she would not touch but for 
necessity." 

Is it not a sweet thing ? 

NEW HAVEN, September 26, 1855. 

I spent a quiet, but very pleasant week at Tarrytown, and 
then left for Pennsylvania. After a two clays' journey, in the 
evening glow of a charming day, I saw from the top of a 
lofty hill 

" On Susquehanna's banks fair Wyoming." 

The vast champaign, falling in gentle declivities down to 
the banks of the river on the one hand, and cultivated to the 
very summits of the hills on the other, the rich fertility of the 
soil, the beautiful river, which at seasons overflows, and fer- 



THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE DAYS. II 

tilizes all around, causes it to seem not strange to us that the 
Indians should regard with the eye of hatred, and massacre, 
with the hand of midnight murder, the pale faces who would 
deprive them of this beautiful spot, which their own poetic na 
tion cherished by the name of Wyoming, or the Lovely Valley. 
.... I went down a coal-shaft and entered a coal-mine, 
which was a scene as new to me as very well could be. The 
sooty miners looked like fiends, were it not for the star-like 
lamps in their caps, which made one think of the Irish fairy 
tales of the fairies who had stars in their foreheads. The 
walls were black, the roof was black ; it looked like some 
vast funeral vault draped for a burial. The polyglot swear 
ing of the miners, who assaulted us on all sides, for " back- 
sheesh," soon removed the delusion. I was glad enough to 
see the light again, yet the miners who spend their lives here 
assert that it is both pleasant and healthy. " Chacun d son 
gofit" And that is n't my " gout." 

NEW HAVEN, February z, 1856. 

.... Imagine that it is now the beginning of December, 
instead of the beginning of February ; that it is now two 
weeks and not two months, since I received your good, long 
letter ; and also imagine that you received a note from me on 
New Year's Day, and not I one from you ; in fact, imagine 
such a train of circumstances as shall make me a decent 
young man, and not such a good-for-nothing, dilatory pro- 
crastinator as I really am ; for, I am sure, I need all the as 
sistance which I can so obtain to avert from my guilty head 
your most righteous execrations. Still, I must have a hear 
ing. We will have the case, in our imaginary court, Daven 
port against Wheeler; and your justice and good sense 
shall be the jury, your resentment and terrible ferocity 
shall be the counsel for the plaintiff, and a sort of lingering 
kindness, which I hope you still have for me, shall be the 
counsel for the defendant. And shall not the verdict be 
" Guilty, but recommended to mercy." Be so good as to rec 
ollect that I am the secretary of the class, and consequently 



12 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

have no less than ninety correspondents, or thereabouts, and 
after I have finished a batch of letters, I feel so disgusted 
with letter-writing that I do not pen another epistle for 
months. With regard to yourself it is different ; I enjoy 
writing to you immensely, but then, you know, there must be a 
beginning, and that is hard to make. 

You don't seem to me to be enjoying boarding-school as 
much as you might. Ah, how I did groan, when I heard you 
were not coming to spend the winter in New Haven. What 
pleasant times we would have had ; I am sure that both you 
and I would not have neglected our studies, and when play 
time came, would we not have improved it jollily ? The rides 
in October and November, with air pleasantly warm yet brac 
ing, with skies as clear and pure as if not a single mist inter 
vened between us and the heavenly blue of the divine dome 
above ; the sleigh-rides, in January and February, over the 
crisping snow, through our amphitheatre of hills, with East 
and West Rocks, like ermine-clad giants looking down upon 
us ; and, oh, the walks in the pleasant, lovely days of Indian 
Summer, through woods painted in all their tree leaves by un 
earthly artists, in earth-surpassing colors, hills, whose every 
rock was covered with most delicate shades of green and pur 
ple mosses ; penetrating to spots before unknown, save to the 
squirrel and partridge, often repeating these pleasant strolls, 
until our feet knew, 

" Each lane and every alley green 
Dingle or bushy dell of the wild-wood 
And every bosky bourn from side to side." 

NEW HAVEN, July 18, 1856. 

DEAR M., .... I have been for nearly three weeks ab 
sent from New Haven on a trip to the Northern Adirondacks, 
in New York State, in Franklin and Essex counties, and 
on the Saranac Lakes and the Racquette River. We slept 
eight nights in the woods, partly in a tent, and partly with 
no covering but the blue heaven, around the cheerful camp- 
fire. There are wondrous charms about such a life ; the free- 



THE WOODS, AND COLLEGE DAYS. 13 

dom from all restraint, the consciousness of perfect indepen 
dence, the invigorating effects of the labors of the hunt, the 
evening trophies, whether a deer, a string of noble trout, a 
score of pigeons or ducks, or occasionally a brace of par 
tridges ; and then, last of all, sweet sleep, which is only the 
companion of health and hard labor. And in the depth of the 
woods my thoughts often reverted to you, and it was an amus 
ing idea to think in what widely different scenes our daily life 
was laid ; yours in the centre of life, in the midst of breathing 
millions, and surrounded by the art-works of ages ; mine, in 
the depths of the pathless forest, many miles from human 
habitation, with no signs of life around me save my compan 
ions, and the mute denizens of wood and wave Ameri 
can politics form a theme of great interest to almost every 
one in this country, especially to the young men, who are 
peculiarly enthusiastic either on one side or the other, but 
especially on the side of Fremont, and I assure you that 
/ do not fail to partake of the general rage. Whatever a 
young and feeble voice and a weak influence can do shall be 
given to the cause of the Republican party. Hurrah for Free 
dom and Fremont ! Do you hear anything said in England 
about American internal politics ; anything about the Presi 
dential election, or the Brooks outrage ? I am too sensitive 
and passionate and nervous ever to become a politician or 
a wire-puller, but so long as I have a voice to raise and a 
vote to cast, the one shall be raised and the other cast in 
behalf of intelligence and Freedom. 

From a letter written 

NEW HAVEN, March 17, 1857. 

.... Very neglectful have I been of you for a good 
while past, but this time it has not been on account of sick 
ness as it was last Fall, but of real good, honest, downright 
work. I have at last learned what it is to study in earnest ; 
that is, not merely con over one book or one set of books, but 
dash out into a wide sea of general reading and learning. 
Would to heaven that the day was forty-eight hours long in- 



14 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

stead of twenty-four ! I divide my time now somewhat as 
follows : Law school Studies and recitations, eight hours ; 
exercise and meals, three hours ; general studies, eight hours ; 
arms of Murphy, five hours. This last I consider time 
thrown away, and do frequently lament that mankind was not 
so constituted as to do without it. 



II. 



LETTERS OF FOREIGN TRAVEL 
AND ART. 

1857-58. 



II. 

LETTERS OF FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 



SHIP AUSTRALIA, Off Sandy Hook, 
Saturday, i p. M., May 9, 1857. 

DEAR MOTHER, We 're off! Hauled off from the dock 
at about 10 A. M., and were towed down the bay by the tug S. 
A. Stevens. This note I shall send back by her. 

My grief after I left you was checked in its violence by 
the carriage stopping at the jail and taking in two men, 
one, the sheriff, very drunk ; the other, an insane man, very fool 
ish. This latter poor man's miseries somewhat diverted my 
mind from my own, and I did all I could to make him com 
fortable. On board the boat he was badly deserted by the 
sheriff. The poor man was doubly unfortunate ; he was crazy, 
and could speak no English, so I had an opportunity of con 
veying consolation to him in German. The crew of the ship 
amount to fourteen, and are, most of them, Yankees from 
Salem. About an hour ago they hoisted the anchor to the 
" Yeo heave yeo, and the heave away, 
And the sighing seaman's cheer." 

Monotonous it was, and a deep grunt at every " long pull, and 
strong pull, and pull all together," served as basso prof undo. 
There is a delightful long swell, and pitch of the ship, which 
in good time will doubtless produce upon me a stomach-stir 
ring, if not a spirit-stirring effect. The Ericsson steamer is 
coming after us, and I must go on deck and see her. Love to 
J. ; hope he did not come down, as it would have been too 
late to see me. Love to all. Yours on the deep. 

2 



1 8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

SHIP AUSTRALIA, May 17, 1857. 
Lat. 40 N., 52 39' W. Long. 

DEAREST MOTHER, My feelings, and a sufficient amount 
of steadiness in the vessel, at length permit me to use pen 
and ink without danger of involving myself in any very dread 
or dirty catastrophe ; this letter may be sent by ship, but prob 
ably will be obliged to wait until we arrive at Marseilles. I 
suppose I must not tell you how often I have longed to be at 
home and regretted that I had ever left it, nor how often 
Harry and I have talked about it together ; and, having made 
all due allowance for difference of time, have wondered what 
you were all doing at home just then, and if you were think 
ing of us as intently as we were of you at both homes. No, 
mother, I never was made for a traveller; the thought of 
" Home, sweet Home," as the end and crown of all travel, 
will ever be to me an incitement to press hastily on, and re 
join that home circle which is incomplete without me, and 
without which I feel myself so incomplete such a fraction. 
Even on this beautiful Sabbath afternoon, with the gorgeous 
sea foaming in majesty around, and the fresh breeze urging 
on our ship at eight knots an hour, even now, I would give 
all this beauty and grandeur, all these dark waves, with their 
sapphire crests and tracks of foam, to be transported to our 
pew in church where you are now sitting, and to walk home 
with you under the budding elms on this sweet May Sabbath 
afternoon. Not that we have not had a sermon; at five bells 
(2\ P. M.) the crew was mustered on the main deck, and H. 
went through the motions of a regular Orthodox service. The 
hymns were rather a fizzle ; as H. and I were not disposed to 
exhibit ourselves in a grand duet, he was compelled merely to 
read them. The sermon also was a poor affair, being one 
which he read from a volume of Sermons, or rather Moral 
Essays, which the captain had on board. The prayers, how 
ever, were delivered with much unction, and the whole service 
was as interesting as it was novel, having never been per 
formed on the vessel before. H. intends to prepare himself to 
speak extempore next Sunday, so that he will not be obliged 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 19 

to resort to any such miserable stuff again. You probably 
feel an interest in knowing how seasick I was. The moment 
dreaded by all landlubbers arrived on Saturday evening, soon 
after the departure of the pilot-boat. For about two hours I 
steadfastly held my head over the bulwark and contemplated 
the dark rolling wave, et voila le tout ! 

The next day I was out of bed, brisk enough, and I have 
not been sick since ; and as far as I am concerned, I don't 
think seasickness is what it is bragged up to be. I rather en 
tertain a decided contempt for it. My two fellow sufferers, 
however, would tell a different tale. H. and Mr. D. have been 
more or less sick ever since we started, and their disappear 
ances from the festive board have frequently been both sud 
den and amusing. The seats nearest the door were voted to 
them by acclamation. Captain K. is a right nice fellow, main 
tains his dignity like a gentleman, and seldom or never swears 
at the men. He is, I imagine, a very favorable specimen of 
the captains of merchant vessels. "The monotony of sea 
life," dryly remarked the Captain, " is varied by two incidents, 
sometimes you see a ship, and sometimes you ship a sea." 
So the other morning, at four bells (6 A. M.), we all tumbled 
out of bed and up on deck, to see a large ship which was 
passing near us ; we hailed her, and there came back from 
her deck the following delicate and poetical query : " How 's 
freights ? " They were requested to report the ship Australia, 
so perhaps you will soon hear of us through the newspapers. 
On Friday we had a regular storm ; every particle of sail was 
taken in, and for a day and a half we plunged around amid 
driving rain and roaring winds and mountain waves, not see 
ing sun, moon, or stars, and having a most indistinct idea of 
where we were. Victor Cousin, I think it is, who says that how 
ever grand a scene may be, if the sensation of fear intrude, 
the latter destroys all idea of grandeur, and usurps its place. 
Had he said, the sensation of seasickness, I think he would 
have been nearer right ; but I cannot believe that the sensa 
tion of fear, in relation to what is grand, can fail to give it a 
more sublime and lofty bearing of power ; and surely the fear 
I felt, lest our ship should never emerge from the mountain 



2O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

billows into which she plunged, did but serve to make me 
more conscious of my own littleness in comparison with this 
greatest of God's works, this 

" Mighty mirror, where the Almighty's form 
Glasses itself in tempests." 

May 31, Lat. 37 48' N., Long. 15 42' W. 

We spend the day on board ship somewhat as follows : at 
7 A. M., the captain begins his rousing exertions upon the 
three passengers ; by 7^ his exertions are crowned with suc 
cess and we get up. At 8 A. M., we breakfast and then gen 
erally walk the deck for half an hour or more, if promenading 
be practicable, then we are to be seen stretched out at full 
length on the quarter-deck. Here we read or sleep as taste 
of the individual inclines, and also amuse ourselves with 
watching the captain at his observations, and the making and 
taking in of sail. The throwing of the log occurs every two 
hours, but our vessel though advertised as " The fast sailing 
clipper Australia" does not give a very good account of her 
self at the log, her speed being seldom over eight and never 
over nine miles an hour. Punctually at i o'clock our sable 
Ganymede announces dinner, at which we sit for nearly an 
hour. In the afternoon we copy the pursuits of the morning 
and again assemble at table at 6 P. M. The evening, if pleas 
ant, is spent on deck in climbing, jumping, playing chess, 
checkers, or dominoes, and in talking under the moonlight 
which so sweetly spreads over this vast expanse of ocean. 
Nothing could be more lovely than the last two or three 
nights ; the ocean, calm and quiet, scarcely moved by any 
wave save the long swell and heave which ever lives in its 
bosom ; the moon, turning into gold and diamonds the silent 
sea on which it sleeps, a flood of glory as far as the eye can 
reach ; the ship herself with every sail of snowy canvas set, 
looking like some great and beautiful bird asleep upon this 
fairy lake, poised on white wings and gently swaying with the 
" swell of the long waves." Nor when the moon has gone 
down, does this scene of beauty cease ; in the white foam of 
the ship's wake are seen thousands of marine animals, which 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 21 

emit a phosphorescent light, and as they shine from the foam 
look like stars rolled out of the folds of an angel's snowy man 
tle. Beautiful, beautiful exceedingly, is a night at sea ; and 
thanks to the holy eyes of the watch stars which transport 
us to the dear ones at home, who are perhaps even then gaz 
ing on them and praying them to be propitious to the wan 
derers at sea. Bright and electric sparks of love are they 
whose sphere of influence extends o'er sea and shore, and 
sheds the light of memory and home upon ocean-track and 
mountain path alike. 

You will see from this division of the day, that the circum 
stances of most importance are the three meals, oases in the 
desert of daily life ; cities of refuge to us pursued by the mur 
derous hand of ennui; epochs up to which to date the events 
of the day. " Up to which," I say, not from which ; in other 
words, we are influenced by hope rather than by memory, and 
we count forward to the prospective meal as did the Romans 
to their Kalends, Ides, and Nones. As for our fare, it is good 
enough, and thanks to sundry goodies brought by each of us 
from home, shows home comforts and nice things more than 
you would expect in a rough merchant vessel. The ginger- 
snaps are yet a few of them in existence; although unani 
mously applauded by both captain and passengers, and eaten 
when brought out with a remarkable relish, I have thought fit 
to keep them in a very miserly way, and dole them out as 
a great favor, for I look upon them as the last link that binds 
me to home. Many, many thanks to my dear aunt for her 
kindness ; little though the act of love, it was the seed of 
much pleasant thought and thankfulness. 

We are in the midst of a calm just now, and although the 
weather is perfect, we do not get on at all, and shall be a long 
time in accomplishing the four hundred and eighty miles be 
tween us and Gibraltar. Up to this time we have had a very 
good run, and unless this calm continues, we shall reach Gib 
raltar in three days. Calm weather is very good for writing 
letters, but not for much else. 

Good-by for to-day. 



22 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

OFF THE BALEARIC ISLES, 
Lat. 39 16', Long. i 2' E., June 16. 

I laid down my pen two weeks ago on the Atlantic, ex 
pecting soon to resume it, but the soft enervating climate in 
which we were enveloped after passing the Azores threw its 
balmy fetters even on the powers of thought and converted 
the quarter deck into a real " Castle of Indolence." 

The ship, too, seemed affected by these drowsy influences, 
and for a 'week we lay within one hundred and fifty miles of 
Gibraltar, but making little progress through the becalmed 
ocean. But at length on the 8th, as I was sitting in the cabin, 
land was announced ! Up I started, throwing maps, gram 
mars, and hand-books in wild confusion, and in a moment 
stood on the deck. There was the land, the land which for 
a month I had longed for, hoped for, looked for, more than 
all save home and friends ; there it lay, a mere blue line to 
be sure, but still the land; not Europe, the object of my 
pilgrimage, but dark, wild, mysterious Africa, the home of 
fetichism, the mystic parent of the more mystic sources of Nile 
and Niger, the fountain head of dark debasing slavery. 

The next day we passed the Strait of Gibraltar, and there, 
between the pillars of Hercules, I thought of the solemn " Ne 
Plus Ultra," which for so many years kept back the timid 
ancients on their voyages, and of which motto we ourselves 
were so convincing a contradiction ; and then I thought of Don 
Roderick and Cava, and how, to revenge his private wrong, 
Count Julian brought ruin on his country, and infamy on him 
self, when the Moors at his instigation crossed the narrow 
strait and quenched the Christian altar fires with the blood of 
the "Last of the Goths." And in more modern times 
the gallant defense of Elliott, when human valor and skill 
seemed unavailing against an overwhelming force, has made 
his name a part of that fortress, whose title is a synonym for 
strength. And still later how these regions must have echoed 
to the cannonades of Trafalgar, on that day when the last 
maritime force of France and Spain vanished before Nelson's 
mighty genius and impetuous valor, like mists before the sun- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2$ 

beam. And so we sail into the Mediterranean Sea, most 
classic of all ages, washing the shores of all lands of ancient 
story, furrowed by the keels of the ships of Ulysses, ^Eneas, 
and Hercules, and strewed with the wrecks of Persian, Gre 
cian, Carthaginian, and Roman fleets. So then it is rather a 
fall from the heights of romantic history, when I think that on 
this sea, the scene of knightly valor and Turkish desperation, 
swept now by Corsair Sultans, and now by Emperors, I should 
now be sailing not to rescue the Holy Sepulchre from the Infi 
dels, not to succor the glorious Knights of St. John in their rock- 
bound Malta, not to strike a blow for Grecian or Italian inde 
pendence, but bound for Marseilles, in the merchant ship Aus 
tralia consigned to Rabaud Brothers & Co., and, oh ! horror, 
laden with alcohol (I smell it now), stores, wheat, and bacon. 
But all the alcohol and bacon in the world would not suffice 
to quench the enthusiasm that I felt, when as beating along 
the shore of Africa, we came in sight of the coast of Granada, 
and saw the snow-covered mountain tops, 

" Where bleak Nevada's summits tower 
Above the beauty at their feet." 

Granada! it was like a trumpet note, in whose echoes 
throng the histories of the olden times, resounding with tecbir 
and gong, and kettle-drum, and clarion note, and cries of God 
and our Lady, St. lago for Spain, defiantly answered by the 
Allah il Allah, of the fanatic Mohammedan. 

There among yonder mountains the heavy armed, unedu 
cated Goth contended with the polished, brave, and learned 
Saracen for the Alhambra, that delight and glory of the earth. 
Alas for Spain ! the soldier has passed away, but the mark 
remains. 

" Fair, fair but fallen Spain, 't is with a swelling heart 

I think on all thou might'st have been, and look at what thou art. 

But the strife is over now, and all the good and brave 

That would have raised thee up, are gone to exile or the grave. 

Thy fleeces are for monks, thy grapes for the convent feast, 

And the wealth of all thy harvest fields for the pampered lord and priest." 

Yet, perhaps, in the progress of the ages, a better future is 



24 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

in store even for Spain. Surely such energy as they displayed 
in past times is not entirely dead, and could the right impulse 
be given and the dread spell of priest-craft be exorcised, Spain 
might yet send forth new Cids, new Cervantes, new Lope de 
Vegas, men worthy of a land so fair. 

We have just come in sight of the Balearic and Pityusae 
Islands, Majorca and Ivic.a, uncelebrated in ancient story that 
I can recall, save that their inhabitants were distinguished 
archers, having been trained bowmen and slingers from child 
hood, and when young, dependent for their breakfast on their 
skill, since it was fastened to the tops of tall trees, and they 
were obliged to bring it down with their bows or slings, be 
fore they could eat it. Imagine the dilapidated condition of 
the breakfast upon reaching the ground ! A most peculiar 
way of teaching the young idea how to shoot. 

MARSEILLES, June 24. 

Here we are at last, on shore in Europe. After a tedious 
voyage of just forty-five days from Sandy Hook, we find our 
selves once more on terra firma, and that too the land of my 
hopes, thoughts, expectations. I was the first to leap ashore, 
and such was my state of excitement that I could scarcely re 
frain from kissing the ground and crying " France, I salute 
thee." From what seemed a long and troubled dream of sea 
life, I have awaked to find myself in another dream in which 
the actors are most new, strange, and fantastic. Everything 
we see does but go to remind us that we are far, far away from 
home, and it is a great relief to glance from the swarthy faces 
and dark, suspicious-looking eyes to the frank, manly counte 
nance of Captain K. On reaching shore, we got a cab and 
made a bee-line for Rabaud & Brothers, and were there just 
in time before the shutting up. Letters were handed to the 
captain, H., and D.,but none to me. I felt as though my heart 
would burst, and had it not been for the by-standers, I should 
have given way to all the bitterness of disappointment ; but a 
moment's further search brought to light my letters. Can you 
imagine how eagerly I tore them open, and with what avidity 
the contents were devoured. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 25 

To L. R. P. 

SHIP AUSTRALIA, June 21, 1857. 
Mediterranean, Lat. 40 52', Lon. 2 42' E. 

.... This is our forty-third day at sea ; think of it, my 
dear friend, and commiserate me. We are distant from Mar 
seilles less than two hundred miles, and yet have been for the 
last week so pestered with calms and head winds, that our ar 
riving at the end of our voyage seems to be rather a subject 
for conjecture than for hope. Had not the weather been per 
fectly charming, this protracted imprisonment would have been 
perfectly unendurable, but such air and such a sky ! For the 
past four weeks we have had but one unpleasant day ; and 
even that cleared off, and ended with a most gorgeous sunset ; 
lovely troops of gold and silver-robed clouds attended 

" The bridal of the sea and sky," 

which lay " like lovers after a quarrel, embraced in one an 
other's smile." 

For thirty days we saw nothing around except the sea, and 
occasionally the white sail of a vessel ; but on the afternoon 
of the thirtieth, signs of approaching land began to be per 
ceived. Small tropic birds of weak wing flew around the ship, 
and two turtle-doves settled upon the mast. Our first mate, 
probably having never read Coleridge, shot one of them with 
his pistol ; I have been expecting ever since to see him visited 
with some condign punishment by the spirit 

" That loved the bird that loved the man 
That shot him with his " revolver. 

Surely our first mate went to greater lengths than the "Ancient 
Mariner," for I do not think that we read that that unfortunate 
person fricasseed the albatross. While yet a hundred miles 
from shore the land breeze brought to us a sweet scent of the 
shore, and of trees and flowers, of the bursting buds of the 
balsam-tree, and the rich perfume of orange groves. The top 
gallant cross-trees were often sought, to get a glimpse of the 
shore, and at length a blue misty line lay faint in the dim dis 
tance, but still no mist, no cloud, no, the land, the land ! I 



26 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

think that I can safely say that the vexed question whether 
two men can give three cheers was finally settled by the howl 
which C. and I set up on the occasion. As evening advanced, 
a levanter sprang up, and the sea was fairly whitened with the 
sails of a fleet of vessels of all sizes issuing from the Straits. 
Towards night the wind changed, and by day-dawn we were 
sailing bravely along past Tangiers, Tarifa, Centa, and Gibral 
tar, past the sunny vine-clad slopes of Andalusia, and the 
rugged hill-sides of Morocco, into the classic Mediterranean, 
dear to the artist, to the adventurer, to the scholar. Truly it 
is no great hardship to sail upon the sea where Bacchus, 
Theseus, and Ulysses sailed ; to cross the track of Hercules 
and of those intrepid voyagers who scorned the mandate " ne 
plus ultra ,'' and found the Orkneys; to gaze upon the water 
from which Venus rose and into which Sappho sprang ; and, 
underneath a kindred sky, and breathing a kindred air, to 
muse upon those stars, " Gods, or the home of Gods," and 
upon those mystic transformations of antiquity, Ariadne with 
her crown, the sword of Orion, and the hair of Berenice. And 
when not long ago we had a storm, and Eurusque Notusque 
were rushing around in the giddy mazes of a rotary storm 
(see Olmsted's Nat. Phil., Redfield's theory), I almost ex 
pected to see the venerable head of old Nep. rising from the 
waves and stilling the vagabond winds with his fragmentary 
but highly suggestive ' Quos ego.' (There is a large and very 
unclassical-looking shark playing around the vessel ; I think 
of Jonah, and shudder at the idea of being nipped off at the 
knees.) Our great want on board ship is space to exercise 
in ; climbing ropes and pacing the deck become quite stale 
after the first month. I would like to try a little boxiana, but 
my two fellow-passengers, C. and a young Massachusetts man, 
are so pusillanimous that I cannot arouse them even by offer 
ing to take them both together. Ah, boy, if I only had you 
here, I would at the same time amuse myself and improve 
my digestion by giving you one of those scientific dressings 
down of the olden time, which used to conduce so highly both 
to your physical and moral condition. For thus runs the ar- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2/ 

gument ; if when I was sick, and thin, and weak, I used occa 
sionally to sit on you and hold a pugilistic inquest, much more 
so now when I am improved in weight, health, and toughness. 
.... Our captain is to be married as soon as he returns from 
this voyage, and consequently is in rather a Benedictine state 
of mind ; so every Saturday night out comes the bottle and 
Bayard Taylor's poems, and he invites us, in the words of 

that poet, 

" To drink to sweethearts and to wives, 
On Saturday night at sea." 

I, though destitute of both these precious articles, especially 
the sweetheart " in esse" do gravely top off my whiskey with my 
mental optic fixed on my lady-love " in posse" my spouse in 
futuro, my bride prospective, my wife in the " dim shadowy." 
(See Crosby.) 

" Tuesday, June 23^. Gulf of Lyons. Since writing the 
above, we have experienced a youthful tempest, and the 
" stormy Gulf of Lyons " has preserved its reputation. Unable 
to sleep on Sunday night, I dressed myself at 3^ A. M., and 
went on deck, where I witnessed a scene both outre and mag 
nificent. A heavy gale was blowing, and our vessel was 
plunging wildly around with an occasional sea dashing over 
the bulwarks, but the sky was cloudless, and in the east a few 
faint pencils of light heralded the coming day. The sunrise 
which followed I am unable to describe ; but can scarcely 
imagine a more remarkable union of the Beautiful and the 
Sublime than a clear sunrise during a storm at sea. The best 
conception one can have, without actually seeing it, would be 
to cpmbine in one picture Everett's description of the May 
flower's passage in 1620 with his most poetical account of a 
sunrise in his speech at the Dudley Observatory Inauguration. 
Every rose, however, has its thorn. As I was sitting out on 
the bowsprit-bitts, enjoying this scene, my eyes were suddenly 
blinded by a shower of spray ; I clung fast to the nearest 
ropes, and found myself enjoying a sea-bath ; when I opened 
my eyes again, I saw a perfect flood washing across the bows, 
and carrying away sundry unlashed articles into the sea. The 



28 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

captain was soon advertised of my slightly adventurous posi 
tion, and I was ordered down. The uneasy motion of the 
vessel brought on my fellow-passengers a return of seasick 
ness, and I barely escaped. But to-day the weather is glo 
rious, the coast of La Belle France in full sight, and by to-night 
or to-morrow morning we hope to be in the city of the ancient 
Phocsans, and of the brawny wretches who led the massacres 
of the French Revolution with the thrilling Marseillaise. . . . 
Hoping to meet you before long in the " old country," I am 
yours in bonds never to be broken. 

PARIS, HOTEL MEURICE, June 28, 1857. 

Marseilles conveyed to my mind a most vivid conception of 
that slightly warm place which no gentleman will allow him 
self to mention ; but still we spent one pleasant evening 
when it was comparatively cool, in visiting the Chapelle of 
Notre Dame de la Garde. This is perched upon the very tip 
top of a high and steep hill, commanding an admirable view 
of both the harbor and the city. Here is a most enormous 
bell, weighing more than 22,000 pounds, and requiring eight 
men to ring it. A large church is to be built here, and lot 
teries are held to assist in the erection. The notices of these 
lotteries are attached to the very doors of the Chapelle. The 
interior of the building is most interesting ; the walls are lit 
erally covered with small "ex votos" pictures representing 
persons in every style of danger and disease, both by land and 
sea ; especially sick beds and apparently inevitable ship 
wrecks ; everywhere the Virgin with the Child in her arms 
appears, and the disease is arrested, or the storm calmed. 
One very remarkable ex voto is a piece of stone which was 
taken from the bottom of a ship. She had run upon a rock 
and dashed a hole in her bottom, but a piece of the rock 
broke off, and, remaining in the hole, had preserved the ship 
from sinking. This seemingly apocryphal fact is not impos 
sible, since a similar accident and preservation happened to 
the celebrated clipper ship Flying Cloud in one of her voyages 
to New York. The next day we left for Avignon, where we 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 29 

made arrangements to go to Vaucluse, and then strolled out 
to see the Cathedral and Palace of the Popes. This latter 
was very interesting ; we saw the very oubliette in which 
Nicholas di Rienzi was confined ; rightly called oubliettes, for 
shut up thus, one must have seemed forgotten by both God 
and man. The torture-rooms of the Holy Office of the In 
quisition were then showed to us. The furnace in which per 
sons suffered the dreadful torture by burning sulphur ; the 
rooms of the Strappado and the Rack, and the large stone bath 
into which a man was put, and then it was heated red-hot! 
This was called the first torture ; I should think that it would 
have been likely to be also the last. The next morning we 
got up very early, and started by half past five for Vaucluse, 
with a nice carriage and driver. A very pleasant ride of three 
or four hours brought us to that lovely place which Nature has 
clothed in her fairest garments, and around which Romance 
and Poetry have woven their most bewitching spells. The 
Fountain of Vaucluse and the Home of Petrarch ! The first, 
is an altar at which the lover of the strange and wild in Na 
ture delights to bow ; the last, a shrine of love and poetry 
well worth a scholar's pilgrimage. Dark blue, like the sea, is 
the fountain ; of immeasurable profundity, and has been 
supposed to have a communication with the Lake of Geneva. 
After its first appearance in perfect quietude at the foot of 
the tremendous precipice, it disappears under ground for a 
few rods, and then bursts forth again in three bright, spark 
ling springs, whose united volume forms at once a river, 
whose clear, sky-blue course can be traced far off through 
the fertile fields of the broad champaign of Provence. In 
this calm, quiet place of repose, rightly called Vaucluse, or 
the Close Valley, so completely is it shut in by the high hills, 
it is pleasant to imagine Petrarch as living, engaged in the 
culture of his garden and his orchard, and in writing those 
lovely pastoral letters which shew the stamp of the poet, more 
than those sickly groanings and repinings at the virtuous cru 
elty of one who was the wife of another man. No, let the 
thought of Laura and of worldly passions be absent from this 



3O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

secluded place, which should only be the home of pure and 
holy thoughts. We stood in Petrarch's house, sat under his 
laurel tree, and drank from the little stream which murmured 
through his garden just as it does now, and on whose brink he 
used to sit and feed his fishes and meditate. But the Yankee 
spirit never satisfies itself with thinking and musing it 
must have work, so we set out to climb the precipice above 
the fountain. After an arduous climb, through narrow clefts 
and up abrupt ascents, where our only hold was on the pre 
carious support of an old tree, we reached the top, from which 
we had a glorious view of the whole level country of Prov 
ence, the land of chivalry and song, of the troubadour's 
lute and the herald's coat. Here reigned good King Rene, 
the father of the imperious Margaret of England, and around 
him were gathered the poets, the painters, and the beaux 
esprits of the day, at a time when the gentle and beautiful 
arts were, in other lands, neglected for civil and foreign war, 
and the heavy sword and ponderous lance crushed out of 
sight the brush, the chisel, and the lute. The land is now de 
graded and inferior ; even the soil has lost much of its exu 
berance and fertility, but yet a ray of light is left upon it, and 
one still hears the sweet Provencal tongue, and still sees the 
tasteful caps and kirtles covering graceful forms and raven 
hair; *and everywhere the dark-brown cheeks and flashing 
eyes, which he had seen in imagination long before. The 
Durance and Vaucluse rivers are plainly seen, but how differ 
ent ! The former, dingy and muddy, the latter, clear and 
blue, and accompanied in all its course by a fresher and 
greener verdure than can be seen elsewhere in the Cham 
paign. 

HOTEL MEURICE, PARIS, July 12, 1857. 

DEAREST MOTHER, .... I cannot tell you a tithe of 
all I have seen in Paris ; in fact, I have been so nearly be 
wildered, ever since I have been here, that the attempt at 
recounting sights seen, sounds heard, and smells endured, 
would prove a failure. It is but just to say, that from the last 
mentioned attraction, that of bad smells, Paris is remarkably 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 31 

free ; but in some of our rambles in the Faubourgs, in passes 
and cul-de-sacs, I have had that delicate organ, the nose, 
grievously offended. It is said that Paris is the most beauti 
ful city in Europe, and I can easily believe this to be the case ; 
wherever you turn, something new to the eyes and grand or 
beautiful meets the sight ; here an obelisk, there a palace, and 
a little farther off a magnificent arch. The Place de la Con 
corde strikes me as the most surpassingly beautiful out-of- 
doors object in Paris. On account of the light-colored 
asphalt pavement, and many marble statues, it looks too 
glaring in the daytime, but at night, when the moon shines 
through the ever-falling fountains, and the glittering lights of 
the Champs Elyse'es and the Rue de Rivoli stretch away end 
lessly in brilliant avenues, and across the Seine the beautiful 
dome of the Invalides looks solemnly on ; when we remem 
ber what has been done and what suffered upon this spot ; 
that here rose the awful guillotine, and here fell the unhappy 
Marie Antoinette and the heroic Charlotte Corday ; that here 
the glorious Girondists sang the birth-song of freedom for 
their own death song, and here that song died gradually 
away until the thrilling tones of Vergniaud were left alone to 

sing 

" Amour sacre de la patrie," 

these combined attractions of sad memory of the past and of 
beautiful nature and art in the present, have given me more 
pleasure than almost anything here. In fact, I am very sus 
ceptible of what is historically interesting, and I am truly 
thankful that my life has been spent so much among books, 
and that I have thus stored up information of the olden time 
which comes out with most pleasant distinctness, when I am 
in the presence of the places and relics of that same olden 
time. 

We take great tramps all over the city and outside of it ; 
and are practicing the pedestrian art, so that when we go to 
Switzerland we may have muscles well prepared and toughened, 
to take journeys of twenty, thirty, or forty miles per day. We 
walked out on the Fourth of July to Vincennes, since there 



32 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

was no celebration of the day among the 'Americans here. 
No ! the eagle drooped his beak and lowered his majestic tail, 
and nobody took interest enough to gather together the scat 
tered tribes, and to sing his praises in the Declaration of In 
dependence, or in Hail Columbia. So we went out to Vin- 
cennes, a good stout tramp of five or six miles each way, but 
it was a delight to escape from the bewildering tumult of this 
ever active and noisy city. We walked down the Rue de 
Rivoli, past the Louvre and the Hotel de Ville, stopped for a 
few minutes to examine the Column of July, which stands 
upon the very spot formerly occupied by the gloomy Bastile, 
which was captured in 1789, and destroyed in 1790. It was 
constructed, says the inscription, " To the Glory of the 
French Citizens who armed themselves and fought in defense 
of the public liberties in the memorable days of 27th, 28th, 
and 29th of July." The sides of the column are filled with the 
names of five hundred and four patriots, who were killed in 
1830, and many also of those who were slain at the barricade of 
1848, are buried here, with the heroes of eighteen years pre 
vious. Here also the throne of the Orleans Dynasty was burned, 
in February, 1848. Thence down through the Rue du Faubourg 
St. Antoine, that fruitful nest of Republicanism and rebel 
lion in all times, to the Barriere du Trone, which is one of the 
limits of the city. Passing between the pillars, with their 
colossal statues of St. Louis and Philip the Fair, we are in the 
country, and soon at Vincennes. Most of the fortifications 
and barracks are recent, but the Donjon has remained intact 
since 1333, and bids fair to rear in defiance its massive walls 
for five hundred years more. It is a chubby, chunky-looking 
affair, and until one attempts to climb to the top, he cannot 
have a realizing sense of its height. How inseparable is 
Walter Scott from a donjon tower or keep ; I also thought 
of Mrs. Browning's rhyme, and considered the Duchess May 
as decidedly a strong-minded woman, if she had such a taste 
for riding the castle wall. In the little chapel of the Bar 
racks, not in plain sight, but in a side chapel, is the 
monument of the unhappy, murdered Due D'Enghein. He 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 33 

is represented as being supported by Religion, and wept over 
by France, while Vengeance, or, as the guide politely said, 
Discord, holds a blazing torch. This is one of the very few 
Bourbon reminiscences still remaining in Paris which are 
capable of being removed to gratify the present dynasty. I 
asked the guide to show me the spot where the Due was shot, 
but he peremptorily refused, and not even the magic sheen of 
a piece of silver could soften his obduracy ; he seemed to have 
had decisive orders to the contrary. It is thus that the 
nephew strives to cover over the crimes and blunders of his 
uncle, but Napoleon the First is as great, with all his faults un- 
excused, as he could be even if Napoleon the Third should 
spend his life in his vindication. He has always been my 
idol from my boyish days ; his genius, his wondrous destiny, 
his dreadful fall and sad death, have ever had a charm for me, 
which nothing could lessen or destroy, and my youthful sym 
pathies were so strongly enlisted for him, that his enemies 
were my enemies. I hated Wellington ; and were it possible 
to hate a sailor, I should have hated Nelson, and I must con 
fess that never have I been filled with emotions of such deep 
and heartfelt worship, as when I stood before that little coffin, 
surmounted by the cocked hat and gray coat, in the Hotel des 
Invalides, while, from the gloomy panelings of the chapel, 
the mighty names of Marengo, Jena, Austerlitz, and Wagram 
look down like guardian giants of the fame of him who now 
sleeps there so peacefully. Below the flooring of the church, 
but open above, so that it can be seen from the pavement, is 
the pavilion which contains the grand sarcophagus ; this is 
surmounted and covered by a gigantic slab of porphyry, 
weighing 135,000 pounds. Every Monday this is removed, 
and the coffin is placed in the chapel, which I have above- 
mentioned, and where it can be easily seen by all. The pave 
ment of this lower crypt, containing the sarcophagus, is splen 
didly inlaid in mosaic, and inwrought with the names of 
several of Napoleon's most brilliant and important victories. 
Around the sarcophagus stand twelve colossal figures, cary 
atides in white marble, representing War, Legislation, the Arts 
3 



34 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

and Sciences. In fine, the entire furniture of this subterra 
nean crypt is most imposing and magnificent, and its cost can 
be reckoned only by millions ; but never can it be as touching 
as that little cocked hat and sword, nor can any epitaph be 
written, which will more endear him to the French, than those 
last words of his which are his fitting epitaph : " Je desire 
que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine, au milieu 
de ce peuple Frangais que j'ai tant aime." Everywhere here, 
in galleries and in offices, is seen his noble head, with that 
brow of almost superhuman thought, and those eyes which 
seem more divine than those of any sculptured hero or demi 
god of antiquity. 

The nephew's head shows a most decided contrast ; I 
should scarcely think that he would like to place his bust be 
side that of his uncle, when he must know that his subjects, 
however loyal, cannot fail to draw comparisons unfavorable to 
him. 

Last night we walked out to the Bois de Boulogne, and on 
our way stopped at the Chapel of St. Ferdinand, which was 
erected on the very spot where the Due d'Orleans, the oldest 
son of Louis Phillippe, was thrown from his carriage and 
killed, on July i3th, 1842. The picture of his death is most 
touching, his noble and manly face being without expression 
either of feeling or pain, as he was unconscious during the four 
hours which intervened. At his feet bends the unhappy king 
in the deepest grief, the Prince utterly forgotten in the Father. 
On his tomb, his drooping figure is supported by a beautiful 
angelic being, which his own sister Marie of Orleans had 
executed, little thinking that it would be for her own brother's 
tomb. One clock points ever to the hour when he fell from 
the carriage, ten minutes before twelve, another to the mo 
ment when he died, ten minutes past four. There also are 
some of the instruments of exercise and amusement which 
once were his ; and what interested me more than all, his 
little boat, an Indian canoe, with its flag and rudder, in which 
he used to row himself on the Seine. As I looked at these, 
I forgot that he was the heir of a vast kingdom, and thought 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 35 

of him only as a dear young man, who was the truest of friends, 
and the kindest of brothers. We walked some distance from 
the chapel before our sadness was sufficiently dispelled to 
speak to each other ; it cast a shade of melancholy over the 
whole evening. This Bois de Boulogne is as beautiful as 
anything so completely artificial can be ; woods, dark groves, 
rural lanes, lakes, streams, water-falls, grottos, and rustic 
bridges, all constructed by the hand of man, strive to rival 
the beauties of God's own forests ; but in my opinion they 
" can't come it." A herd of red and fallow deer went bound 
ing along near the road, and for a moment my blood thrilled 
with recollections of Adirondack ; but the next instant I re 
jected any comparison between these puny creatures and the 
swift-footed wild deer of America. The last amusement of 
the evening was a row, which we took on one of the artificial 
rivers, in a nice little boat about the length of the Una, but 
much broader, the crack boat in fact of the stream. I first 
astonished the boatman by a description of the proportions of 
the Una, and endeavored to convey to his mind some faint 
conception of the way in which she could be sent through the 
water, and I then excited his loud approbation by the manner 
in which I handled my oars. My arms were rather weak 
from inactivity on board ship, but I put in all the " fancy 
touches," and rowed rather with regard to elegance than to 
strength. I suppose I should have told this to J. rather than 
you ; just make this part of the letter over to him, and pardon 
me for troubling you with so much of my boating slang. 

We have been very agreeably disappointed in the preaching 
here ; on Sunday morning we go to a Wesleyan Chapel near 
the Madelaine, where a Mr. G. reads the Episcopal service, 
but preaches sermons which in practicality and fervor are 
almost equal to those of Dr. C. himself. At 3 P. M. we go 
to the American, or rather the French Chapel, which is at 
present occupied by the Americans during part of the day, 
until their own, now being erected in Rue de Berri, shall be 
completed. We had an excellent sermon there last Sunday 
from Dr. Kirk on the Life of Paul. 



36 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

The Americans, and more especially the English, keep the 
Sabbath at Paris, but the city otherwise is " wholly given to 
idolatry." On Sunday evening the streets are filled with car 
riages and pedestrians, all the shows are open, and the open 
air concerts, which are bad enough on work -days, are embel 
lished on Sundays with additional attractions (?). We have 
seen the most absurd and indecent dancing and buffoonery on 
Sunday evening. I am sorxy to say that the Americans on 
the continent have not nearly so good a reputation for church 
going as the English, who have a chapel in almost every place 
which is much frequented by strangers. So H. and I have 
provided ourselves with an English-prayer book, that we may 
do all things decently and in order. 

GHENT, Julyzo< 1857. 

MY DEAR JACK, We have just arrived in this queer old 
place, and have been refreshing ourselves, after the dusty 
railroad ride from Brussels, with a cup of excellent tea. I 
take this opportunity of being in Belgium, and in Ghent, 
which are familiar to you from the pages of Prescott, and in 
themselves intensely interesting, to write you a long letter. 
We have taken this detour into Belgium and Holland, at the 
advice of T. D., who has been with us in Paris for a couple 
of weeks, and who had recently taken it himself. I expect 
we shall enjoy it very much, judging from what we have seen 
of Belgium thus far. 

Our three weeks' stay in Paris was quiet, and, but for the 
heat, would have been extremely pleasant. We spent one 
delightful day in the pleasant walks and excellent museums 
of the Garden of Plants. This is a most admirably collected 
and conducted institution, affording to the common people, 
who are all admitted free to the Gardens and lectures, a 
grand opportunity to become completely familiar with the 
most interesting and valuable parts of Natural History and 
the other sciences. I cannot imagine a better place for study 
ing the sciences than Paris ; I met a young Swede at Water 
loo, with whom I had a grand talk in German. He had been 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 37 

studying Mathematics and Astronomy in Paris for some time, 
and was very loud in his praises of the Observatory, in which 
Lalande, La Place, and Bailly wrought: of the Garden of 
Plants, and of the Botanical Gardens of the Luxembourg ; in 
this last we ourselves saw many students busily employed, 
with their large books, in gathering and classifying flowers 
and plants. It seems difficult to reconcile these three qualities 
which seem so prominent in the French character, namely, 
their fondness for the exact sciences, their romantic love of 
glory, and their total want of all true poetry. Their taste 
seems to be for the showy and tawdry ; their greatest ambition 
is to get a medal or a cross. I went to the Opera twice in 
Paris, and heard William Tell and Trovatore. The scenery 
and all the accessories were splendid enough, but the singing 
was pretty poor, as all the best singers have gone into the 
country. I was greatly disgusted with the claque, and had 
a great mind to pitch into some dough-faced fellows near me, 
who, without a spark of enthusiasm or capacity to enjoy good 
music, clapped away whenever their leader gave the signal. 
I doubt not that any demonstrations which I might have 
chosen to make would have been supported by the gentlemen 
around me, for they looked as disgusted as I felt. What a 
glorious enterprise, the crusade against the Claque ! From 
one of the salesmen at Galignani's I obtained a complete list 
of nice and cheap hotels on our whole route, many of them 
of a class which are not mentioned in the otherwise invaluable 
Murray. 

We have a very nice room fronting on the Kauter or Place 
d'Armes ; and as it is the eve of a fete, namely the Anniversary 
of the Accession of Leopold I., King of the Belgians, we have 
been having grand doings out in front, and this letter has 
been several times interrupted, for me to run to the window 
to listen to most exquisite music, both vocal and instru 
mental. 

July 22, Since the first part of this letter was written we 
have been to Bruges and returned. It would be difficult to 
say which of the two cities, Bruges or Ghent, possesses the 



38 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

most historic interest. Bruges being the residence of the 
Counts of Flanders, has more souvenirs of the nobles, but 
Ghent is renowned for its grand republican burgher spirit, 
which found such a noble exponent in Jacques and Phillip 
Van Artevelde. We had not intended at first to go to Bruges, 
but finding that it had for ages been celebrated for its pretty 
girls, of course it would not do for two such connoisseurs as 
H. and myself to neglect it. There is a sad, deserted air 
about this city of Bruges, which was in 1250 one of the most 
splendid cities in Europe. The town seems asleep ; no 
vehicles in the streets, no vessels in the canals, no faces at the 
windows of the principal houses. In the suburbs, on the 
contrary, swarms a filthy population, and they, too, seem totally 
devoid of all energy and enterprise. 

We saw a great number of paintings by artists of the early 
Flemish school, some of them of very great delicacy and 
beauty. Minuteness of detail also seemed much striven after. 
I have been especially pleased with the works of the brothers 
Van Oost and John Van Eyck. I think that Rembrandt's rep 
utation has been vastly overrated. 

In the church of Notre Dame, I saw the monuments of 
Charles the Bold and his daughter Mary of Burgundy. The 
interest I take in this part of the country is greatly increased 
by my remembrance of the vivid descriptions in Quentin Dur- 
ward, which are remarkable, seeing that Scott drew upon his 
imagination for his facts. We also climbed the " Belfry of 
Bruges," and having surmounted its 402 steps, had a fine view 
of the flat country round, even as far as Ostend and the sea. 
They have here a chime which is played by very costly and 
intricate machinery, and is said to be the finest in Europe, but 
I do not like it nearly so well as the one at Ghent, which is 
continually playing the jolliest tunes. We see everywhere 
here in Belgium memorials of Alva, Charles V., Philip II., 
and the Counts of Egmont and Horn. At Brussels, in front 
of the Hotel de Ville, is a venerable building called the Brad- 
huis, in which the two counts spent the night previous to their 
execution, and from the windows of which Alva is said to have 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 39 

looked while the execution was going on. The prison is now 
standing on the site of the Hotel de Luxembourg, in which 
the confederates held their meetings, and from the balcony of 
which the leaders presented themselves with the beggar's staff 
and wallet, and gave to the movement the name of the Insur 
rection of the Gueux. Alva out of revenge had the. unoffend 
ing building leveled with the ground. One of the oddest and 
most remarkable things I have seen is what is called the Beg- 
uinage. It is a convent in this city, which is a little city itself, 
comprising streets, rows of houses and canals, all the buildings 
being occupied solely by the nuns. They number about seven 
hundred ; they do not bind themselves to a perpetual seclusion 
by taking the vows, but are allowed to return to the world 
again if they don't like it. Those whom we saw about the 
streets, dressed in the faille, or large black cloak with a hood, 
did not have the appearance of having spent their valuable 
time in fasting and macerating, or, if they had, it certainly 
agreed with them most remarkably. I could easily imagine 
all the younger sisters up some night on a spree of somewhat 
the same nature with those that are described as taking place 
at B. 

THE HAGUE, July 25, 1857. 

DEAREST MOTHER, We have just arrived here from Rotter 
dam after a delightful ride in the treck-schuyt or canal-boat) 
and are now comfortably settled in the best room of that very 
respectable hotel, the Bull's Eye, and have just washed down 
an excellent beefsteak with some excellent tea. My mind is 
now at rest for a couple of days, and freed from cares touching 
hotel bills and francs, centimes, guilders, and stivers, so I can 
write to you who are never out of my mind. 

I think of you day and night, and long most truly for the 
time which will bring me back to the house roof and to you. 
We arrived at Antwerp having crossed the Scheldt from the 
Tte de Flandre, which is noted as being the place where 
the people of Antwerp cut through the dyke and inundated 
the country that the provision ships from Zealand might sail 
across the land and relieve the city from the strict blockade 



40 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which the Duke of Parma had been carrying on. Had 
this measure been taken sooner, the city would have been 
saved. 

The next day we employed in studying Rubens at the Mu 
seum and in the Cathedral. The pictures in the Museum 
greatly disappointed me. The two principal ones are the 
" Crucifixion," and the " Adoration of the Magi." In the for 
mer of these, the moment is selected when the soldier pierces 
the Saviour's side, while others are breaking the legs of the 
two thieves : it is certainly a picture of wonderful power, and 
would appear to the most advantage if viewed at a distance of 
something under an eighth of a mile ; the figure of the thief 
who railed, and who in his agony has forced one of his legs 
loose from the cross, is a miracle of expressive force and cor 
rectness of drawing ; but upon a near examination the faces 
have a blotched and unfinished look like that of Murillo's 
pictures, but without that grand spirituality which makes one 
forget all faults in Murillo. The " Adoration of the Magi " 
struck me as rather comic than grand ; the principal figure, 
one of the Magian Kings, has an expression on his face in 
which I could not read any holy awe, but rather a feeling of 
disappointment that he had come so far to see so little. But 
a pleasing disappointment was reserved for me at the Cathe 
dral : here I saw Rubens' great master-piece, called " The 
Descent from the Cross," and am now ready to acknowledge 
him as a truly great master, but not one to my heart. I should 
think, however, that the drawings, the position of the figures, 
and most especially the drooped form of Christ, are wonders 
of art. In the opposite transept of this Cathedral is a very 
good painting, the "Elevation of the Cross," also by Rubens. 
In this he has introduced a most admirable dog and horse, to 
exhibit his power of representing animals. But however fine 
may be the coloring of Rubens, and however powerful his 
groupings, I can now say with certainty that he is not the 
painter for my worship, since form is his object rather than 
expression. 

I have been much pleased with the pictures of the Flemish 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 4! 

school, which are so devoted to minuteness of detail and deli 
cacy of finish, especially of Hans Hemling and the two broth 
ers Van Eyck, the inventors of oil painting. Their pictures, 
425 years old, are as bright and clear as the first day they were 
painted, and preserve wonderfully their original beauties. I 
will speak only of the master-piece of this school, which is in 
the Cathedral of St. Bavon at Ghent. It is called the " Ado 
ration of the Spotless Lamb," and is by the two Van Eycks. 
Not more than three feet wide and four feet high, it still con 
tains more than three hundred faces, some of them portraits, 
and all of the highest excellence. Above is the Father, with 
St. John the Baptist on the one hand, and the Virgin on the 
other. The face of the latter combines with the beauty and 
softness almost of a miniature, an expression of spirituality un 
surpassed by any of Raphael's Madonnas that I have yet seen. 
Below is the Lamb upon the Altar. He is approached by four 
groups of worshipers, from four opposite directions ; first the 
prophets, next the apostles and New Testament saints, thirdly 
the virgins and female saints, and fourthly the bishops and 
founders of monasteries. In this last group the painters have 
introduced their own portraits. Yet with all this delicacy and 
completeness of finish, the pictures of this school say nothing 
to the heart and soul ; they are rather to be carefully examined 
with the microscope than to be gazed at with full eyes and a 
swelling heart. 

AMSTERDAM, July 25. 

Since I began this letter I have changed my place of abode, 
and three days have intervened. We left the Hague yesterday 
afternoon, and were very sorry to leave it, for, besides the fact 
that we had most comfortable quarters, the city is a lovely one, 
and everywhere reigns that sense of order and cleanliness and 
freedom from show, which reminded me most powerfully of my 
New England home. And here let me put in a word for the 
Dutch. I had a long-standing prejudice that they were a 
coarse, stupid people, as broad as they were long, drinking and 
smoking all the time, and totally devoid of those qualities that 
interest and endear. But I was most agreeably disappointed 



42 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

when I came to see them. The men are in general a fine and 
intelligent looking class ; one. meets with many a manly figure 
and sensible face to remind him that he is among the descend 
ants and fellow-countrymen of the De Witts and Van Tromps, 
of the Prince of Orange and the Counts of Egmont. Their 
faces are generally free from the stupidity of the Belgians, and 
the mean frivolousness of the French. Among the women I 
have, within the last four days, seen more beauty than in the 
four weeks previous. True it has been of rather a solid, sub 
stantial kind, and wanting that face lighted by the fires of the 
soul which we have at home, but yet a good, honest look? 
which makes one think of a quiet home, and well swept house, 
and a crowd of chubby children around the neat hearthstone. 

Our ride from Delft to the Hague, in the treck-schuyt or 
canal-boat, was one of great pleasure and beauty. The ordi 
narily unpoetic canal was completely embosomed in verdure, 
and its sides were lined with charming little country-seats, 
upon whose gates the owner had inscribed some sentiment 
indicative of his intense satisfaction and contentment, such as 
"Lust en Rust," /. e. Pleasure and Ease ; " Bosch Lust," Wood 
Pleasure ; " Pax Intrantibus," Peace to the comers in ; " Meer 
Lust," Sea Delights, etc. 

Along the sides of the grand canal were stately rows of fine 
trees, which gave an exclusive and aristocratic air to our 
humble highway, and gave to it the dignity of an avenue. 
Everywhere there was the richest green ; everywhere the most 
flourishing prosperity. I doubt if there be a country on the 
face of the earth where the people are so well off and so uni 
versally prosperous, or where property is so equally distribu 
ted among all classes. One sees here no beggars, of whom 
there are a plenty in Belgium : in fact, they form there a large 
part of the population. In Bruges alone there are over 15,000. 
But in this country, conquered from the sea, and in which 
there is a continual contest going on between land and water, 
with a dingy sky and rainy climate, it would seem as if the 
very exertion to support existence, and preserve life from the 
angry waves, had also kept alive in the natives a spirit of free- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 43 

dom and independence which is unknown to the other Conti 
nental nations. The habit of demanding a fee for every tri 
fling device is not practiced here. For example, this afternoon 
H. dropped his cane into the canal and had given it up for 
lost, when it was picked up by a canal-boatman and returned. 
I threw him a piece of money, which he took only after many 
remonstrances. I like the Dutch extremely, and were I not an 
American, and were it not for the Dutch language, I would be 
willing to be a Dutchman. This Dutch language is odd 
enough, but has certain strong resemblances both to the Eng 
lish and German, and by a judicious shingling of these I 
manage to get along capitally with the lower order of persons, 
who speak neither French, English, nor German. But if I 
should ever come abroad again, I should previously prepare 
myself in every language which there was any probability of 
my using. Lord Bacon most truly says, " He that travelleth 
into a country before he hath some entrance into the language 
goeth to school and not to travel." 

We have visited, to-day, Broek, which is celebrated as being 
the cleanest village in the world. All visitors are obliged to 
take off their shoes upon entering a house, or at least to wipe 
them extremely clean. A weekly scrubbing of the most radi 
cal character takes place. The houses are very often painted 
to keep them looking handsome, and even the cows' tails are 
held up by a rope running over a pulley, with a weight at the 
further end, that they may not dangle in the muck and get 
dirty. The bricks are laid out in figures similar to those which 
form mosaics, and the gardens are clipped into forms both 
regular and fantastic. 

One room of the house is sacred, and is not shown to visi 
tors. This the housewife enters once a week, dusts it and re 
turns, locking the door and leaving it to solitude until the next 
week shall come round. Good manners also seem to .receive 
much attention. Every child we met greeted us with an un 
couth salutation, and some of them even made abortive at 
tempts at saying, " Monsieur, guten Tag ? " This was very 
pleasant, and I wish I could see more of this true courtesy, 



44 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which is really from the heart. This expedition we did on 
foot, and on our way back we were sprinkled with sundry and 
various showers. One of them was so heavy that we were 
forced to take refuge under a hay-stack, where we lay for some 
time moralizing on the oddness of our condition. We have 
'an extremely independent way of getting along. We speak to 
no English, unless they speak to us first, and even then we 
make them no advances ; but we converse as much as possi 
ble with the natives wherever we go, take things as they come, 
grumble at nothing, and consequently enjoy ourselves as much 
as it is possible for two such home bodies to do away from 
home. 

HEIDELBERG, August 7, 1857. 

DEAR J., At last the long looked for, wished for, sickened 
for letters are in my possession, and I am in a state more 
nearly approaching to happiness than I have been since I got 
ashore and obtained my letters at Marseilles. After reading 
them, my heart was so full of joy that I seemed ready to suffo 
cate, and I was obliged to spend a couple of hours in the open 
air, and around the old castle, before I could sufficiently com 
mand myself to sit down and answer yours. Your news, all so 
good and pleasant, and mindful of everything that would 
please me most, every item, however apparently trivial to one 
at home, was most eagerly devoured, and every well-remem 
bered and dearly cherished name of a friend went right to my 
heart, giving full assurance that absence from home does but 
endear it more completely to one ; or, to speak mathematically, 
the home feeling increases directly as the square of the absence. 

What a glorious time you must have had this summer ; pic 
nics, parties, and, above all, boat rides ; you aggravate me ter 
ribly by painting such a picture of New Haven life, and cause 
me to wish myself at home more heartily than I am in the 
habit of doing about three times a day. However, you have 
not enjoyed these pleasures alone. I have been very fre 
quently present, both in sleeping visions and in wakeful day 
dreams I have walked up Hillhouse Avenue, and laid down 
on the oars of the Una. You give me a lively idea of the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 45 

gayety of N. H., and an idea that could only be given by an 
actor in the gay scene. Alas ! and has thy young nature been 
drawn into the fatal maelstrom of society ? 

I suppose you would like to hear where I have been for the 
last week or two, since I wrote from Ghent and Amsterdam. 
Cologne disappointed my high-strung expectations in the smell 
line. I sniffed everywhere, without discovering the 

" four and twenty stenches 
All well defined and separate stinks ; " 

nor did I regret them, especially as the city was disagreeable 
enough, with heat and dust, to satisfy any one, without the 
least argument addressed to the nose. On Friday afternoon 
we were off " up the Rhine." For quite a long time the scen 
ery was of the most uninteresting nature ; but as we ap 
proached Bonn, the beautiful blue range of the Siebengebirge 
loomed up one after another, looking much like the Catskills 
to one viewing them from down the river, although not equal 
ing the Catskills in height and grandeur, yet making a most 
agreeable change from the flat lands of Holland and Bel 
gium. 

We spent the night at Bonn, and heard the students yelling 
and singing around the streets, which sounded very natural 
and home-like, and my heart warmed towards the noisy fel 
lows. Students are students all the world over, and there is a 
sort of freemasonry about them all which gives them a kindly 
feeling for one another, and draws a line between them and 
the outer world. The next morning we began our foot tramp 
ing, and ended it also the same day. We made what we sup 
posed the necessary arrangements for having our luggage sent 
to Coblentz, where we were intending to pass the Sabbath, and 
each with a good stout stick in his hand, jogged sturdily 
along the post road. 

Passing the old ruined castle of Godesberg, built by the 
warlike Archbishops of Cologne, we held on through the village 
to the ferry, which takes one across the river to Konigswinter 
and Drachenfels. When we reached the water's edge, the 
ferry-boat was some little distance from the shore, and still 



46 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

receding ; but as I did not wish to wait an hour for the next 
boat, I waded out into the shallow water and got on board, an 
example which H. was obliged to follow. At the village of 
Konigswinter we began the ascent of the far-famed Drachen- 
fels, and if ever the sun fell hot on my back and head, it was 
then. " Feen wedder for de grubs " (fine weather for the 
crops), as an English-speaking German said to me ; but not 
fine weather for attempting the ascent of such a perpendicular 
heart-breaking hill as Drachenfels. Several times did we sit 
down, almost in despair, and wish that we had not so scorn 
fully rejected the offers of the boys who stood at the foot of 
the hill with such tempting looking donkeys. Finally we 
gained the summit of this most picturesque of crags, and sat 
down among the crumbling ruins of that ancient castle, where 
Siegfried of the Niebelungen Lied slew the dragon, and gained 
himself an immortal name, and where his successors lived and 
so oppressed the peasants and un warlike vassals, that they 
soon wished the Dragon back again instead. 

The view is not equal to that at Rolandseck, across the 
river, which is also the scene of one of the most romantic and 
truly touching of all the Rhine legends. There, upon the beau 
tiful island of Nonnenwerth at our feet, once stood the convent 
into which the fair Hildegard, the betrothed of Roland, entered 
when she was falsely persuaded that he had fallen at Ronces- 
valles; and here, at this gateway, the true knight sat, day 
after day, for two years, ever gazing upon the convent win 
dows, if perchance he might see her face appearing there, or 
might hear her voice mingling in the vesper hymn. And here 
he was one day found sitting, dead, with his face still turned 
towards the convent window. 

This little story Schiller has embodied, with some changes 
of name and place, in one of his most exquisite ballads. Read 
Ritter Toggenberg, and think of me as on the spot where 

" Gazing upward to the convent 

Hour on hour he passed, 
Watching still his lady's lattice 
Till it oped at last. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 47 

" Till that face looked forth so lovely, 

Till the sweet face smiled 
Down into the lonely valley, 
Peaceful, angel-mild." 

But to return to our walk ; we tramped along by the side of 
the river, examining the fine specimens of prismatic basalt 
which lie around everywhere, and which is used for fences, 
steps, and posts. 

In the church of Apollinaris, a beautiful Gothic gem just 
above the town, we made an odd acquaintance, nothing more 
nor less than a young German artist from Dusseldorf, who 
was copying frescoes and paintings. We agreed to go to Cob- 
lentz together, and on the boat had a very jolly time talking 
about student and artist life, German and American universi 
ties and dwellings. We joined in singing Gaudeamus, Lauri- 
ger Horatius, and Edite Bibete. 

BADEN BADEN, August 10, 1857. 

DEAR MOTHER, It is now nearly two weeks since I wrote 
to you, and they have been filled with interest and variety, so 
that it seems impossible that it can be so short a time. We 
have seen Cologne, and the long windings of the Rhine, as 
far as Mayence, including Bonn, Coblentz, and Bingen, with 
transient views of many a rock-girt ruin, which time would 
fail me to enumerate. Indeed, my dear mother, I do not wish 
to fill my letters with descriptions of pictures, cities, and 
views ; far rather would I talk simply and quietly, as when I 
was at home ; but I find that my experiences and surround 
ings give a peculiar tinge to my mind, just as the red wine- 
cup, in which I drank some Niersteiner at Cologne, gave to 
the wine within it the ruby brightness of the sparkling As- 
mannshaiiser, king of the red Rhine wines. So you must ex 
pect to know something of what I have seen ; and first of all 
the Cathedral of Cologne. As we rode in the cars towards 
the city, while yet a long distance off, I saw a strange unfin 
ished pile, which my heart at once told me was the world re 
nowned cathedral. You know there is an old tradition that 



48 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

it was built by the Devil. Now I can easily imagine the 
presence of the Devil's handiwork in the heavy pillars of the 
Madeleine, which looks more like a heathen temple than a 
church of the Christian's God, or in the gaudy marbles of St. 
James at Antwerp. But he never could have touched those 
graceful, airy reeds, which shoot up ever heavenward, leaving 
behind in upward flight all ideas of the gross and material. 
Here one does not feel crushed and confined, as in many 
Gothic and most Grecian churches. In that wondrous choir, 
one hundred and sixty-one feet in height, one seems to see a 
direct avenue to the sky, and the vault is so far remote that 
one may easily be pardoned for supposing that he sees the 
blue dome of heaven itself. .1 can easily pardon the rustic 
ignorance which is enthralled by such architecture ; its effect 
must be dangerous upon the sensitive minds even of the 
highly cultivated order ; and when you add to all these glori 
ous pillars and sculptured saints, and relics well-nigh vying 
with the church itself in antiquity, the golden light streaming 
through painted windows, and the answering voices of the 
choristers, while above all peals the solemn organ, I am not 
the person to blame the weak mind that sinks down by my 
side and exclaims, " Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis." For my 
self, these rites and ceremonies, which I would not call mum 
meries, and cannot call worship, have only the effect to make 
me long more sincerely than ever for the simple service of our 
church at home, which I have not heard since I came away, 
and which I shall learn to appreciate more thoroughly when I 
return. Cologne well deserves to be called the "town of 
Monks and Bones." Two churches are entirely devoted to 
the reception of the osseous remains of two separate sets of 
martyrs ; one, of those of St. Ursula and her eleven thousand 
Virgins, and the other of the Theban Legion of St. Gereon, 
who were slain in one of the persecutions under Diocletian, 
though how they got up here from Thebes I am unable to re 
late. I was not well at Cologne, and did not go around 
much. On the second day we took the boat for Bonn and 
embarked on Father Rhine, who is extremely uninteresting 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 49 

until the Seven Mountains heave in sight, and his real beau 
ties do not begin until you leave Coblentz. I shall long re 
member that most delightful sail. The banks were high and 
richly cultivated, and upon their summits perched many a 
crumbling and ancient castle, with whose names were identi 
fied legends of the olden time, breathing of love and defiance, 
of rapine and war, of knightly generosity and undying love. 
I was much pleased with that which is connected with the 
Castles of Liebenstein and Sternberg, which stand side by 
side upon two crags, and were inhabited by two brothers, who 
were both deeply in love with a fair young girl, a ward of their 
father. The elder, perceiving that she preferred his brother, 
nobly retired and gave the young lady up to him. The 
younger one, instead of profiting by his brother's generosity, 
went off to the crusades, and left his affianced bride in the 
charge of his elder brother ; he was still faithful to his noble 
character, and treated her like a sister. After a time the 
younger brother returned, bringing with him a Grecian wife 
from the East ; whereat the elder sent him a fierce defiance, 
and a bloody conflict would have taken place, had it not been 
for the entreaties of the ill-used lady, who had entered into a 
convent. The false younger brother was punished by the 
perfidy of his Grecian bride, who ran away from him. Ever 
after the two brothers lived happily together, and never saw 
again the unhappy fair one for whom they had striven. As if 
for an emblem of their legend, a white convent lies at the foot 
of the two rival castle crags. Also the rock of the water- 
nixie Loreley or Lurley, and the seven sisters who were turned 
into stone by her, for their coldness and capaciousness. The 
magnificent ruin of Rheinfels is redolent with stirring war 
tales, both of the Middle Ages and of modern times. 

In the Castle of the Cat or Katzeneln bogen lived the noble 
family whom Irving has made famous to Americans by his 
tale of the " Spectre Bridegroom." Just above Boppart is a 
sharp turn in the river, and before reaching it one seems sail 
ing upon a beautiful lake, so completely closed up do both en 
trance and exit appear. At this point the echoes from the 
4 



5<D LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

rock of Lurley can be heard repeated fifteen times, but I am 
inclined to think this an exaggeration ; at least, such was not 
our experience. And so we go gliding on between the vine- 
clad banks, beholding 

" The negligently grand, the fruitful bloom 
Of coming ripeness, the while city's sheen, 
The rolling stream, the precipice's gloom, 
The forest's growth, and gothic walls between 
The wild rocks shaped as they had forests been, 
In mockery of man's art " 

until we reach Bingen, famed by song as " calm Bingen on 
the Rhine." And indeed, not only did we find it calm, but 
also very slow. However, we were very nicely settled, with a 
fine room overlooking the Rhine, and commanding a good 
view of the Niederwald, upon which we gazed with a longing 
eye, impatient to get at it. The next day we were satisfied. 
Early in the morning we got a boat and rowed out into the 
river. From this point we surveyed three independent States, 
the Dukedom of Nassau, the Electorate of Hesse in which 
Bingen stands, and the Kingdom of Prussia. We passed 
through the Bingen loch, a place obstructed by rocks, which 
caused a whirling similar to that at Hell Gate. 

We had a good look at the Mouse Tower, celebrated as 
being the residence of Bishop Hatto, about whom a legend is 
told ; how, when the grain was scarce and the people clamor 
ous for bread, he invited them to come to his barns and get 
corn ; and when a goodly number were gathered there, he 
shut the doors and burned them all to death. Soon after this 
he was attacked in his palace by the rats, and obliged to flee 
to this tower, in the centre of the river ; but even there the 
rats found him out, and completely devoured him, picking his 
bones uncommonly clean. We then landed and climbed up 
to the Castle of Rheinstein, one of the oldest castles on the 
river, which is inhabited by the Prince of Prussia, who has 
restored it to the condition of a castle of the Middle Ages, 
and has filled its walls with old furniture, odd suits of armor, 
and the windows are provided with stained glass of great an- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART, 51 

tiquity. The walls are covered with antique weapons, and 
many interesting relics ; among them, the iron hand of Goetz 
of Berlichingen, autographs, and an ale mug of Luther's, 
which latter showed the great Reformer to have been a de 
cided opponent of the Maine Law. This castle is a place to 
live and die in ; and I had a strong desire to request the head 
servant who showed us around, and who bears the antique 
title of Schlossvogt, to propose to the Prince Frederick, who 
was in the room above us, to take me in for a few weeks to 
board. How the venerable fragment would have opened his 
eyes. The rock upon which the castle stands is falling to 
pieces, and it is found necessary to bind it together with iron 
chains. 

We returned to our boat and crossed the river to Assmanns- 
hausen, where we commenced our ascent to the Niederwald ; 
the top being gained, we refreshed ourselves at the hunting 
castle of the Duke of Nassau, and went into the wood. Here 
we found ourselves once more in the presence of nature, not 
Dutch or French nature, clipped into straight or curved lines, 
but wild and willful nature, unrestrained, and indulging in a 
thousand fantastic forms, with gnarled roots and uncouth 
branches. We came first to the Magic Cave, a strange bower, 
completely surrounded by trees, through which three vistas 
of great length have been cut, and there, at the end of them, 
some three or four miles off, we see the opposite side of the 
Rhine, set, as it were, in a beautiful framework of leaves, and 
producing an effect both magical and beautiful. A little fur 
ther on is an artificial ruin, upon the very pitch of the rock. 
From this we can see the three rivers which here unite, and 
can easily distinguish them from each other by their color, 
the Nahe being brown, the Main, reddish, and the Rhine 
clear green. They do not mix, it is said, until they meet in 
the deep pool of Lurley, several miles below. Still further 
on, is the Temple, a small building erected upon the most 
suitable spot for enjoying the finest view on the Rhine, which 
Bulwer calls, "one of the noblest landscapes upon earth," 
and it would be difficult to imagine a more beautiful pano- 



52 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

rama than this, which takes in all that lovely district known 
as the Rheingau or Bacchanalian Paradise, and extends far off 
towards the fair Heidelberg Bergstrasse, and the dark masses 
of the Odenwald. But I cannot give you any idea of the scene 
in words ; it would be as easy to convey in language a smell 
or a sound ; enough for me to say, that upon this spot alone, 
was I willing to justify the extravagant encomiums that have 
been bestowed upon the Rhine, or to give it a place among 
rivers, beside that majestic stream near whose banks I was 
brought up, and which wants nothing but historic names to 
make it superior in every respect, in beauty, majesty, and fer 
tility, to any river in the world. We continued, on that day, 
the ascent of the river to Mayence ; but we had seen already 
the beauties of the Rhine, and nothing more of interest was 
to be seen, except the hills which produce the Johannisberger, 
the Marcobrunner, and the Steinberger; the three most de 
licious and expensive wines in the world. 

The cathedral tower of Mayence at length announced to us 
the end of our journey for that day. This very ancient build 
ing we viewed with much interest. The oldest part dates 
from 978. In it are the tombs of the powerful archbishops of 
Mayence ; also that of Henry Frauenlob, or Praise the Ladies. 
He was a canon of Mayence, and did so exalt the female sex 
in his songs, that when he died he was borne to the grave by 
eight ladies, who poured into his grave libations both of tears 
and wine, and has ever since borne the title of the Ladies' 
Minstrel. 

Frankfort pleased me much ; and, as soon as I got there, I 
walked out to see the house in which the great author of 
" Faust " and " Wilhelm Meister " was born. It is a house of 
ordinary exterior, but now forever marked out from those which 
stand around it. A very fine colossal statue of Goethe also 
stands in the square, before the theatre, the pedestal of which 
is covered with bas-reliefs taken from the subjects of his works. 
On one side Mephistopheles leans sneering over the shoulder 
of Faust, and Iphigenia is led to the altar of sacrifice. Behind 
we have scenes from " Egmont " and " Tasso," while the third 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 53 

side is occupied with " Wilhelm Meister," and in the corner 
the grave of Werther. 

The environs of Frankfort are quite beautiful. The former 
ramparts have been laid out in gardens, with walks and foun 
tains. But the great art beauty of Frankfort is Dannecker's 
lovely statue of Ariadne and the Panther. This is sur 
rounded by curtains so arranged as to throw a rosy light upon 
the marble, and give it a flesh-like appearance. 

This does not show the Ariadne as deserted by Theseus, 
and gazing ever after the lessening sails of his vessel, but 
rather the Ariadne consoled by Bacchus, and therefore she is 
crowned with the vine leaf and the ivy, and seated upon one 
of the wine god's chariot-drawing panthers. The position 
is remarkably easy, a reclining one, with one foot drawn 
up under her with one hand. The face is pleasantly, but not 
severely, Grecian, and indicates a sort of dreamy repose ; the 
panther, on the contrary, is all life and action. 

In one day more we were in Heidelberg, the most charming 
spot in which I ever set my foot, and rendered doubly dear 
by being the place where I found my letters from home. I 
felt as though I could stay there a month, but was obliged to 
be satisfied with three days, a large part of which time was 
delightfully spent in roaming through the woods and over the 
old castle, which we visited about three times a day. This is 
the noblest of all ruined German castles, and gives one some 
idea of what must have been the power and magnificence of 
the Elector Palatine, by whom it was built and occupied. In 
1764 a dreadful conflagration destroyed all the interior of the 
palace which war and pillage had hitherto spared, and its 
noble courts and halls, which once echoed to the laughter of 
high-born ladies and the rattle of knightly spurs, now lies 
silent and deserted. 

One of the interior fa9ades is very beautiful ; its graceful 
Italian architecture and slim pilasters are the work of Michael 
Angelo, and are in strong contrast to the heavier and more 
Romanesque style of the front adjoining. 

To the garden one passes through a fine gate, resting upon 



54 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

pillars richly carved, and entwined with ivy leaves. It was 
erected in one night, by the Elector Frederick V., as a surprise 
to his bride Elizabeth, the daughter of James the First. To 
this day it is called the Elizabethan Gate. The handiwork of 
the ferocious Count Tilly, the perpetrator of the massacre of 
Magdeburg, is here to be seen. The massive tower at the 
right extremity was blown up by him, while the rest of the 
tower looms up like a grand torso. He, too, it was who lit 
tered his horses in the elector's splendid library, and, when 
straw was scarce, tore up valuable old manuscripts for the ani 
mals to rest upon. Along the front runs the enormous bal 
cony, large enough for a hundred people to dance upon. It 
is grand to lean over the parapet and see the town below, 
and the silver Neckar and the vineyards on the other side. 
Upon this balcony is shown a large and deep foot-mark, said 
to have been made by the foot of a lady, who was pursued by 
a ruffian, and sprang from the highest window of the castle. 
In the vaults of the castle is shown the enormous cask called 
the Heidelberg Tun, which holds eight hundred hogsheads. 
Very naturally by the side of it is placed a statue of the court 
jester, who never used to go to bed without drinking fifteen 
to eighteen bottles of the wine. Homer lamented that the 
arms of men were not as strong as they were wont to be. I 
think we have degenerated in strength of stomach, and we 
might search far and near without finding the man who could 
drink fifteen bottles of wine nowadays. 

We met a number of friends here, four Yale men and six or 
seven from theological seminaries. They were all very kind 
to us, and we had a right jolly walk with them. 

Tuesday, August n. We are just in the very den of that 
great giant whom Bunyan does not mention, but who carries 
off victims bodily, as well as either Pope or Pagan. It does 
seem hard that every healing spring must have a poison foun 
tain by its side, and that the sick cannot come to cure their 
bodies without putting soul and substance in peril by the con 
tagious influence of the gaming table. It had been my inten 
tion to risk a few francs at rouge et noir, just to try the ex- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 55 

periment ; but, when I saw the poor people seated round the 
green board, some with ill-affected looks of unconcern, others 
with their very eyes protruding with excitement, but all fas 
cinated there, as it were, by a snake's eye, I felt all the blood 
tingling in my veins to play high, and ride upon the highest 
wave of passion and fever-heat ; and I tore myself away al 
most by main force, knowing well that I should never stop 
while I had a sou left. I breathed freer when I found myself 
in safety in the open air. But truly these gaming houses are 
a disgrace to the sovereigns by whom they are licensed, and 
who derive from them the greater part of their revenues. 
Their argument is that gambling will go on, and it is better 
that they should license and regulate it ; but I think that this 
merely shows their weakness and cupidity, in that they are 
not able to cut them up root and branch. The water in the 
springs is intensely warm, varying from 212 to 144. It is 
much more abundant than is needed for medicinal purposes, 
and some of the springs are used by the country people for 
scalding pigs and poultry. In taste the water resembles 
chicken broth. 

The Black Forest begins here behind the town, and 
stretches its gloomy length over eighty miles to Schaffhausen. 
We should have liked to walk through it, but our intended 
trip to Strasburg will make it out of the question. 

FRIEBURG IN BADEN, August 12. 

We had a most delightful journey yesterday. On the French 
border we came near being sent back because we had not the 
vise of the Baden police to enter France, but, by dint of very 
considerable soft sawder and politeness to the head gens- 
d'arme, he finally consented to keep our passports at the 
guard-house until we should return. So we jogged into France 
in a way quite jolly, but very irregular. Our gaze was of 
course immediately directed towards the splendid minster, 
which looms up grandly, and can be seen from a long dis 
tance, and naturally, since it is the highest building in the 
world, four hundred and eight feet in height, or twenty-four 



56 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

feet higher than the great pyramid. Like Cologne cathe 
dral, this glorious pile is unfinished, the other lofty tower 
being necessary to complete it and to fill it out symmetrically. 
The exterior is very light and chaste, and the spire is wholly 
made of beautiful open-work, so fine and delicate that it rather 
seems like iron than stone. But within how different ! The 
pillars are perfectly enormous, and the roof, which is not very 
high, is vaulted in a style rather Romanesque than Gothic. 
The change from the round to the pointed style can here be 
read, the choir being a fine specimen of the heavy round 
style, while the rest is a sort of cross between round and 
pointed. Nowhere is seen that airy and spiritual-pointed arch 
which so captivates the senses and touches the heart at Co 
logne. You might imagine that it was an underground palace 
built by the gnomes for their king, or the court where the stern 
Minos and Rhadamanthus give their eternal decrees, rather 
than a glorious temple of the living and beneficent Deity. The 
south transept is supported by a single beautiful pillar, sur 
rounded by three rows of figures, the lowest of saints, the 
next of the angels of praise, and the highest, the angels of 
love. The statue of the architect, Erwin von Steinbach, is 
seen leaning from a small Gothic gallery, with his eye con 
stantly fixed upon this pillar, which was one of his favorite 
pieces. When he died the building of the cathedral was car 
ried on by his daughter Sabina. 

We walked back to Kehl, and had a very pleasant ride to 
this place in the third-class cars, a place which we had not as 
yet explored. There are decided advantages about the third- 
class cars ; in the first place, one is sure to avoid the Eng 
lish ; then it is more open and airy, thus giving a better view 
of the country ; and, finally, it is much the best place to see 
the people of the country. Here all are at their ease, and talk 
together as if they had known each other for years. The 
Germans whom I have seen much of, and with whom I have 
taken occasion to converse, strike one soon as being very full 
of a spirit of humanity and kindness, although at first their 
slow and phlegmatic temperament may lead one to consider 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 57 

them indifferent and regardless of the comforts of others ; but 
this is not so. Their politeness is always aroused by the wants 
of any person, and this is based upon true courtesy and good 
ness of heart. One thing has troubled me ever since I came 
to Europe, and that is the immense amount of labor performed 
by the female sex. Cows and women work in the fields with 
oxen and men. This is sorely prejudicial to female beauty, 
and thus blowsed and burnt by wind and sun, the fairest face 
soon becomes moderately frightful ; consequently a pretty face 
is almost a wonder in the agricultural districts. Our ride was 
a very pleasant one, lying as it did all along the edge of the 
Black Forest Mountains, which gave a continual variety of 
surface, with an occasional castle or old tower. 

SCHAFFHAUSEN, August 12. 

At last I am in Switzerland, and from this first Swiss town 
this letter shall be mailed, I am determined. Our ride through 
the Black Forest has been perfectly splendid. Soon after 
leaving Frieburg, the wildness of the scenery began. We 
ascended a hill called Heaven, and thence descended into a 
dark and narrow dell which goes by the name of the Valley 
of Hell. At the Gate are two very picturesque and frowning 
rock pillars. This is called the Stag's Leap, from an old 
tradition, that a stag, hard pressed, sprang across the chasm 
from one rock to the other. He must have taken a very long 
run to it. The scenery is much like that of the Catskills, only 
hardly so wild and new, but these magnificent forests of pine, 
fir, and hemlock, are unequaled by any woods that I have ever 
seen. In walking through them the foot sinks into the soil 
as into a cushioned carpet, and everywhere is that delightful 
woody smell that I love so much. 

When about half way to Schaffhausen I saw what looked 
like clouds, and yet did not move like clouds ; they were the 
sky-piercing snow-clad summits of the Alps, but so over 
whelming was their height that I could scarcely believe my 
eyes. What must they be near at hand ! We crossed the 
frontier by passing over a little brook ; and I threw my hat in the 



58 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

air to think that I was in a free land, and no more subject to 
police or custom-house. Day after to-morrow we shall proba 
bly shoulder our knapsacks to walk. It strikes me as a 
strange coincidence ; and perhaps also as an omen, that on 
the same day I begin my independent travel, I also take my 
first steps upon the road of life as a man. Perhaps the toil 
some walk will be only emblematic of a life of toil and suffer 
ing. Be it so ! I have a strong faith in what Carlyle says in 
" Sartor Resartus," about the worship of Sorrow. But I hope 
at least that walking will do us both good. You must forgive 
everything in these fragmentary letters ; were my body settled, 
my ideas would be more so. 

ZURICH, August 20, 1857. 

We arrived in this place last night after a week's tramping, 
and found our letters from home. I mailed my last letter 
to you at Schaffhausen. We put our carpet-bags into the Post 
restante, directed to ourselves at Zurich, and having all cares 
of luggage off our minds, we left our knapsacks at the hotel, 
and tramped off to see the celebrated Falls of the Rhine, 
which have the reputation of being the finest water-fall in 
Europe. This claim has been contested, however. I have 
never seen Niagara, you know, and consequently was the better 
able to appreciate this very beautiful cascade, for it scarcely 
deserves the name of a great water-fall. Its characteristics 
are rather fairy-like beauty, than grand sublimity. It excites 
delight rather than awe. For myself I was charmed with it, 
so far did it surpass any fall which I had ever seen. With 
such violence does the water dash down upon the rocks, that 
it is separated into millions of diamond spray drops, from 
which arises a column of white mist which is visible in the 
night-time at a long distance. A castle has been built by 
an artist on the rock, beside the fall, and permission is given 
to travellers to go out on a platform at the foot of the castle, 
which is directly under the fall. This is the finest spot to see 
the shoot, which passes directly over one's head, and seems 
continually about to rush in and overwhelm the spectator. 
Occasionally a larger burst than common invades the plat- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 59 

form, and gives every one on it a right good soaking. We 
put on some India-rubber coats, and presented ourselves in 
the very teeth of the cataract. Breath, sight, and hearing were 
quickly taken away, but it was a grand sensation to feel the 
cataract all around me, and to imagine myself one with the 
roaring and rushing flood. The rainbow on the spray is 
lovely, and with a gentle wave-like motion it rises and falls 
with the undulations of the mist, now mounting to the very 
summit of the spray crest, now resting below on the seething 
bosom of the basin. Nothing can be more beautiful than the 
snow-white foam garment in which the Rhine Undine has ar 
rayed her favorite cascade. It makes me think of a snow-drift 
blown at once onwards and yet in rolling columns. 

We returned to the hotel, girded up our loins, fastened on 
our knapsacks, with our good canes in hand, and tramped on 
the road to Constance, intending to walk seventeen miles to 
Steckborn, as we had already walked four miles to and from 
the Rhine fall, and at Steckborn to take the evening boat for 
Constance, since thirty-three miles was rather too long a walk 
for the first day. Of our first exercise in walking what shall I 
say ? How we walked seven miles, and stopped to dine at a 
small inn, where we were astonished at the cheapness of our 
fare. How beautifully looked the clear green Rhine, how 
pleasantly the wind blew down from the hills and through the 
valley, cooling us when heated, and removing the fatigue we 
deserved for not starting off earlier ; and how, when about a 
mile from the town of Steckborn, after we had just arisen from 
a pleasant rest by a brook, we saw the steamboat for Con 
stance, which we had been told would not come till an hour 
later, rushing along past us, and how for a little while we tried 
youthful spunk against steam in a race, but finally were 
obliged to give in dead beat, and reconcile our minds to 
spending the night at Steckborn. Here we had a grand 
bath, and with limbs all fresh and reinvigorated made our 
entry into Steckborn, and were soon devouring a tremen 
dous supper of bread and milk and honey, at the Lion. And 
here let me tell you what care we are obliged to take of our 



60 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

feet. Every night, before going to bed, they are carefully 
rubbed with tallow and brandy, mixed in the palm of the hand, 
to strengthen and keep them soft. In the morning the stock 
ings (thick, woolen ones), are soaped on the inside, then all 
sores or blisters, especially on the shoulders where the knap 
sack straps come, have to be treated with arnica and brandy, 
and all lameness removed with good rubbings and bathings. 
Our hours of rising and lying down are very primitive ; in 
stead of going to bed at four and getting up at eight, as I 
sometimes did at home, I now go to bed at eight and rise at 
four, that is to say, when pedestrianizing. These early hours 
are beginning to lose their horrors for me, and I think that 
upon the whole my constitution will survive the shock. To 
return to Steckborn, I passed the last night of my minority 
in a furious battle with numerous fleas past and present, the 
former having already left their itching mementoes upon me, 
and the latter being desirous to imitate their example. Al 
though dreadfully tired, I could not sleep. It struck me as 
being perhaps a kind of initiation into manhood. As the 
aspirants to the honor of knighthood in the good days of 
chivalry were bound to wake the night before and protect 
their armor, so I, who have been for many years an anxious 
aspirant for manly honors, was obliged to lie awake and pro 
tect my armor. Finally I devised a plan for treeing the in 
sects, a plan which I flattered myself was ingenious, original, 
and poetical. It was this. The moonlight was streaming 
in at the window, and lay on the bed in a broad band of silver 
light, cutting off the pillow and a little more from the rest of 
the bed. Upon the pillow I curled myself up and watched 
intently to see if any unlucky insect would dare to set foot on 
the sacred stream ; had any done so he would have " died a 
flea's death " ; but no one made his appearance, and behind 
this Diana's shield, I was safe. Sleep at length overcame 
the sentinel, but it was undisturbed, and I awoke in the morn 
ing slightly cramped, but jubilantly victorious, and twenty- 
one years old. This levity may seem out of place in one who 
has a right to style himself a man, but I feel so jolly at receiv 
ing letters that my spirits find an outlet in every direction. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 6 1 

We left early for Constance, and at the entrance saw the 
meadow in which John Huss and Jerome of Prague were 
burned. The hole is still shown in which the fatal stake was 
set. This is one of the spots of holy ground, where the Prot 
estant breathes a blessing on the noble martyrs whose ashes 
have whitened the soil, and whose blood has soaked the sod. 
In this decayed old city we also saw the large Guild Hall, 
where the grand council was held which condemned Huss to 
death, and in the minster is shown the stone upon which he 
stood when his sentence was pronounced. They say that this 
stone always remains dry when the stones around are wet. 
The city, in fact, is redolent of Huss ; they show the house 
where he was captured, and the castle where he was confined. 
In fact, the martyrdom of John Huss is the stock in trade of 
Constance, now that most travellers are Protestants, and all 
pilgrims passing through must see the places associated with 
the history of the " Bohemian Goose," from whose wing Luther 
plucked the quill with which he wrote his thesis. 

The Lake of Constance, or Bodensee, as it is called, is one 
of the largest, but not the most picturesque, of the Swiss lakes. 
On it we took boat and sailed for Rorschach, which is an ex- , 
tensive corn market, on the southern shore, and at the end of 
the road leading to St. Gall. The scenery on the lake was 
quite flat and tame at first, but as we approached the south 
eastern side, the rugged and lofty mountains of Appenzell 
made their appearance, and towering above them all, the 
snow-covered Sends, of which more anon. We were too tired 
and sleepy to enjoy anything very much, and dropped into a 
quiet nap, which lasted until we found ourselves near Rors 
chach, when we rubbed our eyes and prepared to go ashore. 
As we approached the pretty and flourishing city of St. Gall, 
we met the younger portion of the population out for an even 
ing walk. We saluted them all, high and low, with the regular 
German address " Guten Abend." 

The inn in which we slept was of an humble exterior, but 
very good ; the room was hung round with cards filled with 
extremely practical and straightforward Scripture texts, show- 



62 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ing that our hosts were reformed to the backbone. Rising 
very early the next morning, we proceeded towards the canton 
of Appenzell, celebrated as being the land of the great original 
" Ranz des Vaches," and also for its wild and picturesque 
scenery. It has also the advantage of being rather out of the 
ordinary course of travel, and is not overrun in every direction 
by the English. 

It is divided into two sections, Outer and Inner Rhoden, 
which are most singularly opposed to each other in religious 
matters, for two parts of one canton. Outer Rhoden contains 
42,746 Protestants to 875 Catholics, while Inper Rhoden has 
11,230 Catholics to 42 Protestants. The difference is soon 
perceived on passing from one to the other. Outer Rhoden 
has all the signs of life and prosperity. It is principally en 
gaged in farming and manufactures. Inner Rhoden, on the 
contrary, a people of shepherds and graziers, is characterized 
by that happy moral and physical soil, compounded of dirt, 
vice, and laziness, in which Catholicism seems so readily to 
take root. 

The capital, Appenzell, is branded by the guide books as a 
dirty and decayed place ; so we satisfied ourselves with re 
garding it from the top of the highest hill, and then went on 
to a small place two or three miles further on the mountain 
side, called Weissbad. The nucleus of the place is a large 
hotel, called Molken Kur, or milk cure. Many Swiss and 
Germans come here to restore their health by drinking goats' 
milk, and breathing the mountain air, and many come for no 
particular reason at all. This was Saturday. We engaged a 
guide to take us over the great Mt. Sentis on Monday morn 
ing, and resigned ourselves to passing Sunday in a place where 
not a soul spoke English but ourselves, and in a canton where, 
as I have said, there were only forty-two Protestants. We of 
course made forty-four. The houses and barns of Weissbad 
are very prettily scattered over the gentle slopes which lead 
up to the frowning rocky range beyond, and several foaming 
brooks flow through the little valleys. 

From the tops of the surrounding hills we heard in the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 63 

evening the " Ranz des Vaches." It is not, as I had sup 
posed, any regular air or set of airs, but is, as Sam Weller re 
marks, according to the taste and fancy of the singer. The 
airs are very rude and simple, and derive pretty much all their 
charm from the echoes of the hills, and the peculiarly romantic 
nature of the accompanying scenery. On the Meglis Alp I 
heard a singer, or yodler as they call them, whose voice and 
song were remarkably sweet. This, I am inclined to believe, 
is an exception to the general rule. 

On Sunday it rained, and I was dreadfully homesick, a 
complaint which I had' thought completely cured. My want 
of occupation threw me back upon memories of the past, and 
there of course the home-light was most conspicuous. 

This Zurich is a very pretty place, although there is no wild 
scenery about it. The Lake of Zurich empties itself here by 
the river Limmat, whose water is so clear that one can see the 
bottom all the way across. We are delightfully situated at the 
Stork Hotel, on the Limmat. Just in front is the great min 
ster, in which the dauntless and gallant Zwingle preached the 
real Reformation. His name is peculiarly honored here, and 
the house is shown in which he passed the last six years of 
his life. 

I send you a sweet little sprig of " Vergiss mein nicht," 
from the foot of old Sends, not because I am afraid that you 
will forget me, but the sweet little flowers blooming close by 
the snow were just like those we have at home. 

I shall always be your own boy. 

RIGHI KULM, August 25, 1857. 

MY DEAR AUNT, The "rabies scribendi" has attacked 
me in full force here, 5,550 German feet above the sea, and as 
I cannot in decency attack mother or John again, having dis 
patched a rather lengthy letter from Zurich, you see you are 
the victim. It has seemed to me that it would perhaps be a 
pleasure to you to recall to your mind some of the delightful 
scenes through which you passed six years ago, and which are 
undoubtedly sweeter in the recollection than in the actual en- 



64 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

joyment. For my part I can easily imagine that when I shall 
once more be seated by the family fireside, I can enjoy these 
scenes in memory without that eternal longing for the home- 
roof which now mingles with all I see or do. Then, too, the 
point of view from which I regard matters and things must be 
so different from that in which they appeared to you, that they 
will have a certain aspect of novelty. We left Zurich last 
Friday afternoon, and began our tramp over the Albis range 
towards Zug ; the ascent of the Albis is not at all difficult, es 
pecially for youths who had just overcome the difficulties of 
the Sentis Pass in the canton of Appenzell, which is one of the 
hardest and wildest in Switzerland. Over our shoulders we 
saw as we ascended, " the margin of fair Zurich's waters " 
peeping out in separate spots, which looked like a long line of 
isolated little lakes, and when we reached the top, the lake of 
Zug looked up with its figure 8 of a bed ; this, however, we 
could not trace till later. 

There was one object of interest by the roadside near 
Cappel, which had the effect of exciting my enthusiasm pow 
erfully ; it was the monumental stone of Ulric Zwingle. He 
always was a hero of mine. His noble boldness, and true en 
thusiasm for the great cause in which he was engaged, ever 
stood, to my mind, in strong contrast with the comparative 
timidity and scholastic quiet of Luther. Then, as a reformer, 
he was so much more thorough and decided than Luther ; 
in him was no clinging to old forms, no adherence to Mother 
Church, no undue reverence for old corruptions simply because 
they were old. The results of the labors of these two reform 
ers, are not equal at the present day ; while the weak Luther- 
anism of modern Germany is yielding on all sides to the 
attacks made upon it, to Roman Catholicism on the one 
side, and to skepticism and indifference on the other, the 
Protestantism of the reformed cantons is still nourished in 
life and strength ; and not uselessly, for it brings with it pros 
perity and self-respect, witness the activity and power of 
Berne and Zurich, the first cantons in Switzerland. Then to 
the end of all things Death how different ; one scarcely 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 6$ 

knows how Luther died, but we all have heard of Zwingle's 
martyr death how on the battlefield of Cappel, when the 
" sword of the Lord and of Gideon " had fallen from his nerve 
less hand, an enemy found him lying, and ran him through 
with his lance, how he gasped out, " You can kill the body but 
not the soul," and died. I was much pleased with the sim 
plicity of the memorial which was raised just upon the place 
where he fell. It is a huge, shapeless mass of stone, into the 
middle of which is let a plate with the inscription. At Zug 
we crossed the Lake of Immensee, and continued our tramp 
towards Luzerne. Near Kussnacht we came suddenly upon 
Tell's Chapel, amid the wooded height from which he winged 
the fatal arrow, and followed it with the bitter taunt, " Thou 
knowest the shorter, look not for another ?' There are sev 
eral things about the story of Tell which are so confused and 
contradictory, that I scarcely know what to believe. There 
is the best reason, to suppose that he was not entirely a 
myth, for, besides the old and numerous country traditions, 
we have an account of the dedication of Tell's Platte, on 
the spot where he sprang ashore from the boat of Gessler, 
at which, thirty-one years after the death of Tell, one hun 
dred and thirteen persons were present who knew him per 
sonally, and assisted in the ceremonies. I dislike, extremely, 
the ordinary portrait that is drawn of him, viz.: that of a 
spouting patriot, into whose mouth are put all sorts of flat 
sentiments about Liberty and Fatherland. Now it is cer 
tain that Tell was not one of the conspirators at Rutli, from 
which place he would never have absented himself had he 
been such a character as he is described to be. How much 
more satisfactory is the man whom Schiller shows us ; a char 
acter said to have been originally suggested by Goethe; the 
swift mountaineer with an intense love for his family and his 
home, and an intense enjoyment of the free blue sky, but 
happily untainted by those modern ideas of abstract liberty 
in which it is the fashion to clothe every hero of the past. 
His nature is made up of sweet domestic traits, that noble 
simplicity which is the foundation of all that touches and in- 
5 



66 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

terests, even when finally he draws the fatal bow-string, with 
such words as these : 

" Till now the father never went from home, 

But joy, sweet joy awaited his return 
. He always brought back something for the children, 
Some Alpine flower, rare bird, or precious fossil, 
Such as the wanderer finds by stream or mountain. 
Alas ! how different his employment now ! 
He sits by the wild way with thoughts of death, 
'T is his foe's life for which he lies in wait, 
And yet, dear children, he but thinks of you, 
Even now 't is to preserve your lives, 't is to 
Save your sweet innocence from wrong and danger 
He now sends forth his bolt at the destroyer." 

So pure and beautiful are the traits of his nature that we 
revolt from his shooting Gessler from behind a bank, assassin- 
like, even to protect his children from the evil to come. Still 
his whole life, as drawn by Schiller, makes, to the mind's eye 
a charming home picture, fit to be cherished in the heart. 

Leaving the chapel and the ruined castle of Gessler behind 
us, we soon came in sight of the beautiful Lake of the Four 
Cantons, had a delightful stroll along its pleasant banks, till, 
from a little eminence, we saw Lucerne. What a lovely place 
it is ; everything in the background so wild and rugged, Pilatus 
frowning above all, and in the foreground all so peaceful and 
picturesque the old city walls with its towers, the crystal 
stream of the Reuss, and the fair lake sleeping so quietly in 
the sunlight. I was perfectly charmed with Luzerne, and had 
time suffered would have stayed there several days and at 
tempted the ascent of Mount Pilatus, which would have been 
right spicy and interesting from the danger which attends it. 
How were you pleased with the Lion of Luzerne, erected as a 
memorial of the Swiss Guards who were massacred at the 
Tuilleries in 1792 ? For myself, I could only regard it as a 
work of art ; as such it has a power and simplicity which are 
remarkable, and serve as an additional proof of the vast genius 
of Thorwaldsen, who could thus desert the beaten track, and 
hew from the very bosom of the rock an image which is won- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 67 

derful, both from its colossal proportions and life-like attitude 
and expression. But I cannot blend with this any glow of 
admiration or enthusiasm for the men whose fidelity it was 
erected to commemorate; their motives were mercenary and 
mean ; had they beaten off the mob, probably they expected 
that their pay would have been doubled, as it was, their 
blood was bought for gold, and at the service of the master 
who could pour it out where and when he would. How much 
more honorable the trophies of Swiss bravery to be seen in 
the Arsenal there, and which were won by deeds of antique 
bravery, upon fields whose names are now like a trumpet call 
Sempach, Morgarten, Morat. The signet-ring of Charles 
le Temeraire, taken from his finger as he lay stretched on the 
field of Morat; the ducal robe of Austria worn at Sempach, 
when Arnold von Winkelried offered up his heroic life and 
" Death made way for Liberty ; '"' the heavy iron collars in 
which the Austrian noble intended to confine the free necks of 
the Swiss these are trophies well worth fighting for, and 
proudly pointing to when won. . . . 

These glorious Alps, how they satisfy my longings after wild 
free nature ! 

In Belgium, Holland, and France, I wandered among pal 
aces which dazzled and picture galleries which bewildered my 
mind, ignorant of art, and through scenery where the hand of 
man had robbed Nature of her glorious forest crown, and had 
placed upon her brow, instead, the tinsel ornaments of parks 
and vineyards. I stood in churches and cathedrals where 
religious architects had done their best, but I could not com 
prehend, in a full degree, the language spoken by slender 
pillars and pointed arches, purpled pinnacles and painted win 
dows ; but here nature's vast book is wide open, and a child 
like myself, who has always loved her, can easily read the 
pages upon which the gigantic characters are snow capped 
mountains and rushing streams and deep blue lakes. I wish 
for no other cathedral than the great forest dome, and for no 
fairer pictures than the sun paints at noon in the waveless lake, 
and at evening in the rosy clouds. Of course, as time passes 



68 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

I hope that I may come to have a more complete and intelli 
gent appreciation of art, but for some time yet I desire to be 
Nature's alone. The glaciers I am looking forward to with 
great anticipations of delight, and am afraid I shall be half 
crazy when I get into the Bernese Oberland, and the region of 
Mont Blanc. 

GRINDELWALD, September i, 1857. 

MY DEAR J., During the past week I have had my fill of 
mountain climbing : we have been over the Pass of the St. 
Gothard, crossed the mountain range which separates this 
canton of Tessin from Italy, crossed back over the Cries 
Glacier to Switzerland, over the Grimsel to Meiringen, and to 
day have climbed the great Scheideck to this place. To-mor 
row we cross the Wengern Alp, which has the reputation of 
being one of the hardest mountains in Switzerland to ascend. 
All the natural laziness in me trembles at the idea of the 
scramble which we shall probably enjoy. 

I wrote a letter to Aunt E. from the Righi, but as I finished 
it in the evening I had no chance to describe the magnificent 
sunrise which we had the next morning. At a very early hour 
the whole population of the Culm were aroused by a stunning 
racket in the entries, which reminded me more of college than 
anything else, and in about three quarters of an hour, some 
hundred or more shivering persons were assembled on the 
summit, many of them scantily clad, and some wearing around 
them for shawls, the bed blankets which they had carried off 
in spite of the prohibitory notice stuck up in all the rooms. I, 
arrayed in my heavy overcoat, could afford to laugh compas 
sionately at my miserable fellow beings. Long before the sun 
rose, faint streaks of light came streaming up, heralds of the 
glory to come. As the light grew bright, the few clouds in the 
heavens were illuminated and the distant glaciers of the Ber 
nese Oberland were overspread with a most beautiful rosy 
light. Beneath our feet all was cloud and mist, through which 
not a glimpse of the habitable world was to be obtained, while 
around and above the glorious day had already begun ; it was 
as if we were separated from the world by a thick veil and the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 69 

sun was rising for us alone. As the sun rose to plain sight, 
over the mountain top, a shepherd blew on his horn the wel 
come to the sun, and there was very speedily a scattering to 
the breakfast-table. We were soon through breakfast and off 
with our new compagnons de voyage E. N. W. and B. L. 

I have been installed paymaster, linguist, and commander- 
in-chief of the party, a post which my previous experience in 
money and hotel slang, together with total disregard of the 
wrath of landlords and waiters, render me peculiarly fitted 
for. We came down from the Righi to Gersau, and crossed 
the Lake of the four-wood cantons to Fluelen, and thence 
to Altorf, where we took dinner, with the scenes of Tell's 
great exploit on every side of us. We stopped at the Hotel 
de William Tell ; just above us was a fountain where the 
father stood, with his cross bow ; just below, another fountain 
occupying the spot where was once the linden tree, under 
which the boy stood, with the apple on his head. On the 
hills just beside the town, stands the little village in which 
Tell was born. I hope by this time you will see what a tell 
tale place it must have been. We reached Amstag that night, 
and left right early in the morning, since H. C, who is an 
early bird, started us all up by 4 A. M. 

With the frowning mass of the Bristenstock above us, we 
left the extremely picturesque village of Amstag, and came 
ever, as we ascended higher and higher, into wilder and wilder 
regions, the scraggy mountains above, and the roaring, foam 
ing Reuss below. Beauty was abundantly added by the many 
fountains which were seen on every side, pouring from a great 
height, in one pure, foamy stream, or else, in an almost 
endless succession of little laughing and jumping cataracts. 

The road was an admirable one ; built of heavy masonry, 
in places where the streams would be liable to wash it, span 
ning the gulf of the Reuss with numerous bridges, which in 
any other place would be thought most picturesque, and pro 
tected in some spots by long stone galleries, from the destruc 
tive effects of the winter avalanches. One of the bridges 
crosses a cleft of very great depth, though not more than 



70 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

eighteen or twenty feet wide ; tradition says, that once a monk 
leaped across this chasm, with a damsel in his arms, and thus 
preserved her from some ruffians, who were pursuing her ; 
he must have been a more clean-limbed and springy fellow 
than most of the monks I have seen, to have got across the 
cleft alone, to say nothing of the slightly cumbersome addi 
tional weight which he carried. The story is rather a stretch 
both for the monk's legs and my imagination. 

Further on, the scenery grows still wilder, and the name of 
the Teufel is frequently used in describing prominent objects. 
The Teufel's Stone is an immense block of rough rock, which 
Mr. Teufel was said to have been seen by a peasant, carrying 
on his shoulder, and upon the peasant's making a pious ejacu 
lation, Old Clooty dropped his burden and put for the Styx 
instead of the Reuss. Might it not have been that the peas 
ant was deceived by some spectral illusion, like that of the 
Brocken Spectre, caused by the reflection of his own shadow, 
upon a bank of mist, greatly magnified? But the most tre 
mendously wild and weird thing in the valley, is the Teufel's- 
briicke, or Devil's Bridge. There are two, both spanning the 
immense and roaring gorge with a single leap. The older 
one was built by the Devil's permission, as described in the 
Golden Legend, and the other, finer, but less picturesque, 
built in 1830, by the canton ; taken together, they produce a 
very strange effect, especially as the lower one is all over 
grown with moss and grass. The rock rises immediately 
behind the bridge, in a most strikingly savage manner, and 
on every side are seen precipices so steep, cliffs so jagged, 
streams so headlong, vegetation so scanty and desolate, with 
the mocking wind sweeping in great blasts through the nar 
row defile, that to me, it surpassed all that I ever had imagined 
of savage grandeur. 

But even the horrors of this tremendous valley must have 
been increased, when, in 1799, the French and Austrians fought 
here a most bloody battle, partly upon the very bridge itself, 
and when they, being obliged to retreat, blew up the bridge, 
or rather a part of it, and plunged friend and foe together 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. Jl 

into the abyss below. The fall of the Reuss is here very 
considerable, and peculiarly noticeable for its tremendous fury ; 
a beautiful rainbow stood on it when we saw it. But I must 
bid you good-by, for the present, as we are going out to look 
at the glacier which seems almost to come in at my window. 

Sept. 2. We did not go to the Wengern Alp to-day, 
after all. At 3^ A. M. we were waked according to order, 
but it was raining hard, and all ideas of climbing the arduous 
mountain are out of the question ? We accordingly may 
on to Interlaken to-day, and from that place I will finish this 
letter. 

Sept. 2, Afternoon, Interlaken. What a glorious batch of 
letters I have just received here, and how perfectly happy I 
am ! .... The news of which you spoke was news in 
deed to me, as for some time past we have been roaming in 
a wild and desolate country, which has no papers of its own, 
let alone " Galignani," the " London Times," or the " New York 
Herald ;" and I am as totally ignorant of anything which has 
been going on in the civilized world, as if I had been living 
in the planet Jupiter. Last Saturday, my dear Jack, was your 
birthday, and I remembered you most affectionately, as I rose 
to see the sunlight of the 29th of August, in the Val Formazza 
and to hear the roar of the magnificent fall of the Tosa, which 
leaps over the precipices in an immediate fall of four hundred 
feet, and falls a thousand feet in a short distance. To my taste, 
it was superior to the fall of Schaffhausen, although I think 
many would prefer the vast volume and graceful beauty of the 
latter, to the wild grandeur and terrific height of the Tosa Fall. 
I shouted to the echoes here, " Many happy returns to you, 
dear Jack ! " and the echoes most faithfully repeated, " You, 
dear Jack ! " I would have written you a letter here on that 
day, but the first two thirds were occupied in a most tremen 
dous climb, over the steep and precipitous mountain range 
which separates Sardinia from Switzerland, a walk across 
the Gries Glacier, and a very long descending walk to the 
town Obergestelen, which we reached by about 2 p. M. This 
trip is described in the guide books as a very tough day's 



/2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

work, but we did it in less than seven hours, and could, if 
necessary, have done fifteen miles more before bedtime. As 
it was, we were all fatigued enough to eat a good dinner and 
go to bed very early, and so I was obliged to give up my 
cherished plan of wishing you many happy returns upon the 
day itself. 

I am now a man, my dear brother, as well as yourself. We 
stand together now, shoulder to shoulder, in the battle-field of 
life; and from this reconnoitering post of August, 1857, would 
it not be well to look down and survey the field of the future, 
and think of some general plan for the campaign of the world. 
For myself, it does not seem as if I should ever be married, 
and should prefer to live with you and mother in the old style, 
until something inexorable shall occur to drive our barks into 

separate seas I now feel anxious for difficulties to 

appear, in order that I may meet and vanquish them ; it is 
hard to persuade a man who has surmounted the steepness 
of the Alps, that there is any difficulty which can detain, or 
danger which can daunt him. 

I was prepared to be disappointed in the glaciers. I think 
it requires a sort of preliminary education before one gets to 
really appreciate what wondrous things they are, and how vast 
the phenomena must have been from which they had their 
origin. I have now come to consider them as they should be 
considered, the miracles of the mountains. 

The first specimen of which we had a view was not a very 
favorable one ; it was the Gries Glacier, lying between two 
lofty peaks of the Nufenen range, and though of considerable 
extent, yet it wants that wonderful depth and beautiful azure 
tinge which make so many of the other glaciers so attractive. 
We crossed it completely, and that after the time (loi A. M.) 
when it is safe to cross. By n or 12 M. the snow melts the 
ice, which is formed during the night, over the clefts and 
cracks. The whole surface was quite soft and slushy, and it 
seemed as if we were in danger of falling in every minute, but 
when we came to a crack the deep, thick ice walls assured us 
that we were walking on a floor nearly as solid as the earth it- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 73 

self. In fact our less practiced companions often thought 
that we were walking on the ground, from the heaps of stones 
and heavy dirt through which not a particle of ice could be 
seen, but every now and then a deep cleft or the sound of 
gurgling water underneath assured them of their mistake. 

The great Glacier of the Rhone we passed, and, although 
we did not go very near it, we had a fine opportunity to ob 
serve its remarkable shape, and the purity and clearness of its 
ice. Its shape is much that of a heavy glove, and from this 
similarity Longfellow has drawn one of his most admirable 
comparisons. He calls it a gauntlet which the old. Winter 
King has thrown down to Summer, and which every year the 
Sun, the champion of Summer, strives in vain to raise upon 
the point of his glittering sunbeam-spear. From a deep cav 
ern within the glacier rises the noble river Rhone, which is 
certainly more interesting in its youth, among the mountains 
of Switzerland, than in its turbid and turbulent old age on the 
plains of southern France. 

But the most beautiful glacier that I have yet seen has been 
the Glacier of Rosenlaui, which we visited last Tuesday. It is 
small in size, and lies imbedded between the craggy peaks of 
the Wellhorn and the Engelhorn. On account of the freedom 
of the surrounding rocks from marl and the softer beds, the 
virgin whiteness of the ice is not deformed by masses of dirt 
and impurity, as is the case with many glaciers, but its hills 
and bergs shine in crystal purity, and in all the clefts the 
separated sides of the ice are of the most beautiful blue imag 
inable, as lovely as a summer sky. By a series of rather slip 
pery and dangerous steps we climbed up on to the glacier, 
and examined these blue ice-holes, which go stretching down 
ward like the clear ocean on a calm day, but with a purer 
and more heavenly azure than even the ocean depths. The 
rough rocks, and the whole gap above the glacier, have in 
their outline a resemblance to a human face, and they say that 
it is the Mountain Spirit who thus watches over the beautiful 
treasure which lies so cold and icy on his rocky breast, and 
have given it the name of the " Watcher of the Glacier." 



74 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

To L. R. P. 

INTERLAKEN, September 2, 1857. 

.... Can't you meet me at or near Geneva, on or be 
fore the ist of October, and travel with me for about a month 
and a half in Italy ? C. expects to go home at the end of our 
Swiss tour, which will probably terminate in about three and 
a half weeks, bringing us to Geneva by the 25th of September. 
Near that time you can come on ; and right glad shall I be to 
shake you by the hand on the shore of this Old World. We 
could have a classical tour of the most delightful description ; 
you shall do the classical allusions, and I will do the art, since 
I have studied it somewhat in the last two months. . . . 
I should be delighted if you would join us at Martigny, which 
we shall reach in about ten days. These Alps are perfectly 
glorious, and I know you would enjoy them immensely. They 
freshen a man up, and give him new soul-life to go back to 
society and art, and to enjoy them with a new zest. . . . What 
do you want to spend a month in Heidelberg for ? Certainly 
not to learn German ; that is the greatest farce in the world, 
to say nothing of the fact that pretty poor German is spoken 
in Baden. The students of German there don't seem to learn 
enough in a year to ask decently for their daily bread and but 
ter. You could gain far more profit by drinking at the grand 
old Italian fount of learning and inspiration, and treading 
those fields which have been so often trodden by the lords of 
the world. Greece, too, is not impossible to men once in 
Italy. ... By the way, there was no name at the bottom of 
your letter, but, from sundry touches, I suspected the writer ; 
safer to sign the name, however, unless you have got married 
and taken your wife's name, as is the custom in some nation I 
have read about. 

INTERLAKEN, September 3, 1857. 

I have been for a week past in regions wild and desolate, 
else I should have written to you sooner. I am enjoying in 
tensely my trip through Switzerland, which is now about one 
half completed ; and I am looking forward with great eager- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 75 

ness to the solemn glories of Chamounix and Mont Blanc. 
Oh, how beautiful is this Bernese Obefland ! The grand chain, 
of which the Jungfrau, the Monk, and the Finster Aarhorn 
are such prominent members, stand like a band of sentinels 
around these lovely valleys, their summits clad in eternal 
snow, and on their shoulders resting the mighty glaciers, those 
monstrous rivers "upon which Winter has breathed, and they 
are still." But perhaps you would like to know how I got 
here. I bade farewell to Aunt E. on Mont Righi, and, with 
J., I have gone along the road in the valley of the Reuss as 
far as the Devil's Bridge, and now I will travel the rest of the 
way with . you. We passed through the broad, green, silent 
meadow of Andermatt, which is very remarkable as being per 
fectly flat and even, while all 'around it tower lofty mountains 
of the most rugged and precipitous nature. Just above the 
village church is a very remarkable wood, which is shaped like 
a wedge, with the point up the hill, and is of great service in 
protecting the village from avalanches, which split in two upon 
the sharp point of the wood, and rush off to the two sides, 
thus passing beyond the village and doing no injury. Of 
course no one is allowed to cut down any trees in this wood, 
but they are guarded with the most jealous care. From An 
dermatt our course lay up the magnificent road of the St. 
Gothard, which is obliged to be carried across and back, in 
numerous zigzags, in order to avoid a too abrupt ascent, which 
would be very hard on the draught-horses used in the Italian 
trade. So very winding is the road that sometimes one sees 
it just forty or fifty feet above his head, but distant half a mile 
if he follow all its windings. Fortunately for foot-travellers 
there are a great many cross-cuts which are easily accom 
plished by those willing to put forth a little exertion, and 
strike the road most wonderfully, so that we could easily beat 
a horse and wagon, although going at a good speed. As 
evening approached we had ascended high above the sea, 
and the cool air began to blow down from the glaciers, so 
that we were glad to button up our coats and walk at a rapid 
rate, keeping a sharp look-out for the Hospice on the sum- 



/6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

mit, where we were to pass the night. At length a building 
loomed up on the very top ridge of the pass, and a large St. 
Bernard dog came bounding down towards us, reminding me 
most forcibly of the dog stories I used to read and how these 
noble animals rescued travellers from the snow, imparting to 
them their own warmth. In the interior of the Hospice I saw 
some rude pictures representing scenes of this description, and 
in all the dog of St. Bernard figured as a conspicuous char 
acter. One of these dogs, who had died after greatly distin 
guishing himself, I observed standing in a niche on one of the 
staircases, nicely stuffed and preserved. The accommodations 
were plain but good. Travellers are charged nothing for what 
they have, but are expected to put into the box a sum equiva 
lent to what they would pay for the same at an inn ; poor per 
sons pay nothing. 

The next morning we started to descend this pass in the 
grand old range of the St. Gothard which gives rise within 
a small distance to four large and celebrated rivers, which 
flow to all four points of the compass ; the Reuss to the North, 
the Rhine to the East, the Ticino to the South, and the Rhone 
to the West. It has justly been called the cradle of mighty 
streams. The road descends by a most remarkable series of 
zigzags, similar to those upon the northern side ; but previously 
to its construction a most bloody battle was fought here in 
1799, between the French Republicans and the Russians under 
Suwarrow, upon paths which had hitherto been known only to 
hunters and shepherds. Upon one of the rocks is inscribed 
in large letters, " SUWARROW VICTOR," in honor of his 
driving the French from the pass, which he did by a very 
curious piece of clap-trap ; his soldiers being thrown into dis~ 
order by the fire of the French rifle-men, and beginning to flee, 
he ordered a grave to be dug, and then lay down in it, saying 
that he would die on the spot where " his children " had dis 
graced themselves ; the effect of this demonstration was 
wonderful, and upon Suwarrow's getting out and putting him 
self at their head, they charged most impetuously, and drove 
the French from their position. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. // 

The valley into which we descended is known by the name 
of the Val Tremola, on account of the great danger of the 
avalanches, which fall here continually in winter, and one has 
reason to tremble indeed when he reads of the numerous sad 
life-destroying accidents which occur here from year to year, 
a single one of which destroyed three hundred persons. 
However, as it was summer we went through it with great 
equanimity, and arrived at Airolo, when I had to put in 
practice my very small amount of Italian, but to my great 
surprise found myself able to make myself understood, which 
I could scarcely have expected, not having studied Italian at 
all since I left home. And best of all, I met an old man on 
the road who had a brother at St. Louis, and with him I had 
quite an animated conversation on the subject of America, to 
which my companions listened with respectful admiration. 
Indeed I am beginning to believe that I have quite a taste 
for language-learning, and do reap the full benefit of my old 
fondness for philology by my ability now to talk with the 
people of a country in their own language, which is the only- 
way to really study their character. 

We passed though the Val Bedretto, which is as miserable 
a country as you could easily imagine. Bedretto, the valley 
capital, is a petty and filthy little place, not so large as one 
of our Irish suburbs, and equally respectable. But our great 
adventure was getting lost among the mountains while trying 
to cross them to the Val Formazza. Through some care 
lessness, we lost the path, and wandered about the whole 
afternoon, seeking it again, but without success until we were 
half tired to death, and the shades of evening were beginning 
to draw on ; and we were making up our minds to pass the 
night in the nearest wood, striving to keep up a fire that we 
might not get frozen, when we made one last desperate at 
tempt, and by crossing right over the top of a high mountain, 
succeeded in reaching a path which led into the neighboring 
valley. It was quite dark when we arrived at the village 
where we had proposed to spend the night. When arrived 
there, imagine our vexation at finding it almost totally un- 



78 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

inhabited, the shepherds who usually dwell in it being all 
otherwise engaged with their flocks upon the mountain pasture. 
They spend the winter months at this wretched place, which 
is called Kehrbachi and is the highest winter residence any 
where around. After hunting around for a long time, I found 
an Italian who could not understand me, nor I him ; but he 
scared up a German, whom I persuaded to admit us into an 
empty house and let us have a place to sleep. I never in my 
life saw anything eatable like the black bread which he got 
for us ; it was as hard as the nether millstone and evidently 
had been lying in the house ever since the inhabitants left it 
on the departure of winter. Eating it was out of the question, 
so nibbling became the order of the day. This German also 
managed to concoct for us a large bowl of rice soup, which he 
placed smoking upon the table, with four large ladles, one for 
each man, and all were requested to go in miscellaneously. 
More execrable stuff I have scarcely tasted since we embraced 
Homoeopathy. An attic with most suspicious beds, where 
sleep was difficult, not to say impossible, and another meal 
of rice soup, were poor preparations for the hard day's work 
which we were about to undertake, the passage over the 
Gries Glacier, and so through the Eginen Thai to Obergeste- 
len, where we were obliged to pass the Sabbath. The ascent 
of the mountain to the glacier was extremely arduous, but a 
good part of the descent was a lovely woodland walk, and, at 
one turn, we suddenly came in full sight of the grand moun 
tains of the Bernese Oberland, at which we all gave one shout 
of joy. At Obergestelen we passed the Sabbath very pleas 
antly ; we had a little service together, which E. W. con 
ducted, and in the evening we walked out by the banks of the 
Rhone, and sang hymns, which were probably rather new to 
the inhabitants of this extreme Catholic place. 

INTERLAKEN, September 5. 

.... Well, I suppose you would like to know something 
more about my wanderings. I think you left me at Oberges 
telen, where we passed the Sabbath, and had a service in our 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 79 

rooms. In the afternoon we visited the churchyard, and in a 
small chapel, which was perfectly open, we saw a large pile of 
human bones, heads and arms, being the sad remains of 
eighty-four persons who perished here at one time in an aval 
anche. This seems still more melancholy when one reflects 
that one half of all the population of the place must have been 
swept away by this tremendous calamity, and not a family left 
unscathed. The next morning we rose blithe as larks, after 
our day of rest, and set off very early, without any breakfast, 
to try the pass over the Grimsel, on an empty stomach, and 
without a guide, which is our regular plan. A guide is a great 
nuisance, to say nothing of the expense and disgrace. By a 
careful observation of the pass, and continually using the com 
pass, in connection with our excellent Swiss map, we suc 
ceeded in reaching the top, where we came out in the midst 
of the wildest scenery, and were now at length really within 
the Bernese Oberland. The beautiful Rhone glacier was on 
our right hand, and in front, what was far more beautiful to 
hungry men, the Hospice. I improved the occasion to inform 
the crowd that the next time they took a fancy to walk on an 
empty stomach it should n't be on mine, which was never 
fitted either by nature or education for such a performance. 
Close by the Hospice is a lake which bears the agreeable 
title of the Dead Sea, so called, some say, because no fish will 
live in it, but really for a much more interesting and tragical 
reason. In 1799 the Grimsel was held by the Austrians, and 
the position was considered both by themselves and their ene 
mies, the French, as inexpugnable ; and General Gudin, the 
French commander, might have wasted his forces in vain at 
tempts, notwithstanding he had positive orders from Massena 
to capture the pass. In this dilemma a native offered, for a 
high reward, to lead some troops round by the peaks above 
and behind the Austrians, and thus surround them on every 
side. A body of troops was intrusted to him ; but when they 
were within an hour of the summit, the horrors of the way so 
terrified them, that they believed the guide to intend treachery, 
and threatened him with instant death if he did not lead them 



8O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

back to their camp. It required all the exertions of the offi 
cers to make them advance. At length by paths known only 
to chamois hunters, they reached the Austrian rear, and, while 
General Gudin made an impetuous attack in front, they as 
sailed the Austrians from behind. These latter looked upon 
them as dropped from the clouds, and, becoming panic- 
stricken, fled in all directions. Those who remained, in sul 
len despair dashed their muskets and sabres to pieces on the 
rocks, and perished almost to a man. The far larger number 
of the slain perished by falling from the precipices than by 
the hands of the French. The dead were buried in the lake, 
and thence its name. Even to the present day swords and 
muskets* are found, and occasionally a skeleton in a mould 
ering white uniform. How horrible the position of the Aus 
trians must have been, so surrounded by deadly foes, and 
that in the midst of such a savage country ! 

A stout walk of two hours brought us to the falls of the 
Aar at Handeck ; this is a most magnificent fall, ranked 
never lower than the third in Switzerland, and considered 
by some as the finest of all. It comes thundering down from 
its source in the glacier of the Aar, and here falls in an 
undivided body of water for two hundred feet ; such is the 
fury with which it dashes upon the rocks below that a vast 
volume of spray rises up, and by hiding the actual depths of 
the abyss, suggests to the imagination the idea that it is 
almost bottomless. The water of the Aar is not very pure, 
as it flows over marly rocks ; but as if in an intentional con 
trast, the river Aerlinbach pours its lovely crystal stream over 
the same precipice with equal fury, and mingles its snowy 
spray with the dingy foam-cloud of the Aar, heightening the 
effect by this strange contrast, as well as greatly increasing 
the volume of water. We spent an hour very pleasantly 
here, mostly on a platform built right over the abyss, amidst 
the spray-mist, and should have enjoyed a longer stay, but 
an English party were coming down the hill, so we consid 
ered discretion the better part of valor, and hastily took our 
flight, not wishing to hear the beautiful fall characterized 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 8 1 

by the young ladies as " very nice," nor by the young men as 
" beastly." We had agreed to spend the night at Meirin- 
gen, thus making a day's march of about twenty-eight miles, 
and when we supposed ourselves within a few miles of the 
place, L. and I walked ahead to reach it before the others, 
and secure good rooms at the "Bear" Inn. Now the valley 
of Meiringen is celebrated for its beauty, and when, there 
fore, we emerged from the narrow gorge into a lovely vale, 
we supposed of course that this was our destination, and in 
quired of some men where the den of "The Bear" was situ 
ated ? they pointed us up the road, having misunderstood the 
question, and off we tramped, looking in every direction for 
the inn, and, in fact, for the town, which seemed to us very 
small for such a large place as Meiringen. However, as 
Meiringen is spoken of in " Hyperion " as " embowered in 
cherry-trees," we supposed that the trees hid the town from 
sight, and so tramped on. But as we went further and 
further, the country grew wilder, and we thought it prudent to 
turn back ; when we got to the point from which we started, 
we found there our friends C. and W., quietly drinking beer 
under a piazza, and laughing at our mistake, for to our horror 
we were told that this was not Meyringen, but Imhof, a 
place three miles before it. We acknowledged the error, and 
started fiercely off, determined to find Meiringen or perish 
in the attempt. The first damper to our enthusiasm was 
the lofty dam, six hundred and fifty feet high, through a 
narrow cleft in which the Aar bursts its way. It would 
seem as if the whole valley had at one time been a lake, 
until it had been able to empty itself through this wall 
of rock. The road over the dam runs in a very wind 
ing zigzag, which was peculiarly annoying to us who were 
in such a hurry to get over it, and this annoyance was by 
no means decreased by the troops of little boys and girls who 
assailed us, some with Alpine songs and flowers, and some 
with out-and-out begging. It was rather amusing, though, to 
see a little imp perched on a rock on the watch for travellers ; 
as soon as we appeared, he uttered a shrill cry, and, like 
6 



82 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Roderick Dhu's soldiers, a band of little imps started out 
from unseen crevices, and, arranging themselves along the 
road-side, began to perform a doleful imitation of the "Ranz 
des Vaches ; " but in vain, for to such appeals I am always 
obdurate and stony-hearted. At the summit of the dam, 
Meiringen appeared to our eyes, and L. and I thought that 
all our mistakes and troubles were over, but we were most 
grievously deceived. On entering the town, a beautiful vil 
lage embowered in trees, in the heart of a really Alpine val 
ley, we inquired for the " Bear," and were most maliciously 
and abominably directed wrong again, and, arriving at the inn 
door to which we were sent, we asked if that was the " Bear." 
" Oh, yes," was the reply so we engaged two double-bedded 
rooms, and supper for four, and then sat quietly down to 
await the arrival of W. and C., who were only about a half 
a mile behind us. Long and anxiously we waited, but they 
came not, while the desire for supper grew ever stronger ; at 
length it occurred to me that this might perhaps not be the 
"Bear" after all, and this indeed I found to be the case. 
Of course I was quite furious, but it did n't do any good, and 
after supper, I was obliged to drag my weary body, guided by 
a boy, to the real " Bear," where I found our friends hard at 
work feeding, and after arranging a plan for meeting and 
going away the next morning, I dragged myself back, having 
thus added to my long day's tramp an additional walk of at 
least a mile and a half. Indeed, it was a day full of mistakes, 
and yet all unavoidable ones, since they all arose from the 
stupidity and mendacity of these Bernese peasants. My first 
impressions of this great Protestant canton were not very 
favorable. 

We had agreed the next morning to rendezvous on a cer 
tain bridge at 5^ A. M. I was the first one there, and while 
waiting, had an ample opportunity to observe and admire the 
beauties of the Hasli-Thal, of which Meiringen is the capi 
tal. A great addition to the attractiveness of the scenery is 
the number of magnificent water-falls, which plunge down 
from the mountains on both sides ; on the south the cele- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 83 

brated Reichenbach Falls, and on the north the three foun 
tains which form the Alpbach. This latter stream is governed 
by a most mischievous mud-nymph, who often rushes forth 
from the Hasliberg, and covers whole fields with a thick flood 
of clay and water, which completely spoils the soil for agri 
culture ; in 1762 a mud-stream of this description destroyed 
half the village. 

The others soon came up, and we began the ascent of the 
pass which leads over the Greater Scheideck to Grindelwald. 
It was on this march that we had an opportunity to visit the 
beautiful Glacier of Rosenlaui, of which I think I spoke in my 
last. 

Of our march to Grindelwald I will say nothing, except that 
it was dreadfully fatiguing, and more especially so for us who 
had worked so hard the day before. The view from the 
Scheideck of the great Eiger 12,800 feet high, and of other 
snow-covered giants, was astonishingly fine. There is one 
thing on this route of which I must speak, and which I had 
nearly forgotten. On the descent to Grindelwald is a most 
magnificent echo, which repeats several times from the tower 
ing crags of the Wetterhorn, and the sound of the Alpine 
horn blown here produces a most remarkable effect; in it 
self it is an instrument of the most disagreeable tone, the 
sack -horn is nothing to it for ear-splitting; but just as in the 
kaleidoscope, a few rough pieces of glass become beautiful 
by reflections and combinations, so these harsh tones, when 
reflected and multiplied from the rocks around, lose their 
original character, and are changed to chords of wonderful 
sweetness. At first the notes are heard sharp, clear, and dis 
tinct from the mountain, a faithful repetition, only more 
chorded, but before this ceases, the sound is heard again 
farther off, but now with a soft solemnity which breathes of 
some vast wood-chapel with chanting Druid priests and an 
organ from some " fountain-lighted " cave ; and even this 
chant is interrupted by a wild, far-off strain, from the recesses 
where the mountain-spirits still remain, and sing sad laments 
for the happy hillsides from which the foot of man has driven 



84 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER '. 

them. Nor is this all. From the highest peaks music still 
mounts aloft, and now in that sweet murmur from mid-sky, 
one hears no Druid priests, no organ tones, no Dryad wail- 
ings, but an angel band with ^Eolian harps, who receive the 
aspiring sound, and take it to its heavenly home. This is by 
no means an exaggeration; I have often heard an Alpine 
horn in connection with an echo, but never anything like this 
wonderful music and variety of sound which one enjoys at the 
foot of the frowning Wetterhorn. 

We took our supper at Grindelwald, and then walked out to 
examine the glaciers. The upper glacier is much purer and 
freer from mud than the lower one, but the latter was much 
more accessible, coming in, as it seemed, at our bed-room 
window, although in reality it was three quarters of a mile 
distant. In the side of the ice a long, circular hole had been 
cut, large enough to admit us standing, and extending quite a 
distance back into the glacier ; here we sang " Home, Sweet 
Home," and the notes, especially the rich key-note of the bass, 
were finely lengthened out by the reverberations of the cave. 
By means of some ladders we then ascended into the ice, and 
walked for some distance on the glacier, until we came to an 
enormous crack large enough to take in a coach and six, when 
we thought it prudent to return, especially as it was growing 
dark. On our return we again entered the ice-cavern, which 
was now illuminated with torches, which an old man and two 
boys waved at intervals under the ice-dome. The effect of 
the bright light reflected from the glassy walls was very 
beautiful, and reminded me of the "most magnificent and 
mighty freak " of the " imperial mistress of the fur-clad 
Russ," which Cowper so elegantly describes : 

"A watery light 

Gleamed through the clear transparency, that seem'd 
Another moon new risen, or meteor fallen, 
From Heaven to Earth of lambent flame serene." 

We were greatly delighted, and caused the illumination to 
be repeated several times with fresh lights. 

The next day we marched to Interlaken, the sick and 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 85 

wounded, viz., L. and C., by carriage, and the main body, 
W. and myself, on foot. I am rather disappointed in Inter- 
laken ; my expectations had been raised to too high a pitch, 
and I was astonished not to find a little village consisting al 
most entirely of hotels, an earthly paradise. Still it is a very 
lovely place, and the view obtained of the Jungfrau through 
a series of gaps in the valleys, is superb, considering the dis 
tance, and affords a fine opportunity to persons who cannot 
climb passes, to see this most beautiful mountain from a com 
fortable situation. The lakes, too, are charming ; that is to 
say, the Lake of Brientz is, and that of Thun also, judging 
from a glimpse that I have had of it. 

BATHS OF LEUK, CANTON VALAIS, September n, 1857. 

MY DEAR COUSIN, .... You know yourself, no one better, 
the affectionate interest with which you all at Albany are 
regarded by all the family circle, and most especially by our 
little circle at New Haven. Even now I look in hope and 
fancy forward, through many months of time, and across many 
leagues of space, to some future Christmas week, which I shall 
spend by your fireside as in the happy days gone by, and join 
in everything with that same boyish pleasure which was my 
wont, and which I hope may never leave me, although I am 
now nominally a man. I feel with Wordsworth, 

" My heart leaps up when I behold 
A rainbow in the sky ; 
So was it when I was a boy, 
So is it now I am a man, 
So shall it be when I am old, 
Or let me die." 

It strikes me that there is among young men, a tendency to 
drop into an aged state when they begin to enter upon the 
duties of life, and the sweet and fragrant flowers of boyish en 
thusiasm and frankness are withered by the chilling breath 
of that strange, stern formality called Dignity. If it be possi 
ble, such shall never be the case with me, and if it ever is, 
from that moment the sight of sky and stars, and the enjoy- 



86 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ment of life will not be what it was before. But stop ; I am 
prosing when I should be praising and setting before your 
mental optics in exalted terms the beauties of these glorious 
Alps ; don't blame me if in a heedless moment I should 
splurge somewhat, for when a mind accustomed to ordinary 
life, and ordinary terms, comes among scenes of inspiring 
sublimity and beauty, the natural tendency is to use a lan 
guage which is more elevated, and expressions more extrava 
gant. A dinner may be good, but a snow-capped mountain is 
grand ; a book may.be interesting, but an avalanche is awful ; 
so I shall not entirely repress this natural tendency, for I have 
been encouraged in it by a remark of Rev. Dr. Skinner's 
which I recently heard : " If a young man is flowery in his 
youth, there is hope that he may get over it in manhood, and 
bear fruit ; but if he is dry when young, what will he be when 
he is old ? " And first you shall have a daguerreotype of 
the animal known as W. W., somewhat different from that 
taken during the second week of May, 1857, and also sketches 
of his three companions ; he representing the genus Pedes 
trian, and they the different individuals known as C., L., and 
W. A strong flannel shirt much like that worn by the 
boating clubs, with a small collar of the same material, which 
decreases the undress and barbarous appearance, and renders 
a linen collar unnecessary, except on great occasions, a pair 
of extremely heavy pantaloons, a vest buttoning up to the 
throat like a minister's, and serving as an over-coat except 
in very severe weather, a stout coat with numerous pockets 
within and without, a broad-brimmed hat of a most peculiar 
drab color, but admirably adapted for keeping off the rain, 
and last but not least, an enormous pair of boots whose mam 
moth soles would shock all my lady acquaintance, complete 
my costume when en grande tenue for a long tramp. Add to 
these, the heavy knapsack on my back, weighing some fifteen 
pounds, and my trusty alpenstock in my hand, and I stand 
before you fully prepared to walk thirty miles and enjoy it 
grandly, and to eat a tremendous supper when evening comes 
on. Somewhat similarly appareled are the rest ; C., six feet 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 8/ 

high, black beard, and tremendous stride; W., the shortest 
man in the party, yellow mustache and goatee, of the class 
before me in college, and just graduated from the Union The 
ological Seminary; L., a fine, handsome fellow, twenty-four 

years old, son of the Bishop of , and just beginning the 

medical practice ; such is our party, a most harmonious and 
pleasant one, which has travelled now for two weeks together, 
with the greatest satisfaction. But these three humbugs are 
insisting that I stop writing and prepare to accompany them 
down the Valley of the Rhone, so good-by." 

SIERRE, VALLEY OF THE RHONE, September n, 1857. 

.... I cannot tell you a tithe of all I have seen and 
enjoyed. So I will take up my wondrous tale (like the 
moon), from the point of my leaving Interlaken. If you 
have ever seen a picture of Interlaken, you must have no 
ticed a long row of poplar trees introduced as prominent 
characters, and occupying the foreground ; in fact my idea 
of the place was a strong sensation of windows peeping out 
from among " the tall popular-trees " (" Villikins and his 
Dinah ") ; but although I was at Interlaken nearly a week 
and actively engaged for a large part of the time in searching 
for said trees, it was never my fortune to find more than one, 
or two at the most ; the windows I saw, as the town is princi 
pally made up of staring boarding-houses, but the trees were 
most decidedly not. Imagine then my triumph and satisfac 
tion, when getting well out into the Lake of Thun, and go 
ing in the opposite direction, to see upon looking back, the 
poplar-trees there sure enough, and looking just like the pic 
ture ; where they started from, or whether they are not actual, 
but merely an imaginary part of the landscape, it " passed my 
persimmon " to say. 

A pleasant sail of an hour brought us in sight of Thun, 
where we landed and spent the rest of the day. A more 
enchantingly lovely place, it was never my fortune to behold ; 
in fact no town I have ever seen has come into the most re 
mote comparison with it in those qualities of calm repose, 



88 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

exquisite mingling of land and water, hill, mountain, and level 
champaign, and above all that gentle lustre of sunlight which 
streams over all, and in which inanimate nature seems to 
bask and be perfectly happy. Other spots are eminent in love 
liness, but Thun excelleth them all. Heidelberg is charming, 
with its long, straight Bergstrasse, its glorious old castle that 
wonder of the Middle Ages, and its shining Neckar ; Lu 
cerne is wonderfully picturesque from its situation on the Lake 
of the Four Cantons, at the foot of Mount Pilatus, and from 
its ancient city wall embellished with frequent towers ; but 
Thun with neither forest lake, grand feudal tower, nor city 
wall, possesses beauties of its own that are unsurpassed. 
Through the middle of the city flows the bright blue Aar, em 
bracing in his arms, most lovingly, many an island, while the 
city on the hill-side looks down with a perpetual smile, as if 
to thank the river for the zone of heavenly blue which he had 
bound around her waist. To the east lies the broad Lake of 
Thun, surrounded by craggy and lofty mountains, while to the 
west and north no high mountains are seen, but a pleasant 
rolling land of hills, so that Thun seemed to me a lovely 
herald, placed upon the borders of that rugged mountain land, 
to silently proclaim, by its peaceful beauty, an entry into a land 
no longer bleak and desolate, but a sunlit fruitful land, where 
no avalanche ever comes to astonish or destroy. In a place 
of so much beauty I felt an interest in visiting that quiet 
dwelling-place, so appropriately called by the Germans k< God's 
Field," or the " Court of Peace," and I found much in it to 
delay me there. I always like to walk in a Sleeping Place, 
for so means the word cemetery ; and be very silent and rev 
erent, for fear of disturbing those spirits who may be revisiting 
the scenes which they loved so well. It was so sad to think 
that the enchanting view from the church-yard wall was noth 
ing to those that slumbered there ; perhaps their eyes had 
opened on scenes of calm repose of which this was but a faint 
type. Very sad too, it was to see the English graves, so remote 
from their island-home, and to think that they had died here 
in a strange land ; although perhaps there were kind hands to 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 89 

fold the arms across the breast and to plant the bright red 
roses thickly on the stranger's grave. And saddest of all is 
the tomb of a bridal party, thirteen in number, who were 
drowned in crossing the Aar and were buried here side by side. 
Their weather-worn tombstone tells that it was more than an 
hundred years ago, but still, thanks to those never-failing foun 
tains of sympathy in the human heart, their sad fate is mourn 
fully mentioned, and strangers kneel to trace on the crumbling 
stone the names of the unhappy party. 

.... But now I must be off immediately on the top of a 
diligence, or to speak classically, sitmmA diligentia, to Berne, 
that fine old city of the bears, who from time immemorial, 
ever since one of them had the good luck to be killed on the 
side of the city by Duke Berchtold of Zahringen, have been, 
in a Protestant way, the patron saints of the city and canton. 
A very respectable family of bruin's race are still maintained 
at the public expense in a large trench outside the city, and 
crowds of enthusiastic citizens are at all times to be seen at 
tending at the den of the favorites. I could not help reflect 
ing that the bear is a caricature of the more slow and heavy, 
but very reliable, portions of the Swiss, just as the monkey is 
a slight exaggeration of the volatile character of the mob that 
every day surrounds his cage at the Jardin des Plantes at 
Paris. I have quite a fondness for seeing thus resemblances 
between a people and the animal to which they are most 
attracted. The English are like their own bull-dogs, the Ger 
mans, like their quiet and peaceful poodles ; while I think that 
the American can be compared to no actual creature, but 
rather to that strange chimera known as being made up of 
" half man, half alligator, and half steam-boat." But to return 
to our bears and to Berne, which, by the way means a bear 
itself, and is what the French call an " Armoire Parlante," or 
name corresponding in significance with the coat of arms. 
The favorite animal looms out on every side. Here he stands 
in full armor on a fountain, supporting in one paw the old city 
banner, and in the other a sword. On another fountain he acts 
as squire of the body to some ancient Bernese hero; and 



90 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

when the clock over one of the city gates indicates the hour, a 
long procession of bears march out of the towers, and pass 
solemnly along before a seated figure in oriental dress, bowing 
as they pass, while a bear on his left hand strikes the number 
of the hour on a bell. The view of the Bernese Alps from the 
Palace Terrace here is perfectly superb. A long stretch of 
the grandest snow-capped mountains the Virgin " veiled to 
all eternity," as the Germans call her, the Monk by her side, 
the sharp peak of the Finster Aarhorn, and near by, the 
Schreckhorn or Peak of Terror, whose precipitous sides have 
never been trodden by the foot of human being. This was the 
grand old chain under whose shadow we had been wandering 
for the two weeks previous, and whose craggy ridges and bold 
outlines looked to us like the face of a friend inviting us back 
again, and we all felt an answering sentiment of longing to 
be among them ; so the next day we were on our way back 
to Thun, and the next day up the valley of the Kander to 
Kandersteg, where we took a rest of half a day in reposing our 
wearied limbs, bathing our sore feet, and exploring the region 
round about for water-falls, in which last point we were emin 
ently successful. We discovered no less than five very beauti 
ful ones, none of them less than eighty to a hundred feet in 
height, and one so high that its small body of water was re 
solved into a fine cloud of dust-spray, like the celebrated 
Staubbach in the valley of Lauterbrunnen. From Kandersteg 
we started very early in the morning to go through the Pass of 
the Gemmi to the Baths of Leuk before the sun had become 
too hot. Five o'clock saw us well off and toiling up an ascent 
which was rather steeper than anything we had yet attempted ; 
although the morning was very cool, the perspiration poured 
down from every available inch, and we were not sorry when 
we stood upon the summit of the pass, more than eight thou 
sand feet above the sea, and looked far down the rugged rocks 
to the distant valley, where lay the place of our destination. 
The descent here is extremely remarkable, as it is down the 
side of a precipice, which, when viewed from below, seems 
perfectly insurmountable, and it is difficult to believe it pos- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 91 

sible that a good broad path winds up its side. This path is 
a miracle of daring engineering; in frequent zigzags it pro 
ceeds along a narrow ledge, and thus accomplishes by gradual 
steps what could never be done by a straight road ; in many 
places a plumb line dropped from the edge of the path would 
fall upon that immediately below, and in some cases one can 
look sheer down the rock and see nothing of the path, which 
pursues its way in a gallery directly under his feet : thus, for 
example, we heard a party of ladies talking and laughing very 
near under us, but we could see nobody at all by looking over, 
and it was not until we had turned a point in the road that we 
met the fair donkeyestrians toiling up the rock-side ; a task 
which I would not be hired to undertake, as it is far steeper 
here than on the side to the north. In one place the precipice 
falls off in a perpendicular line for over sixteen hundred feet, 
and, as if to add to the horror of the cliff, its top projects some 
twenty feet, so that anything falling from the brink would take 
nearly ten seconds to reach the bottom, without taking into 
consideration the resistance of the atmosphere, which would 
probably about double the time. The idea made me sick and 
dizzy, and I was careful to withdraw myself quickly from the 
edge, to avoid the bad consequences of both an accidental fall 
and a morbid impulse ; this latter I always feel very powerfully, 
and am obliged to guard against whenever I look over a very 
lofty precipice. This Pass of the Gemmi is not a splendid 
carriage road, like those of the St. Gothard, the Simplon, and 
the Splugen, but on account of its wonderful descent down 
the precipitous rock, is more grand and picturesque than them 
all, unless it be a part of the Splugen called the " Via mala, " 
which I have not yet seen. We reached the Baths of Leuk in 
four and a half hours from Kandersteg, a remarkably rapid 
walk, as the guide-books allow seven and three-quarters hours 
for it, but we take a great deal of satisfaction in abbreviating 
the times in the guide-books : in fact we have discovered that 
we walk a German hour in about forty-five minutes. The 
Baths at Leuk are both hot and medicinal, and the time spent 
in the water is the longest I ever heard of, being about five 



92 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

hours in the morning and three in the afternoon ; and in order 
to dispel the ennui which must necessarily arise, the bathers, 
mostly French, bathe together in large baths which hold from 
fifteen to thirty persons of all sexes, sizes, ages, and ranks, and 
many have floating before them on the water little tables on 
which are books, newspapers, flowers, and contrivances of all 
descriptions, to while away the weary hours which the invalids 
must spend in the water in order to make a cure effective. 
These baths are open to the public view at all times, and any 
one can amuse himself by looking at the bathers, provided he 
will take off his hat and shut the door after him. Some of 
the rules for the behavior of the bathers are very amusing ; as 
all excitement is injurious to that placid frame of mind and 
body so requisite for recovery, it is stated that all manner of 
discussion on the subject of religion is absolutely forbidden ; 
a very wise regulation, since probably nearly every creed in 
Europe is at times represented here. Near these odd baths is 
something still more strange ; it is a village standing on the 
edge of the precipice which overhangs the baths, and the ap 
proach to which can only be made by a series of eight ladders 
fastened against the perpendicular rocks. Up and down these 
ladders the inhabitants pass at all hours of the day and night, 
but it is rather dangerous for persons to go up who are not 
accustomed to ladder-climbing, and extremely perilous to come 
down. We did not succeed in visiting these, although we kept 
a sharp lookout for them. What an odd idea, going down a 
straight face of rock to go to a party, and then going up again 
to go to bed ! Still, I imagine that to them their airy home is 
very dear, and that they love their rocky nests as well as the 
birds do theirs. 

MARTIGNY, Sept. 12. This letter, you see, is destined to 
be finished at odds and ends of time, for I find it very diffi 
cult to command any number of solid hours. I can't say, my 
dear coz, that I dreamed of you last night after writing the 
above to you, since I slept scarcely at all, and was right glad 
this morning to take things easily, and be contented with a 
saunter of nine miles before dinner, and a ride of twenty miles 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 93 

in the omnibus after dinner, which brought us to this place ; 
we did not ride because we were lazy, but because the road 
was flat and uninteresting. Our morning's walk lay through 
vineyards which were laden with magnificent bunches of white 
and purple grapes, which fairly made our mouths water \ so, 
having reached a village which was pretty .well embowered in 
vines, we repaired to a house and sent the woman for a quan 
tity. She soon returned with a basketful, coyly peeping out 
from among leaves, and such immense bunches ! There was 
a dead silence for some minutes in the party, interrupted only 
by an occasional murmur of satisfaction. You may form some 
idea of the size of the bunches when I tell you that I devoured 
one large one and two small ones, and then was obliged sadly 
to desist, for I could do no more ; W. got through about 
two thirds of a very large bunch, and was obliged to raise the 
siege and lay down the remainder. We got here by 6 p. M., 
and I was much disappointed not to find letters from home as 
I had expected. Now, my dear coz, I suppose I have bored 
you with talking guide-book so much, and interfering so with 
the province of those who write " Tours in Europe ; " and it 
would be far more pleasant to me to chat with you about old 
times, were it not that public opinion expects that a traveller 
should give some account of what he has seen. 

CHALETS DU MOTTET, FOOT OF Mr. BLANC, 
September 16, 1857. 

DEAR J., Having written a letter to A., describing my 
course from Interlaken down into the Valley of the Rhone, 
and as I have a great dislike of rehashes, I will simply trace 
out our daily course until we arrived at Martigny. On Sep 
tember ist, L. and W. having letters at Berne, took the earliest 
boat, while H. and I followed at the more dignified hour of 
noon 

We took the diligence to Berne ; found our companions at 
the Stork. The inn was very crowded, and we had four beds 
put up in one room, and slept like boarding-school boys in a 
dormitory. 



94 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

The next day was of course devoted to doing Berne. There 
is not a great deal in it worth seeing, except, of course, the 
bears, animate and inanimate ; unearthly representations of 
the latter kind surmount innumerable fountains, gates, and 
doorways, and do their best to maintain the long supremacy 
which Bruin has exercised over the town. 

The Bundespalast, or Palace of the Union, in which the Na 
tional Assembly of Switzerland meets once in three times, its 
rivals being Luzerne and Zurich, is a very splendid new build 
ing, of a light stone, with a terrace in front, from which is com 
manded a most unequaled view of the distant Bernese Alps. 

The next morning we returned to Thun. In the evening we 
resumed our knapsacks, which 'had now been neglected for 
four days, and walked about thirteen miles up the Kienthal to 
Miihlinen, passing on our way the Niesen, which is remarkable 
for being, from top to bottom, on the north side, of a regular 
pyramidal shape. We rose early in the morning to put in ex 
ecution a plan of mine for crossing the Diindengrat, a very 
difficult and dangerous pass, and then through the Oeschinen 
Thai to Kandersteg, a path abounding in most magnificent 
scenery, and running just at the foot of the grand snow moun 
tain called the Frau (not the Jungfrau). But most unfortu 
nately there was no guide at Kienthal, and as we could not go 
without one, we were reduced to the disgusting expedient of 
retracing our steps to Miihlinen, and of there taking the public 
road. By this detour we walked some nine miles out of our 
way, and as the sun was high, we suffered greatly before arriv 
ing at Kandersteg. Here we spent the night, and the next 
morning passed the Gemmi, which was the highest and most 
striking pass which we had as yet seen. Sloping up quite 
gradually on the northern side, it falls off to the south in steep 
precipices down which the road winds in zigzags, some of 
which are directly over others, and are astonishing pieces of 
engineering. 

We dined at the Baths of Leuk, of which I have no room to 
speak at present, and pushed on down into the valley of the 
Rhone to Sierre, on the Simplon road, where we dried up f 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART, 95 

having done a very good day's work, thirty-one miles, and more 
than half of it over a very steep and difficult pass. The next 
day we walked about ten miles on the great road to Sion, and 
having stopped on the way at St. Leonard, a place perfectly 
embowered in vineyards, and eaten grapes enough to make an 
army feel uncomfortable, we took the diligence at Sion, very 
glad to get so rapidly over a road so uninteresting. 

We spent a very pleasant Sunday at Martigny, and met 
some nice English people, among them the minister, who offi 
ciated twice in a small room to a congregation of about twenty. 
We left early in the morning for the Great St. Bernard, and 
had a cool walk for several hours up into the mountains. At 
a place called St. Pierre we stopped to dinner. Soon after we 
left it we had quite a little adventure. L. and I were abstract 
ing some half-ripe currants from a bush, and two char-a-bancs 
were coming up the road, when suddenly we heard a crash 
followed by the howls of the two drivers, and upon looking 
round saw one of the char-a-bancs upset and broken. I 
dropped my Alpstock and ran like a deer, thinking of course 
of Doctor Antonio and Lucy. I got there just in time to see a 
very pleasant English gentleman whom we had seen at Mar 
tigny emerge looking very much worried, and then hand out 
his daughter. Fortunately no bones were broken, and the 
char having been mended we repeated our condolings and 
offers of service and plodded along. As we mounted higher, 
all became bleaker and wilder, and finally we passed into a 
cloud of mist, and arrived at the Hospice cold and tired. 
Nothing could exceed the politeness and true courtesy with 
which we were received by the Brethren. Our wet clothes 
were dried, and we took the opportunity, before it was yet dark, 
to go and see the Morgue, where the bodies of those lost in 
the snow are kept until recognized and claimed. The coldness 
of the air preserves them to a great degree from putrefaction, 
but still a more shocking sight I never saw. Some were still 
standing erect, some leaning over, and some had slid down so 
as to be all in a heap. As I looked through the grating, and my 
eyes became accustomed to the darkness, I could even distin- 



96 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

guish the expressions of the features. In one corner was lean 
ing a mother who had perished with a child in her arms, and 
even at this time they are not separated. I thought, perhaps, 
she had once been beautiful, but the features are now fearfully 
distorted, and, from the dark recesses, those dead eyes stand 
out in a horrible stare, that haunted me all night. The ladies, 
and the gentlemen with them, took their supper in the salle-a- 
manger, where they were entertained by the Superior. But all 
of us single gentlemen took supper with the monks in the re 
fectory, an arrangement which pleased me very much, as I 
wished to see as much as possible of these noble-hearted and 
devoted men. 

We sat along a great table with a Brother opposite to each 
guest, and what with the monks' good dinner, their sober and 
pleasant conversation, and their wine which they helped out lib 
erally, the evening meal passed most pleasantly, after which 
we were right glad to get to bed and escape the cold. This, 
at nearly 8,400 feet above the sea, the highest dwelling in Eu 
rope, is always very severe. At 5 A. M., all were aroused by 
the ringing of the bell, and at 6 we attended service in the 
chapel. It was a remarkable scene ; the chapel was splendidly 
decorated, in this respect contrasting with the extreme plain 
ness of the Hospice. The cold was so intense as quickly to 
condense every particle of breath ; upon the floor were kneel 
ing in extreme devotion some twenty peasants ; all wore an as 
pect of great dreariness, when suddenly the monks began the 
service, and the fine organ rolled out a resounding chant, 
which seemed a song of victory and triumph over the horrors 
of the weather and the trials of the frost. To me there was 
something most sublime in the chanting of men who were so 
near to heaven in their piety as well as their habitation, and 
whose self-sacrificing devotion is so unparalleled, in these self 
ish days ; the rigor of the climate soon kills them, and even 
those who outlive the term of their vow, seven years, seek a 
warmer climate with broken constitutions. 

A thick mist hung around the Hospice, and it seemed as if 
there was about to be a heavy rain. Notwithstanding, we set 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 97 

out, with our guide, to descend to warmer and clearer regions 
with our guide, I said, and such a guide ! We got him at 
Martigny to take us through what is called the tour of Mont 
Blanc ; that is, from Martigny to St. Bernard, thence to Cour- 
mayer, and from there over several passes to Chamouni. Hav 
ing a thorough contempt for guides, we went up to St. Bernard 
without him, trusting he would make his appearance before 
morning, which indeed he did. As we discovered that he had 
a penchant for going slow, we adopted the rather novel ex 
pedient of keeping half a mile ahead of him and then blun 
dering upon the right path with a precision which was to be 
acquired only by extensive Alpine scrambling. At St. Remy 
we entered Sardinia, and underwent a polite overhauling at 
the custom-house, our guide taking the opportunity to engage 
a guide there to guide him over the Col de Serena, the pass 
which interposed between us and Courmayer. I feared it 
would be something like the blind leading the blind ; but as 
there was a well-defined path and we led the way, the two un 
happy guides succeeded in getting along safely. At a shep 
herd's chalet near the summit of the Col, which we entered, 
the shepherd brought us a pailfull of clear cream, and another 
of milk to dilute it with. We discovered a large cake of corn 
bread. I took so much of this, with clear cream, as to make 
me decidedly sick. We finally reached the high-road and had 
a walk upon it which seemed interminable, but all our toils 
and troubles were fully recompensed by our first view of Mont 
Blanc. 

Without doubt this is the grandest feature in all Switzer 
land, and should always be reserved for the last, since thus 
the emotions can be, as it were, educated, and rise in a grad 
ual scale of intensity, until finally the climax is reached on 
seeing this most sublime work of God's hands. 

They say that just the point from which we saw it, when ap 
proaching from Courmayer, is just the place par excellence ; 
from behind a peak itself lofty, suddenly a solemn, snow-clad 
mass came looming forth, very distinct, but still overtopping 
all the nearer peaks, and seeming to hang right over us ; the 
7 



98 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

first emotion was that of half-terrified awe ; the rest of most 
unmingled joy and admiration. 

The sun was approaching its setting, and clad the whole 
mountain with a flood of light ; around his waist was the glo 
rious cincture of golden and silver clouds, while his head 
stood proudly forth in the undiminished splendor of stainless 
snow. It must have been from this point, and at a moment 
like this, that the poet describes him, 

" Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains, 
They crowned him long ago 
On a throne of rocks, in a robe of cloud, 
With a diadem of snow." 

Would that I had time and space to tell you of our three 
days' march around his base, and among his frozen rivers ; 
but we are now at Chamouni, and the next two days must 
be devoted to the wonders which lie so thickly around this 
strange and beautiful valley. I have written this letter in 
sundry times and in divers places ; wherever we rested I have 
taken a book upon my lap and scribbled as much as possible. 

CHAMOUNI, September 20, 1857. 

DEAREST MOTHER, After a week of hard work, sweetened 
by wondrous pleasure, the day of rest has arrived, been well 
and pleasantly spent, and now on this lovely Sabbath even 
ing I sit by the window in the twilight, just bright enough to 
see to write, and talk with you before the candles are brought, 
just as we used to talk on Sunday evenings at home. 

The setting sun has tinged all the mountains with a rosy 
light, and at the foot of Mont Blanc the glaciers shine with 
a subdued and softened color far more beautiful than the 
sun-glare, forming a scene which one might suppose reserved 
for dreams and the imaginings of fancy. But, gloriously 
fair as it is, there is something about that little word " home " 
which throws a shade of sadness over it all ; and it is pecu 
liarly at such moments that I wish J. and yourself at my side 
to make complete my enjoyment. If I. think of you and all 
the dear ones at home on one day more than another, it is 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 99 

on Sunday that day so sacred to me from both habit and 
education. But whom do you think I saw this morning upon 
entering church ? Close by the door loomed up the majestic 
figure of Hon. I. A. R., and upon proceeding a little further I 
saw the long wavy locks of our old friend A. P. I touched 
him on the shoulder, and we had a good handshake and a 
few whispered words between the pauses of the service. Af 
ter church was over we had quite a jubilant time together ; 
and he informed us that they had been following us every 
where, till at Thun they had seen our names for the last 
time. 

He saw L. P. at Heidelberg, and cheered him somewhat, 
as P. had just arrived. He had already written me two letters, 
which showed very evidently that he had begun to appreciate 
the sadness and desolation of being a stranger in a foreign 
land. For myself I am happy to be able to say that while 
still retaining my love of home, I have lost the cat-in-a-strange- 
garret feeling to a sufficient degree to be able to enjoy myself 
immensely in these wild mountains whose endless variety sat 
isfies without satiating. I tried in my letter to J. to say some 
thing about our tour around the base of Mont Blanc, but 
there was so much previous, that my letter filled up before I 
was aware of it ; and, as it was one of our most difficult as 
well as most pleasant trips, I must e'en trouble you with a 
melange of snow-capped mountains, lofty passes, Alpstocks, 
glaciers, and hungry young men. We left Courmayer bright 
and early, our guide having aroused himself from the semi- 
dormant state in which he had been the day before, a'nd which 
he attributed to the hard bed at the Hospice of St. Bernard ; 
but now his foot was on his native heather, and he knew the 
way, every foot of it. Our confidence in his acquaintance 
with the country was greatly restored by seehig him shake 
hands with numerous friends on the road, to say nothing of 
the compliments which he bestowed very lavishly upon many 
a sun-burned representative of the fair sex. Our course lay 
for a long distance through a narrow valley known as the 
Alice Blanche, which runs along in a deep gorge at the very 



1OO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

foot of Mont Blanc. The peak of the great mountain itself 
was here not so prominent as some others which were nearer 
and more imminent. The Col du Geant is a most magnificent 
snow mountain, the path over which is extremely difficult ; 
still it was passed by some ladies some years ago, but only 
with great labor and the assistance of eight or ten guides. Our 
course proceeded by the side of an immense moraine, brought 
down by the Glacier de Miage. The piled-up rocks, stones, 
and dirt gave the appearance of a small mountain, and sug 
gested the vast length of time, and violence of natural causes, 
which must have been in operation in order to transport such 
enormous masses. In some places the glacier was so con 
cealed by the debris that it was almost impossible to believe 
that it was anything but a mud plain. The morning was ex 
ceedingly pleasant, and we walked six hours steadily without 
noticing how time passed, and climbed a very high pass called 
the Col de la Seigne, upon whose top we found new-fallen 
snow, and had quite a jolly snow-ball fight. When arrived at 
the summit, we saw in the valley far below the Chalet du 
Mottet, where we expected to dine. Upon sight of this, our 
guide set up an unearthly howling and yelling, in which we 
could recognize no articulate words ; but still it seemed to 
have a meaning, since when we reached the chalet we found 
the dinner ready and waiting for us. Our guide's yoclling 
evidently had the effect of a spell, and conjured up some good 
cutlets, etc., which suddenly disappeared, with two bottles of 
wine, and left us almost as hungry as before. After the usual 
halt for a couple of hours after dinner, we left the hospitable 
chalet, and stretched our legs towards pass number two, 
which was decidedly the hardest one we had been over. On 
reaching the top of a lofty hill we supposed it to be the sum 
mit of the Col des Fours, but to our dismay the guide in 
formed us that it was still three-quarters of an hour to the top. 
And such a three quarters of an hour! Right up perpendic 
ularly almost, over beds of slate. We were soon above all 
traces of vegetable life, even of the coniferous trees and 
hardy mountain grasses, rock on every side being all that 



FOREIGN' TRAVEL AND ART. IOI 

could be seen, and even this rendered more dreary by dark 
patches of dirty snow, which lay on the rifted crags. Upon 
a tall peak sat, in solitary state, the vulture of the Alps, 
while near him were perched two crows, probably his satellites, 
the only living things that could be seen anywhere. The steep 
ascent was almost too much for all of us. When arrived at 
the top we were at a height of more than nine thousand feet 
above the sea, by far the highest point which we had yet at 
tained. The other slope, where we were to go down, was 
covered with snow, and we had a little coasting party, using 
the seat of our pantaloons instead of sleds. Here we de 
scended, and crossed a great plain called the Plaine des 
Dames, because, a long time ago, a lady of high rank perished 
there, with her whole train, in one of those dreadful snow 
whirlwinds called " tour mentes," for which this spot has rather 
an unpleasant reputation. A cairn of stones has been piled 
upon the fatal spot, to which the guides request travellers to 
add a stone in remembrance of the tragedy. 

After a walk of eleven hours, the hardest day's work which 
we had ever done, we saw, beaming before us, a small light, 
which the guide informed us was in the hamlet where we 
were to pass the night, and before long the whole party were 
peacefully snoring, with the exception of myself, who was not 
so much knocked up as the rest, so I sat up to write a letter 
to J., which will account for the stupidity with which it is redo 
lent. Sleep was a wonderful restorative, and the entire used- 
up crowd made their appearance in the morning quite fresh 
and blooming, and walked over the Col de Voza to the Val 
ley of Chamouni, where we are now snugly ensconced in the 
Hotel de 1'Universe, with a magnificent view of Mont Blanc 
and the Glacier des Bossons, from our bedroom window. 

R. has come in, and, as the fellows wish to sing, I must 
give up all attempts at writing on this to-night, so good 
night. To morrow we intend to go over the Tete Noire, back 
to Martigny. I expect to revel in the letters which I hope 
to find there. R. accompanies us on foot ; his father and 
mother go on mules. 



IO2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

To L. R. P. 

GENEVA, September 26, 1857. 

MY DEAR BOY, I have just now got time and breath 
enough to answer your very reasonable, but not at all friendly 
or enthusiastic letter, which I received at Martigny, just be 
fore commencing the tour of Mont Blanc, and, although I 
could not deny any of your well-stated premises, was much 
disgusted with the inevitable conclusion. I shall probably be 
obliged to visit Italy alone this autumn, as C. expects to 
leave me in a day or two, and I am not the man to go with 
anybody, Tom, Dick, or Harry, to that wonderfully rich old 
land. To one who had as yet done no travelling, the plan 
you lay out would afford very great attractions, but you must 
know that I " did " both Frankfort and the Rhine very thor 
oughly last summer, and am not inclined at present to go over 
the same ground again especially as I was much disap 
pointed in the " exulting and abounding river," with the ex 
ception of the range of the Siebengebirge and the Rheingau, 
between Coblentz and Bingen. And, by the way, as I am an 
old hand along there, let me give you a word or two of ad 
vice which may save you some money and trouble. If you 
expect to stay in Frankfort a couple of days, as I suppose 
you will, and desire to go to a hotel where you will have to 
talk German, the Landsberger Hof is very comfortable, and 
during the two days that C. and I were there we did not see 
a single Anglo-Saxon. Then take a third-class ticket on the 
Rhine boats ; you can get one at Mannheim or Mayence, 
which will last you all the way to Cologne, and allow you to 
get off and climb castles and steal grapes as often as you 
wish. There is no earthly difference between the second and 
third class except the price, and the bow of the boat is always 
more pleasant than the stern for looking out. You will of 
course stop at Bingen, "dear Bingen on the Rhine;" if 
either you or S. have a penchant for good Rhine wine, you can 
get, at the " White Horse," such Assmannshausen as you 
never tasted before, and probably never will again ; it grows 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 103 

on the hill behind the hotel, and can be relied upon as 
genuine. 

I hope that while at Bingen you will make an excursion to 
the splendid castle of Rheinstein, and to the Niederwald ; it 
will do your heart good to get into a fine, wild, untrimmed 
forest: once more ; besides, the view from the temple on the 
brow of the hill is called by Bulwer <J one of the noblest land 
scapes upon earth," and at the Tauberhohle is a vista cut 
through the trees, which shows the opposite side of the river 
as in a frame, and with the effect of a diorama. We did not 
stop at St. Goar, but wish we had, as it lies in the very midst 
of the most beautiful scenery, and from it you can so easily 
get up to that immense old ruin of Rheinfels. Then from Cob- 
lentz you can visit the castle of Stolzenfels, and the splendid 
fortress of Ehrenbreitstein ; the view from the top of the 
latter is very fine, and will repay your trouble, even if you 
don't care for the fortifications. Of course you will visit per 
sonally the ruins of Rolandseck and Drachenfels, which are so 
fairly teeming with old historic and traditional interest ; and 
by the way, it would be a good idea for you to buy, at Jiigel's, 
in Frankfort, a little book called " Lays and Legends of the 
Rhine ; " most of the poetry is rather raspy, but the legends 
are well given, and you need something of the sort to really 
enjoy the Rhine. Schiller's ballad on the story of Roland 
seck, the sweetest legend on all the Rhine, always pleased 
me extremely, and you will find a respectable translation of 
it in the book mentioned above. Near Remagen, which is a 
short distance above Rolandseck, stands the beautiful little 
modern church of St. Apollinaris ; if you get any opportunity 
to visit it you will be repaid by the fine frescoes on the walls. 
I should like above all things to stand with you in the Frank 
fort Museum, before those fine pictures of Lessing's, and 
once more to gaze upon the lovely Ariadne of Dannecker ; 
and to whisper to you in the Rossmarkt, before that grand 
statue of Goethe, the secret admiration which I have always 
entertained for him ; to drink Rhine wine with you at Bingen, 
and to climb together the steep sides of Drachenfels, and 



IO4 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

then to stand by your side under the heaven-aspiring arches 
of Cologne Minster, that angelic architecture. But so it 
moughten't be ; my lessening hours warn me to make the 
most of my time and see North Italy this fall j God willing, 
we will meet in Berlin in the month of November, and touch 
hands once more. 

GENEVA, September 28, 1857. 

.... Our most glorious stay at Chamouni was filled with 
scenes so grandly beautiful, that I have scarcely language to 
express what I felt and still feel in connection with that spot. 

" Where with God's own majesty 
Are touched the features of the earth. " BRYANT. 

I think that I have already told you of how we made the 
tour of Mont Blanc, and of our day's walk across the Col de 
la Seigne and the Col des Fours. This last was really too 
much for any one, however practiced and hardened to moun 
tain climbing, and pretty well used up all the party except 
myself. I believe that we all arrived at Chamouni with a sort 
of indistinct hope that here we were to be allowed to rest a 
little, and digest all that we had seen ; but never was any one 
more grievously disappointed. It was no more like rest than 
going into a fierce battle after a long march can be called rest. 
Oh no, our time was too short and precious, and there was too 
much at Chamouni to be seen, to allow of any wasting of 
time in rest. The valley of Chamouni, considered by itself, is 
not entitled to any great reputation for beauty. It is devoid 
of those innumerable chalets, those leaping fountains, and 
that rich green of fertility, which give the Lauterbriinnen 
such a loveliness ; and at the same time its position is not 
sufficiently elevated to destroy all verdure, or to give it that 
magnificently wild and scathed aspect, which is so very im 
pressive in many high passes. But it has what is far better 
than all, and that is the glorious snow-mass of Mont Blanc, 
and the gorgeous immensity of the Dome du Goute, to say 
nothing of the sky-piercing Aiguilles, which arise on every 
side. But really to know the wonders which belong to 
Chamouni, one must have the enterprise to visit and explore 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 105 

mountains, rocks, and glaciers, and nowhere more than here 
is seen the truth of that old proverb, that there is nothing 
good or beautiful to be obtained without hard work. So by 
half-past five, H. roused up the other two capable men of the 
party, and off we started to the Flegere. We had reengaged 
our guide to conduct us around Chamouni, and then take us 
back to Martigny, and the night before he had been profuse 
in his promises to be on hand to go with us to Flegere ; but 
at starting time he was nowhere to be seen, and, as we did not 
want the trouble of waking him up and dressing him, we were 
e'en glad to get off without him, a guide being unnecessary, 
and rather a piece of borous ceremony than anything else. 
We had a very easy climb of what most people consider 
pretty tough, and the only trouble which I had was about half 
way up, and that of a rather amusing character than other 
wise ; as we passed through a flock of goats, the two gentle 
men of the flock, the Gulielmi Capricornici, or to speak vul 
garly, Billy-goats, were having a fight together. One of them 
being quite small and the other a very patriarchal William, I 
thought it my duty to approach and back up the little one as 
much as possible, considering the fearful odds against which 
he was contending; but to my intense disgust, they both 
made common cause, and came up the rocks after me in a 
manner which I did not like, nor Dr. L. either, if one can 
judge by the alacrity with which he devolved the post of 
honor and danger upon me. I held my Alpstock in rest to 
defend my own rear as well as that of the party, and caused 
the animals to desist. At the Pavilion, upon what is called 
the Summit, the view is very fine, and almost everybody sat 
isfies themselves with that ; but the innkeeper told us that 
from the Needles, about an hour and a half from the house, 
was a point of view to which scarcely anybody ever went, 
which was very much superior to that from the Pavilion. So 
H. and I left L. hard at work sketching, and stretched 
our legs toward the real summit. The landlord's " hour and 
a half" proved a fifty minutes' climb for us, all extremely 
steep, and, finally, right up the almost perpendicular, rocky 



IO6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ridge, until we found a place large enough to sit down on 
without being sure to tumble off, and we received a most royal 
reward for our pains. From this height one can really see 
and appreciate the immense height of Mont Blanc's summit, a 
thing which cannot be done from below, since the Dome du 
Goute stands forth as the principal object, and on account 
of its comparative nearness, looks far higher and larger than 
that distant, rounded peak. But here the grand old mountain 
is seen rising above the rest, like Saul, by a head a king con 
fessed, although his lofty attendant princes form a bright and 
brilliant throng. What a solemn court ! For thousands of 
years they have stood thus, silent before that great white 
throne, and silently have they listened to the commands of 
their matchless mountain monarch, who speaks only in his 
avalanches, and who can see nowhere upon his portion of the 
earth's curve, anything equal or even second to himself. In 
deed, this mass of whiteness was so awful in its immensity, 
that all individuality seemed gone, and the snow-mountain 
seemed the only object before me. But soon the spell began 
to be broken, and I saw that besides Mont Blanc there was a 
vast and varied field of vision ; the noble glaciers which 
stream down from his feet the Glacier des Bossons dis 
tinguished for beauty, and the Mer de Glace for vastness, the 
double moraines of the latter appearing with great distinct 
ness to a great distance back into the heart of the moun 
tains ; those strange, sharp peaks, so well named the Aiguilles 
Rouges et Vertes, which in their angular acuteness bear such 
a striking contrast to the smooth, well-rounded tops of the ad 
joining snow mountains ; and what was most unexpected of 
all, we could look right over the Col de Balme into the Valley 
of the Rhorie, and distinguish there the precipitous pass of 
the Gemmi ; and beyond this our dear old friends the Ber 
nese Alps, with their well-known outlines, the Blumlis Alp, the 
Schreckhorn, and the Jungfrau ; we recognized them all, 
called them all by name to bid a last farewell, and thought of 
the two jolly weeks which we had spent at their feet, or wan 
dering among their romantic and picturesque passes. So de- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 

lighted were we with this unexpected pleasure, that we could 
scarcely tear ourselves away, and when we did descend from 
our dangerous position, it was only to encounter another se 
rious delay, as we found a splendid field of whortleberries, 
which it was impossible to neglect ; so I found a good place, 
where the berries were thick, and "sank down among them, 
with my face ever turned toward the mountain, that I might 
enjoy both Mont Blanc and whortleberries at the same time, 
and experience together the two sensations of lofty sub 
limity and lazy satisfaction. We had a grand run down the 
steep side of the mountain for nearly an hour, steady jump 
ing and dodging all the time. We took dinner, and, as we 
intended to go in the afternoon to the Glacier des Bossons, 
we sent for our guide, who soon appeared, and that in a most 
jubilant and happy state. As he marched along in front of 
us, I observed that his colossus-like legs frequently crossed 
each other, and that his general course described a line much 
resembling that of a Virginia rail-fence. I questioned him, 
and discovered that he had been drinking two bottles of 
champagne with one of the hotel-keepers, and was conse 
quently " a few points in the wind ; " but as he solemnly re 
marked, " he was as good a guide when he was drunk as 
when he was sober, and a great deal happier into the bargain ; " 
so I let him go on, thinking that a fall into a crevasse would 
sober him, if it did n't finish him entirely. But I soon saw how 
mistaken I was in the idea that any amount of water would 
sober him. As we came to one of the 

" Five wild torrents fiercely glad," 

he was afraid to trust himself to the narrow bridge, but waded 
through instead, and declared that he must have some Cognac 
to keep out the cold. This was the climax, and now the an 
gles of the zigzag became constantly more and more acute, so 
that I was almost afraid to let him go on the glaciers ; but 
there was a kind of method in his madness, and I observed 
that in spite of little knocks and falls, he took very good care 
of his carcass ; so when we reached the glacier, he sat com 
fortably down on a dry spot in the middle of it, while we 



IOS LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

cruised all over, partly to examine the glacier, and partly to 
accustom ourselves more to ice-walking, as we were to spend 
a good part of the coming day upon the Mer de Glace. This 
Glacier des Bossons is a perfect gem of an ice-field, both on 
account of its perfect purity, in which no other can remotely 
compare with it, and also for the fantastic but picturesque 
manner in which the ice is thrown up into waves, pinnacles, 
and bergs, principally at its lower extremity, which runs far 
down into the valley, and is consequently a very prominent 
and attractive object on first seeing the vale from the sur 
rounding ridges. It is across the upper end of this glacier 
that the road lies by which a few fools every year ascend Mont 
Blanc. The two young Americans, of whom you have heard, 
went up on this road and spent the night at the Grands Mu 
lcts, a miserable chalet, and then employed the second day in 
going to the top and returning to Grands Mulcts, the third in 
coming back to Chamouni ; so that it is altogether only one 
hard day and two easy ones for a hardened climber, and not 
by any means the dreadful thing that it is bragged up to be. 
Our guide informed us that it was no more dangerous than the 
road to the Jardin, to which we went the next day, as I shall tell 
you. The view is seldom fine on account of the clouds below, 
and even when it is, the rarefied air and the extreme cold do 
not allow one to remain on the summit more than ten or 
twenty minutes, so that the only earthly reason for going up 
is to be able to say that you have been. Even those who 
have been up themselves frankly acknowledge that it is not 
worth the expense, and is altogether a foolish business. The 
greatest danger, I am inclined to believe, arises to the health 
from breathing the rarefied air ; the firing of cannon, and all 
that, is merely a dodge to throw a halo of eclat around an ex 
pedition rather uninteresting. The morning we went to the 
Jardin, we were all up and dressed 4 A. M., breakfasted at 4^, 
and shortly before 5 were well started on our way across the 
valley, and up the hills to Montanvert, our guide carrying on 
his back a huge knapsack stuffed with those three great stand 
by's of human existence, bread, meat, and wine. A more glo- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 109 

rious morning I never saw. All was still, save now and then 
the distant thunder of an avalanche ; not a cloud was in the 
sky, and on the mountain's brow hung in silvery lustre the 
morning star, which did not seem to sink and disappear as we 
approached the mountain's base, but to be fixed there as a 
perpetual jewel, and I fully understood the opening lines of 
Coleridge's sublime hymn. Indeed, there is not a word in it 
all which I did not feel in my heart most fully " before sunrise 
in the vale of Chamouni." The pleasure, too, was of an un 
mixed nature ; so perfect was the stillness, that there was 
nothing to interrupt the still small voice of praise, which is 
continually going up to the Creator everywhere in the fresh 
dawn ; and here, where all is so magnificent, this voice is very 
loud, and audible by human hearts, if they listen aright. How 
grand were the mountains in their gray twilight robes; how 
beautifully calm the glaciers, untouched by the sun glare, while 
the angry air raged on as ever, regardless of the holy quiet. 
But we must hasten on, for Mont Blanc has caught the sun 
beams on his crown of snow, and we must finish our climb to 
Montanvert before the " glorious orb " gets over into the val 
ley and on to our backs, which will make us sweat like day- 
laborers ; so up we go at our best speed in the usual order, I 
first, H. close after me, and Dr. L., whose legs are unfortu 
nately not so long as ours, some little distance in the rear ; 
the guide's position was very variable, sometimes half a mile 
ahead, and then a mile behind, but in every case equally use 
less. We reached the inn on the Montanvert in an hour and 
forty minutes, at least I did ; it usually takes two hours nnd a 
half. This Montanvert is a steep mountain shoulder, about as 
high as the Flegere, thrust forward into the Mer de Glace, and 
consequently commanding a fine view of the pinnacles and 
icebergs of the lower end, which is called the Glacier des 
Bois, but a very confined and limited one of the vast plains 
and ocean-like waves of the real Mer de Glace, its immense 
crevasses, and its mountainous moraines. 

People go up to Montanvert as a day's job, and when they 
have stared about them a little, and have gone down and 



IIO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

walked on the ice a few steps, in a place provided with arti 
ficial stairs chopped out, perfectly nice and comfortable, they 
go back and say that they have seen it and walked over it. 
This reminds me of Chicken Little's declaration that the sky 
was falling, and that part of it fell on her tail, when it was only 
a rose-leaf. But this is quite absurd : for the view, although 
very fine, is rather of the Glacier des Bois than of the Mer de 
Glace, and I would not waste my time and breath to obtain a 
view of the Mer de Glace, which is inferior to that seen from 
the Flegere. No ; really to see and understand this Sea of 
Glass which lies at the foot of the great White Throne, a vis 
ible type of the invisible, one should penetrate into the very 
heart of those snow-clad mountains, and stand at the junc 
tion of those three ice streams, whose confluence produces the 
Mer de Glace. We had to go through many places, difficult, 
and some dangerous, but at length we got down to the level of 
the glacier, and began climbing the moraines to get upon its 
surface. This moraine climbing is an extremely ticklish busi 
ness, for so loosely does the mass hold together, that the fore 
most one is forced to be continually rolling down large piles 
of stone and dirt, which the lower ones have to be careful to 
dodge. How I escaped spraining my ankle a hundred times 
I don't know, but attribute it to an overruling Providence, and. 
the stoutness of my boots, for I received many a blow, which 
would have cut an ordinary pair all to pieces. When once on 
the glacier, the walking was much easier, and from this cause, 
and also the novelty of the situation, the time passed away 
very rapidly. Besides its vast extent, the Mer de Glace pre 
sents phenomena which are either peculiar to itself, or at least 
are far more fully developed and striking than in any other 
glaciers. The most noticeable of these are its double line of 
moraines, and its immense stones on icy pedestals, the sup 
porting stem of ice having been shaded from the sun by the 
flat stone above. Of these latter we saw many fine specimens, 
and many others which seemed very recently to have lost their 
centre of gravity, and to have toppled over. The ice of the 
Mer de Glace is purely white, and instead of showing a deep 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. Ill 

azure in its crevasses, as is the case with many other glaciers, 
there is little else besides perhaps a tinge of green. Crystals 
are found in great numbers among the rubbish of the moraines, 
and here one sees a superb mineralogical cabinet collected 
from all rocks and strata, and arranged together by the mere 
force of water. We had not time to stop and collect any speci 
mens. On crossing to the other side, our rascally guide at 
tempted to take us to the Jardin by a cross cut, over a very 
steep crag, for, as it afterward turned out, the glacier had 
changed so much that he did not know the way by the path, 
and consequently made tracks for the unchanging hills. So 
up we went after him, in momentary danger of breaking our 
necks, up a crag almost perpendicular, with nothing to take 
hold of except weak roots and tufts of grass, and all this with 
the uncomfortable feeling, that if our guide, who was not over 
active, should fall upon us with his weight of over two hundred 
pounds, he would inevitably sweep us away. We were all very 
indignant at being thus wantonly brought into danger, but as 
I happened to look up, I forgot my wrath, for from a hole in 
Jean Michel's breeches fluttered out what seemed and what 
undoubtedly was, the extremity of his chemise ; I could n't re 
sist the temptation of pointing it out to the fellows, and com- 
. paring it to the white plume of Henry IV., at the battle of 
Ivry. 

" Press, where ye see that white rag wave, all up the dangerous hill ; 
And be your oriflamme to-day, the shirt-tail of Michael." 

So we all held on tight, and had a good laugh, which was 
grimly echoed by the guide up the cliff, who always considered 
it his duty to laugh when we did. After six hours of steady 
hard work, we crossed the Glacier de Talefre, and arrived at 
the Jardin, a rather extravagant name for a field of short 
grass, upon which a few miserable goats pick up a living ; but 
perhaps deserved by the astonishing contrast, which its dingy 
green verdure bears to the dazzling white of the glaciers 
which surround it on every side. But how glorious to be 
right in the heart of all the snow and ice, and white-robed 

O * 

mountains, 



112 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

" The palaces of Nature, whose vast walls 
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps, 
And through eternity, in icy halls, 
In cold sublimity, where forms and falls 
The avalanche, the thunderbolt of snow ! " 

From immense heights the three mighty glaciers of Talefre, 
Lechaud, and the Giant, come sweeping down in glittering 
Mississippis of ice, and form the Mer de Glace, which is 
scarcely vaster or grander, than the three streams which are 
its feeders. Notwithstanding the vast quantities of ice and 
snow all around us, the sun was very hot, and we made a tent 
of shawls, under which we lay and feasted, and drank bump 
ers in sparkling Aste wine, which had been nicely cooled by 
leaving it in a crevice of the glacier. The unanimous opinion 
was, that as Mont Blanc was the crown of our Swiss tour, 
so the Jardin was the finest view around Mont Blanc, and we 
praised ourselves as smart fellows for having kept the best 
for the last. On going back, the sun was very glaring on the 
ice, and H. and I proved the good qualities of some colored 
spectacles which we had bought in Paris for the very purpose, 
and which relieved our eyes very pleasantly. We reached 
Chamouni, not very tired, and having done in one day, with 
ease, what takes most people two days' hard work. So 
ended our Alpine experience, if I except the passage over the 
Tete Noire ; and now, farewell to Alpstock and knapsack, to 
fatiguing walk, rude appetite, and heavy sleep ; I must now 
plunge into the sea of Art, and be a hard student during the 
coming month in Italy. I read the papers here and am very 
enthusiastic about the English troubles in India ; would that 
an American legion might be formed to fight beside their 
English cousins, and that I might have the privilege of 
striking a blow for decency and civilization ; all the dislike I 
have borne for the English is turned into pure sympathy, es 
pecially when the prayers are read on Sunday, " for the 
suffering countrymen in the East," and I see old ladies wiping 
sad tears from their eyes, for friends and relatives there. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 113 

MILAN, October 6, 1857. 

.... There is one point in your letter which I wish to 
notice, and am sorry that I did not speak of before, as it 
might, perhaps, have saved you a great deal of anxiety ; it is 
with regard to my going into danger, and running risks. Now 
let me assure you once for all, dear mother, that I am past 
that youthful folly which might once have prompted me to go 
into danger simply for the sake of saying so ; and I hope you 
think more highly of my good sense than to suppose, for a 
moment, that I would uselessly risk a life which is happy and 
might be useful. But I believe that every young man has in 
him a consciousness of what he can do, and so far he is fully 
justified in going. Surely it would be the part of cowardice 
to turn back from a little danger, which good nerves are cer 
tain to overcome. Besides, I am getting over that tendency 
to giddiness with which I was wont to be troubled, and can now 
look down a precipice, if necessary, as well as any other man. 
Indeed, I often think of you at home, and of the sorrow which 
you would feel if anything should happen to me ; and this 
thought has cleared my eye and steadied my nerves many a 
time, and I have whispered to myself, " It won't do to fall on 
any account." I must, however, recognize in some cases a 
Protecting Hand which saved me, not perhaps from killing 
myself, but from leg-breakings and ankle-sprainings innumer 
able ; indeed, as I recall our expedition to the Jardin, I can 
scarcely see how I escaped some severe injury to my limbs, 
from the dangerous nature of the moraines, over which we 
walked so much. But I think I have bored you enough al 
ready with the Jardin, and I also recollect that my stories 
about Chamouni completely expelled all account of my im 
pressions of the city of Geneva, where I remained no less than 
ten days, and got heartily sick of it. All the city of the lake 
is new, and its fine quays and stately hotels present a very 
imposing appearance to one coming down the lake. When I 
say " imposing " I mean to use the word in its bad sense ; for 
although it looks, from the lake, like a splendid city, it is 
really very ordinary when one gets into it, and, with the ex- 
8 



114 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER, 

ception of three or four, the streets are narrow and dirty. Cal 
vin and J. J. Rousseau are the two guardian genii of the place, 
and each has left traces of his influence behind him, although 
this influence takes different ways of showing itself. Thus 
Rousseau's name is carefully preserved and honored ; the 
street in which he was born is called after him, and a beauti 
ful little island in the lake, close by the bridge which joins 
the old and new town, and on which is a public promenade, 
also bears his name, and is adorned with a fine bronze statue 
of him. Calvin's name, on the contrary, is extinct as far as 
physical signs would show ; the house in which he lived no 
longer stands. I searched for it, but a new one occupies the 
spot ; his very grave is deserted, for he was buried, at his own 
desire, without monumental stone, and now even the grave 
yard has been given up to other purposes. But his influence 
still survives among the descendants of those whom he kept 
in such strict order, and undoubtedly it would do his grim 
shade good to see the Calvinists of the nineteenth century, 
setting their faces as firmly against the opera and theatre, as 
did the Calvinists of the sixteenth. Some of the strict rules 
of his time, however, have been repealed or have fallen into 
disuse, and plush breeches are no longer hunted down with 
an unrelenting fury. I think that some of the laws which 
were enacted under Calvin's popedom are to be equaled in 
absurdity only by the most ridiculous of our Connecticut Blue 
Laws. Geneva bears in some respects a very strong resem 
blance to Paris, especially around the quays and on the 
banks of the river, and one sees the washerwomen plying 
their daily labor on rafts fastened to the shore, just as it is on 
the Seine. Far be it from me, however, to compare the Seine 
to the Rhone, the mud and dirt of the former with the crys 
tal azure of the latter, as it darts from the lake in " arrowy 
rushings." It was quite nice to see the Rhone for once of a 
decent appearance, for in his babyhood among the Grimsel 
Mountains and his native glaciers, in his youth, flowing 
through the valley which bears his name, and in his old age 
as he rushes desperately to the sea through the level south of 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 115 

France, he 's as dirty as one could wish to see ; it is only 
here, after a good washing in the indigo tub of Lake Geneva, 
and before he meets the muddy Arve, that he assumes an ap 
pearance of decency ; thus he goes, muddy for some hundreds 
of miles, clean for some hundreds of feet. The environs of 
Geneva are said to be very beautiful, but I was seized with 
such a feeling of despair when H. went away that I walked 
about very little. I met J. C. the other day, and we had a 
very 'pleasant walk together to an eminence called Grand 
Jaconnex, outside the city ; the air was very clear and the 
sky cloudless, so we had a most superb view of Mont Blanc 
and his companions ; the whole range is perhaps better seen 
and appreciated in its entire extent from this point than from 
any other. I hung on at Geneva with the faint hope that B., 
of my class, who is travelling in these parts, might come along 
and bear me company into Italy ; but he did n't appear. Mrs. 
C. wanted me to wait until her husband returned from Paris, 
and then travel to Milan with them ; and this I should have 
been almost tempted to do, had not the day of his return 
been very uncertain. So I bade good-by to all the pleasant 
people at the Pension Boret, and took the boat across the lake 
again towards Villeneuve, thus exactly retracing my steps, a 
proceeding which is at any time distasteful to me, but was 
particularly so then, as I had no companion to assist me in 
whiling away the weary hours. Instead, however, of going 
directly to Villeneuve, I landed at Montreux, and walked to 
the Castle of Chillon, which I did most incontinently, not 
because I cared to go over it, but simply to tell people who 
might ask that I had been there. To any person who is not 
a very great admirer of Byron, this must always be the reason 
for going ; people go there to see the place where Byron lo 
cated his " Prisoner of Chillon," and not to view the spot 
made holy by the imprisonment of Bonnivard, for the sake of 
liberty and conscience ; indeed, when Byron wrote his rather 
poor poem, he had never heard of Bonnivard, and conse 
quently his thrilling picture sinks immediately to a fancy 
sketch. I rather admired the building, however, and the 



Il6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

vault in which Bonnivard was imprisoned, and where he wore 
a hollow by his incessant pacing, is a fine old piece of archi 
tecture, with heavy pillars and rounding arches. I then 
walked on to Villeneuve, took the evening train to Bex, and 
joined a young fellow in getting a carriage to go on to Mar- 
tigny, which we reached about 8 p. M. The diligence was full, 
and I was obliged to resort to the more expensive mode of 
posting, and joined interests with the young fellow mentioned 
above ; he had travelled a great deal, and was then on his 
way to the East, having with him a Greek courier, who spoke 
all modern languages quite indifferently. We came up the 
valley of the Rhone to Brieg, a most tedious journey, and 
then crossed by the Simplon Pass to Lake Maggiore. This 
magnificent work was built by Napoleon for the purpose of 
transporting his cannon into Italy, his previous passage over 
the St. Bernard having given him enough of bad mountain 
roads. The Swiss side presents but little that is remarkably 
fine except one fine view of the Bernese Alps. I bade those 
good old friends a last adieu from this point. Almost at the 
very summit is the Hospice, a dreary great building inhabited 
by a detachment of monks from the Great St. Bernard. Here, 
as well as at the town of Simplon, a little further on, the win 
ter lasts eight months ; indeed, I saw much fresh snow lying 
on mountain tops not very high above the pass. The descent 
on the Italian side is magnificently picturesque ; it surpassed 
in beauty, and equaled at least in wildness, all the passes we 
had been over. The Gemmi is perhaps more striking in its 
steepness, but that is a mere mule-path, and dangerous at 
that, while the Simplon is a splendid carriage road over which 
six horses can go finely at ten miles an hour. In many places 
it has been necessary to protect the road from avalanches by 
means of long galleries, some built over and some hewed out 
of the solid rock. Notwithstanding all their precautions, the 
road was destroyed twice between 1830 and 1840, and put the 
Swiss republic to a vast expense in mending their share. The 
Italian government has taken the less honorable but more 
convenient course of not mending their side at all. Perhaps 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. II 7 

the most striking of all these galleries is the one called the 
Gallery of Gondo, cut for six hundred and eighty-three feet 
through the solid rock. Immediately on emerging from the 
darkness of this gallery, a large body of water seems to rush 
right down upon you, forming a beautiful waterfall ; the sur 
rounding walls of rock here tower up two thousand feet above 
the road in shear, unbroken precipices, which in some spots 
even jut out and overhang, producing a most unpleasant sen 
sation in the person passing underneath. Add to this a long 
vista up the valley, including waterfalls and numerous pictur 
esquely-arching bridges, and you have a scene which is said 
to surpass even the celebrated Via Mala on the Splugen 
Pass. 

MUNICH, October 25, 1857. 

DEAR MOTHER, It had been my intention to delay writ 
ing this until I reached Berlin, where I should find and be 
able to answer home letters that I should probably receive, 
but as I have been delayed on my journey, I dispatch a short 
letter to let you know that I have come thus far safely, and 
that you may be relieved from all anxiety. I have just at 
tended divine service for the first time in four weeks ; during 
three weeks I have been travelling in Austrian Italy, where it 
is quite difficult to get permission to establish a Protestant 
church ; consequently in several large cities, which swarm with 
English and Americans, there is no chapel or service of the 
English Church, and as it has not entered into my calculation 
to go to the Romanist Church, I do not go at all. Far, far 
more pleasant was it when our party was travelling together in 
Switzerland, and when we were in a manner independent of 
English chapels, and could spend Sunday most delightfully by 
ourselves, in reading, singing, and strolling under the shadow 
of the mountains, engaged in conversations which were as 
profitable as they were pleasant. 

I hope that hereafter I shall always manage to make any 
Sunday stoppages at civilized places, and have made a firm 
resolve never to travel alone again ; for my recent experience 
has taught me that nothing can be more dreary. Oh, how fre- 



Il8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

quently during the last month I have longed for the dear and 
quiet delights of home. I sigh for rest and the sound of home 
voices, the music of home songs, the light of loved eyes and 
faces, and instead, I am whirled along in the activity of sight 
seeing, and hear nothing but a harsh foreign tongue, see none 
but unpleasant foreign faces, until it seems to be all some hor 
rid dream, and that if I could only thoroughly wake up, I 
should find myself in my own room at home, and should hear 
your voice calling me to get up. I have almost wished that 
the present state of money affairs might affect us to a sufficient 
extent to make it necessary for me to return home. I feel 
quite defiant sometimes when I feel the young life and health 
bounding in my veins, and I should be so proud if I could do 
something with my strong young arms for you, to repay all the 
love and kindness that you have lavished upon me for twenty- 
one years. It shall be the object of my future life, to repay 
you with love, at least, and a devotion which has always been 
latent in my heart, but of whose intensity I have never been 
aware until the cruelty of circumstances removed me a soli 
tary exile, transplanted me to the unkindly soil of Europe, 
where I can never thrive, and from which I shall most joyfully 

remove to the much loved shadow of our home 

I saw at the table to-day a pretty fair development of the 
German system of morals, as regards the observance of Sun- 
da)'. When dinner was about over, and most of the guests 
had left, four Germans and French sitting together began to 
throw dice to see who should pay for the champagne which 
they were to drink in the evening. Positively the rattle of the 
dice-box made me sick, and my indignation was not dimin 
ished when I was told that it was their regular practice. I seem 
to be on a little island in the boundless ocean ; everywhere 
there is the same restless, unruled life, regardless of all that 
I have been taught to hold most sacred, and among these 
unholy waves it is most difficult to maintain a footing on the 
sure ground. English and Americans, as well as others, seem 
to have a travelling set of morals, and a conscience of a dif 
ferent texture from that which regulates their home conduct ; 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 119 

the guiding motto is no longer : " Do what you believe to be 
right," but, " When in Rome do as the Romans do." For my 
self, I can't understand it. 

I hope that in Berlin Messrs. D., P., S., and I will be able 
to make a little society, in which all spare time may be pleas 
antly spent. 

You will be glad to learn that here in Munich I have suc 
ceeded in rinding some one to talk English to, a young man 
named F., from Hartford, who had seen that I was an Ameri 
can student, and offered kindly to assist me in any way. As 
he is an art student, he has been able to be of much service to 
me in this city, which fairly teems with art. 

I am very anxious to reach Berlin, and settle down for the 
winter, as the weather is growing quite chilly and unpleasant 
for travelling. 

Munich is a very unhealthy place, from its being so very 
flat ; there are always numerous marshes which exhale fever 
miasmata ; few foreigners live here long without catching what 
is called the slime fever. I will tell you where I have been, 
and what I have seen when I reach Berlin. 

Tell J. that on this day, the 25th, I wished a certain fair 
friend of ours many happy returns of her birthday. 

BERLIN, November 2, 1857. 

Here I am at last, settled in my own winter home, having 
arrived here on Friday, the 3oth October. Met P., D., S., and 
T. D., and most glorious of all, received a perfect flood of let 
ters, upon which I have been feasting ever since. Just " phansy 
my pheelinx," as Chawles Yellowplush says ! In fact, the 
accumulations of more than a month were gathered in that 
blessed poste restante, fully compensating me for my lonely 
Italian pilgrimage, when I was companionless, letterless, and 
generally miserable. If anything sweetens a journey, heighten 
ing its pleasures and alleviating its troubles, it is a packet of 
dear, warm-hearted letters, breathing of home and loved ones. 
The non-reception of letters when I was at Milan, Venice, and 
Munich, was perhaps even a greater drawback than the want 



I2O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

of a companion. Notwithstanding, however, I enjoyed myself 
most fully in Italy, keeping my eyes pretty wide open for mat 
ters and things in general. I must tell you a little something 
about my return from Venice to Milan, which was very pleas 
ant, and also of my last day or two at Venice. On Thursday, 
October i5th, I had everything ready packed for departure, 
when I discovered that in my hunting after pictures, palaces, 
and churches I had omitted to visit the Arsenal, and very will 
ing was I to delay another day on any pretext whatever ; for 
the quiet charm of the grand, old amphibious city was gradually 
stealing over me, and, with a friend, I should have been most 
happy to have spent a month there, among scenes which I be 
lieve to be unequaled of their kind, and like the poet, I can say, 

" I loved her from my boyhood ; she, to me, 
Was like a fairy city of the heart." 

But to the Arsenal : we sailed down the Grand Canal, past 
the Ducal Palace and the Bridge of Sighs, and turning up into 
a smaller canal, I soon stood before the two splendid ancient 
marble lions, which in years gone by stood on the Piraeus of 
Athens. They could not easily have surveyed a fairer scene 
there than here, but yet their new masters have become as low 
and slavish as the Athenians, and the glorious name of Lepanto 
has, like that of Salamis, been veiled with a cloud of subsequent 
disgrace. Venice is no longer a queen, with an unequaled 
dower, but, alas ! a crushed and cowering slave, her years of 
empire forgotten, her children corrupt and enervate, and a for 
eign master lords it over them ; speaking, too, the same lan 
guage with that proud Emperor Barbarossa, who in this 
very city humbled his haughty neck beneath the foot of the 
insulted pontiff. Within the Arsenal Museum are many ob 
jects of interest; prominent among them hangs the great 
Standard of the Turkish Admiral, taken at the battle of Le 
panto, where the Christians struck a mighty blow for the Cross, 
and the Crescent went down for the first time in a sea of blood. 
But the most interesting thing of all was the sword of old blind 
Henry Dandolo, who, when ninety years old, stormed the walls 
of Constantinople at the head of the crusaders, and then re- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 121 

fused the crown which he had so bravely won, preferring to 
remain Doge of Venice rather than become the Emperor of the 
East. Here also is kept the model of the famous Bucentaur, 
the galley from which the Doge every year, on Ascension Day, 
espoused the Adriatic. A right gorgeous vessel she must 
have been, with her banks of oars rising in ranks above each 
other, and the whole exterior richly gilded. The original vessel 
was burned in 1824, and this model is now the only memorial 
of her. In the afternoon I took my last row on the Grand 
Canal, and took my fill of gazing at the old decayed palaces, 
which tell of a splendor vanished, far beyond what is seen in 
modern times, and not only remarkable as the homes of mer 
chant princes, but also for their intrinsic architectural beauty 
and richness, 

" Glowing with the richest hues of art, 
As though the wealth within them had run o'er." 

The next morning I took an early train for Padua, and you can 
easily imagine that it was with deep regret that I left this en 
chanting city, and for the last time 

" Looked to the winged lions' marble piles, 
Where Venice sits in state, throned on her hundred isles." 

A ride of some two hours brought me to Padua ; this fine old 
city presents quite an imposing appearance, at a short distance, 
as it is built very compactly in a solid mass, from above which 
arise the domes of several very noble churches, and also the 
lofty roof of the Municipal Palace, about which is told quite a 
strange and interesting story. An Augustine friar, Era Giovanni 
by name, had travelled very extensively, for the purpose of col 
lecting architectural drawings and models. One of these was 
of a palace in India, which had an immense unsupported roof; 
with this the Paduans were so much pleased that they ordered 
him to arrange the roof of their Town Hall in a similar manner ; 
it is said to be the largest roof in the world unsupported by 
pillars. The interior of the hall is decorated with strange 
great frescoes, mostly emblematical and founded upon the sci 
ence of astrology, for which Padua was once greatly celebrated. 
Among other objects of interest in this hall, including the 



122 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

monument of my old Freshman friend Titus Livy, what inter 
ested me considerably was the bust of Belzoni, a native of the 
place, between two Egyptian statues which he presented to the 
city. It is pleasant thus to see genius and enterprise honored 
even after death, although the great man may have been shame 
fully neglected while living. 

A large opefi square or parade ground has received the name 
of the Piazza of the Statues, from its being surrounded by a 
double row, seventy-eight in all, of statues of the distinguished 
men who have at any time been connected with the history of 
Padua ; unfortunately their stock of great men ran out before 
their space was covered, and they were consequently obliged 
to appropriate quite a number of foreign names, whose con 
nection with Padua was of the most dim and undefined nature, 
such as Petrarch, Tasso, and Gustavus Adolphus. 

But by far the most interesting feature connected with Padua 
is the chapel of Maria dell' Arena, whose walls are covered 
with very old and fine frescoes by Giotto, which have at the 
same time doubled his reputation, and have also served to 
show the condition of the art of painting, when it had passed 
the earliest age of stiffness and angularity, and although with a 
certain sweetness and beauty of their own, are yet far behind 
the school of Raphael, which followed two centuries afterwards. 

The subjects of the frescoes are entirely illustrations of 
sacred history, and it gives a deep additional interest to know 
that Dante lived in the same house with the painter, and doubt 
less by his deep spiritual advice did much to influence the 
character of the young artist. I have not space here to tell 
you what I thought of all these tender and pious works of me 
diaeval art, but will mention two or three to give you an idea 
of the wonderful beauty and grace that was attained even by 
the pre-Raphaelites. The Raising of Lazarus was peculiarly 
powerful ; the newly-raised body stands on end, but still motion 
less, being swathed with the burial garments, but in the face 
appears a remarkable struggle between life and death, the eyes 
being just faintly raised, as if the vital element had not yet 
spread fully over the body. The Marriage in Cana of Galilee, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 123 

was full of graceful female forms, while in the Burial of Christ 
were united many qualities seeming quite remarkable in a 
painter of that period ; to the accuracy and minuteness which 
are so observable in the old painters was added a graceful pose 
of the figures, and a sweet expression of devotion in the faces, 
such as the old painters tried hard to attain, but produced 
only clumsy parodies of upturned eyes and distorted features. 
So that here we see a long stride in advance of the past, and 
towards that high ideal which was riot realized until more than 
two centuries later, in the masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci 
and Raphael. To me it is peculiarly pleasant to think of Dante 
as standing by Giotto's side, and explaining to him the deep 
and hidden meaning of Scripture allegory and metaphysical 
law, thus demonstrating that the rules which govern in the art 
of poesy are none the less valuable when that poesy is made 
tangible, and spread in colors on the canvas or the wall. 

But I perceive that I am getting slightly borous. I am, 
moreover, growing very sleepy, so give me a kiss, and good 
night, dearest mother. 

November 3. I have just finished the first breakfast that 
I have taken alone, as P. left yesterday. 

Our way of life is arranged in a very pleasant manner, and 
one calculated to allow abundant opportunities for study, and 
yet bringing us together in a social party two. or three times 
during the day. It is after this fashion : we rise in the morn 
ing, and each one takes his coffee in his own room ; then gen 
erally come lectures, or studies, which are carried on according 
to the taste or fancy of the particular student; at I-P. M..we 
meet and take a good sharp walk for one hour, after which we 
all, five in number, take dinner together at .the Hotel Bellevue. 
After dinner come perhaps more walks, or we disperse, each to 
his own room, and work until 8 P..M., when we all meet again 
in Mr. D.'s room to take tea. On this occasion no English is 
allowed to be spoken, or even read. Last night, Mr. D. and 
I had pretty much all the conversation to ourselves. I, how 
ever, broke the rule by sundry sly and surreptitious glances at 
the "New York Weekly Times," for October lyth, in which 



124 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

were many items of interest, not only as touching the money 
crisis, but also concerning the recent election in Kansas. I 
shall look with much impatience for the next mail, to see 
whether the Free State men have nobly triumphed, or whether 
they have been jockeyed out of their victory by the frauds and 
ballot-stuffing of Leavenworth County border ruffians. To 
return, I think that these evening meetings of ours will be not 
only profitable but also pleasant. 

I must tell you something more of Italy. Retracing my 
steps towards Milan, I spent the night at Verona, and went, 
early the next morning, to Brescia, where I spent a most de 
lightful half day, in wandering among its fine churches and 
antique ruins. A Roman temple was dug up here, and many 
beautiful antiques discovered, among them a bronze winged 
statue of Victory, which struck me at once by its wonderful 
elegance, seeming to stand right out from everything else 
around it. It seems indeed strange that the old Greeks and 
Romans, with nothing but a Pagan religion and Pagan devo 
tion to inspire them, should have succeeded in giving to their 
works of art a beauty and power which it is the highest ambi 
tion of the moderns faintly to approach. I speak of sculpture 
rather than painting, for the latter was undoubtedly a flower 
which blossomed much later, and received its highest nutri 
ment from the gentle dew of Christian devotion. 

In Brescia, too, I could dream over some of my old dreams 
of the time of Chivalry, inseparably connected as it is with the 
names of two of my favorite heroes, Gaston de Foix, and Bay 
ard, the " chevalier sans peur et sans reproche." Gaston de 
Foix, I am sorry to say, acted like a rapscallion, as he stormed 
the city and then led his soldiers, the flower of chivalry, into pil 
lage and slaughter, which lasted for seven days, and in which 
46,000 of the inhabitants perished. In the midst of all these 
horrors the gentle Bayard shone like a bright, mist-dispelling 
star. I have not space to tell the whole story, how when 
grievously wounded and carried into a house, he forgot his 
own pain to care for the safety of his hostess and her daugh 
ters ; how for many weeks he lay there nigh unto death, but 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 125 

ever kind and courteous, thinking less of himself than of 
others ; and how, when he went away, he refused all ransom, 
and with such sweet and gentle speeches (much, by the way, 
like those of dear old Don Quixote), that it really warms one's 
heart to read them. Oh, to see in those dark times a character 
like this, as brave, high-spirited, and able as any, but more 
gentle, devout, and generous than all, reminds me of Cogia 
Alhabdal's diamond, in the " Arabian Nights," which shone 
brightest when all the lights were extinguished, and every 
thing else was dark. 

In the afternoon I went to Bergamo, which is a most pictur 
esque city, the most wealthy portions of the inhabitants living 
on a lofty hill with very steep sides, thus literally the "upper 
ten," while the larger portion of the town lies at the base of 
the rock. Most of the fine churches and public buildings are 
in the Citta, or upper part, and look splendidly, from their 
being at a great height, and consequently visible at a long 
distance. The view from the Castello of Bergamo I thought 
even superior to that from the top of the Cathedral of Milan. 
To the north are seen the Alps, to the west the cathedral 
spires of Milan and Monza, and the region watered by the 
Adda, while to the south the fertile plain of Lombardy, the 
valley of the Po, stretching far off to the Appenines, sprinkled 
thickly with noble towns and cities, and glowing, as I saw it, 
with the rich hues of a superb Italian sunset. I could scarcely 
refrain from crying aloud, 

" Where 's the coward would not dare 
To fight for such a land." 

But, alas ! the times must produce a new race of men be 
fore Italy shall shake off the Austrian yoke, or even gain for 
herself her ancient feudal privileges, which were wont to be 
the substitute for freedom. 

The day after I was at Milan, across the Lake of Como, and 
by night-fall, over the Spliigen Pass to Chur, in the Canton of 
the Grisons. The Lake of Como, of which Bulwer gives such 
a rapturous description in his " Lady of Lyons," I had expected 
to be disappointed in, but was not at all. I had intended to 



126 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

tell you about my ride over the Spliigen, but as I wish to an 
swer grandpapa's by this mail, I must hand it over to J. 

Your loving son. 

BERLIN, November 3, 1857. 

MY DEAR J., One letter at a time from you has hitherto 
been sufficient to inspire me with the most joyful emotions, 
but my demonstrations slightly passed the bounds of decency, 
when in the bundle of letters handed to me with a benevolent 
smile by the postmaster, I discovered that there were two 
from you. I repaired to P.'s room, and having opened all 
my letters, twelve in number, upon the table, I performed a 
war dance .over them, in;total uncertainty as to which I should 
open first, and it. is no exaggeration to say that it was two 
days before I had completed the perusal of them all. I have 
just read your two letters over for the third time. Your sec 
ond letter was peculiarly interesting to me, from the many 
items it contained :it really seemed as if you were sitting in 

my :study at home and telling it all to me face to face 

Wednesday, November, 4. r^t is very cold this morning, and 
all the exposed wood-work is covered with a coating of frost ; 
I shall .have >a fire this afternoon in my big porcelain stove, 
and. shall rejoice that -I '"am 'riot now crossing the Spliigen Pass, 
as I was doing ; twp weeks ago last Monday, for it was cold 
enough there then to satisfy any" one. We had at first some 
very bad weather, and I feared that the beauties of the cel 
ebrated Via Mala . would be spoiled for me, as during our 
ascent there was a fierce and continual storm of mingled snow 
and rain. But at .the village of Spliigen, where we stopped to 
take dinner and. warm. up, -the clouds cleared off, and down 
towards the -Swiss !side everthing looked bright, and sunlit, and 
beautiful. I got the conductor to let me sit with him in his 
seat on top, and.so had-almost as good a view of the scenery 
as if I: had proceeded :on foot. Indeed it was a shame to ride 
over .this -pass,' but ,T. had more baggage than I could carry on 
my back, arid was rbesides pressed for time, and was therefore 
compelled ; to adopt that: method of progression, which is most 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 1 27 

disagreeable to me. The scenery, in most parts of this pass 
not very remarkable, was, in one district about a mile and a 
half long, extremely wild and picturesque. Imagine walls of 
rock, rising above you on either hand to a height of some 
1600 feet, in perfectly smooth precipices, while below a vast 
chasm stretches away to an immense depth, and at its bottom 
flows the stream of the here youthful Rhine, or rather his 
lower branch, the upper one coming from the St. Gothard 
range. You can form some idea of the extreme narrowness 
of these clefts, through which the road passes and the river 
flows, when I tell you that in one place a short bridge carries 
the road over the abyss which is not more than six or eight 
feet wide ; a cleft through which, in long forgotten times of 
the Pass, the Rhine has broken his way from the mountain- 
glaciers to the plains below. The bridge itself was so narrow 
that the diligence had not more than two feet to spare on 
either side, and as the top projected considerably over the 
wheels, I could look straight down into the chasm, whose two 
sides seemed to have been split apart quite recently, so near 
were they to each other, and so well did the opposite sides fit. 
But, with the exception of this short pass, the Spliigen road is 
rather ordinary than otherwise, and not such a remarkable ex 
hibition of grandeur and wildness as I had been led to expect. 
The Simplon I think superior to it in every respect ; besides 
being one of the finest roads I ever saw, it passes through 
nobler snow mountains, is overhung by more imposing gla 
ciers, the walls of rock which close it are higher and grander, 
and above all the magnificent coup d'ceil which one gets in 
looking backward, while going down the Italian slope, sur 
passes anything on the Spliigen. Of all the mountain passes 
which I have been over, including (besides the four great ones, 
the St. Gothard, the St. Bernard, the Simplon, and the Splii 
gen) some fifteen passes of lesser note, the Simplon is the 
one over which I should most enjoy going again. 

At Reichenau, where we stopped to change horses, I had 
an opportunity of seeing the union of the upper and lower 
branches of the Rhine, who from this time becomes quite a 



128 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

respectable river, and in springtime I should imagine a rather 
dangerous one, as his banks are very low, and are lined on each 
side by " moraines," so to speak, of stones which he brought 
down when swelled by the spring floods. I think that by this 
time I ought to be acquainted with old Father Rhine, having 
seen him in all his phases : a glacier torrent roaring through 
the Splugen, a little river flowing muddy into Lake Constance, 
but flowing out " clear as diamond spark," and furrowed by 
the keels of steamboats as far as Schaffhausen ; there plung 
ing down in rapids and cataracts and on to Strasburg, where 
it is a fierce, unnavigable stream, and rushes through the 
bridge piers with great rapidity. At Mayence we saw him 
again, and from thence to Cologne, in the quiet and tranquil 
lity of his manhood, with his robe and crown of orchards and 
vineyards : once more at Leyden, sinking away and losing 
himself in the sands of ocean. We spent the night at Chur, 
the capital of the Grisons. This is a very strange canton, 
the largest in Switzerland, and the least thickly settled. In 
its mountains there is said to be still capital sport of chamois 
shooting ; in fact I dined for two days on chamois venison, 
which is rather poor stuff, and not comparable to the rich 
meat which we shot for ourselves last year in the Adirondacks. 
But the most remarkable thing about this canton is the language 
which they speak. It is called the Romaic dialect, and is a 
heterogeneous mixture of Latin, German, French, and Italian, 
the Latin and Italian predominating. But still the language 
as I heard it spoken has very little of Italian softness. The 
language spoken in several valleys is said to bear a very 
strong resemblance to the Latin of the Roman peasants, as 
described by Livy. I went the next day to Lake Constance, 
which I crossed to Lindau, where I was anxious to meet the 
train to Augsburg. When I arrived I found that I had only 
fifteen minutes to get to the depot, and, to add to my trouble, 
I was attacked by both the police and custom-house officers, as 
I was now passing from Switzerland into Bavaria. Discretion 
was the better part of valor, so I seized my traps and bolted 
for the depot, which fortunately was close at hand, shouting 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 1 29 

out to the astonished officials that it was all O. K , and man 
aged to get to the cars just in time. My journey from Lindau 
to Augsburg, and from thence to Munich, was very uninterest 
ing. However, I spent a very pleasant half day at Augsburg, 
which is a very fine old city. The inn at which I put up is 
one of the oldest in Europe, dating from the fourteenth cen 
tury. It is called Die drei Mohren, and is now kept in the 
finest house in Augsburg, formerly the palace of the Fugger 
family, who were for so many generations so celebrated for 
their wealth. I saw the room in which Anthony Fugger 
burned the three million florins I. O. U. which he held against 
Charles V., on the occasion of that Emperor spending some 
time in the house. The cellar of the Drei Mohren contains 
the most celebrated collection of wines which is known any 
where in these parts, and it is said that one is sure of getting 
them pure and genuine here, though he pays a pretty good 
price for them. Among these are the Immortal Massic and 
the Falernian of the Romans, from Palestine the Dew of Car- 
mel, and Hill of Bethlehem wine, and also one from Ithaca 
called Schloss-Ulysses. This last rather took me down. 

I was much interested in several things in Augsburg, es 
pecially the water-works and the room where the " Augsburg 
Confession " was publicly read to Charles V. This room has 
been entirely modernized, as was to be expected from a Cath 
olic sovereign, who would efface with pleasure all that could 
remind one of the Reformation ; but still I determined to see 
it, that I might be able to tell mother that I had been upon 
the very spot where Melancthon's celebrated paper was pub 
lished, which produced such great results both for good and 
evil. The room was very uninteresting in its appearance, 
and the places where the distinguished persons stood are not 
known, but it is very easy to see where the throne must have 
stood, and also to define the spot where Bayer, the Chancellor 
of Saxony, stood, who when requested by the Emperor to read 
the Confession in Latin, replied, " Your Majesty surely does 
not desire it to be read in a tongue which the people do 
not understand ; " and then proceeded to read in such a loud 
9 



I3O LEXERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

tone of voice that it was not only heard in the apartment but 
even by the crowd without. Augsburg is now about two fifths 
Protestant to three fifths Catholic, and I was informed that 
they get along very peaceably together. 

I perceive that I shall not have space enough to tell you 
what were my impressions of the Munich Gallery, and conse 
quently will not touch upon it. 

But I must give you an account of a glimpse of student- 
life, especially as here in Berlin there appears to be very little 
student life at all, the fellows being older, and not so much 
attached to beer and duels as at Bonn, Heidelberg, and Mu 
nich. 

A young artist from Hartford named F. was very kind to 
me, and, after taking me to the Pinacothek and Glyptothek, 
and also to some galleries to which no unintroduced person 
can be admitted, offered to take me to the Student's Kneipe 
the night before I came away. I gladly accepted, as I was 
anxious to see how they did these things down here in Ba 
varia ; I was also urged to go by a German member of the 
Chor or society, named Farmbecker, who had been F.'s teacher 
in German, and with whom I had had some very pleasant 
talks about our mutual friend. I do not wonder that T. liked 
him, for he had a very quiet, gentlemanly manner, and struck 
me as being a German translation of Doc. M. About 8 p. 
M. we dropped into the house in which the Chor of the " Isa- 
rians " holds its meetings, and entered a small room, very 
plain and decorated with little else than shields, upon which 
were painted the colors of the club green, blue, and white ; 
green being the color of the river Isar, from which they take 
their name, and blue and white the colors of Bavaria. Around 
a long table were seated some dozen or fifteen fellows, busily 
engaged in drinking and smoking, wearing caps decorated 
with the same colors as above, the body being green with a 
blue and white rim underneath. These colors are carried out 
very completely in watch ribbons and pipe decorations. 

Some of them wore what is called the Festmiitse or Feast 
cap, which is a very small smoking-cap without any tassel, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 131 

which is placed upon the top of the head, and gives a highly 
rakish and jolly appearance. 

I was received with true student cordiality, and placed op 
posite to a tall fellow, who, I was informed, was the best 
schlager, or fighter, in the university ; and, although he had 
fought very often, had received scarcely a single scratch. 
This is the highest praise which they could possibly bestow 
upon a fellow student, and could not be increased if he had 
the learning of Erasmus and the eloquence of Abelard. A 
jolly student song then followed, not a compound of yells and 
howls such as go to make up the students' chorals at Yale, 
but a really sweet, well-executed song, which deserved the 
name of a lay. Some of the voices seemed very good, and 
all were harmonious. The song over, a vigorous beer-drink- 
ing set in ; large mugs of beer, containing nearly a quart, were 
drunk on every side. I began a conversation with the huge 
swordsman opposite me, and, after a few words, he suddenly 
challenged me to " drink out," that is, to empty my mug at 
one pull, without breathing. A quart is a pretty good mouth 
ful for a man whose drinking days had been over for two 
years, but it would n't do to hesitate, so we clinked our mugs 
together, there was a short pause, then not a drop fell from 
the inverted mugs which we brought down upon the table with 
a simultaneous clang. From that moment I was looked upon 
as a jolly fellow, and was overwhelmed with attentions. The 
fighting Junior, whose name was Schenk, drew me a picture 
of a duel, which I was assured was exactly correct, and which 
I enclose to you, only requesting that you will preserve it 
carefully, as it is quite nicely done, though dashed off in a mo 
ment. I should also like to keep it as a remembrance of my 
meeting with the Munich students. 

Schenk was very anxious that I should stay and study in 
Munich, and take lessons from him in fighting. He offered 
to be my second in all my fights, and parry all the bad blows, 
" so that the cuts you get will be merely ornamental," said he. 
I was obliged to refuse his tempting offer. Students are the 
same the world over, and it was most delightful for me to get 



132 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

another glimpse of student life, at once similar to and so dif 
ferent from my old life at Yale. 

BERLIN, November 8. 

For really severe study the opportunities and inducements 
at this place are very numerous and valuable, and the dis 
tractions, especially for a stranger, are extremely few. The 
Library of the King contains the respectable number of five 
hundred thousand volumes, besides several thousand manu 
scripts ; upon these a student ought to be able to browse to 
his heart's content, and have no need to complain that his ac 
quaintance in the city is confined to three or four male friends. 
And as hereafter I shall have positively nothing to write about, 
save the dry and uninteresting details of a quiet, studious life, 
I take this opportunity to speak once more of the interesting 
objects which I have seen in coming to this place, for I 
would by no means have you suppose that my visits to Mu 
nich and Nuremberg were not filled with enjoyment and ad 
miration of the ancient and the artistic. In Munich there 
were some things which pleased me, and others which deci 
dedly did not. I did not like at all the uniform appearance 
of almost all the new buildings, which, with their spick and 
span aspect, made them look as if they had all been built in 
blocks by contract, or else turned out of some Yankee machine 
for manufacturing houses, some great public-building turning- 
lathe. This is especially noticeable in the magnificent Lud- 
wigstrasse, where the uniformity is most dreary. The unfilled 
appearance of many of the finest streets is mentioned by some 
as a defect ; but to me it seemed rather an ornament than 
otherwise, as the vacant spaces left between the houses were 
occupied with gardens or little clumps of shrubbery, which 
imparted a charm to the stiffness of the city, and reminded me 
very forcibly of some of the prettiest parts of New Haven 
or Norwich. In fact, the Briennerstrasse, through which I 
walked about every day, was very much like Temple Street, 
although, of course, it had no such glorious elms, whose 
equals I have as yet seen nowhere in Europe. 

You can imagine that I reveled in the treasures of the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 133 

Pinacothek. This is said to be one of the very best arranged, 
lighted, and managed picture galleries in Europe, and al 
though there is nothing in it which in any very peculiar de 
gree excited my emotion, yet it was a place where I could 
have spent a good deal of time most pleasantly and profitably. 
The collection is peculiarly rich in the old German masters, 
from the very earliest times, when the Byzantine was dominant 
in Germany, and William of Cologne at the head of it, down 
to later times, when the German artists had begun to make 
pilgrimages to the Italian cities, and to sit at the feet of those 
great masters who so beautifully united the tender with the 
majestic. There are also many fine specimens of the early 
Flemish school, in which such rapid steps were made onward ; 
among them the Jan Van Eyck was of course the finest, al 
though there was nothing in the Pinacothek equal to his great 
picture of the " Adoration of the Spotless Lamb/' which I 
enjoyed so much at Ghent, which is immeasurably the master 
piece of that early school. 

The great room, however, is the hall of Rubens, in which 
are collected no less than ninety-five of the works of this jolly 
man, whose free rich life seemed to find an appropriate type 
and perpetuation in the gorgeous coloring and unfettered mo 
tion which he lavished on his paintings. 

I cannot, however, in my own feelings, accord to Rubens 
that position which many give him, nor can I assent to all that 
Sir Joshua Reynolds, at once his critic and his panegyrist, 
chose to say. In some styles of painting, not generally the 
highest, he is perhaps the most able and successful painter that 
ever lived. But it appears to me, that when he takes up sub 
jects of a more high and holy nature, he fails, or at least meets 
with inferior success. He was, however, unfortunate in his 
models, and as a man can produce only what is within and 
around him, it is scarcely to be expected that his characters 
should possess an elevated beauty such as he had never inti 
mately studied, or be spiritualized by an expression of love and 
devotion such as he had never felt. He was a gloriously 
gifted man, and painted in the most gorgeous colors known in 



134 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the art, the most beautiful women, the noblest men, and the 
wildest animals, which he knew, and grouped all together with 
the originality and power of a wonderful imagination. For all 
this we can give him the highest praise and admiration, but 
cannot go further and acknowledge his magic as strong enough 
to touch the heart or bow the knee. 

What pleased me most of all in this gallery were those charm 
ing pictures of Murillo, representing scenes from the lowest 
classes of the Spanish. Nothing could be more natural and 
beautiful than those two boys eating fruit one a bunch of 
grapes, and the other a melon, with a melon seed already 
sticking to his cheek. Spite of rags and poverty, they are in 
the full enjoyment of the " dolce far niente," and the humor 
which glitters and sparkles in their eyes is of that keen and racy 
kind which lights up so cheerfully the pages of Cervantes. 

But enough of art, although I have still a great deal more 
to say of Albert Diirer, and Teniers, and Gerard Dow, and of 
the rich landscapes of Claude Lorraine, Both, and Ruysdael, 
to which my attention was particularly directed by my com 
panion, a young artist from Hartford, who is studying land 
scape painting in Munich. 

This is my dear mother's birthday, and I wish for her many 
returns of the day, all happy with that health and quiet pleas 
ure which it shall be my aim to increase, my warmest love 
to her from her absent son. Tell her I have thought much of 
her to-day, and most of all when we met in Mr. D.'s room this 
evening, and sung those old hymns and tunes, which never 
fail to bring back to my mind the place where, and the lips 
from which I first learned them. 

To H. N. C. 

BERLIN, November 13, 1857. 

.... Were not your first few days after reaching home 
perfectly rich with happiness ? days to be remembered through 
a lifetime, for the peculiar charm in which they were clothed ? 
When you answer this, I want you to particularize about the 
little minutiae of your own return home, at least as far as you 



' FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 135 

think fit, and also to tell me every word spoken and every look 
given when you first met my mother and brother. I don't care 
if you don't say much else, or even if you omit a disquisition 
on the money crisis, with which I have been bored for two 
weeks past, if you will only, in addition to a full detail of your 
own voyage and experiences, tell me everything you noticed in 
my home-circle. A man more lonely and miserable than my 
self after you left would have been a difficult thing to find. . . . 
In Venice I spent a week, and had you been with me, we 
should doubtless have squandered there a fortnight of our 
valuable time. For her palaces and pictures, her canals and 
churches, her rich blue sky and oriental bearing, over all which 
blows the fresh sea breeze from the Adriatic, form a glorious 
combination of the gorgeous, the beautiful, and the strange, 
which not only delighted and astonished me, but gave me new 
ideas of beauty and excellence, and taught me that, however 
wonderful art may be, the power of the human mind in seizing 

and enjoying it is still more wonderful At Munich I also 

attended a German Kneipe, or society meeting, and had a very 
jolly time, being as it were transported back to the dear old days 

of whist and whiskey-punch in 's and 's rooms. I will 

tell you all about it when I see you, for it is probably the only 
sight of student social life which I shall get, as they have pos 
itively no student-life at this University of Berlin, which is 
a kind of extra-nice, advanced, finishing-off establishment, 
where the object is rather study and profit than fun ; the stu 
dents are older, more earnest and sober, and consequently 
frown down, rather, all attempts at societies, beer-drinking, and 
duelling, which appear to be the chief end of man at Heidel 
berg, Bonn, and Munich. From Munich I went up to Nurem 
berg, which is the finest old Gothic city in Europe ; every house 
is just as it was three hundred years ago, and in the good old 
times when Albert Diirer painted, Peter Vischer and Adam 
Krafft carved, and the cobbler Hans Sachs poured forth his 
inspiriting war songs. The appearance of antiquity about the 
houses is much greater and more general than in Ghent or 
Bruges ; in fact, there is scarcely anything modern about the 




136 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

whole town to remind one that he is in the nineteenth century, 
and thus call off the dreamer's mind from the past. I was de 
lighted with the city, and would have willingly given up Milan, 
cathedral and all, if necessary, in order to visit it." 

To THE SAME. 

BERLIN, January 10, 1858. 

An ulcer in my leg, in which I caught cold, gave me con 
siderable pain, and reduced me to the humiliating necessity of 
calling in a German doctor ; fortunately for me he understood 
English, and I did not have such a ludicrous time in relating 
my symptoms as " My Uncle " did in " Up the Rhine." The 
Herr Doctor however made one pretty bad bull, though it was 
rather in a professional line : I asked him if I might eat apples, 
whereupon he replied that he " had no injections to it." The 
Partingtonism was too much for the politeness of the crowd 
who had come in to hear whether I was in immediate danger 
or not, and we all collapsed in a most hearty laugh, in which 
the jolly doctor joined ; and then my landlady's little girl was 
sent out for a fabulous quantity of apples, which, with the help 
of my sympathizing friends, disappeared with astonishing 
rapidity. . . . During my lonely days upon my sofa, I read 
again and again your letter, both alone and in connection with 
one I received from home nearly at the same time ; it is so 
pleasant to view the home circle from different points, and the 
little sketch which you gave me was such a charming one, and 
seemed to bring those dear ones so clearly before my mental 
eye, that I cannot sufficiently thank you for it. No one can 
better appreciate my feelings than a devoted lover of home life 
like yourself, so you may fill out yourself the state of feeling in 
which I was by imagining how you would like it if you had re 
mained in Europe, and I had written you from America a jolly 
little account of two evenings spent by me in the light of that 

Tarrytown fireside I never was celebrated for my faith 

in doctors, nor for my obedience to their prescriptions. This 
doctor the other day, after looking very owlish, and writing out 
a long list of medicines to be swallowed inside and rubbed out- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART, 137 

side, informed me that I was to eat no meat ! You cannot 
thoroughly appreciate the full horror of this command, for at 
the large hotels which you and I frequented, the bill of fare had 
been much influenced by English travel, and consequently we 
did not see German cookery rampant, nor have you any idea 
of the vile weeds which are brought on to the table under the 
name of vegetables. Cut off thus from meats, a vast desert of 
Kraut, an endless Sahara of Kohl, stretched out before my 
disgusted eye. I tried the no meat system for one day, and then 
made up my mind that if I ate meat, I might die of an ulcer, but 
that if I did not eat meat I should certainly die of starvation. 
So I adopted the rule of self-preservation and defied the doctor, 
whom I now believe to be the secret emissary of some seller of 
vegetables. 

BERLIN, November 18, 1857. 

.... I now sit down to answer the last letters from home, 
and hope that you will not wholly despise my letters, which 
will henceforth want the enthusiastic interest of the traveller, 
but which will rather be replete with the dull reflections and 
observations of the student. The ordinary events of common 
place life, in an unpicturesque city, will be henceforth the 
subject of my story, and they will want to you that charm 
which all your home matters have to me, namely, a previous 
interest in them, which becomes ever stronger the further and 
the longer I am removed from them. . . . 

The Italian readings which I hold with Mr. D., the tea- 
drinkings in his room, and our walks together before dinner, 
are the pleasantest episodes in my daily life ; but at other 
times he is fearfully busy with lectures and hard study, so that 
I do not feel myself justified in disturbing him. After a few 
trials of talking German at our evening tea-drinkings, in 
which Mr. D. and I were pretty much sole interlocutors, we 
gave it up and have since eaten our evening meal in peace. . . . 

It is peculiarly disagreeable to have people turn round and 
stare at you in the street, simply because they hear you speak 
ing English. I don't think I shall be thoroughly well settled 
till I have thrashed a couple of these broad-faced, stupid 



138 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Berliners for their impolite way of fixing their fishy eyes upon 
every one whom they take to be a foreigner ; there are several 
who sit near me at the dinner-table, with whom I should like 
to begin. I am afraid that the German dishes are not good for 
me ; at any rate they make me extremely choleric towards the 
unhappy specimens whom I see every day feeding on them. 

But I feel quarrelsome and abusive this afternoon, so I will 
leave off writing until I can get into what you would call " a 
better frame of mind," that is to say, one less complaining 
and grouty, but I feel dreadfully blue and melancholy just 
now. 

ii p. M. ! have been to supper, and after a quite pleas 
ant talk in T. D.'s room, I have come back quite humanized 
and soothed down, although I feel just about as remorseful 
as ever. 

When I get into one of these states of mind, after sighing 
in vain for that home which I was so foolish as to leave, I 
begin to look back with regret upon the pleasant passages of 
travel over which I have recently been, and during which the 
continual occupation drove away, in a great measure, melan 
choly thoughts. Among these passages, the last and most 
delightful was Nuremberg, which I visited just before coming 
on here, which I would by no means have you suppose that 
I passed over or neglected. 

I left Munich on Tuesday, October 27, and spent the night 
at Augsburg, from which I took the early morning train, and 
so jogged along northward, through Bavaria, at the slow pace 
of a German train. At Donauworth I had the pleasure of 
gazing for a few moments upon the Danube, which I can truly 
believe to be a noble and glorious stream, far superior to the 
Rhine ; for although here one does not hear its torrent's 
thunder shock, nor does it seem magnificently rude, as 
Campbell describes it, yet even at that distance from its 
mouth it is navigable by steamers, and a large bridge is neces 
sary to span its rushing waters. I have a sort of hanker 
ing to sail down its yet unhackneyed stream, and to view its 
scenes of wild grandeur, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 139 

" Imperial Danube's rich domain," 

but one can't see everything, and I ought to be thankful for 
having even got a partial glimpse of the noble old River 
King. Near the place where we crossed the Danube lies 
the little village of Blenheim, celebrated in song by Dr. 
Southey, who informs us, through the medium of Wilhel- 
mina, Peterkin, and their Grandfather, that there was a famous 
victory. So on to Nuremberg. On entering the gates of 
this grand old relic, one is immediately carried back three 
centuries, and sees around him the same streets, the same 
houses, the same city, which the noble and pious artists, 
Albert Diirer, Peter Vischer, and Adam Krafft saw at the end 
of the fifteenth century. Long rows of strangely-built, richly- 
ornamented houses, with high-peaked roofs, in which are sev 
eral tiers of windows, looking like the cannon port-holes in the 
sides of a man-of-war ; fountains of all kinds, from the gro 
tesque old German style to the elegant tracery of Gothic open 
work, noble medieval churches of the truest and purest style of 
Gothic, with the pointed arch, the style of Cologne Cathedral, 
and the unvarying antiquity of the appearance of the streets, 
in which seldom can be seen anything in the least degree 
modern, produce the effect almost of a spell of glamour ; 
like the enchanted castle in the " Sleeping Beauty," where 
everything had been laid to sleep by a charm, and so pre 
served for a hundred years, so the Genius of the Middle Ages 
has laid his spell, and has preserved to himself this city, 
whole and entire, saying to the wild waves of progressive 
modernism, " Thus far shall ye come and no farther, for here 
I have set up my last tower of strength ; into this have I re 
tired as into my last citadel, and here shall ye not place your 
profaning foot ; but here let the student and the mystic come 
as from the glaring heat of a summer's day, into the soft 
coolness of a church aisle ; and here I will show him old pic 
tures in the chapel aisles, mellowed by the light of the past 
and ages long gone, from Frederic Barbarossa to Wallenstein, 
and will sing him old songs which were made in the infancy 
of mediasval poetry, and have since come echoing down 



140 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

through the corridors of time ; and he shall go forth with 
quiet pleasure from his communion with the spirit of the 
olden days." 

This was what the spirit said to me at least, and I was 
right glad that I could understand it, and could enter with a 
feeling of intense enjoyment into the contemplation of the 
particular beauties of art with which the old city is replete. 
The churches, pictures, and images, which were set up and 
adored by the Catholics, still remain in great perfection, for 
notwithstanding the strong Protestant tendencies of the city 
for several hundred years, the change produced by the Ref 
ormation was a quiet and gentle one, and not disgraced by 
outbursts of iconoclastic fury ; they have been rather inclined 
to divert to their own use the religious apparatus of the Ro 
manists, though with a nobler faith and purer devotion. 

The awakening of inventive thought, as well as of religious 
reform, also made its appearance near the beginning of the 
sixteenth century in Nuremberg ; its citizens were the Yankees 
of their time, and among their inventions may be reckoned 
the watch, the air gun, the paper mill, and the first cast can 
non, besides sundry musical instruments and ornamental arts, 
the latter mostly imported from Italy. But the most inter 
esting view which can be taken of Nuremberg at that active 
and wide-awake period, is that which regards its artists, wood 
carvers, bronze casters, sculptors, and painters, of whom a 
large number of remarkable ability were engaged in various 
works in the city at just the same time. Preeminent in the 
bronze-casting and sculpture department stands old Peter 
Vischer, with whose great work, the shrine of St. Sebald, I 
was much charmed. It is the most elaborate piece of cast 
ing I ever saw ; it consists of five hundred separate pieces, all 
worked up in the richest Gothic style, and employed the art 
ist thirteen years of hard labor to finish it. But it is some 
thing more than a mere work of elaborate art ; in the calm, 
sweet faces of the twelve apostles, which surround the shrine 
and are the most prominent figures, in their noble forms and 
gracefully-flowing garments, can be observed the influence of 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 141 

that beautiful spiritual Italian school which had recently been 
making rapid strides in Germany, and showed its effects even 
in such rough material as bronze. For this seems to be a 
step above most ordinary castings, whose highest aim seems 
to be to give a correct imitation, or at most a very rough or 
gross expression, but in this extraordinary piece of work 
everything is finished with the beauty and nicety of the chisel, 
not a fault nor sign of bad taste being visible throughout the 
whole. Very different in its general style is a lofty stone 
spire in the St. Lawrence Church, of Gothic open-work, called 
the Sacrament House, and intended to receive the conse 
crated wafer. Although the service of the church is now 
Lutheran, this beautiful monument has liberally been allowed 
to stand for the admiration of every sect. It is of stone, sixty 
feet high, tapering from the floor of the church almost to the 
top of the choir, and then it turns over in a graceful curve, 
and thus forms the appearance of a vast shepherd's crook. 
Within it are several groups, on different platforms or stories, 
representing, as they rise, the various scenes of our Lord's 
passion. Thus, the Resurrection is at the summit, where the 
eye just begins to lose sight of the coarser outlines of the 
form, a most appropriate position. The whole structure is 
supported on the shoulders of three stooping figures, which 
are the fac-similes of the pious artist Adam Krafft and his 
two assistants, and serve to remind one of their long, inces 
sant labor for five years, and of the miserable pittance of a 
little over three hundred dollars, which they received for this 
astonishing work. But the name of all others which is insep 
arably connected with Nuremberg, and which must ever throw 
about it a tender and gentle memory, making it a fit spot 
to be visited by the enthusiast as well as the artist, is that 
of Albert Diirer, a man of wonderful and varied abilities, su 
perior in intellectual perfections, probably, to every man of 
his time, and yet bearing in his bosom one of the noblest 
and truest hearts that ever beat. 

I think that Shakespeare is the only character whom I can 
call more myriad-minded. In every art of imitation or orna- 



142 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ment, and in many of the more abstruse sciences, he led the 
world. That you may have an idea of his personal appear 
ance, I will tell you a little bit of my own experience. In the 
picture gallery at Munich I stopped with admiration before 
the portrait of a person. Long golden curls which fell down 
upon the shoulders, an oval face of noble contour, and deep, 
unfathomable brown eyes, which beamed with angelic sweet 
ness. I said to myself, that is the most pleasing likeness of 
the Saviour that I ever saw, and looked in the catalogue to 
discover the artist, when I found that it was the portrait of 
Albert Diirer, painted by himself. He planned churches and 
carved statues, painted wonderful pictures and wrote books 
on mathematics; and the mighty fortifications around the city, 
which stood the long siege of Wallenstein during the Thirty 
Years' War, testify to his skill as an engineer. What a pity 
that such a man could not spend his life in peace ! He was 
hunted to his grave by a termagant wife. I stood in the cem 
etery, by his simple slab, and was almost inclined to take a 
resolution against marriage, for fear of meeting with a similar 
fate. 

Mr. D. has just come in, attired in a long cloak, and look 
ing much like an Italian bandit, and, in accordance with his 
appearance, wants me to go and read Italian with him. As 
my paper is about out, I think that I shall accept his offer. 

BERLIN, December 3, 1857. 

DEAREST MOTHER, I sit down to write my weekly letter 
home in a much more cheerful, not to say jolly, frame of mind 
than usual. To this state your last brief but dear letter has 
much contributed, as it released me from some very anxious 
thoughts about J. ; but now the news that he is well again, 
and that all is right at home, has filled me with joy, and I fee 
much like executing some of those ape-like gambols of my 
youthful days, on which you were wont vainly to attempt to 
frown. 

So you had got that grouty, wormy, miserable, melancholic 
letter which I sent from Munich. I almost wished that I had 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 143 

not written it, but I was afraid that if I did not write at all, 
you might be anxious ; so with a head-stopping, eye-blinding, 
idea-clogging influenza, I sat down on an unpleasant Sunday 
afternoon in that most disagreeable city, and you have ob 
tained the result. You see how slavishly I am influenced by 
mere outward circumstances and objects, and you must not 
be anxious or sorrowful, even if I write letters as blue as 
indigo or as doleful as Niobe. To-day, on the contrary, what 
spirits I have had ! A bright, warm sun, which unfortunately 
set at about 3 P. M., a delightful bracing air and clear sky, 
have made me feel as if I could do nothing but shout and 
sing all day long ; and although I have had a good tough 
spell of horseback riding, and after it two hours more of walk 
ing and jumping, which latter amusement has made me some 
what lame, I still feel as light and airy as a bird. Is it a 
misfortune to have a nature so susceptible to impressions, so 
easily filled with enthusiasm and bounding hope and spirits, 
and as easily depressed and darkened with sadness and mel 
ancholy ? Many perhaps would think it so ; but for myself, 
I would rather live a year of time enlivened by the changing 
emotions of intense pain and lofty pleasure, than drag out a 
dozen years in the dead-and-alive existence of phlegmatic in 
sensibility. One of my professors has been lecturing on 
Human Temperaments, and has classified and arranged them 
in a very clear and perspicuous manner, so that I have taken 
much interest in the subject, and we have had considerable 
talk about it in our little circle. I am composed chiefly of 
the sanguine and melancholic, with a pretty fair sprinkling of 
the choleric and a total absence of the phlegmatic. I think a 
little dose of the latter temperament would not be a bad thing 
to settle and quiet my other more rampant qualities. 

My life here in Berlin contains but little of thrilling interest, 
as I am in my room much of the time. Although I cannot 
accuse myself of any very severe study, yet with law and Greek 
studies, Italian reading, German speaking, and general litera 
ture, my time is very fully occupied, and these short days slip 
by almost before I am aware of it. I am improving quite dil- 



144 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

igently my opportunities of becoming acquainted with the old 
Civil or Roman Law, the study of which is much pursued on 
the Continent, because its rules and principles lie at the bottom 
of almost all their codes, showing traces even at this remote 
age of the universality of the Roman Empire, and afterwards 
of the feudal system. But as England always, from the earliest 
times, regarded with suspicion the Civil Law, as being of Rom 
ish and papal origin, and as opposed to their much cherished 
Common Law, consequently both for English and Americans, 
the study of the Civil Law is not so much a necessary or im 
portant pursuit, as it is one of scholarship, and one which con 
tributes, by the excellence of its maxims and the depths of its 
erudition, to the more complete and symmetrical formation of 
an elegant legal education. Still it is the foster child of tyranny, 
shaped and managed to suit the will of a single despotic indi 
vidual, while the English Common Law, which is the founda 
tion of almost all of our State codes, and which is in many of 
the States adopted bodily, this glorious English Common Law is 
the eldest-born of Anglo-Saxon freedom, and has grown quietly 
up from the mass of the people, perpetuating their customs and 
expressing their wants. But I will turn to a more congenial 
topic : you told me about a Sunday at home ; I will give you 
some idea of my last Sunday in Berlin. At ten o'clock, A. M., 
I sallied forth in company with S., and we took our way through 
the Linden (all the shops in which were closed), to the Dome 
Church, where the royal family attend, and where is performed 
the finest religious music in Berlin. It was totally beyond my 
conception of how nobly simple psalms could be made to 
sound. The pieces which are generally performed are Men 
delssohn's Psalms, and the choir consists principally of young 
boys, who carry the soprano and the alto, while the bass and 
tenor are executed by very superior adult voices. The effect 
is neither strained nor operatic ; the voices are too natural 
to admit of the former, and too numerous to admit any idea 
of individual display. On the contrary, the several clear sil 
very voices of the boys, supported and strengthened by those 
of the powerful basses and tenors, produced a pure and de- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 145 

votional effect, such as I think I never heard in church music. 
After the music was over we left the Dome Church, and took 
our way to the English Chapel, where I attend regularly every 
Sunday, not from any remarkable attractions in the preaching, 
but because I must hear at least one sermon in the vernacular. 
Going solely to the German churches may be good enough 
practice for learning German, but for myself it don't seem to 
me like going to church, unless the exercises are in English ; 
not because I do not understand German sermons well enough, 
but because they suggest nothing to me of religious education, 
or of the worship at home. So to the English Chapel we went. 
It is a very comfortable little room, nicely arranged, with good 
seats, an organ, and all the paraphernalia of the English 
church. 

Although there are about forty or fifty Americans in Berlin, 
they don't come here much to church, or anywhere else I 
imagine, and the audience is mostly composed of English. 
Governor Wright, the American Minister, much superior in 
his moral to his social and intellectual qualities, sets his 
countrymen a good example in this respect, and is generally 
to be seen in his pew, with several of his attaches. 

The music is led here, also, by a squad of small boys from 
the minister's, Mr. Belson's, charity school. He, his wife 
and daughter, have collected quite a number of wild German 
urchins together, clothed them decently, and taught them 
English, and the way they should go ; they sing old, well- 
known chants, and I am delighted to be able to shout away 
on " Venite exultemus " and the " Te Deum" which are sung 
every Sunday. The long service being completed, the pastor 
ascends the pulpit and announces his text. But it is pre 
cious little of his sermons that I hear, for while my eyes are 
fixed upon the preacher, my mind goes wandering off to New 
Haven, and sits with you, and listens to Dr. C., as learnedly 
and powerfully he discusses a favorite text, with a good screed 
of orthodox Calvinism, a slight sprinkling of poetical quota 
tion, and a moving appeal at the close. How different they 
used to be from the inanities of that man in a black bag, who 
10 






146 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

has at last concluded his mighty discourse. And so from the 
church to the hotel, and our Sunday dinner ; the hallowing 
influences of the day may be seen translated into Berlin 
German in the carefully trimmed moustache of the porter, 
the stiff standing collar and pure white vest of the head 
waiter, and the nice pudding which forms our dessert on this 
occasion. I do not doubt that even in Protestant Prussia 
the Sabbath has, to most, but little more significance than is 
shown in these trifling matters. Dinner over, the afternoon 
soon slipped away, and P. and I went to the Dome Church 
to hear a German sermon. After two hymns, one of them 
ten verses long, in which the congregation joined with a uni 
versality and unction which would have gladdened the heart 
of H. W. Beecher, the minister, the Rev. Mr. Strauss, the 
chief Court Preacher, made his appearance and realized to 
my mind the idea of a court preacher, his eyes continually 
smiling, and a manner most soft and insinuating, he seemed 
to my mind just the man to smooth the way to Heaven for a 
royal family, allowing no unpleasant truths to clog the paths, 
and no briers of self-denial to scratch the royal flesh. And 
his sermon did not bely his outward appearance. His text 
was Rom. xiii. 12, 13. " The night is far spent," etc. From 
this he drew a moral which translated into English would 
read, " You had better be good, you had better be good." Not 
withstanding the bad effects of the formality and spiritless 
morality of the Lutheran Church, it is far, far above the 
Roman Catholic. The thoughts of the people, though chilled 
by forms, are in no slavery to confessional and Pope. Still the 
baneful effects of a too close union between church and state 
are very perceptible here, and it is difficult to think very 
highly of a conversion and confirmation which is necessary 
for admittance to the lowest office, and for license to practice 
the simplest trade. 

BERLIN, December 13, 1857. 

MY DEAR COUSIN Really I must get away from 

Berlin in imagination, if not in reality, or else the ink in my 
pen will freeze under its chilly atmosphere ; so let us talk 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 147 

together of a region where the airs are softer and the skies 
bluer than in this Hyperborean city. To Venice ! Ah, that 
lovely place is now for me as well as for you a child of mem 
ory, and the tales of its river streets, its merchant palaces, its 
gliding gondolas and rich relics of Oriental wealth and power, 
can no longer fill my mind with vague, ill-defined ideas, nor 
send my imagination off in aimless flights after its as yet unseen 
beauties, as they used to do in days that are past. Instead 
of this, I have now, stored up in one of memory's sweetest 
nooks, a charming recollection which can " never pass into 
nothingness," but which will always remain in my mind, en 
riching it with its indefinable charm, and enlarging it with 
sensations of a beauty at once rich and rare, which it had 
never before experienced. In seeing Venice, the dreams of 
my school-boy days were more completely realized than if I 
had seen even Rome itself; in fact, the city of Sallust and 
Caesar, Livy and Horace, always reminded me powerfully of 
long Latin lessons, and of being kept in after school for not 
learning them ; and Corinne's eternal noise and nonsense 
gave the coup-de-grace to all my youthful interest in the Seven 
Hilled city. But of Venice all my early impressions were 
bright and pleasant ; she, to me, " was as a fairy city of the 
heart ; " and then what thronging associations the genius of 
many ages has gathered about her, by the aid of both prose 
and poetry. I think that Schiller's " Ghost-Seer " struck me 
as perhaps the piece of literature which was most thoroughly 
imbued with the spirit of the place ; and often when I paced 
the great Piazza di San Marco late into the night, when the 
noise of the crowd and the blaze of gas-lights had given place 
to the silence of the night and the friendly beam of the stars, 
I would be seized with a kind of superstitious dread, or 
rather, nervousness, and at such times I would look around^ 
expecting every moment to see the mysterious Armenian 
watching me intently, or to feel the heavy hand of the still 

more mysterious Russian laid upon my shoulder If I 

considei Venice aright it is neither the pictures of Titian or 
Tintoretto, the palaces of San Michele, nor the churches of 



148 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Palladio that make it what it is, but the city itself, with the 
wonderful peculiarities which separate it from every other city 
in the world. I think that I should have had almost as good 
an idea of Venice if I had not seen a single picture or entered 
a single church while there. Not that I did not very fully 
enjoy the beautiful pictures of Titian. I think that I have as 
yet seen no paintings which have given me such complete and 
unmixed pleasure as they did. My two favorites were that 
gorgeous " Assumption of the Virgin," in the Academy, and 
that charming votive offering of the Pesaro family, which stands 
almost opposite to the painter's own monument in the church 
of Santa Maria Gloriosa. The celebrated ' ' Peter Martyr " I 
was unable to appreciate very highly, although it is easy to 
see that it is painted with wonderful skill ; but, as I told J. at 
the time, I had no patience with the situation of the figures, 
wherein one rather " scaly "-looking assassin is represented 
as rushing upon Peter and his companion, both of them 
sturdy and muscular men, and killing Peter, while his com 
panion ignominiously takes to flight. Such a state of affairs 
my own pugnacious disposition is totally unable to compre 
hend, for from a comparison of the muscular developments 
of Peter and the assassin, I should think that the saint ought 

to give the sinner a tremendous thrashing I had a 

most delightful week in Venice, although at times I was 
rather lonely for want of a companion. I left her with much 
regret, and went on to Padua and Verona. After passing 
through some most charming scenery, I reached Brescia, and 
spent several very pleasant hours there, most of the time in 
vestigating the old Roman remains which were discovered in 

the temple exhumed there, not a great while ago After 

going through the churches and picture-galleries of Brescia, 
I went on to Bergamo. I had, that afternoon, from the top 
of the old Castello, a view of the country round, which sur 
passed in beauty almost everything that I have seen out of 
Switzerland. The broad, fertile plains of Lombardy lay 
before me ; in the far west could be faintly traced the outline 
of the stately Cathedral of Milan, a conspicuous object at the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 149 

distance of thirty-five miles. Off to the north, the landscape 
was shut in by the Alps, which enclose and hold in their laps 
the lovely lakes of Como and Maggiore. To the south ap 
peared in the dim distance the Apennines with cities at their 
base, while off in the far northwest loomed up the mountains 
of the St. Gothard, and still further off, Monte Rosa itself, 
whose name was fully explained by the soft purple and red 
light which tinged not only it, but the whole range, with the 
lovely hues of an October sunset, and poured over the whole 
valley a wealth of autumn glory, such as I had scarcely hoped 
to see out of our own dear land of the west, the sunset's bright 
est and fairest home. And I thought to myself, " Give me 
that western home, with its active manly life, blessed by 
honesty and upheld by self-respect, and remove far away the 
pests and plague-spots of this rotten European system ; and 
if Art cannot flourish under the tree of Liberty, then let Art 
die " . . . .1 spent a week at Munich, fairly reveling in 
Art. What an admirable historical collection the Pinacothek 
is, for the old German and Italian schools !....! could 
talk about these things without ceasing, almost, were it not for 
two important considerations, first, that I am boring the un 
happy victim, and next, the more I say about these things the 
more I display my ignorance of art, and undoubtedly expose 
myself to what old ^Eschylus would called " infinite laughter." 
But perhaps, after all, my simple impressions won't hurt any 
body, and if they interest you, or recall to you pleasant 
memories of the past year they will fulfill their mission well 

enough 

December 19, 1857. 

.... We had a great excitement at the American Lega 
tion last Tuesday, all the Americans in town having been in 
vited there to a dejettner, at which they were to meet that 
great man, Alexander Von Humboldt. There were so many 
points of great interest, and also of peculiar ludicrousness, 
mingling in this affair, that I must give you an account of it. 

For myself, I should not have wasted the time to go there, 
for I had wished to make a separate call on Humboldt, had it 






150 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

not been that Gov. W. had made great promises about sundry 
buckwheat cakes, mince pies, Indian Johnny-cake, tomato, 
and many other old friends among the edibles, which, with 
the help of the ladies, he was going to bring into a state of 
proper redness. So then I, unable from this Pisgah of expec 
tation to resist this Canaan prospect of American grub, threw 
down my Gaius, Justinian, and Montesquieu, put on my tail 
coat, finished my letter to grandpapa, and pretty punctually at 
12 M. presented myself at the Legation, which is in a very nice 
house, but, alas ! up four pair of stairs, which it is a weariness 
to climb. Considering how lazy most of these Continentals 
are, it is strange that these four pair do not cause a rupture 
of diplomatic relations between them and the United States. 

In the parlor I found about forty Americans, of whom three 
were ladies. Of the gentlemen present I need say nothing, 
except that they looked much as might have been expected. 
I was not at all ashamed of the New England representation, 
there being no less than seven graduates of old Yale. 

At \z\ precisely, the announcement was made that " Hum- 
boldt was coming," and Gov. W., with the assistance of two 
of his attaches, who acted as aides-de-camp under this trying 
emergency, arranged his forces to meet the advancing Lion. 
The disposition of the troops was most admirable ; in front he 
placed the ladies, on either side frowned the dark array of 
black coats, ready to rush to the rescue if the van should 
falter. The arrangement reminded me of Napoleon's echelon 
battles, the artillery in front and in the centre, while the in 
fantry and cavalry supported the flank and reserve. Having 
thus posted us, the Gov. retired, and soon returned again with 
all his attaches, and also with the venerable object of interest 
which we had assembled to stare at. The Governors remarks 
were very brief, therefore that was soon over. 

The old gentleman responded in a few polite common 
places, which showed that he was much pleased with his re 
ception. Upon being requested to take the big arm-chair, he 
refused, until the ladies were seated, and then he sat down and 
began to talk, in a right cheerful and lively way, with the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 151 

ladies and gentlemen as they were introduced to him, and as 
they stood or sat around his chair, so I had a capital oppor 
tunity to observe him. He wears his years, nearly ninety, 
with a wonderful life and spirit. He is below the medium 
height, a frame which seems once to have been compact and 
strong enough, but which stoops, though not excessively, and 
seems still to retain strength and vitality. From his eye there 
still shine remnants of that searching glance which has seen 
and observed so much more than is allotted to the share of 
ordinary men, and from his lips still pour the utterances of 
that wisdom which brought forth " Cosmos," the almost infi 
nite source of universal learning ; and upon the ruins of his 
failing body his soul sits throned, like Lear in the hovel, worn 
and battered by travel, and tempest, and the flight of years, 
and labor unending, but yet a kingly soul, before which no 
living human intellect can refuse to bow in reverential homage, 
as to a mighty master, who for nearly three generations has 
lived in close and sweet communion with Nature, and has 
learned from her secrets which have been hidden from minds 
less vast and universal. But to return from the spiritual to 
the material. He was dressed in a button-up over-coat, evi 
dently for the protection of his frame against the winter air, 
and around his neck an enormous white handkerchief, which 
reached up to the top of his head behind, and half enveloped 
his face, so that his utterances seemed to proceed from a white 
cloud. He talked on all sorts of subjects, principally Ameri 
can affairs at the present day, upon which he was probably as 
well, if not better informed than any American present. He 
discussed the Mormon question, and gave it as his opinion, that 
the troubles which arise in our political world were chiefly ow 
ing to our allowing foreigners to vote. The opinion which he 
expressed upon this subject was such as would gain for him the 
unanimous nomination and support of the Know-Nothing 
party, for any office, from President down. He led the con 
versation in a very graceful and easy manner, and talked more 
than any one else. He seemed very kindly disposed towards 
our people, and considering that we were titleless and order- 



152 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

less, he complimented us by not wearing a single one of the 
numberless titles and orders which have been heaped upon 
him by many princely hands. He expressed great pleasure, 
upon leaving, at having met so many Americans. I was so 
much pleased that I did n't care, although the great American 
breakfast had turned out a failure. I have thought since, what 
a grand and noble thing it would be to be such a man, and 
yet, when I examine myself, I find that my ambition is so 
wild and foolish, that it would not be satisfied with any 
thing else. 

To make a high and clear mark in the world, to leave a 
name at the sound of which in after days, hearts might thrill 
and eyes brighten, to do something great, whether in literature, 
in law, or in active life, something that will live after me, for 
all this I have deep and restless longings, which, alas, cannot 
see their way even to a partial fulfillment 

Among the many benefits which I enjoyed by being matric 
ulated into the University, the greatest is that I have nothing 
to do with the police, and so when I want to leave Berlin for 
Dresden, instead of being obliged to get my passport from the 
police office, and have it vis6d t I simply procured a " permit of 
travel " from the University Court, in which it is stated that 
the "Herr law student, William Wheeler, 5 feet 5! inches in 
height, light hair and beard, free forehead, blue gray eyes, reg 
ular nose and mouth, oval chin, healthy complexion, has re 
ceived permission to travel to Dresden and back, the object 
of the journey being ' For Pleasure.' " This will save me some 
trouble, for the police at Dresden are said to be very strict, 
and to conjure with a man's passport abominably, for which 
conjuring they charge a good fee. 

Although Berlin is rather a humdrum and common-place city, 
yet it has its peculiarities and oddities, and you can easily im 
agine that I am always on the bright lookout for any such to 
produce a little laughable excitement. One standing joke, 
which affords a good deal of amusement, is to observe the 
manners and customs of the droschky drivers, the droschky 
being the counterpart of our hack, but the droschky driver 
has no counterpart in any place that I ever visited. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 153 

Very stout in person, somewhat like Old Tony Weller, and 
protected from wind and rain alike by water-proof hats and 
enormous overcoats, they sit on the boxes of their carriages, 
totally regardless of fares or any other sublunary considera 
tions, especially as they generally are wrapt in roseate slumbers. 
If I were a draughtsman, I could quickly produce a series of 
" strolls past a droschky stand," which would rival Cruikshank 
in comicality, and make John Leach hide his diminished 
head 

It is rather late in the month to wish you a merry Christ 
mas and a Happy New Year ; may you all be preserved in 
health and happiness through the coming year, and as the 
year '57 has been for us one of sad parting, may the year '58 
behold one joyful meeting ; accept this, dearest mother, as my 
greeting for the New Year. 

BERLIN, December 21, 1857. 

DEAR AUNTY, I received your kind and interesting letter 
last Saturday, and you shall have an answer to it immediately? 
if you will be satisfied with a short one. But I scarcely feel 
able to write you a letter of sufficient interest to repay you for 
yours. Since my life has been that of a quiet student, and 
engaged rather in dry law than in pleasing art, I could give 
you an accurate account of the laws of the old Roman Re 
public, or of the Constitution of Sulla, with much more con 
fidence than I could discourse on the frescoes of Kaulbach, the 
statues of Rauch, or the pictures of Van Eyck or Correggio, 
although I have by no means neglected art, and the Gallery, 
which is open free at all times, has been one of my favorite 
loafing places. It pleased me so much to read your opinions on 
art and to see that, in a great measure, they corresponded with 
my own, and I must acknowledge that I was far more im 
pressed with the interior of the Milan Cathedral than I allowed 
at the time ; but the fact is I had just then grown so in love 
with Nature's fairest works, that I was scarcely in a fit state to 
look with proper awe and admiration upon the solemn tem 
ples which man had piled in honor of Nature's God. But as 
I recall in memory its vast dim aisles and glorious pillars, and 



154 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

windows blazing with wealth of art, I can think of nothing 
which surpasses it but that incomparable building, the Dome 
of Cologne. May I live to make another pilgrimage to Europe, 
some twenty or thirty years hence, and see that wondrous 
structure in a state of completion. But the only one of your 
criticisms to which I cannot respond, is that upon Titian, 
" that he is ' of the earth earthy.' " Now I will give up, with 
perfect willingness, Old Rubens, throw Tintoretto and Gior- 
gione overboard, call them earthy if you will, but I can't hear 
Titian condemned in such a wholesale manner without sticking 
up for him a little. Far be it from me to place him above, or 
on an equality with, the spiritual Raphael, who has won my 
whole heart already by the few specimens I have seen of him, 
for Raphael's art was surely something divine. But let Titian 
have a place not much below him, and far above the imitators 
of Raphael, who, like Icarus, soared too high for their waxen 
wings, and tumbled headlong. The successful painter of the 
natural surely ought to stand above the unsuccessful repre- 
senter of the supernatural. 

The pictures of Titian's which I enjoyed the most were the 
lovely " Vanity " in the Louvre, about which I think I have 
bored you already ; a splendid " Woman taken in Adultery " 
at Brescia ; and two or three at Venice, especially the " Assump 
tion of the Virgin " and the votive offerings he painted for the 
chapel of the Pesaro family. To these I can add that charm 
ing portrait of his daughter Lavinia, which is in the gallery 
here, and before which I spend some time at every visit. I ex 
pect a great treat when we go to Dresden, among other treasures 
of art, in seeing his " Christ with the Tribute Money," which 
is said to be the finest and most perfect among the works of 
his earlier period. I have been studying up somewhat upon 
the history of Italian art, for which this gallery affords admir 
able opportunities. There is scarcely any so rich in specimens 
of those old pre-Raphael masters such as Filippo Lippi, Viva- 
rinis, Cima da Conegliano, Carpaccio, Andrea Mantegna, 
Morone, Perugino, Francia, etc., with which formidable array 
I am beginning to have a dim kind of friendship and acquaint- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 155 

ance. In fact, the only way really to enjoy a gallery is to 
have plenty of time to study it, and let the beauties come upon 
you gradually. 

But enough of art. We received by the Atlantic the welcome 
news that Fernando Wood had been defeated. It was announced 
by Mr. D., who came in late to dinner with the newspaper in 
his hand, and the enthusiastic delight of the whole party, 
Democrats and all, was so great that we immediately had some 
champagne and drank the health of D. F. Tieman and Pelatiah 
Perit and the Police Commissioners. It does really seem as if 
that unfortunate city was now to have a respite from its riots 
and murders, and was about to lose its reputation of being 
the most miserably governed city in the world. 

December 22. What an odd day for Pilgrim's day! A 
mild temperature, drizzling rain, and candles almost all the 
day long. They don't seem capable of getting up a decent 
storm here everything is a mere drizzle, drozzle, and nothing 
like the weather in which 

" The breaking waves dashed high, 
On a stern and rock-bound coast." 

The only notice which our crowd took of the day has been to 
read Bryant's pretty little poem on the subject together, and to 
wish ourselves at. home with unusual fervency. . . . 
With love, your affectionate nephew. 

BERLIN, January 19, 1858. 

.... During the interval that has elapsed since I wrote, 
my life has flowed on in such a regular and quiet channel that 
if I had tried to write before this, I should have been reduced 
to mere metaphysical discussion or poetical revery, in order to 
fill up my pages. I am becoming convinced, more and more, 
that letter-writing cannot be in a high degree conversational. 
I think that the reason of this is, that a person in a foreign 
land especially imagines it necessary to have his letters always 
full of something new and strange and beautiful, and he cannot 
rid himself of the idea that quiet daily life is a rather poor 
subject to talk about, after he has been describing pictures, 



156 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

churches, and mountains, and imparting his impressions of the 
manners of various people. Of this idea I am endeavoring to 
free myself, but still it is hard for me to think that you can take 
as much interest in my student experience here in Berlin as I do 
in the relation of what goes on at home, even down to the most 
trifling detail and particular 

The marriage of young Prince Frederic William and young 
Princess Victoria of England is of course all the talk here now ; 
the city is to be illuminated, there is to be a procession of the 
trades, etc., and a band of the thirty fairest maidens in Berlin 
are to receive the princess at the city gates. I do not see 
where they are going to scare up so many pretty girls as that, 
for neither in concert, opera, or church, in street or carriage, 
have I seen a single female who, in our favored land, would be 
called very pretty. However, notwithstanding all her beautiful 
portraits in the shop windows, the princess is said to be rather 
homely, so that there would be a sort of impropriety in her be 
ing received by any very charming bevy of beauties. 

I have been reading with much interest the proceedings 
which have recently transpired in the United States Senate 
with reference to the President's message, and especially the 
treatment of the Kansas question. Such a piece of flagrant 
injustice was never heard of, I think, as to force a Constitution 
upon the people, without giving them the liberty of saying 
whether they would accept it or not. Especially pointed and full 
of matter have been the speeches of Douglas ; still I am very 
sorry to see this affair taken up by the leaders of the Demo 
cratic party, for I believe that the Free State men will now 
content themselves with only half-way justice. It would be 
better to wait longer and struggle more, that in the end the 
advantages obtained might be more complete and satisfactory. 
I always look with suspicion upon any change for the better 
in the conduct and principles of the Democratic leaders ; it is 
almost too much like the conversion of " Reynard the Fox " in 
the German story, and the subsequent pilgrimage which he 
undertook. 
. At the present time, the advantages to be gained by Douglas, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 157 

in rallying round himself the opposition to the administration, 
are so great, that they might easily cause the motives and 
honesty of a much better man to be suspected. His sudden 
defection seemed to make a great sensation in the administra 
tion camp, and Mr. Bigler made a very poor business of it in 
trying to respond to the little Illinoisian. The poor man 
seemed as much frightened as the master of a menagerie might 
be if a lion, whom he had always supposed to be tame and 
manageable, should suddenly show his teeth and rush at him. . . 

In the last number of the " Weekly Times " there was 
quite a long sketch of Florence Nightingale, by Mary Cow- 
den Clarke. I was very glad to get hold of something of the 
sort, as my ideas of that admirable woman had always been 
of a rather dim and ill-defined nature. Such a charming and 
noble character, such active benevolence, with so little 
show and pretense; so intensely energetic, and yet so re 
tiring ; so deeply devoted to one great aim, and yet always so 
ready to afford sympathy and assistance to any and all of the 
great needs that touch and move the human heart ! To read 
of such a woman gives a higher and nobler idea of the capaci 
ties and powers of woman as woman. I defy any man to rise 
from that reading without a greater esteem of, and more 
hearty respect for, the other sex. Another more practical 
effect of the consideration of such a character must be, I 
think, to fill many a young man with a lofty emulation to use 
his powers too those energetic capabilities, which are the 
gift of man as gentle sympathy and strong affections are those 
of woman for doing good to his kind, and helping, for his 
part, to bear the burdens of others, which have been laid too 
heavily on them by adverse fate or unhappy circumstances. 

Do you think that the profession of the law is one which 
allows very many opportunities for doing good ? Such, at 
any rate, is not the generally received opinion ; but I hope I 
may not find, in my own case, that the lawyer necessarily ex 
cludes the man of tender and benevolent feelings. 

A party of nine of us, all Americans, paid a visit, last Sat 
urday, to the Royal Schloss or Palace. It is an immense 



I$8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

building, in the shape of a quadrangle, and equal to a city 
square at home. The top is crowned by a vast dome, about 
the largest one I ever saw, the top of it being made to re 
semble the Prussian crown. Some of the rooms within are 
quite splendid, especially one called the White Hall, which 
has been newly fitted up within a few years, at an expense of 
$600,000, quite a sum to expend upon a single apartment. 
The whole arrangement of the rooms did not please me nearly 
so much as that of the palace at Munich, which was built and 
decorated by a king who had more taste and art in his head 
than have existed in the thick skulls of the whole Prussian 
dynasty together, from the Electors of Brandenburg down to 
the present most gracious king. But nowhere have I seen a 
palace which looked as if it was built to be lived in, nor have 
I been in one in which I would be willing to take up my 
abode for life. I hear that the English palaces are much 
more inhabitable. Is it then really the case that " comfort " 
exists, neither in word nor in fact, anywhere save in the Anglo- 
Saxon nations ? 

I have driven work at a very good rate since I came back 
from Dresden, and have managed to accomplish something. 
I find that keeping constantly busy is an admirable remedy 
against homesickness, and that azure demon has great diffi 
culty in making an entry. Still there are unoccupied mo 
ments, when he gets at me, and seems to make up for lost 
time by the violence with which he attacks. I am reading, 
with much interest, Montesquieu's "Spirit of Laws" in the 
original, to stir up my French somewhat. It is an admirable 
book, and characterized by great liberality and learning. I 
should like to arrive at just such scholarly attainments in the 
law, and to be filled with just such generous and liberal sen 
timents, as to be able to write such a book. 

My principal amusement at present is in attending the con 
certs of instrumental music, which occur every Tuesday and 
Friday afternoons. The bulk of the performance consists of 
symphonies of the great masters, and they are executed as 
tonishingly well. I take my book along and read during the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 159 

intervals and the performance of pieces in which I take little 
interest. These concerts cost only twelve and a half cents 
apiece ; and for a subscriber like myself, who buys a large 
number of the tickets at a time, only six and a quarter cents. 
My great want just now is that of female society. With the 
exception of my busy landlady, with whom I hold discourses 
every morning, as she squats on the floor and makes the fire, 

1 have not spoken to a female for over a month. 

To A. W. D. 

BERLIN, Jan. 28, 1858. 

The weather is too important a topic not to be discussed, 
for it makes a most amazing difference in my whole frame of 
mind, whether it is a fine day or not. To-day, after a strug 
gle with the clouds, the sun has succeeded in making his 
appearance, and his beams, covering a large patch of my 
floor, are extremely grateful. He manages to get up now to 
a pretty good height above the horizon, and makes a much 
longer day of it than he did a month ago, when we dined at 

2 P. M. by gas-light, and had only about five or six hours of 
real day. To-day is a sharp, bright January day, one of the 
coldest that we have had. The snow lies about two inches 
deep on the roofs, but pretty well worn away in the streets. 
The broad dirty gutters are frozen up and thus prevented for 
a time from sending forth their usual rich odors, for which 
Berlin is famous. The frost has melted off my window, so 
that I can look out and scrutinize my surroundings, which are 
not without some interest, although No. 27 Mittelstrasse 
could not exactly be said to be situated in the most lively 
part of Berlin. Everybody is walking fast to get out of the 
cold as soon as possible. An American would be struck by 
the peculiar head-dresses worn by the German women of the 
lower classes, for they don't wear, any at all, but have their 
hair very neatly and often very beautifully arranged, and so 
go bare-headed in the severest weather ; otherwise, however, 
they are generally much more warmly clad than persons of 
the same class at home. A milk-cart, attached to two large 



I6O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

dogs, stands nearly opposite my window. This is one of the 
regular institutions of Berlin, and dog-carts are to be seen 
everywhere. The driver of the dog-cart now in front of my 
window has gone away, and the two poor canine steeds have 
lain down upon the frozen ground and have gone to sleep. 
Probably they are now oblivious of their miseries, and have 
forgotten hunger, cold, and kicks. Doubtless they are gnaw 
ing phantom bones in canine dreamlands. An innumerable 
squad of little children, just returned from school, are busily 
engaged in hunting up a smooth place in the gutter to slide 
on, and they make the scene quite lively, with their merry 
laughter and pretty faces ; for German children are pretty, 
although they get bravely over every tendency of that de 
scription before they grow up to manhood and womanhood. 
Scores of little sparrows are hopping about in the sun, pick 
ing up every vestige of food which they can find, and looking 
as though they considered themselves very spunky in coming 
out in such cold weather. When the wind blows hard they 
all sit in a long row, sometimes as many as fifty or sixty to 
gether, on the ledge which projects above the windows of a 
house, and thus find a shelter ; but if anything is thrown out 
into the street which can possibly be eaten, they pop down, 
just like boys diving off a wharf, one after another, in a very 
comical way, and the grub is soon disposed of by their busy 
little bills. Three butchers come out of their shop, laughing 
very jollily and rubbing their hands ; how can they jest so 
when they have just been depriving a fellow-being of life, for 
did I not see, a little while ago, a highly-reluctant pig dragged 
in there, and, doubtless having a presentiment of his fate, fill 
ing the air with piercing yells ? Oh, ye butchers ; what have 
ye done with that innocent pig ? They pass by without an 
swering, and I fear that they do not duly appreciate the enor 
mity of what they have done : probably they were more con 
cerned about the enormity of the pig. A student passes by, 
with a Chor or secret-society cap upon his head ; the colors 
are black, white, and pink, which shows that he belongs to 
the Chor known as the Prussians. If he is thinking at all, his 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 161 

mind is probably divided between the number of mugs of 
beer which he drank last night and the duel which he is going 
to fight to-morrow ; the lives of these society or chor men 
being made up chiefly, not of "victuals and drink," like " the 
old woman that lived under the hill," of Mother Goose celeb 
rity, but rather of " duels and drink ; " the ambition of the 
student duellist being to cut his adversary dreadfully with his 
sword, and his fame measured by the number of needles' 
lengths which the doctor has had to use to sew up his antag 
onist's wounds ; thus, "five needles" would be a good long 
cut, reaching from the forehead to the chin, and laying open 
the whole face. 

But hark ! from a neighboring court-yard comes a sound 
which is familiar enough to both of us the mellifluous 
sounds of a hand-organ. Now in America I should be in 
clined to go out and send him away as a nuisance, but here 
I do not feel so, for probably that poor organ-grinder is an 
old invalid soldier, who has seen great battles, and whose 
heart, perhaps, would throb if I should speak to him of Leip- 
sic, Dresden, Lutzen, or Waterloo. It makes me sad to see 
them, men who fought like heroes in the " War of Libera 
tion," and gave Germany once more an independent name, 
when she had been trodden under foot by the French in 
vaders; men who, on the New Year's night of 1814, march 
ing to join Wellington, arrived upon the banks of the great 
German river, whose waters had been saved to Germany by 
their exertions, and, with one unanimous cry, rushed forward, 
and in an ecstacy of successful patriotism shouted, " The 
Rhine ! the Rhine ! " Then who, under the generalship of 
Bliicher, arrived upon the bloody field of Waterloo just in 
time to save the day, and to overthrow the greatest man of 
the world, is it fit that such men should go about half like 
beggars, with a hand-organ on their shoulders, and thus ob 
tain from charity that support which they so richly deserve 
from a rescued country? After this don't let anybody tell 
me that republics are ungrateful. Just compare this arrange 
ment with our own. We give the veteran soldier a tract of 
ii 



1 62 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

noble land in the West, where he can sit down and spend his 
life as an independent land-owner, and with the prospect of 
leaving his children improved property, which will enrich 
them. Here the old soldier, perhaps blind or lame, receives 
permission to grind a hand-organ, and for this valuable license 
he pays a large fee. It sometimes makes me feel quite en 
raged, as do many other of the peculiar monarchical dodges 

which they get up here 

But now the sounds of the hand-organ are growing fainter 
and fainter, and as the sun has got behind the roof of one of 
the houses opposite, I must retire to the other corner of my 
room, and establish self and portfolio within the genial atmos 
phere which surrounds my stove for a distance of about three 
feet on every side. Odd-looking things these porcelain stoves 
are, and as they stand in the corner of the room, looking so 
ghastly, they sometimes make me think that probably several 
years ago there must have been an iron stove there, but it 
died, and now its favorite place is haunted by its ghost, all 
in white, sending out also a very ghostly and impalpable kind 
of heat ; I really believe that if we should have any very cold 
weather I should be found some frosty morning stark and 
stiff, embracing my abominable German stove, as if to prevail 
upon it to be merciful and to recall a little of the heat which 
it used to have when it was alive and a respectable iron stove. 
.... At the risk of repeating what you have very possibly 
heard before, I must give you an account of our German 
music here, especially of a series of concerts which come off 
every Tuesday and Friday, and which I attend quite regularly. 
In a hall of very large dimensions, without any fixed seats, 
but filled with small movable tables, with chairs around them, 
sit a large and highly-respectable audience, the ladies with 
their knitting or embroidery, the gentlemen with their beer, 
while upon a raised platform a most admirable orchestra, in 
ferior only to that of the opera, performs beautifully the most 
classical German music. The programme generally contains 
two symphonies, three overtures, and one or two andantes 
and fantasias, and the names of at least three of the six great 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 163 

masters, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Weber, Haydn, and 
Handel, secure good music enough to satisfy any one. Be 
sides these there are generally a couple of admirable pieces 
by men of less note, such as Liszt, Berlioz, Cherubini, and 
Schubert. I enjoy these concerts so much that I can scarcely 
avoid wasting an afternoon every time one of them comes off. 
They are so free and unrestrained one can do what he pleases, 
and I sometimes take a book along and study during the per 
formance of borous pieces. 

But my favorite way is to fling my head down on my arms 
on the table, and, shutting out the glaring lights and the 
well-dressed people, to listen undisturbed to the sweet music, 
now so sad, and now so powerful. To me it is beginning to 
have a deep meaning, such as I was never able to discover in 
music before. Hark ! it is a pastoral symphony of Beetho 
ven. How fresh and clear the sounds rise up, bringing before 
the mind the pure air and the immeasurable blue sky. That 
delicate flute-passage reminds of the running brooks and their 
flower-clad banks, while the soft summer wind gently murmurs 
in the tree-tops throughout the grand old forest. Now, in 
merry chorus and with clanging horns, the hunt breaks in upon 
the solitude, and then departs, fading sweetly* softly away in 
the distance. 

" Oh, sweet and far, from cliff and scaur 
The horns of elf-land faintly blowing." 

And now, the jocund harvest home, the dance after toil, and 
the song of even-tide, while the sun sinks sadly in the west, 
and solemn night comes on, heralded by the evening star. 
How glorious and lovely is Nature ! How superior to all Art, 
since the highest triumph of the latter is to successfully imitate 
the former. 

Or perhaps the piece is an andante by Mozart, and, what 
is more, a religious andante. Cathedral aisles, with vaulted 
Gothic roofs and pointed windows, through which streams the 
richly-tinted light, are the proper places in which to hear such 
stately music, and the solemn organ should add its voice of 
power to the noble tones. 






164 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Ignorant as I am of the technicalities of music, it seems to 
me that the first German masters have the power of managing 
the minor passages beyond all others. Those passages, which 
when treated by some, are so often harsh, and even discordant, 
become the gems of German music. Ideas and sentiments 
are produced by their sad, wild tones which seem beyond the 
sphere of the major key, and which touch with wonderful 
gentleness a chord which exists in every human heart the 
chord of melancholy. I am afraid that I have not succeeded 
in expressing my ideas upon this subject very distinctly, but I 
shall be perfectly satisfied if you understand me, though I am 
rather afraid that you will laugh at my crude impressions of 
music 

I will not bore you with an account of my studies; suffice 
it to say that my attention is considerably occupied by the in 
teresting writings of a certain gentleman, named Justinian, who 
lived about 540 A. D. Those highly interesting books of his, 
the Institutes and the Pandects, I have dipped into somewhat, 
but as I am opposed to light literature, I have not yet taken 
up his "Novella." French Law, German Art, and Italian 
Poetry, manage to give the coup de grace to the remainder of 
my day. 

Sunday Afternoon, Jan. 31. Since I wrote the previous 
part of this letter, I have been quite gay : Friday night I went 
to the opera and heard " Der Freischiitz " by Weber, and last 
night I saw Schiller's " Maria Stuart " performed at the theatre. 
There are many fine gems in " Der Freischiitz/' especially the 
overture, about which Jack used to rave greatly, a most charm 
ing little evening hymn, which I had often heard sung in 
church at home, without having any idea where it came from, 
and the Bridesmaid's Song, " A rosy crown," etc. The cele 
brated incantation scene was very fine, but somehow I could 
not help comparing it with the witch scene in Shakespeare's 
" Macbeth " (which I have also seen here as an opera), and re 
flecting how much the great poet beat the German on his own 
ground, although the latter had all the celebrated horrors of 
the Black Forest to back him. " Maria Stuart" was capitally 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 165 

performed, and gave me a better idea of the customs and cos 
tumes of the time, and also of that particularly romantic piece 
of history, than I had ever had before. The scene in which 
Mary walks in the garden after having been shut up in the 
close castle, her enjoyment of liberty to breathe the fresh air, 
the wishes which she breathed to the clouds sailing southward 
towards France, and then the following scene with Elizabeth, 
were admirably done, and the young actress who performed 
Mary Stuart was received with enthusiastic applause. This I 
think is one of Schiller's first plays, equal to " William Tell " 
and " Don Carlos," and only inferior to the " Maid of Orleans " 
and the " Robbers." I was never so much aggravated by the 
immorality of the Germans as yesterday. I had been longing 
all winter to see Meyerbeer's " Prophete " at the opera. Im 
agine my disgust at seeing it advertised for to-night ; of course 
I did not for a moment think of going, for ever since I came 
abroad, I have kept Sunday very strictly and scrupulously, as 
a kind of memento of home ; but I can assure you that it was 
a great disappointment. However my misery was made more 
tolerable by seeing all my friends in the same condition, and 
hearing their wrathful growls. It looks odd enough here, to 
see every one go to church in the morning very devoutly, and 
then, in the afternoon, to see them out on the skating-ground, 
or driving round town in their carriages, while, in the evening, 
a first-rate set of performances is brought out at the theatre 
and opera. I wonder how the Germans understand the fourth 
section of the Decalogue. I suppose, however, that this sys 
tematic breaking of Sunday is rather political than religious ; 
the government finds it necessary to give the people amuse 
ments on their day of leisure, in order to keep them out of 
mischief ; music, public shows, illuminations, etc., divert their 
minds from politics, and destroy in a great measure their 
self-respect, and that is just what the rulers want to bring 
about. 

BERLIN, February i, 1858. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Notwithstanding the promise con 
tained in J.'s last, that I should get a letter by Saturday's or 



1 66 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Wednesday's mail, I began to fear that I was not going to 
get any after all, for Monday passed by without bringing me 
anything, and Wednesday, when the mail of January i3th was 
to arrive, seemed to intend to treat me in the same manner. 
All the others announced letters from home, when we met at 
dinner, but S. and myself, the two most homesick and letter- 
hungry men in the whole crowd. Imagine my surprise and 
pleasure, on coming to my room about IIP. M., to see a small 
white object lying on my table, which I was sure was not there 
when I went out. You can picture to yourself the haste with 
which I lit my lamp, and the eagerness with which I tore open 
the packet, to see who the letters were from, and what was the 

state of affairs at home There was something extremely 

pleasant in receiving such kind letters so late in the evening, 
and a great relief to my mind when it feared it was about to be 
disappointed. You will not be surprised to hear that I had a 
most distinct dream that night, the scene of which was laid in 
New Haven. It was a lovely summer evening, and I was 
walking in Hillhouse Avenue ; every tree and house seemed so 
familiar, and when I got up near No. 10 I could see them 
through the open window at supper. I hurried by, for fear 
that they might see me, and make me come in there first, when 
I wished my first welcome to proceed from you. I turned the 
corner ; our house looked charming in the summer twilight ; in 
a moment I was on the front step ; both of the hall doors were 
open, and you were all walking up and down the hall and out 
into the back piazza. A. was there with J., and you had one 
of the children on each side of you. No one saw me, and I 
was just starting forward to utter a well-known cry, when at 
the very instant that my foot touched the threshold, I woke up 
and found that I had kicked off the superincumbent feather 
bed, and was in a frigid condition, the very reverse of summer. 
Was it not provoking that I could not dream just a few minutes 
longer ? . . . . Letters are the only voices we have left us 
to call up affection's echoes, and to prevent the absent from 
continually hovering in an atmosphere of doubt and anxiety. 
I shall be very glad when the time shall come for us to 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 167 

speak no more through silent letters, but audibly and face to 
face. 

Well, the great transaction is finally done, and England and 
Prussia are now united by the closest of ties. You will of 
course read all about it in the quotations from English news 
papers. In my next I shall be able to give you an account of 
the performances and festivities which greeted the royal couple 
on their entry into Berlin, which is to take place next Monday, 
February 8th. The English ambassador illuminated his house, 
on the night of the wedding, with a variety of crowns, eagles, 
and similar monarchical devices ; and prominent above all, that 
highly sensible motto, " Honi soit qui mal y pense." Extensive 
preparations are going on for illuminations which are to come 
off next Monday, especially around the equestrian statue of 
Frederic the Great, which stands in the finest part of the Lin 
den, nearly opposite the University. But I must close for the 
present. 

February 2. What a day this is ! Boreas is out in pon 
tificals, howling through the streets, and now is blowing be 
fore him a blinding snow-storm. As I was going to lecture 
this morning I saw a grand hat chase. The unhappy Teuton 
pursued for about an eighth of a mile his fugitive beaver, 
which now trundled on its brim, and now flopped over from 
side to side ; at length he trod on it, and succeeded in recover 
ing it, though in a sadly dilapidated condition. 

I await with considerable impatience your answer to my 
letter in which I asked your opinion with regard to my going 
to Italy. I recognize the value of the journey more than ever 
now, since I have more of an idea of the artistic attractions of 
that fair land, from the histories of art which I have been cram 
ming somewhat. The idea of possibly going to Greece, with 
such a companion as Mr. D., is almost too charming to be ful 
filled. I am in hopes that it may come about, and I take it for 
granted that you will approve of what will give me so much 
pleasure and perhaps great profit. 



1 68 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

BERLIN, February 14, 1858. 

DEAR J., .... I was glad to hear that you took an in 
terest in what I wrote about the Dresden Gallery. I should 
have said something more about it in my last, if my space 
had not been mostly taken up with discussing another sub 
ject. It is such a perfect treasure-house of art that it would 
be unjust for any one to suppose that its fame rests wholly 
upon the few great chef-d'oeuvres of Raphael, Holbein, and 
Correggio, which it contains. These form, it is true, its first 
and highest class, but there is besides these a large number of 
very beautiful specimens of the best masters, less impressive, 
perhaps, than the above, but almost equally interesting, al 
though in a less intense degree. The Venetian school is 
quite well represented, although I scarcely think that its 
greatest master is seen here to the best advantage. The cele 
brated tribute-money picture of the Saviour did not please me 
very much, though doubtless, in mere mechanism and artistic 
workmanship, it is a masterpiece. The face of the Saviour 
struck me as unmeaning and soft, the expression being rather 
an unpleasant one. 

The principal Venus, too, has been so severely cleaned that 
the look of the flesh is anything but natural, and the face has 
rather an insipid mien, which I have seen in several of Titian's 
pretty women. Palma Vecchio, a contemporary of Titian, 
has contributed two or three gems to this collection ; a Holy 
Family, much after Titian's manner, which displays a strange 
mixture of the rich coloring and brilliant effects of the Vene 
tian school, with a sweet simplicity and a pervading religious 
feeling such as is found only in the older masters of the 
school ; in the more modern ones, as Tintoretto and Paul 
Veronese, the religious sentiment is either neglected for, or 
obscured by, the splendid pageants, rich garments, and grace 
ful animals which appear so universally in their pictures. 
Paul Veronese's anachronisms amuse me very much. The 
best of his works at Dresden is that of Faith, Hope, and 
Love conducting a prominent Venetian family before the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 169 

Virgin's throne. The whole getting up of the picture, dogs 
and garments included, is splendid, and the faces of the three 
angelic virtues are very lovely. In another fine painting of 
his, the " Finding of Moses among the Bulrushes," Pharaoh's 
daughter and her maid-servants are all dressed in what I sup 
pose to be the height of Venetian fashion about the year 
1575, A. D. In the Pre-raphaelite works of the Roman and 
Florentine schools, the Dresden Gallery is sadly deficient, and 
it does not possess a single specimen of the works of Giotto, 
Fra Angelico, Ghirlandajo, Filippo Lippi, Leonardo da Vinci, 
or Michael Angelo, except in copies ; and Andrea del Sarto, 
" the faultless painter," does not appear to much advantage. 
On the other hand, the collection is very rich in specimens 
of the Bolognese or Eclectic school, the Caracci, Guido Reni, 
Francesco Albani, with his charming groups of dancing 
cupids, Domenichino, Guercino, whose paintings are so soft 
and sweet. But, although I have a delightful recollection of 
them all, yet as I took no notes when at Dresden, my account 
of them would have to be too general to be interesting. But 
there is one class of painters which I cannot, in justice to my 
own feelings, pass over unnoticed, and that is the school of 
the Netherlands, the cabinet pictures of the two Teniers, es 
pecially the younger Adrian Brouwer, Van Ostade, Metzu, 
Mieris, Hondekoeter, and Gerard Dow. The first and last 
of this list, viz., David Teniers the younger, and Gerard Dow, 
are my most especial favorites. The feelings aroused by 
these pictures might be said to be exactly the opposite of those 
excited by the great works of the religious painters, and decid 
edly of a lower order ; but then it is impossible, or at least pain 
ful and unnatural, always to keep one's emotions up to the 
correct pitch of howling enthusiasm ; and it was a great relief 
to me, after gazing for some time at the Madonna di San Sisto, 
or those beautiful Correggios, to go into the smaller rooms and 
exercise the muscles of my diaphragm by having a good laugh 
at one of Brouwer's horridly vulgar pictures, representing two 
drunken peasants knocking each other over the head with 
their beer jugs ; or perhaps some subject still more at vari- 



1 70 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ance with decency and high art. The subjects represented 
here are nothing more nor less then the mere simple scenes of 
every-day Dutch life, and are pervaded thoroughly by that 
humor, which an unprejudiced by-stander, with keen percep 
tions of the ludicrous, can find in almost every observation of 
his fellow-men when gathered in a social way. In this class 
there are very different styles : Brouwer and Van Ostade give 
us caricatures ; their peasants are inexpressibly coarse and 
ugly, the combats extravagantly violent, and their subjects 
abominably vulgar, Teniers, on the contrary, takes the same 
class of persons, and gives us in a few bold and yet soft 
touches a most lively and pleasing picture of Dutch life. A 
capital specimen of Teniers is in the Museum here at Berlin, 
the "Temptation of St. Anthony," a favorite subject with the 
Dutch painters, and which is founded on the old church 
legend. The saint sits at a table in a desert place, with a 
large book open before him, but from the perusal of which he 
is somewhat hindered by the delicate attentions paid him by 
a legion of devils of all sizes and shapes, among whom are 
portraits of his mother-in-law and his wife, who show the 
cloven hoof just peeping out from under their dresses. The 
latter offers him a goblet of wine, which he puts aside with a 
deprecatory look. The devils display in their number and 
great variety the inexhaustible genius of the painter. Almost 
every time that I look at this picture, I discover some new 
and untried devil, when I thought that I had previously hunted 
up every one. The greatest charm of all the paintings of 
Teniers consists in the perfect acquaintance which they show 
with the phenomena of social life. Perhaps none but artists 
can tell how such wonderful effects are produced by so few 
apparently careless touches upon a few inches of canvas, but 
there is a something in their general result which cannot fail 
to attract us, although we cannot explain why, for " one touch 
of nature makes the whole world kin." I think that the life 
like humorousness of Teniers bears the same relation to the 
inspired beauty of Raphael, or the graceful fancy of Correggio, 
that Shakespeare's comedies do to Milton's " Penseroso," or Sir 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 171 

Philip Sydney's sonnets. I suppose that Hondekoeter is the 
most celebrated painter of live birds that ever lived. One of 
his best is a grand bird-concert, of which a venerable owl is 
the Max Maretzek, and beats the time with one foot in a most 
impressive manner. However, there. is one small rooster, by 
Metzu, which beats anything of Hondekoeter's, or any one's 
else that I ever saw in that line. The scene is at the stall of a 
game-seller, and the proprietor holds out in his hands towards 
a young woman this ideal rooster, who sits with a demure air, 
as if to say, "You see I am obliged; to submit to circum 
stances, but should n't I like .to peck ?" It seems to me per 
fectly astonishing that anything so spirited and natural could 
be represented in so very small a space. ... . . ,You will be 

pleased to have heard that I have given .up my blue ideas 
which I had about going to Italy, and also hope to realize 
a long-cherished day-dream of mine by seeing Athens and 
Greece. 

BERLIN, February 18, 1858. 

DEAR M., .... I have .had, for the past three weeks, a 
very bad cold in the head, to which has been added a cough 
and sore throat. The former was aggravated, and the latter 
brought on, by the coldness of the weather on -February 8th, 
when the young Prince William and his bride, Victoria of 
England, made their triumphal entry info Berlin. Monday 
morning opened very fine, and when P. and I sauntered .out 
into the Linden, it was odd to see what a crowd of people had 
already gathered there. As early as 10 A. M., the ^companies 
of the trades were in motion to take their places ; ;for, by an 
ancient custom, the procession which receives a newly married 
pair into Berlin is almost wholly civil in its character, conse 
quently the trades, many of them very ancient and venerable, 
were out in strong force. After some forty postilions, came 
the Guild of the Butchers and Merchants; the former, accord 
ing to an ancient custom, performing the part of civil escort, 
while a couple of troops of dragoons formed the military one. 
After these had passed, followed the court carriages, drawn 
each by six horses, containing those interesting developments 



L7TJ?S Of WILLIAM WHEELER. 

of human nature known as lords of the bed-chamber, gentle 
men-ushers, ladies-in-waiting, maids-of-honor, etc., who find 
honor and glory in being the domestics of a king, and carry 
ing the lap dogs of a princess. Then, in a splendid gilded 
coach drawn by eight horses, escorted by the governor of the 
city and the president of police, came the newly married 
pair. .... But I let the royal carriage pass by, and observe 
some of the trades and guilds which follow in an immense 
body 25,000 strong. The first is the Shooters' Guild. Their 
privileges date from 1548 A. ix They were followed by the 
miners in their strange dress, as weird as the gnomes and 
kobolds whose treasures they are employed in plundering. 
The Guild of Tinners were led by two knights of the olden 
time, covered, horses and all, with a splendid imitation of the 
gold and silver plate mail It seemed to me to symbolize the 
difference between the present age and the age of chivalry ; 
for the solid iron and steel of those times we have substituted 
a sort of tin imitation, which can neither stand the thrust of 
spear nor the blow of sword, but it glitters and that satisfies 
us. The Fishers' Guild, two hundred and fifty years old, had 
a very picturesque uniform, and carried a large seine to which 
bells and other musical instruments were fastened, so that 
when the net was shaken it produced a most silvery and 
delightful chime. The Turners exhibited a beautiful set of 
mammoth chessmen which excited my cupidity. The banner 
carried by the Goldsmiths, was said to have cost 10.000 
thalers. That despised class of men, the Tailors, turned out 
strong. They are a most venerable body, dating from 1288. 
How strange it is ! empires rise into being and sink into 
nothingness, a Hapsborg succeeds to Hohenstaufen, and a 
Stuart to a Tudor, revolutions shake thrones and then are 
quenched in blood, but meanwhile the Tailors' Guild pursues 
the even tenor of its way, and now, in the year of grace 1858, 
turns out in such numbers as assures a plentiful supply of 
galligaskins to the good city of Berlin for at least a genera 
tion to come. 

The processioQ dosed with the machine-shop men to the 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 173 

number of eight thousand, locomotive and steamboat build 
ers, car manufacturers, and makers of all the outirejr. 
and engines and accessories which mighty steam, the 
of the nineteenth century, brings in his train. They are the 
representatives of the present age, as the old Trades and 
Guilds, with their ancient privileges, were of the past. 

In the evening the city was brilliantly illuminated. C., P., 
S., and I went out, and, formed in solid phalanx in the crush 
ing crowd for mutual offense and defense, we had the pleasure 
of picking up and rescuing an old lady, who fell down in one 
very bad rush, and stood a pretty good chance of being tram 
pled under foot I had never seen an illumination before, and 
so I gave myself up to a kind of childish delight at the 
swarming crowds, the bright lights, and the happy faces. The 
torch-light procession, about which there had been so much 
excitement and bother, did not come off then, but was trans 
ferred to Saturday evening, and was a capital affair. .... At 
the palace the committee went in to present the homage of the 
students to the prince and princess. They gave three cheers ; 
not the glorious Anglo-Saxon hurrah! but a mean-spirited 
hoch or high, which does n't ring out worth a snap. The 
most interesting scene of all was the breaking-up place, where 
they put out their torches and sang '* Gaudeamus."' I was 
pleased to see how they do such things here, and I "itifird 
myself that although their paraphernalia and gettings-up were 
much better than with us, they did not have half the spunk 
and spirit of our jolly American stud* IWA. .... 

February 19. . . . The homage I rendered to the picture 
of the ** Sistine Madonna " was withal to tfa> *^f^f picture, 
nor to the personages which it rrprcirMs, bat to the f*^"^m 
human mind which called it into being. I hare, and hope 
that I may always have, a utJiliJt admiration for whatever 
is good and noble in the world, whether in the empire of sra- 

_. _- : .: ::" : -::-:.: -:-.- : - jf brave ar j manlj -.- 

tioos. The enthusiasm which I feel upon gazing at a mas 
terpiece of painting, no more deserves to be called 
the sensations which owe t i'* | ^ | ^Ty on 



LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the genius of Shakespeare, the gallantry or bravery of Tancred 
and Bayard, or the virtue of Washington. No, instead of 
being troubled by this, you ought, on the contrary, to rejoice 
at anything which tends to develop the reverent sentiments, 
and to bring the hollow on the top of my head, where the 
bump of veneration ought to be, up to the level of my other 
phrenological developments. You know that I am rather 
given to exaggerate, and I must ask you to make allowances 
for all that 1 may hereafter say, in the heat of enthusiasm, 
and believe that the sight of new lands, new governments, and 
new modes of thinking, have only served to make me prize 
more highly than ever my own land and the ideas in which I 
was brought up/. ... 

. ... . . TRIESTE, March 7, 1858. 

: DEAR M., At last we- have got in motion again, and after 
a painful journey of six days, I have once more reached the 
shores of .the Adriatic, and expect to-morrow to be in Italy, I 
hope, if; not to enjoy myself, at least to get warm; for the 
history of the past trip down here has been one in which the 
demon of cold has played a prominent part, and even in this 
latitude ;it is bleak and chilly, while the dreadful Boro of the 
Adriatic sweeps through the city with great fury. On getting 
up this morning, I heard a confused hubbub, and looking out 
of the- window that faced a large square, saw a most motley 
crowd. of persons of all ranks, ages, and nations, with their 
varied costumes, making the dreary market-place quite gay. 
There were Greeks with their white camises, Turks with long 
cloaks and red fez, dark-eyed and haired nondescripts, whom 
I took to be Albanians, villainous-looking Italians, while here 
and there a sun-browned face with brown hair and beard, spoke 
of .the Anglo-Saxon or the Dane. Most of them were sailors, 
dressed in the odd- habiliments which the sons of Neptune get 
themselves up in when ashore. They lounged around with a 
rolling gaitj and a knowing swagger, which reminded me of 
my old friends of the Australia. On Monday last, March ist, 
after the mails had disappointed us all by coming in without 
any letters for any of us, we packed our trunks, paid our last 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 175 

bill to our landlord, and made our last farewell to our land 
lady and children, and tore ourselves away from the friendly 
hand-grasps of J. C. and T. D., and took the train for Dres 
den. We went to our old quarters, the " Golden Angel." In 
the morning we sallied out, and made a bee-line of the straight- 
est description for the picture-gallery. We spent an hour in 
looking at engravings on the ground floor, and I enjoyed very 
much observing the progress of the child of Painting from its 
earliest infancy to the present time. It is quite remarkable 
that, in these old times, the art of the engraver was not an ab 
sorbing one, but was rather a companion or adjunct to those 
of sculpture and painting, so that we find almost all the ear 
liest engravers of any note, such as Wohlgemuth, Marc Antony, 
Albert Diirer, and Rembrandt, to have been also first-rate 
painters. We then went up that splendid, wide staircase, to 
that picture-gallery which, while it falls below the united col 
lections of both Rome and Florence, claims for itself the proud 
title of being more than a match for either the Pitti or Uffizi 
alone, or even Vatican. I greeted the two lovely Madonnas 
of Raphael and Holbein, the beautiful Correggios, thec harm 
ing Vandykes, and many others, as dear old friends. It was 
so pleasant to see again those master-pieces that had so de 
lighted me at first, and which, during the two intervening 
months, had always been capable of bringing up in my mind 
fair, and good, and noble thoughts. I think that I regarded the 
Sistine Madonna with increased admiration, but with less ex 
citement and enthusiasm, than when I first saw it in the win 
ter ; but I must, once for all, disclaim the slightest feeling of 
adoration, either then or now. But for that serene and sweet 
Madonna of Holbein, I felt, more than ever before, a sort of 
tender regard and love. The whole scene was such a family 
one, and so home-like, that it seems impossible to believe that 
it was a superhuman being who was standing in that room, 
but rather a noble and powerful woman, who had come to the 
house of sickness to give her aid, and to fill it with the sweet 
and holy light. I shall always remember that picture as long 
as I live, for to comprehend and enjoy it, one needs only to be 



176 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

a devoted lover of his own mother and his home, which is a 
quality I am inclined to think that I possess in pretty fair 
measure. I spent nearly all day in taking a last look of all 
my favorites, and discovered several new ones with which I 

was not particularly acquainted 

We left Dresden Tuesday, at midnight, having fortified our 
selves with all the hot things which the restaurant at Dresden 
could afford. More cheerless, not to say dangerously cold, 
affairs, than these German cars, it would be difficult to con 
ceive of; and there is not a particle of fire to counteract the 
cold. What wonder if the unhappy passenger gets gradually 
stiffened with the frost. After a regular purgatorial ride of 
three hours we reached Badenbach, the Austrian frontier, 
where we bade farewell to our old friend, the thaler, who had 
so long been our stay and support in Berlin, and now shook 
hands with the Austrian florin, a rather scaly coin, who is con 
siderably larger than his Dutch and Bavarian cousins. By 
means of packing ourselves together in one carriage, so that 
we bore a striking resemblance to Cerberus, one body with 
three heads, we managed to keep decently comfortable during 
the following four hours before reaching Prague. Just a little 
while before we reached Prague, the sun rose gloriously, and 
by dint of scratching a hole through the thick frost which had 
collected on the car window. I managed to see it very nicely. 
We arrived in P. chilled through, and it took a hot stove and 
a good hot breakfast to restore circulation, and to bring back 
the idea that life was still extant in our stiffened bodies. In 
the expectations which I had formed of the picturesqueness of 
Prague, I was not disappointed. It lies in a low basin, sur 
rounded by lofty hills, some of them quite precipitous, and 
crowned on the west side by the imposing mass of the Hrad- 
schin, the palace of the old Bohemian kings, while through 
this hollow flows the noble Moldau, a broad and majestic 
river, and, I should think, a rapid one. When I saw it, it 
was motionless. You can form some idea of the appearance 
of Prague by supposing a city, full of oriental and splendid 
buildings, to be surrounded on all sides by a ring of hills 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 

higher, and almost as steep, as East Rock, with a broad river 
flowing through it, crossed by three bridges one celebrated 
for its size and antiquity, another a beautiful suspension 
bridge. The first church we entered contained the tomb of 
Professor Olmsted's old friend and fellow-laborer in the star 
gazing department, Tycho Brahe. It is made of a slab of red 
marble, and contains his effigy, and above, his motto, which is 
certainly a very noble one, similar to that on John Dixwell's 
grave behind Centre Church, Esse potius quam haberi To 
be, rather than to be esteemed. Opposite to the church 
stands the town hall, which retains somewhat of its former 
Gothic beauty. This building, and the place before it, stand 
as memorials of the fearful excesses committed, under the 
guise of religious zeal, by both Hussites and Catholics. It 
was from the windows of the Rathhaus that the Hussite mob, 
in 1419, ejected the magistrates who had excited their dis 
pleasure, and it was in the square in front of it that the Prot 
estant leaders were executed, after the battle of the White Hill 
had given the Catholics the unexpected preponderance. The 
old bridge is the longest in Germany, and is 500 years old. 
It is decorated at regular intervals with the statues of saints, 
but the great lion of all is St. John Nepomuk, who was 
drowned here for his religious opinions, and has, from this 
circumstance, become the patron saint of bridges all over 
Germany. The Hradschin is the most immense pile I ever 
saw, and inclosing in its vast quadrangle a cathedral, chapels, 
public halls, public offices, seems like a small city, complete 
in itself. We ascended to the top of the cathedral and en 
joyed a view of the city lying beneath us, beyond, the broad 
plains of Bohemia, while to the west, lay the White Hill, 
where Frederic yielded to Ferdinand, and the light of Protes 
tantism in Bohemia and South Germany was put out in tor 
rents of blood. One of the oddest things in Prague is the 
Jews' quarter, which is said without doubt to. have existed 
since the founding of the city. Everywhere appeared ancient 
Abraham, who looked anxious to do a little business with me. 
Every window was tenanted by some worthy Sarah, or Re- 
12 



1/8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

bekah, while in the doorways and middle of the street rolled 
scores of dirty urchins, whose bird-like probosces left not the 
shadow of doubt that they were sprigs and cuttings of the vine 
that was brought out of Egypt. The house of Huss stands in 
the Jews' quarter, and I took considerable interest in observ 
ing the dwelling-place of the great early reformer, although I 
must confess myself dreadfully ignorant of his more minute 
history, except that he was called the Great Goose of Bohemia, 
that he cackled loud and to some purpose, that he was roasted 
in a meadow near the good city of Constance, which meadow 
I saw, and finally, that it was with a quill from the tail of this 
goose that Luther wrote his renowned thesis. I was highly 
delighted with all I saw of the good city of Prague, and wished 
the weather would have permitted me to walk out of town, to 
get acquainted with the whole situation of the place. I left 
that evening at 7, and in that long nocturnal ride of twelve 
hours, was in a state of torpid suffering which lasted till I 
reached Vienna. That night seemed to be equal to several 
long days, and even now the remembrance of it makes me 

shudder all over 

FLORENCE, March 18, 1858. 

DEAR BROTHER, Of my doleful ride to Prague, my visit 
there, and the still more miserable vigil on that freezing night, 
for twelve hours from Prague to Vienna, I have fully informed 
mother. I should like to suggest to the Germans, as a suitable 
motive for a new revolution, the coldness of the night trains in 
winter. A Magna Gharta might be extorted from the sov 
ereign, .with the privilege of having the cars warmed with the 
waste steam, or at least having vessels of warm water for the 
feet. The Prussians gained less than this by the revolution of 
'49, the only permanent benefit they acquired by that bloody 
contest being the permission to smoke in the streets of Berlin. 
Thursday, March 4th, was devoted to seeing what there was 
to be seen. My eye was first caught by a Gothic spire, of the 
richest style of work, towering above everything around. I 
traced my way to it, and was soon standing beside the Cathe 
dral of St. Stephen, one of the purest and finest buildings of 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 179 

the Germanic style, my own favorite class of architecture. 
The south tower, which is the only one completed, is a most 
magnificent specimen of its kind ; covered with rich ornaments, 
trefoils and pinnacles on every side, yet not so as to prevent 
it from diminishing gradually and regularly as it rises. It 
mounts to the height of 444 feet, showing in all its course the 
perfect grace and beauty of the Gothic style, which consists, 
perhaps as much as anything, in the subordination of the 
infinitude of small ornaments and highly-wrought, minute de 
vices (which the eye notices with pleasure as it passes, while 
it is not arrested by them) to a grand and symmetrical 
whole ; a gradual lessening and lessening in size, until the 
cross at the top seems almost to pierce the sky, such is the 
spire of St. Stephen's. We had a long, weary climb up that 
beautiful south tower, but finally reached the summit and were 
amply repaid for our exertions. We sat down and enjoyed 
the view, just where, almost two hundred years ago, the brave 
Count Starhemberg had sat and watched, almost hopelessly, 
the vast army of the Turks, which was, day after day, drawing 
closer and closer around the beleaguered city. And from this 
spot he saw the approaching banners of the brave John 
Sobieski of Poland, who speedily joined battle with the infidels, 
and did for Germany, at Vienna, what Charles Martel did at 
Tours for France. The tide of Islamism has, since then, 
rather set in the opposite direction. The fire watch lives near 
the top of the cathedral tower, and has capital arrangements 
for discovering the exact situation of a fire. The watchman 
was very polite in explaining his telegraph to us, and when he 
found out that we were Americans, he insisted upon our coming 
into his room and sitting down. I found out that he had fought 
against the Italian patriots in 1849, and likewise against Kos- 
suth in the same year. He wanted to know how Kossuth was 
received in America. He was full of enthusiasm for his own 
country and the Emperor, and decidedly down upon Kossuth. 
It seemed so odd to meet one who had fought for Austria, and 
to hear the other side as it were. .... 

I was much disappointed at the specimens of Albert Diirer 



ISO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which I saw at Vienna, for I had been led to suppose that his 
genius shone with peculiar brightness in the galleries there. 
As yet I have seen nothing of this master which justifies the 
high and apparently overweening rank which has been accorded 
to him in German art. . . . We bade good-by to Vienna at an 
early hour, and soon the spire of St. Stephen's faded away be 
hind us to the northwest. At first the cold condensed the 
vapor on the windows, and made it difficult to see anything, 
but soon the warm sun melted off the frost, and we had a fine 
chance to survey the scenery and the snow mountains through 
which this railroad pursues its course. It was difficult to know 
which to admire most, the lofty mountains clad with snow, the 
precipices, the deep defiles, the tremendous forests, or the 
wondrous skill and engineering enterprise with which so fine 
a railway .had been conducted through them. At a place 
called Gloggnitzthe railroad runs, by a series of curved gradi 
ents, right up the side of what might almost be termed a 
precipice. Some time after leaving Gloggnitz, having passed 
over several viaducts and through one or two tunnels, we found 
ourselves again almost exactly over the same town, but now at 
a height of 700 feet above it. The effect produced by such a 
climbing of our ferruginous steed was strange enough. . . . We 
dined at Gratz, a fine place which I should have liked to visit 
further. We saw a ruined castle remarkable for astronomical 
observations made in it by Tycho Brahe. We crossed the 
Drave at Marburg, and got to Laibach in the evening. I will 
say nothing about it except to quote from the hand-book a tra 
dition of the place, which appears to me rather beats Banagher. 
They say that Jason and the Argonauts, fleeing from Colchis, 
after they had gobbled the golden fleece, sailed across the 
Black Sea, then up the Danube, and up the Drave to where 
Laibach now stands. This town they founded, and then went 
down to the Adriatic, and there embarked for Greece. As the 
Argonauts could not very easily have dragged their ship over 
land to Trieste, perhaps a search at Laibach, by some of those 
grubbing German antiquaries like Lepsius, might bring to light 
some fragments of that renowned tub the Argo. We got into 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. l8l 

Trieste late ; and now permit me to pass with a great leap 
from Trieste to Parma, where I arrived Thursday evening, 
March nth. I had a good full day at Parma, which I en 
joyed more than I have any one day for a long time. There 
is scarcely a city I have seen that presents more art charms 
than this old nest of the Farnese family. It has a noble cathe 
dral, its cupola being adorned with the celebrated frescoes of 
Correggio, said to be the finest work of his genius in exist 
ence. The Academy of Fine Arts is not deficient in works 
of other artists, while in those of Correggio it can easily bid 
defiance to the rest of the world. The antiquarian would 
find a splendid library, noted for its oriental treasures, and a 
museum of antiques which is very interesting. 

FLORENCE, March 22, 1858. 

Just think of it, only four months more, and I shall, 
D. V., be again at home among you all, and then my absence 
of fourteen months (how fearfully long it will have been !) will 
seem like a half-forgotten dream, partly pleasant and partly 
disagreeable, although I hope that the rougher features will 
be mellowed down by distance and time, and that I shall be 
able to look back upon my European experiences with more 
pleasurable sensations than can be felt while actually passing 
through them. But I can assure you that it is pretty hard 
work to be obliged incessantly, day in and day out, to visit 
treasure-houses and masterpieces of art, and so often to pass 
by spots renowned in history, or hallowed by memories of 
great and noble men. This sort of thing keeps the emotions 
too incessantly upon the stretch, and at last one almost wishes 
to run away to some quiet place, and let the works of art re 
main without a single glance of admiration or criticism, the 
interesting spots without a single rapture or sigh. ... I wish 
that I could have time to digest all that I saw, and that after 
a week of " doing " I might retire into some quiet country 
place, to read and study and work up what I had seen with 
my own ideas, making the memory of it my own property, and 
not dependent for half my recollections upon guide-books and 






1 82 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

works on art. But this it is impossible to do, for almost every 
respectable city has its picture-gallery and its museum of an 
tiquities ; so, for example, Bologna, where we spent Sunday 
and Monday of last week, the i4th and i5th of March, pos 
sesses a very fine gallery of paintings, which . of" course we 
had to see, for it would have been sacrilege to have passed 
through the city without visiting the fine works of the cele 
brated Bolognese or Eclectic school, who believed in choosing 
from each master his best quality, and uniting them all in one 
picture ; so they proposed to add to the majesty of Michael 
Angelo and the feeling of Raphael the coloring of Titian and 
the grace of Correggio. They succeeded better than might 
have been expected from such a patchwork sort of theory, as 
the names of the Caracci, Guercino, Guido Reni, Albani, and 
Domenichino amply prove. Bologna is, as might be sup 
posed, a capital place to study these great masters ; but I will 
not bore you with any further account of my visit to the gal 
lery (as I have enough of such stuff to tell you besides), 
except to say that I enjoyed them all very well, but liked 

Raphael's beautiful St. Cecilia more than any of them 

On Tuesday morning, at 4 A. M., we left Bologna by diligence 
for Florence, and of course for the first couple of hours sat in 
mortal terror of being suddenly attacked by a fierce gang of 
banditti ; for these robbers of the Apennines are an odd, lazy 
set ; they have their holes in Bologna, and an hour or so 
before the diligence starts they leave the city and go up the 
mountains a few miles, to wait until it comes along ; they 
then strip it, and its passengers, and go back to Bologna to 
finish their morning's nap, or to eat their breakfast, for which 
they will have acquired an appetite by this little stroke of 
business : consequently the worst part of this worst of Italian 
roads is at the distance of about an hour or two from the city, 
and when we passed through it, the light, just beginning to 
grow gray with the dawn, was exactly the right kind for a 
robbery. The road looked fit for an ambuscade ; and once, 
when I saw three men in the middle of the road, I felt sure 
that they must be the scouts of the gang, and expected every 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 183 

instant to hear a whistle and to see black-bearded ruffians 
start from every bush, like Roderick Dhu's men in the " Lady 
of the Lake." I now reflected upon my unhappy opera, " The 
Bandits of the Apennines." How little, when I wrote it, did 
I think that I should ever be so near the haunts of those 
much slandered gentlemen, or stand such a good chance of 
sharing the unhappy fate of my two heroes, Mr. Brown and 
Mr. Jones ! I now perceived the difference subsisting be 
tween quietly writing a work in the study and going through 
the actual experience in real life. However, they would n't 
have got much cash out of our party, for we were as poor as 
pilgrims, and I, the treasurer and financier of the crowd, had 
only one solitary napoleon. For that lonely piece of gold I 
was prepared to resist to the death ; and I have no doubt but 
that our crowd would have made the only good resistance of 
the whole party, our escort included, which consisted of four 
rascally gens d'armes, who rode after the diligence in an old 
wagon, looking very fierce and valiant, but whose first warlike 
act, I strongly suspect, would have been to rat over to the 
enemy with their arms and ammunition, and then come in for 
the lion's share of the booty. At any rate, notwithstanding 
our perilous condition, we passed the dangerous spot with our 
throats uncut and our pockets unemptied, and that napoleon 
survived to buy me a black vest in the good city of Florence. 
I had occasion, in quite an odd way, to bring all my philo 
logical acquirements into play in quite a short time. Our 
whole party dismounted from the diligence to walk up hill. 
When we reached the steepest place in the Apennines, and as 
we were walking past another party of gentlemen, one of them 
accosted P. and S. in French ; but they passed by in silence, 
and I was obliged, in order to remove any thought of dis 
courtesy, to pitch wildly in upon " the universal language," 
although during my stay in Berlin my German had driven 
almost all my French out of my head. However, I got along 
pretty well, and tickled the Parisian gentleman hugely with 
some well-aimed praises of Paris. From the other fellow, 
who was an Italian, I picked up some information about the 



184 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

state of Lombardy which interested me. They were greatly 
puzzled to know what countryman I was. Englishman ? No. 
German ? Nein. Russian ? No. Italian ? No. Swede or 
Dane ? No. " Well," exclaimed the Frenchman, " you must 
come from some other world ! " "I do," said I. (Here their 
eyes opened widely.) " I come from the New World." Where 
upon they fell into a train of thought which led them to the 
correct conclusion that I was an American. Upon returning 
to my seat in the diligence I found by my side a fat and jolly 
old fellow, who attacked me quite fiercely in Italian, and I 
managed to pay him back pretty well ; for I have a great fac 
ulty of going right in on a language, and making the greatest 
possible use of what I know. This is of course the best way to 
improve my practice, and already I have got on quite famously 
in the sweet tongue of Tasso. Well, I mustered up enough Ital 
ian to give him a tremendous idea of the grandeur of the Amer 
ican eagle, our free institutions, and the facility with which a 
man can there acquire land, and raise himself from the posi 
tion of a laborer to that of a proprietor. Indeed, this last is 
what interests foreigners more than anything else about our 
country. Our freedom they think very good, but scarcely un 
derstand it ; our universal franchise they cannot comprehend, 
but the fact that either by squatting, or buying at a very low 
price, a man can acquire a property in the soil, and work it for 
his own use, and not as a tenant, seems to have a peculiar 
charm for them, and probably there is nothing which contrib 
utes more to form the idea prevalent among many persons 
here, that America is a sort of Canaan, in which all persons 
become instantly rich and happy, as soon as they have crossed 
the Jordan of the Atlantic. My old friend had travelled a 
great deal in the Orient on business, and told me some very 
interesting stories of his voyages, and also of two or three 
shipwrecks, from one of which he escaped with nothing but 
his life and night-shirt, leaving behind his " best suit of clothes 
and his cargo worth 80,000 florins." 

Happening to hear P. address S. in German, he inquired if 
I spoke it, and appeared perfectly delighted when I told him 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 185 

I did. He was a Swiss from St. Gall, and we had a good talk 
together about the scenery of that region, with which I was 
well acquainted, having been through it last August with H. 
C. So then for a good part of the rest of the way to Florence 
we kept it up steadily in German, politics, travels, railroads, 
etc., being the chief topics. As we approached Florence, we 
went back to the Italian tongue again, and I amused the driver 
and postilions with sundry delectable anecdotes of the Amer 
ican turf; Trustee's great feat of trotting twenty miles in fifty- 
seven minutes and a fraction quite astonished them, and I fear 
that I laid myself open to the reproach of having drawn the 
long bow. Our scenery all the way was really magnificent, for 
almost all the innumerable peaks of the Apennines were cov 
ered with pure white snow, much of which had probably fallen 
within a week. We came across at just the right time, for 
while it was warm enough to be comfortable, there had not 
been a sufficiently long succession of warm days to melt the 
snow, and thus both destroy the beauty of the scenery, and 
make the roads bad. We reached Florence at about 8 p. M., 
and were soon comfortably settled in the fine Hotel de New 
York, which commands about the best view, and is in the best 
situation of any hotel in Florence, even if its name and low 
prices were not a sufficient recommendation. We made a very 
nice arrangement, and got capital rooms, looking right out on 
the Arno. What shall I say, my dearest mother, of the pleas 
ure, the delight, which I have experienced since I came to 
this place ; from the cold regions north of the Apennines with 
their snow and chilly atmosphere, from the bleak, dreary plains 
of Berlin, and the cheerless hills of Prague, to a city where 
Spring has already taken up her abode, and already begun to 
scatter flowers over the face of the earth. The warm, balmy 
air, the bright sun, the blue sky, the green earth, and the busy, 
jolly city, all make simple existence here most pleasant, while 
the snow clad summits of the Apennines loom up in the 
northeast, to remind us of what we have been through. I have 
always before my eyes the stream of the Arno, rendered pic 
turesque by its four fine bridges ; beyond this the beautiful 



1 86 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

hills of Bellosguardo and Arcetri, covered to their summits 
with fine villas ; and the latter (Arcetri) made interesting as 
well as beautiful by the Tower of Galileo, from which he took 
his most important observations, and in which he extended to 
Milton a friendly hospitality, when the latter was on his travels. 
The meeting of two such men, so surpassingly great in worlds 
of thought, so different yet equally majestic, the contemplation 
of the actual and the ideal heaven, would be a worthy subject, 
I should think, either for pencil or pen. Never did two men 
come together who had done more for the progress of thought 
and the enfranchisement of the human mind from slavery, 
whether political, physical, or religious. How noble must 
have been their conversation ! What glorious thoughts must 
have flowed forth in calm and dignified utterances ! What a 
boon to have seen them seated together: Milton, with his long, 
flowing locks, and face of solemn beauty ; Galileo, with that 
massive forehead, and firm-set mouth, which said, " But it does 
move." They might be taken as representatives of Poetry and 
Science, while upon both a still nobler name can be bestowed, 
for are they not both Apostles of Human Freedom? There 
are many interesting memories in Florence, but none which 
interested me as much as this. As regards the endless treas- 
sures of art in this city, what shall I say ? The bounds of a 
short letter like this are scarcely equal to the enterprise, and I 
will try to tell you something about them at length in the first 
letterl write you from Rome. 

March 24. I paid a very pleasant visit yesterday to Mr. 
Powers' studio here, and took P. with me ; having been previ 
ously fortified with a letter of introduction to Mr. Powers from J. 
Ci, we had the pleasure of seeing him in person, were received 
by him very cordially, and invited to his house this evening. 
His family is said to be a very pleasant one, and we expect to 
have quite a nice time. We then spent an hour or so in the 
studio, admiring the statues, some of which are very beautiful. 
I liked his "California " best of all ; it is the property of Mr. 
Wm. Astor of New York, and will go there as soon as it is 
completely finished. She stands with the divining-rod (which 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 1 87 

reminded me of Dousterswivel, in the " Antiquary ") in her 
hand, and at her feet a large mass of quartz crystals, as indica 
tive of the home of the gold ; her whole form and contour was 
very suggestive of richness and wealth. Allegorical representa 
tives of countries are often far-fetched and hard to understand, 
but I think that in this statue the idea of the "Golden State" 
was admirably hit. I was also very much delighted with a 
" Fisher Boy," listening to the sound of a sea-shell which he 
holds to his ear ; and a " Proserpina," beautifully sculptured, 
and adorned with acanthus leaves. To say nothing of Mr. 
Powers' many other excellences, I think the shape of his heads 
is more classic, and the arrangement of the hair more grace 
ful than I have ever seen them in any other. 

ROME, April 2, 1858. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Here I am at last in Rome, and here 
I have been for nearly a week, but have scarcely yet come to be 
lieve that such is the case. It seems so unreal to be for the 
first time in a place of which I have thought, heard, and read 
so much, and whose very name is so suggestive of a thousand 
bewildering and yet most important and interesting memories, 
that for a while there must be a strange confusion of thoughts 
and objects in the mind, and, in a great measure, an incapacity 
to enjoy or appreciate any one thing as it ought to be enjoyed 
and appreciated. I suppose that the true pleasure derived 
from the monuments of the past, especially of Rome, consists 
rather in the remembrance of them in the future than the con 
templation of them in the present Perhaps it would 

be a good idea for me to give a day at Florence, that you may 
know how I spent my day, and also what pleased and im 
pressed me most in that fair city, which is so full of noble art 
and interesting memories. As we must make a long day of 
it, it will be better to be up early in the morning, and off 
before the throng of sight-seers shall fill every place, like the 
frogs of Pharaoh, driving away by their presence the Genius 
of the Past, who likes best to linger in lonely places, and to be 
sought by few though fervent worshippers. In this church 



1 88 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which we now enter he is to be found, if anywhere, for along 
its noble aisles are placed monuments adorned with sculptured 
wreaths, carved with high-sounding inscriptions, supported by 
marble mourners. It would seem as though a line of illustri 
ous kings had been gathered to their dust, and we are not 
mistaken, for these are indeed kings, monarchs of thought, 
powerful to sway opinions and feelings and emotions, worthy 
of admiration from all nations and all ages. Michael An- 
gelo, Galileo, Alfieri, Dante, and Machiavelli, the highes t 
names which Florence can boast in the several departments 
of Art, Science, Prose, Poetry, and Politics. Dante's tomb, it 
is true, is but a cenotaph, for his ashes repose on the shores 
of the Adriatic, at Ravenna, where he died. If you will take 
my arm we will pick our way to another church, some distance 
off, St. Mark's by name. The church we will not enter, but 
will turn aside and go into the cloister connected with it. 
Passing now from cell to cell through passage, refectory, and 
chapter-house, we enjoy an exhibition of the finest specimens 
in existence of the early Pre-raphaelite art, for it was in these 
cells that Fra Angelico spent twenty years of his life, and, an 
artist wholly self taught, surpassed in feeling, spirituality, and 
sentiment, the first masters of the day. The defect of his style, 
belonging to what is called the Byzantine school of painting, 
is more than compensated by the deep sentiment of devotion, 
the singleness of heart and soul, which fills every pious face 

of saint, and angel, and adoring mortal A gentle grace, 

peculiar to this painter, pervades every form, and every face is 
lit up with a sweet light of love and absorbed devotion. 

For some reason, I am much more delighted with expression 
and beauty of sentiment, than either majesty of form or broad 
ness of coloring. I can leave to sculpture and its friends all 
the charms of sensuous form and marble reality, give me 
the truthful tender thoughts which painting alone can express. 
I have not time to say much about the cathedral. It is quite 
imposing, but homely enough, after the Gothic pile of St. Ste 
phen's at Vienna. The dome is the largest in the world, sur 
passing in size that of St. Peter's. Passing by the cathedral, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 189 

we arrive at the Church of San Lorenzo, embracing in its clois 
ters and quadrangle the Sacristy, the Medician Chapel, and 
the Laurentian Library. In the Sacristy are the monuments 
of Lorenzo and Julian de Medici. The latter is adorned with 
two figures by Michael Angelo, representing Day and Night. 
The Night sinks back in an attitude of perfect repose, and 
yet it would be impossible to mistake her sleep for that of 
death. The following, one of the many praises pronounced 
upon it, I must translate for you. " The Night whom thou 
seest sleeping in so sweet an attitude, was sculptured by an 
angel in this stone, and while she sleeps has life, wake her, 
if thou believest me not, and she will speak to thee." To this 
Michael Angelo replied, putting his words into the mouth of 
his master-piece : " Pleasant to me is my sleep, and still more 
my existence in the marble stone, for not to see, not to feel in 
jury and sad disgrace, is my great happiness. Therefore, wake 
me not ; oh, speak low ! " . . - . . 

We will turn now to the chambers of the Laurentian Li 
brary, this glorious collection of precious manuscripts, 
the most important, if not the most extensive, in Europe, a 
proof of what enlightened patronage can accomplish, when it 
exerts itself in the proper channels, and works for the future 
as well as for the present. Among the manuscripts are sev 
eral extremely interesting ones the earliest manuscript of 
Virgil, a " Divina Commedia " of Dante ; a Horace, with notes 
by Petrarch ; and what had the greatest interest to me, as an 
incipient lawyer, the earliest MSS. of the Pandects of Jus 
tinian, brought from Amalfi in the twelfth century, the discov 
ery of which led to most important results, as it introduced 
the study of the Roman law, and the general practice of that 
style of jurisprudence, all over Europe, except in England and 
the Scandinavian nations. It is said that, when first brought 
to Florence, honors were paid to it as to a holy relic ; tapers 
were lighted before it, and magistrates stood bare-headed in 
its presence. I have my doubts whether the same reverence 
would be paid to any legal treasure in the present day. I 
think it highly improbable that the printer's devils stood bare- 



igO LETTERS OF .WILLIAM WHEELER. 

headed before the first edition of even " Blackstone's Com 
mentaries." I should enjoy spending a winter in Florence, 
with a permit to use this library, and disport myself among the 
old MSS. as much as I liked. 

April 6 Early on Thursday morning, March 25, 

we set off on the cars for Sienna, the railway being finished 
to that city. Rode through a beautiful and fertile country, 
watered by the Arno, until we changed cars at Empoli, where 
the road branches off for Pisa. From this point we. missed 
both Arno and fertility, and the remainder of our ride to 
Sienna was uninteresting enough. The arrangement which 
I had made with the diligence office at Florence proved very 
convenient. We found a man at the depot, ready to carry 
our baggage. While walking from the gate of the city to our 
hotel we passed the diligence office. The coach from Rome 
had just arrived. The passengers were scattered about out 
side, and directly my eye fell, upon a face, and an old cap, 
which I recollected to have seen occasionally last summer in 
Switzerland, and after making a desperate rush forward I 
found that I had made no mistake, and that it was B. L. E. 
W., of course, was not far off. They were going immediately 
to Florence ; but as the train did not leave till 4^ P..M., we had 
a good talk together, as touching the passes of Switzerland, 
the Jungfrau, Interlachen, and our Michel. I believe that 
W. expressed the sentiments of L. and C., and I know that he 
expressed mine, when he said those four weeks in Switzerland 
were the happiest time of his life. We sallied out and did 
several of the notabilities of the place. The Cathedral is a 
very large and handsome church, and of very decent antiquity, 
as it was finished some time in 1200, and has several objects 
of curiosity. The pavement is inlaid with large mosaics of 
Bible stories, which are funny enough, consisting of gray 
marble inlaid upon white. A single subject is sometimes 
oddly represented in two parts, on opposite sides of the church, 
with another entirely different subject between. Thus, on one 
sidej the youthful David has just let drive from his sling a 
certain smooth pebble from the Brook Kishon. After passing 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 191 

over considerable space, in which are several other groups, 
we see the aforementioned lump quietly travelling through 
the air, and, a little further on, our old friend Goliath of Gath, 
who, though not yet hit, has a large hole in his forehead, 
where the deadly missile is about to strike him, thus prov 
ing the truth of that well-known remark, that coming events 
cast their shadows before. The frieze of the cathedral is the 
oddest one I ever saw. It is adorned with heads of the popes 
down to the time of Alexander III. They are fearfully ugly, 
and are all alike. Pope Joan, the only female who ever oc 
cupied in person the pontifical throne, used to be in the col 
lection, but she has been taken away, and one called Pope 
Zacharias was substituted in her place. I was obliged to view 
everything very hastily, as the time was so limited, which was 
quite a disappointment to me, as I had begun to take some 
interest in the history of early art, and the school of Sienna 
bears a very prominent place, as being that in which the 
school of Italy first had an independent existence, apart from 
the instruction, although not as yet from the influence, of 
Byzantine artists. The preeminent claims of Sienna above 
Florence, as the mother of Italian painting, rest upon the 
works of one Guido of Sienna, who lived some forty or fifty 
years before Cimabue, and about a hundred before Giotto. 
His finest, nay, I believe his only work, which I saw in the 
Church of St. Dominick at Sienna, a rather colossal Ma 
donna and child, -is somewhat stiff, but decidedly free for 
that time; and, considering the age of the picture, the poor 
light in which it was placed, and other disadvantages, I can 
but consider it as a very remarkable work of art. It bears 
date 1 22 1 A. D., so that it must be 637 years old. It is won 
derful that it has been preserved at all in a condition capable 
of being understood. 

We strayed around town with our friends, exchanged ex 
periences, discussed all the news of the past year, from the 

Lecompton Constitution to 's engagement, and finally 

saw them off for Florence. My next labor was to go to the 
stables of the diligence company and engage a carriage in 



IQ2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER, 

which to make our descent upon Rome. I pitched upon a 
very nice light one, and we had nothing to do but to wait the 
arrival of the fourth member. In due time he arrived ; and I 
had better give you a description of him at once. Tall and 
stout, chunky face, chunky nose (both red), chunky English 
whiskers, twinkling eyes, a good-natured mouth. He was an 
Irishman, English chaplain at Nice, but full of good humor, 
bulls, quotations from Horace, and Irish songs, so that close 
upon each other followed " Video ut alta stet nive candidum 
Soracte " and " Bryan O'Flynn had no breeches to wear." 
Imagine us, then, rolling grandly out of the city of Sienna by 
the Porta Romana, and the passengers busily engaged in 
smoke-compelling, with the solitary exception of your vir 
tuous brother, who has remained as pure of tobacco as he was 
when he first went forth, an innocent child, from the threshold 

of the A. H., to wander in this wicked world Our 

horses carried us splendidly over the ground, and on the first 
day we accomplished seventy-five English miles. We got that 
evening to a place called Bolsena, situated on a lake of the 
same name, a beautiful sheet of water, but as dangerous as it 
is beautiful, for its shores are desolated by the most fearful 
form of malaria. You may believe that we felt uneasy about 
spending the night in such a place. However, I was very 
careful to shut my window before making my entry into a very 
suspicious-looking bed; but I was so very tired that neither 
dread of malaria nor the attacks of fleas could suffice to keep 
me awake. The next morning we were up bright and early, 
to enable us to get to Rome before the diligence should arrive 
there with its load of passengers to occupy all the vacant 
rooms in the _ hotels. I was .nearly dressed, when I heard a 
great rattling in the road, and, looking out of the window, saw 
the diligence tear by with seven horses and full of people. 
We had our horses put to while we took a hasty breakfast, 
and then off at a good rate, the postilion inspired with hopes 
of enormous drink-money before his enraptured eyes. We 
got ahead with jolly good speed, and, on driving into the third 
post town, Viterbo by name (celebrated for its handsome 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 193 

fountains and pretty women), imagine our satisfaction at see 
ing the diligence standing in the road empty and horseless. 
We got fresh horses, and were soon far ahead. We had 
passed the last post-station, but were several miles from our 
place of destination, when, upon reaching the top of an emi 
nence, the postilion rose in his saddle, and, pointing to the 
southwest with his whip, exclaimed, " Roma ! " It was a 
magical word enough, and ought to have aroused in a young 
student like myself, not wholly devoid of enthusiasm, strong 
and pleasant emotions ; but, whether I had been disgusted 
with Byron's nonsense about the Niobe of nations, I did not 
feel any more moved by my first view of the Eternal City than 
if it had been Berlin. The thought that occupied me most 
was one of anxiety lest we should find all the rooms at the 
hotels occupied, and have trouble. I feel thoroughly ashamed 
that such should have been my frame of mind. 

We spent a couple of hours in looking for rooms without 
success, till we happened to come across J. C., and we set off 
together, and succeeded in getting the rooms that had been 
occupied by T. D. and his party a year ago. They are on the 
Pincian Hill, right opposite to the Church of the Capuchins, 
and rendered interesting to me by the story of " The Impro- 
visatore." We are very comfortably situated, and our remote 
ness from the central parts of the city is compensated by the 
healthiness and quiet of our district 

ROME, April 14, 1858. 

MY DEAR COUSIN, I can assure you that a letter should 
have been upon the stocks for you long ere this, had it not 
been for a peculiar combination of circumstances which pre 
vented it This afternoon I have been out of doors for 

the first time in three days and a half, and you can easily 
imagine that my spirits are in a condition of most enviable 
jollity. It is a most lovely evening. Rain has been pouring 
down steadily all the morning, but now it has cleared off to 
display a sky of the tenderest blue, strewed here and there 
with light clouds, which promise to reflect beautifully the 
13 



194 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

gorgeous tints of the approaching sunset. The bell of the 
Capuchin Church is tolling mellowly to vespers just across 
the street, and the bare-footed friars go slowly in to prayer, 
many of them aged and infirm, destined soon to lie, cowled 
and hooded skeletons, with their brethren in the strange 
burial vault of the Capuchin Church. The rays of the declin 
ing sun light up the roof of the French barracks, and on, 
beyond, the imposing mass of the Barberini Palace. I can 
never look upon those walls without thinking of a certain por 
trait which they contain, and of the melancholy fate that casts 
so sad and yet so winning an expression over that sweet 
young face. I have an American friend who thinks, rather 
profanely, that the face of Beatrice Cenci, as painted by 
Guido, is more beautiful than that of the Sistine Madonna ! 
At the rear of the house, looking through the entry which con 
nects our magnificent suite of apartments, I- see my two 
friends and compagnons de voyage busily engaged in smok 
ing, and hurling an occasional bajocco at sundry cats who 
have taken advantage of the fine evening to disport them 
selves in the courtyard. Everywhere there is the pleasant 
influence of the evening, and now, as the sun has sunk be 
neath the horizon, and the fleecy clouds are all bright with 
his last beams, I feel that this is really the "Bella Italia," 
an appellation which I had for some time hesitated to give to 
the snow-covered hills of Lombardy and Tuscany. Excuse 
this digression into the beauties of nature, but I thought that 
you would enjoy such a little aquarelle painted from my own 
window, and giving you some idea of my surroundings in 
Rome. I wanted to catch it with the rain drops and the sun 
set glow upon it before it grew too dark to write, otherwise 
I should not have said a word before thanking you for your 

kind letter of last January I am glad to hear that you 

are getting better contented with New York as a dwelling- 
place, and allow that there is some good existing out of 
Europe. For myself, I am rather liable to go to the other 
extreme, and see a peculiar charm in everything American, 
simply because it savors of home. Undoubtedly the true 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 195 

course lies between these two extremes, the nobleness and 
truth of our free institutions, adorned with the charms of 
European art, and the higher civilization, in matters of taste, 
which exists on this side of the water, would, it appears to me, 
realize the dreams of statesmen, a more beautiful republic 
than even the Greek mind of Plato ever imagined 

The union of the kingdom of Venetian Lombardy with the 
Austrian possessions proper had to be effected at any cost ; 
and, as the railroad is now completed to Trieste, the once 
proud cities of Venice and Milan lie eternally at the feet of 

Vienna and of the stupid autocrat who reigns there 

I have enjoyed Rome beyond my fondest expectations. The 
Baths of Caracalla, the Forum, and the Coliseum, would alone 

be worth a passage across the Atlantic I have bought 

for you the panoramic pictures of the clergy which you de 
sired, also a' set of similar pictures of the monastic orders ; 
the old monks are very leathery, but funny, especially the 
Capuchins. With much love to all, I am ever your affec 
tionate cousin. 

ROME, April 16, 1858. 

.... I have been in Rome now nearly three weeks, and 
am beginning to enjoy it to the full. The old ruins, the stately 
churches and palaces, the works of art in the galleries, all be 
gin to wear a familiar aspect, and I know now just what my 
favorites are, and can go right to them without delay. As my 
letters to you were shortened by my attendance on the cere 
monies of Holy Week, perhaps it would be only just for me to 
tell you something about them. The phenomena of the 
Romish Church have an interest to a philosophical mind, as 
showing to what splendid emptinesses and absurdities the 
souls of any people can be brought to yield their homage and 
adoration. The first religious spectacle was the procession to 
St. Peter's on Palm Sunday, and the blessing of the palms in 
that church. I saw little, and understood less. The cardi 
nals bobbed to the Pope, and the Pope to the cardinals, 
they kissed his toe, and he patted their heads, then the 
palms were consecrated and blessed, and sprinkled and mum- 



196 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

bled over, and carried from the high altar to the Pope's 
throne, and from the Pope's throne to the high altar, and 
then distributed to the happy recipients. On Wednesday, 
having fortified myself with that most necessary article of 
clothing in Holy Week, my old tail-coat, I went up to the 
Sistine Chapel to hear the first " Miserere." The corridor of 
the Vatican was separated from the Chapel by three long 
flights of stairs. I put in practice my old habit of going up 
two stairs at a time, and got ahead finely, so that I entered 
the Chapel among the first. As the service did not begin 
until 4 P. M., and the " Miserere " until about 6, I had time to 
gaze at the products of Michael Angelo's genius upon the 
walls, and at the end of the chapel, the gigantic Sybils and 
Prophets on the triangular spaces between the windows. They 
struck me as being wonderful creations of inspired majesty 
and grace, and the subsequent visits I have made them has 
fully confirmed this opinion. 

But to the performances. About 4 P. M., the violet- 
coated cardinals, with their capes of ermine, began to enter, 
their trains carried by clergy of tire lower orders, who, 
after they had arranged the trains all right, sat down at the 
feet of their superiors with an appearance of great humility. 
At length Pope Pius arrived and took his throne, when began 
the chanting of the penitential psalms, with lessons inter 
spersed. At the right of the altar stood a tall candelabra, 
containing fifteen candles. At the end of every psalm a candle 
was extinguished. The chanting was very loud and boister 
ous. Once or twice a very beautiful passage was inserted, as 
if to give a foretaste of what was to come. The series of per 
formances was kept up a very long time, and every one who 
had to stand was very tired and uneasy. The Pope's guard 
chattered together, the English around me talked and laughed 
quite loudly, and I heard of an American family producing 
a basket of provender, and going into sundry sandwiches. 
Nothing could have seemed less like a religious service which 
was being performed on a festival of the most solemn nature, 
and it was impossible to feel impressed, either by the chapel 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 197 

itself, or the rite which was going on in it. When the candles 
were reduced to one, the choir broke forth with the " Miserere," 
the remaining candle was taken down and carried under 
the altar, to typify Christ's descending into the earth. Finer 
music I scarcely ever heard, but it seemed so operatic, and got 
up, that I was totally unable to connect it in any way with the 
mysteries of religion. The levity of every one around, the 
universal sense that it was a mere show, and, more than all, 
my extreme fatigue, were sufficient to drive away every feeling 
of devotion, and leave no higher sentiment than that of mere 
critical admiration, just such as we accord to a successful 
singer at a concert. The performance closed with a strange, 
loud knocking of a stick, said to indicate the descent of Christ 
into purgatory, and the release of those imprisoned there. On 
Good Friday I went to St. Peter's, and heard the " Miserere " 
there. It was a much finer one than that of Wednesday, and 
far more expressive of religious sentiment, although not as 
well performed artistically, as by the choristers of the Papal 
Chapel. The grandest ceremonies of all were those of Easter 

Sunday 

The procession came in all the grandeur and pomp of regal 
splendor. The Pope was dressed in a long robe of gold and 
silver, with a tiara on his head that flashed back the light of 
jewels. He proceeded up that glorious nave, seated himself 
upon his throne, then service began. The music was splen 
did, and one of the best parts of it was the mass, chanted by 
the Pope himself, the choir giving the responses. The con 
clusion of the service was the music representing the visit of 
the Marys to the sepulchre, their inquiries of the angels, and 
then, after a dead pause, the glad annunciation that " The 
Lord had risen indeed." This last sounded with thrilling and 
startling effect from a band of silver trumpets. More inspir 
ing or beautiful music I have seldom or never heard. With 
magnificence even greater than before, the procession swept 
out of the church. From the balcony in front the Pope gave 
the threefold benediction to the vast multitude outside, and the 
letters of indulgence, on which the benediction is written, were 



198 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

thrown down for the people to scramble for. The guns of the 
Castle of St. Angelo pealed forth, and nothing now remains 
except the illumination Sunday night, and the fire-works Mon 
day night on the Pincian Hill. The most ordinary effect pro 
duced by these spectacles seems to be a contempt for all 
religion, when, in the capital of the Christian world, the Chris 
tian religion is made such a farce. It is now April 2oth 

I have spent days at the Forum, and have made myself famil 
iar with that most interesting collection of ruins, the Arches of 
Severus, Titus, and Constantine, the beautiful temples, and the 
palace of the Caesars, displaying the ruins of the most magnif 
icent dwelling that emperor ever lived in. I have seen the 
Coliseum by sun-light, moon-light, star-light, and no light at 
all, up stairs and down, and have risked my neck in scram 
bling after flowers that grew in its ruined arches. I have spent 
hours in the Baths of Caracalla, hunting up the localities of 
that stupendous building, admiring the rich mosaic pavement, 
which preserves its color to this day as when it was first laid 
down, going to the vast swimming hall, now to the vapor baths 
then to the cold baths, observing the library and other rooms 
for study and luxury with which the Romans surrounded their 
bathing halls, a style of institution which does not exist at the 
present day. I was most intensely interested in the Pantheon. 
There is a combination of circumstances in it which make it, 
to me, perfectly irresistible. First, the grand Grecian portico, 
with its glorious perfect columns, then, the dome within, ris 
ing, as it were, from the very ground, and lighted only from 
above by the aperture through which streams in the sunlight. 
When first I entered, the sunlight was streaming upon a slab 
in a side chapel, and upon that slab was inscribed a name 
dear to every heart not dead to all that is wonderful in art. 
It was the grave of Raphael. 

AUSTRIAN STEAMER " DALMATIA," AMONG THE 
IONIAN ISLANDS, OFF LEUCADIA, May 4. 

Once more I am for a season a traveller on the sea 

The long swell of the Ionian Sea jogs our little steam-tug up 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 199 

and down in such a peculiar way that, if this letter ever is 
finished, you must attribute it to a series of fortunate rolls and 
heaves of the vessel, rather than to any active volition on my 
own part; but I cannot resist the temptation of .writing to you 
from the deck rather than the close cabin, in the hope that I 
may give you some idea, taken from an actual view of nature, 
of the light-blue seas, the soft skies, the balmy air, and the 
craggy but picturesque islands, redolent of classic fame, with 

which we are now surrounded I spent the Sunday 

after leaving Rome at Leghorn, and the next Monday was 
devoted to a visit to Pisa. We visited those four celebrated 
buildings, the Cathedral, Baptistry, Campo Santo, and the 
Leaning Tower. The Leaning Tower, one of my oldest 
friends and acquaintances, I felt considerable satisfaction in, 
first, in recognizing it as my old friend, and second, in per 
ceiving that it did actually lean, in a manner obvious to the 
naked eye of an ordinary traveller, without the aid of a guide 
book. I took much interest in examining the old Cathedral, 
which has so long been a bone of contention among the 
critics, which is nearly a century ahead of its time. In the 
Campo Santo I was especially pleased with the series of Old 
Testament histories ; the grace and charming naturalness 
with which those Oriental stories are told, struck me as being 
decidedly wonderful for that early age of painting, while the 
numerous portraits and Middle Age dresses introduced, 
stamped with great distinctness the strange custom of that 
period, in mingling their own friends with the patriarchs of 
old, and every-day occurrences with Bible history. The Bap 
tistry is a very beautiful building, and contains a most re 
markable ancient pulpit, and exquisitely - carved baptismal 
font of Greek workmanship. We went back in the afternoon 
to Leghorn, and were forced to exchange our large Neapoli 
tan steamer for a very small boat, called the Eden ; but, 
alas, its accommodations savored of anything rather than 
Paradise. In this small tub, with the seductive appellation, 
we embarked for Genoa. The sea was rough and the weather 
rainy, and we were tossed around fearfully, making almost 



2OO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

every one deadly sick. P. and I stood on our dignity as old 
sailors, and succeeded in escaping the demon of sea-sickness. 
As evening was beginning to fall on the Ligurian Hills, the 
fair white palaces of Genoa the Proud appeared, lining the 
hill-side. With this delightful but unsatisfactory view of the 
grand old city of the Dorias I was obliged to rest content, as, if 
we expected to be in Trieste by Friday, it would be necessary 
to take the earliest morning train for Milan, deferring my 
view of Genoa until my return from Greece by way of Naples. 
Our ride through Sardinia was delightful. We took third 
class tickets, and found the wooden seats and open cars very 
pleasant for a warm day. The lower classes too, with whom 
we came in contact, seemed to be far more comfortable in 
circumstances than I had seen them in any other part of Italy. 
It was perfectly refreshing, after spending a month in wretched, 
slavish Rome, to find myself once more in a country where 
the people were not wholly destitute of self-respect, where 
manufactures seemed flourishing, and where the press was 
free. As evening came on, I had the pleasure of pointing out 
to L. the white pinnacles, bright with the setting sun, of glori 
ous Milan Cathedral, and by eight o'clock we were comfort 
ably settled in the fine old Lombard city ; and, as the moon 
rose about nine, you may be sure that we did not miss the 
opportunity of seeing the cathedral by moonlight. It really 
seemed like a spectacle of fairy-land, the almost endless 
forest of pure white pinnacles, slenderly projecting up into the 
blue ether, looked like a luxuriant forest of aquatic but grace 
ful lilies with white stalks, while below spread an expanse of 
glittering marbles, carved into windows the most quaint, can 
opies the most rich, borders and ornaments the most exquisite, 
while from their pedestals and pinnacles looked down many 
hundreds of statues of saints of the olden time, once perse 
cuted and tortured and put to shame and death, but now 
gazing down from their marble effigies, clad in white robes 
and with palms in their hands, as calm and quiet and beauti 
ful as the moonlight which lights them all with her silver 
glory. I spent a good part of the day I was at Milan in 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2OI 

studying its exterior, both below and above, wondering over 
its immense roof, and sitting, half awe-struck, half-entranced 
with delight, at the foot of the pillars which overarch its glori 
ous nave and aisles. We left Milan in time to catch the 
boat for Trieste. We entered the harbor about i P. M., and 
one of the first objects that we descried on shore was the 
venerable form of T. D., with a most outlandish cap on his 
head, frantically waving his hands to us, and a few moments 
more and we were in each other's arms, united again after a 
separation of just two months. We spent that afternoon in 
talking, writing letters, drawing money, seeing about pass 
ports, etc. Early the next morning we went to the rooms of 
the Austrian Lloyds, and took passage for the Piraeus, and 
by Saturday afternoon we were off in the Vulcan. 

May 6. Gulf of Corinth, just off Phocis and Mount Par 
nassus. Again I take up my pen to continue this letter, and 
to tell you how thoroughly paid I feel already for the voyage 
I have undertaken, by the beautiful and classic scenes which 
I have seen, the noble natural landscapes which have sur 
rounded me by sea and land, and, more than all, by the fresh 
and buoyant enthusiasm which, even before we have reached 
Athens or passed Corinth, fills my pulse with bounding blood, 
and makes my veins thrill, as we sail through these lovely seas, 
with ancient cities on one hand and venerable mountains on 
the other. I have trod the shore and soil of classic Greece, 
and have had a foretaste of the pleasures of both eye and soul 
that await me on the classic hills and plains of Attica. But, 
before I loose wholly the rein of my joyous delight, permit me 
to sketch my sea-path hither, and give a short log of our voy 
age. We left Trieste in the Vulcan, one of the best steamers 
of the Austrian Lloyds Co., and soon that trading town of the 
Adriatic faded from sight, and we ran down the Illyrian shore 
in the teeth of a stiff breeze, which soon freshened into a fierce 
gale. We sat down to an excellent dinner with about a dozen 
gentlemen, Greeks. Of all that party, only five, including L. 
and myself, appeared at breakfast the next morning, our 
venerable mentor, T. D., being among the slain. I never 



202 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

knew a Sunday pass with so little suggestion of its being Sun 
day. As we could n't go to church ourselves, we sneaked off 
to the stern of the vessel, near the wheel, and indulged in a 
quiet hymn or two. The next day we crossed the Adriatic, 
towards Albani, and ran along beside the Acroceraunian 
Mountains. True to their old classical reputation, the fam 
ous Thunder Peaks got us up a highly respectable storm. 
A tremendous sirocco blew from the south, having on its 
wings the parched air of Lybian deserts, raising the waves to 
lofty surges, before which our good vessel pitched and tossed 
for several hours without making any headway. But our 
steamer was very new and strong, and we could in safety 
laugh the mad waves to scorn, indeed I should have en 
joyed it extremely, had it not been for two untoward circum 
stances. First, Mr. D. lay in his berth, most pale and miser 
able ; and, secondly, we had an unfortunate contretemps at 
breakfast which deserves to be mentioned. At the dejeuner a 
la fourchette, which occurs at 10^ A. M., we were seated some 
five ravenous individuals, the unterrified ones, who made up 
by their rapacity for the absence of the rest. We had had 
several severe lurches, which had made the glasses rattle ; 
but I, filled with a serene confidence, had just helped myself 
to some very nice chicken curry, when suddenly a crash on 
deck was heard, as if a whole sea had fallen upon it, and this 
was instantly followed by a tremendous roll to larboard, which 
sent every movable flying in all directions. Those on the 
starboard side found themselves deprived in a moment of 
every necessary of life, while we on the larboard were covered 
with the edible mercies which flowed in from every side. I 
was perhaps more favored than any other individual, and 
received in my lap one bottle of wine, two cups of tea, a large 
amount of chicken-curry, a couple of oranges, and three knives. 
I met, on the whole, with no injury but such as the steward's 
wet cloth soon repaired. We on the larboard side repaired 
to the safer situation of the starboard, and got through our 
breakfast without further calamity. The storm moderated in 
the afternoon, and we reached Corfu, but we were deprived of 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 203 

a view of it, as it was 9 P. M., and we were to leave at mid 
night. Here we left our noble steamer for a much smaller 
one, Dalmatia by name, whose course lay through the Gulf 
of Corinth to the Isthmus, giving us a better view of the 
countries of Greece than if we had gone around Cape Mata- 
pan. As the factotum of the crowd, I had the extreme 
pleasure of going on shore at Corfu at about 10 p. M., to see 
that our transfer from one steamer to another was properly 
noted on our tickets. I did the business, and congratulated 
myself in getting out of that den of vile soldiers and sailors 
without having my throat cut or my pocket picked. We got 
off at midnight, and, when we woke in the morning, we found 
ourselves off the Albanian coast, called in old times Epirus, 
and soon entered the Gulf of Arta, now the Bay of Previsa, 
and had about an hour to recall our recollections of that tre 
mendous sea-fight, of which the world was the prize, the 
contest of Roman with Roman, until Cleopatra fled and An 
tony followed her, traitorous to his own manhood, choosing 
for himself an ignominious death, and leaving to his rival the 
vast empire of the Roman world. 

When I commenced writing this letter, we were just passing 
the fatal rock from which the unhappy Sappho sprang for the 
purpose of at once putting an end to her life and misery. I 
should have enjoyed immensely having a few days to roam on 
foot over Ulysses's rocky island, and identify the localities 
with those of the Odyssey. It is said that Homer lived some 
time in Ithaca, and his topography, always correct, is in this 
island wonderfully accurate. We touched at the principal 
town of Zante, entered the Gulf of Corinth, touched at Mis- 
solonghi, name thrilling to the heart for its glorious de 
fense. We arrived by noon at Patras, and went ashore, and 
here our feet first touched the soil of Greece in the old dis 
trict of Achaia. 

ATHENS, May 9, 1858. 

DEAR J., . . . . 10 p. M. I have just returned from 
a very pleasant visit at Dr. King's, where we were all invited 
to tea. We called there for the first time last evening, where 



2O4 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

we were very cordially received by the good Doctor, who is 
truly one of nature's noblemen, and a thorough American to 
the backbone. Nor did he confine his hospitality to a simple 
greeting, but immediately invited us to stay to tea that same 
evening, and, as we were elsewhere engaged, he insisted upon 
our coming this evening to take tea with the family. This 
evening he asked us to come to tea to-morrow evening, to 
meet a few friends. This kindly behavior on his part is not, 
I believe, unusual. He seems to combine most admirably all 
the qualities of a patriotic consul and a Christian missionary. 
His family also is very pleasant, although he himself is the 
principal attraction. The daughters have been educated in 
America, and are very pleasing 

I am so sorry that I wrote such unsatisfactory letters from 
Rome, but the truth is, that I did my best under the cir 
cumstances Some few visits that I made to the stu 
dios of artists gave me a glimpse into that life, a mixture of 
aesthetic delight with frequent physical suffering, full of 
beautiful ideas, but too poor to buy the paint with which to 
lay them on the canvas, or the marble from which to hew them 
into visible form. Mr. Paul Akers, who sculped Uncle B.'s 
bust, has a work about completed in the clay. It is called " The 
Drowned Pearl Fisher," a great attempt, and it was painful 
to see the excessive interest which he took in it, as it ap 
proached completion. I made a call at the studio of John 
Gibson, who is the greatest English sculptor living. He was 
engaged on a statue of " Bacchus." The figure had a lyre in 
its hand. I asked Mr. G. why he had put the attribute of 
Apollo into the hands of Bacchus, whereupon he regaled me 
with an interesting account (from Pausanias, I think) of Bac 
chus with a lyre, by Praxiteles ; and he also mentioned that he 
had seen a fine old gem which presented a similar subject. 
Notwithstanding his reputation, I do not think him equal to 
Powers. 

May 12. The excursions of the past two days, yesterday 
to Marathon, and to-day to Eleusis and Salamis, have so 
fatigued me that I should resign my pen and go straight to bed, 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2O5 

were I not so brimful of Greek enthusiasm, and anxious to 
converse with you as much as possible while I am still a 
breather of the inspiring Attic air, this most pellucid ether, as 
Euripides has it. On our sail up the Gulf of Corinth, we 
looked out for Parnassus with peculiar eagerness, and I was 
afraid lest, like too many of the classic eminences, it might 
turn out a half ant hill, but it was not the case. As we ap 
proached Salona and the fated plain of Cirrha, grand and im 
posing did the venerable mountain lift up his lofty head, and 
superbly clad, on head and shoulders, with an ermine cloak of 
snow, with a dark cincture of woods about his waist, I was con 
tent to admire the grand old mountain from a distance without 
desiring to climb its sacred sides, with the possibility of being 
frozen, or the probability of having my throat cut or my nose 
cut off. We went to the Isthmus of Corinth, and then to the 
city of Corinth. I must tell you about it. Rising about 5 A. M. 
we went on shore from the steamer, and made the acquaint 
ance of the vehicle which was to convey us to Corinth, and it 
needed only a single glance at the four-wheeled abomination 
to fill us with the most unfeigned horror and disgust. Upon 
an ox-cart of the roughest description, imagine placed a crate, 
wide at the top, narrow at the bottom, sans back, sans sides, 
sans seat, sans cushion, sans everything. The worst lumber- 
wagon I ever saw would be a princely chariot in comparison. 
Into this locomotive nightmare we tumbled, and curled our sad 
carcasses upon what might be called bags or pillows, but which 
I should denominate emigrant packets for transporting, from 
one part of the country to another, crowds of Corinthian fleas. 
Future experience justified this appellation. There we sat for 
two mortal hours, P. making himself rather comfortable by 
smoking ; T. D. sat perfectly still in speechless agony, but 
preserving that dignity which was proper for an ex-tutor with 
two of his quondam Freshmen ; while I gave vent to my suffer 
ings in frequent and long-drawn howls which seemed to win 
our driver's heart. At all events we had lots of fun, and 
amused ourselves by imagining the sensation we should create 
by driving the turn-out of the isthmus up Chapel Street or Hill- 



2O6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

house Avenue, and loud were our shouts of laughter when a 
peculiarly horrible jolt brought us all together into that 
state of mixed-up-ed-ness in which Prof. Dana says that the 
Coral Polyp always exists. The destruction of Corinth by an 
earthquake, an account of which you must have seen in the 
papers, has knocked it so thoroughly endways that I doubt if 
Paul himself would know it, notwithstanding his eighteen 
months' residence there. The Temple of Minerva, consisting 
of seven columns with entablatures, is almost the only build 
ing that has remained unaffected in some way by the shocks. 
We had a tough walk up to the Citadel, or Aero-Corinth, a 
height which commands a glorious view of both gulfs and the 
country round. You look off to the southwest among the rug 
ged mountains of Arcadia, and to the northeast among the 
ditto of Attica. 

We had a gorgeous sail to the Piraeus, with Salamis on the 
left, Egina on the right, behind the old city of Megara, which 
still has a very imposing aspect. At 5 P. M. we neared the 
Piraeus, and saw before us the mountains Hymettus and Pen- 
telicus, and, more than all, the Acropolis, crowned by the 
stately Parthenon. There are a few moments in a man's life 
which are invested with a peculiar interest to him, and which 
will never lose their place in his memory, nor cease to have a 
freshness and vividness of outline no matter how many years 
pass away. Such a time was that afternoon and evening, to be 
marked with a white stone. I wish that you could have been 
by my side, to share what I might call an overwhelming en 
thusiasm of feeling, which was owing not merely to the sight 
of the Parthenon, and also of the Theseum, close by which most 
perfect monument of Doric art we passed on our ride up, but 
rather to a combination of these, with many other sights and 
sounds. We crossed the bed of the whispering Ilissus, we drove 
through streets whose names were classic, and passed shops 
whose signs looked like Felton's Greek Grammar. The time 
table at the hotel pointed out the day (May 8) as AIFPIAIOS 
25, this being according to old style which still prevails here. 
The first half hour, nay, the first few minutes alone, after my ar- 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2O/ 

rival here, would have been sufficient to repay me for all the 
time and expense of having come here. With regard to the 
remains of art in Athens, in my present sleepy state you cannot 
expect me to say anything particularly bright or original. The 
Parthenon has been called the finest building on the finest site 
in the world. I could sit for hours looking at the silent grand 
eur of these marble columns, the heavy masses of the en 
tablature above them, and their perfect fitness to each other, 
and to an ideal beauty, although actually so mighty and mas 
sive. Whether standing alone, or simply crowned by an en 
tablature or under a complete and symmetrical pediment, they 
are still, for some inexplicable reason, beyond all praise, and 
greatly beyond all imitation. I must confess that the glories 
of the New Haven State House pale before them. 

The Temple of Theseus, which is almost as perfect as when 
Cimon first raised it over the recovered bones of Attica's fa 
vorite hero, is a better example from which to draw a full and 
correct idea of the arrangements of a temple of the best pe 
riod. Next to the Parthenon and Temple of Theseus I was 
most struck with the Propylea, or vast triumphal arch, com 
prising in itself a succession of vast porticoes and temples, 
through which the solemn processions used to pass on the 
occasion of the Panathenaic festivals. I wish I could express 
in adequate language my admiration for these chef d'oeuvres of 
antiquity. Rome, with all her massive ruins, has nothing to 
compare with them in majesty, beauty, and grace. 

ATHENS, May 18. 

DEAREST MOTHER, .... I cannot express to you in 
too warm terms the pleasure which I have enjoyed during my 
stay here. About every thing ancient, there has been a charm 
of most delightful familiarity, as it were, and where everything 
modern is something so strange or new, the contrast is most 
strange and pleasing ; and while I can never weary of wan 
dering among the ruins of the ancient city, and the wonders of 
the Acropolis, the modern city is not without an interest of its 
own in the strange medley of costumes and nationalities which 



2O8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the streets afford. Greeks in their national dress, with the 
tall fez, the richly embroidered jacket, the flowing folds of the 
white camise, the red leggings, which always remind one of 
the leg armor of ancient times ; the Turk, with his stolid face 
and loose trovvsers, turban or tarbouche on head, and pipe in 
hand ; fierce-looking Albanians from the mountains ; an occa 
sional Bavarian soldier of the king ; in addition to all these, 
a motley crowd in Frank dress, strangers in Athens, Jews and 
proselytes, Cretes and Arabians. I find that even the little I 
read of Homer, of Thucydides, of Demosthenes, and of the 
Tragic Poets, suffices to throw a most ineffable charm over 
every scene and antique monument ; but there has been one 
spot which we have visited which is invested with an interest 
something more than merely classic, a something which ap 
peals not only to the classical scholar, but to every human 
heart which can thrill at high and noble deeds, it is the 
Plain of Marathon. I must tell you somewhat about our ex 
cursion there. Some previous preparations were necessary, as 
it is quite an expedition ; and as we could go only half the 
distance in a carriage, we had to send horses forward the day 
before to this half-way station, to meet us there. Our party was 

increased by the addition of a young American Well, 

at 5 A. M. we were off, well supplied with grub and wine, and 
rejoicing in a guide named Miltiades, a most fit person with 
whom to visit this memorable battle-field. We left Athens, 
over which the rising sun was just beginning to throw a rosy 
light, and rode for two hours or more in our carriage, to a vil 
lage called Caphissia. Here we found the horses waiting for 
us, and most extraordinary looking creatures they were. A 
gaunt sorrel specimen fell to my lot, and sorely did I repent, 
before long, that I had ever got astride of him. We dashed 
out of Caphissia at a gallant rate, for our horses, as we soon 
found out, though rum ones to look at, were devils to go. Our 
path wound round the southwestern foot of Pentelicus, through 
dense shrubbery, and over waste patches that reminded us 
distinctly of some parts of Connecticut. But what gave a 
peculiar charm to the whole affair was, that the region through 



FOREIGN TKAVEL AND ART. 20Q 

which we were passing was one of the worst dens of the rob 
bers in all Attica, and as our ears had been regaled at Dr. 
King's with some choice stories of the course of sprouts which 
they caused their prisoners to go through, such as roasting 
before a slow fire, cutting the nose and ears, you can easily 
imagine that we felt a little nervous when riding through a 
place that seemed made for an ambush, and where it would 
be equally impossible to escape, to defend ourselves, or ever 
to be found of those who might be sent to rescue us. It is in 
circumstances like these, that a man feels the true and legiti 
mate value of a revolver, it is a friend in need. One reason, 
perhaps, why we saw nothing of them was, that only one week 
or two before, the chief of the robbers in this region, with 
two or three of his followers, had been killed, and a certain 
salutary degree of terror had been struck into the rest. Thus 
through rough woods and scrubby brushwood, and over rocky 
ridges, we rode for some three hours, now going at a hand 
gallop down the smoother slopes and through the level val 
leys, and then painfully climbing up a steep ascent, where our 
horses could never have kept their footing, had they not had 
almost the agility of cats. At length our guide, who was some 
distance ahead, shouted, " From the top of the next ridge you 
will see Marathon," and put his little black pony to the top of 
his speed, we all following to the best of our abilities, though 
at the risk of broken necks. First appeared the mountains of 
Eubcea across the channel, next the ocean, and then, in all the 
calm sweetness of a lovely spring day, the noble plain itself. 
The scene of this wonderful battle the most glorious, perhaps, 
in all the world's history lay there at our feet, and we could, 
almost at a glance, perceive every familiar locality, the ocean 
beach in the distance, where the invading army landed, and 
drew up their formidable array ; the two marshes could be 
seen, one on each side of the plain, by means of which the 
Greeks prevented the Persians from surrounding them, and 
into which they drove them when the tide of battle had turned ; 
and from this very slope upon which we stood did that noble 
little band of Athenians rush down upon the plain, with their 
14 



210 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER, 

thrilling war shout, which they were so soon to change into the 
paean of victory. Thus it appeared to the bodily eye, and it 
required no very great stretch of imagination to people the 
silent plain with the memories of the Past, to place upon the 
stage the actors in that glorious drama. Through this plain 
we had a good ride to the sea beach. Our horses, excited by 
the fresh sea air, completely ran away with us, and did not stop 
until they reached the top of a small mountain close by the 
water. We were on the Tumulus of the Athenians, the brave 
men who fell in the battle, and who were afterwards almost 
deified by their countrymen : for when Demosthenes wished 
to implore the Athenians to be true to their ancient freedom, 
the most forcible adjuration he could use was by the two hun 
dred that fell at Marathon. 

It was on the tomb of Miltiades that we rested our horses, 
and as we felt hot and dusty after our long ride, we could not 
resist the tempting look of the sea, which really seemed to in 
vite us to a bath. So, galloping right down to the beach, we 
stopped and went in, a most dangerous proceeding, as we 
afterwards discovered. Such an indulgence so early in the 
season is extremely likely to be followed by an instant attack 
of the Greek fever. It was very providential that we were 
none of us attacked, for soon after, by the ignorance of our 
guide, we got into a mess which was just the thing to develop 
the beginning of fever. Supposing one of the marshes to be 
dry, we attempted to cross it. We had got about half way 
through when suddenly we found ourselves among deep and 
dangerous mud-holes, into which our horses sank almost up to 
their shoulders. T. D. had a sure-footed horse which man 
aged to keep on his legs, but B., our companion, and myself, 
were thrown violently off several times by the struggles of our 
horses, indeed, I almost feared that we might be doomed 
to share the fate of the left wing of the Persians. My own 
horse, in particular, was very troublesome. Every time he 
got into the mud he would kick and plunge frightfully, thus 
sinking himself continually deeper. The last time he fell he 
sank almost up to his neck, and in his frantic endeavors to get 






FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 211 

out, threw himself on me, covering me with mud. After that, 
I thought it prudent to lead him the rest of the way. At 
length we emerged, horses and fellows cased in mud. We 
took our luncheon at the village of Vrana. After dinner we 
had a trial of skill in throwing stones at the wine bottle. I 
hit it, and made a decided impression, both on the bottle and 
the native population. We went home over Pentelicus, up 
break-neck paths, where we had to lead our horses. Our 
views of the plains of Marathon and Attica were superb. Ex 
amined with much interest the marble quarries ; they look 
very rich. We finally reached Caphissia, where we had left 
our carriage, almost too tired to get into it. We had had 
nine hours in the saddle, the toughest work I ever did in 
my life, too tired even to sleep. To-day we all move about 
with a gait resembling a lame duck. Aside from these little 
troubles, I scarcely ever enjoyed an expedition so much in 
my life. To-morrow I must be off for Naples. I will try to 
finish this to have it in readiness to mail when I reach that 
place. 

Thursday, May 20. I am sitting by my open window 
looking off over the sunlit Bay of Naples to Vesuvius, after 
a voyage of four days from the Piraeus. Of course my first 
visit was to Rogers's, the banker, where I found a jolly good 
pile of letters. The time is very nearly approaching when I 
shall once more fill my place at the table and the fireside, 
and shall be no more a wanderer. How gladly shall I give 
up this nomadic life and return to the calm and quiet delights 
of home and study. Yes, from this old, wicked, worn-out 
Europe, I am coming home to my country. Every step is 
now Westward ho! towards dear America, and dearer New 
England. 

Naples is delightful now, the air is not very hot, and seems 
quite cool after the fierce sun of Athens. I feel without 
energy, which is chiefly owing to the fact of being entirely 
alone, but I shall gird up my loins and try to make some 
excursions to Pompeii, Vesuvius, and Capri. On Sunday 
afternoon, May 16, we came in sight of Sicily, and the long, 



212 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

sloping sides of Mount Etna. Had I had plenty of time and 
a good companion, I think that I should have run down to 
Catania, and attempted the ascent of that famous old moun 
tain of the Cyclops ; but, as I had neither, I was obliged to 
satisfy myself with a distant glance. We got to Messina 
Sunday evening, and left there at 2 p. M. Monday ; passed up 
through the Lipari Islands and quite near Stromboli. This 
just fulfilled my idea of a volcano, rising abruptly from the 
water's edge in a vast round cone, with no land at its base to 
destroy the effect. When I woke up in the morning, we were 
gliding just between Capri and the promontory of Sorrento 
into the Bay of Naples. Everything was perfect ; the air was 
most invigorating; the city of Naples most fair ; and the land 
scape, all around, of a charming variety, from the high, pre 
cipitous shores of Capri and Ischia, and the steep hill-sides of 
Posilippo and Castellamare, to the smiling beauty of Sorrento 
and the peaceful scenery of Baiae. Above all these old 
Vesuvius calmly raised his mighty head, himself the most 
picturesque and striking object in the scenery, but rolling 
from his summit a long, gray pillar of smoke, to warn that 
terror was mingled with all this beauty, that under this fair 
and exuberant life was ever slumbering a strange and awful 
death. An expedition to Vesuvius was planned, which was 
interrupted by a pouring rain just as we were starting for 
Resina, so I and two English artists whom I had met with 
went to Herculaneum, and then I came home. I started by 
myself to go to Baiae, and here I met with two Americans, 
with whom I had a pleasant talk, and they asked me to call on 

them I received an invitation from them to join their 

party for a three days' trip to Pompeii, Amain", Paestum, 
Capri, and Sorrento. It was too valuable a chance to lose. 

On Monday morning we set out on our tour into the en 
chanting environs of Naples. My capacity for speaking 
Italian felt rather insulted by the presence of a valet de place ; 
but my companions had engaged him, and there was nothing 
for it but to keep a sharp lookout, and see that he did not 
cheat us any more than was necessary and proper. A ride of 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 

half an hour brought us to the station of Pompeii. How it 
would have astonished the ancient Pompeians if they could 
have suddenly seen a locomotive with a train of cars come 
puffing up to their city. They probably would have con 
cluded that the old fables of classic story were being acted 
over, and that a new fire-breathing Chimera had come upon 
the earth. A short walk brought us to the gate of the buried 
town, " The City of the Dead." We entered the Street of the 
Merchants, and found everything in the shops as it had been 
left. The temples of Fortune, of Venus, of Isis, of Jupiter, 
stood there in various states of perfection, but without their 
attendant priests. The restaurants and resorts of pleasure 
still preserve the traces of inventive luxury ; but their walls no 
longer ring with the Bacchanalian songs of the most corrupt 
period of the world. The houses of the wealthy and tasteful 
are still rich with marble columns and curious mosaics and 
frescoes, whose colors still shine with a brilliancy not to be 
equaled. Their chambers are silent now ; no fountain plays 
in the impluvium ; no voices sound in the atrium. In the 
remains of that city we probably see in miniature the remains 
of the highest civilization the world knew until the genius of 
Christianity had fully developed itself, had extended its 
influence from simple morals to the improving of the entire 
life. 

The houses of Pompeii are mostly small, one-story affairs, 
containing bedrooms in which it would be almost impossible 
to lie down, much more to swing a cat, provided the Pom 
peians indulged in that cruel pastime. A hole to sleep in, 
and a hall in which to give banquets, seem to have been all 
that was absolutely necessary for a housekeeper. The house 
of Diomede was almost the only exception to the one-story, 
and that is one of the most splendid mansions in Pompeii. 
We left Pompeii by the Street of the Tombs, which is a vol 
ume of interest in itself. But I must hasten on the account of 
our trip. We took a carriage at La Cava, and drove along 
the sea-shore from Vietri to Amalfi, one of the most pictur 
esque and remarkable roads I ever saw. The villages were 



214 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

built right on the sides of precipices, the houses being stuck 
into every imaginable fissure, and the cultivated spots were all 
made by the most indefatigable terracing. Sometimes as 
many as a dozen monstrous terraces were made in the side of 
a single hill, and on these the orange, the vine, and the olive 
flourished to more advantage than they could possibly have 
done on a level. We visited Amalfi and its cathedral. I 
never saw a town more full of rascals, that is to say, inhabi 
tants ; of these a swarm surrounded the carriage, clamorous 
for alms, whether possessed of the necessary qualifications of 
blindness or deformity or not. I never sustained such a siege 
in my life. Luckily an organ-grinder with a monkey came 
along just then, which effectually diverted from us the public 
admiration. We spent the night at Salerno. I came home 
from Sorrento to-day, and expect to go to Vesuvius to-morrow. 
.... I have not time to tell you about my ascent to Vesuvius, 
which I accomplished, notwithstanding an eruption had 
broken out that morning, and had filled the path with hot 
lava. The view from my window, with the red streams run 
ning down its sides in two places, and with a wide red field of 
flame in the plain where the lava had rested, was most mag 
nificent. I left Naples yesterday afternoon, and came to this 
place (Civita Vecchia). We shall lie here till afternoon, and 

then go to Leghorn. 

FLORENCE, June i, 1858. 

DEAR J., .... The expedition to Posilipo, Pozzuoli, 
Lake Avernus, Baiae, etc., I made alone. I did not succeed 
in getting up much enthusiastic steam at Virgil's tomb at Posi 
lipo. The truth is, that I had read so little of the great 
Mantuan since I left school, that his beauties had almost 
slipped from my mind. The chief associations with which his 
name was connected were rulers, copy-books, Leverett's Lexi 
con, etc., so I cut the classical associations, and satisfied my 
self with admiring the magnificent view of the bay, where 
" Murmuring Naples, spire overtopping spire, 
Lies on the slope beyond where Virgil-sleeps." 

Passing through the Tunnel, or, as it is called with more 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 21$ 

poetry than truth, the Grotto of Posilipo, I had a delightful 
ride through a narrow country lane, almost overgrown with 
most luxuriant vegetation, to the lake on whose banks is the 
famous Grotto del Cane. On my approach, a man came out 
of a house with the key of the cave, which is a little hole like 
a cellar above ground. In a couple of minutes a woman made 
her appearance, dragging along the reluctant Cane. A com 
bination of the motives of humanity and economy, caused me 
to forego the Cane. I saw the effect of the exhalation, well 
enough, upon a powerfully burning torch, which went out in 
stantly. I realized it more fully by putting down my head, 
taking the vapors in my face, until I had just consciousness 
enough left to stagger off into the air. I went back to my 
carriage, accompanied by the reprieved Cane, who jumped 
around me as if he appreciated that I had saved him from the 
pangs of death and the pleasures of resuscitation. I have not 
time to tell you of all that I saw that day, the Lucrine Lake, 
once famed for its oysters, of Lake Avernus, little resembling 
the entrance to the infernal regions, as the poets imagined it, 
of the ruins of the ancient Cumse, of the Bay of Baiae, and 
the Roman ruins and temples that line its shores, of all 
these things, any of them interesting enough to merit partic 
ular descriptions, I cannot speak as I should like to. I will 
only tell you a little about what interested me far the most of 
anything I saw that day, which was the Temple of Jupiter Se- 
rapis at Pozzuoli. I had often heard of it before, in the geo 
logical lectures and in other reading, but I had not noticed 
where it was situated, but had placed it in the East some 
where, not far from the ruins of Baalbec. Imagine, then, my 
delight at learning that it was really within my ken and reach, 
and my pleasure on entering the water-covered inclosure, and 
seeing those remarkable pillars, forming in themselves a book 
of geological history. I suppose that nowhere is the chron 
icle of successive geological changes, elevations and depres 
sions of the earth's surface, written in such clear and unmis 
takable characters as there, the long smooth space, from the 
pedestal to a height of twelve feet, indicating a depression 



2l6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which took place when the column was surrounded to that 
height by rubbish, or perhaps scoriae from some volcanic erup 
tion, thus protected from the action of the sea and the boring 
of marine animals, then, high in the air above this, nine 
feet completely honey-combed by the industrious piercing of 
numberless lithotomites, worn and fretted by the incessant 
dashing of the waves, doubtless for hundreds of years ; above 
this the smooth portion of the column, which had as yet suf 
fered no wear and tear save that of the atmosphere and time. 
The mosaic pavement of the temple is covered with water to 
the depth of several inches, and this will grow deeper as the 
subsiding movement, which is still in operation, goes on. The 
day's excursion to Baiae was a most delightful one. I visited 
the temples there, saw the Tarantella danced, went down to 
Misenum, came back to Pozzuoli in a sail-boat, following the 
same route taken by Pliny when he started out in '79 A. D., on 
that expedition to see Vesuvius which cost him his life. This 
sail across the Bay of Baiae may be called the climax of my 
day's enjoyment. 

I made the ascent of Vesuvius with a gentleman from New 
York, and I will rush, in medias res, into an account of this 
expedition, before the very vivid impression which it pro 
duced has worn away from my mind. You may imagine it 
was not feeble, when I tell you that quite a fierce eruption 
was in full fuss and fury when we were upon the moun 
tain. On Thursday morning, May 27, Mr. Y. and I left 
Naples in a carriage, for the burning mountain. A thick cloud 
shrouded the top of the mountain, and seemed to portend a 
shower of rain, but we did not know what had happened in 
the night, nor what was the nature of the cloud that hung 
there, almost the only one in a beautifully clear sky. At 
Resina we engaged a guide, and also a horse for Mr. Y., both 
to meet us at the Hermitage, a building situated something 
more than half way up, where travellers leave their carriages, 
and proceed on horseback, or on foot, to the base of the Cone 
itself. When we got to the Hermitage, we found the guide 
and horse awaiting us, and then learned from him that there 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2 1/ 

had been a sharp earthquake in the night, and that several 
new craters had opened in the side of the Cone, and, more 
over, that it would be impossible to ascend to the summit of 
the mountain, as a small crater had opened in the very path, 
and had sent out a storm of lava which had just filled it up. He 
proposed that we should go to see the new craters, without 
going to the top. I, who had made a vow to look down the 
great crater, if it cost me. my hat and boots, was of course tre 
mendously disappointed, and had a shrewd suspicion that our 
guide wanted to save his old bones the bother of climbing up 
the Cone, and yet to pocket the fare all the same. However, 
we met an Italian gentleman coming down, and, thanks to my 
Italian lessons, I understood him to say that he had been to 
the top. I suggested this fact to the guide, and pointed to 
wards the foot of the Cone. Then we began our scramble, the 
guide first, I at his heels, Mr. Y. some few yards behind, a 
man with a basket of provisions to eat at the top, and two 
sturdy fellows with straps, with which they proposed to help 
the signer up the mountain. Upon our first appearance they 
spotted him, and I tried to send them away. They informed 
me that the signer was " motto grosso" and that he would have 
to resort to them sooner or later. Their prediction was cor 
rect, and he was obliged to put himself under the boosting 
and pushing regimen, much as his better nature rebelled 
against it. For' myself, I got along capitally. Our course 
lay, for some distance, right over the fresh lava of that very 
morning, which was still almost too hot to walk upon, while 
half-way up the ascent, in the side of the Cone, the crater 
which had sent it forth was still smoking away, like Doc Mul- 
ford, causing us to feel rather nervous. We reached the crater, 
which was a little affair only a few feet across. Very near us, 
but separated from our sight by a ridge, every few moments 
we could hear a loud roar and swash, as of a heavy surf break 
ing upon the sea-shore, announcing that a new stream of lava 
had been cast out. After an hour of pretty tough scrambling, 
we reached the platform at the top, and could see the crater 
and the small cone casting out an immense volume of smoke 
mingled with flame. 



21 8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

We set one of the men to cook some eggs in a ravine, while 
we ourselves went with the guide and one of the bearers to see 
the great crater. Our crossing of the platform was neither 
safe nor pleasant. The earthquake of the night before had 
rent great chasms, large enough to fall into, and a few feet 
down we could see and feel the red-hot stream of flowing lava. 
But what was worst of all was that, from these crevices, came 
up strong exhalations and thick clouds of sulphur, through 
which we were obliged to walk, until I was nearly choked, and 
eyes, nose, and mouth rilled with these horrid fumes. I was 
in continual danger of putting my foot into a crack, and get 
ting it burnt off. I then wished most devoutly that I had 
your practice in the laboratory, and could breathe those smells 
as comfortably as my native air. At length we reached the 
edge of the crater. From the round edge projected a thin 
shell of incrustations ; upon this the bearer got down. The 
guide refused to, as it was only two or three inches thick. I 
followed the bearer, and while he held me by the arm, looked 
down into that fearful abyss. I do not exaggerate in the least 
when I say that the sight fairly unmanned me. A deep, dull 
red sea of fire, covered with a cloud of smoke, but tossing in 
restless agitation, and sending forth a sound like that of the 
sea when a storm is out, and the winds and waves pout to 
gether. Besides the occasional explosion of gases, there was 
a deep, solemn waving and heaving of the entire mass. Add 
to this the rolling sulphur clouds, the fierce, bright flashes of 
flame from the top of the cone, and the ghastly exhalations 
arising on every side, and you have a scene which it is not in 
human nature to behold unmoved. For myself, all my strength 
left me, I became much oppressed, and even terrified, and had 
scarcely the power to cross the sulphur fields again. I shall 
never see anything like that again. It was like standing on 
the burning Sinai. We rested awhile, ate our eggs, cooked 
by volcanic heat, and salted with volcanic salt. We then made 
the descent, not over the large scoriae, where we had come up, 
but in another place. The ascent which it had required an 
hour to make, I descended in three minutes. We descended 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 2 19 

to the ancient crater, which was left when Pompeii and Her- 
culaneum were destroyed. From here we had a fine chance 
to see the eruption from the new craters. No less than five 
craters, side by side, were hard at work, especially the one 
in the centre, in throwing red-hot rocks and molten lava. 
The stream of fire which proceeded from them was, when I 
saw it, about twenty feet wide by five to ten feet high. We 
went right in front of it ; as it rolled slowly on we put our 
staves into the red-hot mass. The guide twisted out portions, 
and buried coins in it before it cooled. This was as grandly 
beautiful a sight as the one on the summit was terrible. 
Just think of a river of fire thirty feet wide ! and by the next 
evening I saw it from my window in Naples, widened to a 
hundred feet, and coming down the mountain slope in a man 
ner rather alarming to Resina. I place my day at Vesuvius 
side by side with that of the Jardin, near Mont Blanc, the 
two grandest scenes I ever saw or ever shall see, the one 
all ice, the other all fire. 

I spent a delightful evening yesterday at the house of H. 
Powers, the great sculptor, the greatest living sculptor, I be 
lieve. He is the perfect incarnation of hospitality. My rec 
ollections of Florence will always be necessarily connected 
with his family. 

LONDON, June 17. 

.... I have been very busy in travelling and sight-see 
ing. I am really ashamed to send such a miserably short 
affair as this must be, in answer to your nice long ones ; but as 
I shall come myself, as a sort of P. S. to my letter, I think 
that you will pardon me. You will find that all my improve 
ments and advantages, if so be I have acquired any, which I 
consider as very dubious, lie under the surface, and are of a 
spiritual rather than fleshly order, for I have grown into as 
unprepossessing a young man as you would wish to see. The 
sun has tanned me to a dirty whitey-brown color, which con 
trasts badly enough with my light eyes, and my capillary ar 
rangements in general are in a highly scrubby condition, so I 
recommend you to look not on the outward appearance. 



220 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

NEW HAVEN, July 10, 1858. 

MY DEAR COUSIN, Your very kind and thoughtful letter 
came in this morning, and pleased me with the thought that 
you took so strong an interest in my arrival. Well, Europe is 
with the past, and nothing now remains save to carve out a 
happy and noble future in America, our own dear native land, 
to find as high and true a pleasure in action here as we 
have done in travel and art-study and observation there. But 
I scarely think at all of Europe just now. I am all absorbed 
in the perfect happiness of getting home, and of taking rest, 
not among strangers, but in the midst of those who are to me 
the dearest ones in the world. You can easily imagine that 
last Tuesday evening was a pleasant one to me ; they were 
all on the tip-toe of expectation, and I did n't surprise them 
much when I dashed in. Mother met me at the gate 

To L. R. P. 

HYDE PARK ON THE HUDSON, 
August 1 6, 1858. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, T. D. handed me your letter just as I 
was entering into the full whirl of business which naturally 
comes upon a man in New Haven during commencement week, 
and especially when that man is Class Secretary, and has a 
thousand things to look after and provide. That season of toil 
and turmoil has passed, and I have now some leisure and 
quiet wherein to consider your very kind and interesting let 
ter, to read it over once more with renewed pleasure, and 
finally to settle myself peacefully down to frame a reply. I 
was rejoiced at a number of facts stated in your letter, must 
of all that you were hoping to walk unscathed through the 
fiery furnace of Kohl (no pun intended here), and likewise 
that you had steeled your gentle heart against the seduc 
tive advances of Wurst in all its witching forms. Somewhat 
counterbalancing and depreciating my joy, was your confes 
sion and acknowledgment of the soft impeachment of Bier. 
Alas ! sweet Pinckney, 1 I see thee with a prophetic eye pre- 
1 A sort of " pet name," used only by him and his brother. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 221 

maturely swelling to those gigantic proportions to which the 
friends of "Tony Weller" 1 have always looked forward with 
fear and trembling, and thy otherwise delicate members all 
distended into symmetrical magnitude. All the kindlier feel 
ings of my nature shudder as I think of you dragging your 
self up the Righi, or picture you, like Falstaff, "larding the 
lean earth " as you walk along some hot and dusty road. 
Would I could be with you to give you an occasional lift for 
" Auld lang syne." I cannot exactly analyze, my dear fellow, 
the nature of my sentiments towards you, but perhaps the 
best way after all will be to take it on faith, and to consider 
your friendship as a permanent and well-founded fact, without 
wondering why it is that we fight so much while together, and 
like each other so well when separated. When we get past 
the " squirtish " period of young manhood, probably we shall 
get along better, and be willing to take each other's opinions 
and sentiments at par, or even at a premium. 

You ask about my return home with interest, and speak of 
my being " a lion," " a centre," and other bad names. Per 
haps I had better proceed at once to inform you of the im 
mense stir which my arrival created. At about 9^ p. M., on 
Tuesday evening, July 6, we rode together from the station 
through the elm-lined streets, it being too dark for us to be 
recognized, but not too much so to see that the city was look 
ing unusually lovely. At the corner of College and Wall 
Streets I dropped " the Relic," 2 and with some trembling and 
anxiety continued out through College Street, crossed the 
railroad, and was soon landed at the door of the "Ash-Heap." 8 
Of the welcome home I received I can give you no adequate 
description : you will find out what it is yourself before many 
months are over. Suffice it to say that all home-sickness and 
absence and longings were fully repaid when I found myself 
once more sitting by my mother's side. I can send you no 
kinder wish than that you may be as happy in your return 

1 A similar phrase. 

2 A name for the friend with whom he returned. 
8 So he jokingly called his home. 



222 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

home as I was in mine. For a week I basked lazily in the 
smiles of home faces, carefully avoiding any meetings with 

any of my former friends 

NEW HAVEN, August 20. The woodchuck - shooting, 
whereof I spake in my last sheet, turned out disastrously to 
myself and triumphantly to those innocent animals, as I came 
in woodchuckless, and with a sprained ankle, caused by jump 
ing on a stone hidden among some leaves. I spent the 
remainder of my visit at Hyde Park upon the sofa, and have 

now come home to try the same kind of exercise here 

By the way, my young friend, let me remind you that I have 
emerged from the degraded age of twenty-one, and am now a 
venerable patriarch of twenty-two years. Infant, where are 
you now ? Don't you wish you were twenty-two ? But you 
can't come it ; you are still very verdant and youthful, and I 
am sorry that the brief space of this letter will not permit me 
to give you a screed of good advice. But don't despair ; 
cherish hope, and perhaps one of these days you may become 
twenty-two likewise, although I cannot by any means promise 
you that you will ever catch up with me ; still, there 's no know 
ing what may be done by active exertion. 1 A birthday is 
generally a day of plans and resolutions, a day of looking on 
the ground left behind, and gazing onward to the future. For 
myself, my past was too unsatisfactory to me to receive much 
attention ; but I rather settled my plans for the next year or 
two to come. As you expressed a desire to hear what they 
were, I will tell you as nearly as I can. I expect to spend a 
good part of the coming year at home, working on the class 
report, studying generally, and doing something at the law, 
probably in a lawyer's office. Next year I shall enter Har 
vard Law School, and take from that college my degree. If 
anything favorable then " turns up " at the East, I shall take 
to that, but if not, then *' Westward Ho ! " for a life of misery 
among the stumps of Iowa or Minnesota I seem to 

1 There was an interval of eight days between his birth and mine. He 
scarcely ever failed, when that week came round, to remind me of it as 
above. 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 22 3 

find myself considerably changed since I came home from 
Europe. I am aware of no actual benefit derived from my 
absence from home, and indeed I doubt whether I derived 
any ; while on the other hand all my ideas have undergone 
a process of unsettling which makes me very restless and 
thoughtful, and at times even despairing of the future, so that 
I am often disposed almost to wish that I had never tasted of 
the tree of European knowledge, or spent one pleasant year 
in aimless wanderings over the Continent. On the whole, I 
am inclined to think that the ultimate effect of travel upon my 
own mind has been anything but good, without taking into 
account the wasted year, which might have been well-im 
proved if I had only been content to stay at home. But I 
won't bother you with any further Jeremiad on this subject ; 
I only hope that you may reap more satisfaction and profit 
from your residence abroad than I have done. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW HAVEN, December 2, 1858. 

MY DEAR PINCKNEY, My constitution has not yet thor 
oughly recovered from the shock which it underwent upon the 
receipt of a letter from you, when, as you well and ably ob 
serve, I was myself in debt to you. Is Pinckney also among 
the letterwriters ? Can it be possible that that amiable youth 
has relinquished his favorite doctrine of non-interference, and 
has finally given in his adherence to those principles of com 
mon decency in correspondence which are generally accepted 
by the human race ? " Representative of two hemispheres, 
welcome to our shores ! " I do hereby extend my full and 
free forgiveness to you for writing out of your time. If I 
shall succeed in filling these four pages, it will certainly be a 
very remarkable feat, and the longest letter I have written 
since I wrote to you last, my epistles for the last four 
months having consisted of a few brief and pointed remarks, 
chiefly of an interrogatory character. Indeed, I shall congrat 
ulate myself if I get safely through without asking you when 
you were born, and whether you are married, and, if so, when, 



224 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

and how many babies you have at this present. May your 
good genius, my friend, always defend you from being made a 
class secretary, or any similar animal, with a penalty attached 
of hard labor and solitary confinement for a portion of each 
day for the space of several months. 

You speak of your achievements in Hebrew with a certain 
degree of discouragement. It would be very strange if you 
did not feel so, for it is a language whose greatest difficulties 
(always provided that you are only striving after ordinary 
proficiency in it, and not after thorough scholarship) lie at the 
very portal. When you have once made yourself familiar 
with the letters and the vowel points, the conjugations of the 
verb, and the declensions of the noun, you float along bravely 
on the ocean of translation, with no subjunctive modes, no 
ablatives absolute or genitives of cause, no datives of likeness 
to make you afraid. From the moment that you have mas 
tered the " Bireshith bara Elohim," you feel possessed of a 
patent right to go it loose and criticise the construers of the 
Bible, from St. Jerome to Mr. Sawyer and Chevalier Bunsen. 
. . . . I am deeply interested in Plato's " Phaedon," more than 
I could have thought I ever should be when some nine years 
ago I was wont to hurl my Sophocles' Greek Grammar against 
the wall of my study in boyish rage. When you come to read 
this great story (and when you do, don't fail to read it in the 
original Greek), you will be delighted more than I can tell you. 
I am pushing Goethe somewhat ; have read " Gotz von Ber- 
lichingen," " Die Geschwister," " Hermann " and " Dorothea," 
and a number of his smaller pieces, and have been greatly 
pleased. But, notwithstanding I derive so much pleasure from 
these pursuits, they rather hinder than help me in my general 
professional work. Law is covered over and hidden by these 
numerous Tmpepya, and I see the problem of making my living 
as far from a solution as it was three years and three months 
ago, when I took off my tail-coat on Commencement night. 
I am looking forward to my next spring and summer at Har 
vard, when I hope to accomplish something more tangible 
than I have yet done. But probably it will not amount to 



FOREIGN TRAVEL AND ART. 22$ 

much, and if it should, to what end? I am tempted at times 
almost to despair when I think that I should experience no satis 
faction even I if should succeed in my highest ambition most 
perfectly. Now, don't moralize over this. I will promise be 
forehand to imagine exactly all you would say. John's dog waxes 
in girth, and his paws are more mammoth than ever, while his 
futile gambols defy description. The relations between his 
dogship and the goodly fellowship of cats are of a somewhat 
disturbed nature : he worries them all with the exception of 
the sable ancestress of the family, the old 7r-cat, who 
scratches his nose gorgeously, and makes him howl peccavi. 
He has better luck with the kittens ; and it was only yester 
day that, after a brief tempest of bitings, scratchings, bark 
ings, and spittings, I found a bunch of fur in his mouth which 
had a strange resemblance to that growing on the back of our 
promising young cat named Fanny, who, with a very disgusted 
expression of face, was sitting upon the highest shelf of the 
dresser, " inhabiting," as Euripides says under similar circum 
stances, " mansions impregnable by misfortune." 

I have written you a very absurd letter, and rather non 
sensically long, but I hope that you will respond with an 
epistle of at least equal length. Talk about anything, and, 
above all, of yourself. I doubt not that J. would send his 
love to you if I should wake him up now (2.05 A. M.) and 
ask him ; but the experiment might be hazardous. 



III. 

LETTERS OF HOME, AND PROFES 
SIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 

1859-61. 



III. 



LETTERS OF HOME, AND PROFESSIONAL 
STUDY AND LIFE. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW HAVEN, February 13, 1859. 

.... MY conscience has for some time been pricking me 
about writing to you, and when your kind letter arrived, it 
nearly took all the hair off the top of my head, being a coal of 
the first magnitude. I began to put my Report in press about 
February ist, and have already got thirty-two pages printed, 
which is nearly half of the whole concern ; but an unpleasant 
accident occurred last Thursday evening, which will have the 
effect of delaying me considerably ; the attic where Morehouse 
stores his paper, etc., formerly A. 2. $. hall, when you and I 
belonged to that institution, took fire and burned partly up, 
destroying some $500 worth of paper, and the whole impres 
sion (500 copies) of the first two forms of my Report. Rather 
disgusting, nit ? However, I hope to drive up rapidly and get 
the thing sufficiently under way to allow me to get off to Cam 
bridge by March 4. 

Hebrew languishes rather : we have only four recitations 
per week now, instead of six as we had last term. We are 
reading in the Psalms, and find them considerably more diffi 
cult than Genesis, which in fact was a little too easy. We 
have been tackling the Messianic Psalms, the 26. and i6th ; 
what is your opinion of the meaning of ViSt? and nrttt? ? I 
perpetrated an essay on the true pronunciation of the word 



230 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Jehovah some month or so ago, wherein I indorsed McWhor- 
ter, and spread myself generally. How jolly it is to take some 
good meaty subject, and go into the library and claw over au 
thorities ! I wish that I had the prospect before me of being 
able to do more of it. 

I enjoyed the "Autocrat" immensely; it made the some 
what borous ride from P. to N. Y. pass away imperceptibly. 
I think that the " Allegory of Old Age," the professor's paper, 
is the gem of the work. The " Chambered Nautilus " also is 
a real bit of poetry. It is quite easy to see how often and how 
much Dr. H. has profited by the existence of the " Noctes ; " 
not so much in filching ideas, as in the general management 
of his talks. In that part on trees, I rather noticed a " skin." 
The poem on " ^Estivation " also tickled my midriff consider 
ably ; the " Parson's Legacy " is rather a failure after the 
" One Hoss Shay." Have just read Kingsley's " Two Years 
Ago ; " tastes rather flat in comparison with " Amyas Leigh ; " 
but I think Tom Thumall a very attractive character, don't 
you ? a regular creation of the present age. 

Y. and I finished the " Phasdo " of Plato yesterday ; the clos 
ing passages were full of simple sublimity I was in 
vited to Mrs. Dana's last night to meet Professor L. Agassiz ; 
it was a delightful occasion ; he seems to be one of the kind 
est and jolliest of men, and talks on all subjects with equal 
facility. How small it does make me feel to talk face to face 
with one whose knowledge is so immense, and whose acquire 
ments so valuable ; it seemed to me as if I did wrong in talking 
to him, and keeping him from thinking or working. Science, 
of course, was rampant that evening, and the conversation was 
generally rather steep for me 

I do rather like you upon the whole, and am always yours. 

CAMBRIDGE, March 7, 1859. 

I have at last got fixed here, and before I compose my weary 
carcass for its first slumber under my own vine and fig-tree, 
I will endeavor to scribble you a few hasty lines. I reached 
" Bosting " at midnight, and went to the United States Hotel, 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 

just across the street from the depot. After breakfast, I devoted 
myself to finding L. C. He was not in his office, so I went to 
Cambridge and had a confab with the Janitor of the Law 
School, obtained what information I needed, paddled back to 
Boston, found L., took him to dinner with me, and he. and I 
came back here together and commenced a vigorous hunt for 
rooms. Success at last crowned our efforts, and we lit upon 
the house where I now am. The house, which looks as if it 
might have been built by some of the earliest of the Puritans, 
is situated upon an open space which rejoices in the appella 
tion of Winthrop Square. It is two minutes' walk from the 
Law Building. My room will be delightful in summer, as it 
is open on three sides, and a couple of fine horse-chestnut 
trees reach their branches up to the window. After we had 
struck the bargain for the room, we went to the Law School, 
and L. introduced me to Professor Washburn and Professor 
Parker, and I entered my name in the book. I shall enter, as 
I had thought, at the middle of the middle year, but in order 
to do this, I must have a certificate from the professors of the 
Yale Law School, that I attended there from September, 1856, 
to May, 1857. I wish J. to get this for me. 

To H. N. C. 

CAMBRIDGE, March 8, 1859. 

You see that I have at last set out on the voyage of life for 
myself, having deserted the family ark at New Haven. It 
makes me sad to think of it ; the idea of going away for good 
and all, and always hereafter being at home only as a visitor. 
Indeed, mother said it made her feel much worse than my go 
ing to Europe did ; but I could hardly agree with her in that, 
for then I was going away to something entirely new and un 
tried, whereas here I have merely been transplanted from one 
scene of student-life to another, and among students I always 
feel myself more or less at home. Still I feel sure that I shall 
be homesick on some of these long afternoons and evenings, 
when I have studied myself tired, and long for something 
home-like to talk to and smile at. . . 



232 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

My landladies had never taken lodgers before, and expressed 
their great delight at finding their first one of such an orderly 
and quiet (?) disposition. I wonder what they will say when 
Linus comes over and spends an evening with me. Cambridge 
is the most disagreeable place at this season of the year that 
you can well imagine. Mud and snow lie everywhere, in deep 
sloughs of despond, which the rays of the sun open to un- 
fathomed depths ; everybody, from the gray-haired man down 
to the infant in arms, wears india-rubber boots. Indeed, I 
should think that the first question propounded by the medical 
examiner of a Cambridge life insurance office would be, " Do 
you wear india rubber boots ? " and at the close of the insur 
ance policy might be inserted some such clause as this, " and 
this policy to become void in case the holder thereof goes out 
without I. R. boots." I hope to work hard here, and to recover 
my habits of study, which I have almost lost by two years of 
idleness, travelling, and half-work. Law shall have eight hours, 
at least, per diem, and that is time enough for any one study. 
What an astonishing difference there is with regard to control 
of time, between being at home and being away from home. 
I considered myself fortunate at home if I could find six hours 
for undisturbed study ; here I have no trouble in finding four 
teen. New Haven was socially very pleasant before I came 
away, too pleasant to allow me to do anything. I enjoyed Y.'s 

society very much We read Plato's " Phaedo" together 

last winter, and enjoyed it extremely, rather for the picture 
it gives of the character and life of Socrates than for the in 
trinsic value of the arguments, which seemed to me frequency 
to depend on wire-drawn distinctions, and to contain a great 
deal of solemn trifling. If I had time, I should like to ex 
pand at length upon what I thought of Socrates, but I must 
come to a close. 

CAMBRIDGE, March 14, 1859. 

DEAR BROTHER, .... I have been surprised to see 
how heterodox the fellows are on the subject of getting up 
early in the morning ; they are even so base as to approve of 
7 A. M. as a proper hour for breakfast, and dilate on the 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND ART. 233 

amount of time gained by such a barbarous custom. I can 
safely say that I never heard such sentiments before from the 
lips of young students, and I fear that all my attempts at ex 
citing an eight o'clock breakfast rebellion will 'prove futile. 
There is really a great deal of earnestness among the law stu 
dents, although some of it is simply the result of the first shine 
of vacation good resolutions ; already I have perceived a let 
ting down of these lofty determinations, less love for Dane 
Hall, and more for Boston, and an increased tenderness of 
feeling for whist and billiards, which were at first spurned with 
as virtuous indignation as were the spirits by St. Anthony. I 
believe that there is a great possibility of overdoing hard work 
and making it distasteful. I intend to avoid this by a careful 
and philosophical division of my time. 

After a couple of hours of hard study at Cruise or Greenleaf, 
I can take up a Noctes, or Charles Lamb, or Philidor, or 
spend a half hour at the newspapers in the reading room, and 
return to work with a redoubled zest. I intend to give about 
ten hours a day to law, including lectures, and to scatter through 
these my four hours of relaxation of all descriptions. I shall 
write letters when I can find time for them, and sometimes 
shall make time for them, as on this occasion, when I ought to 
be getting myself up on " hearsay evidence," so as to be able to 
appreciate Professor Parsons' lectures on that subject. 

I have no space in this letter to give you any impressions of 
the professors, or their mode of lecturing ; suffice it to say, 
that I have not changed my old opinion about the compara 
tive value of recitations and lectures, when employed for ele 
mentary instruction, nor do I see any reason to believe that 
the latter can ever be so useful as the former. So I have man 
aged to combine the advantages of the two, and after taking 
as full notes as possible, I hunt up all the references, and 
then Joe J., and a man from New York named T., and my 
self, have a sort of recitation together, in which one takes the 
note-books and examines the others upon the substance of the 
lectures. We are also examining Greenleaf 's edition of 
" Cruise on Real Property," and reciting it in the same way. 



234 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

It will, I think, prove extremely useful, as everything which is 
not thoroughly understood is discussed in a colloquial style, 
until we have not only mastered it, but can talk it off of our 
selves. T. is very sober and dignified, and knows a great deal 
of law ; besides, he keeps us from cutting up and wasting 
time. I shall envy you your meeting in Brush's room. You 
must not fail to tell me all about it, and if this reaches you 
before the meeting, remember me most kindly to each and 
every one of the fellows. 

CAMBRIDGE, March 17, 1859. 

Well, here I am once more, in a "furrin" land, /. e., in Yankee 
land, where codfish holds his sway, " every inch a fish," and 
where the abomination of " shillings," /. e., i6| cents, still 
is preserved in the manners and customs of an enlightened but 
degraded population. That you may distinctly locate me in 
your imagination, suppose, upon one corner of a small street, 
and facing upon a diminutive plot of ground dignified by the 
name of Winthrop Square (?), a most venerable house, which 
was doubtless of a respectable antiquity when Annapolis was 
just beginning to cut her first teeth. If I were an artist, I 
would try to send you a drawing of my present abode, though 
I doubt if I ever could learn to draw badly enough to do jus 
tice to its extremely tumble-down aspect. My room is "in one 
of the wings (for this venerable architectural bird has two 
wings and a tail, and will probably fly away if it ever gets 
through moulting, which it seems to be doing at present) ; and 
being thus in a somewhat isolated situation, has windows to 
the north, east, and west, promising charming ventilation in 
summer, and even now admitting freely the pleasant rays of 
both the morning and the evening sun ; and last night the 
moonlight streamed in at my east window, in a way which af 
fected me with an odd mixture of pleasure and pain a sense 
of independence saddened down by a touch of homesickness. 
The ceiling is low, and across it, in about the middle of the 
room, runs a heavy projecting beam, which comes down to 
within a few inches of my head when I stand. An old-fash 
ioned fire-place, a pre-Adamite wardrobe and bureau to match, 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 235 

the very two old brass candlesticks, by whose light Noah 
and his three sons played whist in the Ark, these, and sun 
dry other relics of a by-gone age, make up the principal items 
of notice in my den. Indeed, with the exception of an upstart 
table and a pair of parvenu chairs, I am pretty much the only 
piece of furniture that is not bashful about telling its age 

LOWELL, April 3, 1859. 

DEAR BROTHER, In order to save you exclamations of 
surprise at the above direction, I will immediately inform you 
that I have not become disgusted with the Law, and retired into 
a cotton factory, but L. having kindly invited me to come home 
with him and spend Sunday, I very gladly accepted, and hav 
ing added B. to our number, we sallied forth from the " wener- 
able" city of "Bosting,"and after a ride of an hour in a baggage 
car, narrowly watched by the baggage-man to prevent our rob 
bing the mails, which hung around in tempting rows, we ar 
rived at this celebrated place, and met with a very cordial 
reception from L.'s family. So, after having listened to two 
sermons, and having eaten a capital dinner, I sit down to an 
swer your two most acceptable letters. I should have written 
you last week, but I was very busy getting up a case for the 
Moot Court Club, to which I belong. Ordinarily an appointee 
is allowed two weeks to get up his case in, but both the regu 
lar counsel had backed out, and although it was hardly fair for 
one so inexperienced, the clerk insisted upon my filling one of 
the vacant places, leaving me to fill the other as best I could. 
Luckily I managed to get the young man named T., of whom 
you have heard me speak, to go in with me. I was very glad 
to get an antagonist as green as myself, rather than some ex 
perienced old un, who was up to all sorts of legal snuff. We 
managed to get up a pretty mild case an action on a prom 
issory note. Our trial of it comes off in the Coke Club to 
morrow night, when I hope that we shall not disgrace ourselves 
in the eyes of our seniors, and I have a faint private expecta 
tion of winning the case. I must tell you something about the 
school moot courts, and how they are managed. They take 



236 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

place once a week before one of the professors, and the whole 
school ; are tried by four students, two from the senior and 
two from the middle class, and are about as severe an ordeal 
for a young lawyer as I can very easily imagine. The 
speeches are elaborated with very great care, and must re 
quire a great deal of time in preparation. I almost shake in 
my shoes to think of the time when I shall be put through the 
mill. However, as I am in the middle class, I shall go on as 
junior counsel, and shall have less than half of the responsi 
bility of the case on my shoulders. All the school attend, and 
take very full notes, especially of the decisions, and with good 
reason, for the professors deliver much more elaborate opinions 
than many judges on the bench. The club courts are entirely 
different ; the clubs are composed of from sixteen to twenty- 
five members, and meet also once a week for the purpose of 
trying cases ; the members take turns in acting as judge and 
counsel, and it is so arranged that every man has to act in one 
or other of these capacities three or four times a term. I be 
long to the Coke Club, which is the most recherche and select ; 
as it has but sixteen members, and professes to require two 
years' previous study of the law for an election to it, but they 
made an exception to their general rule and took J. J., T., and 
myself, without inquiring how long we had walked in the ways 
of wickedness. I am also a member of the Berrien Club, but 
have not yet attended any of its meetings. These clubs are 
solely for the purpose of trying cases, and when business is 
over, that is at 9 P. M., they disperse without making the 
slightest kind of a row. In fact, there is no arrangement 
in Cambridge Law School for cultivating the social ele 
ment, and I greatly disgusted a crowd of law students the 
other day, by remarking that all we did was to cultivate 
the worst part of our intellectual nature. Perhaps after all 
it is better for me that it is so, as I am rather prone to 
go into social meetings too extensively, and to waste time 
therein. . 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 237 

CAMBRIDGE, April 7, 1859. 

DEAR M., .... I have been here now nearly five 
weeks, and think I shall be able to employ my time to suffi 
cient purpose to repay for absence from home I had 

expected to find myself very much unaccustomed to study, 
and that it would be very hard to break myself into work 
again, after almost two years wasted in travelling and other 
idleness, but was pleasantly surprised by discovering that I 
was as fond of study as ever, and could go at it with as great 

a zest A year ago to-day I was wandering in the 

Roman Forum, and climbing for wallflowers in the Coliseum. 
It really seems that there is no part of the world more per 
fectly familiar to my mind's eye than that spot, and the almost 
daily walk I used to take to reach it. " Kennst du den 
Weg ? " I am inclined to think you do, and that you would 
have no objection to treading it again, nor indeed should I 
myself feel able to refuse an invitation to take a walk with 
you there to-day. It is a glorious day for seeing ruins, really 
too beautiful to take for visiting galleries, but one which 
should be spent in the open air ; so let us set off immediately for 
the Baths of Caracalla. Which way shall we go ? Down the 
Corso, across the Forum to the Arch of Janus and the Cloaca 
Maxima, and then under the shadow of the Palatine Hill by 
the Via dei Cerchi ? " Or shall we take the route over Monte 
Cavallo, and past the Forum of Trajan to the Coliseum, and 
thence through the Arch of Constantine, stopping to take the 
scene of lovely quiet and perfect peace from the monastic ter 
races of dear San Gregorio ? Then how charming to sit in 
the long grass to-day in the Baths of Caracalla, drinking in at 
every breath more pure draughts of true classical feeling than 
could be obtained by years of reading in the study. And then 
those beautiful daisies with crimson edges ! Well, we can't 
always do just what we want to do > and I must not forget that 
1859 is not 1858. I have troubled you with this nonsense 
because a fit of longing after Italy suddenly came over me, 
and I thought that you would be likely to be more lenient to 



238 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

absurdities of this kind than any one else. What a pity it was 
that we could not have been in Italy at the same time. 

April 18, 1859. I have been feeling pretty homesick 
lately, and to-day is not one to make a blue man feel cheer 
ful. It snowed in the morning, hailed at noon, and is now 
raining in the most dreary manner. I have been feeling 
rather unwell for some days, which has dreadfully aggravated 
my longing for home, and my disgust for the classic shades of 
the Harvard Law School. Indeed, I am almost tempted to 
bid Kent and Chitty and Blackstone an eternal farewell, and 
engage in some pursuit which is more congenial to my nat 
ural disposition. I sometimes picture to myself the amount 
of success which I might possibly obtain, and then I think 
what a mere nothing it would be in the abyss of my ambition. 
I sometimes even envy the lot of those who are condemned to 
a life of mere manual drudgery, as being happier than that 
which must ever be the portion of an ambitious and mediocre 
mind. I am sometimes almost ready to withdraw from all 
toil and strife, and give myself up to the easy occupation of a 
reader and a scholar. It is for this reason, and for this alone, 
that I regret my year in Europe. The pleasant thoughts 
linked to objects there will be continually recurring, and 
always at the very moment when I wish to fix my mind most 
firmly on the dry details of my profession. I really think that 
a student of law ought not to know of the existence of any 
thing else. To him scholarship, art, literature, the pleasures 
of society, should be a sealed book, for in them he will see 
beauties and find delights which can never exist in his stern 
mistress, Jurisprudence. But I now imagine that I hear you 
saying, " Every man is born to labor and to suffer, and this is 
at present your trial period. You do not come into this world 
to bask in the sunshine like a butterfly, but to work like a 
man." Yes ; but it is hard to love the good for its own sake, 
when nothing beautiful also attracts. Giving up all my other 
reading and study is to me, on entering the law, what the loss 
of her flowing hair and sparkling jewels is to a novice when 
she takes the vows at the convent altar. I had rather keep 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 239 

my mind and heart fresh and bright and happy, than, when 
arrived at a withered age, receive some miserable judgeship 
or political reward, the price of life-long toil on the legal 
treadmill. 

To L. R. P. 

CAMBRIDGE, May i, 1859. 

.... Your last blow was well put in, and took me just in the 
right spot, and only a few moments before I dodged, /. e., re 
moved hither, changing the New Haven mud for the Cambridge 
mud, and finding a difference of at least three inches in favor 
of the profundity of the latter. During the eight weeks that 
I have spent here, I have seen so few sights, heard so few 
new " loads," and indulged in so few flirtations (their entire 
number being expressed by the formula \/ x* 4 xy -j- 4 y* 
x-\-2y) t that I feel myself totally unable to communi 
cate to you anything of the slightest interest. I suppose 
that it would be proper for me to begin by giving you some 
account of how I am situated, and what I am doing, and 
having once fulfilled this duty, I can then give rein to my 
fancy, and indulge in as much nonsense as I think thy highly 
respectable disposition can stand at one dose. I arrived here 
on the 5th of March, and became speedily established in a 
very pleasant room (in which I wish that you were now sit 
ting, right over forenenst me, with a cigar in your old mug), on 
the second story of a most ancient house, which dates from 
the Third Crusade, and inhabited by a couple of ladies who 
probably made their appearance a few centuries later. At 
any rate they are of the Hard-shell religious belief, and for a 
few weeks held a prayer-meeting directly under my room, all 
the fixins of which were extremely powerful, except the time, 
which was weekly. This interesting devotional exercise has 
recently dried up, thus completely refuting the statement of 
Mr. Keats, that 

" A thing of beauty is a thing forever." 1 
I take my dinner at the Brattle House, which was formerly 

1 I once heard the line so quoted, and it became a standing joke between 
us. L. R. P. 



240 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the hotel of Cambridge, but failed to remunerate, and has 
been purchased by the Law Faculty to afford food and shel 
ter to a large portion of our band of sucking attorneys. "To 
what base uses may we return, Horatio ! " As for my break 
fast and tea, I take those meals myself by myself whenever 
Hopdance cries very clamorously, and I enjoy very highly the 
perfect independence which it gives me. At n A. M. I go to 
lecture, when one of the professors holds forth for two hours, 
with a short intermission at noon. The rest of the day be 
longs to ourselves, and a good deal of hard work is done 
regularly, much more than I ever saw in college or anywhere 
else. There is very little dissipation, much less than I could 
have supposed possible among such a set of young men, and a 
tone of earnestness and desire to accomplish something is 
prevalent throughout the whole school. It is this, I think, 
more than the actual instruction, which makes this institution 
so deservedly popular. A man can study law here, if any 
where, since it is the all-absorbing topic of interest, and forms 
the subject of conversation and discussion among almost all 
the students. We have two lectures a day for five days, 
Prof. Parsons lecturing on Mondays and Thursdays, Prof. 
Parker on Tuesdays, and Prof. Washburn on Wednesdays and 
Fridays. Our professors are as different as they well could 
be. Parsons, who lectures on Evidence and Kent's Commen 
taries, is one of the raciest and jolliest old bricks you ever 
saw; his lectures are full of anecdotes, personal and other 
wise, and he treats law much as Prof. Silliman in his best 
days must have treated chemistry ; any person, whether study 
ing law or not, would be charmed with the man, whose liter 
ary claims are almost as great as his legal ones. Prof. 
Parker, formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New 
Hampshire, is probably the great legal gun of the institution, 
and contributes more than any other to give it a name and a 
fame through the country generally ; he is a very sound and 
reliable lawyer, but has an intensely dry manner, and his lec 
tures on Pleading and Constitutional Law, though valuable, 
are the least interesting ones we have. Washburn, who lee- 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 24! 

tures on Real Estate, Wills, and Criminal Law, is very en 
thusiastic about his work, and is never better pleased than 
when the fellows go up to his room and ask him questions. 
He makes his subject very clear by repeated and careful ex 
planations, and I think that I obtain more benefit from his 
lectures on Real Estate than from any other course. Once a 
week we have a grand moot court before the whole school, 
over which one of the Profs, presides as judge, and in which 
four students take part, the two senior counsel being from the 
Senior Class, and the two junior counsel from the Middle class, 
the Junior Class not being allowed to partake on account 
of their youth and inexperience. As there are about twenty 
weeks in the term, each member of the Senior and Middle 
classes has to speak about once a term. As I am a Middler, 
I expect to go on as junior counsel before a great while. Be 
sides this public moot court, there are some six or eight clubs, 
of sixteen to twenty-four members each, which meet in the 
evening, once a week, and try cases, with two counsel, and 
one of their number as judge. This is perhaps the most im 
proving exercise of all, since, as the number of the audience 
is so small, there is very little temptation for a man to splurge, 
and he just sticks to his brief, and makes a simple, straight 
forward argument. I belong to two of these clubs, the Coke 
and the Berrien ; the former is the crack club, and, as a gen 
eral rule, no fellow is admitted to it until he has. studied two 
years ; but I had the good luck to get in w.ithout this qualifi 
cation. I tried a case in it about three weeks ago, and won 
it ; and next week, on Monday, I shall try another, and on 
Tuesday shall sit as judge in the Berrien Club ; so that you 
see 1 have work enough before me. Indeed, I have been 
trying my best to work hard, and to learn something about 
Law, although hitherto my success has been very problemat 
ical. I feel incessantly how unfit I am for law, and yet my 
duty seems to point me in this direction, so there is nothing 
for it but to dig on. 

I do not wholly neglect my old divinity, literature and the 
classics ; I have made a pretty fair beginning at " Electra," and 
16 



242 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

am reading Dante with James Russell Lowell's Italian class, 
composed chiefly of theologs and undergrads ; we recite three 
times a week, and take two cantos at a lesson, so that we go 
ahead swimmingly, and the class (though not I) have already 
finished the " Purgatorio," and since I have been in it we have 
read sixteen cantos of the " Paradiso," and eight of the " Infer 
no." Dante is not nearly as difficult as I had supposed, for his 
great similarity to the Latin makes it easy for one who has 
studied that language, and the idiomatic forms are not as num 
erous as in the modern Italian. I am really awed by the power 
and magnificence of the poem, and think that it is superior in 
many respects to Milton's great Epic. Mr. Lowell's explana 
tions and illustrations are very pleasant, and his conversation 
is charming ; so that you can easily imagine how I must enjoy 
these recitations ; they are, in fact, my principal dissipation. 

As for Hebrew, I find myself almost totally unable to do 
anything at it, but have read a Psalm now and then, to keep 
the letters in my memory. I enjoyed the study of it last 
winter, very much, and should be sorry to lose it all. Prof. 
Gibbs never introduced us much to your segholate friends, 
bto" & Co. ; I think that his best energies were rather de 
voted towards impressing on our youthful minds the proper 
declension of yn^ and Tfbxp and the conjugation of Ayin 
doubled, or 3D : also, to the proper placing of the Daghesh 
forte, and the terrible consequences which might arise from 
overlooking it. As for the pronunciation of the memorial 
name n.VP, I will show you the essay which I wrote on the 
subject, when you come on to N. H., for I think that you 
would feel much interested if you once began to look into it ; 
if you want to grub it out yourself, the grand fountain-head of 
all information is Gesenius' Thesaurus, under the word, and 
from it flow many valuable references ; for a compendious and 
very learned discussion of the question, see Hengstenberg, 
"Authentic des Pentateuchs," vol. i. But I have no one here 
with whom to discuss these matters, and, indeed, I probably 
should lose caste as a lawyer, if I betrayed my fondness for 
these forbidden fruits ; among these semi-barbarians, e'/xis is 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 243 

the supreme goddess, and neither 'A.6rjvr] with her blue eyes 
and stockings, nor 'A^jaoSiYr; with her flirtations, can seduce 
her votaries from the delights of the legal tread-mill. Speak 
ing of 'Ac^poStn/ reminds me that I do not know a single 
female in Cambridge, my hochgeehrten Hausfrauen ausgenom- 
men, and am therefore, in an eminently safe and jolly condi 
tion. . . . 

A year ago this beautiful spring day, you and I were stand 
ing together on the deck of the good steamer Vulcan, as she 
dashed down the Adriatic, and Trieste faded away in the dis 
tance, while by our side stood a venerable Form, which had 
then not yet succumbed to the mal del mare, though soon des 
tined to lie prostrate in his state-room, utterly reckless of all 
mundane considerations, while you and I took duckings of the 
waves as they dashed over the bow, and enjoyed all the fierce 
battling of the winds and waves in that storm off the Acrocer- 
aunian Promontory. And then our change on Monday night 
to that funny, cramped little cabin on the Ddlmata, and our 
cruise up the Gulf of Corinth, and that delightful week at 
Athens, don't you wish that you could do it all over again ? 
There must have been a splendid sunset visible this glorious 
afternoon from the slopes of Hymettus, and the Parthenon 
must have shone magnificently in the horizontal rays of the 
sun ; to say nothing of the inspiring air, and the sweet perfume 
everywhere of the thyme and scented flowers. Would it not 
be grand to spend a month there camping out, Miltiades at 
the head of the commissariat, the Form presiding over the 
classical reminiscences, while you and I would devote our 
attention to getting up small fights for our own delectation 
and to his extreme disgust. There is a fresh and racy charm 
about our two weeks' spree to Greece, such as attaches to no 
other part of my travels, Switzerland coming the nearest to it; 
and a sort of accompanying halo surrounds the heads of those 
with whom I went there, for we have in common some delight 
ful mutual memories. Well, probably we shall never get over 
there again ; but if we do not, we have already garnered up 
enough in recollection to give us many a happy hour in the 
future. 



244 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

CAMBRIDGE, June 12, 1859. 

DEAR MOTHER, Cambridge was looking very pleasant 
when I returned after the recess, and seemed to me for the 
first time like a habitable place. Having been idle for a week 
or so, I am doubly willing to apply myself to work. Our 
Italian recitations have come to an end, and much as I regret 
the closing of a series of exercises which afforded so much 
pleasure and literary profit, I, as a law student, cannot help 
rejoicing that so dangerous a temptation has been removed, 
and that I shall now have at least eight hours a week more 
for my law. Mr. Lowell proposes to give his Italian class a 
supper, so that he can have one more good talk with them be 
fore they break up. Such a man at Yale would be of immense 
value in improving the general style of culture, and in weaving 
something of the beautiful into that practical nature which I 
think too many of the students carry away from New Haven. 
I doubt if there be a better place in the whole country than 
Yale, for fitting a youth for the hard, stern conflict of every-day 
life, but I cannot help thinking that their culture would be 
more complete and beautiful, if poetry and the modern lan 
guages took their place in the instructions, as well as logic and 
mathematics. We are so strong, at Yale, in the solid and the 
useful, that we think the lighter but not less important graces 
of too little moment. I spent part of yesterday evening at the 
K. I always enjoy my visits there very much, it seems so like 
old times to meet members of the Hornet's Nest who remain 
faithful to the memory of that jolly concern. 

June 30. My epistle must be very brief this afternoon. 
We are to play our long-expected match game of ball with the 
scientific students, and as I am captain of the field, I am very 
much worried for fear that we may be terribly beaten ; beaten 
we certainly shall be, for our adversaries have played a year, 
while we have only played a month, but I hope that we shall 
be able to make a pretty close game of it, and come out not so 
very far behind. 

A week ago last Tuesday, I went to a small affair at Prof. 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 24$ 

Washburn's. There was considerable singing, in which 
amusement there was quite a contest between the Yale and 
Harvard songs, but our stock was so much larger that we 
could give them song for song, and come out in the end with 
a good surplus. I spent last Sunday with K. On Saturday 
afternoon we had a fine drive through a most charming country. 
I think that I never saw the face of any country which looked 
more beautiful ; everywhere the most careful and complete 
cultivation. It would be rather tame for a long sojourn, and 
I think I should wish, after awhile, to change it for bolder 
prospects, but in its peculiar way I think that it bears away the 
palm from anything I have ever seen on this side the water. 

To L. R. P. 

CAMBRIDGE, July 8, 1859. 

. . . . I don't want to appear dilatory or unfair in the 
matter of correspondence, but the truth of it is that I am a 
sworn foe of short letters, and many a time I have checked an 
impulse to sit down and let drive at you, because I have known 
that I should be obliged, by want of time, to bite off long before 
I had got thoroughly pumped out (there is a slight mixing of 
metaphors in the last sentence, but never mind), and my feel 
ings on mailing such a letter would be of the most unsatisfac 
tory description. But now I labor under no such disadvantage, 
for I have a good long Saturday evening before me, and unless 
some bore comes in and eats up some of my time, we can 
manage to have a pretty thorough chat together, and to make 
it fair and square you shall insert a cigar between your cherry 
lips while I do all the talking. Where to begin ? Here goes 
first for an account of my studies. They have become more 
legal and less literary than during the early part of the term : 
my Italian lessons terminated about a month ago, and I have 
knocked off from Greek entirely. Those Dante recitations I 
shall never forget ; we had a well-informed and enthusiastic 
class, a most charming teacher, whose main object seemed to 
be to inspire us with that same love and appreciation of our 
poet which he himself enjoyed, and above all the freshness and 



246 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

glory of the " Divine Comedy " itself, which came to me so 
" rich and strange " that astonishment was mingled in a great 
degree with the delight. It had not been hackneyed by daily use> 
nor had familiarity bred contempt, as is too often the case with 
many of the greatest poets ; we are taught to parse out of 
Milton's "Paradise Lost," Shakespeare is as familiar in our 
mouths as household words, we drag through Virgil at school, 
and through Homer and Sophocles at college, and, by becoming 
acquainted with them in such a manner, we lose that beauty 
which they would have to us if we took them up con amore, and 
in their original freshness ; so that you can appreciate my 
happiness at opening up such a mine of enjoyment, when I tell 
you that it has enlarged the sphere of my thoughts and feelings 
in a manner which I should have believed impossible by any 
single work. Lowell calls it a temple into which a man can 
retire at any time, and be completely secluded from the mur 
murs of the world outside. While I was in the class we read 
two cantos of the " Purgatorio," seventeen of the " Inferno," and 
the whole (thirty-three cantos) of the " Paradiso " ; I shall hope 
to be able during the vacation to do something towards finish 
ing the rest. I do a little German now and then, but not 
enough to amount to anything ; I think that I shall try next 
term to make arrangements with some of the girls here (whose 
acquaintance I shall cultivate for that sole purpose) to read 
German or Italian j I don't see any use in having the ferns 
around unless we can make something out of them. Speaking 
of ferns takes me back to N. H. and my visit there, of which 
you express a desire to hear some account : so you may just 
apply your " instrument for correcting for the parallax," while 
I proceed to unfold my plain unvarnished tale. 

.... The C s were as kind and friendly as ever ; not 

changed, unless for the better, from what they were in the 
pleasant old times of the "week teas." I went to a very nice 
old folks' party there, and enjoyed it very much, as I always 
do when I get among people of my own age ; you, being un 
fortunately young, would doubtless have preferred the frivolity 
of a young people's party I was very glad to have you 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 247 

speak of the scene of the present war, and our own connection 
with it last year, as I have often thought it over by myself, 
and I have remembered that day from Geneva to Milan with 
great pleasure. If the Sardinians have n't cut the throat of 
that Austrian custom-house officer at Magenta, who. insisted 
on hauling my engravings out of their case, I don't see the use 
of having any war at all ; do you recollect my righteous indig 
nation on that occasion, and the "curses, not loud but deep," 
which I ejected, to the great terror and disgust of our little 
eonductturt And then in the evening, just after sunset, when 
we approached Milan, and saw the Duomo in the distance, 
looking like a great white snow-bank ? How would you like 
to be travelling there now? it must be perfectly horrible to 
witness that beautiful country so completely devastated, and 
the air foul with the effluvia from half-buried corpses. Pah ! 
I see by the papers that the dead at Magenta were buried so 
hastily that the air for miles around is poisoned by the pesti 
lential odors ; it must be rather more unpleasant than even 
the passport and custom-house nuisances. It would be right 
pleasant to renew our recollections of Italy together, but my 
favorite dream is of a tent-journey through Greece. I '11 tell 
you how we '11 fix it ; let us hunt up some old cock of gigantic 
purse, who has two daughters very lovely in person and mind, 
and likewise furnished with cheerful dispositions and plenty of 
dosh ; these charming beings we will marry forthwith, and sail 
for the Piraeus. It would be so pleasant to throw aside He 
brew Grammar and Law Digests, and, forgetting that we had 
ever thought of such a thing as a profession, spend a couple of 
happy, listless, loafing years in wandering over the mountains 
of the mainland, and cruising among the islands of the ^Egean 
Sea, " with the blue above and the blue below." Then, when 
we had become sated with this Epicurean, lotus-eating life, we 
could come back to our western homes, and return the old 
gentleman his daughters, as we should have no further use for 
them. Did you ever have a temptation of this kind, Pinckney ? 
I have ; and it is the fairest and most dangerous shape in 
which the Old Nick presents himself to me, but there is a little 
too strong a smell of the dishonorable about it 



248 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

CAMBRIDGE, THE DEN, Sunday Evening, 
June 19, 1859. 

.... That is what a letter should be ; it ought to convey 
to the receiver a mental picture of the physical and intellec 
tual state of the writer, and as many little particujarities and 
items as possible should be added, to round out the picture 
to its proper fullness, and to supply shade and color. Now, 
by an exercise of my imagination, and that not a very powerful 
one, I can bring you before my mental vision ; but this exer 
tion is wonderfully lightened by some actual description, which 

sets the whole subject forward as a living reality And 

now, in order to act up to my principles, I will inform you of 
my own immediate surroundings before going further. It is a 
delightful Sunday evening, and after having enjoyed the glow 
ing sunset in a stroll, taken with another young reprobate of a 
law student, I have returned to my lair in the venerable man 
sion, and am now writing at a long table on which the formid 
able array of law books and other rubbish leaves just room 
enough to write. 

The trees in the square in front, now full of rich foliage, 
throw long, sharp shadows ; and in a few hours the moon 
beams through their leaves will checker the grass below with 
fantastic streaks, as 

" When they fall 
Through some cathedral window." 

But although this topic of moon-beams is a fruitful one, and 
doubtless of absorbing interest to a native of the sunny South, 
like yourself, who are also a bit " frivolous " withal, yet it won't 
do for me to pursue it, nor any other poetical subject, since 
I can now give no time to such things, or to use a forcible 
but vulgar expression, I have stopped " running with that ma 
chine." The Madonna over the head of the bed, and the row 
of plants in the window, would seem to indicate that the youth 
ful occupant cultivated the esthetic in a small way, while the 
grim features of a set of boxing-gloves peeping over the book 
case, show that his admiration for literature is only surpassed 
by his love of sparring. 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 249 

Enter, my young friend, and take a chair, that comfortable 
arm-chair with a cushion, for if I recollect right, you have a 
most Davenportly fondness for being comfortable. Now I 
will make you the best cup of coffee that you have tasted for 
many a day (I have become a regular " cordon bleu " at mak 
ing coffee), and then we will have a good talk upon New 
Haven matters, which will of course be of greater mutual in 
terest to us than others, for Cambridge is nothing at all to 
you, and to me it is merely the prison to which I am tempo 
rarily exiled. 

I spent ten days at home during the last of May, and longed 
heartily for you, for our city was looking more beautiful than 
I had ever seen it before, or, at least it seemed so, since it was 
three years since I had seen it in the freshness of early sum 
mer ; " the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the 
flower." And there was one friend there that I found per- 
perfectly unaltered, except that she had beautified herself with 
a new coat of paint, and that friend was the jolly little Una. 
Out of six pleasant days which we had while I was at home, 
I spent five in her sometimes alone, and sometimes with J., 
and one or two others. Her old thwarts received me in as 
friendly a manner as if strangers had not sat upon them, and 
she sprang forward under the oars as if no arms but mine had 
meddled with their handles. 

When you come to New Haven this summer, I think that 
you and I must have a row together in that small tub. Also 
tramps, moreover strolls out Prospect Street, peradventure ex 
cursions to the Rocks, mayhap moonlight walks on the Ave 
nue, likewise forays to Whitneyville after water-lilies ; yea, 
also, and lounges in Chapel Street, eating pea-nuts, as in the 
days of Auld lang syne ; to say nothing of parties, picnics, 
rides, tea-fights, sprees, hoe-downs, romps, and divers other 
diversions in which we will indulge, and on Sundays, when you 
assume the character of " the church-going belle," of which 
Cowper speaks, I will occasionally expose myself to the dire 
influences of Episcopacy to accompany you. 

December 31. I sit down on this last day of the old year 



250 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

to answer your last kind letter, to tell you how much I love 
you,*and to wish you a Happy New Year. I spent Christmas 
up at Lowell, as I hinted in my last that I should. I went on 
Saturday morning, and got there in time for dinner. There 
was quite a little party of visitors, one a Miss C. from Ten 
nessee, although a scion from one of those regular old-fash 
ioned Presbyterian families in the South, she, L., and I, 
managed to keep the family party from moulding pretty thor 
oughly. On Monday we all went out skating, and had a jolly 
time. My boot-heel came off, but I skated along just about 
the same, my object being to have fun, and not to exhibit my 
skill in skating. Going home from the pond there were seven 
of us, four girls and three fellows, all packed in a small cutter. 
We presented quite a show as we went through town, L. stand 
ing in front driving, with his closely packed crowd behind. I 
thought often of you at home, and that I was among strangers 
at Christmas, but I did not allow the thought to make me too 
blue, and was as hilarious as any of them. I came down early 
Tuesday morning, and got to work by half-past eight o'clock. 
I always enjoy a visit at Lowell. They are all so hospitable 
and so desirous to make a guest feel perfectly at home. 

NEW YORK, February 14, 1860. 
357 Fourth Street. 

DEAR MOTHER, This is to inform you of my safe arrival 

and comfortable settlement in this city I called upon 

Y., who was out, and then I went down to Wall Street and saw 
Mr. M., who received me very cordially. We had quite a talk 
on the subject of law ; and he said that he would give me 
something to do, as soon as I became familiar with the prac 
tice of the courts. He seems disposed to do all in his power 
to facilitate my progress in my profession. I then went to 
Fourth Street and found Y., who seemed very glad to see me, 
and ready to enter into any chumming arrangement. This 
morning we met again, had a solemn interview with his land 
lady, and settled the matter. The situation is good, being 
between Lafayette Place and Broadway, only a step from the 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 2$ I 

Astor Library, and conveniently removed from almost all the 
localities I should be likely to haunt. 

February 26. Those snaps that you sent down were very 
nice, and between myself and my under-tenants, the mice, rap 
idly disappeared. I have been much bothered by these little 
rascals, there being a knot-hole in my pantry, which gives 
them free egress and regress, so I finally determined to go ' 
into a crusade and war of extermination against them, and this 
morning got a trap, baited it with the object so dear to the 
mural heart, toasted cheese, and have already caught four of 
these " Wee sleekit, coorin', tim'rous beasties," as Burns calls 
them, and hope to put an end to their entire race, I refer to 
their family, and not their way of racing up and down the walls 
in the night. I forgot to tell you that I went to hear Cassius 
M. Clay, the first Wednesday that I was in town. The speech 
was very sensible, but the delivery was very poor. I met or 
saw a good many old friends at the meeting, which was very 
large and respectable indeed. I expect that most of my old 
confreres are now in the Republican ranks. Being so near 
the Cooper Institute, we have capital opportunities for hearing 
all the political big guns. 

NEW YORK, February 19, 1860. 

.... Time is passing rapidly by us, dear friend. How 
fresh to me seemed that letter of yours of which I have spoken 
above ! So many little incidents mentioned therein, which are 
as clear before my mind as if they had happened yesterday, 
and yet it is now just four years and a half since that letter 
was written. That interval can hardly be a sad one to look 
back upon ; we have both been developing our powers, grow 
ing, in the truest sense of the word, passing from the epoch 
of simple impulse to one combined of thought and impulse. 
No, there is nothing very depressing in recalling such an al 
most cloudless past ; but how will it be, when a period of 
equal length has passed, and the summer of 1864 shall tit with 
us? . . . . 

Fortunately for me, there are still two kind angels left to 
drive away the demons of loneliness and despondency, they 



2$2 LETTERS OF WILL f AM WHEELER. 

are Literature and Music. The Astor Library is just round 
the corner, and the Academy of Music only a few blocks off, 
so that I shall never be left totally destitute of something con 
genial. 

March II, 1 860. 

.... Your letter gave me the first news which I had had 
of the death of Professor Goodrich. I was much shocked by 
it, as I did not know that he had been any more ill than ordi 
nary. I think he took a deep, personal interest in the welfare 
of the students, and this feeling was reciprocated by them to a 
great degree ; very many looked forward to his Bible class 
with great anticipation, and longed for it as a time when they 
would hear the great truths expounded to, and impressed upon 
them, in a manner at once kind and earnest. Last night I 
went with L. and M. to hear Dr. Storrs preach. We were well 
repaid for our walk by the sermon, text, Ephesians iii. 17, 18, 
19. It was divided into four heads of Christian attainment ; 
first, the indwelling of Christ by faith ; second, the love princi 
ple as the basis of all ; third, the infinite knowledge and com 
prehension ; fourth, being filled with all the fullness of God. 
Each of these points was set forth and analyzed in noble 
language and with great fervency. Perhaps he is sometimes 
rather wordy, but I think that he generally has some great idea 
beneath the beautiful covering of words, pearls of thought 
under the deep river of flowing speech. 

April 19. I am aware that several of my last letters home 
have been very short, but I have been decidedly busy recently, 
as the examination is near at hand, and I have been trying to 
overhaul the dusty pigeon-holes of my mental lawyer's desk, 
and to arrange the little law I know in some kind of order, so 
that I may be able to lay my hand on it when subjected " to the 
question " by the examining committee next month. Our Cam 
bridge crowd do all we can to encourage and help each other 
on. For the purpose of impressing the "Code" more deeply 
upon our mutual minds, we have instituted a series of private 
examinations, of which the first one came off in my room on 
Monday last. I was the examiner, and having prepared some 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 253 

350 questions, I succeeded in boring pretty steadily for nearly 
three hours, and in putting the other four to their wits' end to 
answer properly. I think that we shall all pass respectable 
examinations, and sustain the reputation hitherto possessed 
by the Cambridge students, which has been very good. 

May. 31. . . . . I had a pleasant call at the G's. the 
other evening. It is so jolly to meet some one who knows all 
my friends, and is familiar with all my favorite localities, with 
whom I can talk about New Haven people, discuss East and 
West Rock and the wild flowers which grow thereon, and even 
touch upon literature occasionally, instead of this ceaseless 
chit-chat about society or politics, or the last New York excite 
ment. I met D. E. one Tuesday, and we went to Central Park 
together. I was perfectly astonished at the amount of progress 
that has been made there. It is the one thing that New York 
has a right to be proud of. To be sure, it must always look 
more or less trim and artificial, and not to be compared with a 
bit of real untamed nature ; but we must be satisfied with 
what we can get, and not demand the Alps in our back yard, 
or Niagara across the street. I have my shingle up and my 
cards out. I send you a specimen of the latter 

You assault me on the subject of my suit in the Marine 
Court. Now I must defend myself by saying that I did not 
go there by choice, but from necessity, as my client was sued 
and I had to go there to defend him, a catastrophe which 
might have fallen upon W. M. Evarts, as well as upon myself. 
I hardly fear much contamination by just rubbing against the 
shysters, who in that place most do congregate. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW YORK, April 7, 1860. 

MY DEAR CHILD, A letter to you has for some time been 
brewing within me, and I think it advisable to tap myself as 
soon as possible, and give you the freedom of the spigot before 
my epistolary effervescence has entirely subsided and grown 
as flat as a mug of lager, " long drawn out." A vile and im 
moral simile, to be sure, to use to such a sober youth as your- 



254 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

self, but I know that you have a strong head, as witness your 
performances at the Sylvester Fest, December 31, 1857, at Dres 
den ; and I don't feel alarmed lest you be upset by so slight a 
figure of speech. In plain language, I have desired to address 
myself to you, and to hear from you in return, and this desire was 
rather aggravated than appeased, by what I saw of you at New 
Haven, especially in that very pleasant call which you paid me 
just two weeks ago this Saturday evening. That I enjoyed 
highly, and it was that more than anything else which pre 
vented me from calling at your room as I promised to do ; a 
hurried stay at 102 N. C. interrupted by the inroads of Fresh 
men, and embittered to me by the thought that I was con 
suming your time, would have weakened the power of the 
pleasant impression of that evening which I still retain, and 
therefore, I say cold-bloodedly that I am glad that I did not 
call upon you. If it could have been in the evening, it would 
have been gang anders ; then, after the 
" Tea, and other curious messes, 
Which the neat-handed Pinckney dresses," 

we should have had "divine talk," varying in its subject from 
Greek poets to the girls, etc. And above all, our brilliant 
dreams and speculations about the future, whose withdrawn 
curtain shows you as a penniless parson, myself as a ditto 
pettifogger ; you with a wife and nine small children, like John 
Rogers, myself in my attic solus, no companion save my pen 
wiper-cat, and my attendant Seu/xoViov. Not that I would cast 
a slur on being poor, or speak of poverty disrespectfully ; no, 
I would rather go to the other extreme and speak of wealth 
as a crime, for here wealth is thought the only virtue, " every 
virtue under heaven." I am speaking seriously, sadly now ; 
pray for me, my dear friend, that I may not become tainted 
with this cursed mercenary spirit which says, " Be rich or you 
are not virtuous, make money or you are not respectable, and 
reckon your success as not attained unless it comes freighted 
with gold." Sentiments like these I hear more or less openly 
from all people ; from strong-minded, earnest people, from re 
fined and pious girls, from intellectual ladies, in a word, from 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 255 

those whom you would expect to be the very last to harbor 
such thoughts. I shall look to you for assistance always ; 
scholarship, philosophy, theology, anything we can write and 
talk about to avoid the subject of getting rich. I suppose that 
if I had come from any other place than New Haven, the 
contrast would not be so strong, but up there wealth weighs 
so lightly against the imponderables, thought and cultivation, 
and the touchstone of excellence is so different, that the shock 
which I felt when I first began to see how universal these 
ideas were here, was very great I amost envy you your 
studious retirement at old Yale, and your seclusion from noise 
and turmoil and the "strife of tongues." Do not suppose, 
however, that I exhaust all my energies in repinings and howl- 
ings of this description ; I intend to go ahead and do my best 
to keep away from Blackwell's Island and Sing-Sing, and not 
to bring a disgrace upon my family ; but still I hope that how 
ever imperative the demands of business maybe, I may always 
have some " calm and sure retreat," for a short time every day, 
where peace shall reign, and the noise of business life be 
softened by the distance, and 

" Fall a soft murmur on the uninjured ear." 

Does all this seem rather nonsensical to you ? Very possi 
bly, but if a man thinks nonsense he must write nonsense, and 
I am not ashamed that you should know any of my thoughts, 

for to me they are serious and real I am not doing 

much in which you would be interested ; I manage to get a 
couple of hours for study on the Code, before going down to 
the office in the morning ; at the office I do all sorts of small 
jobs, keeping the register of cases, drawing easy complaints, 
copying foreclosure suits, and when not otherwise employed, 
cramming up the Revised Statutes. Then in the evening I pre 
tend to study some more on the Code, but this does n't amount 
to much, as I either go out or else get to reading something 
else which has a less soporific effect. I find that day-time is 
the only convenient season for cramming law. I am reading 
Shakespeare when I take my tea, which I find very delightul ; 
my copy suffers considerably by the arrangement, as the teacup 



256 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

will dribble sometimes. I have read the " Tempest," " Meas 
ure for Measure," "Two Gentlemen of Verona," "Taming of 
the Shrew," and " Midsummer Night's Dream," in this way, 
which I have only adopted since I returned from New Haven, 

last week. I am pretending to read Dante with my W 

cousins, but as they have nothing else to do, they are too busy 
to study up lessons, and I have to act as "pony," whenever 
they come to a strange word or hard sentence ; of course we 
don't get on very fast, and this very evening we made an abor 
tive attempt to get through the Fourth Canto of the Holle ; 

they are as bad on Dante as Y on Ajax, or your sweet self 

on " Electra ; " I seriously think of finishing the Electra by my 
self some of these days. Speaking of reading, literature, etc., 
have you seen the " Marble Faun," or Mrs. Browning's last 
book of ravings on the subject of Italy ? I think that Haw 
thorne's work must be rather interesting for us, as he describes 
Rome and the artists' studios just as we saw them ; he speaks 
of Akers's studio, and his statue of the Drowned Pearl Diver ; 
by the way, that statue is on exhibition here at the Diisseldorf, 
and you must not fail to go and see it when you come to N. Y. ; 
it is a splendid production. Mrs. Browning's book, from what 
I have been able to see of it, is like most of her " Casa Guidi 
Windows," written with plenty of animus and enthusiasm, but 
little judgment, " full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." I 
don't think that politics are within the sphere of poetry, and 
this Italian matter is purely political, not exhibiting the spec 
tacle of a nation fighting desperately for freedom, which might 
be a legitimate subject for a little something in the lyric line. 
Have you seen the " Cornhill Magazine ? " It is really quite 
stunning ; there is a life of William Hogarth, of which two 
parts have been published, which is chock-full of charming 
literary scraps, and is, moreover, written with a power and 
ease not surpassed by Thackeray himself; if you come across 
it, don't fail to collar it. 

I don't see much of the world of nature at present ; the 
most interesting natural object about these parts is a very 
shaggy donkey attached to the establishment (/'. e., fastened to 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 

the cart), of a vendress of oranges, on the corner of Fourth 
Street and the Bowery ; and frequently have I been beguiled 
of my loose pennies, in order that I might have an opportu 
nity of examining him more narrowly. He is a stunted beast, 
and I should think that he had the consumption, as do almost 
all donkeys when brought to this frightful climate of ours, were 
it not that he is too homely and ugly to have so romantic a 
disease. One great defect in him is that he is mute, silent as 
the grave ; probably he has hung his harp on some Bowery 
willow, and refuses to sing his native song in a strange land. 
I gave him a good dig in the ribs this afternoon, XdOprj -njs 
TrpoTTwAou, but it only elicited a vicious grin and an uneasy 
movement of the hind legs, so I did n't push the matter. If 
he should bray, what scenes would arise at the sound, as if .at 
a magical invocation ! The Lungo L'Arno where that single 
powerful animal was wont to ring our matins and chime our 
vespers ; the Piazza Barberini with its perennial fount of song, 
and above all, the Alban Lake, where, like the beacon lights 
that announced the fall of Troy to Clytemnestra, one jackass 
took up the note from another, and thence passed it in endless 
succession ; if I might parody Shelley, I would say 

" There the voluptuous jackasses 
Are browsing through all the broad noonday," 

but it is really too bad ; only just look at the passage yourself 
in the " Prometheus Unbound," beginning " There the volup 
tuous nightingales/' and^see if you don't think that the whole 
of that semi-chorus would describe that scene splendidly with a 
little alteration; besides, Shelley wrote his "Prometheus Un 
bound," at Rome, and probably the passage was suggested by 
some such asinine antiphonal chanting." 

NEW YORK, April 30, 1860. 

I lost so much time from my work by this illness, that I 
have recently been obliged to study very hard in order to pre 
pare myself for the examination for admission to the Bar, 
which comes off next week Wednesday. Till then I shall be 
fully occupied, but after that, as free as a bird (with its leg 
17 



258 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

tied to a stick and its wings clipped) for the next ten years, at 
the end of which time I shall hope to begin to have a little 
business. My plans for the future are not only uncertain, but 
perfectly nix. I have not the most remote idea as to whether 
I shall set up for myself, or engage myself as a clerk for a year 
or two, or make a partnership arrangement with some one ; 
probably shall try to do the " clerk " for a while, as it is the 
way in which almost all young lawyers here begin and acquire 
a knowledge of the practice. Would n't it be a good joke if I 
should get plucked ! The examination is very severe, and I 
don't feel at all sure that I shall not. If I go into an office in 
some subordinate position, I am afraid that I shall not be able 
to get down to Annapolis this summer, for lawyers' clerks are 
expected to disabuse their minds of such absurd ideas as summer 
vacations, and they must sit and roast in the office while the prin 
cipal goes to Newport and has a good time. I don't object to 
this arrangement, of course ; young men ought to work and 
have a hard time of it for a while, and if they must break out 
into pitiful howling, it shows what sort of stuff they are made 
of. Just as Carlyle says, that the most melancholy sight in 
the world is that of a man asking for work and not getting it, 
so I think one of the noblest sights is that of a man doing his 
work cheerfully "a heart that at its labor sings." But you 
can't understand this, of course, and you probably think it very 
stupid of me to consent to stay through all the summer heat 
in the city, but you must not shake my resolutions, since I am 
my own worst enemy, and have already too strong a tendency 
to flee from that which is arduous to what is tasteful and 
pleasant : the same spirit which made me in college prefer 
classics to mathematics. There is one bright streak of sun 
shine on the picture of the future, and that is your projected 
visit here next month. It was so much too good to be true 
that I refused to believe it for a while, but now the probabilities 
seem to be accumulating, and I have given myself leave to 
hope a little, but not too strongly, lest I should be disap 
pointed. When are you coming ? I have a plan that we 
should make a foray up to New Haven together, and have a 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 259 

perfectly glorious time, wandering through the sweet May 
woods (they will be almost perfect then) and thinking of " the 
days that are no more," or rather of the days that are yet to 
be, for spring is the season of hope, and we will leave memory 
to the autumn days. Or perhaps in some boat (alas ! not the 
Una), we will rock on the waves of the bay, and the print of a 
No. 8 boot and a No. gaiter on the sands of Morris Cove 
shall tell where we landed to munch and crunch a frugal 

lunch Speaking of the ist of May reminds me that a 

Brooklyn clergyman preached, the other day, on the subject of 
" Moving " as a means of Christian discipline ! I doubt if 
there be any one thing which is quite as effectual for trying 
the soul in the furnace of affliction, unless it be " house- 
cleaning," and that can only be considered as a purifying trial 
to the male members of the human family the female portion 
seeing in it only occasion for triumph and fiendish joy. I am 
here also reminded to tell you that I moved my room last 
week, or rather moved from my room, as it was not sufficiently 
attractive to induce me to take it with me bodily I pro 
pose turning gardener in my leisure hours, and raising some 
flowers in the quite extensive beds in our back yard here. I 
can't bear the idea of letting the spring and summer pass 

without flowers, and am willing to work to get them I 

am so happy now the real spring feeling, which I always 
have about this time, a desire to sing or do something to ex 
press my pent-up feelings. I heard on Easter Sunday some 
most delicious music at Dr. Hawkes's church, and came home 
with the full determination of writing you a regular Easter 
letter, but somehow was prevented.^ That is the one holy day 
of the Episcopal Church in which I can join with all my 

soul, for 

" The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee, 
My heart is at your festival, 
The fullness of your bliss, I feel, I feel it all." 

NEW YORK, June i, 1860. 

DEAR , You will perceive by the inclosed cards that 

I am at last married to the bride to whom I have been so 



26O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

long paying my court. The fair divinity of the legal profes 
sion has consented to be mine for life, or at least so long as I 
shall treat her with that attention and tenderness which are 
her just due. In return she promises to feed me, to clothe 
me decently, and perhaps give me some reputation. 

Somehow or other, though, as I talk about this goddess of 
mine, she becomes very shadowy and unsubstantial, and now 
I find it impossible to see her at all^ for your face has come 
between, and Law suffers a disastrous eclipse. Well, for the 
present, let her disappear. I am in her power only from 9 
A. M. to 5 P. M., for at that latter hour I unclasp my hand 
from her skinny parchment fingers and leave her alone in the 
solitude of No. 54 Merchants' Exchange, while I make stolen 
visits to those old friends of mine, Languages and Literature, 
and occasionally take my pen to have a chat with some dear 
human friend who is far away. 

NEW YORK, June 3, 1860. 

DEAR M., .... I must first of all thank you for your 
very kind letter, and for the friendly wishes expressed therein 
with reference to my entering upon my profession. Whether 
I shall attain any degree of success in it is yet to me a very 
dubious problem. If I can once get my enthusiasm for it 
fairly aroused, I defy anything but poor health to prevent me 
from fighting my way up to the first ranks. If I look upon it 
merely as a means of gaining a living, I shall probably gain a 
living by it and nothing more, and all my superfluous ambi 
tion would expend itself upon such dilettante pursuits as lan 
guages and general literature. I hope that I shall pursue the 
former course, but must live the life which my powers and " 
tastes dictate, still feeling that it is far better to be a really 
good lawyer than a mere dabbler in Greek and German. . . . 
You speak of enjoying "The Marble Faun" very highly. I 
read it about three weeks ago, and liked some things in' it 
very well, but thought the whole work decidedly a failure for 
Hawthorne, although any other man might be proud of hav 
ing written it. The general story, or plot, is unusually frag 
mentary and pointless, even for him. He introduces mys- 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 26 1 

teries which are entirely unnecessary, and which have the 
effect of simply lumbering up the story, and nothing more. 
His descriptions are always fine ; but can any word-painting 
equal the picture which rises before your mind at the very 
sound of the word " Roma." .... Hawthorne is only thor 
oughly at home in his experiments on the American mind. 
He does not know the English or Italian temperament well 
enough to draw them so minutely. For this reason I think 
that the characters of Miriam and Donatello, carefully elab 
orated as they are, are failures The whole tradition of 

the Faun seemed to me too thin a fancy to be drawn out to 
such a length, and I think that Mr. Hawthorne must do better 
than that book, or else let his fame rest on " The Scarlet Let 
ter " and " The House of the Seven Gables." Excuse this 
lengthy critique, but when I am reading books at the same time 
with friends, I am very fond of talking them over with them. 

I am very glad to hear that you have directed your " medi 
tations " to the subject of " slippers," and I hope that that 
will not be the whole of it, for if ever there was a case of real 
want and destitution, it exists in "this chile." So, if you have 
any regard for the feelings of this unhappy Decemvirate, let 
the slippers be made the special order of the day 

NEW YORK, June 19, 1860. 

DEAR MOTHER, It is now quite a long time since I have 
written you anything that deserves the name of a letter. It 
is so hot, and I have been so lazy. I want to get away very 
much, but so long as there is anything to be done, I suppose 
it will be good discipline for me to stay here and do it. I 
should like to go home and make a long visit, and that is be 
cause this is the last year that I shall have a chance to do so 
for a long while. I went to Tarrytown on Saturday afternoon ; 
spent a most delightful Sunday there ; heard H. preach in the 
morning. In the afternoon the children had exercises in the 
church. They sang several simple hymns, addresses were 
made, and last of all Harry made a sort of farewell address, 
as it was the last time he was to meet them in that way. Just 



262 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

as he finished, an old man came tottering up towards the pul 
pit, and said he must take his young brother once more by 
the hand. He was eighty-seven years of age. When he had 
taken H. by the hand he poured forth his grateful thanks and 
benedictions, mingled with many tears, and you may be sure 
that there were few dry eyes in the church. It was such a 
spontaneous burst of gratitude and feeling, that it seemed per 
fectly natural, and not at all peculiar I have joined a 

base ball club, as I find that I am unable to keep steadily at 
work at the Gymnasium in this sweltering weather. I went 
to Hunter's Point and played with the club. I played very 
hard, and was so used up that I could hardly sit straight in 
my chair, and have been lame ever since. My garden is do 
ing well ; the roses have bloomed well ; my tuberoses are 
coming up nicely ; and the gladiolas are flourishing like green 

bay trees. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW YORK, July 13, 1860. 

MY DEAR PACK, I send you herewith a couple of books 
of the President's which I have kept so long. There is at 
our house also an "Antigone " in German, " fur die deutsche 
Biihne," which J. will hand you. Don't hook these books for 
your own private benefit, but return them to Mr. Woolsey, and 
say to him that I should have returned them before I went to 
Europe, had not my flitting been so very sudden that I hardly 
had time for anything. After my return from Europe the 
books were mislaid and overlooked, and were not turned up 
until quite recently. This is a poor excuse, I am aware, but 
it is the fact, and the best I have. I am, of course, very 
sorry that I should have been so careless, especially about 
books, as I have a theory on the subject of borrowing books 
which differs widely from my practice on this occasion. 

That "Electra" of yours does not make its appearance. I 
fear me much that you did not spend the Fourth in getting it 
up, but rather in some carnal amusement of the genus " bust," 
species picnic, and have deserted our sad "HAe/cr-pa, dei/cei o-ov 
oroAa and hair not adorned nor fit for supplication 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 263 

for the society of some New Haven Chrysothemis, to whom 
there is a large picnic basket (ir\ov<ria. Tpdire^a). Whenever 
you will send on, this deponent will hasten to reciprocate. 

NEW YORK, August 17, 1860. 

Here in the dreary solitude of the office I take up my pen 
to write to you, although I have nothing in the world to say, 
and have not even your last letter by me to answer and refute. 
It is for me a peculiarly difficult task to write anything but a 
business letter down here. Instead of my own cheerful little 
library before me, from whose shelves look genially down the 
pleasant faces (or rather backs) of Chaucer (your gift), and 
Spenser, and Tasso, and Kit North, and Charles Lamb, warm 
ing up the vacant wall with kindly thoughts and inspiring 
companionship, I have here the sheep-skin covered Reports, 
and the Code, and the Revised Statutes, and many other ogres 
of legal learning, who stand ready to devour any thought not 
professional as soon as it is born. Writing under such disad 
vantages, you must pardon all stupidity, and not allow yourself 
to believe that " Cousin Will" has lost all his decent ideas in 
the process of becoming a lawyer. If I really had anything to 
tell you, I could say it as well from this heart of commerce as 
from my own study, but when it comes to making a long letter 
" out of nothing and all very good," as our catechism has it, it 
is tont-a-fait une autre chose, for the very inherent practicality 
of the Merchants' Exchange rebukes the doing of anything for 
which some tangible result, some pocketable sum in dollars 
and cents, cannot be shown. Once in a while I rebel against 
these statutes of the Money King, but he is generally too much 
for me, and if he does not break my spirit, or make me yield 
him servile obedience, he yet succeeds in driving away all airy 
fancies, and in recalling all wandering thoughts to the Now 

and the Here Last Tuesday was my twenty-fourth 

birthday, and I am now progressing in my twenty-fifth year ! 
So much of life spent, so little done, and that little done so 
shabbily and superficially ! And most of all, the future prom 
ises so little more. I am at times tempted to give up all 



264 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

thoughts of honor and nobleness, and turn to grubbing for 
money with the rest, and live for the passing day. You cannot 
conceive of the utter self-abasement and self-contempt which 
I felt on last Tuesday evening, when I took a retrospect of 
things in general. Thinking is what I can't afford to do ; it 
always throws me into such a state of savage unrest. But 
when I pass down under these stormy surface waves, I find it 
all quiet and serene with the recollection of home and mother, 
and a few other dear friends. Yes, this is my religion, now, 
the best I have, my sanctuary, for 

" All the babble of life's angry voices 
Dies, in hushed silence, at its peaceful door." 

NEW YORK, September 14, 1860. 

.... The very cold and blustering weather, which has 
been making us all shiver, has passed away, and the days are 
now really autumnal, though rather more like October than 
September. In this city, September is a month of reawaken 
ing life and activity ; the absent citizens begin to return from 
the four winds, where they have been trying to get a little fresh 
air during the summer, business revives again, the opera and 
the Philharmonic tune their fiddle strings and clear their 
throats, and life begins once more to flow as usual in the old 
channels. It is quite noticeable, the process called hibernation 
is exactly reversed in a large city ; here we don't hibernate, we 
aestivate ; as the hot weather comes on, the people of passage 
wing their way to cooler climates, while those who are too 
poor, or too busy, to accompany them, retire to their holes and 
relapse into a torpid state, in which they remain until the 
middle of September. It is true that during the month of 
aestivation the streets of New York are nearly as full as ever, 
but not with the genuine New York dormouse ; they are ani 
mals from farther south, fleeing from their time of aestivation. 
I only hope that in the harvest of business which the fall 
always brings with it, this dormouse may get a legal nut or two 
to crack. 

October 27. . . . . I enjoyed my visit at home very much 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 26$ 

indeed, although the weather was so unpleasant all the time. 
After I have been away from home about a month, I begin 
to feel a very great restlessness, which interferes with my work 
decidedly, and my thoughts will wander in spite of me, but af 
ter I have spent a few days at home I come back to my work 
refreshed and invigorated, and feeling like a legal game cock. 

NEW YORK, September 22, 1860. 

DEAR M. . . . . To-day I write, not because I have time 
enough, for I have not (and I seem to myself to take this time by 
stealth), but because this day, so bright, clear, inspiring, re 
minds me of you and all friends in the country, who are drink 
ing in this glorious air like draughts of wine, not the sparkling, 
intoxicating champagne, which floats in the air of April, but 
good old wine of autumn, generous Madeira or Sherry, which 
strengthens as well as gladdens the heart of man. This is just 
that delightful weather, between the heats of summer and what 
my poet calls " the melancholy days, the saddest of the year." 
What glorious weather for horseback-riding, and what good 
times we could have together at H. P., galloping in trots of 
discovery through back lanes and cross paths, and now and 
then through a bit of wood, whose leaves are just receiving the 
first touch from the brush of that greatest of landscape paint 
ers, Autumn !....! intend to subscribe to the Philharmonic 
this winter. For a student, like myself, whose days are devoted 
to work, and whose evenings to general reading, music is the 
safest and most enjoyable mode of refreshing and diverting the 
mind ; society, politics, dissipation, all these bring with them 
excitements and entanglements which do not leave the mind 
in the best condition for quiet work ; but music exerts no such 
disturbing force, it merely, " when soft voices die, vibrates in 
the memory." .... 

To L. R. P. 

NEW YORK, October 14, 1860. 

MY DEAR BOY, I don't owe you a letter, I am well aware, 
as I do not apply that term to the diminutive document which 



266 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

I received from you two or three weeks ago, but then I hold 
liberal opinions on the subject of correspondence, and believe 
in writing when I feel like it, and in not writing when I don't ; 
some people act as if corresponding was a similar affair to 
a cash account or to matching cents : suffice it to say that this 
morning I feel like having a talk with you, and, as I shall have 
all the say, you can imagine that you are talking with some of 
your lady friends. As I was filing some letters this morning, 
I happened to look over the older ones, and I chanced upon a 
letter from you at Berlin, written six days after T. D. and I 
left Liverpool. It carried me back irresistibly to a point more 
than two years ago, when I first returned home, and when you 
were just setting out on Swiss tramps and Belgian sight-seeing. 
You spoke of many matters which were then doubtful, but 
which are now settled ; of meeting friends abroad who are now 
quietly at home ; of future prospects which are now to a certain 
extent defined. We were then both of us at the most migratory 
and unsettled period of life, and it was very natural that changes 
should take place ; from irresponsible, wandering, jolly Bur- 
schen, whose sole trade was a kind of literary " Bummeln,"we 
have subsided, you into a tutor, with " Leider, auch Theologie " 
before you, and I into a briefless shyster " in den koniglichen, 
kaiserlichen Grabzellen zu New York." This retrospect of 
" two years ago " also reminds me of the old society relations 
at N. H., and the sad feelings which I had when I came home 
and found my place filled up ; and how absurdly I resented 
what was only a natural sequence of the passage of time and 
the constitution of human nature. I ought to have made use 
of T. D.'s favorite proverb, "Blessed are they that expect 
nothing, for they shall not be disappointed." Now, I have 
brought down my expectations to a very low notch, and receive 
thankfully the smallest crumbs of regard from old friends, and 
this is undoubtedly the most sensible and philosophic view to 
take of things, but it is impossible for me to pass the sponge 
over my memory and not recollect how pleasant the old times 
were, and how often, with Faust, I could have said to the passing 
moment, " Stay, for thou art fair." One thing, I think, how- 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL .STUDY AND LIFE. 267 

ever, has not changed in the past two years, .and that is my 
regard for you, or, if it has, it has been only to grow stronger 
and warmer from better acquaintance and more matured 

opinions 

I have work enough now at the office to keep me pretty 
busy all day. Mr. M. is the attorney for this " Artisan's 
Bank," the recent suspension of which has been talked a good 
deal about in the papers within the last two weeks, and con 
sequently he has spent most of his time settling its affairs, and 
is not in the office an hour a day ; so that I have lots of work, 
and, worse yet, of responsibility, on my hands. I shall be glad 
enough when the affairs of the Bank are settled, and I shall 
be no more obliged to act upon my own discretion in impor 
tant matters. I think that I am progressing in knowledge 
of the practice, but I cannot expect to get ahead very fast 
when I do not give my whole mind to my profession, anymore 
than I am doing at present. Out of office hours I am variously 
occupied ; generally twice a week I go off to play ball with a 
very good set of fellows ; on the other days I try to do some 
work in my room, but with dubious success. I am reading 
Wordsworth's " Excursion " now, and enjoy it very much ; I 
don't see how I ever could have considered as dull and 
heavy, a book which treats the deepest and most interesting 
subjects in a manner at once so tender and so majestic; there 
is something inexpressibly soothing and quieting about it, 
which does my fidgety spirit good, and satisfies 

" The universal instinct of repose, 
The longing for confirmed tranquillity, 
Inward and outward." 

I grind away at Mommsen's " Romische Geschichte," and get 
some good out of it, but it goes into things too deeply, and 
views matters from a stand-point so learned and philological, 
that it is rather above the head of my ignorance ; the style, 
too, is involved, and makes pretty tough German to translate ; 
I can't read it very fast. If you know of any first-rate German, 
that reads pretty smooth and pays the time expended, I wish 
you would let me know. Have you finished that book of 



268 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Schlegel that I saw on your table, and how do you like it ? I 
spend an evening occasionally in the Cooper Institute, looking 
over the magazines. There is a jolly article in the last " Black- 
wood " on King Arthur and the Table Round. Do you ever 
see the " Cornhill " ? The series of articles in it by G. A. 
Sala, on Hogarth, is now finished ; the first two numbers were 
very good, but I am inclined to think that the others are infe 
rior. I hope that you will stir up some more " Electra " soon, 
unless you are too busy, as I run a great risk of forgetting all 
my Greek between the batches. 

I went to the Prince of Wales' ball on Friday ; the account 
whereof, behold, is it not written in the " New York Herald, " 
so that he who runs (after a newsboy and gets a copy) may 
read?" 

To H. R. C. 

NEW YORK, September 30, 1860. 

DEAR HARRY, I won't waste half my first sheet in apolo 
gies and excuses for not writing before, but will throw myself at 
once upon the mercy of the court and plead guilty of gross 
laziness, trusting to the clemency of the judge, and hoping that 
he will let me know my sentence as soon as may be convenient 
for him. It seems so natural to get hold of a sheet of foreign 
letter paper once more, and to be talking with you about 
foreign parts ; you who are so intimately associated in my 
mind with sea-voyages and Alp-climbings, all of which old 
times I live over again both in sleeping and in waking dreams, 
to say nothing of the new imaginary expeditions which I am 
continually projecting. But you are by this time far beyond 
the routes of travel, walking in unknown paths, almost as far 
as those regions which Horace speaks of as 

" Quae loca fabulosus, 
Lambit Hydaspes." 

Don't laugh, now, you rascal, if my geography be pretty badly 
out of joint, for I intend to brush up ideas and information 
about those regions, and post myself thoroughly as to the 
place of your abode. When you write, you must tell me all 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 269 

about your voyage, and how you passed through the Straits 
of Gibraltar, and whether you thought of me when you did, 
and how you enjoyed your sail through the Mediterranean, 
and how you were impressed by your first sight of Turkish 
soil. I have of course taken the deepest interest in the events 
which have been transpiring in Syria, and have felt very 
anxious that the Turkish government should either effectually 
suppress the revolters, or get itself suppressed. Did the dis 
turbances extend much in your direction ? I have found it 
difficult to understand clearly whether the trouble was entirely 
confined to the Lebanon region, or whether it was a general 
and wide-spread plot. It would seem as if the Sultan would 
have to take his walking-ticket before long, and let the prog 
ress of civilization and religion pursue its course. The "sick 
man " might safely be called a dead man now, and it would 
hardly seem to pay for the Powers of Europe to galvanize him 
much longer. I hope that whatever occurs, you may be pre 
served in health and strength to go on with your labors, and 

may keep up a good spirit and a cheerful heart 

The election is of course absorbing much of the public in 
terest at present. Lincoln's chances seem very fair just now ; 
the Democracy is irreconcilably split, and in this State I al 
most doubt whether all the opposing parties, if combined, 
would be equal to the Republicans. The news from Pennsyl 
vania, too, is very cheering ; but that is a changeable, danger 
ous State, and it may veer round before the election, and vote 
the devil's ticket after all. May God speed the right, which 
is his own cause, and give us honesty and justice in our next 
administration. It would be hard indeed to bear if after so 
nearly grasping the object of our efforts and desires, we should 
again fall back into the darkness and barbarism of another 
pro-slavery government ; the only thing we can do is to work 
hard and hope for the best. I am glad to say that the cam 
paign this year seems likely to be much quieter, and much 
less disfigured by absurdities and excesses, than in the days of 
" Fremont and Jessie." Things about New Haven are much 
the same as ever. The old Laboratory in front of North Col- 



270 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

lege, formerly the President's house, has been entirely torn 
down, and this change greatly improves the personal appear 
ance of the colleges ; there is nothing now to interfere with 
the grandeur of that uninterrupted line of red brick. 

NEW YORK, November 11, 1860. 

.... This has been a very important and exciting week ; 
we Republicans have done the deed, and now the great ques 
tion must be settled one way or the other, and I don't think it 
makes much difference in which. If the Southerners simply 
blow, and boast, and threaten for a while, and then acquiesce 
in the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, we shall have peace, which 
is a good thing enough in its way, and the material interests 
of commerce and manufactures will not be much deranged. 
If secession does really take place, and hostilities are com 
menced, so much the better. There will be misery and blood 
shed for a while, and all the horrors of civil strife, but it will 
only hasten on the great result which must sooner or later be 
reached, only assist to throw more light on the problem which 
must, one day be solved. And then.the country will emerge 
from that chaos of fire and blood, fresh and free, its dross 
purged away, and its great sin expiated. May I live to see 
that day. 

December 7. .... I began my Bible class yesterday, 
with about thirty. As they had just received their question- 
books, they could not answer very briskly, and I had to talk 
pretty steadily for nearly an hour. I hope they will do their 
share next time. I had prepared myself moderately well, by 
about three hours' hard cramming, the night before. I find 
that my knowledge of Hebrew stands me in good stead, and 
explains many matters which otherwise seemed contradictory. 

NEW YORK, December 23, 1860. 

DEAR M., .... Since writing the above, I have been to 
my Bible class. " Your Bible class," I hear you exclaim, 
" Where on earth did you pick up a Bible-class ? " The way 
it came about was this. I was calling on Dr. N., and he asked 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 2*jl 

me if I was engaged in any Sunday-school. I said no, but 
that I should like to be. He then proposed that I should 
take charge of the Bible class connected with his church. 
After some hesitation I said I would, and went over to the 
church the next Sunday to spy out the land. Imagine my 
horror on finding that the class was about thirty in number, 
many of them older than myself! I felt badly stuck, you may 
be sure, but the only way was to face the music. So last Sun 
day I prepared the lesson pretty thoroughly, and found it 
much easier work than I had supposed, but a task requiring 
impudence, of which quality, you know, I am utterly devoid. 
To-day I got along still better, and succeeded in getting the 
class to discuss the lesson themselves, and not to leave the 
talking entirely to me. Our lessons are in the Book of Judges, 
and you may be sure that I go it strong on the historical and 
geographical allusions and once in a while I venture upon an 
original translation of the original tongue leaving, however, 
the religious teachings to be drawn by the older men. I don't 
know what effect my way of teaching may have upon the class, 
but I know for myself that I have become deeply interested in 
this careful study the deeper I go into it, the more closely I 
find it to be linked with other parts of Scripture, which seemed 
to have no connection when I read them casually 

I suppose that you have heard all about Thanksgiving Day, 
and how the "' fatal thirteen " sat down to dinner, and how we 
drank to " absent pardners," for all grandpa's children were 
there, but not one of their mates. Uncle R. was the star 
performer on the occasion, in the character of the " Prodigal 
Son," though his appearance told no tales of having been 
nourished on husks, but rather spoke of English beef and 
humming ale 

I don't speak of politics, because everybody talks about 
them, until I am fairly sick of the word. I don't think any 
thing is to be apprehended from the crazy conduct of the 
Southerners. If the U. S. calls for volunteers to put Charles 
ton down, I think that the law would present much inferior 
attractions to me. 



2/2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

NEW YORK, January 4, 1861. 

DEAR MOTHER, .... I was hard at work all New 
Year's Day, and went from the Dan of Second Place in 
Brooklyn, to the Beersheba of Thirty-seventh Street, New 
York, and did not get through till after ten o'clock, although 
I made only twenty-eight calls ; but then they, especially the 
Brooklyn ones, were generally pretty long. 

I do wish that one that we love would be a little more en 
thusiastic. I think that enthusiasm is the source of more 
pure and exalted pleasure than almost any other earthly feel 
ing. It quickens and sharpens the mental eye and ear; it 
gives a zest to enjoyment ; it raises the heart at the sight of 
God's work in nature, and fills the eyes with happy tears at 
hearing of noble and generous deeds. Perhaps the old Greeks 
were not so far wrong in their composition of this word, mak 
ing it " God in us." .... 

January 8. I went to a performance on Monday night 
at Mrs. Botta's. It was a reading by Mrs. Siddons, of Eng 
lish Ballad Poetry. The course is to continue throughout the 
winter. Mrs. S. reads well, and has a charming appreciation 
of the old classics. I have a card for the course, and shall go 
now and then. 

February 24, 1861. .... I got two very good views of 
President Lincoln. I was quite disappointed at finding him a 
much greater beauty than I had supposed. I had hoped to 
have a real sharp poignant sensation of ugliness incarnate, to 
see a man who deserved to receive the fabled jack-knife. He 
looked very solemn, and I think that he had reason to be so. 
On his passage down Broadway he looked excessively tired, and 
did his bowing by means of a string passing down the leg of 
his pantaloons and fastened to his collar, this string was 
pulled by one of his suite at regular intervals, and a bow was 
the result. 

I see by the papers that he cut and ran from Harrisburg, 
and got to Washington sooner than was expected. I think 
that he acted right, and that he cannot take too great care of 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 273 

his life, the intelligence which he received must have been 
of a kind to justify such a step. I hope that his life may be 

preserved, and that he may be inaugurated If war 

comes, it will be the holiest and most righteous war the world 
has ever seen, and will wash us with much blood from our 
national sin. 

March 29, 1861. .... If you will look through the 
newspaper of to-day you will see that Governor Morgan has at 
last recognized my modest merit, and granted me the appoint 
ment of notary public. This I consider one of the most dis 
creet and proper acts of his administration, and one for which 
he deserves to be nominated an indefinite number of times. 
It is a great satisfaction to me to think that my visit to Albany 
on that dreadful January day was not all for naught. 

To H. N. C. 

NEW YORK, April 2, 1861. 

.... Take good care of your health, Harry, and don't 
allow yourself to think that duty demands that you should 
overwork yourself: your duty really lies in living to make 
your influence more extended and your experience more com 
plete. You must not forget the means which God has pro 
vided to help you, in pressing on too hastily to the wished- 
for end. Don't think that I am lecturing you ; I only want 
to remind you of the fact that even an active mind, and a 
zealous, ardent soul, will make themselves more powerfully 
felt in a community of men, and especially uneducated men, 
if they are backed up, so to speak, and sustained by a vigor 
ous, active body, whose contributions to the general stock of 
good are promptness and facility in action, delight in God's 
visible world, cheerfulness always. I think of you very often, 
my dear boy, and of what you are doing, and of what items of 
work your daily life is made up. And once in a while, per 
haps, there steals over me a thought that I ought not to be 
here working only for myself, and doing nothing in return for 
all the great goodness and kindness which have been shown 
to me. I am sorry to say that these thoughts of labor and 
18 



274 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

self-sacrifice come but seldom, and are easily dissipated ; they 
pass away and leave me as cold and selfish as before. Still 
it is better to think, even occasionally, than not to think at 
all. I hope that in your zeal for the spiritual welfare of the 
heathen strangers of Persia, you do not forget that of the 
heathen friends whom you have left at home. 

You will be surprised, and I don't know whether pleased or 
amused, to hear that I am the teacher of a large and old Bible 
class. The way in which it came about was this : A relative 
of mine, Dr. N., was called last year to Allen Street Presby 
terian Church, in New York, and has been working there very 
vigorously, roping in every one he could get hold of. He 
asked me one day if I was engaged in any Sunday-school 
work. I said no ; that I had been to mission-schools, and 
that they had seemed very plentifully supplied with teachers. 
He then asked me if I would not like to take a Bible class in 
his Sunday-school. I, supposing that it was a class composed 
of three or four young men, agreed to do it, and the next 
Sunday went down to Allen Street to spy out the land, and 
see what things looked like. Imagine my consternation on 
finding that the Bible class consisted of all the teachers of the 
Sabbath-school and some others, ages from forty to eighteen ; 
that they met in the church, and made a pretty formidable 
show of numbers! I would have fled forthwith, but was seized 
and ruthlessly introduced to the " committee who had been 
appointed to get a new teacher," who informed me that I had 
been appointed teacher on Dr. N.'s recommendation, etc. I 
thought that this was drawing it pretty strong, but I waited 
and heard the lesson gone through with. One of the teachers 
conducted the exercises, and made so many bulls, that I felt 
sure that I could not do worse. So I asked for a week to 
think it over, and took counsel. Y. was very urgent that I 
should take it, and so I prepared the lesson for the next time, 
and went over there. I got along very nicely, although I had 
a class of some thirty, and became so much interested in the 
subject of the lesson that I determined to continue, and have 
done so ever since, which is now some four months. We use 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 2?$ 

the Union Question Book, and prepare the lesson for the 
Sunday-school of the next Sunday. Of course the first thing 
is to properly get up the lesson for the children ; but I have 
endeavored to go a great deal farther than that, and to get 
some higher good out of it for ourselves. I don't know how 
well I have succeeded with the rest, but it has given me a 
great many ideas I never had before, and a reverent spirit and 
mode of feeling quite new to me. We have finished Judges 
and Ruth, and are just beginning i Samuel. I work like a 
beaver with commentaries, Bible Dictionary, etc., and when 
a difficult passage occurs, I frequently find a solution by 
scratching my head for an hour or two over the Hebrew, 
which I had studied for several months at New Haven with 
Professor Gibbs, when I was getting up the class report, and 
which now comes nicely into play. I take great pleasure and 
interest in the work, and only wish that the class would do 
the same. Some of the older men take hold well, but most 
are either very reserved or very stupid. What do you think 
of this undertaking ? Is it presumptuous on my part ? You 
see I confine myself mostly to explanation of the text and 
comparison of passages, and manage to draw out some of the 
elders to make the practical applications. Perhaps my uncle, 
Mr. D., about hit it, when he said that he thought it was a 
first-rate thing for me, but that he did n't know how it might 
be for the class. However, I honestly do my best, and shall 
give it up whenever it seems that I am getting at all perni 
cious. I have given you a somewhat extended account of this, 
because I thought that what I was doing in this way would 
interest you more if told with particularity. Please to let me 
know, when you write to me, just what you think about it. 

Saturday, April 6. .... I suppose that you listen with 
great eagerness for political news from home. The day is 
certainly one of great and stirring events, and it seems to me 
inconceivable that so many Northern people can view them 
with indifference, or at most with trembling cowardice. It 
seems impossible to imagine how a conflict can be avoided in 
the present state of affairs ; but, while I earnestly deprecate 



2/6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the beginning of civil war, I think that there are worse things 
than war, and that the dominant spirit of money-getting at 
the North is more corrupting and demoralizing. The North 
is too much demoralized already : some through interest, 
some through fear, and a goodly number through a desire to 
obey law, even though it be weakly wielded. I do not sup 
pose that I am very well fitted for a soldier, but still I have a 
good deal of fight in me, and think that I shall never see a 
holier cause to fight for. I shall consider it my duty at least 
to offer myself if the general government makes a requisition 
for volunteers. And for the result in the end there can be, I 
think, no doubt ; so, when you hear of the troubles and dis 
turbances here, do not be excessively anxious, for it is really 
necessary that the country should pass through some such 
phase of trial and suffering, and then emerge in the clear 
light of truth and freedom. It has really tended to destroy 
the distinctions between right and wrong, and to overthrow in 
many minds a belief in God's government of human affairs to 
see the system of slavery, not apologized for, but defended 
and upheld as a sacred and divine institution. This spectacle, 
together with that of the official robberies and treacheries at 
Washington during the last year, and more recently at the 
South, have made every patriotic heart sink with shame and 
sorrow; and now nothing but blood and much grief and 
misery and disaster will atone for our national crime. In 
such a crisis as this, no man who is young and unfettered by 
domestic ties has any right to withold himself. 

I am working into the practice of my profession, and learn 
quite rapidly. I hope to be able to make an honest living 
out of it some of these days, or rather years. I am now, by 
appointment of Governor Morgan, a notary public, which is 
quite a help to me in a variety of ways, and also brings me in 
somewhat of " the filthy." 

Sunday, April 14. Well, it has come at last. War is 
fairly upon us, and April 12, 1861, will be marked as the day 
upon which began the fiercest civil war of modern times. We 
are still in a state of the greatest uncertainty as to what has 



HOME AND PROFESSIONAL STUDY AND LIFE. 277 

been done, but there is reason to believe that Fort Sumter 
has been reduced by the traitors. Since the news came yes 
terday I have hardly thought of anything else, and I am al 
most sick with excitement and anxiety. What I most fear is 
that the rebels may also take Washington by a coup de main, 
which would be the climax of our disgrace. I think that the 
North is now thoroughly roused, and that there will be a loud 
and speedy response to any call which the States may make 
for volunteers. Pennsylvania and New York have each voted 
$500,000 to arm the State, and it is said that each of the 
States will soon be called upon to furnish its quota of troops. 
I think that if they get ahead faster in Connecticut than they 
do here, I shall go up there and enlist. I don't know how 
wise this course which I contemplate may be, but I can no 
otherwise. 

I hear that you are making capital progress with your 
Syriac, or whatever the language is that you are studying. 
Please to tell me something about it when you write, and 
what it is like. 



IV. 

LETTERS OF ARMY LIFE AND 
SERVICE. 

1861-64. 



IV. 

LETTERS OF ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 



April 27, 1861. 

DEAR MOTHER, I have not written you, because I was 

so uncertain about my movements Now, however, 

I am fixed, and can give an account of myself. I have 
felt all along that it was my duty to go, and that it would 
be disgraceful if I did not. I got a letter to Colonel Stev 
ens, who is in command of those members of the Seventh 
Regiment who are still in the city, and he put my name down 
on the roll last Tuesday. All of us who are ready and 
equipped are to start at the first opportunity. My uniform 
will be ready to-day, and now I have only my blankets and 
grub articles to get, and have my hair cut short. The excite 
ment in the city the last week has been fearful ; some streets 
are a long arbor of flags, and recruits march up and down the 
streets to drum and fife. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW YORK, May 5, 1861. 

DEAR BOY, I was sorry that you were unable to stop on 
your way through here last week, but perhaps it is best as it is, 
for you probably would not have found me, as I was not at the 
office, my time being divided about equally between military 
furnishing stores and the drill-room. J. will tell you just what 
my position is. I will only say that I have joined the recruits 
of the Seventh, have been drilling for a week and a half, and 
during the whole of last week was every day expecting to get 



282 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

orders to leave for Washington. But on Friday an order was 
given not to send on any more troops from this Division 
at present. This is most vexatious and disappointing, as it 
places us in a state of extreme suspense, and I am afraid that 
the choicest part of the scrimmage will be over before we can 
get down there. However, they promise us that we shall cer 
tainly go on at some time before long ; and I intend to go back 
to my business, and drill every afternoon from 3 to 6. This 
delay has its advantages also : the new company will be well- 
equipped and quite decently drilled before going on, and will 
be less likely to disgrace the regiment. 

I- am sorry that you don't like the idea of my going. It 
seems to me that I could not in decency do anything else. 
Here I have been for years on the extreme Abolition edge of 
the Republican party, hoping for the practical assertion, in 
some way, of the rights and honor of the free North, and here 
is an opportunity to realize all those hopes, to put those 
theories into practice. Shall I be outdone in deeds by the 
very men whom my words have condemned ? Shall the Dem 
ocratic rag-tag and bob-tail go out to war and strike good 
blows for the right, while we Republicans sit safely at home, 
and say, " Oh, our lives are too precious to be risked in this 
conflict ! " Have we a right to place an unusual value upon 
our lives, simply because our advantages have been great ; 
and shall culture and education deafen us to the call of honor 
and patriotism? Whatever others may say in this strain, I 
can only reply with Electra, 

TOVTOIS tyk r)v TOIS v6/j.ots ov /Joi^Ao/tat. 1 

Don't come the Chrysothemis over me at this stirring time. 
I know that you are so situated at present that it would be 
unwise and almost impossible for you to go ; but with me the 
case is different : I have as yet no professional engagements 
which cannot be easily transferred ; 1 have no family of my 
own (wife and V^TTLO) to regret me peculiarly ; I have not even 
one fair friend to shed a tear if I should never come back ; 

1 " Not by such rules will I guide my life." 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 283 

my loss would be in fact rather an advantage, as the noble 
army of lawyers would be lessened, and a useless, selfish life 
might be to some extent expiated by a " pro patria mori." 
But whether I go or stay, whether I get six feet of Virginia 
soil or a happy return, be sure that I shall love and cherish 
you always. 

THIRTY-SECOND STREET, NEW YORK, May 9, 1861. 

DEAREST MOTHER, We are off after all, in spite of what 
I wrote you this morning. I happened into the drill-room and 
found that the squad were to sail at 6 p. M., in the steamer 
Matanzas. I rushed to my room, packed up my knapsack and 
got down to the boat by 5^ P. M. It was announced that we 
were not to sail until 9 to-morrow morning, and as I was on 
guard from 9 to 12 p. M., I got the pass-word, ran the guard, 
came up here to Thirty-second Street, where I sit, the centre of 
a crowd of sympathizing friends. Good-by, dearest mother ; 
you can have no objection to make this little contribution to 
the Great Cause. For myself, I cannot see how a life could 
be more worthily given up, unless it were for God's sake, 
though is not this God's cause ? 

God bless you. Your ever-loving son. 

May ii, STEAMER MATANZAS, 
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Near the Mouth of the Potomac. 

DEAREST MOTHER, It is now my turn to do guard duty 
to-day, and as four hours out of the six are spent in the guard 
room, with nothing in particular to do, I have a capital chance 
to let you know how we have got on thus far. I got back to 
the wharf from Thirty-second Street by 12^, passed the guard 
safely, by means of the magic word " Gertrude," which was 
the pass-word for the night, and managed to get some sleep 
in spite of a tremendous racket kept up by a crowd of young 
sters. We got off about 9 A. M., sixty-nine in number, besides 
Mr. Tyng, in command of the force, and steamed peacefully 
down the bay, firing a salute as we went, from our enormous 
armament of one small gun. When off Bay Ridge we met a 



284 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

vessel bearing the Sardinian flag. It struck me as an excel 
lent omen that the first flag we should see displayed on our 
voyage should be the one under which Garibaldi achieved the 
freedom of Italy, and I led off in three rousing cheers for Italy, 
which were most enthusiastically returned by the crew. The 
weather was splendid till four o'clock, when it began to drizzle, 
and then to rain hard ; fortunately for me, my guard duty on 
deck was over at three, p. M., and I kept dry and got a com 
fortable sleep. Our vessel is a fast one but very narrow, and 
rolls terribly. Almost all the men succumbed to the sweet in 
fluences of the ocean, and even I had to cave in and cast up 
my accounts with Neptune. When fairly in the Chesapeake, 
we were hailed by the steamer Yankee, the same one that 
figured in the siege of Sumter, and the burning of Norfolk. 
She came alongside and observed us pretty closely, to see if 
we were all right, and we threw them a sop in the shape of the 
New York papers, of yesterday, when we separated with 
mutual cheers. 

An English ship has just passed us called the Union ; we 
cheered that name with all our might. This I set down 
as good omen number two. I see it stated in the news 
papers that the Secessionists are throwing up a battery on the 
Maryland side of the Potomac ; if so, we may have a brush 
with them as we pass, although we are not very powerful, hav 
ing only one miserable little cannon, for arms only horse-car 
bines. These we shall exchange at Washington for the 
" Minie " rifles. If we get into Washington in the course of 
the afternoon we shall go into camp with the Seventh. This 
whole trip has been a very comfortable one for soldiers. A 
large number of the men, especially the younger ones, seem to 
look upon the whole affair as a gigantic spree, and to form no 
true conception of the serious character of the undertaking. 
There are some pretty steady fellows along, and we have 
singing, ad libitum. Last night we got out of the rain under 
a jolly-boat, as it was too unpleasant to go down below, and 
sang in good style an enormous number of songs, the chorus to 
each being the same, viz., 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 285 

"And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave, 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave." 

One of the guard came in last night pretty sick with a severe 
sore throat. As he was a mere boy, and had nothing but a 
lounge to sleep on, I put him into my berth, wrapped him 
warm, and rubbed his throat with arnica, and he is all right 
this morning. He is very grateful, and I think that I shall 
make him show his gratitude by putting himself on a short 
allowance of oaths. Profanity has been very abundant, but I 
think that some of us will make a combined effort and keep it 
under somewhat. Sitting in the guard-room is dull work, I 
can assure you. They are in decided need of reading. I find 
plenty of reading matter in the only book I brought with me. 
The first night out, I lighted on the 6$d and 65th Psalms, and 
enjoyed them very much. 

Sunday, May 12. We had quite a lively time last night. 
I had gone to bed, and was sound asleep, when the sergeant 
of the guard knocked on the state-room door with the order, 
" To quarters." I was up in a jiffy, and dressed and equipped 
in about five minutes, and got on deck, where the company 
was rapidly forming in squads. We were informed that a very 
suspicious looking vessel had borne down upon us ; that we 
might momentarily expect to be fired into. The muskets were 
handed to us loaded, and we stood ready, like the poor rela 
tion in Holmes's "Autocrat," to repel boarders. A few 
minutes passed along, and the suspicious craft changed her 
course and stood off, whereupon we returned to our downy 
couches. It was well to have had the experience of turning 
out, and we were highly complimented by Captain Tyng upon 
the promptness with which we mustered. Hurrah ! we have 
just passed Mount Vernon, lowering our flag, tolling our bell, 
and standing with uncovered heads. It will be a poor story 
if we do not succeed in getting that spot out of the clutches of 
the Secessionists. 

4 p. M. Here we are at Washington at last, off the Navy 
Yard, and 1 must finish this up soon, as the sergeant is going 
off before long with the letters. We have had a most delight- 



286 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ful voyage ; we have been fed and housed in a manner more 
like gentlemen travellers than soldiers. It has been of very 
little use to harden us, but perhaps we shall have all the more 
health and freshness to begin the campaign. I expect to bunk 
in with Tyng, Rodgers, and two or three more of the best fel 
lows in the crowd. We shall have the nicest mess of all. Love 
to all at home. In best of health and spirits. 

CAMP CAMERON, May 14, 1861. 

DEAR MOTHER, .... We anchored off the Navy Yard, where 
the Seventy-first Regiment were encamped, and had a foretaste 
of the joys of camp life, as we saw them going their rounds. 
Their principal occupations, at present, are to protect the Navy 
Yard, and to guard the bridge over the Potomac, both very 
responsible positions. In the evening, before we left the 
steamer, we had a prayer-meeting in the cabin, commenced by 
the first mate and a couple of the seamen of the vessel, and 
conducted by one of our men. I made some remarks on the 
subject of profanity and decent behavior, and announced my 
self willing to back up what I said with my influence, both 
moral and physical. The mate and seamen made some re 
marks which were very impressive, they seemed so thoroughly 
to go to the bottom of the matter, and were almost eloquent 
in their simplicity. We lay all night at the Navy Yard. 
Captain Tyng went to the camp to get orders from Colonel 
Lefferts ; he returned in the evening and informed us that we 
were to start the next morning. So at nine o'clock we got our 
knapsacks packed, and I got my ration-box well filled with 
grub. We then bade farewell to the steamer Matanzas and 
its officers, and marched off in good style towards the city, 
having borrowed a couple of drummers from the Seventy-first 
to enliven us. A march of a mile brought us to the Capital ; 
a couple more miles of marching brought us to Camp Cameron, 
and up to the house where Colonel Lefferts is quartered. He 
came out and received us very kindly, and gave the welcome 
order to take off knapsacks and overcoats, under which we had 
been sweating for two hours. We were then marched off to 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. ' 287 

our quarters in the camp, which were in a great tent, already 
occupied by the old members of the artillery whom we came 
to reinforce. Here sixty mattresses were spread for us, and we 
tumbled down on them, right glad to reach our haven at last. 

Our quarters are intensely democratic and general, but 
from the great size of the tent, it is much better ventilated and 
more pleasant than the close small tents of the other compa 
nies. Dinner was served at about \\ P. M., that is to say, we 
each seized a plate and received a piece of salt junk, a potato, 
some turnip, a chunk of bread, which soon disappeared under 
the influence of hunger and open air exercise. Last night was 
a night of horrors ; about n P. M. it began to rain, and I 
was awakened by a young stream coming gently into my eye, 
and upon arousing myself completely, I found an inch of water 
around my head, and gentle rivulets coursing down the mat 
tress. I managed to pull my bed out of the fierce peltings of 
the pitiless storm, but had to go to sleep again in a very moist 
state. When I rose, I had to travel off to the spring to wash 
my face, but the warm sun soon dried me, and I feel splendidly 
now. We got our arms last night, a splendid Minie rifle 
with a sword bayonet. I can't say how long we shall stay 
here ; possibly we may come home at the expiration of our 
thirty days, unless there is some prospect of an active cam 
paign. The Seventh have done and suffered enough already 
to entitle them to an honorable reception when they come 
home. That forced march from Annapolis to the Junction 
has been spoken of by General Scott as one of the best on 
record. I only wish that I had been with them from the 
start. 

May 19. Yesterday morning we had a grand parade and 
inspection, and our company made its first appearance on 
parade. We got safely into position, and went through the 
manual for light infantry, at least as well as any other com 
pany. We all breathed freer when the parade was over, and 
we got off so nicely ; we took the whole regiment by surprise. 
On our way back, one of the companies applauded us with 
their muskets as we passed through their street. On Saturday 



288 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

night there was a meeting of singers at the band quarters, to 
prepare for Sunday. The band had set the pieces to be 
sung (Christmas and Autumn) to music, and we worked them 
up in good style. After that we had some good chanting. 
On Sunday, service was held in front of the colonel's tent, a 
desk was placed on the lawn, draped with the American flag, 
the band and choir had seats at the left, visitors were on the 
stoop of the house behind, and the men lay grouped about on 
the grass and under the trees. The sermon was directed 
against trivial sins, the chaplain saying, that most of his audi 
ence knew little of any other. He ought to come down and 
spend a day or two in our tent, he would soon be convinced 
to the contrary. At the close of the service we got small 
Testaments and Prayer-books all round. I shall always prize 
this little memento of the campaign. In the evening we had a 
prayer-meeting in our tent, two or three of our company hav 
ing previously given notice of it. The attendance was most 
gratifying ; we had about eighty there, and kept it up for more 
than two hours, singing ever so many hymns (I being leader), 
and having as many as a dozen prayers and addresses, all 
short, but most full of fervor, simplicity, and in some cases of 
penitence. Several fine fellows took themselves severely to 
task for not having started anything of the kind before, and 
thanked us so very heartily that we felt doubly rewarded for 
having set the ball rolling. There is something very striking in 
hearing a tall, manly soldier confess his devotion to a higher 
and nobler banner than that of his country. When we got 
back to our tent we found all our things rained on, and the first 
part of this letter got badly wet. 

CAMP CAMERON, May 29, 1861. 

DEAREST MOTHER, I hope my letter to J. will have alle 
viated, as I hoped it would, any anxiety which might have been 
excited in your minds by the crazy reports which appeared in 
the newspapers on Saturday night. By this time you will have 
learned that there was no engagement after all ; that the 
Virginians fled from Alexandria without striking a blow, and 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 289 

that the Seventh Regiment, after shovelling dirt for three days, 
like so many Paddies, have marched back in safety to their 
camp, and are as jolly as ever. They had a pretty rough time 
of it, and suffered severely from exposure to the rain, and want 
of provisions. The companies that stayed at home had no 
sinecure of it either, and we were kept very hard at work all 
the time ; in fact, I don't feel thoroughly waked up yet, after 
two days and two nights of steady guard duty. There was a 
grand battalion parade this morning, and Colonel Lefferts in 
formed us that although our time had expired on the 26th, 
that it was the desire of the government that we should re 
main a few days longer, and he hoped the regiment would 
be willing to do so. A unanimous cry of assent arose, and 
we shall stay cheerfully through this week. I am not sorry to 
go back just now, as it will give me an opportunity of return 
ing under better auspices. It seems to me that, with a crowd 
of good men, I could do and suffer almost anything. 

NEW YORK, June 16, 1861. 

"... I find that I settle down to my old life much more 
easily than I had supposed possible. I feel lithe and active, and 
ready to work, just that stock of renewed vigor and activity 
of which I am always conscious after a week's vacation. And, 
indeed, it was hardly anything more than a vacation, with a 
double allowance of hard work, and plain, healthy fare,' which 
made me as springy and elastic as I ever was in my life. In 
"feet, when I went to New Haven, I found that the change was 
too sudden from camp grub to home living, and for a couple 
of days after I returned here, I felt very much out of sorts. 
.... I suppose that I shall be fined for not turning out to 
parade on the Fourth of July, but my ideas of soldiering are 
not exactly of the militia type. 

Is not Theodore Winthrop's death sad ? He left our com 
pany a day or two before we broke up camp, to go down to 
Fortress Monroe. His rank of major was merely a nominal 
one, as a member of General Butler's staff. The Ninth Com 
pany voted to go into mourning for him. 
19 



2QO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

NEW YORK, June 21, 1861. 

I have just returned from marching, with a part of the regi 
ment, as escort to poor Theodore Winthrop's body on its way 
to New Haven to be buried. Ours, the Ninth, was one of the 
companies detailed for the purpose, as he had been a member 
of the Company, and we acted as special guard of honor. Our 
men stood guard over the body Wednesday and Thursday 
nights. At ii A. M. we started from the armory, and marched 
up Broadway to Fourteenth Street, thence up Fifth Avenue, to 
the New Haven Depot, with arms reversed, and at a slow 
step. 

June 30. I received a very pressing note from M. W. to 
visit Springwood. I answered it in the same blue strain in 
which I wrote home last. What should come in last night 
but a letter from there containing four missives. Of course I 
could not stand such a battery of rifled remonstrances ; the 
notes dropped into my camp like Sawyer's projectiles, and I 
immediately sent a flag of truce, saying that I surrendered at 
discretion, and should come up on Monday evening, when 
they might send down an ambulance to bring me up from the 
station. I do not think that I shall be at home before Com 
mencement, unless I have to come up to make arrangements 
for the Class supper. 

October 2, 1861. Very possibly I may go up the North River 
to-morrow. I have written to Uncle William to ask him about 
recruiting prospects in his neighborhood, but have not heard, 
so I shall go on without waiting any longer. I have not been 
mustered in as yet ; the Major has changed his mind, and says 
he will be mustered in as Captain, and I as First Lieutenant of 
the First Battery, but in order to do this we must have eighty 
men, and we want twenty of that number. I am going into this 
matter more heartily than ever. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 29 1 

To L. R P. 

NEW HAVEN, August 15, 1861. 

You see I write from New Haven ; I found New York 
utterly unendurable, as there . was nothing to be done during 
the day in the way of business, and then a long evening 
yawned before me, too hot for study, and yet furnishing no 
good loafing chances, as all my city friends are disporting 
themselves in the country. So on Tuesday after receiving 
from the U. S. Paymaster the sum of $15.45 "for services 
rendered at Washington," I took the 3.15 train, and rushed 
into the bosom of my family, where I intend to remain as 
long as possible. So you see you will have to stop here in 
stead of in New York Yesterday was my birthday, and 

we had a rather SUO-TTOT/XOV plum-pudding for dinner. O mis 
erable being, don't you wish you were twenty-five years old ? 
A quarter of a century, just think of it ! .... Enough; stop 
and see me ; I will try at any rate to be at the depot, and 
"by head and tail" will "hale the groaning" Pinckney (see 
Tennyson) unto my own abode. O vieni, vieni. All send re 
gards. Yours as ever, 

WM. WHEELER, Aet 25. 

To L. R. P., Aet. 24. 

To L. R. P. 

NEW YORK, October 2, 1861. 

DEAR BOY, I send you the last heft of the " Electra," and 
congratulate you and myself on its final completion. I have 
enjoyed very highly the stolen moments which have been em 
ployed upon this noble play, and if I were to be here this 
winter, I would gladly begin the " Choephorae " or something 
else with you, no matter how much law might frown at it. But it 
seems that it must not be, and when I return from squelching 
rebels I shall have forgotten all my Greek, and so another link 
will be broken between us : it is unnecessary for me to say 
how greatly I have enjoyed this work, and your genial and val 
uable companionship in it. 



2Q2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

You will find my translation but a sorry one, and the notes 
especially bad ; but you will pardon it, as it has been done in 
the midst of recruiting annoyances and artillery studies, and 
the slaying of Clytemnestra and ^Egisthus has been queerly 
mixed up with flying thoughts of cascables, reinforces, chases, 
formations of battery to the right, and maneuvers of mounted 
cannoneers, so excuse all bulls, and write me as long and as 
jolly a letter as convenient. Can't you expel a dozen able- 
bodied Sophomores, and send them down to me ? 

HEAD-QUARTERS STURMFELS' ARTILLERY, CAMP 
OF GEN'L BAKER, NEAR POOLESVILLE, , 
MONTGOMERY Co., Mn., October 21, 1861. 

DEAR MOTHER, For the first time, for more than a week, 
has it been practicable for me to give you any account of my 
doings ; but I suppose that J. has told you how I was put on 
duty, immediately upon my return from recruiting on the North 
River, and kept so almost without cessation until Thursday, 
when we left the city ; in fact I hardly had three hours' sleep 
any night for a week, and several nights have been entirely 
sleepless. It was extremely comforting to me to have J. with 
me during those last two days, when I could not go home to 
see you, and was too much worried to write. I was sworn in 
on Tuesday, as second lieutenant, the Major going as captain 
with the understanding that when the Second Battery was 
raised I should be raised a peg. The First Lieutenant be 
came so elated at being sworn in that he got drunk, and has 
not been heard of since, and as the Major is not very well 
posted on the English word of command, I have had the 
command of the men entirely, and have had an immense 
amount of work and responsibility thrown upon me. 

On Thursday afternoon, at about 3 P. M., we got everything 
in readiness, and went up to the quarters, and ordered the 
men to fall in. They utterly refused to do so till they had 
received a part of their month's pay, which had been prom 
ised them. After some talk and expostulation, I got them 
marched out of quarters, and on the Eighth Avenue cars, which 
took us to Barclay St. Then we marched to Pier No. 2, and 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 293 

took the Perth Amboy boat. We reached the secesh village 
of Baltimore about 8 A. M. I stood on the platform and 
managed the brake nearly all the way. 

At Baltimore the Union Defense Committee gave us a good 
breakfast ; then we had a dreary ride to Washington, occupy 
ing eight hours in going forty miles. At Washington we put our 
soldiers in barracks, and there we were visited by the Sanitary 
Commissioners, who took several of our sick men up to their 
home, where they were so well cared for that we took away 
six with us the next morning. After breakfast we marched 
out to Georgetown, where we embarked on a canal boat, on 
the canal beside the Potomac. We voyaged on that rapid 
vehicle, and anchored for the night about two miles from 
Washington. We started again Sunday morning, and soon came 
in sight of the secession pickets on the opposite side ; however 
they did not pepper us, as that matter of picket shooting has 
been discontinued by mutual consent. About 3 P. M. we 
reached Edwards' Ferry, where we disembarked, and found a 
very warlike state of affairs. Our men had two batteries in 
position, and behind the rise of the hill were some 1500 or 
2000 infantry and cavalry. We were marched off to Pooles- 
ville, a distance of about four miles, and then found that Gen 
eral Baker's camp was five miles further off. We stumbled 
up there in the dark, and at last saw a vast array of lights, 
marking our destination. They seemed to cover every hillside, 
and to be without number. Soon we were among them, and 
cordially received by General Baker. Luckily we did not have 
to sleep in the tents that were put up for us, for the head wag 
oner was a German, and invited the men to bunk in, in his 
covered wagons, which were filled with straw. The Major 
and I occupied the tent of the quartermaster of the Brigade, 
but we were badly off for blankets, and I spent a night of 

sleepless misery on account of the cold Our men have 

been hard at work to-day, hewing wood and drawing water, 
fetching rations and fixing tents, and building kitchens. I 
have had it all to superintend. We are miserably fitted out 
in all things. 



294 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

CAMP OBSERVATION 
NEAR POOLESVILLE, MD., October 23, 1861. 

DEAR Coz, Somewhat contrary to my own individual ex 
pectations, I did get off from New York the same week that I 
left H. P., but fortunately did not go on Tuesday, since then 
I should have been in a melancholy state of unpreparedness, 
and fit' only to be an officer of the rag-tag and bobtail cadets. 
I was mustered into the U. S. service on Tuesday, and got 
my uniform the same day. I was on duty pretty constantly 
from the time of my return to New York until Thursday after 
noon, when we departed, about ninety strong, by way of Amboy, 
Elizabeth, Harrisburg, and Baltimore, to Washington, which 
we reached after a tedious journey of twenty-six (26) hours. 
The hills were covered with camps, but as we did not pass to 
the southward, we saw nothing of the great army of the lower 
Potomac, which is under the supervision of General McClellan 
in person We are encamped on an elevated breezy sit 
uation, so breezy in fact, that at this present moment I am ex 
pecting, every instant, that my tent will come down on my 
head, and close to us are encamped the four regiments of the 
Brigade, viz. : Baxter's Philadelphia Zouaves, Owen's Irish 
Phila. Regiment, Morehead's Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania, and 
the First California Regiment, or rather the remains of it, as its 
first battalion was almost entirely cut to pieces in the bloody and 
disastrous fight at Conrad's Ferry the day before yesterday. 
Of course you must have read an account of it in the news 
papers, but you can form no idea of the disheartened feeling 
which such a piece of criminal mismanagement infuses into 
soldiers. It is pretty well understood that the troops were 
thrown across the river with the full knowledge that they could 
not easily be withdrawn, and with the probability that they 
would be attacked by the enemy in force. The result is that 
our Brigade has lost about 350 men, killed, drowned, wounded, 
and missing, all being of the First Battalion of the First Cali 
fornia, our crack regiment ; the Fifteenth Massachusetts has 
also suffered dreadfully, and the Twentieth Massachusetts and 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE 295 

the New York Tammany Regiment have been badly cut up. 
Last, but not least, we have lost General Baker, and almost 
every one of our best officers who were in action, is either 
killed or wounded. At Edwards' Ferry I saw General Banks, 
who had come down with a large part of his Division, and 
was busily engaged in throwing troops across the river. I 
very much fear that the tragedy of Conrad's Ferry may be 
repeated on a larger scale. I can assure you, my dear Coz., 
that we feel right in the midst of things, and I am disgusted 
that the want of our horses and guns prevents us from taking 
an active part. This is an entirely different thing from 
Seventh Regiment soldiering ; it is actual, bloody war, and 
this fact is impressed upon me very strongly by meeting 
officers one day -in courteous society, and seeing them on 
the next, mutilated or dead. This is emphatically a war 
deadly to officers, and I have fully made up my mind never to 
see any of you again. Major Sturmfels went away to-day to 
Washington, and I am left in command of the company, so I 
feel in quite a responsible position, as I am determined to 

keep everything right and straight until his return We 

have plenty of secessionists all around us, and we are obliged 
to keep a sharp look-out, as I am convinced that all of them 
are a set of rascals, and that they keep their co-rebels in Vir 
ginia constantly informed of our movements. Many of them 
in this vicinity belonged to a cavalry troop, which was raised 
to assist the South, and although some of them have been dis 
armed and have taken the oath of allegiance, yet I am sure 
that they would rise and cut our throats, if they saw the enemy 
cross the Potomac in force. In fact, while I have been writing 
these lines, an order has come to me from Colonel Owen, com 
manding the Brigade, to permit no person in citizen's clothes 
to pass the lines ; this is no more than what our Company has 
been doing before, as Major S. has European ideas of strict 
ness and regularity in these matters. I expect, if I live, to 
pass a tedious and painful winter ; already it is getting too 
cold to sleep much at night, and unless we take some large 
city and winter there, I fear that there will be a great deal of 



296 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

suffering. Our men as yet have no overcoats, and their blan 
kets are of a very poor character, and insufficient to keep off 
the winter's cold. I shall think of you often, and of L., 
and all New York and New Haven friends, and of music and 
study and society, and shall hope that I shall not be forgotten 
here in camp. 

CAMP OBSERVATION, MARYLAND, 
October 30, 1861. 

.... Everything is quiet in this neighborhood now. Oc 
casionally we hear firing or cannonading from our pickets, but 
this shooting across the river does not amount to much. Our 
own camp lies in full view of the enemy on the other side, and 
we can see just where their encampments are, in the hollow of 
the hill, but they keep very shady in the day-time. They 
might shell us if they had any long-range guns in position, but 
I imagine that they are hardly well enough off in good ammuni 
tion to be able to indulge in that kind of target-shooting. I 
wish that we had our guns. If the enemy, who is said to be 
in heavy force at Leesburg, should attempt to cross the river, 
and there should be a general engagement, there would be 
nothing for us but to retire to the rear with the camp followers. 
.... Major S. has been absent from the company now for a 
week, and during that time I have reigned supreme in our little 
encampment, and have communicated directly with Colonel 
Owen, the commander of the Brigade, as if I were colonel of 
a regiment. I am sorry that the state of my foot does not 
permit me to drill my company as dismounted cannoneers. I 
have been found lying on my bed most of the time studying. 
I got hold of Monday's Herald yesterday, and found in it a 
comparatively correct account of the conflict of Ball's Bluff, 
only it places the numbers engaged, and the loss, rather too 
high. I was informed by the brigade surgeon that only 1200 
were engaged in all, and of that number all but 500 had 
already reported themselves ; so that number will cover the total 

loss The weather for the last few days has been really 

delicious, perfect October time, and the sunsets over the Vir 
ginia hills are golden curtains, let down in long waves of blue 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 297 

and purple, and I only wish that I were more free from bodily 
ailment, and could enjoy more the peaceful Indian Summer. 
When evening comes on, our little company street resounds 
with songs. Last night we had a regular German concert, 
many of our men being old campaigners in Faderland, and 
very beautiful are some of the soldier songs they sing, noble 

too in sentiment My oven works to a charm, the 

draught is perfect ; in token of the excellence of my fire, I 
have written the whole of this last page by its light. My only- 
fear is that my chimney (made of beef barrels) may catch fire 
some cold night, as this is not an uncommon catastrophe. 
.... I should like a few sheets of blank music paper ; I 
want to copy out the bugle calls for my bugler. 

CAMP OBSERVATION, November 8, 1861. 

.... Captain S. has now been absent from us two weeks 
and a half, during which time we have heard nothing from 
him, but supposed that he was doing for us all that was nec 
essary to equip us for the field, and now it appears that he has 
not even taken the preliminary step of reporting himself to the 
head of his department, and that we are not recognized as 
existing in the service at all, and that our men will not get 
their pay when the paymaster comes, in spite of the pains 
taken by the orderly and myself to have the muster and pay 
rolls all properly made out, and sent to the Department at 
Washington. Besides this, our requisition for overcoats has 
not yet been responded to, and yesterday, at the instance of 
General Burns, I made an entirely new one, on my own respon 
sibility, which I think will bring the articles, and nothing was 
ever more needed. I am surprised that we have not more 
men on the sick list than we have. When half of them are 
in the hospital, and a few frozen to death, perhaps we may 
get what we want. Then, too, the brigade quartermaster has 
been changed, so that it is hard to draw supplies, for either 
officers or men, and we have to scratch hard for our grub. 
In spite of my ankle, which is still sore and lame, so that I 
cannot wear a boot, I have to run about all day, now to the 



298 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

General, and then to the Commissary, to see that we do not 
get cheated, now to settle some dispute among the men. I 
think it is not impossible that I may go down to Washington 
to-day or to-morrow, to report to General Barry in person, and 
see what can be done for us. I myself feel full of courage 
and hope, and shall take the company into my own hands, if 
the General thinks fit, and use my own influence to get it into 
the field. I only wish that my foot would heal. The doctor 
says that it is improving nicely, and if I must go to Washing 
ton he will send me to Poolesville in an ambulance, and from 
there I can go by stage to Washington. What a terrible gale 
of wind, and rain storm, we had last Saturday. I wish we 
could hear something about the Great Expedition. I have 
prayed fervently for its success, and have lain awake on these 
windy nights thinking about it. Robert Edwards' regiment, 
the Forty-eighth New York, is with it ; this adds to my interest. 
I wish I was with him. 

CAMP OBSERVATION, MD., November n, 1861. 
DEAR M., Thanks for your promptness in answering my 
last letter. Yours was the first received after reaching this 
camp, and I was saved a disappointment when the mail 

came in, the night of that stormy Saturday It is a 

showery, drizzly afternoon, and the men and I equally rejoice 
at it, for they get off drilling, and I am at liberty to write this 
letter, and you may be sure that I gladly embrace all such 
opportunities, when I have them, for when we get on the 
march there will be no time to sit quietly down and place 
ourselves en rapport with dear friends, but a hasty, hurried 
scratch must be sufficient to satisfy those at home of the 
safety and health of the absent one. I am sorry that you got 
the idea, from my last letter, that I was in poor spirits ; true 
I then had poor accommodations and food, slept cold at night, 
and the responsibility of taking care of the company weighed 
upon me somewhat, yet I have never allowed myself to be de 
pressed ; the thought of being once more armed for the cause, 
and of having a chance this time to strike a blow, makes me 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 299 

very happy and elastic ; the picture I gave you was one of 
physical, not mental condition. Now, however, I am very much 
more comfortable in my way of living ; I have had an oven 
built in my tent, of large stones, with a flue running out for 
some distance behind the tent, covered with stones and plas 
tered with clay ; the chimney is made of two beef barrels, 
placed one on top of the other ; the draught is generally very 
good, except when the wind blows from the east, and early 
in the morning my boy comes in, just after reveille, and lights 
up a good fire, so that when I rise, I find the edge taken off 
from the morning frost considerably. These stoves, of this 
simple construction, are all the rage among the officers- in the 
camps here, and they are a grand institution ; only some of 
them are unable to get beef barrels, and build their chim 
neys of sugar barrels, which are liable to catch fire, and cause 
a great deal of disturbance and fun in being extinguished ; 
the Philadelphia Fire Zouaves, the nearest regiment to us, 
recall their former days, and run " with the machine " to 
put out the officers' chimneys. Grub, too, has manifestly im 
proved ; we have a man who waits on our mess who is a 
great forager, and scours the country round for provisions, 
wherewith to vary the daily bill of fare, of government salt 
horse and hard biscuit. Not unsuccessful is his scouring 
either, as that excellent leg of mutton which we had for din 
ner yesterday, and that loud-clucking hen in the next tent 
might testify. A rumor, too, has been blown hitherward, of 
sundry turkeys in a farmyard not very remote, and I think it 
highly probable that we shall celebrate the New York Thanks 
giving day, by fleshing our teeth in a secesh gobbler. Now 
that we have learned the ropes, we live as well as anybody in the 
camp. It is now more than three weeks since we came here, 
and Major S. has been absent nearly all that time, and our 
pieces and horses have not yet been sent to us. I have ruled 
the Company in righteousness in the meantime, have seen to 
it that the Quartermaster and Commissary did not cheat the 
men, have maintained their rights, and made known their 
needs to General Burns, the new General of the Brigade, and, 



3OO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

still more, I have mustered the Company for pay, and sent the 
appropriate muster and pay rolls to the Department at Wash 
ington ; this last was a great labor, and a sort of job entirely 
new to me, but after about three days' solid work I made it 
out, and now the men will get their pay, I hope very soon. 
We expect the Major back in about a week, and I hope that he 
will bring our full equipments with him, so that we may be in 
condition to march across the river with this Division, if it 
goes. I hope that we shall winter in Virginia. It is very 
cold here, and they say that the snow lies four feet deep on 
these hills. I am full of anxiety about the Great Expedition ; 
my friend Rob. Edwards is with it as a lieutenant in the Forty- 
eighth New York. I suppose that by this time you have full 
accounts of the landing, etc. Our newspapers are few and far 
between out here. We have pretty lively times in the evenings ; 
the Germans of my company get together and sing very sweetly, 
and I try to join in with them. I send you a copy of one of 
their songs, called " Morgenroth ; " it is simple, but very 
sweet, I think, and shows a reflection and elevation of senti 
ment, to be found only among the Germans We are 

no longer " General Baker's Brigade," but the " First Brigade 
Corps of Observation, Camp Observation, Md." 

November 19. . . . . You will be anxious to know about 
my health, after what I wrote in my last. Well, the first dose 
of restoring physic was that batch of letters on Sunday ; they 
quite set me up. On Monday my trouble, which seems inter 
mittent in its nature, came on again, and after being out for an 
hour or so, attending to some business at the adjutant gene 
ral's office, I was obliged to go to bed with a very bad head 
ache. The doctor came in and said that my system required 
to be stimulated, and prescribed quinine and whiskey. But 
the real cordial came in another shape. About dark, one of 
the men came in, and said a gentleman was inquiring for me. 
Upon asking his name, Mr. W. was brought in. I jumped out 
of bed, ran out doors in my stocking-feet, and there were Cousin 
M. and Mr. W. in their carriage. They quickly transferred 
themselves to my tent, and also a champagne basket full of 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 30! 

various goodies ; in fact, a little magazine of provender, which 
will make our larder rejoice till that box from home arrives. 
The horses were taken from the carriage, and put in a rustic 
stable, which my men had built of straw and branches ; we 
got up a good fife in the oven, and at supper time a table, 
completely set out for us, was brought into my tent, and I had 
an opportunity of showing my guests that we did not starve in 
camp. We sat and talked for a while, and then escorted 
Cousin M. to Mrs. Fisher's, where she succeeded in getting 
very comfortable quarters for Jhe night. Mr. W. spent the 
night with me in my tent. He took breakfast with me, Cousin 
M. with General Burns and the brigade surgeon. Then they 
started for home, having given me a great deal of pleasure by 
the visit. How kind it was for them to come so far. I hope 
Cousin M. will not send you an exaggerated account of my 
condition, so as to make you anxious. Mr. W. is a good Union 
man, and up to the times. It must be a thorn in the flesh of 
these secesh Marylanders, to have a gentleman among them 
who takes the " Tribune " regularly, and who advocates the 
making of Maryland a free state. 

The news from the South is most cheering, and I think that 
every one will rejoice that South Carolina should receive the 
just reward of her iniquities, and that, too, when she thought 
that she had removed the noise of war and tumult far away 
from her borders. I hope that you will all have a good time on 
Thanksgiving Day this year. I shall think of you as eating 
turkey together, and shall try to put myself en rapport with 
you in that respect, if such a " bird of loudest lay " can be had. 

THANKSGIVING DAY, November 28. 

CAMP OBSERVATION. 

.... I received a very substantial epistle last night, in 
the form of the long expected box. Everything arrived in 
good order, except in one instance. Please to give my thanks 
to every one for the torrent of good things poured upon me. 
I had hoped by Thanksgiving Day to have announced myself 
as quite recovered, but it goes very slowly, and there are steps 
backward as well as forward. We had a rousing turkey for 
dinner to-day, but I had to content myself chiefly with look- 



3<D2 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ing at him, while the others made play at his gigantic pro 
portions. 

We are still in utter ignorance of what we shall do, but are 
prepared to stay here for some time. General McClellan may 
turn out to be timid and temporizing. Will not the use of the 
Naval Expedition be thrown away, if a simultaneous advance 
is not soon made ? 

CAMP OBSERVATION, December g, 1861. 

DEAREST MOTHER, The visit of Uncle R. and J. was 
most kind and cheering, and brought me up quite a peg. For 
two or three days after they left I improved, and then began to 
settle down again. I feel well enough, generally, but am liable 
to fall into fits of brown study, lassitude, in fact* I received, 
on Saturday last, a telegraphic despatch from S., ordering me 
to meet him in Washington, I suppose to make an effort to 
fix things straight. I hope to get a pass this afternoon, and to 
start early to-morrow morning. 

WASHINGTON, December n. 

I reached here last night, after a day of unmitigated torture. 
I walked over to Poolesville early in the morning, to^take the 
stage, and was forced to ride to Adamstown in a fearful spring- 
less wagon, which jounced me almost to pieces, then by rail 
to the Relay House, and so to Washington, which I reached 
more like a dead man than anything else. I succeeded, 
through the courtesy of an officer, in getting a room in the 
Ebbitt House. When I went into the breakfast room, I was 
so light-headed that I should have fallen, had I not heard a 
voice exclaim, " Why, Mr. Wheeler ! " I looked round and 
saw Mrs. R. She took me in the doctor's carriage to the hos 
pital, where her son is sick. The doctor examined me, and 
insisted on writing me a certificate of disability from duty on 
account of weakness, and sent me down to General Williams's 
office. My pass is to be extended to ten days. 

ANNAPOLIS, December 27 ', 1861. 

MY DEAR MOTHER, I write you to say that I am daily 
improving in health and strength, and coming up rapidly, 
under the combined influence of careful treatment and phos- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 303 

phates. Anything is better than the despondent indifference 
in which I was at camp. The only thing that worries me is, 
that I have not yet got my new leave of absence, and my old 
one expired several days since, so that I have been a sort of 
deserter. A furlough was written for me, by an old army sur 
geon, but it was drawn so incorrectly as to be of no use, and 
was sent back. I then got a proper certificate from Dr. 
Douglas, of the Tenth Connecticut. This went on to Colonel 
H., but he had gone to New York, so that my application has 
lain unattended to, and I am thinking of going directly back 
to camp without, waiting for the leave. We had a pleasant 
Christmas here. R. was longed and sighed for. 

December 31. I suppose you have been kept informed about 
me by letters from uncle and aunt, but I will recapitulate a 
little. I spent the afternoon of December n in Mrs. R.'s 
room. She made me lie down on the sofa, and tucked me up 
warm. In the evening, the Misses W. sent their man in with 
a tray covered with nice things, first-rate tea and toast, which 
went right to the spot. I made a call on them later in the 
evening, and saw Mrs. H. and Miss J. The latter I had never 
met, but Mrs. H. I had seen long ago when I was in college. 
At 3 P. M. I took the train for the Junction, and reached here 
about eight o'clock. I have improved very rapidly ever since 
I came here. If my leave does not come, I shall have to go 
back to Camp Observation, as soon as I am fit to travel. If 
I get right strong and well, I shall report myself for duty when 
my leave runs out ; but, in the present disorganized state of 
our Battery, it does no harm to the public service for me to 
be absent. If we were ready for active operations, it would 
be a different thing, and it would be something to be absent 
a day longer than I could help. 

WASHINGTON, January 24, 1862. 

DEAR MOTHER, I have finally found rest for the sole of 
my foot, to a sufficient extent to take pen in hand and to tell 
you how I am situated. I left New York at 7 A. M. on Tues 
day, and after the usual tedious ride, with the pleasures of a 



304 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

chilly storm superadded, I reached Annapolis and received a 
warm welcome from the friends there. I made a short call on 
Lieutenant W., who has just returned, and had resigned some 
time before reaching Annapolis. I really could not help feel 
ing sorry for him, but still I hope that the government will 
give him his due, by sending him to Fort Warren, and not 
permit him to go South and assist them in organizing that 
branch which they so much need a Navy. I came on here 
on Wednesday afternoon, and, at an early hour, started for our 
camp. Some time before I reached it, I could see a long line 
of evergreens, worked into rustic sheds, and through them 
flamed out numerous red blankets, showing that at least one 
essential requisite for a battery had been obtained, and upon 
coming into camp I found that we had about one hundred and 
ten horses, and that we were to fetch the guns the. next day. 
I suppose that by this evening we shall have four pieces at 
camp. As the tents were all full, and as I was not quite ready 
to do full duty, Captain S. gave me permission to go into 
Washington for quarters. 

We have orders to cross the river, and to join General 
Blenker's Division, so that very possibly we may be away by 
Monday. I see that A. R. has turned up as Captain of the 
First Connecticut Battery. 

CAMP DUNCAN, WASHINGTON, 
January 26, 1862. 

DEAR M., Sunday has brought with it a sufficient degree 
of leisure and quiet to permit me to sit peacefully down and 
tell you how I am, and how I found matters in the Company 

after my absence from it On Wednesday I came to 

Washington, and found the Company where it was two weeks 
ago, and that it had received an increase of members, but that 
entirely on four legs, we have now one hundred and eight 
horses, nearly our entire quota, and shall go to the arsenal to 
morrow to fetch our guns, they are said to be iron six-pound 
ers, of Prussian make, warranted to burst, I suppose, at the 
fifth discharge. Although our Captain is absent, I am not in 
command, for a German lieutenant is promoted over me, and, 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 305 

as I am not ready to resign, I must e'en submit with a good 
grace. Besides, this lieutenant is said to be an accomplished 
artillery officer, and I don't want to push myself above those 
who are really my superiors. But, what is most unpleasant 
to me of all, is, that I have to live with these men, to eat their 
onions and drink their lager, and very rarely to hear a word of 
musical ' English from American lips, as I am almost the sole 
specimen of a Yankee in the Company. There are plenty of 
Irish, it is true, and their " rich brogue," and a river of talk well 
supplied with dam(n)s, can be heard at any time in the camp. 
Now do not think that I make an unnecessary fuss about these 
things, for a soldier's life has in it enough of hardship and 
trouble, without adding the mental agony of continual uncon- 
geniality and disagreement of modes and habits of life. I do 
not "bate one jot of heart or hope," and I am far more de 
termined, now, to see this war out, than I was when I first 
entered the service. 

CAMP DUNCAN, WASHINGTON, 
January 28, 1862. 

The noises and rows, which always accompany pay-day, 
have subsided to a sufficient extent to permit me to take off 
my sabre and pistol, with which I have been prowling through 
the company street, " a terror to evil-doers," and although I 
have had a very busy and fatiguing day, and it is now half- 
past eleven, yet I feel much more like having a good talk with 
you than like going to bed. How curious the moods of letter- 
writing are ! They are not the same as with that faculty of 
conversation which enables one to express himself in easy and 
yet correct words. Conversation is more readily carried on ; 
for then the presence of the friend stimulates and excites, 
while the imagination must assist the letter-writer, to call up 
the absent face, and to hear the well-known voice in reply, 
and the laugh, often shared together at a stray flash of humor. 
I think that if people would give way to their imaginations 
more, when in a kindly vein, their "winged words" would be 
more beautiful and would nestle more warmly on the hearts 
of absent friends. I frequently feel like saying to my corres- 
20 



306 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

pendents, " Be more frivolous, describe little things more 
carefully, and don't touch upon great things, if you must, do 
so superficially and say no more than every one else and the 
newspapers say." 

.... We, in the field, will bear the hardships of the camp, 
and you, at home, will bear the anxiety for us, and will give us 
your prayers ; only let the war last until the question has been 
thoroughly decided, even if it cost the lives of all now in the 
field, and let our institutions be founded upon a basis of real sta 
bility, which no selfish oligarchy can shake at their pleasure. 

I think that already some gleams of light are apparent in 
the South. May the Dayspring soon visit us, and may it really 
be a Dayspring from on high. Since I have been here, I have 
not had a single sensation of homesickness, nor any of re 
gret. My lot is cast in with this matter and I will see it out. 
Courageous and patriotic words from dear and loved friends 
like yourself, ma chere, go right to the soldier's heart, and give 
it warmth and strength to beat with full pulses in the storm. 

But upon my word, I supposed that I was going to be frivo 
lous myself this time, and lo, I have entered into a didactic 
oration on the first page ; please excuse me, and don't take 
any of it to yourself, but write me just as frivolous a letter as 
possible, in revenge for my harangue. .... I had to sleep in 
the same room with a monster from Illinois, of the chestnut- 
worm species (slightly roasted) of mankind ; I suppose there 
are plenty more of the same sort there, but, though they may 
be very decent people, they are loathsome to look at. He was 
a peaceably disposed monster, and beyond the little singular 
ity of going to bed in full dress (I am not so sure about the 
boots), behaved quite creditably. I took him for a hog con 
tractor, but he may have been a member of Congress 

I was quartered in the city until Saturday, when Captain S. 
went to New York ; since then I have occupied his tent, and 
have done full duty. When I arrived, I found the company 
supplied with one hundred and eight horses, nearly their full 
complement ; and I now begin to see how intricate and exten 
sive a matter the charge of a battery of artillery is, when the 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 307 

mere cleaning, feeding, watering, and physicking of the horses 

is so much of an affair We were all paid off to-day, 

and I rode down to Washington with my pockets full of money- 
letters, to send by Adams' Express for the men. I am willing 
to take a good deal of trouble in order to do this ; since it 
both relieves the families at home, and also removes the men 
from temptation. I called on Miss W. and Mrs. H., dirty 
boots and all ; but as they are fi doing " the soldier life, they 
said, they gloried in my muddy boots. 

To L. R. P. 

CAMP DUNCAN, WASHINGTON, 
February 7, 1862. 

DEAR FRIEND, It is a long time since I have written to 
you, not, I think, since I sent you the last heft of the "Elec- 
tra," and I feel ashamed of myself for my long silence ; but 
yet I must plead the shadow of an excuse. Your scholarly, 
quiet, and decorous life seems so far removed from the dirty 
and commonplace existence of us here in camp, that hardly 
more than a faint echo will reach your ear when I speak, and 
you cannot be expected to take much interest in my stories of 
drill and guard duty and muddy misery, when in any news 
paper you can read accounts far more thrilling and exciting 
about soldier life. People in general are, I imagine, pretty 
well disgusted with the subject of the war, and we have to 
content ourselves with exciting an interest for us in the family 
circle and no farther. But I feel a very warm interest in what 
you are doing and studying, old fellow, even in that absorbing 
Sanskrit, although I am hardly prepared just now to under 
take the translation of the Vedas or Hitopadega (is n't that 
the cove's name ?) with you, after the manner of Electra. I 
can't quite give up the old classical boys even now ; I have 
a Leipzig " Horace " on my table, and find an occasional ode 

right jolly reading for odd snatches of time My fellow 

officers get letters from their wives, and read me extracts about 
their little boys, and their naive inquiries after " father," and 
then, when their faces soften and their eyes glisten, I know 



308 LETTERS Ofi WILLIAM WHEELER. 

that my life is very barren and incomplete, and that I have a 

great mystery to learn and as yet no one to teach it me 

Come with me to our camp, three quarters of a mile east of 
the Capitol, and let me introduce you to our officers. Captain 
S , the getter-up of the Battery, with whom I tent, is a very 
queer specimen of humanity; jolly, hasty, practical, unrelia 
ble, philosophic, childish, and, worst of all, addicted to rising 
at abominably early hours, and punching me in the ribs until 
I follow his example. At any rate, an educated officer, and 
one who seems to enjoy a pretty good reputation for experience 
among other German officers. (You observe that this paper 
looks a little greasy ; probably the captain has been using it 
to enfold a Schweine-bifstek, as I constantly find that favorite 

dish of his in all parts of the tent.) Next, Lieutenant M , 

an officer from the General Staff of Wurtemberg, well-posted 
in military matters, but so thoroughly attached to European 
tactics as to be quite unfit to manage American troops ; he is 
likewise conceited enough to shipwreck the best man that ever 

lived. Then, Lieutenant Carl von L (I only give his first 

name, as his intermediate names are legion, and would occupy 
too large a part of my letter), a hohe Herrschaft, and husband 
of the Grafinn somebody, and feels it all over, as is seen at 
first glance. He drinks vast lager, rides pretty well, as he 
was a cavalry officer before, knows no English, because he 
is too lazy to learn, consequently is of very little use to us, 
and is in all respects " ein echter Schwab." Then, Lieutenant 

S , a watchmaker from New York, about forty years old, 

and of rough, harsh appearance, but a real good, kind-hearted 
fellow, entirely reliable and unpretending, and one who stands 
up to his work like a man ; the stables are especially under 
his care, and it makes me laugh to hear him rush out of bed 

at night whenever any disturbances arise there But 

then, we have such floods of German grub : Schweins-bifstek, 
Sauerkraut, Brat und Leber-wurst, Zwiebel und Knoblauch, 
Urisokohl, and all these washed down with plentiful potations 
of Lager-Bier, Rheinwein, and Schnapps. Add to this that 
the cooking is all done in our tent, and you "square the awful 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 309 

product" 1 immediately; the consequence is that a strange 
confusion of goods takes place, and, though I do not, like 
poor Tom, have " ratsbane in my porridge and halters in my 
pew," yet I often see a string of Wurst laid on my portfolio, 
and poor " Horace " has a bunch of Knoblauch on his cover, 
spite of his protest, 

" Parentis olim si quis impia manu 

Senile guttur fregerit, 
Edit cicutis allium nocentius." 

I think that before long I shall myself become a good Ger 
man plain cook, and will be able, when I come home, to turn 
you out abominations of all kinds, gentle reminders of the 
Hotel Bellevue. This morning three of us started off before 
sunrise for a ride and trot-practice. On our way home we 
visited the market at Washington, and I was deputed to do 
the marketing. We then dashed up Pennsylvania Avenue, I 
with two fat chickens, slung one on each side of my saddle 
bow, like John Gilpin's bottles, " to keep the balance true." 
Alas ! my fate was as sad as his, for suddenly the connecting 
link between the birds broke, and they plumped down deep 
into the mud, whence they were extracted by a small boy 
whom I hired to dive for them. (Fine chance for a parody 
on " Wer wagt es, Rittersmann oder Knapp, zu tauchen in 
diesen Schlund ! ") You would revel in the constant oppor 
tunities for speaking German which are afforded here. I go 
right in and talk, utterly regardless of mistakes. It is pretty 
hard to make explanations of military matters in German, as 
I had to do yesterday with an awkward squad of gunners in 
the "school of the piece," as the technical terms are different 
and often peculiar ; but I go fearlessly ahead. Our pieces 
are 6-pounder 3-inch rifled guns, beauties for maneuvering, as 
they are quite light, and I think that they will turn out well 
in action. I already feel an affection for them, and they be 
to me as a sweetheart, yea, as many sweethearts. We have 
had marching orders for some time to cross the river and join 
General Blenker's division, but the weather has been miser 
able, and we may not go for two weeks. 

1 A quotation from a sermon we heard together in Rome. 



3IO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

CAMP DUNCAN, February i, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, As I understand that there is very 
general distress among the people at the North, and as my 
soldiers are pretty generally sending their money home, I follow 

their good example, and send you by Adams' Express, 

hoping that it may help to keep the wolf from the door 

The thought of doing something for you, who have done so 
much for me, dear mother, almost makes me wish that you 
were indeed dependent on my exertions, and that I could 
show you, by faithful labor and self-denial, that I am not un 
grateful. This money I send home because I am afraid that 
I may lose it here. I feel a redoubled interest in the service 
now that we have our guns, horses, battery, wagon forge, and 
everything complete, and, as I conduct the simpler maneuvers, 
the more difficult ones begin to become plain to me, and I have 
a good hope that my daily exercise and drill will constantly ex 
plain the study of tactics which I pursued quite industriously 
in that hillside Camp of Observation. Of course I do not ex 
pect ever to be a really good artillery officer, in the proper 
sense of the word, but still I may be able to do something in 
the service, and accomplish more than if I were merely a 
lieutenant of infantry. Yesterday I went down to the arsenal 
with the caissons for some ammunition, and as I had hardly 
any officers with me, I felt quite a weight of responsibility 
upon me. I was continually apprehensive lest one of them 
might fall into some unfathomable mud-hole, from which our 
young, untrained horses would never be able to pull it up. 
Then, at the railroad crossing, I was again very nervous, for on 
the day when we brought up the pieces, the cars came along 
close to us, and the horses of one carriage got tied up in a 
hard knot. But no such accident happened to me, and I 
brought my charge back all right. This getting on horseback 
seems to put new life into me ; and although I have no horse 
of my own, I can get along with one of the company horses 
until the government receives some animals more worthy to 
be straddled by officers than those now in their stables. Last 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 31 1 

Thursday was pay-day, and we had a terrible time with the 
men for two days after. I won't dilate upon the disagree 
able subject, but only say that I almost lost my faith in human 
nature, so many of the best and most reliable men proved 
wholly bad and unreliable under the influence of drink. I 
am sorry to be obliged to inform you that our living here is 
very bad. The mess at Camp Observation was luxury com 
pared with it. There is no system ; each picks up what he 
can find, and then sits "silently apart gorging .himself in 
gloom," I would not say gorging, for that presupposes an 
amount of food not easily attainable. Captain S. is anxious 
to get across the river to Virginia, so that we may be settled. 

and have things decent and comfortable As soon as I 

get comfortably quartered I shall be quite content. 

CAMP HUNTER'S CHAPEL, VA., 
GENERAL BLENKER'S DIVISION, February 23, 1862. 

.... Sunday is a day of work as well as any other, but 
we do not drill or undertake any lengthy job likely to take all 
day. This morning I was hard at work for four hours unload 
ing ammunition and packing it in our caissons. This was de 
cidedly a work of necessity, for the stuff had come up from the 
arsenal three or four days ago. and ever since then it had been 
too wet to venture to unpack it. To-day the weather was 
very fine, so we took advantage of it to get our precious am 
munition stowed away, and I was handling canister, shells, 
and case-shot, instead of going to church. I intend to take 
my horse next Sunday and ride over to General Franklin's 
Division to see Jo. J. and go to church with him. He is about 
three miles and a half from here, in the Alexandria district. 
The sight of a single friendly face would be a great treat to 
me here, but I have to make duty take the place of friendship, 
culture, and most other desirable things. I am now decidedly 
the laboring oar of the concern, for domestic ties impair the 
efficiency of two of our officers, for the wife of Lieutenant V. 
L. is at Washington, and he goes there as often and stays as 
long as he possibly can. The other afternoon who should 



312 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

appear in camp but Madame S., with three fat, flourishing 
images of the illustrious captain. He quartered them in a 
house near by our encampment, put himself on the sick list, 
and has gone up there to stay with them, and left me to have 
command of the battery. This keeps me very busy, but then 
I can manage matters according to my own ideas of what is 
right, and the responsibility is honorable and exciting. On 
Washington's Birthday our Battery went out for inspection and 
review ; but that is a long story. I feel still the same delight 
ful state of uncertainty about my daily food ; but who cares 
much for such trivial things when every newspaper brings 
such delightful, reviving news of the success of our arms in 
every quarter. I think I could have lived for a week on the 
news of Fort Donelson alone. How you New Haven folks 
must rejoice in the success and glory of Captain Foote, who, 
it seems to me, stands out more prominently than any other 
commander, as distinguished for his gallant conduct and cool 

bravery Still, the great battle will yet take place in 

Virginia, and we shall be ready to be in it, for our men are 
ambitious and quite enthusiastic. Having guns and horses to 
take care of, and duties of both interest and difficulty to per 
form, seems to have transformed some of them from drunken 
wretches to eager, careful workers. After all, no arm is like 
the artillery. I never could have stood the monotony of in 
fantry service. 

CAMP HUNTER'S CHAPEL, VA., GENERAL BLENKER'S 

DIVISION, February 28, 1862. 

Your right kindly and " frivolous " letter, dated February ist, 
was duly received by me at Camp Duncan, although directed 
to General Blenker's Division, for, as you very sensibly suggest, 
the movements of so celebrated an officer as myself are too 
well known for my letters ever to go astray, and General 
McClellan was, at that time, in the habit of daily calling on 
the Washington Postmaster, and saying to him, "Lieutenant 
Wheeler is still at Camp Duncan ; " so that it was through 
this considerate behavior on the part of the Commander-in- 
Chief that I was spared the agony of having your letter de- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE, 313 

layed. I was much amused with the whole epistle, and thought 
it a right jolly production for an unhappy being with head 
ache, toothache, bad cold, etc. You can't be too frivolous in 
a letter. One laugh at some comical idea warms the heart of 
the reader towards the sender more than a page full of endear 
ments, and you say in your heart, " He must indeed love me 
if writing to me inspires him with such gladness and lightness 
of heart." The necessary labors, accompanying the receipt 
of our guns and ammunition, and the preparations for moving 
out to this camp, kept me so busy at Washington, that I got 
no chance to write you, and since we have been in Dixie my 
time has been still more fully occupied in the arranging of our 
new camp, and with drills, etc. And now, as I am going out on 
picket to-morrow morning with my section, I cannot refrain 
from writing you a few lines (perhaps the last I may write), to 
let you know that I am well and think of you, as I may not 
have facilities to write again soon. 

We broke up at Camp Duncan on the izth of February, 
and marched down to Washington, through Pennsylvania Av 
enue, across the Long Bridge into Virginia, and then through 
much mud to this camp, where the Teutonic element has 
its head-quarters, and revels in endless streams of lager, 
infinite plantations of sauerkraut, and strings of small but 
seductive sausages. We selected our camp on a very fine 
piece of elevated ground, the dryest in the neighborhood, near 
to the main road, and with good springs of water handy. And 
now after two weeks of steady hard work ; after building a 
brush stable, also a kitchen, fixing up all the tents nicely and 
comfortably with board floors, and getting generally settled 
down, lo and behold, the order comes that the whole Division 
must hold themselves in readiness to march at two hours' no 
tice ; and so, all our toil will be for naught. I start for the ex 
treme outposts to-morrow morning with my section (the first, 
containing the first and second pieces), which is the best in 
the Battery, and I think it very likely that the rest will fol 
low soon ; so that you see we are likely to get a pop at your 
friends the seceshers after all. My whole heart and soul have 



314 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

been wrapped up in my battery, especially since we came out 
here. I have drilled the whole six pieces at once, and find 
that it is the only way in which thoroughly to secure the fruits 
of my study. We turned out on Washington's Birthday for 
inspection and review by General Blenker. There were three 
batteries of light artillery, sixteen pieces in all, and we ficed 
a salute of a hundred guns. Although our horses had had 
very little drill, I succeeded in conducting them and the men 
through several quite difficult maneuvers, and was very much 
relieved when I saw the horses stand the firing without run 
ning away and tearing everything to pieces. 

The thing that gives me plenty of spirit and enthusiasm is 
that I am extremely well mounted. My horse is a beautiful 
dark bay, with a sort of metallic reflection in his skin, has a 
jolly little head, and is, in all points, nicely and strongly put 
together. I call him " Barry," after the Chief of Artillery, and 
pet him enormously. He will follow me like a dog, eats sugar 
out of my hand, and rubs his head on my shoulder when I 
caress him. You shall ride him too, one of these days, if you 
will be a good girl, and not secesh too much. 

CAMP HUNTER'S CHAPEL, March 9, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, .... My letters to and from home 
are my only means of communication with the outer world. 
I am always in camp and have not been to Washington 
once since we have been out here. When my isolation is 
interrupted by letters from the dear friends, I feel repaid for 
all discomforts, and prepare myself to endure all that is en 
durable, and in my case the unendurable has not been reached 
yet. I think that there must be something in the free and 
out of door life that hardens and strengthens me to bear what 
is inharmonious and incompatible in my mental and social ex 
istence If there is anything like a general engage 
ment, they will need all the guns they can get, and I think 
that our greenhorns can drive, load, and fire well enough to 
take part. My heart is full of anxiety when I think of that 
final struggle, not on my own account, that may come when 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 315 

we go to the field, but for the almost indescribable greatness 
of the interests at stake. A born coward ought to fight well 
for this once, as such another opportunity will never come up in 

the world's history, to inspire courage and noble daring 

Where do you suppose this letter is being written ? Has it 
any peculiar smell, like Michael's boots, for example? For I 
am writing it in the stable, sitting on a camp-stool, in the nice 
clean stall with my horse, General Barry ; in fact it is the pleas- 
antest place in the camp ; for such occupation my tent is too 
warm, this lovely spring day, but here, with the sweet branches 
of pine and hemlock trees on every side, protecting me from 
the wind, and with the clear blue sky all overhead, I can write 
my letter, and yet not lose all the calm and happy influences 
of God's light and air. The General is very inquisitive, and 
has several times smelled and bit at my paper ; he is a regu 
lar nibbler, and the other day walked behind me and ate up 
half of a Herald, which I had under my, arm. He is now 
quite lame, his foot is adorned with a fine bran poultice, which 
I hope will bring him all right in a day or two. I sympathize 
with him in his trouble, and pay him several visits every day, 
with a little sugar or salt to tickle his equine palate with. 

March 15, 1862. 

DEAR AUNT E., ... . Perhaps my next will contain 
something more interesting than dull descriptions of camp life 
in this great lazy army of the Potomac. 

A move is to be made very soon ; troops from all parts are 
concentrating in this neighborhood, and even the brigade to 
which we were attached in Maryland, General Burns's, has just 
marched in and gone to Bailey's Cross Roads. The whole 
Division received special notice, on last Saturday, that three 
days' preparation would be allowed to get into perfect march 
ing order. I think that the forward move would have been 

made to-day if the weather had continued good The 

winds play the very mischief with us, in our somewhat exposed 
situation. A violent southwester, a week or so ago, proved 
fatal to most of the tents in our encampment ; at first one Sib- 



316 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ley tent broke from its moorings and collapsed, then another 
and another, then the tent of the orderly sergeant went by the 
board, and the fields around were whitened with official docu 
ments of every description. Then the captain's rose and made 
a graceful pirouette on one pole, and subsided on the ground. 
I expected every minute to see my tent follow its example, 
and, for the whole day, my tent- mate and I took turns in sit 
ting on the fly, to break the force of the hurricane. I did not 
sleep a wink, and the tent rocked like a boat on the waves ; 
but morning found us all right. 

In summer this must be a lovely place for an encampment ; 
beautiful ranges of hills, crowned by forts bristling with can 
non and abattis, and between them fine level spots for drill 
and parade, with excellent streams of water all around. The 
name of the camp is taken from a homely red wooden build 
ing, erected by a farmer of the name of Hunter, and used as 
a place of worship ; it has been degraded from its former high 
use, to serve as a magazine for quartermaster's and commis 
sary's store's. This Division is called the German Division, 
and the officers at head-quarters have to do business in a poly 
glot fashion. I greatly outraged the assistant adjutant general 
by refusing to recognize a German order which was sent to 
me, when I was in command. 

Every moment is precious to us now, as we shall have to go 
into the fight with the others, and it would be desirable for us 
to be able to do a little more execution among the enemy than 
our own men. I am endeavoring to interest the men in the 
subject, as much as possible, and to call out their latent enthu 
siasm. They take hold very much better than I could have 
dared to expect, and there is considerable emulation among 
the different pieces, to see which shall be best drilled and best 
maneuvered. I rode over to General Franklin's Division to 
see J. J., and found that he had been ill at home for some 
weeks with a bad fever. On my way back I inquired for Fort 
Richardson, and found that it was within a gun-shot of our en 
campment, and that I had been three weeks so near to the 
Fourth Connecticut, and to my friend T. T., who is the adju- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 317 

tant of it. The regiment is a wonder of neatness, and was 
pronounced by General McClellan's committee of inspection 
to be the finest regiment in the volunteer service. How splen 
didly Commodore Foote has borne himself. He and Lyon 
are, to my mind, the heroes^ of the war so far. Connecticut 
has no reason to be ashamed of her sons. 

I am in excellent health and spirits, and am growing fat, in 
spite of hard fare and poor accommodations. 

FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, VA., 
March 19, 1862. 

I have at last a moment of leisure at my command, and my 
trunk has just come up from camp, so that I have an oppor 
tunity to drop you a line, a baker's dozen of artillery officers 
are sitting in the room. Our head-quarters were formerly the 
parlor of a very decent house, and there is a perpetual clatter 
of tongues disputing about horses, points of discipline, and 
other military matters, while now and then a beer glass comes 
down empty in a very emphatic manner. But I have found it 
necessary to make myself very often deaf and callous to these 
things, otherwise my life would be very hard to bear. My last 
letter to J. was written from our last camp, Taylor's Cross 
Roads, and just before I got it finished, a hurried order came 
to march ; I thrust it into my pocket and rushed off to make 
preparations, Captain S. being absent. In less than an hour 
we were off on the road to Fairfax, and a heavy rain, which 
seemed to follow us on our marches like a tutelary genius, 
poured pitilessly down. The road was at first pretty good, 
but became ever worse as the Division advanced, and at last 
the mud got so deep as to give us much trouble. My section 
went through everything without a halt, but two or three of 
the other carriages were not so fortunate, and I had to halt 
the column and send back teams to pull them out of the mud. 
In consequence we were a long time on the road, and when 
we reached this place, I was as thoroughly soaked as if I had 
been dipped in a pond. Then we had to find quarters for men 
and horses, especially the latter, and this was no easy matter, 



318 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

as the cavalry had come in before us, and horses' heads peeped 
out of school-room windows, and the ferrule gave way to the 
cowhide. Many of the inhabitants had fled, and their houses 
were generally taken possession of for officers' quarters ; in 
smaller houses were some families remaining, and some of the 
old campaigners in our Company managed to billet themselves 
there in very comfortable quarters, and about sixty of our men 
took up their abode in the Court-house where " Old John 
Brown " was tried and condemned, and immediately consti 
tuted a court, and proceeded to reenact the scenes of Novem 
ber, 1859. 

We expected to have to march off the next day to some 
point in advance, but the plans seem to have been changed. 
.... The soldiers have behaved very well ; to be sure the 
fences have suffered somewhat, when firewood was not else 
where to be had, and a stray pig or fowl may have mysteriously 
come to an untimely end ; but no houses have been burned, 
and the inhabitants and their property have been treated much 
better than rebels deserve. We have not been idle since com 
ing here. We have had two or three very good drills, both in 
section, battery, and battalion, and yesterday we took part in 
a grand review of General Sumner's Corps d' Armee. At least 
40,000 men must have been there, and they were drawn up in 
two lines of battle, and a reserve. We were in the second line 
of battle, and I had the honor of commanding the Battery. 
General Sumner is a rather elderly man, with a shrewd and 
pleasant face, a squeaky voice, and gray hair. He was enthu 
siastically cheered as he passed along the lines. It is on oc 
casions of this kind that I feel the want of my jolly little horse, 
which is still at Hunter's Chapel. The animal I now ride is 
excellent for mud work, and very sure footed, but unfit for a 
show occasion. 

I think of you very often in my mental and moral loneli 
ness, and try to make old family and home memories supply 
the place of present good influences. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 319 

GENERAL BLENKER'S DIVISION, SUMNER'S CORPS D'ARMEE, 
FAIRFAX COURT HOUSE, VA., March 26, 1862. 

When I wrote to you last, I was not at all in the mood for 
it, and simply intended to throw you off a few lines as a bul 
letin of my condition and prospects, and with the expectation 
of soon having an opportunity to write you again, when I could 
really commune with you in spirit, as many times before, but 
have been so busy and active with preparations, marches, 
bivouacs, and drills, that the favorable moment could not be 
seized. And I had promised myself the luxury of a talk with 
you this very rainy morning, when Captain Schirmer, com 
manding the light artillery, ordered a court martial, and de 
tailed me as judge advocate of it; so my pen had to deal with 
melancholy facts of drunkenness, insubordination, and dis 
obedience, rather than serve as interpreter of kind thoughts 
and wishes from me to you. 

But while I was deep in charges and specifications, and the 
piles of paper around me were growing decidedly Alpine in 
their character, one of the officers came in and handed me 
three letters. I glanced at the beloved crow-tracks on the 
outside, and broke one open, when the president began to 
look impatient, and the member next to me said in German, 
"put up your love-letters, and attend to business." So I thrust 
them into my breast-pocket, but that one glance was enough 
to show me that they were far more worthy to be called " love- 
letters " than those which usually bear that name ; for one was 
from Aunt E., one from L. R. P., and one from yourself. .... 
After having convicted three or four unfortunates of various 
military offenses, and sentenced them to such pleasant little 
amusements as " Guard duty four times a week," " Hard labor 
for a month," " Reduction to the ranks," and " Loss of pay," 
I set myself down to a greedy devourment of my letters, all of 
which were most kind, and made me ask myself what right a 
poor devil of a soldier had to have such good friends, and that 
they should continue to take such a tender interest in him. Let 
ters like these pierce the thick rhinoceros hide of insensibility 



32O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

which the soldier must wrap around himself. So, this morning 
I was reckless enough, and thought of nothing but blood and 
wounds and fried secessionists for breakfast; but now, I can't 
help feeling " low " and soft, with glimpses of a home-life 
somewhere, and a strong touch of nostalgia under the ribs ; 
and when I go down stairs to go to bed (we go down to bed 
here, and up-stairs to work), I know that I shall not have 
spunk enough to kick out the fellows, who, I feel sure, are 
lying with their dirty boots on my mattress. 

We came into this pleasant village, through which the tide 
of retreat and advance has so often ebbed and flowed, a 
week ago, having marched here from Taylor's Cross Roads 
in a tremendous rain-storm. The place was full of soldiers, 
and men and horses were quartered in the court-house, in 
churches, private houses, and wherever they could make a 
lodgment, but only the deserted houses were taken posses 
sion of. In cases where the inhabitants had the sense to re 
main in their dwellings, no soldiers were forced upon them 
against their consent. We artillery officers, some fifteen in 
number, have a very respectable house to ourselves. It be 
longed to a man named Jackson, who is said to be a near 
relation of the man that shot Ellsworth. (N. B. That Jack 
son must have a large family connection at least five hun 
dred Jacksons have turned up in this war who were said to be 
his relations.) It was not at all disagreeable to get a roof over 
our heads once more, after bivouacking for a week. Sleep 
ing in the open air is not unpleasant, when you have the blue 
sky and stars overhead, although the ground may be hard and 
damp, and the wind cold and stiffening, that one can stand, 
but when it rains and soaks you through, and you have no dry 
clothes to put on, but must act on the principle of " Every 
man his own clothes-horse," ugh ! then the fun ceases to be 

perceptible, even with my very excellent field-glass 

You ask me what I think of General McClellan and the 
" Tribune " attacks. I must say that I have lately given up 
thinking as an occupation, but whatever ideas I may have of 
the conduct of the General in a military point of view, as a sol- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 321 

dier, I have nothing to do but to hold my tongue and do my 
duty. At the same time you know rny opinions on the subject 
of slavery, and that this matter will never be finally settled 
until the root of the matter is cut up. Too much blood and 
treasure have been expended by the North, to permit a mere 
temporary soldering up of the affairs, to break out again 
worse than before. 

MANASSAS, March 27, 1862. 

DEAR M., For nearly three weeks I have been moving 
from one bivouac to another, except during the time that we 
were at Fairfax Court House, and then there was such a bustle 
and constant excitement, that letter-writing was quite out of 
the question. Perhaps it would be better for me to give you 
a little account of our marchings and counter-marchings, as it 
will enable you better to follow me. On Monday, March 10, 
we moved out of Camp Hunter's Chapel, and went as far as 
Annandale ; then by a very bad road to Taylor's Farm, where 
we were encamped for three days. Up to that day, we had 
very fine weather, and the two nights which R. spent in camp 
with me were just adapted to an amateur bivouacker, but the 
next day set in dark and misty, and at night we had a' hard 
rain which knocked away all traces of romance about sleeping 
out of doors. At eleven A. M. a very sudden order came 
to march, and we were soon on our way to Fairfax Court 
House in as heavy a rain-storm as I want to see, unless 
through a window-pane, and the roads being very bad, halts 
were numerous, and we had to sit still on our horses and take 
it. Still we were much better off than the infantry, or dough 
boys as they are called in army parlance, and one of my men 
told me that he saw a foot-soldier lying stark dead in the 
woods from cold and exposure. At Fairfax Court House we 
stayed for a week, had drills and inspections when the weather 
permitted, and were reviewed once by General Sumner, who 
now commands this Corps d'Armee of the Army of the 
Potomac. It consists of three Divisions, Richardson's, Sedg- 
wick's, and Blenker's, and counts from thirty to forty thousand 
men. I commanded our Battery at the review, and had the 
21 



322 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

honor of answering some questions put by the General. On 
Monday last, as we were at battalion drill, we received orders 
to march, and were off in little more than half an hour ; had 
a splendid night march to Centreville over a first-rate road. 
We had a very cold bivouac ; in the morning I examined the 
fortifications, and saw the famous wooden guns, painted black, 
which you must have read about in the papers. The earth 
works are not very formidable in their character, but on ac 
count of their position, at the head of a long slope, something 
like a garden-lawn, which furnishes very little protection to 
besiegers advancing, it would be hard to take it in front with 
out very great loss. Early the next morning we again took 
up our line of march, and after some hard pulling through the 
mud came to Bull Run. It was much larger, I should think, 
than it was last summer, quite a respectable creek, about 
three feet deep at the point where we crossed it (Blackburn's 
Ford, I think), and not more than fifty or sixty yards wide. I 
sat on my horse in the middle of the stream, the water reach 
ing just above my feet, and directed, and managed until the 
whole of the Battery had crossed over, and as I sat there, 
my mind would revert to that day in July last, when our 
troops crossed it in flight, and to that dreadful Monday when 
the news reached us at the North, arid we thought that all 
was lost to the Republic. Then as we advanced further, 
the beautiful blue mountains beyond Manassas showed their 
heads, in some places covered with snow, and soon we struck 
upon the railroad which was so serviceable to the rebels in 
the campaign of last autumn. And so we emerged upon the 
plateau of Manassas, a fine bit of almost level ground, with 
woods on two sides, and mountains beyond ; an admirable 
place for a camp, and the secessionists had improved its 
advantages very decidedly, by building camps of log-huts, 
in spots sheltered from wind and storm. These huts are 
shingled, and plastered with mud, and must have been far 
more comfortable than the tents in which we spent the winter. 
We encamped on the further end of the plateau, and then, 
yesterday morning, the Division moved off towards Manassas 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 323 

Gap and Winchester, to effect a junction with General Banks. 
Our Battery and the Sixty-fourth New York were left behind 
to guard this place, an arrangement which did not please me 
greatly, until I was assured by Captain Schirmer, who com 
mands the Battalion, that there would be no fighting, and that 
our horses would be much more able to do severe duty, if 
they could get a day's rest and plenty of forage ; so I was paci 
fied, and moved up and took possession of some of those nice 
secesh huts to await further orders ; if there should be a battle, 
we shall have to go right forward, and if a retreat, we will 
have to cover it. I am sorry that I asked of you so great an 
undertaking as I fear the getting up of that flag must be. 
.... Even if we never carry it into battle, I shall feel most 
deeply grateful to you for the kindly and tender interest that 
induced you to make it, and shall look upon it as a proof of 
the love you bear towards me, and also towards that cause 

which is so mutually precious to us all I have not yet 

heard it positively stated that Blenker had been removed from 
his command. At any rate, I saw him yesterday at the head 
of his staff, moving with the Division. I would give a good 
deal to have Sigel for our commander, as then we should have 
plenty of hard work and tough knocks, with a clear assurance 
of victory at the end ; but Sigel, if he should take any com 
mand here, would have a Corps d'Armee and not merely a 
Division. 

MANASSAS, March 30, 1862. 

MY DEAR SISTER T., I received your very nice and kind 
letter the other day, just after our arrival at this place, and 
with it the earte-de-visite, which looked at me so truthful and 
natural. I was at first almost startled, and could hardly 
realize that it was not my little sister herself, who, in some 
mysterious manner had pasted herself on a card. I am now 
sitting in a quite comfortable shanty, one of those which the 
" Secesh " built last winter to accommodate their troops. 
They are quite substantial, built of logs, and plastered with 
mud ; the roof is made of shingles, and keeps the rain out, 
except when it rains very hard We have pretty hard 



324 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

times to get anything to eat, as most of the supplies have 
gone further on. After drinking sugarless coffee for a few 
days, we have no coffee at all, and no water fit to drink. Of 
course, under such circumstances, the hen-roosts and barn 
yards of the rebel folks have to suffer considerably. I have 
now in my cap the feather of a guinea-hen, from one not a 
thousand miles away. Of her untimely end I will say nothing, 
except that she was extremely tough, and that I shall abstain 
from guinea-hen in future. 

PRESCOTT HOUSE, WASHINGTON, D. C., 
April 9, 1862. 

DEAR J., You will be somewhat surprised at the heading 
of this letter, but a little wind of business has blown me here, 
and I take advantage of a little leisure time after breakfast, 
before assaulting the departments, to answer your very jolly 
and refreshing letter, which I received at Warrenton Junction, 
just as I was coming away. It was just the kind of letter that 
I like to get, a picture of home and New Haven matters, 
with a good dose of peppering thrown in. General observa 
tions and reflections in a letter between intimate friends are 
generally " nichts nutz," unless made in a way that illustrates 
the character of the person making them. It is the neat little 
touches thrown skillfully in, that make the home picture glow 
with life, and make the heart of the absent member beat 
warmly as he looks at it, the one is like the bland, unmean 
ing allegorical pictures of the French school ; the latter like 
the homely but delightful interiors of Teniers and Dow. I 
had some hint of the dissipation in which N. H. was indulg 
ing from T. D., who also spoke of you as " pars fui " thereof, 
but I had no idea of the extent to which you had been en 
gaged in it till I heard it from yourself. . ... To let you 
know a little about myself. I spent nine days altogether in 
the shanties of Manassas, and lived in plenty and prosperity, 
drawing the necessaries of life from Uncle Sam on the one 
hand, and on the other foraging for double rations of corn 
and hay, and occasionally picking up stray horses, oxen, 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 325 

sheep, pigs, and poultry of every kind. My horse-stealing ex 
perience was neither very pleasant nor successful. I got two 
old " clams " from a deserted farm-house, which got played out 
on the very first march, and two good horses from the sheriff 
of Prince William's County, whom I had heard to be a vile 
secesh, but who turned out to be one of those Union men 
who are now getting to be so plenty in the South, and I had 
to fork over the animals or run the risk of a row with General 
Sumner, although I needed them extremely to move my bat 
tery. You may be sure that I felt much as Robin Hood did 
when the sheriff of Nottinghamshire got the head start of him, 
and made up my mind not to meddle with sheriffs in future. 
On Thursday last our rest was broken by the arrival of a 
troop of the' mounted rifles, to cover us on our march to War- 
renton, and the next day General Sumner came through and 
ordered us to depart immediately. So I set off with my de 
tachment, being the largest one I had had command of, with 
half the cavalry in front, the other half behind our wagons, 
and two at my own back as garde d'honneur. We started late 
in the day, and marched to the Jersey settlement near Bristow, 
where we encamped for the night on the farm of Major Snow, a 
Northern man. We took supper and breakfast with him very 
pleasantly, and did not despoil him, except a few oats for our 
horses, and a king-bolt for one of our wagons. The officers 
slept on the floor of his very handsome parlor, and I napped it 
gorgeously on the rug before the fire (more antiquo). It rained 
in the night, and in the morning the roads were very bad, and 
we had a journey of extreme difficulty and fatigue. We had 
to cut roads, ford streams, and dig out the wheels of our car 
riages with shovels from the putty-like mud. I was constantly 
in the saddle for some fourteen hours. At last we reached 
Warrenton Junction, the camp of the Division, and the men 
lay down in the mud perfectly fagged out. I had to lead the 
way myself in order to start out a wood-chopping party, and, 
after cutting down a good sized oak, I too was not sorry to 
succumb. Early the next morning the Division had orders to 
march ; but Captain S. said that our horses were not fit to go, 



326 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

so I sent only one section with Lieutenant Singer, and was 
ordered myself to Washington to get some new horses. I 
started off immediately, had two days of rough travel in this 
horrible snow-storm, and got here last night. I fear that I 
shall not have much luck, but intend to try everything to get 
them, as it is miserable to be so close to the enemy and yet 
constantly impeded by the want of the means of moving. 

I enclose a couple of secesh shin-plasters for J. The S. C. 
is rather interesting. 

To L. R. P. 

WASHINGTON, April 12, 1862. 

.... Your very kind letter reached me safely at Manassas, 
having ridden the stormy waves of Bull Run, and then having 
been carried all the way out to Warrenton Junction, where 
the rest of the Division was lying, and brought back again to 
me. From these experiences it suffered nothing, except per 
haps a slight stiffening from getting wet and being dried 
again, and a faint odor of " Limburger," from being so long on 
the person of the Division P. M. Unfortunately I have it not 
with me, and so must answer it from recollection, and not 
pimctuatim et seriatim. 

Your account of your work shows me that you have not at 
all taken my advice in regard to secluding yourself, but have 
grown worse, if anything, rather than better. Far be it from 
me to say that your time is ill-spent in making yourself a 
thorough scholar, and in going to the sources of language for 
a firm foundation ; but is it not a species of refined selfish 
ness for you to give yourself wholly to this self-accomplish 
ment ? and do you not forget that, whether as a teacher or a 
preacher, your work is to be done, and your influence put 
forth in the living, breathing Now, and that if your fairest life 
is in the Past, you cannot know and appreciate the Present as 
you should ? These scholarly pursuits are the most beautiful 
in the world, if they are kept subordinate to the great aims of 
duty and daily labor, and made co-workers in attaining some 
great and noble end ; but when made an end in themselves, 
their life is gone, and the more the mind gains of knowledge, 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 327 

so much the more does the soul lose of freshness and work 
ing power. Look at the scholarship of Dante, of Milton ; 
deep, grand, and beautiful as it. was, how it was transfigured 
by the heavenly light of religion and patriotism, till the stu 
dent was quite forgotten. But this is certainly a queer ser 
mon for a rough soldier to be preaching to a scholar, and for 
give me if it be not applicable to you ; but it is what' I have 
often thought you wanted, and I know that you will pardon 
me for speaking out. The life I lead myself is just the oppo 
site. Everything is intensely practical, just what lies before 
our feet, and in the immediate horizon ; to keep the men and 
horses alive and healthy ; to drill and march them well ; to 
manage provision and forage carefully ; to be always ready for 
anything that may occur ; to have everything about the guns 
and equipments in perfect order ; and for us officers to ride 
long, eat hearty, watch well, sleep sound, this is our life, 
and a most sensual and beastly life too, if it were not for a 
few sparks of duty and love of country, that keep the heart 
aglow in the wildest night-storm, sustain the body through 
fatigue and privations, and even make our rough campaigning 
"bright, with something of an angel light." Since we came 
into the field I have been so well in body, and so glad in 
spirit, that I have felt almost exultant, and my feelings have 
been just those of the cove in the " Two Voices," who 

" sang the joyful paean clear," etc., q. v In my present 

life, and especially in our Division, there is very little to help 
serious thoughts. Sunday passes unobserved and often un 
known, and there is not a single soul in the whole camp with 
whom I can walk, talk, or sing in sympathy on that day. 

ALEXANDRIA, April 29, 1862. 

.... I came to Washington for the purpose of getting 
some new horses, and after I had them all picked out, and 
was ready to march with them to Warrenton Junction, Captain 
S. took it into his head that it would be very dangerous for 
us to march over the mountains to join the Division, and 
that it would be better for the Battery to come by rail and go 



328 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

by way of Harper's Ferry, an idea involving much ex 
pense to the Government. But as he insisted upon it, I had 
to leave the horses and go out again by rail. When I 
reached Warrenton Junction I found that one section of the 
Battery had been sent out, with other troops, on an important 
reconnaissance, to the Rappahannock, about ten miles off. 
At the same time, pretty steady firing was heard in that 
direction, and soon a message was sent, asking for ree'n- 
forcements. A company of the Maine Cavalry started off 
immediately, and I accompanied them. We rode and rode, 
and at last were almost in the enemy's claws, when an orderly 
overtook us, and told us that the reconnoitering party had 
accomplished its object and had retired. The force we had 
engaged consisted, in all, of about sixteen hundred infantry, two 
hundred cavalry, and eight pieces of artillery. They regu 
larly surprised the enemy as he was mounting guard, silenced 
two of his forts, and blew up his magazines, but the force we 
had was too small to permit of their crossing the river and cap 
turing the forts, so they withdrew in good order, with very little 
loss. On Sunday, April 20, we broke up camp, put our pieces 
and caissons on the cars, having left Lieutenant M. with the 
cannoneers in charge of them. I took the drivers and their 
horses and marched to Alexandria by the road. We had two 
days of incessant rain, and several broad and swift creeks to 
swim, but we made a rapid march, and got to Alexandria 
Tuesday afternoon, where we found everything all right, ex 
cept battery wagon and forge, which were to come on the 
next train, but which had been kept back by the destruction 
of Bull Run bridge by the freshet. This kept us in Wash 
ington several days ; at last they have arrived here, and I 
have come over with horses to bring them to Washington ; to 
morrow we are to go on to Cumberland and so to Romney. 

FRANKLIN, May 15, 1862. 

DEAR MOTHER, .... The reason why I did not write 
while at Washington the second time was that I was in a state 
of chronic disgust at the way in which Battery affairs were 
going on. I was the only officer who was willing to do duty 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 329 

at the barracks where our men were quartered, and was con 
stantly there during the day-time. We had got some new 
horses, and as we had no proper stables, they were continually 
running away, and causing endless trouble and anxiety. The 
men were very hard to keep in check, and would get off into 
the city and get drunk and neglect their duty, and then I used 
to get the credit of all the damage they did, and all the rows 
they kicked up. At last we got orders to go to Harper's 
Ferry. After twenty hours of very disagreeable travelling, 
we reached Sandy Hook, east of Harper's Ferry, and there 
learned that the bridge had broken down, and we had no safe 
means of getting across. So we were obliged to go to 
work and unload our horses, which had been standing, closely 
packed in the cars, for a day and night, and the poor things 
showed evident marks of biting, rubbing, and other hard treat 
ment. We waited at Sandy Hook two days for the bridge to 
be completed. It is a lovely situation, on the Potomac, sur 
rounded by high and abrupt hills. One of these I climbed, 
and found on the top the Observatory which Colonel Geary 
had built, to watch the enemy from. The view is as fine a 
panorama as could well be imagined. On the one side the 
long, pleasant valley of the Potomac, lying between ranges 
of high rolling land ; on the other the abrupt bluffs, through 
which the river forced its way in some period long gone by, 
leaving the cloven promontories standing out, like the two 
halves of a broken stone, fitting into each other. Off to the 
west lay a beautiful stretch of level farm land, sleeping in the 
warm sun of a May Sabbath, the grain fields just beginning to 
wear a lovely green, which made a fine contrast with the 
deep verdure of the pine and oak forests, which clothed the up 
lands. The same afternoon we received orders to prepare to 
march, so we packed our horses into the cars, and put all the 
men on board, in order that we might be able to start off as 
soon as the bridge was finished. We had to spend the night 
in the cars, after all. Passing over the bridge was no joke, as 
a train of coal cars which had passed just before us had caused 
it to sink two feet, and our train consisted of more than forty 



330 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

cars, very heavily loaded. Very few remained in the cars 
while crossing, but I thought it hardly fit for a soldier to 
bother himself about such things, so I confided in the loyalty 
and good management of the B. & O. R. R., and rode peace 
fully over. We got to Martinsburg in the evening ; but it 
was too late to see very much of this outpost of secesh. 
Early the next morning we reached our place of destination, 
New Creek, which is now the principal depot of supplies for the 
Army of Western Virginia. There we unloaded the cars, and 
got everything in marching trim. We, means Lieutenant D., 
now in command of this Battery, and myself. He has been in 
command about five weeks. He does his duty right up to the 
handle, and it is a pleasure to work with and under such a 
man. I do not feel at all disturbed at having him put over 
me, as I certainly have not experience enough to fit me prop 
erly for a Captain of Light Artillery, and used often to be 
worried in my mind as to what I should do in doubtful cir 
cumstances. From New Creek we marched to Burlington, re 
mained there a day, and were joined by the First Brigade of 
our Division, under General Stahl. The next morning we 
marched out of Burlington for Petersburg, twenty-nine miles 
distant ; after making fifteen miles the Brigade went into camp 
for the night, when just as we were getting supper ready, an 
order came on from General Fremont to hurry on all the avail 
able cavalry and artillery to Petersburg, by forced marches, 
so we had to harness up again and go forward, fully expect 
ing to see the enemy by break of day. In this we were dis 
appointed, and went into Petersburg right peacefully, about two 
A. M. There we found General Fremont and a few troops. 
Our absent section of two guns, which marched from Warren- 
ton Junction early in April, came in with more Artillery. They 
had endured all the privations and dangers of that very rough 
march. I went down the road to meet them, and rode up with 
the section past General Fremont, who stood on an eminence 
receiving the troops. As soon as we had passed, I was accosted 
most heartily by my friend S. from New York, who is on Gen 
eral F.'s staff. I dined with him that day, and met Colonel 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 331 

Albert, Chief of Staff, Fazougi, who made the great charge 
on Springfield with the body guard, and others whose names 
are inseparably connected with the " Hundred Days in Mis 
souri." Early the next day the whole concern broke up at 
Petersburg, and marched, post haste, in this direction to sup 
port Schenck and Milroy, who were opposing, with seven 
thousand men, a force of sixteen thousand under Jackson. 
We made about half the distance the first day, and the next 
were rejoicing in the prospect of a fight, as our Brigade was in 
the advance ; but, after advancing a few miles, we learned that 
our generals had repelled the enemy, and retreated success 
fully, awaiting our arrival to drive the enemy back again- 
You must pardon the uncircumstantial and somewhat careless 
character of my letters, but my fingers have got more accus 
tomed to the bridle rein than to s the pen, and my life is so un 
settled that I have hardly a chance to collect my ideas before 
it is hurly-burly, march off again, and perhaps not another op 
portunity to sit quietly down for a week. 

FRANKLIN, VA., GENERAL FREMONT'S CORPS, 
May 23, 1862. 

MY DEAREST M., All right, the flag has arrived in per 
fect safety, and my heart is full of the warmest gratitude to 
you, for the kind interest you take in me and my men, and 
the noble sympathy with us in our work and suffering for the 
cause. You will not regret one toilsome hour spent over that 
beautiful work ; indeed, not one stitch can be looked upon as 
taken in vain, when you think that it has filled rough common 
place soldiers with a sort of patriotic inspiration, and now they 
feel a sort of chivalry when they think of their flag and the 
fair stranger who loved their aim so well as to send it to them. 
The motto is exactly what I would have chosen if I had been 
wise enough to think of it, " Loyal till Death ; " may we ever 
be so, upholding the truest and noblest of laws, our Constitu 
tion, and yet not merely with modern obedience and good- 
citizenship, but with true old-fashioned loyalty. And for our 
German boys the motto speaks with a friendly voice, and not 
that of an utter stranger, " Treu bis in den Tod," is the same 



332 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

motto, only slightly veiled by the change of language. When 
I first saw the flag, my heart smote me for having imposed 
upon you a work so toilsome, elaborate, and costly, and had 
you been almost any one else I should have been sure that it 
had been executed with some hard feelings towards me, but I 
know well the true and faithful love you bear our cause, and 
that when you go into a thing you do it with a whole heart. 

The presentation should have taken place that very even 
ing, but we were disappointed about getting some " Lager " 
or other liquid in which to drink healths to you and the ban 
ner, so I had it nicely fixed on the staff of the guide-flag, and 
it marched at our head to this place closely veiled, and so the 
company have not seen it yet, for, on account of almost inces- 
saat rains and other contretemps, it has been impossible to 
find a day proper for such afesta. But it shall be presented 
very soon with appropriate ceremonies, and then you shall 
hear both from me, and the jolly little standard-bearer, whom 
I have mentally selected for the honor. I hope that Mr. T. 
will in reality carry out his promise of getting us a staff from 
Mount Vernon, as that would make the whole matter very 
complete 

I opine that the day of retreating in this region has for us 
gone by. A depot will be established here for forage and 
provisions, and forts are being built to protect them ; we shall 
then press on to Staunton, repair the railroad, and from that 
point ever on and on. At present we are tied hand and foot 
by our want of food for ourselves and our horses ; we are 
seventy miles from the nearest depot, and everything must 
be brought by teams, and cross swollen rivers. You will He 
shocked to hear that, for four days, some of the infantry regi 
ments had not even hard bread, and some of the men were 
so hungry that they paid two dollars for an ordinary loaf of 
bread. This very day, while writing this, I have seen a crowd 
buying large ginger cakes at a dollar a piece. Our Battery 
has been better off than most other corps, but unless provis 
ions come to-day, I expect that we shall all go hungry to bed. 
Our Division has had it pretty hard ever since we marched 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 333 

out, having been without tents for two months and a half, and 
we feel pretty well posted as far as exposure goes, but this 
starving is another phase of soldier life to which we must also 
accustom ourselves. For myself, I am in pretty good health, 
and fortunately have not much appetite, so I don't mind 
much. We lie in the very heart of the mountains, and our 
marches are often through right picturesque country ; the chief 
drawback is that it rains almost every day, and when it does 
not rain, it is very hot, and then we have a thunder-storm in 
the afternoon. 

General Fremont's head-quarters are quite near us ; I have 
several acquaintances on his staff, and have received much 

politeness from them You must tell L. that this letter 

is for her, too, and that my thanks are equally hers for her 
interest and assistance. The work seems to go on nobly both 
in Virginia and further south ; I had hardly hoped last fall 
that we should make such rapid progress. Just a year ago I 
was in camp at Washington, but it was queer soldiering com 
pared with this. Now we have the genuine article, all but the 
fighting, and God grant that we may have that too one of 

these days 

FRANKLIN, VA., May 25, 1862. 

DEAR J I saw in the " Tribune," yesterday, a speech 

by Parson Brownlow in which he speaks of the miserable con 
dition of the Union men of East Tennessee, and the confi 
dence that he felt in speedy succor from Fremont's Corps. I 
fear that he trusts in a broken reed, for, at present, that army 
corps (not so very strong either) has its hands full enough 
with Jackson's force, and it is in a somewhat desperate con 
dition, being unable to go either back or forward, and stand 
ing a fair chance of starving if they continue to lie here. 
There is no depot of provisions here, and in fact none within 
seventy miles, and there are plenty of bushwhackers between 
here and New Creek to cut off our trains. All the infantry 
regiments, until yesterday, were without bread or crackers, 
coffee or sugar, for four days, and many of the poor fellows 
came over to us and begged for a piece of cracker to satisfy 



334 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

their hunger. We were better off, and by careful manage 
ment succeeded in holding out until yesterday afternoon, when 
the train arrived, with thirty barrels of crackers for 15,000 
men ! Even that was attacked on the road by guerillas, and 
three or four of the covering party shot. Our poor horses 
fare worse ; they have not had a proper feed for twelve days, 
and not four rations of grain in all that time. They manage 
to keep themselves alive by nibbling a little grass, but that 
gives no strength. We send out wagons every day into the 
surrounding country, but the country is so poor, as a grain 
raising district, that they come back with the poorest mockery 
of a few ears of corn. I am afraid that our men do not con 
fine themselves to the legitimate object for which they are 
sent out, for various articles make their appearance which not 
even the largest stretching could bring under the head of 
forage. My own quarters became adorned the other day 
with a set of blue cups, plates, and saucers ; a large milk pan 
and a coffee mill turned up yesterday, and I strongly suspect 
that the very comfortable bench on which I write, was once 
the ornament of some Methodist or Presbyterian house of 
worship. Sitting on this bench is the nearest approach I 
have made to going to church for some months. M. W.'s 
banner reached me in safety. I have not presented it because 
no beer has been attainable. The banner is really exquisite, 
the richest and most elaborate one I ever saw : on one side 
a wreath of oak and laurel, with crossed cannon and U. S. in 
side ; on the other, a magnificent eagle, with a scroll and Ex 
celsior on it in his mouth ; underneath the motto in German 
characters, " Loyal till Death," above the number 13. The 
Generals of the Division have seen it, and pronounced it 
superb. I am afraid it was a very borous and expensive un 
dertaking, but the effort is fully appreciated. 

THE BATTLE OF CROSS KEYS, 

MOUNT JACKSON, VA., June 12, 1862 

DEAREST MOTHER, After the passage of about ten days 
I write you from the same place from which I wrote to J., but 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 335 

you must not think that this interval of time has been spent 
in rest here. On the contrary, we have made forced marches 
in the direction of Staunton, have fought a battle, and have 
made a rapid retreat, and reached this place at about noon 
to-day, a thoroughly used up set both of men and horses. 
However, I managed to snatch a little sleep this afternoon, 
and feel quite wide-awake this evening, so I eagerly seize this 
opportunity to let you hear from me, not knowing what the 
morrow may bring forth, nor how suddenly we may have to 

march again Be sure that I shall take good care of 

my health, and shall not expose my life except when duty 
demands it, and if I fall in the performance of that duty, you 
will know that it so pleased the Director of all events, and 
will not sorrow unduly at my dying in the noblest way, and 
for the highest and best cause. You will wish to know some 
thing about our recent movements. About eight days ago the 
pontoon bridge over the Shenandoah at this point was fin 
ished, and our army moved across and marched rapidly after 
Jackson, who was still but a short distance in advance of us. 
If we could have saved the bridge and if the rains had not 
raised the river too high to prevent our immediately rebuild 
ing it, we should have caught this prince of bushwhackers, 
together with the train and prisoners which he took from 
Banks. But the elements seemed completely against us, and 
we lost him by about a day. The second day's march brought 
us to Harrisonburg. Here we shod our horses, and got every 
thing in readiness for the approaching fight. On Saturday 
night our cavalry made an attack on the Rebs, but were met 
by a much larger force than they had expected, and were driven 
back with loss. On Sunday we marched out in full force to 
beat up his quarters ; the women gazed at us, as we marched 
through the town, their eyes streaming with tears, for it was 
their own husbands and sons and brothers that we were to 
meet in mortal combat. By 10 A. M. the heavy thunder of 
the cannon showed that the work had commenced, and that 
our advance was engaged, and soon the rolling fire of mus 
ketry told us that it had come to closer quarters. General 



336 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Schenk's Ohio Brigade had the extreme right wing ; then 
came General Milroy's Virginia, then our First Brigade in the 
centre, then the Third Brigade, and lastly our Brigade, the Sec 
ond, on the left wing ; this was our position in the afternoon. 
Our right wing pushed their left wing back ; in the centre the 
fire was very hot, and Blenker's own regiment, the Eighth 
New York, suffered dreadfully, being exposed to a galling fire 
from a whole brigade under cover, while they stood out in a 
wheat field ; still they maintained their ground gallantly and 
were well supported by Schirmer's Battery, which did great 
execution. On the left the Third Brigade was just going to 
charge the enemy, and were aching for the encounter, when 
they were withdrawn and we were ordered up at double quick 
to support them. We had got into a piece of meadow among 
the woods, and were about to clear the woods and turn the 
enemy's flank, when our Brigade was also withdrawn, not hav 
ing fired a shot. Our Battery had no orders to retire, so we 
stood still while the infantry drew to the rear. For a little 
while we were in great peril, we were between the fire of 
one of our own batteries and the enemy's infantry, still our 
men were very cool and collected, and only wanted a chance 
to do something. Towards night the firing ceased, and we 
encamped on the border of the battle-field, our Battery cover 
ing the left wing from the top of a high hill. The enemy 
sloped during the darkness, and in the morning was " non est 
inventus," so we, who were in the extreme advance, lost the 
chance of distinguishing ourselves. It was a pretty equal 
fight. Our loss in killed and wounded must have been six 
hundred. That of the enemy could not have been less than 
one thousand, as our artillery cut some of his regiments up 
badly. Had our two brigades, which hardly fired a shot, been 
allowed to go into the fight, the result would have probably 
been far different, and our victory would have been thorough 
and complete. Still it cannot be denied that this Jackson is 
a man of decided genius, and that very few in our army are 
fit to compete with him. Thus on Tuesday he fought our 
army and prevented our further advance, in the night he 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 337 

crossed the bridge, which he burned after him to prevent us 
from following, and, having received reinforcements under 
Longstreet, beat back Shields who was advancing on the 
other side of the river. On Tuesday his combined force re 
turned against us, now treble our number, and we were forced 
to retreat. Our Brigade was the rear-guard, and I had the 
honor to cover the extreme rear with my section. The road - 
was about the worst I ever saw. When I had got about six 
miles I found several of our heavy caissons almost hopelessly 
bemired ; the captain told me to send my section on, and gave 
me the pleasant task of fetching on those caissons. It was 
an awful job, as you may imagine. As the horses had had 
no feed for two days, they were very weak ; but I persevered, 
and marched through Harrisonburg at three in the morning, 
with everything safe and sound. A rest until 8 A. M., and then 
we marched again, luckily on a good road, or our poor horses 
would have fallen dead ; here we hope for rest and feed and 
food and reinforcements : it is also said that General Sigel 
is to take command of the Corps. If he does, I feel the most 
perfect confidence that we shall end this doubtful campaign 
with brilliant victories. I will not harrow up your sensibilities 
by speaking of the horrors of the battlefield. It was bad 
enough to have seen them without repeating. I had an op 
portunity, during a halt, of tending a whole barnfull of our 
wounded soldiers, some of them with three bullets in them ; 
one poor fellow pierced by seven, and yet not seriously in 
jured. They all agreed in the statement that they had been 
very kindly treated by most of the enemy among whom they 
fell, a few acting barbarously, but the most with tender and 
delicate humanity. This makes me feel more kindly to our 
erring brothers than before. Would that we could join hands 
and be friends once more. I am in excellent health, but have 
not known what it was to be dry. At night I have flung my 
self down by the nearest fire without blankets and have slept 
sweetly, regardless of deep mud or pouring rain. I love you 
all as much as ever, if I am a shabby, muddy soldier, worn 

22 



338 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

out with hard work, and unable, from sheer fatigue, to write 
you an interesting or satisfactory letter. 

GENERAL FREMONT'S CORPS D'ARMEE. 
MOUNT JACKSON, VA., June 15, 1862. 

.... As usual, my first thought on reading your letter, and 
the pleasant accounts of social life and family life which it con 
tained, was, How strange all this is ! And can it be possible 
that I shall ever again be civilized, and take my place again 
among old friends and dear relations, who have never had 
this primitive nomadic life to live. But in one point I can 
sympathize with you thoroughly, and that is in love for out 
door life, and for the fresh, young, bride-like earth, dressed in 
the robe of this loveliest of seasons. I find great difficulty 
sometimes in realizing that anything is awry or at war here 
in this beautiful valley where all is so green and fair and 
bright. For many days we had almost incessant rain, and life 
on the march was not highly agreeable, especially as at night 
we had to lie down in mud or water. But now the rainy sea 
son seems to have come to an end, and the summer has fairly 
set in, with wild flowers in the woods, and fragrant clover in 
the fields, and beautiful starry skies at night, so that it is a 
pleasure to lie out of doors night and day, and feel with the 
German poet, " How art thou still so fair, thou wide, wide 
world ! " A nomadic, gypsy sort of life it is, even the luxury 
of a tent being only allowed when we camp for several days, 
as at the present time. 

.... I should have greatly enjoyed being with you at the 
Easter festival, to see the flowers and hear the anthem, and 
join with all my heart in the service of the day. I spent Eas 
ter Sunday at Catlett's Station in a pouring rain, putting the 
Battery on the cars, to be taken to Washington, and on Pente 
cost Sunday we were fighting all day at Cross Keys. In fact 
Sunday is very seldom a day of rest with us, and it often 
comes and goes without our being aware of it. When peace 
comes again, I shall appreciate Sunday more than ever. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 339 

CAMP IN THE BLUE RIDGE, PAGE Co., 
July 23, 1862. 

MY DEAR AUNTIE, .... If I could succeed in looking 
upon this whole campaign as a sort of summer excursion or 
jaunt, nothing could be more pleasant and enjoyable. I have 
seen some of the finest scenery in the country, and that in 
sunshine and storm, at midnight and at sunrise, have lived 
always in the open air and in perfect health, spite of privations 
and exposure to rain and dew ; have had the additional spice 
of a little danger occasionally, and the sensation of a bold, 
free life, and yet there has always been something which came 
in to spoil my enjoyment ; it may have been the rough and 
reckless men we have under Us, but more than this was the 
feeling that we were invaders, laying waste a fair and bloom 
ing country, and that our opponents were men fighting to save 
their firesides and their homesteads. It is by no means agree 
able to deprive farmers of their grain and hay, and to carry off 
favorite horses amid the tears and supplications of the women 
folk ; and you can yourself imagine how hard it was when we 
came back from Cross Keys, to see in Harrisonburg and New 
Market the women dressed in black and weeping as if their 
hearts would break. I cannot help mentally transferring the 
whole trouble to the Northern country, and thinking how I 
should feel if the " Louisiana Tigers," or some such notorious 
corps, should have a chance to march through Connecticut. 
Indeed I am sometimes in danger of forgetting the real reason 
and object of the war, because my mind is constantly occu 
pied with the superficial losses and miseries which are daily 
before my eyes, but which " endure but for a moment," and 
which, when we succeed, will bring for us " a more exceeding 
weight of glory," in a preserved Constitution and established 
laws. Just at present our prospects are not as good as they 
were, and unless the North responds promptly to the Presi 
dent's call for more troops, it is not 'unlikely that the Union 
men now in Virginia may be crushed and driven back by mere 
weight of numbers. The size of our army has been greatly 



340 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

overrated, all the men in hospital, in garrison, and in camps 
in the Northern states having been counted to swell the num 
ber, while the Southern force has been correspondingly under 
rated This is a superb region as far as scenery 

goes. Right above us is a ridge crowned by a natural fortress, 
with towers and bastions as complete as can be, undoubtedly 
one of the highest points in Virginia. On every side there 
roll off beautiful deep valleys, full of orchards, and farm 
houses, and fields of grain ; and on the higher slopes are 
countless blackberry pastures, just like those in which my soul 
used to delight among the Catskills. Children seem to be 
the greatest wealth of this region ; the soil is not first-rate and 
farming has scanty products, but you can hardly see a house 
which does not swarm with children of all ages, from the little 
lisping toddler to the dark-eyed boy of sixteen, not quite 
old enough " to go with Jackson." If animosities are trans 
mitted to the next generation we shall have a good crop of 

rebels in this region I think of you all at home a 

great deal, especially just this week, Commencement, when 
the old college friends are coming together at New Haven, 
and another class goes away from its classic home. 

CAMP AT SPERRYVILLE, VA., NEAR MIDDLETOWN, 
GEN. SIGEL'S CORPS, July 29, 1862. 

.... As we are lying quiet here, enjoying both rest and 
fine weather, I cannot resist the temptation of answering your 
last most kind letter, as I do not know how soon the orderly 
may come dashing up with orders for us to be ready to march 
in two hours. The last installment of letters was a very pleas 
ant one to me, only my pleasure was considerably diminished 
by the news that J. was also coming out to fight, and that in 
the Infantry. The fatigues, exposures, and dangers of that 
branch of the service are so great that I am very anxious lest 
he should find himself unable to bear them, and what would 
you all do at home if anything should happen to him ? I think 
that when you all have only two boys, and no one else to lean 
upon, the most self-sacrificing patriotism could not call upon 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 341 

you to let us both go. I have spoken more at length in my 
letter to him, but I suppose that he has too decidedly put his 

hand to the plough to think of turning back The 

North must hurry up and send down those three hundred 
thousand new recruits, or else the rebels may succeed in mak 
ing a dash at our broken and reduced columns, forcing their 
way through and perhaps seriously menacing Washington and 

Baltimore If our armies in Virginia are defeated, 

the apathetic people of the North may have the satisfaction of 
seeing the reckless Southerners in their streets, and the farmers 
in rich New York may see their grain taken to feed the cav 
alry of Ashby and Hampton. I should greatly dislike to hear 
of their camping on the green at New Haven, and cutting 

down the elms to make their fires Strange to say the 

premonition I expressed on the first page has come true. 
An order came a few minures ago for us to be ready to march 
at 6 A. M., to-morrow morning, with one day's rations, probably 
to support our advance posts, which have been attacked and 
driven back. It is nearly midnight, but there is a stir of men 
dressing rations, and a light at the fires where they are cooking 
them. I must close this letter now in order to take a little 
sleep, before the toils of to-morrow. Think of me as healthy 
and hearty, and as loving you all with all my heart. 

CAMP NEAR RAPIDAN RIVER, CULPEPPER Co., VA., 
August 17, 1862. 

DEAR GRANDFATHER, .... Just now we are having a 
quite unexpected rest. I had supposed that, after our long 
sojourn at Thornton's Gap and Sperryville, we would go right 
on when once started, and not stop until we should be abso 
lutely compelled to do so, but there seems recently to have 
been a change in the war policy, and McClellan is retiring 
from Richmond, apparently to concentrate upon us here, as 

Burnside has already done I suppose that you have 

already seen full accounts in the papers of the battle of 
Slaughter Mountain, as it is called, and properly so, for it was 
a slaughter of General Banks' troops, and nothing else. We were 



342 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

stirred up at Sperryville with orders to march forthwith, and 
at 6 P. M. we were in readiness, but did not get off before 10 
p. M. We marched all night and all the next day, through ex 
cessive heat and dust. As we approached Culpepper Court 
House, we heard very heavy cannonading and musketry fire, 
but did not push on to the battlefield, because it was already 
too late to do any good, and the troops were excessively fa 
tigued. The next day we arrived, early in the morning, at the 
field, having marched again in the night, and found that Gen 
eral Banks had substantially maintained his position, but that his 
troops had suffered dreadfully from a contest with such over 
whelming numbers as had been poured upon them. Had they 
retreated to Culpepper Court House, they would have met the 
advance brigades of our Corps, and the enemy, if he had 
dared to follow, would have been thoroughly whipped. The 
loss of life that occurred in so short a time is almost unpar 
alleled in the history of war, and it must have been one of 
the hottest engagements of the campaign. I see that the 
Fifth Connecticut suffered severely, and that my friend E. B., 
Major in that regiment, was wounded and taken prisoner. I 
wish that we had been pushed more rapidly forward, in spite 
of heat and fatigue, and then should doubtless have suc 
ceeded in sparing many valuable lives to the country. Sun 
day, the day after the battle, was excessively hot, and very 
little was done beyond scouting and skirmishing. Monday 
was devoted to bringing off the wounded and burying the 
dead, hostilities having been suspended for that purpose. Our 
men and the rebels mingled freely together on the battlefield, 
and conversed ; many found old friends and school fellows, 
and even relatives, in the opposing forces. The piles of dead 
men and horses, in all possible forms of mutilation, made a 
horrible sight, and it was not until late in the evening that the 
dead soldiers were all interred. I think that General Pope's 
official account is quite fair and impartial, and that the rebels 
lost the most, though not perhaps very much. We lay near 
the battlefield, and then marched a few miles to this place, 
a couple of miles from the Rapidan River, in the midst of a 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 343 

beautiful country, which rolls and undulates like the waves of 

the sea, and is finely wooded with superb oak forests 

I am much disturbed at J.'s move in the recruiting line. I do 
not think that the most ardent patriotism could demand more 
than one from our family, and when both are gone who will 
look after mother and the girls, to say nothing of you and 
Aunt E. ? It is a thing that may easily happen, that neither 
of us will ever come back. I think that very few of the army 
now in the field will ever see their homes again ; the new con 
scripts will win the glory of finishing the war, and will carry 
home our banners in triumph. But the work must and will go 
on in spite of all temporary considerations and family ties, 
and the sooner the good people of the North come to see and 

acknowledge this, the better I sometimes find myself 

indulging in most unpatriotic wishes that I was under the dear 
old elms once more, if only for a little space. I am only pretty 
well ; but I take the best care of myself that I can, and hope 
soon to be better. 

CAMP NEAR RAPIDAN RIVER, CULPEPPER Co., VA., 
August 17, 1862. 

.... Your letter was such a nice, kind, jolly one, that it 
put me immediately into the writing vein ; and besides my 
opportunities for writing are so few and so widely separated 
just at present, and the chances of continued life and ability to 
talk to you are so uncertain, that I have adopted the principle 
of writing whenever I feel like it, without any regard for retrib 
utive justice. And especially should I dislike to go down to 
Hades with your letter unanswered on my hands ; my ghostly 
form would be continually revisiting " the glimpses of the 
moon," and vainly endeavoring, with a phantom hand, to in 
dite a shadowy epistle to one, still most substantially in the 
flesh. All that you told me about New Haven, the Commence 
ment festivities, the boating party, etc., was intensely interest 
ing to me, in spite of the frightful aggravation I experienced 
inwardly at being unable to be there with you and help you. 

Oh, for an oar in my hands once more, a crowd of the old 



344 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

sort following my stroke, and a few ladies, also of the old- 
fashioned sort, to make a good, solid boat-load worth the 
pulling of Atlanta, Thulia, and Una men ? Just one pull 
with such surroundings to South End, a lazy day spent in 
pleasant talk, and watching the long sun-lit ripple rolling in 
from the Sound ; a moon-lit row back to the dear old city, 
with plenty of songs, and the next day you may put me, like 
Uriah the Hittite, in the forefront of the battle, and let me 
take my chance 

You interested me very deeply with what you said about 
what you had seen and heard in the hospitals. I shall be 
curious to hear from you some of those stories, write them 
down, if you think there is any danger of your forgetting 
them. And, my dear child, I felt so very grateful to you for 
the interest you felt in our poor, wounded boys ; it is the cup 
of cold water to the disciples and supporters of our great cause, 
and it shall by no means lose its reward 

I have had some queer times foraging in this part of the 
country. The soldiers interpret General Pope's order " to 
subsist on the country they pass through," in the most liberal 
manner, and I have had the pleasure of knocking several such 
extensive raids on the head, and driving off these self-made 
" quartermasters " and " commissaries of subsistence." At 
one house I interfered in favor of a sheep, some bee-hives, 
and the potato-patch, and was rewarded by being invited into 
the house, where I met the prettiest girl I have seen in Vir 
ginia, a real stunner, with light brown hair and perfect 
features, and an arm like the Venus of the capitol. I grieve 
to say that I was quite enthralled by this she-rebel, and ihe 
next night, being out foraging for hay, I stayed to supper, and 
came home so late that I found a party just saddling to go out 
and rescue me from the bush-whackers. The captain gave me 
three days on guard, but I think that it was worth it on the 
whole. Then, to cap the climax, being sent down to Culpep- 
per after stores, I stopped there yesterday morning on my way 
back and took breakfast. If we have occasion to retreat, I 
shall manage to get wounded near that house, and have " sweet 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 345 

Maud Muller " (I don't know her real name), take care of me. 
Joking apart, I have nothing in the present to interest me, and 
nothing in the future to hope for, except an honorable ending 
for myself, and the full success of the cause. My immediate 
surroundings and associations are very, very hard to endure, 
but I shall hold on, praying at least for health, if not for hap 
piness 

I picked up a letter on the battle field the other day, from 
a young married lady in Georgia to her two brothers in the 
army, and it might have been from you, so pleasant and naive 
was the style. She chatted about her little baby, and how it 
resembled its young uncles, etc., and my heart smote me when 
I thought that perhaps their life-blood had soaked the very 
ground where I stood. 

CAMP NEAR FORT ETHAN ALLEN, 
September 14, 1862. 

DEAR Coz, .... It is extremely aggravating to me to 
think that I shall not be able to be present at your wedding, 
but if I am there, it must be either as a cripple or an invalid, 
for my battery is my plighted bride, " until death do us part," 
or until peace do see us once more an united land. To tell 
the truth, I have not the slightest idea that I shall ever see 
any of you again, and I endeavor always to banish from my 
mind the pleasant picture of a reunion with the family at New 
Haven, for when I dwell on it too much, it makes a feeling of 
regret sometimes arise, and that always interferes with duty ; 
no, I prefer to accept the belief that I must fall, and if I 
should survive, it would be so far a pleasant disappointment. 
The days are looking very dark now, our arms are meeting re 
verses in every direction, and it requires no prophet to an 
nounce that many toilsome marches must be made, and many 
more battles fought, and thousands of brave men yet fall, be 
fore this quarrel shall be settled on the permanent and right 
eous footing that we seek. 

I will not trouble you with any account of how we marched 
down to the Rapidan, and then how we marched back again ; 
how we shot at the rebels across the narrow Rappahannock, 



346 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

like boys fighting across a handkerchief, and how the artillery 
of our Corps held the many fords of that river against the over 
whelming numbers of the enemy ; then how we marched in 
post haste to Manassas, when we found that the wily Jackson 
had got in Pope's rear, and was threatening his communica 
tions ; how our Corps bore the brunt of the battle all day 
Friday, and covered the repulsed left wing on Saturday night, 
and were ready to renew the fight the next morning, had we 
not been ordered away ; how we marched back, full of wrath 
at leaving a field that we had twice won, and were still able 
to hold, and took our gloomy march to Centreville, Fairfax, 
Vienna, and at last came under the shelter of the forts on 
Georgetown Heights, where we now are ; all this is not pleas 
ant to repeat, but as an offset, I can assure you, that it was all 
done without haste or panic, and that " Battery No. 13 " stood 
gallantly by its flag, served its guns under the hottest fire, 
with coolness and skill, and finally, in spite of loss of men and 
horses, brought them all off the field, not without words of 
praise and commendation from our idolized Sigel. We had 
it the toughest on Friday afternoon, when we were sent by 
General Sigel to hold a hill from which several of our batter 
ies had already been driven ; here three rebel batteries of 
excellent guns, and finely served, rained shot and shell upon 
us ; a section of a regular battery by our side was silenced and 
compelled to retire, and then the whole fire was concentrated 
upon us. I can assure you that I had no idea of ever coming 
alive out of that inferno. 

J.'s regiment is in Washington learning drill and discipline ; 
last week he was on guard at the Long Bridge with his com 
pany. I knew that he was there, and determined to see if he 
would know me after our long separation, so I pulled my 
hat down over my eyes, rode up and gave him my pass, as if I 
would go over the bridge. He looked at it, said it was all 
right, and was just about to pass me, when he gave one look 
at me, and then sprang forward like a mad creature. It was 
a happy meeting, and we spent the afternoon together. His 
regiment makes a fine appearance, and I think that he will 
become a first-class officer. May he be spared to the end ! 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 347 

Written immediately after the second battle of Bull Run. 

HEAD-QUARTERS 13x11 N. Y. BATTERY,. 
NEAR CHAIN BRIDGE, VA., September 5, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, I take the first opportunity offering 
itself to give you intelligence of my entire safety and welfare, 
if it be only a few lines. I was in the hottest of the fight all 
day Friday, and all the afternoon of Saturday, and exposed 
myself considerably to keep our boys up to the scratch, but 
got nothing except a slight scrape on the top of the head from 
a piece of a shell, and a bruise on the cheek from a canister 
ball ; both of these little wounds are almost quite well, and 
almost without medical assistance, and I sincerely recognize 
the protecting hand of God in my preservation. The Battery 
did right gallantly, though I say it that should not, and were 
highly praised by General Sigel. As soon as I get the chance 
I will write again. This must suffice for the present. 

Very much love to all. 

ACCOUNT OF THE SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN. 

CAMP NEAR FORT ETHAN ALLEN, VA., 
September 10, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Your welcome letter has just come to 
hand, giving me assurance that you had got my hastily-penned 
note, and were relieved from all immediate and harassing 
anxiety on my account. I did the best I could to communi 
cate with you, but on account of our being so constantly on 
the move, officers always in the saddle, and horses in the har 
ness, it was impossible to call the next five minutes our own ; 
so I could only send you a pair of words. I think you can 
hardly fail to be interested in my experiences for the last three 
weeks. My last letter to N. H. was written to A. from the 
banks of the Rapidan, and in that I remember I spoke of the 
speedy advance of our forces in the direction of Gordonsville ; 
how ignorant I was of the state of affairs was proved by the fact 
that the very next evening we had orders to be ready to march 
to the rear in an hour, and before the sun went down our long, 



348 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

slow-moving trains were drawing off in the direction of Culpep- 
per Court House. Our Corps, which had the post of honor in 
the rear, drew out into the road, and lay there all that night, 
and a good part of the next day, waiting until the enormous 
trains and the Corps in front of us should have reached the po 
sitions assigned to them. We passed through the foul region 
of Slaughter Mountain, with great offense to eye and nose ; the 
men had all been buried, but the pile of slaughtered horses 
still showed where batteries had stood in the hottest fire. We 
passed through Culpepper that afternoon, and, by dint of 
steady marching, came to the Rappahannock in the night. 
Here we took up a position to cover the passage of the river, 
and stood to our guns until about noon the next day, when 
we, too, passed over, and the bridge was burned behind us. 
Thence on from Jeffersonville to White Sulphur Springs, the 
Saratoga of the South ; but the place of the summer loungers 
in the streets was filled with soldiers, and the sick men lay in 
the great hotels which had, two years before, been so full of 
"dances and delight." Here we hoped for a day's rest, so 
much needed by both men and horses, but we were allowed 
only one good sleep, and then off again, after breakfast, to the 
Rappahannock, along whose banks a fierce, long-range artillery 
duel was to be kept up for about a week. The first day our 
four rifled guns came into action, my six-pounders being kept in 
reserve as too short range. One of our gunners made a splen 
did shot that day, at over a mile, and dismounted a secesh 
gun, but this feat was ascribed in the papers to Captain Schir- 
mer's Battery, as have half a dozen things that our Battery has 
done. The only loss that our artillery sustained that day \vas 
Captain Buell, commanding the reserve artillery, and just the 
man that we could worst afford to lose. A shell passed 
through his horse, wounding him in both legs, and then the 
horse fell on him, and caused internal injuries, of which he 
died that same evening. He was really a charming fellow, 
quiet, gentle, yet firm and active ; his whole Battery loved him 
to devotion, and I enjoyed his society greatly, ever since we 
came under his command at Sperryville. For the next two 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 349 

days we had plenty of marching, but little fighting. The next 
day we were separated from the reserve artillery, and sent to 
General Milroy's, and ever since we have been connected with 
this king of the bush-whackers. We have not had occasion to 
complain that we have been neglected, in getting our full 
ration of fighting. In fact, before we had been with him two 
hours he had the rifled guns in full operation on a hill, while 
I crept forward with my two pieces towards a hill well in the 
advance. We were well covered by our own pieces until we 
reached the brow of the hill, and came into battery in an apple 
orchard ; we drove the enemy's cavalry out of the woods, but 
could not do much to the enemy's battery, which was too long 
range for us, and their balls and shells tipped the trees about 
us in a lively manner. The chief of artillery saw that we did 
not reach them, and ordered us down the hill again ; pretty 
soon Sigel came along and saw my section standing idle, and 
inquired the reason ; upon hearing that Captain Schirmer had 
sent me back, he said, "Take your section up on the hill 
again and fire away ; " so up I went to a part of the hill more 
directly in front of the enemy's batteries. Instead of stopping 
on the summit, I had my guns run down the easy slope to 
wards the enemy, by hand, and thus advanced until I was 
several hundred yards in front of our line, and had brought 
the hostile batteries completely within my range ; then we 
went to work, and, by keeping sharp look-out, succeeded in 
shutting up every gun which the Rebs planted in front of us. 
Once they ran a gun well up before a bank and masked it, so 
that it fired three times before I could exactly find it ; when I 
did, I laid my two guns right for the muzzle, and it assumed 
a dignified silence. By afternoon our Brigade moved further 
on, and we had no more work of importance till the evening 
before Friday's battle. Then we shelled the woods where the 
enemy lay, just at nightfall, and the shells with their burning 
fuses made a beautiful firework. That night each cannoneer 
slept at his post by the gun, and we all snoozed soundly, for 
we knew that we should have plenty to do the next day, and 
having seen Jackson's handiwork at Manassas, were right 



35O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

anxious to go on and catch the old Valley Fox, whom we had 
been so long hunting. Alas, it turned out too much like the 
story of the man who caught the Tartar. Up early, placed 
our Battery in a commanding position, and engaged a hostile 
battery for an hour or two, until we drove them away, and then 
advanced to their position. (N. B. This credited in the news 
papers to Schirmer's Battery.) Beyond was a high ridge, on 
which the enemy had many batteries planted, and a large part 
of his force concentrated to attack this. Milroy now advanced 
with his Brigade, and our Battery alone, being only supported 
by long range fire from batteries on the ridge we had left. He 
entered a piece of open ground, behind the woods which shel 
tered him from the batteries on the hill, and throwing skir 
mishers and a regiment into the woods on the right, tried to 
carry the railroad embankment in his front. The Battery was 
not placed in position, but just stood close behind the infantry 
in column, utterly useless, and itself in danger. After a sharp 
fight in the woods, our men had to retire, when suddenly a 
couple of rebel brigades came swarming over the railroad em 
bankment, and our Brigade had to beat a hasty retreat. We 
did not move until the enemy were pretty near, and then we 
went back through the opening, the bullets flying in great 
abundance. Just as my second piece had passed the opening, 
a shot brought down one of the pole horses, and stopped us 
short; my first thought was, "The piece is lost ;" my next, 
".It shall be sold dear," and I sprang down, and with the as 
sistance of one man, unlimbered it. I seized the rammer, and 
we had one shot fired before the other officers knew that we 
were in danger. The other cannoneers came up, but I held 
on to the rammer, and did Number One in pretty lively style. 
The other pieces came into battery on a hill behind us, and 
opened fire ; then the batteries above us began to operate at 
short range, and between shells, canister, and musketry fire, 
we had it hot enough. But we soon drove the infantry back 
to the embankment, and gave our infantry a chance to halt 
and reform. A reserve horse had been brought up with har 
ness, and was hitched in under the hottest fire ; when all was 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 351 

ready, I had the piece limbered up, and followed the rest of 
the Battery to the opening in the fence. Just at the opening, 
the reserve horse was shot two or three times, and I had to 
cut him out of the harness and carry the branch myself for 
some distance. While acting as Number One, I was struck on 
the cheek by a canister shot and thought I was hurt, but it 
swelled two days and then passed off. A splinter of shell 
struck me on the head, cutting three little holes, and burying 
itself next the bone. This grew very sore, and the doctor, after 
taking out a piece of my felt hat, which was driven in also, 
tried to extract the metal, but could not do it. However, I 
have poulticed it, and it has healed up entirely. (This exploit 
of ours, which saved the Brigade, is attributed in the news 
papers to Hampton's Pittsburg Battery. I don't care a cent 
for newspaper praise, but it comes hard for the men to have 
others steal their well-earned laurels.) In the afternoon we 
were sent to an important position, from which the rebels had 
already driven two or three of our batteries. They had got 
the range exactly, and threw every shell right among us. How 
ever, we held the position until our ammunition was exhausted. 
The fire was really infernal, and we lost several men killed or 
badly wounded, and many horses. I was astonished to find 
that the idea of danger was so little present with me, even in 
the hottest of the fire : but I suppose that it was because I 
kept myself occupied and worked hard at my duty. A shell 
struck the piece I was working, and ploughed a great furrow 
down it ; but I hardly noticed it at the time. In fact, I think 
that the extreme front is the safest as well as the most honor 
able place. I have seen many a man knocked over by these 
bounding shots, when he thought he was all safe in the rear. 
We are hoping soon to get into Washington to refit, as we 
have lost many horses, and want some of our guns mended. 
In our General (Sigel) we have the most entire confidence, 
and his corps will follow him anywhere. I suppose you have 
heard from J. about our meeting at the end of the Long Bridge. 
It was truly a delight, and a joy inexpressible to me, after 
these many months, during which I have seen no friendly face, 



352 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

grasped no friendly hand. I felt proud of the old fellow, look 
ing so neat in his fatigue uniform, and doing his duty in so 
prompt and business-like manner. He seems to have a fine 
company. What a startling contrast they would make, if 
ranged alongside of my poor travel-worn, battle-weary raga 
muffins. I need rest greatly, and to recruit my health. I 
would rather stand by my post, and trust to time and rest to 
heal me, than to go into hospital. I am afraid this egotistical 
letter may have wearied you. 

CAMP NEAR FORT DE KALB, September 19, 1862. 
DEAR GRANDFATHER, Your very kind letter reached me 
a few days ago in the first regular camp we occupied after the 
battle, and it was very welcome to me, both as showing the 
kindly interest you cherish in me and my welfare, and also 
because it informed me that you were freed from anxiety on 
my account. I have written to mother, giving an account of 
our retreat from the Rapidan and also of the battle on Friday, 

in which we largely participated I was as thoroughly 

used up on Friday night as I ever recollect being in my life, 
for I had some severe hard work all day, as a cannoneer, and 
then the cessation from the excitement of battle caused a sud 
den reaction which produced both mental and physical fatigue. 
However, I managed to sleep pretty well, on ground which we 
had won from the enemy in the morning, and at break of day 
proceeded to hunt up the ammunition train and to replenish our 
exhausted boxes. Then we marched out of camp, and pro 
ceeded to the Stone Hospital, of which you will have seen fre 
quent mention made in the newspapers. Here we lay in reserve, 
waiting for the moment when the eye of our sagacious leader, 
General Sigel, should see where to push us forward with most 
effect in the line of battle. Past us filed the long line,s of the 
corps of McClellan's army, comparatively fresh after a rest of a 
few days, and who had not been engaged on the previous day. 
Some of the regiments, as for example the Brooklyn Four 
teenth, the New York Fifth, (Duryea Zouaves), looked quite 
full, but the bran new uniforms, and fresh unburned faces 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 353 

showed that the ranks wasted by battle and disease, had been 
to a great degree filled up with recruits, men as yet untried. 
I saw quite a number of friends among these regiments, 
among them Col. Wm. Wainwright, formerly Major of the 
Twenty-ninth New York, with which we were long brigaded. 
By the Hospital we lay, listening to the roar of the cannon and 
the sharp rattle of the musketry, and watching the course of 
the battle, which began with greatest intensity on the right 
of the centre, and gradually worked round towards the left 
wing, where the rebels got some batteries in position, and thus 
established a cross fire on our troops. Just about this time, 
when our troops in the centre were falling back, and the hills 
and fields to the rear were covered with stragglers and attend 
ants on the wounded, our Brigade, General Milroy's, was ordered 
to the left wing, and we went joyfully onward, hoping to do 
our share to redeem the battle, which seemed in danger of 
being lost. At the same time, a fresh body of troops had gone 
up to the centre, and I there saw a bayonet charge made, by 
at least a whole brigade, which I shall never forget. Steadily 
the long line marched on, the banners rising and falling as 
they passed over the undulating ridges, but still going steadily 
forward, under a murderous fire from both infantry and artil 
lery. The enemy fall back, and take refuge in a wood, where 
they are reinforced and make a stand, still our men pass 
on, and it seems as if the opposing lines were within touching 
distance. At last our line staggers under the infernal fire 
bearing upon it ; the wounded are seen first brought to the 
rear, and finally our men retire a short distance, and resign a 
part of the ground they had so gallantly won. Now our Brig 
ade marches up on the left, and plunges into the woods to clear 
them ; our Battery takes up a position on the open ground, 
and proceeds to shell the woods, over the heads of our own 
men. As we advance nearer to the woods, we improve our 
range, the fire becomes hotter, and the rebel sharp-shooters 
creep up as close as they can, and pick off our cannoneers. 
The noise of fighting in the woods comes closer, and it be 
comes evident that the enemy are driving our men back, so I 
23 



354 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

take one six-pounder and go, through a shower of bullets, to 
that part of the woods where our men are just emerging, 
closely followed up. We come into position, wait until our 
own men are well out of the way and the gray jackets are 
already beginning to swarm out, when we let go a few rounds 
of canister at one hundred yards' distance, and back they go 
again in a great hurry. We then retire with the retiring in 
fantry, but only about fifty yards, and then again unlimber and 
fire, until a fresh regiment comes up and enters the woods. I 
then rejoin the Battery and we take position on a hill and wait 
for orders ; no orders come, and night comes on, and all is 
quiet, except occasionally a few volleys from the extreme left, 
which General Reno is holding, and nothing whatever is seen of 
panic or disturbance on the battlefield, which we now hold. 
.... At last an aid from General Sigel comes up and orders 
us to Centreville, and we proceed thither in perfect order. 
Of the panic we saw little or nothing, as it occurred mostly in 
the rear among the stragglers, teamsters, and ambulance driv 
ers. Why we retreated I cannot say, but I feel sure that 
we would not have done so if Sigel had been in Pope's place. 
Of what has since happened you know more than I. I have 
been miserable in health since the battle, caused by cold and 
exposure ; but cannot take time to rest, as one officer is 
wounded, and one is on detached service. We are now being 

repaired and refitted I have seen J. and his regiment ; 

they are quartered near Washington's Monument. He makes a 
fine looking officer, and bears himself well among his men. 
You must miss him greatly in New Haven. May he never 
know the hardships and perils which I have gone through the 
past summer. I can hardly venture to hope that we shall 
both ever be reunited with you at home. For myself, I thirst 
for active service, and am miserable when lying in camp, as at 
present. 

CENTREVILLE, VA., September 28, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Your letter, dated September 23, 
reached me late last night at Fairfax, to which place I had 
made a night march from Fort Ethan Allen, where I had been 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 355 

detached on picket for a week I am, in truth, a very 

unsightly object to look upon ; I wear the same jacket and the 
same vest that I did when we marched out of camp last Feb 
ruary, and they bear spots acquired in half the counties of 
Virginia ; still I cannot cast them away without a feeling of 
regret, thinking on how many a cold night march they have 
kept me warm, how often soaked by the May showers and 
dryed again, how often brushed up to make a martial appear 
ance when passing triumphantly through secesh towns, and 
how often carelessly rolled together to make a pillow for my 
bed on the ground before the bivouac fire ; indeed, so many 
of my best thoughts and most ardent labors are associated 
with those weather-beaten garments and faded epaulets, that 
I cannot believe they look so badly as my friends say ; and 
yesterday I went quite coolly in them to drive with General 
Abercrombie, and after dinner did the agreeable to a couple of 
fair damsels visiting Fort Ethan Allen. My week on picket 
was every way a pleasant one, except that I was sick part of 
the time, having got badly chilled on one of those cold nights, 

as I had no tent and had to sleep under a tarpaulin 

Then one of my Corporals, a nice young Englishman, took 
his blankets and fixed up my shanty to keep the cold out, and 
built me a good bed, so that I managed to keep warm and did 
not get any worse ; still, I lay in bed for three days in much 
pain, and my bones all felt very sore. Joseph S. and young 
A. from the class of '63, both on General Abercrombie's staff, 
were unremitting in their attentions, brought me doctors, and 
books to read, and looked after the material wants of my men, 
and were in general so kind that I felt quite sorry yesterday 
afternoon when the order came for me to rejoin the Battery 
at Fairfax ; and General Abercrombie, too, did n't want to let 
me go away from his command, but was obliged to, as Gen 
eral Heintzelman countersigned General Sigel's order to that 
effect. We packed up and got off about dark, and a pretty 
tough march of some fourteen miles brought us to the Court 
House by midnight it was a hard pull for me, as I could not 
sit my horse, got chilled again, and did not sleep when I en- 



356 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

sconced myself within my tent ; and worst of all, the Battery 
was ordered on to Centreville early the next morning. But I 
have succeeded in getting here more comfortably than I had 
expected, and shall lie quiet and take all possible care of my 
self, as I have no idea of becoming useless for the Fall Cam 
paign. I thirst for active service, and hope that we shall soon 
get a chance to take part in a decisive battle in favor of the 
Union cause ; the mere thought of Bull Run (and the battle 
field lies even now stretched out before my eyes as I write), 
Harper's Ferry, Mumfordsville, makes me sick ; why, Colonel 
D'Utassy with the Garibaldi Guard, from our old Division, 
could have held the fort alone for twenty-four hours, and been 
rescued. The rebels are welcome to my somewhat attenuated 
length of five feet ten, but not with any vitality in it. I have 
read General Milroy's report, and it is in many respects true, 
but still a picture of the General's excited state of mind, and 
it is evident that he hardly knew half the time what he was 
about. A braver man never lived ; he seems to drink in ex 
citement and intoxication from the sound of the bullets, and 
to be perfectly happy when in the very tempest of battle, but 
he knows nothing about the object of artillery or the way to 
use it, and I am heartily glad that we are to have nothing more 
to do with him. General Sigel's report is soon to appear, and 
then I hope that our Battery will be spoken of more scientifi 
cally and judiciously. I see that I have been unusually egotis 
tical in this letter, but do not believe, dearest mother, that my 
thoughts are not with you on this calm, beautiful Sabbath 
afternoon ; I feel quiet and very happy, and picture you to 
myself as you go down to church among the falling elm leaves, 
and sit in your pew with J. and T., but no raven head of hair 
at the end ; I pray ever most fervently that I may be allowed 
to meet the dangers of battle alone, and that he may be spared 

them. You cannot well lose us both To me this 

contest and cause are the same that the quest of the Holy 
Grail was to Sir Galahad. 

" To me is given 
Such hope, I know not fear." 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 357 

To L. R. P. 
CENTREVILLE, VA., September 30, 1862. 

I feel a little inclined to grumble because you confined your 
self to one small sheet, and passed over many topics of inter 
est with a bare mention which aggravated me very much, just 
as with a child to whom one is showing pictures in a book and 
passes over the prettiest with a turn of the leaf. But you 
must do better next time, and expand more on those little 
matters which constitute the filling-in touches of life ; if nec 
essary, have a pigeon-hole in your desk, labelled, " Wheeler- 
isch Memoranda/' and lay in these hints from day to day for 

future letters I will not weary you by expanding on 

the subject of the battle of Bull Run, as it has already been set 

forth at full length in the newspapers What surprised 

me greatly was that so very faint an idea of danger was in my 
mind at the very hottest of the fight ; I was so thoroughly oc 
cupied with working my pieces to the best advantage, that I 
hardly noticed the bullets whistling and shells exploding 
around, and even some of the most revolting sights of blood 
shed and death seemed to me very natural under the peculiar 
circumstances. I have also observed the truth of Horace's 

assertion, 

" Mors et fugacem persequitur virum, 
Nee parcit imbellis juventae 
Poplitibus timidoque tergo," 

for nothing was more usual than for a shell to strike in the 
Battery, cut a furrow alongside my foot, and then making a 
high ricochet in the air, come down several hundred feet to the 
rear, and cut some cowardly skedaddler right in two, a fate 
which he would probably have escaped if he had stood up to 
his work. Well, our men retired, but, I am convinced, wholly 
without sufficient cause ; indeed, I believe that if Sigel had 
not had positive orders he would have held the field all night, 
which in fact he did do until late in the evening. And for our 
Corps and our Battery I have the consoling consciousness that 
we did our duty fully, and obeyed the order to withdraw with 



LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the greatest reluctance. There is a radical defect in the for 
mation of our Army ; its regiments, brigades, divisions, and 
corps, especially the latter, are too small to be thoroughly ser 
viceable and manageable, and there are too many officers of 
high rank, each possessing a sort of half-cut independence ; 
these corps are not much larger than divisions eight months 
ago, the divisions have sunk to brigades, and many brigades 
cannot show a full regiment of fighting men. Now what 
could Sigel do with his handful of men, perhaps twelve 
thousand in all ? What he did do is pretty generally 
known ; what he might have done if he had had a full corps 
of twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand men is aggravat 
ing to think of. And now, newspapers are inquiring " What 
is Sigel doing? " What can be expected of him, with a small 
corps that suffered far more than any other in the late fight 
(and yet did not lose a gun or a flag), with his best brigade 
(Milroy's) detached and sent to Western Virginia ? He has 
now some five thousand men, a superb command with which 
to fall upon the enemy's rear and cut him off, as seems to be 
demanded by many ! How can the government expect to 
succeed while they ignore the men who mean fight, and give 
everything to softly warriors like McClellan, who are afraid to 
hit the enemy too hard ? But the chief cause of the present 
deadness in affairs is the neglect of the Governors of States 
to forward their quotas ; six hundred thousand men look very 
big on paper, but so long as they are not raised they do us 
very little good in practice. New York State alone owes yet 
forty thousand men, and the day of drafting will be delayed 
until the time for autumn fighting is past, until the roads here 
become again unfathomable, and the secesh call out their last 
resources, and gather strength for next year's struggle ; so we 
are always a month or two behind, and the enthusiasm and 
spirit of our troops evaporates, under this system of timidity 
and delay. A section of our Battery has just returned from an 
expedition with the cavalry, in the direction of Warrenton, 
and report that the cavalry captured there, and in the neigh 
borhood, some sixteen hundred secesh ; how true this is I 



AH MY LIFE AND SERVICE. 359 

cannot tell. I should have commanded the section on the 
expedition myself, if I had been well enough to stand the 
march, for as senior Lieutenant I have always the right to de 
mand the privilege of being detailed, and it is customary for 
me to do that sort of work with my section from the left wing. 
But I am now very much better than I have been. 

CENTREVII.LE, October 9, 1862. 

MY DEAREST MOTHER, I answer your most welcome letter 
with expedition, in order to quiet any anxiety on my account, 
and also to reassure you as to the probability of my being 
engaged in any actual fighting when you are assisting at M. 
W.'s wedding. I was very miserable when I first came here, 
my complaint having been greatly aggravated by long continu 
ance and want of rest and care. By lying quiet in my tent, 
and the almost magical effect of the pills which you sent, 
I soon began to improve, and now am as well as ever, and 
have an appetite like a wolf whenever I do a little extra work. 
We were paid off on the ist, and the Captain went off on the 
zd, which was pretty hard on me, as I was thus left to stem 
the tide of drunkenness and quarrelling almost entirely alone. 
However, the boys behaved much better than could have been 
expected, when they had been four months without pay, sent 
home a great deal to their families, and paid off their debts 
exemplarily. There was of course noise, and fighting, and 
trouble, but less than ever before on pay-day. 

On Sunday I started off with a picked party and a loaded 
wagon, to turn in a lot of old horses and useless harness to 
the Quartermaster in Washington. It was extremely doubt 
ful whether we should succeed in getting all of the old crea 
tures over the twenty-five miles, but by starting on Sunday 
afternoon, and going that night to Falls Church, resting there 
and going on the next morning, we arrived at Washington 
Corral with our full freight of condemned horse-flesh. 

I was in the city a day and a half, ordered a neat uniform, 
and had a carte-de-visite taken of my head and shoulders, 
which I think will be good. Then I came out by the Long 



360 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Bridge, and found Company G, Fifteenth Connecticut Volun 
teers, on guard on the Virginia side. Lieutenants G. and F. 
were there, but the Captain was in camp, so I rode on to 
Camp Chase, and found the respected fraternal about a mile 
from where we lay last winter, at Hunter's Chapel. I sent 
my men on to Fairfax, and took off my things, to stay to tea. 
I saw a nice dress parade, enjoyed an excellent cup of the 
home English Breakfast, and then we talked together till it 
was quite late, and he got for me the countersign, and then 
I had a splendid ride under the full autumn moon, and 
through the soft airs of Indian summer, back to Centreville, 

which I reached at i A. M 

J. was looking very well indeed, and seems to enter into 
the spirit of his work admirably, especially in his longing for 
active service, which there does not seem any very great prob 
ability of his getting in the Fifteenth C. V. Nor am I sorry 
for this. I am a much greater coward about him than myself, 
as I have seen how numerous the casualities among the 
officers of an infantry regiment are, especially among those 
that expose and distinguish themselves. I am very much 
afraid that we shall lose our General of the Eleventh Army 
Corps. It is stated positively that he has tendered his resig 
nation, and as the Government does not seem prepared to give 
him satisfaction they can hardly avoid accepting it 

FAIRFAX, VA., October 30, 1862. 

.... I thought of you all a great deal on the i5th, and 
took pleasure in calling up the familiar faces of every one pres 
ent at the family assemblage at Springwood. On that same 
day I was starting out with my section on a reconnaissance to 
Chantilly with the cavalry. I was so weak, that I could hardly 
sit in my saddle, and my toes trembled in the stirrups, but I 
had already missed two such expeditions (being on my back 
in bed) and thought that the excitement might do me good. 

We went out on the road towards Aldie and Middleburg, 
came into battery on a commanding hill, and the cavalry 
went ahead to scour the country. We remained there that 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 361 

afternoon, watching the skirts of the distant woods for any 
traces of rebel cavalry, and then bivouacked under the open 
sky by our fires. The night was cold and frosty, and I could 
hardly say that I was fairly asleep all night ; but it did me a 
great deal of good, and when the next day we were relieved, 
and went into camp, I felt fifty per cent, better. The same 
evening Captain Johnson's Battery arrived at Centreville to 
relieve us, and the next morning we bade adieu cheerfully to 
the exposed and dusty wind hills of that region, and marched 
to Fairfax Court House, where we are now encamped on the 
northeast side of the town, in a well sheltered spot on the 
edge of a wood, and on exactly the same place where the 
Battery stood when being reviewed by General Sumner last 
March. This does n't look as if we had made much progress 
since then, and we have slipped down three stairs for two we 
have got up. But I have great faith in the army which is 
now coming into the field, and also in the firm determination 
of the people and the President, to treat the war as a serious 
matter. The rebels have been serious ever since last spring, 

and we see the results For myself, I am not satisfied 

at sitting down now, and allowing these golden days to slip 

away unimproved I am as comfortably fixed as if we 

were to stay here for months. I have a nice army cot, which 
folds up, a writing table, a neat little stove, with a first-rate 
brick chimney on the outside, (put up by a mason in my sec 
tion from bricks brought from a ruined house near by), and 
good boards over a good part of my tent floor. I made my 
calculation that if we stayed ten days, I should get the worth 
of my money, and if longer it would be so much gain. When 
we do make winter quarters I intend to make myself thor 
oughly comfortable if it be any way possible. The two Divis 
ions of our Corps went a few days ago, and indulged a sham 
battle, skirmishers thrown forward, battalions deployed, ar 
tillery placed in position, and pushed forward from height 
to height, and bayonet charges made by full regimental line. 
We maneuvered with Steinwehr's Division, which is mostly 
composed of new regiments. The fresh troops did remarka- 



362 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

bly, especially the Twenty-sixth Wisconsin and Thirty-third 
Massachusetts. 

CENTREVILLE, VA., October 9, 1862. 

MY DEAR M., .... I can assure you that the regrets 
which I had experienced before at being unable to be with 
you in " the dreadful hour," were deepened and made more 
poignant by the array of attractions you present to call me 
thither, and by the warm-hearted steadiness with which you 
insist that I must be there. So pleasant a child of hope it is 
too hard to stifle with one inexorable word, " impossible ;" and 
yet that word must be written ; and, to show you wherein that 
impossibility consists, I inclose a copy of " General Orders 
No. 28," from the head-quarters of our Corps, and what our 
General sees fit to order, that I must obey without grumbling 
or discontent. Or, perhaps, we could represent the affair as 
" urgent official business ; but then the rub would be to state 
it in the application in such a way as to make it seem so to 
the powers that be. I think that the only resort left will be 
for you to make a direct application to the President, and sup 
port it by all the influence of our powerful and illustrious 
family. Surely, if you and L. and R. should unite in making 
up a Round Robin to the Executive, I am sure that the stony 
hearted Abe would relent at the sight of so much beauty and 
worth in tears, and he would immediately dispatch the Fif 
teenth Connecticut Volunteers to bring me my leave of ab 
sence for ten days, with, however, this important condition, 
that I should not fail to bring him (ye said Abraham) a hunk 
of the cake. 

No, there is no help for it ; and I will not further aggravate 
myself by thinking of my own misfortune in losing so pleasant 
a family reunion. I will rather think of you and your happi 
ness, 's resignation under affliction, of the talks gotten up 

by our mothers and aunts and uncles, of the harmless fun per 
petrated by the " young fry," in all of these, except of 
course the last, I shall be with you in spirit, and you can im 
agine my old jacket and shoulder-straps as lending variety to 
the toilettes of the guests actually present This 



ARMY LIFE AND SEX VICE. 363 

golden Indian-summer time is just the season for marching 
and fighting, and I chafe at our present inaction. Why don't 
they send us on troops enough to move with, or, if we have 
troops enough already, why don't we " pitch in ? " There are 
mysteries about the conduct of this war that puzzle and al 
most disgust me, but I manage to keep my faith in " some 
thing" alive, although I can hardly say what that " something " 
is. At present it is mostly confined to the sturdy determina 
tion of the people of the North to bring the war to a just and 
honorable termination. 

The 1 5th October is an anniversary for me too, as on that 
day I was mustered into service, and shall then have been a 
United States soldier just one year. May the first anniver 
sary of your wedding day see the country reposing in perfect 
peace. 

GAINESVILLE, VA., November 6, 1862. 

Your last most welcome letter reached me the day after I wrote 
to you, and must have passed mine on the way. I can hardly 
undertake to respond to you in a worthy manner, for it is late 
at night, and my toes are very cold, besides, we are to march 
to-morrow morning, and if I expect to rise betimes I must see 
that I turn in before long. The dreams of winter quarters at 
Fairfax, in which many of the men indulged, were all dissi 
pated on the first of the month by an order to march early on 
the morning of the next day : which order pleased me hugely, 
and I set to work and put the ammunition of the whole Bat 
tery in general, and of my section in particular, in tip-top 
order. The next morning, at the appointed hour, we were 
all packed up, and horses hitched in, but could not move, as 
the road was occupied by General Heintzelman's corps, on its 
way to Centreville. By noon we got off, and reached this 
place. Our road lay exactly across that part of the battle 
field where we had struggled so hard on Friday the 29th, and, 
strange to say, we stopped at noon on the very hill on which 
our Battery had stood for two hours in the afternoon in the 
most infernal fire. This gave us an opportunity to examine 
the locality with some care. On the back slope of the hill 



364 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

were some ten or fifteen graves of our men, among them that 
of young Hutchinson of my section, whose poor mother I had 
the pleasure of consoling with a letter, giving an account of 
his gallant bearing, and his glorious but almost painless death. 
.... Many of our poor horses were lying on the slope, 
shriveled to skin and bone, and the meadow beyond was 
sown broadcast with missiles of every pattern and calibre. I 
then rode over to the valley where M. came so near leading 
us in to our destruction, and I saw my two pole horses, one 
on the hillock where we first unlimbered and fired, the other 
by the opening of the fence leading into the road, where I 
played his part for a number of dangerous rods. The space 
near the railroad embankment, where M.'s men had been 
driven back, and where the rebels had in their turn been 
forced back by our canister, was covered with graves poorly 
dug, and scantily covering the miserable forms within. I 
was very much depressed by the whole sight, but not shaken 
in my old resolution to see the end of the matter, or be like 
these poor men. Some of our men, who were on the hill oc 
cupied by the rebel batteries which annoyed us so, state that 
the graves were in great long trenches, and that the dead 
horses fairly covered the hillside, showing that the enemy had 
not passed unscathed through that Gehenna of balls. 

In the afternoon we came through to this place, which is a 
small village of a few houses on the slopes of the Bull Run 
Ridge. The Manassas Gap Railroad is completed to this 
place and beyond. The locomotive has a friendly and civil 
ized appearance, and our boys always cheer it. General Sigel 
arrived here in person to-day, and to-morrow we are to ad. 
vance, probably to Warrenton, and no one knows what may 
happen. 

I am very well indeed, don't mind sleeping out of doors 
these cold nights, but prefer a bed in a warm tent decidedly. 
I am fully prepared to stand a fair share of hardship for the 
next month. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 365 

CHANTILLY, VA., November 25, 1862. 

DEAR AUNT E., .... Our Corps has, by the new 
arrangements and division of the Army of the Potomac into 
four parts, come into the Reserve, and thus we are lying at 
present in a disagreeable state of " betweenity," neither hav 
ing the comfort of winter quarters nor the compensating ex 
citement of active operations in the field. I am hoping that 
Jackson, who is said to be still at Bunker Hill and Charles- 
town, may make a dash in this direction, in the hope of get 
ting to Washington in the rear of the main army, now down on 
the Rappahannock. But I think that would be a little too 
hardy for the Shenandoah Valley Fox. 

I do not wish to triumph over the fallen, but I must say 
that I consider the removal of McClellan as just and neces 
sary. He has been tried, and found wanting in those qual 
ities of swiftness, energy, and ready talent which are abso 
lutely needful in a leader who would successfully combat the 
genius of Lee, the dash of Stuart, the daring rapidity of Jack 
son. Whatever else we may say of the rebels, we must also 
confess that they have managed to pick out their best men, 
and have put them at the head of their army. The material 
of the bulk of their army is certainly inferior to the mass of 
ours, and our artillery is much the best, while we allow only 
a slight superiority to their cavalry. But material is nothing 
so long as it is not rightly moulded and put to use. With the 
prospect of victory when advancing and impunity when re 
treating, the dirty, half naked, ill-fed white trash of the South 
ern army will march twenty miles a day, and fight days on 
empty stomachs ; and, with the enthusiasm inspired by such 
leaders, our boys would do and suffer as much and more. I 
have had an opportunity to see it proved, that officers who are 
willing to expose themselves, and lead their men on intelli 
gently, will never lack support. The material of our Battery, 
for example, is by no means first-rate, and they do for the 
most part answer to the description of " hirelings ; " but I 
doubt if there are many places so hot that they would not follow 



366 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

their officers into with cheerfulness. In fact, so all-important 
are the virtues of courage and firmness out here, that one has 
a tendency to forget that any other virtues are worth practic 
ing ; but I have succeeded in keeping alive one more, Faith, 
faith in the soundness of Northern hearts, and in the hon 
esty of the President ; faith in the approval of the Ruler 
above, and in the consequent success of our cause. In regard 
to religious matters, I have thought at times that I had grown 
entirely callous ; but when I have heard a piece of hymn- 
music, or read a few tender lines of admonition from mother, 
or ridden out in the pleasant autumn afternoon among the 
woods and thought ; or listened to our colored servants sing 
ing some old camp-meeting tune, in a minor and melancholy 
key, by their fires at night, I have felt that it was not so. I 
suppose that Thanksgiving Day will be the day after to-mor 
row in New Haven, and I deeply regret, as ever, that I cannot 
be home upon that day. It is the festival above all others 
which I have always been accustomed to spend at home, and 
now I am again absent. I know that you will remember J. 
and myself when you sit around that family table, and you 
may be sure that we will be thinking of you. I have cause for 
gratitude that this year I am in excellent health, while on last 
Thanksgiving Day I was so sick that I had merely to look at 
the gigantic turkey, but could not touch it. I have already 
projected a foraging expedition for to-morrow, to procure a 
gobbler to be sacrificed to St. Thanksgiving, and it will go 
hard with any secesh farmer who refuses to hand him over 
for a reasonable compensation in greenbacks. We have been 
going into geese pretty extensively lately, as our cook gets 
them up in a most palatable manner. The other day I rode 
several miles with two live ganders slung one on each side of 
my saddle like holsters I have a first-rate darkey, re 
joicing in the name of Glenmore. He has been with me 
nearly four months, and has kept my horses in first-rate con 
dition. He is a ludicrous object, having a nose like the pyr 
amid of Cheops, with orifices in it like the secondary craters 
of Vesuvius. He is a great favorite with most of the men, 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 367 

who call him Chocolate, and he has the jolliest and most in 
fectious laugh you ever heard. I feel quite attached to him, 
and should be very sorry to lose him 

CHANTILLY, VA., December 9, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Your letter, dated December 2, was 
duly received, and gladdened my heart in the midst of this 
bleak wintry weather like a breath of spring, and I take ad 
vantage of this pleasant sunny morning, when it is possible for 
me to inhabit my tent, to answer you. In the first place, that 
turkey, with the fixings, etc., for which the collective mouths 
of our officers' mess have been so long watering, and which 
was to be the Phoenix, or pattern bird, of our cook-house, to 
wards which all future poultry was to strive, and whose virtues 
should be emulated by geese and chickens yet unhatched, this 
noble animal, I say, with all his seductive surroundings, is by 
this time very unpleasant both to look at and to taste of, and 
indeed it would be too much to expect of him that he should 
remain more than two weeks on the way, and yet preserve his 
original sweetness ; in other words, the box has not yet ar 
rived. But although I could not eat the turkey, I thought of 
you all day long, as in church, but in a pew which had two 
vacant seats ; then the Thanksgiving dinner, at which I 
know that J. and I were missed ; and still more in the pleasant, 
quiet evening, when you gat together and talked. I think that 
never before in my life had I personally so many reasons for 
being thankful ; a year ago this day I was setting out for 
Washington, doubtful whether I should ever reach it, and with 
my whole system thoroughly on the verge of dissolution ; for 
my recovery, I have, next to God, to thank Uncle R. and Aunt 
H. : then I am very thankful for having been able to see you 
and my other friends once more, and to strengthen my heart 
with the assurance of your love and sympathy ; then brought 
through the hardships and exposures of the march and the 
camp, and the dangers of the battlefield, I find myself now in 
perfect health, and with a frame to some extent inured to bear 
everything that may occur in an ordinary campaign. If I were 



368 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

not deeply thankful, I should be indeed ungrateful. The cause 
of the country, it is true, has experienced no such improvement 
in the last year, but still we hope ever for a happy and right 
eous ending, in spite of the mutterings and threats of some 
members of the Democratic party at the North, and the un 
friendly attitude of France. 

About what I said on the subject of being awakened to 
religious thoughts by passing circumstances. I think that you 
must have received a very incorrect idea, and one which I 
would not wish you to entertain. The state of the case is 
this : as a general rule, the chaplains here in the field either 
wholly neglect their duty, or else so perform it, that they might 
far better have remained in their tents, and others are talkers 
who are utterly without any conceptions beyond their pay and 
their position : now, I have been brought up to consider religion 
and its exercises and meditations as something serious and 
awful, and since I have thought at all, I have thought that in 
this matter a man must be sincere and honest above all things, 
so if I pray, I cannot avoid placing my whole being in a posi 
tion of the greatest humility before Him to whom the prayer 
is offered, and at the same time the greatest earnestness and 
eagerness in demanding help. But an attendance at church 
which is merely habitual, a reading of the Bible which is 
merely mechanical, and a way of praying regularly, but with 
the mouth alone, these things blunt the religious sense, and 
satisfy a man's soul with what is really nothing. For these 
reasons I will not attend the ministrations of chaplains which 
do not edify me ; but whatever I do say on this subject you 
can thoroughly believe. 

I have heard nothing from J. directly for a month and a 
half, and feel very much worried by hearing that he is ill. I 
have written to him since we came here, but have received no 
answer. If he gets well over this trouble, and gets nicely 
toughened up, it will have been a great advantage to him. I 
should have gone in to see him, but my duty here has been 
quite constant, and it would have been hard to get away. 

The weather has been very trying most of the time since we 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 369 

came here. About seven days ago we had a furious wind 
storm, that lasted three days and nights, and ended in snow, 
which fell to the depth of eight inches. It was utterly impos 
sible to keep warm in my tent, and the only way was to lie 
and take it. It was especially hard upon our poor horses, 
which seemed to lose in two days all that they had gained by 
three weeks' good feed and care. Yesterday my section went 
to work and built a nice evergreen stable, big enough to hold 
all our horses (thirty-three), and more too ; my little mare 
Jenny has the warmest corner of it, and it is entirely protected 
from the wind. In former years, about this time or a little 
later, I have also worked in evergreens ; but then it was to 
deck churches, or to fix and trim Christmas trees for the young 
ones. I think that our present work for our poor, irrational, 
dumb beasts is just as pleasant, and as much a labor of love 
as the other. And now, just as we have the job completed, 
comes an order to be ready to march at a moment's notice. 
You can imagine that those who have built log huts, and got 
themselves nicely fixed, are not 'very amiable at the prospect 
of moving. I feel very glad of it, and hope that we may yet 
do something before the roads become impassable. I should 
greatly enjoy a few days at home this winter, but it does n't 
look much like it just now, and the orders are very strict that 
no one receives a leave of absence on doctor's certificates, un 
less it is absolutely necessary for the preservation of life or 
health ; and I am glad to say that I am not a candidate for 
any such certificate. Captain D. is encouraging a nascent 
rheumatism, which he thinks will bring him home at Christmas 
as it did last July ; but I unfortunately have no pet malady 
which appears so conveniently. If a month or so later we 
take up winter quarters, the matter will doubtless be different, 
and in that hope I live, for I so long earnestly after you and 
the girls. 

I received a charming letter from Uncle W. the other day ; 

so long as the folks at home write such patriotic, hopeful, 

cheering letters, they may be sure that their representatives in 

the field will fight well. The violets in your letter were de- 

24 



3/O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

licious, and the whole of it was as fragrant and sweet to the 
smell outwardly as to the heart within. 

STAFFORD COURT HOUSE, VA., December 20, 1862. 
Your last kind letter, date December 15, came to hand this 
morning, and filled me with thankfulness, in hearing that you 
were all well at home, and also relieved me to some extent 
from the excessive anxiety I have felt about J. for the last 
fortnight. I have not heard from him directly now for nearly 
two months. I was afraid that he might be so rash and un 
wise as to march with his regiment, to scenes of hardship and 
exposure which he was totally unfit to encounter ; so you can 
imagine how glad I felt to hear that he was still at Washing 
ton, and was contemplating a further trip to Annapolis, which 
we can now call the " Convalescent Hospital " for our family, 
as well as the army in general. Judging from my own expe 
rience, I think that he could hardly be in a better place than 
there, with Aunt H. to nurse him, Uncle R. to judiciously su 
pervise and starve him, and A. to amuse and couster him up 
as soon as he came down-stairs. Still it must have been ex 
tremely trying for him to have to lie still while his regiment 
marched off to active service, though I do not really know 
where the Fifteenth Connecticut went to, or what battle they 
were engaged in. As for our Corps, we have had a very rough 
time of it indeed. We marched from Chantilly by the way 
of Fairfax C. H. and Fairfax House ; came to the Occoquan 
River. Up to this point our main trouble was the slippery con 
dition of the roads, on which our horses were frequently fall 
ing, with great danger both to man and beast. But this was 
decidedly a minor evil, compared with what came later. A 
succession of warm days thawed the frozen ground, and for 
five or six hard marches we struggled over hills and lakes of 
mud, and through ravines of putty-like soil, such as can be 
seen in perfection only in Eastern Virginia. At the passage 
of the Occoquan we found some fine forts, one above the other, 
like a terrace, which if defended would have been very costly 
to take ; but they were deserted, and there were no signs of 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 371 

their having been recently occupied. On Sunday we were at 
Dumfries, near Quantico Creek, and then we had three days of 
the toughest sort of work to reach the high ground on the left 
bank of the Rappahannock, near Falmouth. There we learned 
that the attack had been made without us, and had failed, and 
as there was danger that the enemy might throw himself on 
our line of communications, and cut off Burnside's supplies, 
we were moved back to this important place, to guard the rail 
road, and our whole Corps is now assembled here. In some 
respects the march was more trying than that of last May 
and June from Franklin to Harrisonburg. It is true we 
we did not have the night marches or the thunder showers, but 
then we had mud ad infinitum, eight days' marching without 
rest, scarcity of provisions, winter nights, and the depressing 
thought that we could not march as fast as the infantry 
through the mud, and that we must sometimes call upon them 
to help us to extricate our bemired wagons. Several times was 
I indebted for a lift to the stout hands of the Fairfield County 
boys of the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteers, Colonel 
Noble, who were for several days in the same brigade with us. 
What was worst of all was, that when we got to Falmouth, we 
came the day after the fair, and had no fight at all, and had 
to take our caissons back as full as we brought them. Still it 
was very acceptable to get a rest here. Bivouacking in the mid 
dle of December is no fun, and we should have suffered most 
severely if the weather had not been unusually mild. At 
Dumfries, the team wagons were left behind without my know 
ing it, and so I came off without any blankets, except one on 
my saddle, and I had to make fatigue and a good fire supply 
the place of them. In fact, one night I was so used up that I 
slept in my jacket, without blanket or fire, and felt no ill ef 
fects. One night, however, I caught it, it was the night be 
fore we marched to Falmouth. When we lay down around 
the fire, the stars were shining brightly, and all was serene. 
Towards morning I woke up and found the rain dashing in 
torrents in my face, a cold, driving winter rain, still I was 
too tired to seek a shelter, even if there was any to be found, 



372 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

and went to sleep again. Unluckily I lay in a too level place, 
and when I awoke in the morning I was the " Gentleman of 
the Lake," and soaked to the skin all down my back. To add 
to this, by noon it cleared off bright and cold, and the pier 
cing winds made me shiver in my wet clothes. I hardly 
thought I should get to camp. However, I arrived there safe, 
and slept dry that night, and by the next evening got the chill 
out of my bones. But you must not be at all disturbed on my 
account, when I tell you these things; fatigue and exercise 
are potent antidotes to cold and exposure. I am twice as 
buoyant, and hopeful, and happy, on a hard march, as when 
vegetating in camp. One goes through almost as much on a 
hunting tramp or a skating party, and who would complain of 
a little extra privation with our motives before us ? I hope you 
do not feel discouraged at Burnside's partial failure. I con 
tinue full of hope till all is gone. This letter must be your 
Christmas box from me ; very, very Happy Christmas and 
Happy New Year to you, dearest mother. 

STAFFORD COURT HOUSE, VA., 
Christmas Eve, 1862. 

It is Christmas Eve, when " Peace on earth and good will 
toward men " is the text, and although nothing is said of good 
will toward women, yet I suppose that they are included, and 
so will pardon your long silence to-me-ward, and will do my 
best to spend this evening with you in thought and spirit, at 
least, if not in person, as in very many happy years in the 
past 

Nothing among us here indicates the time. The country is 
too poor to furnish us with a turkey to diversify our pork and 
crackers, even if we had the money to purchase one, and we 
are even without a glass of wine for toasts, as several of our 
sutlers have been captured on the road. I determined, how 
ever, to do the best in my power, so I went out into the woods, 
and got a most beautiful little holly-tree, with splendid leaves, 
and full of berries, which we planted at the foot of the flag 
staff. There are a pair of symbols for you ! Above, the em- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 373 

blem of equality, free thought, free speech, justice to all men ; 
below, the emblem of respect for what is old and reverend, the 
ornament of this great festival of faith and religion. No free 
dom can be dangerous that is so rooted and grounded. 

And while I am speaking of this, I would further say, that 
there are very many now fighting in this army, who have ap- 
parently lost sight of all early training, and have given up 
all religious habits, and who seem to think of nothing but 
their military duties ; that is, you see, at first, only the flag, 
but if you could search deep down you would find the holly 
tree there too. 

.... It is beginning to rain, which is a very improper 
proceeding for the weather on Christmas Eve. I am officer 
of the day, and when I make my midnight round by the 
stable, I shall have a fine chance to verify the Catholic 
legend that at midnight, on Christmas, all "beasts of the 
stall " go on their knees. I have seen plenty of horses do 
that in the day-time and irrespective of church festivals. 

I need not tell you that we had a tough time of it, march 
ing down here, as the newspapers all speak, " ad nauseam/' 
of the mud and other hindrances. The roughest part of it all 
was to hear Burnside's cannon when we had only reached 
Dumfries, and were, still, two long days' march from the 
scene of conflict. It was also vile in the extreme to reach 
Falmouth, after seven days' incessant marching, and then 
to have to turn round and march straight back again. 
This being on the outskirts of battles, hearing the guns, and 
meeting the ambulances filled with wounded, I have had 
enough of, and I long for the excitement of another good hot 
artillery fire, like that on Friday afternoon at Bull Run. I 
almost long (I am almost ashamed to confess it) for my quie 
tus ; not that I despair of our success ultimately, or have any 
doubts of its completeness, but why should I live when so 
many better men are falling. Then, too, my anxiety for the 
cause, and my restiveness under my uncongenial surroundings, 
would be forever quiet. A real good, honorable death might 
perhaps give some brightness to a dull and useless life. Do 



3/4 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

you think that I am too sad and gloomy ? But what else can 
you expect of a man who is about to wash down with cold 
water a Christmas dinner of bean-soup and crackers ? 

STAFFORD COURT HOUSE, VA., 

December 29, 1862. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Your letter, dated December 24, 
came safely to hand with the inclosed draft, which I was glad 

to dispose of to our sutler for something less It is 

very lucky for me that he did not attempt to follow us in our 
march from Fairfax out here, as he would probably have been 
captured at Dumfries with the rest, and my things would 
have shared his fate, and fallen into the hands of the rebel 
cavalry. A new way of sending things to camp is by mail ! 
I know one regiment in our Corps which receives three pair of 
boots at least by every mail, and some of the regiments with 
Burnside had their Christmas turkeys sent on in this way. If 
you could send me one it would be a regular treat on our 
mess-table, where we have the unvarying round of crackers and 
coffee for breakfast, soup and meat for dinner (with potatoes 
when we can get them), and coffee and crackers for supper. 
Bread is not to be obtained anywhere, as the sutlers find that 
it pays better not to bring out anything but whiskey and to 
bacco Christmas Day passed off very drearily; the 

day before I went out and got a little holly-tree, which I 
planted at the foot of the flag-staff, where it looked very pretty, 
and quite lighted up the place 

I had a pleasant call from young H. of the class of 1859, 
and Captain Wm. L. of the Seventy-ninth New York, " the 
Highlanders," who have been in almost every hard fight since 
the first Bull Run, except the Peninsular battles, a rough ex 
perience for such a slight, delicate boy, but in spite of it he 
looked well, and bright, and hopeful. When J. comes back 
from camp I intend to make a day of it down in Burnside's 
army, and to refresh myself with a sight of the cheerful, un- 
desponding spirit which prevails there, in spite of all their 
reverses. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 375 

To L. R. P. 

CHANTILLY, VA., December 30, 1862. 

.... And even now you must not allow yourself to fall into 
the error of supposing that I have anything particular to say : 
I only palm off my worthless goods on you, in the hope that 
you will think rather of the writer than of the written, and 
send me back a letter telling of yourself, of New Haven and 
my family, of mutual friends, and their sayings and doings, 
and dispatches from that dear old student world from which I 
am now sometime an unwilling exile. You can really form 
no idea of the peculiar feelings I have towards that college 
time, and everything connected with it ; classmates, friends 
in other classes, our lady friends of the period. " Hornet's 
Nest," and even such actual and living realities as my mother 
and the rest of the family, our house, the elm trees, all partake 
of a certain vague and shadowy beauty and excellence ; it is 
my " Lost Bower." It is true the loafer within me says, " Re 
call that vanished time, dwell again in that Bower," but the 
worker says, " No, you have much more real duty to perform 
than that ; " and so, although I cannot boast of much energy 
or success in action, I have yet a little too much of the earnest 
man in me to settle down into scholarly idleness. Still I love 
to hear about the old times, and the old friends, and you 
cannot interest me more than when you tell me all the New 
Haven gossip, what mischief T. D. is about, and the last joke 

indulged in by B Of our late movements I have but 

little to say, except that between November 2 and November 
19 we made a circumbendibus from Fairfax Court House, 
through Centreville, Painesville, and Aldie, round to this 
place, which is only six miles from " the point or place of be 
ginning." At Aldie we had a superb place for winter quar 
ters ; our pieces in fine position, plenty of food, forage, and 
game in the neighborhood, and pretty girls sown broadcast 
over the land, whose charms were rendered still more piquant 
by their attitude of fierce but harmless defiance. In fact we 



3/6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

had arranged ourselves nicely for a long stay ; had plundered 
the church and schoolhouse of their stores, and even carried 
off the superb gilt candelabra with a marble bottom, from the 
pulpit, as likewise the preacher's chair ; my Captain (who 
alone was the sacrilegious perpetrator) remarking pithily 
about this last article, that it was a real benevolence to the 
poor people to remove it, since the parson would not preach 
so long if he had to stand up all the time ; or at any rate, as I 
suggested, he would have to effect " a change of base " a la 
McClellan. As if to punish us for our evil deeds, Burnside 
did change his base, and Sigel's Corps having been put in the 
reserve, he moved his head-quarters to Fairfax Court House, 
and we moved to Chantilly. Why. they put Sigel in the re 
serve I can't imagine, unless it were that they were afraid of 
a dash in the rear from Jackson, and considered our Flying 
Dutchman the only man fit to look after him. I don't know 
what our Corps amounts to now, as we have a large number of 
new regiments which are perfectly untried, and which don't 
promise much ; but the old crowd, which fought at the Rap- 
pahannock and Bull Run, were as compact and serviceable 
a little body of men as you could find in the army. Even 
here, we accomplish more than the Grand Army before 
Fredericksburg. You will undoubtedly have read in the 
papers about General Stahl's reconnoisance to Berryville 
and its results ; it was a most successful affair, and our men 
behaved excellently, using their sabres only, and gave the 
enemy " tiichtige Hiebe." The prisoners were not a bad look 
ing lot, and kept their pluck up finely, considering the circum 
stances ; the Pennsylvania colts, stolen by Stuart and now 
recaptured, made a truly beautiful show. 

The brigade we are now attached to, the first of the First 
Division, commanded by Colonel von Gilson of the De Kalb 
Regiment, and a first-rate soldier to boot, is much more jolly 
and sociable than any we have before been connected with ; 
and every few nights we, the artillery officers, get a solemn 
order to " report ourselves at such or such a regiment, where 
there is Bier; cheese and bread will also be furnished; gen- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 377 

tlemen will bring their own cigars, or pipes empty." The 
Forty-fifth New York is the jolliest, and has moreover a stun 
ning Sing-Verein, which it is a delight to hear. Still, the 
German, when he gets jolly, is somewhat beastly, and you hear 
far more coarseness than with any crowd of young Americans; 
I infinitely prefer the quiet supper with a chosen crowd, as we 
have had them together, and then a sensible chat over the 
apples and Madeira until the small hours. My Captain is a 
regular character ; he is about forty-five years old, is as gray 
as a badger, and has a queer, thin profile ; he has a way of 
putting himself in a passion, which would be terrifying to the 
uninitiated, but which has come to serve me only with amuse 
ment. He cannot speak English at all, and is not disposed 
to learn it, so we have to communicate entirely in German, 
and this has been of very great service to me, as he speaks 
very correctly, I might almost say classically, and often cor 
rects me when I make a mistake. But, whatever his faults 
and failings may be, he has one virtue which outweighs them 
all : he is truthful and reliable, and is one of those men who 
believe in keeping a promise, even when lightly made, at every 
risk. You can imagine that with such a man I have no trouble 
in getting along well. 

To H. A. Y. 

STAFFORD COURT HOUSE, VA., 
January 15, 1863. 

I have been very much troubled to hear of your ill-health, 
so long continued and so severe, and have often wished that 
I could give you of my own superabundance, for I have most 
of the time been so healthy as to get extremely restless and 
uncomfortable when lying in camp, and felt never better than 
when marching all day and sleeping soundly in a mudhole. 
I had to go through a toughening process at first, it is true, 
and J. is undergoing the same now ; but after that is over, 
it seems as if some steel had been imparted to the constitu 
tion. I hope most earnestly that you may become so restored 
as to be able to work once more with all vigor on your chosen 



378 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

way ; but if it should not be so, you must not grieve overmuch 
at this enforced inactivity, remembering, that " God does not 
need either man's work, or his own gifts " ; and that " they also 
serve who only stand and wait"; this last thought has com 
forted me more than once when I have heard the noise of 
battle at the front, and we were standing in impatient idleness 
in the reserve. My dear boy, in every battle in life there 
must be a reserve, and he who directs these battles will know 
when to bring it into action. 

I have travelled the upper half of Virginia pretty thoroughly 
since last spring ; under Fremont, we starved in Franklin, 
marched down the Shenandoah Valley, fought at Cross Keys, 
and came back to Winchester ; then, under Sigel, we explored 
the Suray Valley, crossed the Blue Ridge again, went via* 
Culpepper and Cedar Mountain to the Rapidan ; then, under 
Pope (Sigel being still our corps commander), we made a 
good retreat across the Rappahannock, fought a week up and 
down its banks, then two days' hard work at Bull Run, where 
our Corps did and suffered pretty much all that was done and 
suffered, except the skedaddling ; and since then we have been 
moving about Fairfax, Aldie, Chantilly, etc., until we came 
down here to support Burnside, and, fortunately, arrived too 
late to be victimized at that slaughter by Fredericksburg. 
Such is a hasty outline of my movements ; a large part of 
the time has been spent among the mountains of the Alle- 
ghany and Blue Ridge, healthy, free, and glorious, where we 
foraged, and went fishing, blackberrying, and cherry-picking, 
and where at times it seemed more like a charming summer 
picnic " long drawn out " than anything else ; the want that I 
have experienced most has been of that which your wife places 
as second in her list of ' temporal blessings,' viz., friends ; 
and for months I have gone without seeing a single face which 
was really dear to me, and without meeting a single person 
with whom I could talk about anything more deeply interest 
ing than duty and the probability of our catching Jackson. 
Indeed, at times, I have become very much depressed by this 
want of intercourse and sympathy, and nothing but the out- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 379 

door life, spent in the saddle, and the healthy excitement of 
the march and the bivouac, has saved me from being very 
miserable. It is when we are lying quiet in camp for some 
weeks that a man gets to feel how hard this life is to bear; no 
books, no friends to exchange thoughts with, no flowers, no 
gentle woman's society, no music except when the Brigade Band 
gives us the " S. S. B.," or when some poor boy is laid in the 
stranger earth of Virginia to the solemn chords of Pleyel's 
Hymn, And this last consolation we all have, that if our 
soldier-life is very hard, it 'is also short, and our death is hon 
orable, and we ask of the passer-by, not like Archytas the 
" pulvis ter injectus," but rather three simple words of praise 
and kindness. 

I enjoy the artillery service very much ; it is the only arm in 
which intelligence is needed in every rank, and an officer of 
artillery has really a fine wide field for study. I have in my 
own section fine young sergeants and corporals, whom it is a 
pleasure to bring forward and perfect in the elements of our 
branch, and who fully answer the description which Victor 
Hugo gives of the sergeant of artillery, in the fifth volume of 
his " Les Miserables " : " Of fair complexion, with a very mild 
face, and the intelligent air peculiar to that predestined and 
formidable arm." I regret very much that I did not get with 
our Battery the chance which that " Captain Wheeler " did at 
West Point, to distinguish himself, although, even when all is 
done, a corps gets no praise unless it has a newspaper cor 
respondent in tow, who is stuffed and flattered and deceived. 
At Bull Run no less than three splendid feats achieved by our 
Battery were ascribed to others by newspapers, while the dry 
details of General Milroy's report did us justice ; but the 
romance is always read by more than the history. 

January 18, 1863. 

.... Yesterday we received positive orders to stand 
ready to march this morning at break of day, and had made 
all our preparations to do so ; but last night the order was 
countermanded, and so we have a quiet Sabbath after all 



380 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

The idea of marching and having something to do put me in 
good spirits, and I have strong hopes that this time we shall 
accomplish something. What we want is a good fair contest 
of army against army, followed by a decisive victory. If we 
obtain this, I don't care much whether I live to see the results 
of it or not. The day for any individual to distinguish him 
self by single acts of daring has gone by, and the utmost de 
votion and bravery are now merely a part of every man's daily 
duty. It is now no compliment to say " brave officer," " brave 
soldier," but it is a disgrace to have anything else said. You 
will not, of course, think of sending anything edible to me by 
mail, especially as we are about to march. The fact is, we 
lived too well at Chantilly, and when we came here on hard 
tack we felt the change, though I am now quite reconciled to it. 

To L. R. P. 

BROOKS' STATION, VA., February 22, 1863. 

MY DEAR BOY, The era extending from the second of 
February (date of your last letter), to February 22 (date 
above), is a very much smaller one than that from December 
3 (date of my last letter), to February 2, and this would per 
haps be, to a right mind, convincing of the fact that you did 
not yet deserve to hear from me ; but when I reflect what an 
unpleasant state of affairs it would bring about if we should 
all get what we deserve, I think it better not to introduce this 
principle, and prefer to go it after the G. R., and write 
promptly to others as I would have others write promptly to 
me. It is true, I doubt very much if I shall receive my re 
ward directly from you, but the grand principle of compensa 
tion must be obeyed, and doubtless the recompense will be 
manifested in an extra and unexpected epistle from my cousin 
A., or perhaps another pleasant little reminder from the Phila 
delphia doves, who are not only " harmless," but Ys 

I was not a little interested in your account of the Philolog 
ical Society, and your paper on the Prometheus question. I 
should greatly enjoy looking in upon one of your meetings, 
and sitting in reverence at the feet of some of those distin- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 381 

guished philologs while they enlightened the world on " An 
aphora and Chiasmus," or similar important topics. The 
truth is, I have not the patience nor the industry to pursue 
these inquiries into the dryer recesses of language ; I prefer 
to take the results of others' labor, as furnished in grammars, 
etc., and then to read the classics for the thoughts they con 
tain, as a part of the general treasure of Thought contained 
in books, whether ancient or modern. That careful industry 
by means of which a student so thoroughly elaborates a lan 
guage as to make the ring of its words and the turning of its 
verses as familiar to him as his own tongue, that capacity of 
becoming a Greek with Sophocles, and a Roman with Horace, 
is given, it seems to me, to a very chosen few, and can hardly 
be sought as an object by any but the professional student. 
You and I may become excellent German scholars, but 
Goethe's " Der Fischer " will never sound to us as perfect as 
to German ears, and however enthusiastic we may be for 
Dante's " il tremolar della marina," and the avapiOpov ye'Xao-fia, 
which are sweet to us because half translated into the univer 
sal language of similar sound which is shared alike by all, still 
it is not like English to our ears, not like Shakespeare's " Full 
fathom five thy father lies," or Byron's " Tremulous silver of 
Euphrates' waves." But your essay on the subordinate part 
played by Zeus in the " Prometheus " was something higher 
than mere scholarship, and I should like very much to see the 
whole paper, rather than the few hints of it which you gave 
me. Did it occur to you to look at Shelley's " Prometheus 
Unbound," in connection with your work, or do you despise 
the moderns entirely ? I think it is his finest work, and well 
worth studying for the exquisite melody of many passages ; he 
seems to adopt the view which you combat, and makes Jove 
bear all the odium of having inflicted an unjust punishment 
upon the suffering Reformer (for Prometheus is certainly the 
original of that species, the first Protestant), and also to get the 
worst in arguments with him, and to be blackguarded unmerci 
fully, while behind all rises a dim shape called " Demogorgon," 
who is evidently the chief cook and bottle-washer, and who in- 



382 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

dulges in certain prophecies of Delphic obscurity and gener 
alizes worse than the " Declaration of Independence " accord 
ing to Choate. It seems to me that the question narrows it 
self down to this : injustice had been done to Prometheus, if 
not by the mere fact of punishment, then certainly by the 
manner of it, and the unseemly taunts with which it was ac 
companied. Now we can look upon Zeus, either as a form of 
the Supreme Being, or as an executor and prime minister of 
the orders of Fate ; that he is not the former, appears every 
where in ^Eschylus, and it would certainly be impiety to impute 
injustice to the Supreme Being. That he is the latter, appears 
to me in " Prometheus " just as much as anywhere else, and 
his subjection to some higher power is shown by his terror 
about the mysterious marriage which he was to contract, and 
which was to be his ruin. All this he would have known and 
prevented if he had not been a deity "zweiter classe." The 
whole, in fact, illustrates the " Responsibility of Prime Minis 
ters," leaving no trace of wrong upon the character of the 

mysterious king upon the throne behind With regard 

to the state of the country, I think it is not by any means so 
unfavorable as many of our friends at home seem to suppose ; 
we have made great advances in our opinions upon many sub 
jects, such as drafting, arming of the negroes, etc., and I hope 
to see the campaign carried on in the spring with a vigorous 
policy and to a successful issue. The army will obey every 
properly issued and communicated order from head-quarters ; 
so long as the President and the Secretary of War are all 
right, Congress may blow, legislatures may resolve, and knots 
of rebel sympathizers may make a show of resistance, but it 
will amount to nothing ; if violent resistance be made to the 
enforcement of the draft, we can easily spare a couple of vet 
eran regiments who would enjoy nothing more than to drag 
out concealed rebels and stay-at-homes, and make them bear 
their share of the burden. In fact, I should have no objections 
myself to be sent to New York with my section ; there is a fine 
position for artillery on Broadway below Canal street, com 
manding the street as high as Eleventh, and the balls would 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 383 

ricochet splendidly on the hard pavement. No ; the army may 
as a mass have dim ideas of principles and rights, but they do 
know that they have been working and fighting in this cause, 
and they do not propose to give up and own themselves 
thrashed, just because their friends at the North are unwilling 
to make some slight sacrifices also. I believe in the North's 
being made to feel the war, which she has not yet done as a 
nation, and to really offer up something to win this great, 
almost infinite good. Among the articles in the stupid Atlan 
tic Monthly of this month, is one entitled, " The Law of 
Costs," which has some good ideas, though uncouthly and ob 
scurely worked up. The more we undertake to do this mat 
ter cheaply, the longer it will remain to be done. The guns 
are even now echoing from hill to hill, and across the fields of 
snow, as the batteries are firing salutes in honor of Washing 
ton's birthday. I hope that the next anniversary will see this 
question nearer a happy solution. 

BROOKS' STATION, VA., March 14, 1863. 

DEAREST MOTHER, I had hoped to be in New Haven by 
this time to-day, and to have spent one Sunday with you at 
home, after my fourteen months' absence. My application for 
a leave has not yet been heard from. I think it not unlikely 
that the pleasant weather of the last two or three days has 
suggested ideas of marching, and that in consequence, no more 
furloughs will be granted. Perhaps this is for the best, after 
all. If I should go home, the parting would be most painful, 
the crust of insensibility and of absorption in my duty would 
be cast off, I should be like a soft-shell crab, who had cast 
his shell prematurely, and had come out of his retreat tender 
and shivering among his hard-shell companions. 

I thought that I had been constant enough in duty to de 
serve so much consideration, and had looked upon my fur 
lough as sure to come in a day or two You must not 

look upon me as if I were only a first lieutenant of infantry, 
for our service is so interesting, and at the same time so valu 
able, that I would not exchange places with a field officer of 



384 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

infantry. Perhaps I may get my battery one of these days ; 
if I should not, you must not think that I am by any means 
thrown away. I came by accident into this Company, and 
have now done my duty for eighteen months without much 
cessation, and if promotion should come to me I would accept 
it, but I would not seek it. 

[The leave of absence having been sent, he was at home 

for a few days.] 

BROOKS' STATION, VA., March 30, 1863. 

.... I am once more back again in camp, settled clown to 
my old work, and am able to look back on my hurried visit 
home ; although everything passed so rapidly as to make the 
whole seem like a dream, hardly more vivid than many dreams 
of home which I have had in camp and bivouac, yet there was 
an inexpressible satisfaction in meeting you all face to face 
once more, before entering upon the distractions and occupa 
tions of the spring campaign. .r 

[After a few days spent in New York, he went to Annapolis 
for a day, and then on to Washington.] 

I left the Ebbitt House at Washington on Thursday, for 
the 8 A. M. boat. By 3 p. M. I was at Brooks' Station, the 
Captain having come to the cars to meet me, while in the back 
ground stood Glenmore with the horses, and I felt that I was 
once more in the traces, and must buckle down to work. The 
next morning an accident happened which might have resulted 
seriously, if it had occurred in the night time, and as it was, 
it came near destroying all our worldly goods. Shortly after 
breakfast, as I was talking with the Captain, I heard a great 
shouting and yelling, by our quarters, and looking round I 
saw the tent occupied by Lieutenant Carlisle and myself in a 
blaze. In a moment, a half a dozen men were cutting at the 
tent ropes, pulling up the pegs, and tearing away the tent, to 
get the burning mass away from our beds, and trunks, and 
clothes ; in this we succeeded entirely, but I burned the fin 
gers of my left hand considerably. We immediately set to 
work to get a new house over our heads ; men were sent off to 
cut trees, and horses to drag them, and by night a stately edi- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 385 

fice of logs had arisen, and by spreading a fly on top, we made 
a shelter for our goods from the rain, which was beginning to 
fall. The next day the house had its chinks stopped with 
chips, and plastered with mud ; a mason from my section took 
the contract for building the chimney, which, with a foundation 
of stone, and a continuation of brick, would shame that of 
many a farmer's house in Virginia. A nice frame door of 
canvas stretched on boards was made. We moved into our 
new residence last night, and found it far more roomy and 
airy than the tent had been ; roof twice as high, and a nice, 
open fire-place, which gives out far more heat than the old 
stove had done, so that we do not repine at all at the confla 
gration. I shall not be sorry to get on the move soon. Our 
present camping-ground was excellent for winter, but it is too 
low and marshy for spring, and will be unhealthy before long. 
Since I began to write this letter, I have been called off to 
look .after one of my corporals, who had been taken suddenly 
ill. I brought him to the Division hospital, where the doctor 
told me it was congestive fever, and kept him there. 

BROOKS' STATION, VA., April 11, 1863. 

Here we are still lying, lapped in inactivity, waiting for fine 
weather and roads practicable for artillery-carriages and team 
wagons, and in the meantime fretting our very hearts out with 
ennui and spring restlessness, which can find no outlet nor 
object upon which to exert itself. But I know that you will 
be kind and considerate enough to make allowances for the 
stupefying influences of idleness and winter quarters, and will 
not refuse to accept a commonplace letter, made up out of 
nothing, just as you would one setting forth the " moving ac 
cidents " of march and bivouac, and picket and foraging, and 
" hair-breadth 'scapes in the imminent deadly breach." The 
actors now are languid officers wearing new uniforms, drink 
ing wine and making visits; lazy men with decent jackets, 
clean buttons, and washed faces ; horses fat, guns polished, 
carriages painted, harness cleaned ; the epoch of reviews, in 
spections, ladies in camp, soft bread, commissary whiskey, and 
25 



386 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

furloughs to New York. I wave a bit of paper containing the 
magic words, " March-orders," and, presto ! change. You 
see, on a spring evening, our Battery coming into camp, after 
a long day's march, and I can imagine that you ask, " Are 
those dirty creatures on horseback the same with those fine 
officers whom we saw last winter? Are those wild and ragged 
animals those well-clad soldiers ? And what made them ex 
change their horses for these meagre brutes?" You then see, 
further, how, after a most scanty meal, both on the part of 
men and beasts, they all lie down on the bare ground, and 
sleep most soundly, perhaps in mud and rain, until the bugle 
blows the reveille at sunrise, and then again to the road ; or 
perhaps they " take position," and have a fight. And yet, 
strange as it may seem, the latter kind of life, with all its pri 
vations, is infinitely superior to the former, comfortable as it 
may be ; for one who has youth and health, and an animating 
principle of action within, it is full of zest and interest, and I 
do not know when I have felt a more joyous elevation of 
spirits, than when riding through Virginia oak woods, on 
some lovely summer morning, a good horse under me, the 
music of birds above, and below, the creaking of caissons, and 
the ringing of "jingling bridle-reins," and the inspiring pros 
pect of a conflict with an enemy a few miles ahead. 

My first day in camp was celebrated by the burning down 
of my tent, from which I had great difficulty in rescuing my 
clothes and books. Some of my friends hinted that I had got 
my house insured when I was at New York, and had then set 
it on fire to get the insurance, but, probable as this hypothesis 
might seem, I am myself inclined to think it became ignited 
from a spark falling upon the canvas, which was already as 
dry as tinder. However, I did not repine at my loss, but set 
the men of my section to work, house-building, immediately. 

So now we have a shanty, put up in two days, far more 
comfortable than a tent, and have so far had two weeks enjoy 
ment of it ; next winter I intend to put up such a house as 
soon as we go into winter-quarters. Perhaps you think that 
I am mistaken in saying " next winter," as if I had no doubt 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 387 

of our still being in the field ; I reply that I can hardly hope 
for such decided successes, before that time, as to permit of a 
reduction of the army, and my maxim is to be provided for 
the worst, and above all things not to under-estimate our 
enemies. It will take all the men we can bring into the field, 
and all the energy those men possess, to make a decided im 
pression on the rebels this year ; I believe in not being ele 
vated or thrown off our guard by success, and not unduly de 
pressed by the want of it, but to keep steadily on at our work, 
until it is finished. And even then it will be better to be joy 
ful, than boastful or triumphant ; this war will bring one ad 
vantage at least, if it cures us of these disgusting qualities. 

President Lincoln reviewed our Corps yesterday, and I, for 
one, did not feel ashamed of our old Eleventh Corps, and I 
doubt if the President has seen, in the whole Army of the 
Potomac, a hardier or more soldierly looking set of men. He 
rode past on a splendid black horse, followed by his two little 
boys, on ponies, and then came an enormous and splendid 
cortege of at least two hundred officers 

The weather, after great changefulness, many an unseason 
able snow and rain storm, has at last apparently settled down 
fine, the roads are rapidly drying up, and we may look for 
marching orders shortly now. The air is delightfully soft and 
mild, and the grass is sprouting. I send you a little sprig of 
trailing arbutus from near our camp ; it does not grow here 
in the same profusion as in Western Virginia, where I used 
to pluck it in long streamers, and twist it round my hat. 

BATTLE OF CHANCELLORSVILLK. 

BROOKS' STATION, May 14, 1863. 

DEAREST MOTHER, Since we came back to this camp, I 
have been very much occupied with reports, inventories, and 
other matters which are necessarily attendant upon a great 
battle, and so I just dispatched you a line on the 6th. I have 
felt very much depressed in spirits, and hardly equal to hav 
ing a good talk, even with you. But I have to-day received 
your letter, dated May 5, and I feel impelled to let you know 



388 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

all about it at once, that you and the friends at home, who are 
the only ones whose opinion I care much for, may not be led 
by newspaper stories or prejudiced reports, to do injustice to 
our Corps, whose misdeeds are now in every one's mouth, and 
upon whom is cast the entire weight of blame, that belongs in 
higher quarters. 

I do not know that I can do better than tell you about the 
whole affair from the beginning of the march on, as you may 
take an interest in what is already beginning to be historic. 
The first " eight days rations," which we draw in the expecta 
tion of making our attempt, about the middle of April, were 
quietly consumed in camp, as a series of violent storms 
swelled the streams, and made moving impracticable, but on 
Sunday, April 26, we received a renewal of the same order, 
which was speedily complied with, and soon after came the 
order of march, which was to begin at 5^ o'clock the next 
morning. At about midnight who should turn up but our 
Paymaster, and as the rolls were all signed, he made a quick 
job of it, and paid the Battery off in just thirteen minutes ; 
this added to the excitement of breaking up winter-quarters, 
drove away sleep from the camp, and the hum of conversation 
and laughter was heard until the bugle blew reveille, and we 
prepared to bid farewell to our pleasant winter-quarters, little 
thinking that in ten days more we should be re-occupying 
them again, broken but not beaten. Everything was packed 
up, six days forage was fastened on the pieces and caissons, 
and on the off horses, shelter-tents were distributed among 
the men, while our comfortable wall tents and stately Sibleys 
were left standing, for the benefit of the Hospital Department, 
a branch of the service destined in a few days to surpass all 
others in importance. Our march was at first rather slow, as 
the Second and Third Divisions, which lay more towards the 
front, had first to get their unwieldy lengths in motion. Every 
thing not absolutely necessary had been curtailed ; one am 
bulance accompanied each brigade, but not a team-wagon was 
to be seen in the whole line of march, the trains being all in 
the rear, and arranged in the order in which they were likely 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 389 

to be used, viz : ammunition, ambulances, supplies. Every 
man had eight days rations and sixty rounds of ammunition, 
and thus provided, we could afford to have our teams in the 
rear and to move on in light marching rig. 

The first day we reached Hartwood church, a distance of 
about fifteen miles \ but even this march, though not a long 
one, tried the infantry very much, as they were soft from the 
long idleness of winter-quarters, and their haversacks and 
cartridge-boxes were unusually heavy. 

At different points on the road we were joined by the Twelfth 
Corps, General Slocum, and the Fifth Corps, General Meade, 
which fell in behind us. The next day we reached Kelly's 
Ford early in the afternoon, and went into camp, preserving 
the utmost silence, all orders being given by word of mouth 
without drum-beat or bugle signal, and the men were not per 
mitted to show themselves on the bank. The value of these 
precautions was shown by the fact that we took the enemy 
entirely by surprise ; a detachment from Steinwehr's Division 
crossed the river, drove the enemy out of the rifle pits, and 
occupied the opposite shore, and then, with great dispatch and 
success, the engineers laid down the pontoons, and, under 
cover of night, our whole Corps passed the river and gained 
the heights about half a mile back. This was a pretty hard 
job for the artillery, as they sent us no guide to take us through 
the level swamp lying between the river and the hill ; and we 
floundered about in mud and mire until nearly daybreak ; two 
hours sleep, on a plank taken from a fence, and a wash in a 
dirty pool, quite refreshed me, and by six o'clock we stood in 
readiness to renew our march, now upon the south side of the 
Rappahannock. The Twelfth Corps crossed at daybreak, and 
filed past us, taking the advance, and the Fifth Corps followed 
us in the rear. We marched steadily on, the roads were good 
and we were in high spirits, and everything looked well. 
Before long we struck upon the Fredericksburg plank-road, 
and when approaching the ford over the Rapidan, at Germania 
Mills, the artillery of our Corps was ordered to pass through 
the infantry of the Twelfth Corps at double-quick, so as to 



390 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

take position and drive away any hostile artillery that might 
dispute the passage. While trotting over this road, which was 
a good deal worn and full of ruts, we had a chapter of dis 
agreeable accidents ; a caisson, in the first section, broke in 
the middle from a sudden jolt, and two men sitting on the 
rear box were thrown violently to the ground and seriously 
injured, one having his ribs broken and his hip put out 
Almost at the same time a man was jolted off from a cais 
son, in the second section, and the wheel passed over his leg, 
cracking the bone. I had ordered my drivers not to go quite 
so rapidly and had no trouble. Our arrival at Germania 
Mills, on the Rapidan, was so sudden that a body of rebel 
infantry and cavalry had scant time to get across the river 
and escape, while a company of pioneers and engineers, who 
were engaged in building a large bridge over the river, and 
had all the timbers ready collected and shaped for that pur 
pose, were made prisoners, to the number of about eighty 
men. It would seem from the building of this bridge, that 
Lee had the intention of making much the same movement 
that we were making, going to one of the upper fords of 
the Rappahannock in order to cross and flank us, and thus 
we had anticipated him in his own maneuver. Our own en 
gineers took hold of the bridge timber, and laid down enough 
of the string pieces to enable the infantry to pass over dry 
shod ; in the meantime the artillery had to ford the river, 
which was no small undertaking, as the stream was deep, the 
current very swift, and the bottom full of large stones. A line 
of cavalry, standing over their girths in water, showed where 
we were to pass ; but the violence of the current was so great, 
and the footing so uncertain, that I felt almost sure that some 
carriage would be swept away ; but nothing of the kind hap 
pened, and, as our ammunition chests were pretty water-tight, 
we managed to "keep our powder dry." I did not succeed 
in doing the same by my own person, as my horse had to 
swim once, which necessitated a very wet seat to me ; and the 
Captain's horse went headforemost into a hole from which I 
never expected to see him emerge. There were some ludi- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE 391 

crous incidents ; one of the pack-mules, loaded on each side 
with a box of rifle cartridges, walked deliberately off the string 
piece into the river, saying, probably, with Hamlet, " Who 
would fardels bear," etc. ; once in, a few desperate plunges 
freed him from his burden and he swam ashore and rushed 
off friskily, switching his tail as joyously as if he had not just 
been a four-legged caisson, the slave of an ordnance officer. 
When the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps were all safely over 
the (Fifth Corps had crossed at another point) the bridge was 
destroyed and our guns were planted along the banks to pre 
vent the enemy from coming up in our rear from the direction 
of Culpepper or Gordonsville, and disturbing our peaceful 
slumbers, which we enjoyed that night in a pouring rain. 
The next da}', April 30, we continued our line of march on 
the Fredericksburg plank-road, passed through the small vil 
lage of Wilderness, and advanced nearly to Chancellorsville, 
where General Hooker had his head-quarters. General How 
ard established his head-quarters near the intersection of the 
Orange Court House road, or Plank Road, with another road 
running about northwest ; and our Division head-quarters was 
at a farm-house upon the last-mentioned road, about half a 
mile from the intersection. Close by this farm-house our Bat 
tery went into camp, and General McLean's Brigade lay all 
around us, the Seventeenth Connecticut to our right, the Fifty- 
fifth, Twenty-fifth, Seventy-fifth, and One Hundred and Seventh 
Ohio behind us, and to the left of us. The point of attack 
indicated to us was the front, viz., towards the Plank Road, 
which came converging from the southwest, and upon which, 
the theory seemed to be, the rebels were sure to make their 
attack ; the idea did not seem to occur to the generals that 
the enemy might go a little further to the west and northwest, 
and attack our right wing on the flank and rear. Friday, May 
i, came, and the infantry commenced entrenching themselves 
in the road, front as before to the Plank Road, by digging rifle 
pits and banking the earth up on the fence, securing it with 
fence rail and strong pegs. In the evening there was consid 
erable firing to the left, with some musketry ; we sent off our 



392 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

first section, with Colonel Gilsa's Brigade, to take position on 
the extreme right and protect the flank ; a very good precau 
tion against an enemy of moderate force, but not much against 
forty thousand men. 

The next morning we received an order from General 
Howard to carefully measure the distance from our Battery 
to a clear elevated spot in front, near the Plank Road, on 
which it was apprehended the rebels might endeavor to place 
a battery and shell our position, and we were told that " we 
would find it of the greatest importance to have an accurate 
knowledge of the distance," thus showing that still the attack 
was expected in front, and a heavy flank attack not dreamed 
of. In the meantime Jackson was silently massing his army 
in front of the First Brigade, and on its flank, and yet with 
such perfect secrecy and skill that the miserable scouts we 
sent out reported three or four hundred dismounted cavalry, 
and nothing more. Lieutenant Bohn, thinking that dis 
mounted cavalry were getting too numerous, threw a couple 
of shrapnels among them but was ordered by General Devens 
to stop, as he was " shooting our own men." About this time 
General Hooker rode down through our lines, seemed well 
satisfied with the state of affairs, and returned ; and yet at the 
very moment when he cast his approving glance over the right 
wing, the enemy's swarms were closing in upon it, unseen but 
sure, and there was not a single cavalry vidette to bring us 
certain information of this deadly snare. Frequent intelli 
gence was sent both to Howard's and Hooker's head-quar 
ters announcing the heavy massing of the enemy on the right, 
and yet no reinforcements were sent, and no orders to retire 
to a more favorable position. Perhaps they thought that our 
weak Divisions, of about 4,000 each, were going separately to 
withstand the sudden onset of ten times their number, and that 
in a position most unfavorable, and where the intrenchments, 
built against the front, were nothing but a weakness when 
taken in flank. Noon came, no information of an attack, and 
still we kept our guns trained on the clear spot in front. At 
3 P. M., all was still ; suddenly the silence was broken by the 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE, 393 

shots of skirmishers, then sharp volleys of musketry with 
rapid firing of canister from the right, where Lieutenant Bohn 
was with his section, and almost at the same moment our Bat 
tery was enfiladed from the right by the enemy's shells which 
fell and burst with most fatal effect. The first shell struck 
two pole horses in Lieutenant Carlisle's section, then burst, and 
one piece cut in two the pole of my first piece, while another 
went on and killed a lead horse on the second. The next 
two shells were almost equally destructive. We endeavored 
to place our pieces in the new direction, but before we could do 
so, the First Brigade came, forced back on McLean's, bring 
ing Bonn's section with it, and it was impossible to fire for 
fear of killing our own men, who blocked up the road. So 
we had nothing for it, but to retire to the first hill, where we 
could take position and accomplish something. I limbered 
up my first piece with the limber of the caisson and then got 
both my pieces off safe, retiring quietly. I was just about to 
mount my horse when the attack began, and gave him to a 
cannoneer to hold while I unlimbered the caisson. While he 
was holding him a bullet hit the poor little Frank on the 
haunch and he broke away and ran past the Battery which 
was now moving on ahead, giving the Captain and the men 
the idea that I had been shot from his back. Well I got my 
piece off all right and followed on foot ; as I came a couple 
of rods further where, through a depression in the ground, the 
pieces had passed from the field into the road, I found Lieu 
tenant Carlisle with his whole section in a sorry plight, all 
the horses on one gun had been shot, and all but the pole 
horse on the other, together with two or three of the drivers, 
and in a fit of desperation C. had ordered his men to unlim- 
ber and fire canister. But the depression was so deep that no 
sight could be got of the enemy who were on the plain above- 
I took hold of the third piece and tried to help run it up the 
bank, but we could not do it. I then sprang to the other gun 
and told Carlisle that the only possible safety was to cut out 
the dead horses, limber up the gun and take it off with the 
pole horse alone. It had been great folly to unlimber then, 



394 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

in the first place, and though he was brave as a lion the pre 
dicament rather puzzled him, as well it might. The sergeant 
cut out the lead and middle horses, and the corporal raised 
the trail to limber up the gun when a shot struck him, and he 
dropped the trail on my toes, at the same moment the rebs 
rushed over the hill and poured a volley into us at very close 
range, severely wounding poor Carlisle in three places. I 
don't see how I escaped. I suppose I owed it to the fact that 
I was on foot. I then made rapid tracks to catch my sec 
tion ; the first hill was full of artillery in position, and firing, 
and our Battery had found no room to take position, and so was 
compelled to go further back. At the Third Division breast 
works I amused myself in rallying our infantry, but they could 
not be held. 

The vehemence, energy, and desperation with which the 
rebels came on was really superb, and the numbers were so 
overwhelming that a brigade or division line of battle made 
no show at all, but was immediately flanked and enveloped on 
both wings. The Third Division, commanded by the cele 
brated Republican orator Schurz, did worst of all ; it vanished 
like the dust of the balance at the first assault, and gave no sup 
port to McLean's gallant Brigade which did its best to keep 
back the tide of gray backs, but in vain, and Steinwehr's First 
Brigade was too weak to stand up against the refluent wave 
of Schurz's runaways. I don't tell you anything now from 
hearsay, but what I saw with my own eyes, for as I knew that 
my section was not in position on this hill, and was in safety 
on this road, I felt some curiosity to see how the thing went 
and so I took it pretty easy, keeping as near the enemy's front 
and our rear as I conveniently could. 

All at once I heard my name called, and saw at my side 
Major Fineauff of the One Hundred and Fifty-third Pennsyl 
vania Regiment, of whom you have heard me speak as my 
fellow student at Berlin, one of my few friends out here on 
the field. He had been on General Devens' staff, and -was 
wounded in the leg, or rather lamed and severely contused. 
I lugged him along for some distance, resisting his frequent 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 395 

requests to me to lay him down and leave him. I gave him 
a drink of whiskey which gave him life, and at last had the 
satisfaction of leaving him with a party of his own regiment 
who brought him safely off. Arrived at the foot of the hill 
leading to the plateau on which General Hooker's head-quar 
ters stood, /. e., the village of Chancellorsville, I found the 
Twelfth Corps hastening to our relief, and across the crest of 
the hill a large number of batteries, mostly brass twelve 
pounders, medium range, placed in position, while most of the 
rifled long range guns had been sent further to the rear. I 
spent some time in searching for our Battery, but without 
success, and then went back to the hill and served as can 
noneer in Dilger's Battery of our Corps, during the whole of 
the fierce attack of the rebels that ensued. It was queer that 
the officer in whose section I served, had within a fortnight 
been a trembling candidate before a board of examination of 
which I had been secretary, and where I had put him through 
with all sorts of questions. At the foot of the hill was a wood, 
which was held partly by the rebs, and partly by the Twelfth 
Corps \ the enemy made several attempts to drive our men out, 
and the steady roll of musketry was really appalling. Once 
they succeeded, but then the batteries on the hill opening drove 
them back with great loss, and our men retook their position. 
The next (Sunday) morning I found my section in the right, in 
the new line, with the First Corps, General Reynolds. The rest 
of the Battery was at the United States Ford, to which place 
most of the long range artillery was sent, as being of little use 
in such close hand to hand bush fighting. Here I was ordered 
to report to General Reynolds with two guns of Schirmer's 
Battery and my own section. General Reynolds sent me to 
General Wadsworth, who commanded one of his Divisions, and 
he placed me in a fine position, above his Division, who were 
splendidly intrenched, and I got the regiment which covered 
me to throw up a breastwork before my gun, high enough to 
cover the bodies of the gunners. While reporting to General 
Wadsworth I had the pleasure of meeting young Carrington 
of the Class of 1859, who was on his staff. There were ten 



3Q6 LE7'TERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

pieces of us all together on this hill, and I longed for an at 
tack, as we had capital infantry with us, and could have re 
pulsed almost anything. But nothing did turn up then, and 
towards evening I was ordered down to the United States 
Ford, where we lay for a day and a half, and then, on the 
5th, crossed the river in a dense fog, and marched back to our 
old camp, arriving here in a rain and hail storm which was 
the most extensive one I ever saw. The hailstones being 
in some instances, actually larger than hen's eggs, and knock 
ing men off their horses. So, here we are, after an absence of 
eight days, in the old camp again, having lost two guns, three 
caissons, twenty-five horses, one officer, and thirteen men, 
having not had the smallest chance to accomplish anything 
valuable. In fact there was far too much artillery in that 
fight, and too many rifled guns which were of no use at all. 
If a battery was not very well supported by infantry, it might 
be taken in one desperate rush, as there was no good oppor 
tunity to retire. With regard to the conduct of the Eleventh 
Corps, I have heard some say that they would not fight be 
cause they did not have Sigel \ this is absurd, and yet allow 
ance must be made for the great influence on the men, 
produced by their losing the man on whom they leaned unre 
servedly, and whom they would follow to the death, and get 
ting in his place a person unknown, peculiarly uncongenial to 
the German mind, and considered by them as a parson in uni 
form. But any Corps so scattered, and strung along an ex 
tended line, could not have failed to be overwhelmed by the 
force brought so suddenly against it ; and a most steadfast 
bearing to the enemy would have brought with it annihila 
tion, without staying their progress ; would have doubled the 
lists of killed and wounded without having been of benefit. 
I know that the regiments by our Battery, viz., McLean's Brig 
ade, fought as well as men can fight, and only fell back when 
further fighting was madness. The fact lies in this nut-shell. 
General Hooker allowed General Howard to scatter his corps 
along too great a line, and then allowed the Corps thus scat 
tered to be flanked, and now it seems to be the fashion to 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 397 

throw the blame of this mismanagement upon the conduct 
of the Corps, which seems to me most unjust. Well ! enough 
of this vindication ; if any of my friends ask what I have to 
say about the " flight," " panic," etc., of the Eleventh Corps, 
you can show them this. Both of my horses were hit, 
but neither severely. Jenny got a spent ball right on the 
side of her nose, but the wound is now entirely healed. 
Frank got a ball on his haunch, but the wound was improving 
finely, when, what should he do the other night but commit 
suicide, by hanging himself in his halter ; in the morning he 
was quite dead. He was a beauty and a fine trotter. I felt 
miserably about it. My poor darkey boy took it so much to 
heart, that, after burying him with many tears, he could not 
bear to stay any longer about the place and decamped, which 
was even more painful to me than losing the horse, as I had 
taken much interest in him and was really fond of him. We 
were afraid that we might lose Lieutenant Carlisle ; he was 
shot in the arm, the leg, and the side. What troubled him 
the most was the loss of his section, and when he became de 
lirious he was crying cannoneers to do this and that and not 
to desert the gun. He is better now and has been sent off to 
Washington with a fair prospect of recovery. Most of our 
wounded are doing well except the Corporal who was shot at 
my side ; he will probably lose his leg. As to the whole affair 
I do not feel discouraged. I am sure that the enemy received 
greater loss than he inflicted, and that he cannot stand 
many such blows, while we on the contrary seem, like An 
taeus, to gather strength from our falls. The death of Stone 
wall Jackson is a great misfortune to the rebels, but I do not 
feel like exulting over the grave of such a brave, wise, and en 
ergetic antagonist " peace be to his ashes." You must make 
this long letter do for sometime now, as I have a great deal of 
writing to do. 

To L. R. P. 

BROOKS' STATION, May 19, 1863. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Although I have several debts to pay 
that are older than yours, and you stand by no means near 



398 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

the top of my list, yet your last letter dated April 23, but 
which I did not receive until about May 9, came to me so 
pleasantly upon my return to this camp, breathing so much 
quiet, and peace, and happiness, after my hard marching, and 
bloody fighting, that I feel peculiarly impelled to send you a 
few words in reply ; and these words shall be, if you please, 
not at all about the war and the late battle, but mere chat and 
friendly talk. If you would like to hear about our march to 
Kelly's Ford, our passage of the Rappahannock, and then of 
the Rapidan, the battle at Chancellorsville on Saturday 
with an explanation of how the misfortune of our Corps oc 
curred, I would rather have you ask my mother to read you 
that part of my last letter to her, than write it all over again 
myself. Suffice it to say, that I stayed with another officer's 
section in the face of the enemy, and tried to help it to get off 
until I was the only man on the spot unhurt, two corporals 
being shot down at my side, and the officer receiving three 
bullets ; I probably escaped by being on foot, and did not 
think it my duty to stay behind to rally the infantry, that not 
being a branch of my business. I hate to brag, or to talk 
about what I did, but it becomes necessary sometimes, when 
the corps to which one belongs is charged by the newspapers 
with having indulged in a universal panic and flight. I only 
know that if I had one of the reporters for those sheets in my 
tent for a brief half hour alone, one of us two would have a 
badly punched head. But enough of this. 

Your letter treating of music, and pictures, and children, 
was to me indeed " humanizing," and I could not help asking 
myself how it was that my nature had not become more bru- 
talized by my life of" murder and rapine," as the " Richmond 
Enquirer " would call it, but on the contrary, became as sensi 
tive as ever upon your mention of those tender and beautiful 
objects ; I think that when a certain love for them has become 
a part of a man's nature, the absence of them, and the want 
of a cultivation of the corresponding tastes, does not really 
diminish this love, but rather, other ruder tastes are etched 
away by the influence of time and use, leaving these in bolder 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 399 

relief. I don't know whether this be correct metaphysics, but 
it is true as far as I am concerned. What you tell me of this 
book of " Mendelssohn's Letters," interested me much, and if 
you really can part with the book, without hope of ever seeing 
it again, I should be much obliged to you for sending it to me. 
By my hand lies a very jolly little book entitled " Reisehu- 
moresken ; auf einer Wanderung durch die Schweiz und Ob- 
eritalien," which has to us here a peculiar interest from its 
being an only memento of a very gallant officer, Captain von 
Mensel, of General McLean's staff, with whom I had a pleas 
ant talk half an hour before the sudden attack, in which he 
disappeared mysteriously, just like Ed. Blake at Cedar Moun 
tain, and we cannot learn whether he was buried promiscu 
ously on the field, or whether he perished in that burning hos 
pital. These genial little books of travel are to me very 
delightful, and it requires very little imagination for one to 
place himself in an Italian vettura, or on the bow of one of 
those ridiculous little " Dampfers," on a Swiss lake, and to 
listen to the homely humor of the German, the gabble of Eng 
lish girls, and the ignorant impudence of their companions. 

I sometimes like to take a retrospect of the years that are 
just past, and never more than just at this time, and in this 
month ; in 1857, I was a week out of New York on the 
Australia ; in 1858, I had just left you and The Form, at 
Athens, and had gone to Naples ; in 1859, 1 was gnashing my 

teeth over a certain ; in 1860, I was being admitted to 

the bar ; in 1861, I was sporting a gray jacket at Washington ; 
in 1862, I was supporting a starving officer's mess at Frank 
lin, Virginia, among the mountains, with the fruits of my angle. 
And, after this "roaming with a hungry heart," I also share 
Ulysses' determination, " to strive, to seek, to find, and not to 
yield ; " every defeat of ours puts the end farther off, but 
makes our work more sure and thorough, and the final peace 
more deep and noble ; the longer we work upon the laying of 
our foundation stones, the more pains we take with the selec 
tion of our site and the nature of the ground we build on, the 
more beautiful and lasting will be our edifice, which we can 



4OO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

then entrust to the religion of coming centuries to complete, 
and it will shine from its rocky base to the pilgrims of the 
future, as the Parthenon did to us five years ago, beautiful, 
golden, when we sailed up to the Piraeus. And yet home, 
friends, genial society, books, music, all these are so delightful, 
that I do not dare to think of them much ; the only way is to 
keep the nose steadily down on the grindstone of duty, and 
then you don't bother about anything else. I like to hear 
from you very much, for you have such a straight-forward way 
of going at things that I feel perfect confidence in all your ut 
terances, and take them all as gospel, feeling at times almost 
willing to " lay my sweet hands in yours, and trust to you." 

What comes hard for me to stand just now, is going to the 
hospitals ; I am not exactly right well, and the sight of so 
much suffering among gallant boys who never wavered on the 
field, is often too much for me ; and yet I try to go, for our 
poor fellows feel pleased when their officers come in often and 
inquire about them. The other day I went to see a corporal 
of our Battery, one of the two shot down at my side ; he was 
on the field and in the enemy's hands several days before be 
ing sent over, and his wounds had been neglected. He was a 
very fine-looking young Irishman, with a good organization 
and deep susceptibility to both pain and pleasure ; one of his 
wounds had affected the nerves, and the pain came in great 
wrenches and spasms that made him gnash his teeth and beat 
his feet on the bed in agony. I became so sick that I could 
hardly get to the door. The other corporal, who was hit with 
in half a foot from me, received a bad shot in the foot, and 
came so exhausted to the hospital, that the doctor would not 
take his leg off; to-day they have given him up, as mortifica 
tion has set in. When I see these things, I am perfectly as 
tounded at the capacity of delicate ladies, like Miss S. W. 
and my Cousin A., to go through the scenes with composure, 
and yet to be benign and helpful at the same time. I never 
appreciated before the greatness of the service and the sacri 
fice. But still these acts of devotion and self-sacrifice are not 
without their stimulus and reward, too ; I have never seen 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 401 

anything that went more to my heart than this ; after I had 
sat down by the bed of a poor mangled hero from the ranks, 
had spoken to him words of praise for his conduct, sympathy 
for his pain, and offered to do what I could for him, to see his 
eyes watch me as I left the tent, and to hear his grateful 
"Thank you for your kindness, Lieutenant." I intend to try 
to overcome the prejudices of my sensitive Wheeler nose, and 

to do something more in this way Think of me 

as in pretty good health, and remembering you with constant 
affection. 

To H. N. C. 

HEAD-QUARTERS I3TH N. Y. BATTERY, 
BROOKS' STATION, May 21, 1863. 

The immediate toils of battle are over ; the wounded are 
either agonizing and dying with their painful and mortifying 
wounds in the field hospitals, or where their hits were slight, 
are hopping around on sticks and crutches, and looking 
eagerly forward to the time when they shall be sufficiently re 
stored to exchange the half-rations of the hospital for the full 
fare of the camp ; and the uninjured, having fairly rested 
themselves from fatigue and excitement, are beginning to feel 
ennui and fatigue much more severely than from the hardest 
march, and to wish that Hooker would hurry up again and 
make another " reconnoisance in force" across the Rappahan- 
nock, but this time with fuller results. I hope that you have 
not allowed yourself to be so prejudiced by the newspapers, 
against our Corps, the Eleventh, as not to be willing to hear a 
word of explanation. One very great disadvantage under which 
we labored was, that shortly before the march, our well-trusted 
Sigel was replaced in the command of the Corps by General 
Howard, a stranger, and one in whom we had no confidence ; 
and still further, our Division commander, McLean, who was 
greatly beloved by his troops, was superseded by Devens, also 
an utter stranger, and one who brought with him mostly a new 
and inexperienced staff. The disposition of the Corps in the 
line of battle at Chancellorsville was also very faulty, it being 
stretched out over a long line, a mile away from the Twelfth 
26 



402 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Corps, and connected with it only by a few pickets. Then 
there was no cavalry to scout on the flank, and the conse 
quence was, that while we were expecting patiently an attack 
from the front, the wily Jackson had massed his forces on our 
right, and even thrown part of them into our rear, thus com 
pletely enveloping our Division, and exposing the men, some 
of whom were raw troops, to a fire on three sides at once. 
The enemy's attack was in great force and most fierce, his men 
advancing steadily at a rapid walk, loading and firing as they 
came, and our First Brigade narrowly escaped being taken 
prisoners en masse. There was no " coign of vantage," no ad 
vantageous position, at which to make a stand, as the breast 
works and rifle pits had all been constructed with reference to 
an attack from the front, and consequently were enfiladed by 
an attack from the right. In fact, we had no chance ; and the 
men who, at Bull Run, under Sigel, kept the heights of 
Groveton for a long summer's day, against the desperate as 
saults of Longstreet's whole army, finally driving him back, 
and who came the next day to the rescue of the fugitive and 
demoralized army of the Peninsula, would not rally under a 
general whose arrangements had proved so futile and decep 
tive, and to rally under whom would have been to meet re 
peated defeat and disgrace, without profit. I am sorry to say, 
that General Howard, on his first coming to the Corps, made 
himself conspicuous by his zeal in promoting religious obser 
vances, and in showing his respect for the Sabbath, to say noth 
ing of a somewhat ostentatious display of personal piety, and 
now his religious character has to bear the burden of his mili 
tary errors, and it is said pretty generally, and that with jus 
tice, that he obeyed only the last half of the command, 
" Watch and pray." Don't suppose now, that I look at this 
in a flippant way at all ; I think that no characters are more 
admirable than those of men like Havelock, Hedley Vicars, 
or our own Commodore Foote, who, being once soldiers, did 
their duty and their work as such with all their might, and yet 
were none the less thoughtful, earnest, and pious men. But 
with regard to our General, I feel very much as Cromwell did 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 403 

about that cavalry officer who began to pray aloud in his saddle 
just as the Ironsides were about to charge at Marston Moor. 
I hope that he will be removed from command before we go 
into fight again, for hardly a man in the Corps has the slight 
est confidence in his ability or capacity, and if he is to lead 

us, the greatest disasters may be expected In this 

fearfully hot weather which we are having just now, I often 
sigh for the mountains of Western Virginia, in which we were 
campaigning a year ago, and at times my thoughts go still 
farther back, to the deck of the old Australia, six years ago ; 
do you remember, at about this date we had got well free from 
the storms and head-winds of the Gulf Stream, and were mak 
ing good time before a fine southwest wind, and after the hot 
day was over, doubly enjoying the cool evening walk on deck, 
and many a homesick talk about the friends who had been for 
a fortnight under the western horizon. That summer and au 
tumn which we spent together, and during which we learned 
to know and love each other better than before, has always 
had to my mind and memory a peculiarly rosy and pleasant 
hue, and I look forward to no greater pleasure than that of 
sitting down with you at some future day, and, armed with our 
respective diaries as books of reference and suggestion, wan 
dering through the Louvre once more, visiting Belgium and the 
Rhine, and clambering over Switzerland with our Alpenstocks. 
This has all been brought very freshly before my mind by a 
jolly little German book which I have been reading, called 
" Reisehumoresken," a vacation ramble through Upper Italy 
and Switzerland. The author, who was formerly correspond 
ent of the " Cologne Gazette," is a keener observer of pecul 
iarities and eccentricities in his fellow-travellers, than of the 
marvels of nature, or rather, he seems to restrain the expres 
sion of his enthusiasm on this latter point, leaving it to be in 
ferred more from hints than from glowing descriptions, but 
still, what he says about the Monte Rosa region, which occu 
pies almost half of a volume, made me feel more regretful 
than ever that we did not diverge from the Rhone Valley 
when at Leuk, and take in this superb mountain. If I recollect 



404 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

right, we had a battle royal on the subject, but it was finally 
decided to abide by the original plan, unchangeable as the 
laws of the Medes, which we had laid down with remorseless 
pencil on Keller's map, in the fourth story of Meurice's. It 
is rather aggravating to think of those delightful days, out 
here where there is no genial society, nothing to read, and 
where we vibrate from the stagnation and ennui of camp, to 
the absorbing care and fatigue of the march, and the excite 
ment of the battle ; in this too 

" A sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier things." 

For this reason I was glad that my furlough did not allow me 
to remain longer at home, and thus get used to comfort and 
to find the presence of friends a necessity. As it was, my visit 
was so fleeting and short, that it seemed just as unreal as 
some visits home which I have made in my sleep and from 
which I have been summarily recalled by the sound of the 
reveille bugle. I am in for steady work now until we go 
again into winter-quarters, that is, if my life be spared so long, 
and if I do not before that time receive some disabling wound. 
I am, of course, not insensible of the very great disadvantage, 
to a professional man, of losing several years at the very com 
mencement of his career, of breaking away from his books and 
papers to the rough and demoralizing life of a soldier, and 
you may be sure that I would not do it if I did not consider 
myself called to it by the voice of most sacred and imperative 
duty. It astonishes me that any young man in the north, who 
has his health and is bound by no family ties, can fail to feel 
the same. It is a great work which will be done, and then 
how shameful for a man to have to tell his children in after 
years, " I looked on, while others braved the dangers and 
wrought the deliverance." And yet, at the same time, I show 
my own weakness and inconsistency, by my anxiety about my 
brother, J. who is with General Peck at Suffolk, and whom I 
would give my life to see safely at home again ; I don't be 
lieve that my mother worries as much about him as I do. 



ARMY LIFE -AND SERVICE. 405 

BROOKS' STATION, May 31, 1863. 

. . . . There have been important changes in the Bat 
tery since I last wrote you. Captain D. has sent in his resig 
nation and General Howard, the next day, sent for me to re 
port to him personally. I did so, and he received me very 
kindly, asked me how long I had served with the Battery, 
whether I had ever commanded it. whether I could drill it, 
etc., and how we did in the late battle, and then dismissed 
me, apparently well enough satisfied, for the Captain's resigna 
tion was returned the same evening approved accompanied 
by a pass to Washington and the next morning my nomina 
tion as Captain, by the Chief of Artillery, went on to Gover 
nor Seymour at Albany, so that, unless something unusual 
happens, I shall before long receive my commission, and shall 
then have the Battery in which I have so long served, for my 
very own. You will believe me when I say, that while I feel 
very glad at the prospect of receiving this promotion, this feel 
ing is decidedly overbalanced by the hope of making the Bat 
tery more useful and efficient, more capable of doing some 
thing for the general cause. And this I believe that I can do. 
The captain of a battery has a very independent position, 
and it lies with him almost entirely whether his battery is a 
good and serviceable one or not. 

.... Please tell J. when you write that it is not impossi 
ble that, in a few days, he will not have to lower his rank by 
writing to me as Lieutenant any more. 

BOONESBOROUGH, MD., July 9, 1863. 

I eagerly take the first breathing moment to drop you a sin 
gle line, to let you know that after all our fatiguing marches 
and hard fighting I am still preserved for more service, and 
am also in most excellent health. We have had unparalleled 
hard work, marches daily of twenty to thirty miles, and are all 
pretty well worn out. I won't attempt just now to tell you 
anything about the battle of Gettysburg, except to say that 
my Battery was hotly in action on all three days of the fight, 
and did very good service. We were most of the time on 



406 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Cemetery Hill. On the ist, when poor Reynolds pushed us 
all forward so rashly, we were in the extreme advance, and I 
had one piece shot all to pieces, and when we fell back I was 
obliged to leave it, but on the 5th, when we took possession 
of the battle-field, I went out and got it and tinkered it up and 
brought it off. Besides this I picked up an abandoned twelve- 
pounder gun, belonging to the Third Corps, and thus came out 
of the affair with five guns, while I went in with only four. Since 
the battle we have been marching day and night, last night's 
was about the first sleep I have had for a week. Worse yet, 
it has rained incessantly, and I have hardly known what it 
was to be dry. The battle was a splendid success ; all talk 
about it being a drawn battle is absurd ; prisoners were taken 
by the thousand and the rebel loss was fearful. 

But I have no time to write more ; my pieces are in the 
advance, in position, and we look for work. 

I write sitting on a cracker-box on a caisson. 

BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 

WARRENTON JUNCTION, July 26, 1863. 

DEAR GRANDFATHER AND AUNT, You at home will I think 
begin to wonder where I am, and why I have not written home 
before, but if you had known how hard we have been at work 
and how constantly we have been marching, your wonder would 
change into surprise and thankfulness that I have not been used 
up entirely and that I am still able to do duty. As I am indebted 
to you both for letters, I take this opportunity to write you a 
double-barreled one, not knowing when I may have access to 
pen and ink with enough of quiet leisure to compose my ideas. 
From Boonesborough I dropped a line to mother, informing her 
of my safety up to that point, but was not able to give her any 
account of our doings and sufferings during the days of the bat 
tle of Gettysburg. I will now give you some description of 
those scenes from my point of view. After we had been quite 
refreshed by our halt in the pleasant camp on Goose Creek, 
and had, most luckily for us, got our horses into condition 
again, we marched, on June 25, to Edwards' Ferry, and the 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 407 

next morning crossed the river on our pontoons, and marched 
up through Poolesville and past our old Camp Observation, 
where I had had my first real experience of a soldier's life. 
The streets of Poolesville were full of people, almost all of 
them wearing the real old secesh scowl, and I did not see a 
single United States flag displayed. The artillery took a 
road for itself that day, in order not to be encumbered by the 
infantry, and we made a march of about thirty miles to reach 
Jefferson City, where we camped in long wet grass, exposed 
to a heavy rain storm. The next morning my Battery marched 
with one brigade to Burkettsville, which lies at the foot of 
South Mountain, and was the scene of the battle of that name 
in last September, at which the heroic General Reno lost his 
life. Here we lived on the fat of the land, which is always one 
of the perquisites and advantages of going off with an independ 
ent force. The army had neither eaten out the country, nor 
raised the prices extravagantly, consequently spring chicken, 
fresh bread, milk, and butter were the order of the day. This 
pleasant state of affairs lasted only a day and we had to rejoin 
the Eleventh at Middletown, from which we marched, the same 
afternoon, for Frederick City. Both at Middletown, and along 
the road, were numerous instances of enthusiastic and out 
spoken patriotism, which went right to our hearts, and made us 
feel full of fight ; here a party of young girls and children stood 
and waved handkerchiefs and tiny flags ; there a hotel or public 
building displayed a good expanse of red, white, and blue 
bunting; there a good old lady stood at her door with her 
servants, and dispensed cups of cold water to every thirsty 
soldier, while the gray-haired husband stood by her side, his 
eyes half filled with patriotic and sympathizing tears, and 
" Good luck to you boys, God bless you." Our whole march 
in the fertile and beautiful county of Frederick was delightful ; 
indeed its prosperity and richness, the "peace on earth and 
good will toward men " that reigned there, seemed to us all 
to be a type of our bountiful and happy Union, while the dev 
astated crops, the deserted homesteads, the bitter and hostile 
faces of Virginia which we had just left behind us, repre- 



408 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

sented, not less truthfully, the hideous and destructive nature 
of Secession, as well as its results. The spirits of the whole 
army were superb. When we passed through the towns flags 
were displayed, music struck up, cheers rang along the column 
of march and when camp was made, after a toilsome march, 
singing was heard from the quarters of the weary, footsore 
soldiers. 

We passed through Frederick after nightfall, and did not 
see the place ; the next day we marched to Emmettsburg and 
rested there, preparatory to the approaching conflict. Early 
on the ist of July we started for Gettysburg, about eleven 
miles distant. I was ordered to report with my Battery to 
General Steinwehr's Division, and thus got ahead of the other 
batteries, which were in reserve with the First Division. We 
were marching along, thinking of anything but an approach 
ing fight, when suddenly one of General Howard's aids came 
galloping up and ordered me forward at double-quick. The 
roads were very stony, and my wheels were in very bad con 
dition, but ahead I went ; the gun-carriages rattling and 
bouncing in the air ; feed, rations, kettles and everything else 
breaking loose from the caissons, the cannoneers running 
with all their might to keep up, for the road was so very rough, 
that I was afraid to have them mount, for fear of the repetition 
of the accident which befell us while trotting to Chancellors- 
ville. For at least four miles the race continued, and I brought 
my whole Battery safely into position on the right of Gettys 
burg, but luckily did not have to fire immediatejy ; my breath 
less cannoneers made their appearance one by one, and soon 
each detachment was full. On the left, and in front of the 
town, there was brisk fighting going on. Reynolds (who was 
in command of our Corps and his own, the First) had pushed 
his men forward through the town, and was most rashly trying 
to drive a much superior enemy from the opposite heights. 
After passing through the town, we came into a hollow, con 
sisting of farms, orchards, and ploughed land, completely 
commanded both by the Gettysburg heights and by those in 
the hands of the enemy, and it seemed to be fated that who- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 409 

ever ventured into that hollow was sure to be defeated. We 
tried it the first day, and Johnny Rebs the second and third 
days. Captain Dilger's Battery of our Corps was in front of 
the town, hammering away at a secesh battery on the heights ; 
but, as he had only smooth bores, he was no match for his 
opponent and was getting cut up badly, so I was ordered for 
ward to help him. I limbered up and went through the town 
at a trot, the ladies waving their handkerchiefs, and giving us 
all possible cheer and encouragement. I came into battery 
on Dilger's right, and soon showed the enemy that they had 
a three-inch rifled battery to contend with, and they had to shut 
up entirely. At about the same time the First Corps, which 
was on our left, succeeded in driving the enemy along the 
slope of the hill, and we scared them well as they ran. At 
this moment everything looked auspicious, and Captain Dilger 
told me that he would move his Battery, under cover of mine, 
about five hundred yards further forward, in order to give his 
guns better play, and then that I should follow him and sup 
port him. This he did, and as soon as he got into position 
a dreadful fire was opened upon him, and I had the chief 
benefit of this as I moved up after him ; all the shots fired 
too high for him fell into my Battery ; one struck a driver of 
a gun and swept him and his two horses right away ; strange 
to say, while both horses were killed, the driver only lost a 
leg ! As we came near the place where we were to take posi 
tion, we came suddenly on a very substantial fence which 
the men could not tear down, and we had to wait, under a 
very heavy fire, until axes could be brought from the cais 
sons and a hole hewed through the fence. While waiting 
here, I saw an infantry man's leg taken off by a shot, and 
whirled like a stone through the air, until it came against 
a caisson with a loud whack. When we got into position we 
were again too much for the opposing battery, and were getting 
along finely, when suddenly, on our right, there issued from 
the base of the hill two great gray clouds, which moved stead 
ily forward towards the infantry of our Corps. At the same 
time the advance of the First Corps along the face of the hill 



4IO LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

was checked, and they were driven back. A fierce infantry 
fight began on our right ; our men held a small wood, near 
the poor-house, with determination, and I turned one section 
of my Battery to the right and fired canister into the columns 
of the rebels, taking aim at their red battle-flags, which we 
knew only too well after the fight at Chancellorsville. This 
lasted for awhile, but the enemy had massed their infantry too 
heavily for us, and after losing tremendously our men had to 
withdraw. We held our position until the rebs had got almost 
in our rear, when we withdrew with our batteries to another 
position on the road, where we fired a few more canisters and 
then retired into the town. While crossing the fields, one of 
my guns was dismounted by a shot, and, after making the 
greatest efforts to get it off, I was obliged to leave it on the 
ground ; but on the 5th of July, when we took possession of 
the entire field of battle, I went down with my blacksmith, 
mended the carriage, and brought the gun off in triumph. 
We did not get into the town a minute too soon, as the enemy 
were there almost as soon as we were, and shot some of our 
men in the street. We passed through the town and took 
position on Cemetery Hill, which is a high bluff above the 
town, at the termination of its principal street. There was 
a lively musketry fight in the lower part of the town, which 
ended in the enemy's getting possession of several cross streets 
below, while our men held on to the upper part ; and during 
the whole of the next two days there was a constant skirmish 
ing from doors and windows. From the tops of some of the 
houses the rebs managed to get an aim at Cemetery Hill and 
picked off many a man from the batteries there. The sun 
went down on the ist July, leaving us where we were in 
the morning ; that is, having gained the Gettysburg heights 
and having been repulsed in an attempt to gain the other 
heights ; while General Reynolds had fallen a victim to his 
own rash attempt, and both Corps had been very seriously 
cut up. During the night our much needed reinforcements 
came up ; the Second and Third Corps on our left and the 
Twelfth on our right, and we took a good night's rest, prepar- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 41 1 

atory to the next day's work. The next morning there was 
brisk skirmishing all along the front, but only desultory shots 
from the artillery. At about two o'clock in the afternoon the 
artillery of the Second Corps became hotly engaged on the 
left, and our boys all stood on tiptoe to watch the contest. 
Just then General Howard rode along and said, " Never mind 
the left, boys ; look out for your own front " ; and sure enough, 
a few minutes afterward, we saw puffs of smoke, which we 
knew well enough arose from the hills opposite to us, then 
the boom of the guns and the bursting of the shells among 
us. They soon got an answer from us ; we had nine three- 
inch rifled guns in a row there, from Hall's Second Maine 
Battery, Wiedrick's Battery, and mine. Beside these, there 
were the brass guns of Dilger's Ohio Battery, and " G " of the 
Fourth Regulars, although they were of more service at close 
quarters. We did not fire very rapidly, but every shot was 
.aimed with deliberation and judgment, as my corporals were 
cool and skillful. The result was that in half an hour the 
enemy's fire slackened, as they had to move their batteries 
to get out of our fire. Soon they opened again, more fiercely 
than ever ; but we quickly got their new range, and punished 
them severely. They placed one battery of very long range 
on our right flank, and completely enfiladed us ; luckily for us 
they did not get the range for some time. A twenty-pounder 
Parrott battery was brought up from the Reserve, and this 
kept them very quiet. By 4^ p. M. my ammunition was ex 
hausted, and Major Osborne, our new Chief of Artillery, 
relieved my Battery with another, and sent mine back to re 
plenish ; at the same time he asked me to remain with him 
and assist him in his very arduous duties, as he had charge of 
all the batteries on Cemetery Hill, and his regular adjutant 
was completely used up. This exactly suited me, as my blood 
was up, and I did not like the idea of going back with my 
Battery. Until nightfall I was hardly out of fire once, and I 
was raised to the highest pitch of excitement ; the danger was 
so great and so constant that, at last, it took away the sense 
of danger. I placed several batteries on the hill, under the 



412 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Major's orders, and at length I went back to the Artillery 
Reserve to bring up a supply of ammunition. While pro 
ceeding down the Taneytown road I was a witness of the 
tremendous attack upon the Third Corps, and of their break 
ing and fleeing, after a fierce conflict. As this Corps held 
our extreme left wing at that time, my first thought was that 
all was lost, and that the enemy would push through to the 
Baltimore Pike and cut off the three Corps at the front ; but 
I had underrated General Meade's capacity of husbanding 
his reserves and massing his forces. Hardly had the broken 
fragments of the Third Corps crossed the pike when the firing 
was renewed in the woods, and on the crest of the hill, whqre 
the whole Fifth Corps had been thrown in to reinforce the 
left wing, and a few minutes later, as if to make assurance 
doubly sure, I met the First Division of the Twelfth Corps 
going at double-quick for one of the cross-roads from the 
right to the left wing ; and in case this should not prove 
enough, I saw a little further back, among the woods, the 
dark masses of the Sixth Corps, the strongest corps in the 
army, waiting to be moved to any point. However, the dose 
administered by the Fifth Corps proved sufficient. Our line 
of battle was almost in the shape of a horseshoe, with the 
reserves on the inside, and these had to march only a short 
distance in order to reinforce any point threatened. I went 
back to the Major, and hardly had I got there when the enemy 
made a most desperate attack upon our extreme right, where 
a portion of the Twelfth Corps was intrenched. This fight 
continued a good part of the night, and was renewed at day 
light ; but the point having been well reinforced, the enemy 
was repulsed with terrible loss. Late at night, I went down 
the Baltimore road, to the camp of the Artillery Reserve, to 
see that my Battery was put in shape for work early the next 
morning. Our Chief of Artillery, and all of us who com 
manded batteries, felt a little pride in keeping Cemetery Hill 
manned by Eleventh Corps Batteries as constantly as pos 
sible, although there were thirty batteries which had not fired 
a shot. I had a great hunt for ammunition, and even then 



ARMY LIFE AND SERWCE. 413 

did not find what I wanted, or what suited my guns ; but I 
managed to get about fifty rounds apiece, (I should have had 
two hundred), and went back to the hill again. As on the 
previous day, it was brisk skirmishing along the front, some 
hard fighting in the town, and desultory artillery firing ; but 
at about i P. M. Lee's one hundred pieces (I believe that he 
had more in position), opened all at once, and, as far as noise 
went, it was the most terrible cannonade that I ever witnessed, 
and the air was literally alive with flying projectiles, from the 
six-pound solid shot, which looks like a cricket ball, to the 
long Whitworth rifled shot, which has probably given rise to 
the story of the rebs firing railroad iron. My pieces stood 
in a peculiarly bad place, as they were at the foot of the hill, 
and got the fire from all three sides ; but the enemy's artillery 
practice was not as good as it used to be, and the situation 
was not as deadly and dangerous as on Friday afternoon at 
Bull Run, or on Sunday morning at Chancellorsville. In this 
place I lost some horses but no men. The fire was still at 
its height, when a request came from General Hunt, Chief of 
Artillery, to Major Osborne to send him a battery for General 
Webb of the Second Corps, who feared an infantry attack. 
The Major handed me the order and off I went to the hill 
where the Second Corps was, just above General Meade's 
head-quarters, and reported to General Hancock, who showed 
me the position I was to take. As I came up and unlimbered 
on this crest, the rebels were within four hundred yards and 
were making a charge across our front upon a battery which 
stood at my right. Luckily for us, they did not see us until 
we had got into position, and had poured a couple of rounds 
of canister over the heads of our own infantry, who were lying 
behind a stone fence in front of us. Then they turned their 
attention somewhat to us and a battery of theirs opened very 
fiercely upon us, and made things very hot ; but we paid no 
attention to their battery, and just kept the canister going into 
them. Once a double round of canister struck close to their 
flag, and I saw a dozen of them drop, and the whole column 
wavered and halted ; but the standard-bearer waved his flag 



414 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

and they moved on again, but in a weary and spiritless man 
ner. Just at this moment what should the infantry in front 
of us do but get up and leave ! The Battery seemed lost, but 
I got hold of some of them, told them not to let the Eleventh 
Corps' boys laugh at them, and in this way, first a squad, and 
then the whole regiment, was rallied and got back to the fence 
again, and about every reb who came up on to that hill was 
either killed, wounded, or captured. We then went back to 
our Corps and soon the fighting for the night was over. I 
went over a part of the battle-field that night, and did what 
I could to make the wounded comfortable ; but very soon this 
seemed a hopeless undertaking ; our wounded were removed 
in ambulances as fast as possible, but the rebel wounded, who 
were almost all of them in our hands, received extremely little 
attention, and lay scattered over the field in groups of twenty, 
fifty, or even a hundred, trying to help each other a little. 
Our men could not help it ; most of them were too much 
worn out to raise a hand, and the regular Ambulance Corps 
could not begin to attend to our own wounded boys. I was 
glad to do a little something for them, even if it were only 
to turn them on their side, and give them a glass of water. 
Utterly as I detest a living active rebel, as soon as he becomes 
wounded and a prisoner I don't perceive any difference in my 
feelings towards him and towards one of our own wounded 
heroes. I suppose this is very heterodox, but I can't help it. 
I found a Colonel of a Mississippi Regiment shot through the 
breast, a man of stately bearing, and a soldier of his regi 
ment told me that he was Judge of the Supreme Court of 
that State. Now here was a man, evidently one of the real 
old original Secesh ; but I forgot that, took him into a barn, 
made him a straw bed, fixed a pillow for him, got him a cup 
of coffee, and ignored the fact that he gave me no word of 
thanks or farewell when I left him. The scenes of the battle 
field were very rough, and I will not trouble you with any 
description of them ; I will only mention a rencontre which 
I had with General Meade on Friday afternoon. I was with 
my Battery at the foot of the hill, waiting for orders and expect- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 415 

ing to be called upon to relieve one of our Corps batteries, 
when an elderly Major General with spectacles, looking a good 
deal like a Yale Professor, rode up and asked me if I had 
a full supply of ammunition. I told him that I had as full a 
supply as I could get on the field, having been to the ammu 
nition train with an order from Major Osborne, but without 
success : whereupon he got excited and said, "You must have 
ammunition ; the country can't wait for Major Osborne or any 
other man ; go immediately to the Artillery Reserve and order 
General Tyler to send up a wagon load." Now I might have 
told him that there was not a round of three-inch ammunition 
left with the Artillery Reserve, as I had been there myself 
shortly before ; but something in his face warned me against 
answering back ; so I put spurs to my horse, and got round 
the corner of a wood, where I stayed until he had left the prem 
ises and then came back, to learn that it was General Meade 
himself. And so the battle closed. We had repulsed the 
enemy at every point, with very great loss, had taken an 
immense number of prisoners (I saw several thousand with 
my own eyes, besides the wounded ones), and had remained in 
possession of the field, to say nothing of pursuing the enemy 
from the 5th until this day. I am sure that the importance 
and decisiveness of the victory cannot well be overrated. I 
have no time to tell you of our forced march back to Emmetts- 
burg, Middletown, Boonesborough, and Hagerstown. The 
enemy's crossing under our noses, at Williamsport and Falling 
Waters, was a masterly maneuver, but I do not think that Meade 
is at all to blame for it. Our marches since then have been 
severe, and the men are getting sick with bilious fever on all 
sides. Thus far I have borne up splendidly and have not 
been off duty for an hour. I hope and pray that I may con 
tinue ,as well. Major Osborne has forwarded a new demand 
for my commission to Governor Seymour, and accompanied 
the request with expressions of approbation, both toward me 
and the Battery, which have made me feel very proud. I have 
enjoyed the Major's society greatly. He is a gentleman and 
a soldier, a most energetic and gallant man, and he contrib- 



41 6 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

uted greatly, by the management of his artillery, in restoring 
their lost prestige so brilliantly to the Eleventh Corps. I am 
now entirely without officers. I have applied for a commis 
sion for Henry Miller, my Orderly Sergeant. I hope in a 
month or two to get everything fixed up in good shape and 

to get two more guns The time may vary a few months, 

a few years, or even a few decades, but the job will be settled 
and that all right too. I am, in this matter, like St. Paul's 
Charity, ready to bear, believe, hope, and endure all things 
for the cause, knowing that if we do so, we also, like Charity, 
shall never fail. This has been a most egotistical letter, but 
I know you want to hear about me, and not about the army 
in general or anybody else. 

CATLETT'S STATION, VA., August 4, 1863. 

.... If we rest here for some weeks, as there is talk 
of our doing, I hope to get track of Sunday again, and at 
least to have some music. There is a good piano and melo- 
deon at Mr. Catlett's, where General Howard has his head 
quarters, and as I have been introduced to Mrs. Catlett, a lady 
of intelligence and refinement, I shall go up there pretty soon 
and try to beat up a crowd to sing, out of the General's staff. 
.... I spent a pleasant Sunday, about two weeks ago, 
near Waterford, just after we crossed the Potomac. The artil 
lery made a very early march and got into camp by n A. M. 
Somehow, I got into a farm-house, close by my quarters, which 
was a regular fine old homestead, belonging to an old gentle 
man named Pierpoint, and he had a pleasant wife and three 
pretty daughters. There I spent pretty much the whole of the 
day, tried to get the girls to sing with me out of the " Carmina 
Sacra," had a good dinner, and successfully resisted all efforts 
of both General Steinwehr and Schurz, to get me out of the 
house. I never saw such perfect idyllic simplicity as pre 
vailed in the family. They belonged to the Society of Friends, 
and one of the girls who had been as far as Alexandria, and 
had once seen dancing, was looked upon with wonder by the 
rest. The youngest, however, who was a little mischief, after 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 417 

T. U. style, declared loudly that if she got a chance she would 
dance, too ; she did n't believe it was so very wicked. I did 
not bother my head much about the trouble in New York ; I 
only wished that they would send me with my Battery to the 
city for a couple of weeks, to enforce the draft. I would much 
rather fire canister into those drunken Irish rowdies, than into 
the secesh brethren, who, although deluded, are worth all the 

Paddies that ever had a brogue I try to do my duty 

fully, and then look to results, not heeding if the material 
is used up in the process. My own life I reckon no dearer 
than the rest, if I can win the end. You see, dearest mother, 
this war has become the religion of very many of our lives, 
and those of us who think, and who did not enter the service 
for gain or military distinction, have come more and more to 
identify this cause for which we are fighting, with all of good 
and religion in our previous lives, and so it must be if we are 
to win the victory. We must have an impulse, made of patri 
otic fire and a deeper feeling, which takes its rise in the think 
ing soul. If we have this, then we can bear our standards 
and our military pride high up, for they will have a foundation. 
I am and have been in good health, almost without intermis 
sion, even when so many were falling sick about me, but I 
think that that putrid swamp would have done for me, too, as 
well as for the others. Did you hear whether R. E. came safe 
out of that attack on Fort Wagner ? I saw that his regiment 
was badly cut up. 

CATLETT'S STATION, August 9, 1863. 

Indeed, when I allow myself to think of the quiet delights 
of home, the libraries, music, the refining and humanizing 
influence of dear friends glorious Sabbath evenings like 
this, not spent in seeing horses groomed, or in repacking am 
munition, but in singing " Tallis," and " Solitude," and " Be- 
merton " with you, and mother, and the girls, and Aunt E., 
with my hand clasped in somebody's, I can assure you that a 
half feeling of regret, and a whole feeling of longing, comes 
over me, so that it requires a really painful effort to repress it, 
and to reach forward to those things that are before, even if I 
27 



41 8 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

do not forget those things that are behind. Sunday evening 
is my regular time for this sort of Lot's-wife longings and 
lockings back, partly because the vacant time allows them, and 
the day suggests them, and partly because the duties of the 
next day will cure any undue homesickness. Now we are to 
have a big drill to-morrow morning at 5 A. M., and I rely upon 
that to do away with the evil effects of my this evening im 
agining myself sitting by mother, and listening to you singing 
" When gathering clouds." .... 

You will be shocked at hearing that I indulged in another 
of our favorite menagerie " loads " in the heat of the battle at 
Gettysburg. It was on the first day, when General Reynolds 
pushed us through the town, and made an offensive (more to 
us than to the enemy) attack upon a superior force in a supe 
rior position. My Battery and another were in the extreme 
advance, and were fighting hotly with some rebel batteries, 
when the rebels massed their forces, threw out three heavy 
columns, and very soon drove our infantry back, and envel 
oped the batteries in a dangerous manner. I did not wait for 
this state of affairs, but immediately left the rebel batteries 
the whole talk, and began to try to break the rebel columns 
with canister. The captain of the other battery, Captain D., 
would not believe that they were not our own men at first, 
although their blood-red battle-flags were plain enough in sight, 
and at last he asked me, " Wheeler, which are the rebels and 
which are our men ? " Whereupon I retorted upon him with 
the same answer as that with which the showman so triumph 
antly crushed the " little boy." "You pays your money and 
you takes your choice." Somehow or other I felt a joyous 
exaltation, a perfect indifference to circumstances, through the 
whole of that three days' fight, and have seldom enjoyed three 
days more in my life 

When I was in Maryland, I did not cease to admire the 
beauty of the county of Frederick. I really think that there 
is hardly a piece of ground in the country, equal to that roll 
ing land just east of the slopes of South Mountain. The 
fields so undulating and yet so fertile, with charming buildings 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 419 

nestled out of the way in so many hollows, the stretches of 
golden wheat, bending under the blessing of the sunlight, and 
the soft, delicious, purple-blue of the mountains, ever near at 
hand, which seemed, like many plain, generous people in daily 
life, to say, " We are not very high above you, and don't pre 
tend to anything great, but we watch over you constantly, and 
we send down pure perennial streams of water to cheer and 
bless your fields and meadows." 

CATLETT'S STATION, September 5, 1863. 

I am beginning to emerge in some degree from the state of 
torpor and indifference in which I have been lying for nearly 
a month past, and to feel some interest in what surrounds me. 
I don't know what has been the matter with me. I have been 
fully able to do my duty, have drilled my Battery every day to 
their hearts' content, have sat on court martials, boards of 
examination and survey, and have felt lively enough as long as 
I had any excitement, but when this had passed by I was all 
down again, my appetite was (and is) most capricious, and, 
above all, a feeling of unconquerable lassitude, which I could 
only shake off when some matter of great and pressing im 
portance came along You will be able to form some 

idea of my state of apathy, when I tell you the news of R. 
E.'s death, which reached me first through your letter, failed 
to move me as I should have expected. I know that I felt it 
most deeply, but I could not shed a single tear. I could only 
feel a desire to avenge him, and think that such a noble, glo 
rious death was well suited to his gallant, enthusiastic nature, 
and a fit - close to his generous, self-sacrificing life. I can 
not help looking at it as a soldier ; we have death so con 
stantly before our eyes that it loses its terrors, and the question 
with us is not so much whether we shall die or not, but how 
we shall die and among what surroundings. And the highest, 
most desirable type of death for the infantry officer, is that 
met on the enemy's ramparts, with the colors in his hand. It 
is true, a life of devotion and usefulness is suddenly closed, 
the hearts of friends are torn with anguish, because they will 



42O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

never see his flashing eye and active form again, and because 
that home will always be desolate ; but was not the event or 
dered by a higher power, who said " I will take this beautiful 
soul to me now in its bloom of youth, and he shall be spared 
the evil days to come." And if in this struggle death is to 
come to me, may it come as it did to Young Crosby, " among 
my guns in battery," and successfully resisting a hostile attack, 
dying of a mortal stroke, 

" What time the foemen's ranks are broke." 

Dear J., from whom I received a most affectionate and 
cheering letter yesterday, warmed my heart by speaking of R. 
in such a kind, appreciative way. He expressed what I wanted 
to express, only my heart was too full, and my frame of mind 
too gloomy, for me to find the proper utterance. My daily 
prayer now is, that it may not happen to my brother. I really 
believe that I am much less unselfish and patriotic than you 
are, for I think more of his safety than of the service he is 
doing the country, and wish it were possible that he could be 
safe home again. I know, dear mother, that you will not be 
wearied by this expression of my affection for him, as it is 
only a proof of my love for you, for that you know is the great 
est of all. J. seems in splendid trim and spirits, and to be en 
joying his staff life very much. I am glad that he has a place 
where he can keep himself clean and comfortable, and have 
decent associates. For myself, and I have seen considerable of 
all arms of the service, I prefer my own position to any other. 
I like to have the command of men, and to say, like the cen 
turion, " Go ! and he goeth ; " and then as Captain of a Bat 
tery, I am as independent and as comfortable as a Brigadier. 
We were reviewed by General Howard the other day, and he 
praised my horses very highly. We did not get a chance to 
drill before him, which was a disappointment to me, as it is 
pretty generally acknowledged that my men are the best in the 
Corps at the manual of the piece. I have made several 
small raids out into the country around here, and have got ac 
quainted with several families in the neighborhood of Green- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 421 

wich. Last Sunday, Lieutenant Mickle (who is a noble, 
Christian fellow) and I went out to old Rev. Mr. Balch's, a 
Presbyterian clergyman, and spent the evening. The family 
consists of the old gentleman and his wife, his son, and two 
daughters, all grown, and are of the real old-fashioned Presby 
terian sort, keeping Sunday like the C.'s. The old gentleman 
is a graduate of Princeton College and Seminary, and talks 
about the churches in Cedar Street, and Wall Street, and Drs. 
Romeyn and Mason, in a way that would interest you very 
much. He seems to be a sort of chronicle of the last fifty 
years, and says things that are really quite striking and inter 
esting, such as, " I was present in the Senate when Josiah 
Quincy began this whole matter, and spoke the first word of 
secession." From this you can perceive that he is a rebel of 
the most virulent type, and his two daughters are just as bad. 
But after the political discussion had waged for some time, we 
opened the piano, and we had some of the old hymns after the 
old style, "Ariel," "Greenland's Icy Mountain," "Italian hymn," 
etc., which did me good, and then we stayed with them to even 
ing worship. He expects to preach to-morrow, and Lieutenant 
M. and I are going to lend a hand at the singing, and to stay to 
dinner. It is strange that opinions and sentiments about the 
war can be so violent one moment, and the next, all the dis 
putants have their heads close together about one hymn book, 
or are kneeling at one family altar. Religion is the only thing 
that can lend any humanizing influence to this war. These good 
people are instant in good works, and, after giving a soldier a 
good dinner, they will put some nice, simple little book into his 
hand, which, for sheer politeness, he will not be able to re 
fuse. Just at this moment one of the men is singing some 
hymn about the " Lion and the Lamb," to a rough, sailor 
melody. 

CATLETT'S STATION, September 2$, 1863. 

.... I really shall have to make a formal defense of 
myself for visiting in the families of natives of this region, as 
you seem to think that I am failing in devotion and loyalty 
to the cause in which I am engaged. Now I think that you 



422 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

look at the thing in too theoretical a light, and this is owing to 
your distance from the scene of operations. I know you too 
well not to be sure that, in spite of your thorough patriotism 
and hatred of all that is hostile to our cause, you would yet be 
the first to help the wounded and destitute, even though reb 
els, and to feel sorry for families desolated and ruined, even in 
Virginia. For myself, while I will yield to no man in the ob 
stinacy of the fight and the endurance of the march, still, 
when a man is wounded or a prisoner, when a woman is lonely 
and distressed, they rise in my view from the position of reb 
els to that of our common humanity, and as men and women, 
I treat them with kindness, though rebels. And do not think 
for a moment that I sympathize with these people in any of 
their ideas, or that I allow them to suppose that I am anything 
but an extreme Emancipationist, determined on seeing the end 
of the secession movement and of slavery, provided it is 
granted me to live so long. We talk about books and persons, 
sing, play games, eat melons and peaches, and in the course 
of the evening we usually manage to treat them to the " Star 
Spangled Banner," and a few more of the national airs, which 
ought to do a secessionist's ears a great deal of good. (Strange 
to say, since writing the above, a circular from General How 
ard has come in, in which he observes that it has come to his 
knowledge that officers in the Corps, and especially the artil 
lery officers, are in the habit of visiting at the houses of rebel 
secessionists, and recommending that it be stopped : quite an 
argument in your favor, but I will not back down from what I 
have just said.) 

Lieutenant Carlisle returned about a week ago, quite well, 
though not very strong, but able to fill my place. When ab 
sent yesterday, my First Sergeant, Harry Muller, now pro 
moted to a Second Lieutenancy, came back from New York 
to be mustered in as an officer, so that I have no longer the 
whole concern on my hands, and feel much less anxiety. He 
used to attend on me at Camp Observation, and took such 
good care of me when I was sick there. He has passed 
through the successive grades of corporal, sergeant, and or- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 423 

derly sergeant, and after distinguishing himself in several 
battles, has now arrived at an officer's rank, which he well de 
serves. The defects of education (which he is daily overcom 
ing, as he is thirsty to learn) are greatly overbalanced by his 
real manliness and stamina, his fidelity, willingness, and pluck ; 
if I tell him to take his section into a position and keep it 
there till I relieve him, he will do so" if not a single man comes 
out alive, and that is the kind of officer I want to have under 
me. We had a superb review of the corps artillery here last 
Saturday, before General Hunt, Chief of Artillery of the Army 
of the Potomac ; all the fine batteries were drawn up in a 
single line by your humble servant as Major Osborne had 
charged me with the duty of forming them for review, and I 
can assure you that the muzzles of the guns were in a bee-line 
from right to left. General Hunt told the Major that the artil 
lery was as good as any in the army, and the horses were the 
best he had seen. He spoke with particular praise of my 
Battery horses. My school is in a flourishing condition ; the 
boys built a table and desk, with forms, out of split logs, and 
set it up under the shade of the trees, and every day at 2 p. M. 
the schoolmaster, an old corporal whom I detailed for the 
purpose, fetches the spelling-books and the writing materials, 
and sets his classes their lessons. You would be pleased to 
see the eagerness with which men from twenty to forty years 
of age seize upon this opportunity for repairing the defects of 
their early education, and the progress which they all make is 
most encouraging. The attendance is not compulsory, but 
the schoolmaster has more than he can attend to. I can as 
sure you it does me good to see that patient row, sitting at the 
rough table which they themselves had hewn out of the hard 
oaks of the forest, rough, wild boys, many of them, but every 
eye softened and brightened by the feeling that they were 
learning something higher and better than card playing or 
whiskey drinking. Certainly, Victor Hugo was right when he 
said, " that what was necessary to purify and cleanse the sub 
terranean abysses of the lowest class, was Light ; " and this pu 
rification is greater in proportion to the nature of the light ad- 



424 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

mitted, the greatest is obtained when " the entrance of Thy 
Word giveth light." 

I am hoping that very few of the men, if any, will have to 
call upon the officers to sign their names for them on the next 
pay-roll. 

NASHVILLE, TENN., October 8, 1863. 

MY DEAREST MOTHER, I suppose that you have gleaned 
from the papers some information about the flitting of the 
Eleventh and Twelfth Corps from the Army of the Potomac. 
Nothing could have been more sudden than our departure 
from Catlett's Station, or more at variance with the arrange 
ments which were being made there. Orders had been given 
to the Corps to take a strong position on Cedar Run, to cover 
the railroad, and several strong forts were ordered to be built, 
defending the post, in a large semicircle, from the Cedar Run 
bridge through General Howard's head-quarters round to the 
station. These forts were to be constructed with care and 
elaboration, and were to bear the names of Eleventh Corps 
heroes who fell at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. The 
construction of Fort Dessauer, which covered the railroad 
bridge and was the most important point of all, was intrusted, 
said the order, to the Thirteenth New York Battery, arid the 
Twenty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment, under supervision of 
Captain Wheeler. I had got my digging parties hard at work, 
and the bastions and platforms for my guns had already begun 
to rise, when suddenly we were ordered to suspend operations, 
lay in rations for a month, and have everything packed up, 
and the same evening saw my guns put on the cars, and my 
horses marching off towards Alexandria. We made a very stiff 
march, leaving Catlett's Station at midnight, and arriving at 
Alexandria at three o'clock the next day, a distance of forty- 
five miles. The guns of all the batteries were sent on im 
mediately, over the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, and each 
battery commander followed with his horses, as fast as he 
could get them loaded into the horse-cars. I will not weary 
you with a detailed account of our most fatiguing journey. Suf 
fice it to say that both men and animals were more distressed 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 425 

and pulled down by it than by the severest forced march. I en 
joyed the scenery of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad exceed 
ingly, and rode on top of the cars all the way, while crossing 
the mountains. We passed through the superb region from 
Piedmont to Grafton in the splendor of a delicious autumn, 
which showed all the gorgeous coloring of the infinite 
stretches, and under the mysterious lights and shadows of 
a perfect moonlight autumn night. The few inhabitants 
seemed intensely Union, and confident of being able to 
guard the mountain passes leading to Wheeling with very 
little aid from Government. At Benwood we struck the 
Ohio river and crossed to Bellaire. Here another shipment 
was necessary, and a day of misery was spent in accomplish 
ing it. My horses went out in the first train, together with 
those of Captain Dilger, whom I found a pleasant compan 
ion. We passed through Zanesville and Columbus, Ohio, 
and at daybreak found ourselves at Richmond, Indiana. 
Here began a perfect ovation. The good Quakers, by whom 
the town is mostly settled, took our poor hungry boys into 
their houses and gave them breakfast, and many a kind word 
of cheer. At every town in Indiana, great crowds of ladies 
came to the cars, with baskets of bread and cake and pie, 
cold meats and chickens, sourkrout for the Dutchmen, and 
doughnuts for the Yankees; and pressed it upon the men, 
without distinction of rank, in the most charming manner. 
Our reception at Centreville and Cambridge City beat every 
thing in this line. Besides the articles mentioned above, the 
ladies gave us clean handkerchiefs and towels and pieces of 
soap, most welcome gifts to men whose eyes were half blinded, 
and whose faces and hands were grimy, with the dust of a week's 
railroad journey. I am sure that they will not fight the worse, 
for having seen how dear the cause is to "the best and most 
beautiful in the land. At Indianapolis we reshipped again 
for Jeffersonville. where we crossed the Ohio again to Louis 
ville, Kentucky. I was delighted with Louisville, which is 
certainly one of the finest cities in the country, and indulged 
in a glorious bath, etc., which will always be fresh in my mem- 



426 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ory ; and at the St. Charles Restaurant I built up the inner 
man with some first class grub. Once more we put our poor 
nags into the cars, and came on to this place, where we seem 
at present to be at a dead-lock, as our namesake, General 
Wheeler, the rebel, has been burning the bridges on the road 
to Chattanooga, like a naughty man, and we can obtain no 
transportation by rail. Very possibly we shall have to take 
a bare-back ride over the mountains to Rosecranz,- as our 
guns, harness, saddles, and baggage have gone on before us, 
and are probably, by this time, with the Army of the Cumber 
land. My baggage now, consists of my sabre and overcoat, 
and I don't know whether I shall ever see the rest of my traps 
again. Nashville is a dirty, disagreeable place. I am now 
staying at the Continental, as I want rest. 

STEVENSON, ALA., October 20, 1863. 

I send you another bulletin to report progress, since I wrote 
you at Nashville. I do not pretend, in these short notes, to 
give you any clear idea of what I have been doing and seeing 
on this tedious and yet hurried march, but try merely to let you 
know that I had got thus far, and that my health was yet pre 
served. Perhaps I may get an opportunity to write more at 
length, when the long winter days come, and I have more 
comfortable quarters, and my own writing materials. Well, 
we had a week's rest at Nashville, where we were waiting for 
the quartermasters to get their trains fixed up ; and a misera 
ble week it was. The hotel afforded no decent accommoda 
tion, although charging enormous prices ; the city was filthy. 
and the specimens which we saw of the men and officers of 
the Army of the Cumberland did not make me feel very proud 
of our new associations. The expedition, consisting of about 
four hundred team wagons, one battery of artillery, all the artil 
lery horses of the Corps, the officers' horses, a regiment of in 
fantry of the Twelfth Corps, and a large number of stragglers, 
were to leave Nashville on Saturday morning, and Major Os- 
borne wanted me to take charge of the artillery, and go as 
second in command of the train ; but I declined, both on ac- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 427 

count of feeling so unwell, and also because I did not wish to 
go before two senior captains, and suggested that Captain 
Dilger should have the command, which suggestion the major 
followed. However, as an attack on the train was expected 
from Wheeler's Cavalry, I did not like to leave the expedition, 
and told the Major that I would go along and give any aid I 
could in case of such an attack. The train was not ready to 
start on Saturday, because many of the teams were to be com 
posed of green, unbroken mules, running loose in the corral, 
and it took a long time to get them caught, harnessed, and 
hitched in, and even then an immense amount of persuasion 
had to be applied before they could be got to move on. It 
was a most ludicrous sight, and numbers of people rode out 
from Nashville expressly to see it. The " Norway rabbits " 
would stand straight up, and paw furiously, and jump over 
wagon poles and chuck their darkey drivers in the most alarm 
ing manner, and then, as f by agreement, would all lift up 
their voices in a most pitiful hee-haw. On Monday morning 
most of the teams were in marching order, and we started off 
on the Franklin Pike, I having charge of the rear-guard. We 
marched fifteen miles to Lavergne through pitiless rain, halt 
ing for hours to get refractory mules subdued and to repair 
broken wagons and harness, and came into park in a mud- 
hole after nightfall. The officers in the advance had been dis 
creet enough to hunt up good quarters on their arrival, and I 
found Colonel Long, the commander, and the artillery officers 
comfortably ensconced in the parlor of a very fine house, mak 
ing themselves agreeable to the ladies of the house, and list 
ening to the superb singing of the daughter, Miss Ellen Har 
ris, who gave Union songs, and secesh airs, darkey melodies 
and opera morceaux with equal facility. I went into the bed 
room where there was a fine blazing fire, and dried myself a 
little, and then joined the party in the other room, where I 
spent a very pleasant evening. Miss H. was a very hand 
some girl with magnificent eyes and decidedly the quickest 
and sharpest young lady I ever saw in my life ; a little too 
much like a flash of lightning. I slept that night before the 



428 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

fire in the spare-room, and felt much better, in the morning, 
than when I left Nashville, as then I felt hardly fit to mount 
my horse. Rough marching and field work bring one to 
health quicker than any medicine. We marched that day to 
Murfreesborough, passing over the bloody battle-field of Stone 
River, fought on the last day of 1862. The trees were filled 
with bullets sometimes as high up as sixty feet, and the trunks 
in some cases were bored through with shells. We saw a 
monument of stone, partly finished, which is being raised 
over the dead of General Hazen's Brigade, who are all buried 
in one sad inclosure. The fortifications at Murfreesborough 
are the finest field-works that I have seen anywhere. Here, 
as elsewhere, we reap the fruits of the engineering labors of 
the rebels. This place is guarded by some of the Twelfth 
Massachusetts. We went to bed thoroughly wet, and it rained 
all that night and all the next day, upon which we had a most 
fatiguing march to Shelbyville. I was half dead when we got 
there, and was glad to rush out of the rain into the nearest 
house where there was a light ; it proved to have been de 
serted by its owner, and was occupied by some refugees. We 
halted at Shelbyville to await the arrival of the train ; it is a 
pretty thrifty looking place and known as the " Yankee town," 
two-thirds of the inhabitants being Unionists. In the after 
noon, having dried ourselves and brushed off the Tennessee 
mud, Lieutenant Mickle and I went out to study the natives. 
We first went and bought a turkey, and left him to be roasted ; 
then we got up a pretext for calling at the house of Mr. Bob 
Matthews, the head secesh in the place, whose three daugh 
ters were keeping house alone, the old man having thought it 
better to leave for Southern parts. You see we were pretty 
well posted on the Virginia rebs, and wanted to know if the 
Tennessee variety resembled it. We had a very pleasant 
call, and then went to Mr. Cowan's for our turkey. Mr. C. 
took us into his parlor, before a delightful fire in an open 
grate, and had some of the most agreeable conversation that 
I have had since I left home. Mr. C. is a canny Scotch 
Irishman, and thoroughly understands the whole question of 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 429 

the war, and is a strong Union man in his judgment, but does 
not believe in ruining himself by any premature demonstra 
tions. He suffered enough the other day, when Wheeler's 
Cavalry entered the town and carried off about all the goods 
from his store, besides plundering the town. It was a prema 
ture union meeting that drew down the rebel vengeance on 
the place. We stayed to supper, and Mrs. C., a pleasant, 
motherly lady, the very counterpart of Mrs. I. W., gave us 
some most excellent tea and muffins, which went just to the 
right spot. The next day was more propitious and we 
marched to Tullahoma moving the wagon train behind us, 
and thus being able to advance with greater speed. That 
evening at Tullahoma was most superb, like the most perfect 
weather of our Indian summer. The next day we marched 
through Deckerd, over Elk River to Cowan, at the foot of the 
Cumberland mountains. The rain set in again, continued all 
night, and in the morning we were half soaked before we be 
gan the ascent of that most rough and rugged of mountains. 

It was worse than the Alleghanies or the Blue Ridge, as 
the road consisted merely of slabs of smooth rock, sometimes 
standing on end, and deep gullies between them. I hardly 
expected that we could get over at all, but we had all the bat 
teries at the summit before noon, and by two P. M. were at 
Tantallon Station, at the base of the principal ridge. There 
we found the pickets of our own Corps, and felt somewhat at 
home. 

We left the Battery, Captain Wiedrichs, at Tantallon, to be 
brought on by its own horses, and pushed on twenty-five 
miles further, to this place. We reached it after dark ; in the 
morning we discovered that Lieutenant Muller, with my four 
guns, and the cannoneers, were in the fort, and we made all 
speed to join them, leaving the others to go on to Bridgeport. 
I was very glad to get my men all together again, and to find 
that every one was well. I expect to march to Bridgeport 
with my guns to-morrow. ' I myself am greatly in need of rest, 
and when I got here yesterday it seemed as if I had a heavy 
weight on my brain and could not keep still, sitting or lying. 



43O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

I am better to-day, and hope to escape any serious illness, if 
I can only get this cold out of my bones. 

LOOKOUT VALLEY, TENN., 
November 8, 1863. 

MY DEAREST MOTHER, .... This is Sunday, and yet 
you would hardly call it a day of quiet or leisure. I have to 
day commenced building two forts, on two separate hills, using 
for that purpose all my cannoneers and fifty infantry men, not 
being able to escape by the plea that it was Sunday, which I 
artfully put in. So that, with fort building, working hard on 
our horses to keep them in condition, and being in readiness 
to get up and move house at a moment's notice, you may im 
agine that my thoughts are not in that serene and unruffled 
state that I would have them for a Sunday talk with my dear 

mother The service here is not like that in Virginia, 

and here the war has few, very few, of the softening features 
which it there possesses. The country is exhausted beyond 
conception, and so defective are the means of transportation 
that the army has to struggle with the citizen for his mouthful 
of corn. The people of this region are, many of them, on 
the very border of starvation, and swarms are fleeing from it 
to the happier North, their children in their hand or following 
in a mournful train behind, their few household effects in a 
broken wagon, drawn by a miserable horse, and upon their 
faces a strong, fixed looked of despair, which it makes me sick 
to think of. And indeed I do not allow myself to reflect upon 
the necessary and collateral accompaniments of this war, as 
it would make me too miserable. Thanks to this expedition 
of General Hooker, the whole army is now moderately well 
provisioned, and yesterday our men got whole rations for the 
first time since we came here, having had half and even quar 
ter rations before. Bragg's army must be in a most deplora 
ble condition ; deserters are coming into our lines continually, 
by squads, and even by companies, who declare that they could 
not stand it any longer, with no blankets to cover them and 
with nothing but a small ration of parched corn to eat. Thev 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 431 

also say that if it were not supposed by most of their troops 
that they would be forced into our ranks if they should come 
over, the army could not be held together. The nights lately 
have been intensely cold, so that under several blankets my 
feet have been like ice. If we suffer this with our complete 
clothing and camp equipage, what must be the state of the 
thinly-clad rebels. Speaking of clothing, you must have 
laughed at my ill-luck with regard to my baggage, and my 
apparelless condition. I am not at all uncomfortable, as I 
have an excellent pair of artillery pants, a government shirt, 
socks, boots, and drawers, but my appearance is not stylish. 
I shall fight against ennui this winter and shall look to my 
friends to help me, both by writing me long letters and send 
ing me anything readable. My Catlett's-station school under 
the oak is suspended for the present, as my cannoneers are 
all fort building, and my drivers are out foraging for their 
horses nearly every day ; but if we make any permanent win 
ter-quarters I shall try to get a log school-house built and set 
it running again, if I can raise the necessary stationery. 

LOOKOUT VALLEY, NEAR CHATTANOOGA, TENN., 
November 12, 1863. 

.... Here the infantry throw up rifle-pits and build cor 
duroy roads, while the artillery have to construct their own 
forts as well as defend them, and besides this go foraging for 
their horses outside the pickets, at the imminent risk of being 
tickled by the guerrillas' rifles ; and all these duties have been 
You will laugh when I tell you that, one day, your poor cousin, 
whose appetite is famous for its power of renewing itself three 
performed, until a day or two ago, on quarter and half rations, 
times daily, was obliged to satisfy said appetite by making his 
faithful steed divide his scanty dinner with his master, and by 
dining sumptuously off a handful of " maize au naturel." 

Don't think that I am at all bothered by these little incon 
veniences. I am in good health, lively spirits, am eager for 
something to do, and ready for anything that may turn up ; and, 
if you could be transported here by magic for an hour or so, I 



432 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

don't think that you would consider me particularly "mouldy." 
The fact is, the longer I am engaged in this war, and the more 
I see of the South, and the more I learn of the plans, views, 
and principles of our adversaries, the more am I contented 
with my own course in joining the army ; and now I do as 
a matter of the most positive duty, what I undertook, partly 
from a spirit of restlessness and love of action. 

I have felt the deepest pity for the miserable condition of 
the poor whites of the South, and I think that, at the hands 
of the so-called chivalry, a heavier reckoning will be demanded 
for these people, than for their black bondsmen. That, in the 
aggregate, the condition of the negro has been improved, and 
his moral and intellectual faculties developed, by his connec 
tion with the white man, cannot, I think., be denied. But 
what has the dominant class done for the poor white in their 
midst? They have closed the doors of industry upon him, 
their own brother, thus keeping him poor ; they have refused 
him education, thus keeping him ignorant ; and they have 
encouraged him in all the vices that spring from idleness, 
thus ruining body, mind, and soul, and all this, in order to 
keep him as a tool for their political and, now, for their mili 
tary purposes. They have been fatally successful on this 
point, and have so thoroughly committed their fellows, by the 
actual facts of war and invasion, that, in very many cases, the 
poor whites, alive as they now are to the game that has been 
played with them, have yet had their combativeness aroused, 
and like all men are ashamed to back out or own up whipped. 
Here, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, our pickets converse 
daily with those of the enemy, and sad stories are related of 
privation and suffering in their ranks. These bear their fruit 
in the numerous squads of deserters which come into our lines, 
at the rate of over a hundred a day. No army could stand 
such bleeding as that very long. I met a band of about forty 
to-day, headed by an officer, and asked them where they were 
going. " Home," they replied ; " this is our last march in the 
army." And others said, "If our whole Brigade only knew 
that you would neither imprison us, nor conscript us into your 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 433 

army, they could not be held together a week." Just think of 
a half a pint of corn-meal per day, and nothing else, not even 
fresh meat, and a thin cotton jacket and pants, without 
overcoat or blanket to keep off the cold of these frosty nights ! 
Human nature cannot endure these things, unless sustained 
by the conviction of performing a sacred duty, or being actu 
ated by noble principles ; and these they have not, to sustain 
or actuate them. It is the dread of being shot or hung that 
is the cohesive power of the Southern army. Only to-night, 
I heard a sad story, from a young man, of how his brother 
attempted to make a Union speech in the midst of his regi 
ment, and succeeded, by dint of great spunk and a drawn 

revolver, in doing so, but was afterwards hung for it 

My cry this winter will be for " something to read," and if you 
have any nice book that you don't want any more, just mail it 
out here to me, " among the gloomy hills of darkness " referred 
to in the Monthly Concert Hymn. 

To L. R. P. 

LOOKOUT VALLEY, TENN., 
November 19, 1863. 

My intentions were most certainly virtuous with regard to 
your first letter (written from Long Branch during that mystic 
period in which you were a year younger than myself, but I 
grieve to say, displaying very little of that old-fashioned rever 
ence once paid to superior age), but in this instance old Dr. 
Young's " Procrastination," usually the thief of time, de 
scended to petty larceny, and gouged you out of a letter. Suf 
fice it to say, that in the midst of our gay and festive times at 
Catlett's Station, the place we had chosen after the toils of 
battle to repose our wearied virtue, while we were eating and 
drinking, building forts, and entering into boarded tents to 
dwell, and warming our hands at cunningly-devised fireplaces, 
suddenly the order arrived to pull up stakes and depart, and 
when we got time to breath again we were under the shadow 
of Lookout Mountain, with plenty of rations and sutler's goods 
dealt out to us daily, provided we could make an eatable dish 
28 



434 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

out of a 20-pound Parrot shell, or could substitute Whitworth's 
shrapnel for canned pineapples. And by the first mail that 
came to our hands in this place, I received another letter from 
you, dated New Haven, September 26, which had, indeed, as 
you said, wandered after me, but with better success than you 

had feared It is so pleasant, after a long time in 

which I have hardly had an inducement to think, a time spent 
in giving orders and laying down rules of discipline, in caring 
for bodily comfort and speculating on military events, in crack 
ing small jokes and discussing horses and generals, to meet 
such a one as yourself, though only on paper, and to pass with 
him at once into that other world, so beloved by me, of thought, 
and truth, and principle, and remembered happiness, which is 
all summed up in the words "Yale," " New Haven." 

" Soul-like were those days of yore 
Let us walk in soul once more ; " 

and, indeed, you will think that I have got paper enough for a 
pretty long walk, but there is absolutely no other to be had, 
and I rummaged Chattanooga yesterday, for this very Zweck, 
and was unable to raise a single sheet of the orthodox rec 
tangular equilateral style I should undoubtedly 

have been doing my duty to my country if I had come out as 
private in this Battery instead of lieutenant, and to-day I could 
do my duty up to the handle as a cannoneer ; but when I can 
fill the place of captain, and get a chance to, I will do so ; 
and if to-morrow I should receive the offer of any higher pro 
motion, and thought that I could do the business of the place, 
I would not hesitate to accept it. " The tools to them that 
can use them j" given a certain amount of brains, industry, 
zeal, and right principle, to make it of the most use to the 

world and the right cause I shall greatly envy 

you in your reading of "GEdipus Rex." I never read it, but 
went rapidly through the " CEdipus at Colonus," which I 
thought a story fully equal in pathos to King Lear, and in 

some parts not dissimilarly managed For practical 

wrestling and pushing in the every-day world, both of thought 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 435 

and of action, Yale gives as good training as any college ; but 
what inkling has a ) r oung Yale graduate of the beautiful world 
of literature, unless perchance he has neglected his studies. 

and lived in one of the libraries during his course 

By the way, speaking of labor and study, there is a rather dis 
agreeable article in the October " Atlantic," called " Life with 
out Principle," some sentences in which I believe that I wrote 
myself, though I don't recollect ever publishing them. Espe 
cially the following : " I foresee that if my wants should be 
much increased, the labor required to supply them would be 
come a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons and 
afternoons to society, as most appear to do, I am sure that, for 
me, there would be nothing left worth living for." I am al 
ready speculating what occupation will give me, when I return 
home, after supporting me simply on the food-and-shelter plan, 
the most time free to be employed as I wish, whether for self- 
improvement or that of others. But I am rather anticipating 
a subject which I might better discuss six months hence, when 
I shall have turned it over more. 

You ask me for more minute experiences of my life as a 
soldier ; these are hard to give, for very few of them are any 
thing more than commonplace, and even the incidents of battle 
do not touch much more than the physical nature. The near 
approach of a battle can never be known with certainty ; we 
are sometimes precipitated into an action which a few hours 
before we had not expected ; and again, sometimes when we 
are all cocked and primed, and have screwed our courage to 
the fighting point, we are balked of our little muss; this last 
produces a sensation similar to that of going up one stair too 
many in the dark, and is altogether disgusting. We are march 
ing quietly on, when suddenly we hear a cannonade a few 
miles off; this makes us all feel uneasy, as we would prefer to 
be either in the midst of the affair or else entirely absent. 
Then we get an order to pass the infantry in front and get to 
the field as quickly as possible ; the rapid movement creates 
a certain physical excitement, which must be good for charg 
ing infantry, but is not the thing for artillery. At Gettysburg, 



436 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

when I trotted through the town with my Battery, to the front, 
saluted on all sides by ladies' smiles and good wishes, waving 
handkerchiefs and banners, I felt highly elated and excited, 
but this mostly passed away when we got to work. Every 
man, however brave, must feel unpleasantly when the shells 
begin to fall into the Battery before it is unlimbered, but as 
soon as the guns are "in battery," and the work has begun, 
this unpleasant sensation passes away, although more or less 
excitement is still felt, chiefly physical, I think, and which 
arises partly from the sense of bodily danger and of continual 
escape from it, and partly from the necessity of keeping all 
the senses on the qui vive to prevent the enemy from taking 
an advantage, by bringing out an enfilading battery, or by 
pushing forward suddenly a column of infantry to make a 
charge ; I have felt greater mental excitement at the crisis of 
a game of chess played with an equal opponent. I speak this 
of an artillery fight on the level and in the open, subject to 
infantry and cavalry charges, as well as to the fire of hostile 
batteries ; an artillery duel, from commanding and' secure posi 
tions, is a different and much less exciting thing. An old sol 
dier gets to be indifferent to danger so long as it does not 
affect him, but still he cannot help rejoicing continually that so 
many shots pass him by. As regards sleeping on the night 
before a battle, I don't think that the prospect of an Arma 
geddon on the morrow, would keep me awake ; it is not like a 
duel, you know, where a man centralizes and absorbs every 
feeling in himself, but here every man knows that it is his 
duty, and that he must do it, and the stronger his body is the 
better he can do that duty, and so he "puts in a big ration of 
sleep." On the night before July zd, at Gettysburg, Major 
O., our Chief of Artillery, slept under my blankets with me, 
between two of my guns in battery on the crest of Cemetery 
Hill, and I don't think that either of us could accuse the other 
of either snoring or kicking. 

So, you want me to violate the articles of war by pitching 
into my military superiors, do you ? Well, I don't care if I do 
a little, seeing it 's you. I rather like General Meade ; he 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 437 

fought the battle of Gettysburg superbly, and I think that he 
did all that he could in the pursuit of Lee to Williamsport 
Just think, in spite of all his losses, Lee was fully equal to us 
in numbers ; his excellent position at Gettysburg enabled him 
to get a day's start of us on his retreat, and thus to reach 
Williamsport first, where again his position was such as to 
prevent a successful reconnoissance, and it was impossible for 
Meade to know that the whole Rebel Army was not lying be 
hind those rifle pits. It would have been the height of rash 
ness for him to have attacked an army of equal strength in a 
strong position, and thereby to have lost all the advantages of 
the success at Gettysburg. I think that his course was just 
such a one as Washington would have pursued ; subsequent 
events have showed, and will show still more plainly, his ca 
pacity as a General. There was undoubtedly an immense 
amount of mismanagement about the battle of Chickamauga ; 
the men fought well, but were not well handled. I can't ex 
actly find out how much Rosecrans was to blame, and don't 
like to think that he was to blame at all ; McCook did cer 
tainly show great want of conduct, and had no control over 
his troops. General Thomas won a reputation at that battle 
by mere good luck, as his corps was heavily reinforced by 
forces from others, and no great generalship was required to 
drive Longstreet back, only some stubborn fighting ; he is not 
considered of very heavy calibre. Granger is highly thought 
of and is a terror to the secesh. General Hooker is a splen 
did soldier, and is enthusiastically admired by his small force 
from the Army of the Potomac ; there is a superabundant vi 
tality about him which affects all who come near him, and 
makes one almost believe in some subtle magnetic or electric 
influence. On the march, he is continually among the troops, 
has always a friendly nod for the men and a kind word for the 
officers, and is to be seen at the toughest spots with advice 
and encouragement. He has such a fine physique, and seems 
to take such a pride and delight in soldiering, that it is a right 
pleasant event in a day's experience, to pass his head-quarters, 
and see him standing in front of his tent by the fire with his 



438 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

hands behind his back, his regular position. Grant I have 
seen two or three times, but not near enough to get any idea 
of his character from his phiz ; he is said to be restless, full 
of energy and excitability, a steam-engine in pantaloons ; he 
is in every respect boss of this Western shanty, de jure as well 
as de facto. Of General Howard, our Corps Commander, I 
don't care about speaking, except to say that he is a good and 
brave man, and a gentleman, but more adapted to the church 
than to the army. 

Since writing most of the above, a day has passed, and it is 
now the evening of the 2oth, and my Battery is under imme 
diate marching orders " at a moment's notice ; " General Sher 
man's troops have come in, and I think that we are going to 
have a row to-morrow. I am glad that I am to be at the front 

of it, and hope that we shall wallop them thoroughly 

I have written you a long letter, my dear boy, but you won't 
mind if you are as fond of long letters as I am. Very much 
love to the Form ; persuade him that this letter is to him 
also, and make him answer it. 

BRIDGEPORT, ALABAMA, January 5, 1864. 

.... From the effects of the battles at Chattanooga, and 
the ensuing forced march to Knoxville and back, I have 
hardly recovered yet, even bodily, although it is now nearly a 
fortnight since I rolled into my bed here, after a twenty-mile 
gallop, quite used up. 

You must not lose track of me because I am so far off; in 
this army we experience lack of everything which we used to 
have so abundantly in the Army of the Potomac ; but while 
we can stand being docked of our nice little supplies and 
winter comforts, we cannot stand being put on half rations of 
letters, and we shall get entirely uncivilized in this howling 
wilderness of Hoosiers, Buckeyes, Suckers, and Wolverines, 
unless you give us occasional glimpses of our dear Eastern 
home, and tell us that we are not entirely forgotten there. 

.... My Battery has reenlisted under the Veteran Vol 
unteer arrangement, and goes in for three years more, from 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 439 

the ist of January, 1864 ; this movement was almost unani 
mous, almost every man reenlisting, and that when their feet 
were still bleeding and their bones still aching from the ex 
posures and fatigues of the Knoxville march. We shall be 
mustered in, in a day or two, and then the Battery will proba 
bly go to New York on a thirty-day's furlough and to recruit. I 
shall not accompany them if I can possibly help it, as I could 
hardly bear the journey, and my health is greatly in need of 
a little rest ; besides, I have a perfect horror of recruiting, 
and all its accompaniments. So now I am in for it until 1867, 

unless the world comes to an end in 1865, according to 

and Dr. Cummings, or some kindly shell or bullet gives me 
earlier relief. Don't think, from this, that I am low-spirited, 
or " down on my luck ; " I am only half heart-broken about 
the state of the country now, and the state it must be in for a 
long time to come. The end and object of the war are most 
righteous and proper, and its final results will, after the lapse 
of years, be beneficial to all parties, and will aid the plan of 
Providence in teaching and elevating the nation, but all that 
does not shut my eyes to the terrible miseries which daily 
come to my notice. " Battle, murder, and sudden death," 
I can stand well enough ; but the disruption of families, the 
destruction of homesteads, the closing of school-houses and 
churches, the starving of the people by subsisting large armies 
on the country, the emigration of hundreds of houseless wan 
derers, who, not long ago, were prosperous farmers, the disre 
gard of all civil claims, and the treading down of the "Com 
mon Law " under the heel of the " Army Regulations, " all 
this must be piteously painful to any one who calls himself a 
citizen of the United States ; and equally so to me, although 
I have been often compelled to commit, in the line of duly, 

what I should once have called great outrages 

The country around Athens, Sweetwater, and Mouse Creek 
was a farmer's paradise ; it looked lovely even in the middle 
of December, with its broad corn-lands and wheat fields, 
sugar-cane and cotton plant, and warm, delicious sun-light 
over all, undisturbed by winds or storms, like the island 



44O LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

valley of the Avilion, " deep-meadowed, happy, fair with or 
chard-lawns ;" the very names, Sweetwater, Mouse Creek, 
speak of everything plentiful and quiet and cozy. Many 
pleasant Union demonstrations were made along the route ; 
in some places really superb national flags, which the ladies 
had wrought with their own hands, and kept hidden from 
rebel eyes by many a cunning device, were given to the winds, 
and were accompanied by waving of handkerchiefs and by 
hearty greeting, to which the passing troops responded with 
roaring cheers. In some places the women jumped up and 
down with joy, and shouted " Hurrah for our side," which told 
a tale of the time when the other side had been uppermost, 
and those good people had suffered. 

Sometimes this display of patriotism was prompted by 
mixed motives, as thus ; the Battery was passing a house, at 
the door of which stood a woman, and on the opposite side of 
the road was walking a fat rooster ; already a cannoneer had 
marked him for his own, and was a la David drawing a fatal 
bead on him with a "smooth pebble from the brook," when the 
old lady perceived the imminent danger of the bird, and deter 
mined to make a diversion in his favor ; waving her hand, she 
exclaimed, as the swallow-tailed U. S. guidon was just pass 
ing, " Hurrah for that dear old flag ! it does my eyes good to 
see it again." The diversion was successful, at least as far as 
we were concerned, and I am sure that the carcass of that 
rooster did not adorn the camp-kettles of the Thirteenth New 
York Battery. 

BRIDGEPORT, ALA., January 17, 1864. 

DEAR MOTHER, .... I am particular anxious to get 
hold of those missing letters, which must suffice to me, this 
year, for Christmas and New Year's gifts, with their kind 
wishes and salutations. J.'s letter was a very delightful one, 
and made me feel quite homesick, and a longing desire that 
we might have met together at New Haven during that season. 

What will you say to my coming home for a while ? My 
Battery have reenlisted in superb style, only two remaining 
out who had a chance to go into the arrangement, and the 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 441 

Thirteenth New York Battery has now been mustered into 
the service as a Veteran Volunteer Organization, "to serve 
for three years or during the war, unless sooner discharged, 
from January i, 1864." Probably we shall start in a few days 
for New York, to give the men their thirty day's furlough in 
their State, and perhaps to recruit a little. I had not thought 
of continuing in the service longer than next fall, and conse 
quently did not urge the men at all to reenlist. I simply 
stated the conditions, the bounty, the furlough, and read the 
order relating to such cases, and then said I would take the 
names of such as desired to enrol themselves for three years 
more of hardship and hard-tack. But they all asked me if I 
was going to remain with them, and made my promise to stay a 
sort of condition precedent to their reenlisting, so that I felt that 
if the gaining of these men for the service depended upon me, 
I had no right to selfishly consult my own feelings, and so gave 
the desired promise never to leave nor forsake them, and this 
promise I propose to keep, unless disabled in some way. It 
was not without a struggle that I gave up my dreams of home 
and friends, intellectual leisure and books, music and conge 
nial society, all of which would be mine next October, when 
my time was out, and I could hang my sabre up as a relic, 
over my bookcase, feeling that the three years' hard work gave 
me a certain title to rest awhile ; but if this is not to be I may 
as well make up my mind to go without it, and for my per 
sonal wants and disappointments console myself with the in 
creasing brightness of the national prospects, and the ap 
proaching probability of ultimate and entire success. We are 
going to give the rebs a queer stirring up down here, next 
spring. Knoxville and Chattanooga will both be thoroughly 
fortified and amply provisioned, so that we shall not have to 
depend upon the long line of railroad to Nashville for supplies, 
and will be able to make a formidable advance from either 
point, without endangering our communications. I think that 
in the next campaign the rebels will be obliged to abandon 
either Virginia or Georgia. If Lee concentrates his whole 
army against us, we are ready for him. We have been hav- 



442 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

ing terrible cold weather here ; ten degrees below zero is not 
exactly comfortable in a tent. I am quite comfortable in my 
quarters, have a good fire-place, nice floor and good bed. I 
hope to be in New Haven by the middle of February, that is 
if you can tolerate the sight of soldiers away from their posts. 

BRIDGEPORT, ALA., March 27, 1864. 

In the midst of busy working and preparation, I take a few 
minutes to tell you of my safe arrival with my men in our Ala 
bama home, after a pleasant journey from New York of a little 
more than six days. On Sunday I bade adieu to my New 
York friends, and Monday morning went to the Park Barracks, 
where I found most of my delinquents, and packed them on 
the Fort Schuyler steamer. I went, in the afternoon, to Fort 
Schuyler from Williams' Bridge in a wagon. We were doomed 
to wait for orders till Wednesday afternoon. A small tug took 
us to 3ist Street, and we went to Albany by 7 p. M. train. On 
Thursday evening we were in Buffalo, Friday morning in Cleve 
land, and at i P. M. in Columbus. Here Lieutenant M. and I 
got out to take dinner, twenty minutes being advertised for 
that purpose, when we had the pleasure of seeing the train go 
off without us. So here were seven hours to be disposed of; 
when we had exhausted about every mode of slaughtering that 
most precious of earthly things, I had the good luck to 
stumble upon Henry Chittenden, who was most cordial, and 
took us both to his house, where we had supper and passed a 
very pleasant evening. We had a dreary night ride, and 
reached Cincinnati just before daybreak, where I found that 
trusty watch dog, the Orderly Sergeant, had got all his flock 
snugly gathered together in the barracks of the Sanitary Com 
mission, and there the fourscore were snoring as if on a wager. 
I was right glad that my transportation to Louisville was by 
water. The men had only a deck passage, and had to stow 
themselves among the bales of merchandise, to keep warm. 
M. and I got a nice state-room, and I had a glorious nap, 
which was only interrupted by our arrival at Louisville on 
Sunday morning. An afternoon train took us on towards 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 443 

Nashville, which we reached Monday morning. We found 
the place more horrible than ever ; the dirt more abundant, 
and the dust flying in blinding clouds. The city was full of 
troops, waiting for transportation to the front, but was just be 
ginning to be depleted, as an order had come for all infantry 
regiments to march out to Chattanooga. Owing to this we 
got shipped for Bridgeport on Tuesday afternoon ; if we had 
had to wait for the whole of those 13,000 troops to be shipped, 
we might have stayed there a month. A ride of sixteen hours 
brought us safely to Bridgeport, with no other accident than 
being run into by the train behind us, and having our car 
pretty well smashed, though no one was hurt. We found nine 
inches of snow at Bridgeport, and through this we tramped from 
the depot to our camp; we passed over a little hill and came 
in sight of our old winter quarters, upon which the men broke 
out into loud and joyful cheers. But what especially pleased me 
was the sight of a row of beautiful, bright, brass, light twelve- 
pounders, or Napoleon guns, and as I ran my eyes along and 
counted, lo ! there were six ! I can assure you that I felt very 
ing in this respect. I was conducted to the stables, where 
much delighted at having the Battery restored to its old foot- 
nearly a hundred splendid horses were standing. It would 
do your eyes good to see how splendidly I have got them 
matched ; hardly a single pair would disgrace a private car 
riage. It was the pleasantest thing of all, next to getting 
home, this getting back. The air is delicious, the snow is all 
gone, to-day has been a perfect Sunday, and I have been most 
happy in riding with M. across the river to call upon a Union 
family from the North, and having some first-rate church music 
together. On my return I have read in my new old Bible, 1 
and thought of you all at home. I ought to have said that I 
found my box all right, and it wanned my heart to see all the 
nice things which home love had sent. I am very busy get 
ting rid of my old guns, and fitting up the new ones. To-mor 
row morning I am to move across the river, into a work at the 

1 One given him by his grandfather to replace one lost with his luggage, 
given by him when six years old. 



444 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

head of the bridge over the Tennessee, where I shall probably 
remain until the spring movement takes place. The corps 
which are to be put in most actively are the Eleventh, Twelfth, 
Fourteenth, and a Division of the Fourth Corps. The bat 
teries will be fitted up in superb style, and will be expected to 
do the lion's share of the work. I am Chief of Artillery of the 
Third Division. My command is over twelve guns. I feel 
very happy at being at my work again, and am full of hope 
and courage, for the spring and summer campaign. I have 
enough to read for a good while, and hope to scare up some 
antagonists at chess. Have made good use of my little 
gun already, have had some nice messes of quails and 
pigeons. I will write again as soon as we are settled in our 
new camp. 

BRIDGEPORT, ALA., April i, 1864. 

. . . . I will not say that I felt as glad to see camp as 
I did to see New York ; gladness does not express it at all ; 
it was, rather, a quiet feeling of satisfaction and contentment, 
a happiness in being back at my work again, different in kind, 
but not inferior in degree, to the delight I felt in looking across 
the Jersey Flats, and seeing the spires of Trinity and St. 
John's. And it was very pleasant to feel this sense of con 
tentment at coming back to the Army, and friends at home 
must not look upon it as evincing any want of affection for 
them, or any neglect of home ; a man must do with his might 
what his hand findeth to do, and my job, at present, is to make 
my Battery efficient in the time of preparation, and active in 
the day of action ; and to do this work well, all skill and 
thought and enthusiasm should be employed, and so I thank 
God that I am willing to leave New Haven, the opera, phil 
harmonics, etc., for the "good time coming," whenever that 
may be. And yet it is right pleasant, when my officers have 
retired to their tents, to sit before the big fire-place in my rude 
quarters, and think over my thirty days at home, and recall so 
many dear faces, and the affection and kindness shown me by 
every one. It is the remembrance of such acts, and the words 
of approval and encouragement with which they are accom- 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 445 

panied, that spirit a man up, and keep his heart warm and 
strong in his rough work. And I am sure that the harder and 
more sincerely a man does his duty, the more closely he loves 

and cherishes the remembrance of his friends No 

man of taste cares for vulgar fame, but the thought of having 
the eyes he loves best smile approval, will nerve him up to 
anything. ..." 

I found upon my arrival at Bridgeport, that I was already in 
possession of six fine brass guns, of the kind known as light 
twelve-pounders, or Napoleon guns ; they had been turned 
over by Battery F, of the Fourth United States Regulars, and 
are the same guns which young Frank Crosby commanded at 
Chancellorsville, and by which he fell. May I never have a 
worse fate / . . . . 

Every day scores of the inhabitants, chiefly women, pass the 
camp on their way to procure supplies from the Commissaries, 
and I am sure that you never saw such creatures in your life, 
so ragged, dirty, and woe-begone, such spiritless faces, and 
drooping, slouching figures ; they are hardly worthy of being 
classed as Caucasians, but more nearly realize the idea of 
some intensely inferior race, the Papuans, or Australian In 
dians, or the Diggers. And I do not believe that the war has 
reduced them to this ; it is the normal condition of the " poor 
white trash." Nothing that I have ever heard or .seen of the 
injustice and injury done by slavery to the blacks, ever made 
my blood boil so with indignation, as this spectacle of white 
men, the same flesh and blood as ourselves, offshoots, perhaps, 
of the same families that dispense such elegant hospitality in 
Virginia and South Carolina, to see these, I say, brought lower 
than the slave, and all by that same system of slavery that 
says, "we will not have the white man to work," and thus de 
nying them the power of acquiring worldly prosperity, and at 
the same time, causing mind and body to rust in miserable in 
action. The slave who works, thus becomes the physical and 
mental superior of the white who does not, and the slave-hold 
ers have little or nothing to fear from their degraded white 
brethren. There seems little chance of elevating these people 



446 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER, 

for a generation to come ; we shall have to settle this country 
with Northern men, and then I am sure that Bridgeport, at the 
junction of two great railroads, on a most noble river, the cen 
tre of a region rich in coal, and iron, and saltpetre, and 
marble, and corn-lands, will one day be a splendid city ; under 
the hand of Southern enterprise it had grown to a place of 
four houses ! 

HEAD-QUARTERS OF 13x11 N. Y. BATTERY, 
BRIDGEPORT, ALA., April 21, 1864. 

DEAREST MOTHER, .... We have been in a regu 
lar fever of excitement here for a couple of weeks past, about 
the consolidation of these two Corps, the Eleventh and 
Twelfth. Lookout Valley was the Mecca to which all curious 
officers made their pilgrimages, and every last arrival from 
that classic locality had to undergo a regular cross-examina 
tion as to the latest news, how Old Jose looked, what he said, 
and who were to have the new Divisions. The work is at last 
completed, and the new organization is announced ; the Gen 
erals of Division in the Twelfth Corps all retain their places, 
while those of the Eleventh Corps have to take a back seat. 
The German element is played out, and in everything except 
name, the Eleventh Corps is put with the Twelfth, our Divi 
sions and even Brigades being broken up and distributed to the 
various Divisions, and even in name the Twelfth Corps will 
retain its identity ; the number of the new Corps is the 
Twentieth. 

It is rather hard for an officer like myself, who has been 
with the Corps from the very first, and has shared its hard 
ships and dangers, its good report of second Bull Run, Get 
tysburg, and Mission Ridge, and its evil report of Chancellors- 
ville, to see the identity of the Corps merged into that of a 
rival Corps; but orders are orders, and I consider nothing un 
bearable that comes from the proper authority. 

The new Corps is going to be magnificently equipped, and 
commanded by a man who is more like old Stonewall Jack 
son, than any man in our army ; we shall have a force of over 
30,000 men in one mass ; 25,000 of them for active service in 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 447 

the field, the remainder to guard the railroad, and if Fighting 
Joe does not make an impression on rebeldom, with this force, 
I shall be most grievously mistaken. It is a heart-stirring feel 
ing, to belong to an army composed of such troops, so su 
perbly equipped, and likely to have such a proud history. The 
Divisions of the new Corps are to be commanded as follows : 
First, General Williams; Second, General Geary; Third, Gen 
eral Rousseau : Fourth, General Butterfield ; the artillery is 
assigned to Divisions, two batteries to each Division ; my Bat 
tery and Knapp's Pennsylvania Battery, a splendid volunteer 
battery, belong to General Geary's Division, and I am the 
Division Chief of Artillery- I have as fine a lot of horses as 
you would wish to see, and the other Battery has a supply 
equally fine, and when a few little deficiencies of equipment 
shall be supplied, and the spring movement takes place, I 
think that the Second Division will let itself be heard from. 
Major Reynolds, our chief of artillery, is an excellent officer, 
and very particular and critical. Lieutenant Mickle is his ad 
jutant, and I am very glad that he remains connected with the 
artillery ; he is a most cheerful and fine spirited fellow, and it 
does me good to meet him. I am afraid that I have bored 
you somewhat with my long account of the organizing of this 
army, but I want you to know just what I am about, and what 
my surroundings are. In every social point of view, the 
change is one for the better. I shall now be thrown among 
full-blooded Americans, and those mostly of the New York 
or New England type. I had a very pleasant introduction to 
some of my new comrades the other evening ; Colonel Ireland, 
who commands a brigade in General Geary's Division, gave a 
reception at his head-quarters at Stevenson, and F. S., who is an 
intimate friend of the Colonel's, asked me to go down there 
with him. Then we took the evening train at Bridgeport, and 
jolted down to Stevenson by 7.30 P. M. We were among the 
first arrivals, and I was very glad to have an opportunity of 
making the acquaintance of Mrs. Ireland. She is a very in 
timate friend of Captain S.'s wife, and his introduction was 
sufficient to insure me a cordial reception. The rooms were 



448 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

draped with flags of the regiments of the Brigade, and fes 
tooned with evergreen stars and loops, and ornaments of all 
kinds and shapes, formed from swords, bayonets, and sashes, 
lighted up the walls splendidly. In the hall hung the musket, 
knapsack, and accoutrements of a soldier, taken, the Colonel 
said, at hap-hazard from the ranks of a regiment. The mus 
ket shone like silver, not a speck of dust was on the equip 
ments, and the knapsack, fully packed with overcoat and 
blanket, was a very neat and symmetrical object. Soon the 
guests began to arrive ; a great many elegantly-dressed offi 
cers, and a very few ladies ; it would make the eyes of a city 
belle snap to see the number of gentlemen that pounced upon 
each individual lady. The jolliest of the ladies was a Mrs. 
W., wife of Captain W. of the One Hundred and Forty- 
ninth New York, bearing certain proofs in his phiz of belong 
ing to that noble race that bled at Concord. I took Mrs. W. 
in to supper, which, by the way, was a regular success for the 
field, as being substantial as well as elegant. The officers 
present danced with each other very gracefully, and treated 
me with great consideration, when they learned that I was as 
signed to their Division. The ladies from the country, who 
had been hunted up for this occasion, were a queer lot ; one or 
two of them were said to be great heiresses, but of a different 
style from Northern girls whether heiresses or not. They did 
not know how to dance, to walk, to talk, or to appear at ease ; 
and they seemed to look upon the fun and good hits made by 
the really smart officers, as very undignified ; they actually be 
haved as if they had never seen a gentleman before in their 
lives. I never want to hear any one say anything in favor of- 
Southern ladies, about their charming ways, and their graceful 
languor, give me rather the poorest New England school- 
marm, the force of language can no further go. S. and I 
came home at the respectable hours of 4^ A. M., having had a 
very nice time. I like him better, the more I see of him. He 
is just as good as he can be ; I like to hear him talk about his 
wife and children (he has four, three boys and a girl), in whom 
he is completely wrapped up; it really makes me feel quite a 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 449 

hankering after domesticity. I only hope that this new or 
ganization may not compel him to be assigned away from this 
Corps. Very many thanks to Mr. B. for his picture, and to 
Mr. D. for his, which I found in the box. 

PEA VINE CHURCH, GA., 
May 6, 1864. 

MY DEAREST MOTHER, My doubt and anxiety about J. 
were brought to a painful certainty by your letter, which 
reached me just .as we were marching from Bridgeport to the 
front, and filled me with very great sadness. I have always 
been very anxious about him, ever since he entered the service, 
and now perhaps almost the very worst of all is realized, a Rich 
mond prison ; I cannot bear to think of him as having fallen. 
It will be with the greatest and most painful anxiety that I 
shall hear further news from him ; whether he is wounded or 
not, and, if a prisoner, what his prospects of keeping up health 

and spirits until exchanged But I cannot give way 

to feelings in this matter, as- 1 have my own duties to attend 
to, and the perpetual consciousness of great sorrow such as 
this, would entirely incapacitate me from performing them in 
a proper manner ; so I cherish hope as much as I can, and 
rely upon the thought of J.'s energy and tact, which will en 
able him to alleviate some of the miseries of imprisonment, 
and to obtain for him release at the earliest possible day. I 
cannot help sympathizing with the mortification which his 
proud spirit must have felt, at being obliged to surrender after 
his almost first engagement, 1 but according to all accounts, the 
resistance made was most honorable and gallant, and General 
Wessells would have been to blame if he had not surrendered, 
when there was no more hope of receiving reinforcements. 
You must not allow yourself to grieve too much, my dearest 
mother, over this sad disaster ; we cannot do our duty in these 
stormy times, without many risks and sacrifices, and when J. 
and I came out into the field, we had no idea of avoiding our 
fair share of these dangers, and we are eternally grateful to 

1 His brother was taken prisoner at Plymouth. 
29 



450 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

you for your encouragement, and your sympathy in our plans 
and views of the right course to be pursued, so that we could 
go onward with everything in our favor, sense of duty, patri 
otism, and the cheering voice of those dearest to us. And so, 
no loss or sacrifice ought to be regretted, or unduly sorrowed 
over, when viewed in the light which Right and the splendid 
Future throw over the conflict. I shall not cease hoping that 
we shall once more meet under the family roof, and in the 
meantime I shall ask that strength may be given him to en 
dure privation ; and courage and cheerfulness to buoy his 
mind up in the dreariness of imprisonment. How can I com 
municate with him now ? Shall I send my letter to you to be 
forwarded to him. 

You will wish to know what brought me down into this re 
gion ; on Monday night we received orders to move early the 
next morning, and so, on Tuesday, May 4, we broke up our 
camp at East Bridgeport, tore ourselves away from our com 
fortable quarters, and the delights of Tennessee River fish, 
and marched to Shellmound. The next day, after a most piti 
less march up the valley, we crossed Lookout Mountain after 
nightfall, very completely done up, and joined the other Brig 
ade of our Division, formerly the First Brigade, Second Di 
vision, Eleventh Corps. From this point, the southern base 
of Lookout, our Division marched, the next morning, through 
Russville, towards Ringgold, leaving that place to the left and 
marching towards a place called La Fayette. This morning 
we marched half a dozen miles further towards that place, but 
have now halted for a rest, and also to allow of the complete 
concentration of our Corps. It will form a most magnificent 
line, almost as close as a line of battle, and containing 
nearly a hundred thousand men. If the rebs can make a 
stand against this force, they are smarter and stronger than I 
think them. I am quite delighted with my commanding offi 
cer, General Geary ; he has great consideration for the Artil 
lery, and tries to help it along as much as he can. He is very 
polite to me personally, and I feel quite at home in this strange 
Division already. The two batteries under my command, as 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 451 

Division Chief of Artillery, are in fine order, and I shall be 
much disappointed if I do not do good service with them. It 
is impossible to say what the enemy propose to do. For my 
own part, I would rather have them stand and fight it out 
here, as I think that we are far enough from our supplies 
already. I do not allow myself to be over sanguine, in matters 
which are so vitally interesting to us all, and yet I should be 
greatly disappointed if we did not achieve some very decided 
success in the approaching battle. The country is hilly and 
undulating, and has been cultivated, but we see very few in 
habitants ; have not been able to forage much yet, and my 
fare is simple bacon, hard tack, and coffee ; but the promised 
land can't be very far ahead, and there must be chickens there. 
I am very well indeed, and am getting my campaign tan on. 
If we have a fight here, look in the newspapers for accounts 
of Geary's Division, Twentieth Corps, and you will know 
where I have been at work. Let me know about J. as soon as 
you get any information, and how he is to be addressed. 

NEAR RESACA, GA., May 14, 1864. 

It seems a rather queer thing to be writing from a battlefield, 
and during a battle, but such is really the case. Not far from 
where I am sitting, the hostile batteries are fiercely playing on 
each other, and the infantry are beginning to tackle each 
other quite seriously ; but as our Corps is in reserve, we don't 
trouble ourselves unduly about what Macpherson, or Logan, 
or Schofield, may be doing, and patiently await our turn to be 
called into the grand melee. The campaign has been a queer 
one, the object of it having been to amuse the enemy in front, 
and keep him at Dalton, while the bulk of the army should 
march along the range of hills within which Dalton lies, cross 
the ridge by one of the Gaps, cut the enemy from his commu 
nications, and take him in the rear. How far this plan has 

1 He never succeeded in communicating with his brother, who heard 
rumors of W.'s death when at Macon, from prisoners who were brought 
in, confirmed when he was at Savannah, in a letter received by a friend in 
S. from friends at the North. 



452 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

succeeded I am as yet unable to inform you. It should have 
succeeded perfectly. The three principal Gaps in this range 
are, first, at Buzzard's Roost, next Mill Creek Gap ; some 
ten miles further to the south, Snake Creek Gap. Buzzard's 
Roost, strongly fortified, was threatened by two Divisions of 
our Corps, while Geary marched against Mill Creek Gap. 
This is a very steep mountain pass, thickly wooded on all 
sides, and commanded on the crest by breastworks, in which 
a large force was posted. The Second Brigade of the Divis 
ion was formed in the first line, and the First Brigade in the 
second, and an attempt was made to scale the mountain and 
take the pass, as was done at Lookout. But though the men 
did their best, scrambling from rock to rock, and pulling them 
selves up by trees and bushes, yet as fast as they showed their 
heads above the rocky parapets at the crest, an unseen foe 
picked them off, and even those who were but slightly wounded 
were in great danger of breaking their necks or limbs by falling 
from the rocky ledges. At times, small parties would succeed 
in reaching the summit, only to find themselves confronted 
by a strong breastwork, over which peeped the rifles of a foe. 
It was impossible to aid our men much with the artillery. 
However, I placed the rifled battery under my command in 
position, and threw some shells into the Gap, with what effect 
it was impossible to discover. The fight was kept up until 
night-fall, when our men retired down the mountain, pro 
tected by the artillery from being pursued, and camped just 
in front of the Gap ; so that if the enemy would not let us 
over, we could be prepared to do the same by them. In this 
affair our Division lost about three hundred and fifty killed, 
wounded, and missing ; but it was not labor in vain, as the 
attention of the enemy was thereby drawn to this Gap, and 
General Macpherson, with the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Corps, 
crossed the mountain at Snake Creek Gap almost without op 
position ; but I believe that he failed in thoroughly cutting the 
railroad communications at Resaca, and thus it is to be feared 
that the bulk of the enemy have slipped away to Atlanta, leav 
ing only a rear guard before us. Since I have been writing 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 453 

this, the infantry firing has become much more heavy, and 
there is reason to hope that we are to have a chance at their 
main army. We lay for three days at Mill Creek Gap, and it 
rained frightfully and changed from extreme heat to severely 
chilly weather, which made us all a little ill. We marched on 
the nth, passed through Snake Creek Gap, closely followed 
by the Eleventh and Twenty-third Corps, and yesterday be 
gan a lively skirmishing with the rebels, who are evidently on 
the retreat, their object being to get safely off to Atlanta, 
and ours to cut them off, and make them fight. The result I 
cannot announce. I can only say that General Howard with 
the Fourth Corps took Dal ton yesterday, and will be to-day 
on the enemy's rear, and that thus far everything looks well. 
Our hearts have been cheered by the glorious news from the 
Army of the Potomac ; we all rejoice in their triumphs just as if 
we still belonged to that grand army. I only hope that we may 
be able to show some similar good service in the public cause. 
I continue in the same state of miserable uncertainty about 
my brother's fate. I am sure that you will let me know as 
soon as you hear anything. I wish that the present move 
ments in Virginia might result in the release or escape of all 
our prisoners. Do not fail to write me soon, and let me know 
all you can learn about him and about all at home. Thus far 
this has not been a very severe campaign for either men or 
animals. I have kept my horses in pretty good condition, 
and my men have been well supplied with rations. For my 
self, in my capacity of Division Chief of Artillery, I held on to 
my ambulance for head-quarters, but fear greatly that it may 
be taken for general use in case of a big fight It is very 
convenient as a dry and comfortable sleeping place, and I am 
now writing this letter from the driver's seat. Now I have 
written you a stupid letter, but one can't get up much on the 
edge of a battlefield, when in momentary expectation of being 
ordered in. Be sure that if we are I shall do my duty as I 
best know how. 



454 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

CAMP NEAR CASSVILLE, GA. 
May 20, 1864. 

MY DEAR AUNT, A day of rest at last, after so many 
spent in marching and fighting, enables me to answer your 
very kind letter, and to send assurances of my health and 
safety up to this date, to all the friends at home. 

Your letter was a great relief, containing the information of 
J.'s comparative safety, even though he be a prisoner. Although 
I am not of a very sanguine temperament, yet I am very con 
fident that his energy and tact will bring him safe through the 
horrors of even a Richmond prison, and that he will return 
again, alive and hearty. At any rate this is the view I must take ; 
any more gloomy view of things would make me too wretched 
to perform my duty properly. When I wrote last to mother, 
we were lying in reserve, awaiting orders to move forward. 
In less than half an hour after that letter was mailed, our 
Corps began to move down toward the left, to form a junction 
with the Fourth Corps, under General Howard, against whom 
the rebels were massing heavily. I rode with General Geary 
in the advance of the Division, and reached the scene of con 
flict just in time to witness the most fortunate arrival of our 
men, who turned the enemy back, just as they were about to 
flank General Howard. A brigade of the First Division of 
our Corps took the Indiana Battery out of the very clutches 
of the rebs, as the covering infantry of the Fourth Corps had 
run away from it, and it was manfully holding its ground with 
out support. This ended the fighting of the i4th May. The 
batteries of the Division marched to the left in the night, a 
most tedious and intricate march, requiring about eight hours 
to make five miles, and arriving in camp at 4.30 A. M. after a 
sleepless night. The next morning, Sunday, the i5th, the 
real fighting commenced. The enemy were intrenched on a 
line running almost north and south, parallel to, and covering 
the railroad ; the country is very hilly and thickly wooded, 
admirably adapted to bushwhacking, but utterly unfit for ex 
tended movements in line, or for artillery operations. The 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 455 

rebel defenses consisted of rifle-pits and fence-rail breast 
works at all points, and on the summits of the ridges were 
earthworks, and quite elaborate embrasured forts. The flanks 
were protected against any serious demonstration by the tan 
gled character of the country. My rble was of course not a 
very important one, but I placed the whole of the Thirteenth 
New York Battery in the best positions I could find, their brass 
guns being the only ones that could be used in such a country. 

The assistance they gave did not amount to very much, but 
it would have been important in case our men had suffered any 
decided repulse. 

The day was spent in assaults upon the enemy's position, 
points being gained and then lost again, but ground gradually 
gained until about four p. M. when General Hooker made an 
attack with his whole Corps, and took several of the forti 
fied knobs ; this decided the contest, and after making a mid 
night onslaught, to deceive us, and cover their retreat, the 
enemy decamped, and abandoned Resaca, moving directly 
south, both on the railroad and by roads running parallel to 
it. A similar mode of pursuit was adopted ; Sherman did 
not give the enemy any head start, but pushed on at day 
break the next morning, moving the Fourth and Fourteenth 
Corps directly through Resaca, Macpherson's troops west, and 
our Corps east of the railroad, where we made a great circuit 
for the purpose of flanking Calhoun, and crossed the Cone- 
sauga River, but brought up against the Coosawatchee River, 
as we had neither pontoon bridge nor boats. In the night of 
the i6th we hunted up a couple of old ferry-boats, put them 
end for end, planked and secured them, and crossed the 
whole Corps the next morning, and marched to Calhoun, 
which the enemy had been obliged to leave. You see that 
General Sherman's plan of march is to move armies in paral 
lel lines, but having them converge and concentrate at all 
important points. Thus, for example, we see the other Di 
visions of our Corps in the morning, lose them during the day, 
and meet again at night. This was also the style of marching 
we pursued in going to Knoxville. On the igth General 



456 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

Howard had quite a sharp fight with the rebs, but outfought 
them and pushed on. The other Corps continued the flank 
march, and the advance of our army is at Kingston, the junc 
tion of the branch railroad to Rome, thus cutting off that im 
portant place and compelling its abandonment. We are at Cass- 
ville, east of Kingston, in the beautiful valley of the Etowah, 
enjoying supremely a few hours' rest after our hard marches. 
The country is very lovely and well cultivated, as far as it is 
cleared; but immense tracts in this section are still covered 
with heavy timber, chiefly oak and nut-wood. The inhabit 
ants have generally vamosed, the male ones almost without 
exception, and have taken with them their two legged prop 
erty, evidently looking upon that as too portable to be left to 
the Yanks. Thus far the campaign has been a severe one on 
both men and horses, as far as fatigue and work are con 
cerned, but supplies have come up with great regularity, and 
we have not been compelled to forage on the country, though 
I think that we shall come to that soon. Our Corps lost 
heavily in the battle of the i5th, the entire loss being about 
two thousand. What the loss of the whole army is I do not 
know, but should think that five thousand ought to cover it. 
We have taken a number of prisoners, and about twenty guns. 
Several of my friends were killed or wounded. Lieutenant- 
colonel Lloyd of the One Hundred and Nineteenth New York, 
was killed, and the Adjutant of the One Hundred and Thirty- 
fourth New York wounded in the head. While passing from 
one of my batteries to the other, I got by mistake into a cross 
fire, and found it very hot for a few minutes, and got a smart 
slap on the arm from a spent ball. Still all our fighting here 
has been mere child's play compared with that in Virginia. If 
we could only get a fair chance, on a fair field, we would give 
you a victory to record not much inferior to those of the Army 
of the Potomac. I do not like to see all the work being done 
by others when we are ready and willing to do our share. If 
the work goes on through the summer as it has begun, I shall 
be able to leave the service at the expiration of my term with 
a clear conscience. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 457 

We are in pretty light marching order, as all wagons 
containing officers' baggage have been sent to Ringgold, un 
loaded, and sent again to the front with forage. I have seen 
my old friend Captain S. once or twice on this march. He 
is now Division Quartermaster in the Fourteenth Corps. I 
take great interest in everything, even the smallest detail, from 
New Haven, and your letters are sure to entertain me. 

To L. R. P. 

CASSVILLE, GA., May 22, 1864. 

MY Dt-AR BOY, As to-day is a real "day of rest," unlike 
the last two Sundays, which were spent in fighting, and as 
letter-writing is not only permitted but also encouraged by 
General Sherman, in a very spicy circular issued yesterday, 
in which he gave the press correspondents a gorgeous rap 
over the knuckles, and as to-morrow we resume our line of 
march for Atlanta, with the prospect of a very sound bellyful 
of hard work and hard fighting before we reach that interest 
ing spot, I think that I will try to start with as clean a record 
as possible with my correspondents, and your letter dated 
April 27 is very noisy and clamorous in its demands to be 
attended to, so that after reflecting for some time whether I 
had better take the bantling up and spank it thoroughly or 
administer a soothing dose of paregoric, I have decided upon 
the latter course. I desire, in the first place, to object to a 
statement of yours to the effect that you were not in my debt; 
if you were not, you certainly ought to be, for I spread myself 
on an epistle to you shortly before I left Bridgeport, and really 
I cannot be held responsible for the bulls of Uncle Sam's 
Brieftragers ; you must write me whenever you feel like it and 
the gadfly of Sanskrit remits his exertions for a season, with 
out revolving the question of who wrote last, or casting up our 
epistolary accounts to see where the balance lies, and I am 
sure that you will be good and kind enough o do so. I love 
to read your letters ; you can't talk too much " shop " for me ; 
some other people talk about marriages, and removals, and 
fairs, and concerts, and similar pomps and vanities of this 



458 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

wicked world, and seem to think I have not retained civili 
zation enough to care for culture or scholarship ; while you 
pay me the compliment of taking it for granted that I have 
not, in a couple of hard, rough years, thrown off my love for 
those beautiful studies. I don't care how deep you go into 
questions, or how dark and abstruse they may seem to me ; it 
is like looking into the dusky alcove of a superb library ; you 
know that there are treasures there, and that when your eyes 
become accustomed to that solemn light, you can find them. 
As for your proposition to get up a translation in the way you 
spoke of, it was most kind of you to be willing to ask me 
with my dim ideas of grammar and roots, to go with you in 
such an undertaking ; but perhaps some of these days, when 
I shall have emerged from the nomadic state, I may take you 
at your word ; though even in literature and aesthetics I should 
require a considerable amount of refreshing and posting. 

Did it ever occur to you to place Shakespeare beside any 
one of the three great Greek dramatists ? I was thinking 
about it only to-day, and carried out the thought to some 
length, although it was an unsatisfactory business without the 
text of any of them at hand. Has it been done already ; and 
if so, how and by whom ? I should really like at some time 
to put down some of my ideas on this point. I do not think 
that the study of Tennyson would help a man much in work 
ing up Sophocles ; he is, I think, eminently unclassic, except, 
perhaps, in his beautiful rhythm : he might have written fine 
Greek lines at the University, but his ideas are not Greek. 
There is no modern production to be compared with the 
"Hermann and Dorothea'' of Goethe in its classic beauty ; I, 
read it once more when I was at home, and was more charmed 
than ever. Tennyson is essentially a writer of the Romance 
school, strongly tinged and influenced by the liberal Chris 
tianity of the Broad Church ; a man who has deeply studied 
the best models, and has profited vastly by the study ; he has 
caught the rhythm and melody of the Greeks, but not their 
power. " Ulysses " is a modern picture on an ancient subject, 
and the superb lines in it, as well as the whole casting, are 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 459 

from Dante. " Morte d'Arthur " is only a translation of the 
old legend into sonorous verse, containing a few lines almost 
literal from Homer, and a passage on prayer which reminds 
me always of that about the Amu'. 1 For my part, I should as 
soon look to a star to explain the source of light in the sun, as 
study Tennyson preparatory to pitching into Sophocles. 

I propose, one of these days, when we commence that trans 
lation together, to begin also another job with you, namely, 
a literary course based on the classics and beginning with 
Dante (your nose having been previously kept on the Italian 
grindstone long enough to post you on the original), then 
Shakespeare, a little of Milton, Rabelais, Cervantes, and Sir 
Thomas Browne. I am also desirous of knowing something 
for myself of those bugbears of our youth, Voltaire, Rousseau, 
Diderot, and Helvetius ; if I read these with you, it would do 
me no harm, you know. 

But enough of books ; you will want to know where I am 
at this present writing. We are about half a mile from the 
pretty village of Cassville, county seat of Cass County, Georgia, 
which is really quite charming for a Southern town, and con 
tains several churches, a college (which has for some time 
been used as a hospital), and a Ladies' Seminary : this last 
affair was occupied up to the last moment by the fair school 
girls, who at last fled with great precipitation, leaving many 
of their clothes and toilet articles a prey to the Yankee in 
vader ; even sweet little notes were picked up, wherein gallant 
young reb officers expressed their thanks for bouquets of 
flowers, and "sich like." The valley of the Etowah is very 
beautiful, and in Northern hands would be a paradise ; it 
seems too bad for this lovely country to be ravaged by war, 

1 The passage from Tennyson is, 

" For what are men better than sheep or goat 
That nourish a blind life within the brain, 
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer 
Both for themselves, and those who call them friend ? 
For so the whole round earth is every way 
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God." 



460 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

but the people would not be warned, and now they are reaping 
the fruits of their folly. Every house is either entirely de 
serted, or else occupied only by a few women and children ; 
a man at home is a curiosity. Our Division Head-quarters is 
in a fine house out of town, where I love to go and loaf, and 
look at the roses, and scent the honeysuckles and jessamines 
that run all over the porch and up the trees, and make me 
think of that arbor at the hotel in Athens, six years ago this 
month. I won't bother you with any account of our fight at 
Resaca ; we whipped the rebs well, and most of the fighting 
was done by our Corps, though the Batteries did not have 
a great deal to do. We have all been indignant at General 
McPherson for not cutting the enemy off as early as May loth ; 
he had the chance, and might have done it. If Hooker had 
been in his place, we might have captured the whole of John 
ston's army ; as it was, we only forced him to make a clean 
and orderly retreat, and to-morrow we start to break our heads 
against Atlanta or any intervening obstacles. I hope that the 
blows struck may be heavy and incessant; then, perhaps, we 
may settle all the heads of this Hydra. 

INTRENCHMENTS ON THE BATTLEFIELD, 
NEAR DALLAS, GA., May 30, 1864. 

I can't say exactly how the epistolary account stands be 
tween us, but am inclined to think that I am quite decidedly 
your debtor, and so here goes for a few words, although the 
first line of works, not more than two hundred yards from the 
enemy's position, where bullets are constantly flying within 
a few yards of my paper, is not exactly the best place for a- 
quiet and thoughtful chat. But we have been lying here for 
four days now, and are getting accustomed to the steady whiz 
of the bullets, to say nothing of the occasional boom of a 
rebel shell, and the idea of writing you a letter under fire is 
rather amusing than otherwise, so I snatch a scrap of my rap 
idly diminishing stock of paper, borrow the finest pen in the 
crowd, and try to see how much I can work in on a little 
space. I do not need to tell you that I have been preserved 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 461 

safe and sound through the fight at Rocky-faced Ridge, the 
battle at Resaca, and the action of the 25th at this place. 
Suffice it to say, that they were bloody affairs for our Corps 
and Division ; the losses of the Twentieth Corps since we left 
Bridgeport amounting to nearly five thousand. The action of 
Wednesday last was a curious one. We had left the fertile 
valley of the Etowah, and had entered the woody and moun 
tainous country on the western part of the Altoona ridge, 
hoping to be able to anticipate the enemy in reaching one of 
the gaps, and to compel him to give battle in the compara 
tively level country before Altoona. On Wednesday morning 
we pushed forward from Burnt Hickory to Pumpkin Vine 
Creek, repaired the bridge which the pickets had half burned, 
and crossed our Division over, the other Divisions being on 
other roads. After marching a couple of miles, we met the 
enemy in force and attacked him fiercely, driving his force 
back. It was very lucky for us that we did so, as we learned 
from prisoners that Johnston's whole army was before us, and 
nothing but our anxiety had prevented the whole Division from 
being taken or cut to pieces. The other Divisions were sent 
for and came up at double-quick, when Hooker hurled them 
upon the enemy with his customary impetuosity, and drove 
them back about a mile and a half, storming one of their best 
positions, that which we are now holding; and I sincerely 
believe that nothing but the coming on of a most thick dark 
ness prevented him from driving them headlong from their 
stronghold. Our loss was heavy ; about two thousand. Gen 
eral Howard, General Palmer, and General Schofield arrived 
with their Corps the next day, and we took up a line opposite 
to that of the enemy, and since then the Vicksburg tactics of 
fighting from trenches have been adopted, a most tedious 
and vexatious way of fighting, I think, and one calculated to 
demoralize an army of spirit. Here we have been for four 
days in dirty trenches, without taking off our clothes, and 
started up every few hours by an attack either real or sham. 
Last night the rebs made a serious attempt to drive us out, 
and we awaked from our first sleep at about IIP. M. to hear 



462 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

a most ferocious fire from .their line which had advanced to 
within one hundred yards of our works. My men sprang to 
their guns and treated them to a few doses of canister that 
soon drove them back, and their officers could not get them 
out again. Our works alone saved us from destruction. I 
anticipate a still rougher assault to-night, but they won't get 
the Thirteenth New York Battery without pretty hard work. 
This whole campaign is going to be a severe and deadly one, 
and I don't much expect to come out of it all right ; and it is 
for this very reason that I write you under these very peculiar 
circumstances to assure you once more of my unaltered esteem 
and love for you, which .have now continued the same from 
childhood up. My dearest brother is a prisoner, and you 
must join with me in prayers and hopes that he may have 
strength to bear, with patience and cheerfulness, the severe 
trial of personal confinement and mental inactivity. May he 
be restored to his home, without suffering any shock either to 
his health or spirits. I feel at times almost desperate when 
I think of the still distant termination of the war, and of the 
blood and treasure that must yet be expended before truth 
and justice shall prevail ; but I think that a man is less mis 
erable when actively engaged in the war, than when an anxious 
watcher and spectator at home. Perhaps the poor fellows 
who fell the other evening, and whose graves are at my feet 
as I write, are the happiest and most enviable of all. You 
must not think that I am downhearted ; but the constant 
strain of lying here under fire, and witnessing the constant 
slaughter going on, on the skirmish line, while the air is heavy 
and polluted with the smell of dead men and horses yet un- 
buried, does not tend to make a man's fancy bright or his 
spirits high. I almost envy the lot of the men of the Army of 
the Potomac. They have the heavy fighting and also the 
greater and fairer wreaths of laurel. I am afraid that the 
country will ask Sherman what he has been doing all this 
time, while his brother in arms has been doing so much. 
Rumors are prevalent that our Corps is to be relieved from 
this trench-work, and is to be employed on a flank movement. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 463 

I earnestly hope that it may be the case, as I am about used 
up. I hope that my next letter home may be from Atlanta, 
though perhaps that is a little too sanguine ; only, if with 
our force we don't put the rebs through here, we ought to be 
ashamed of ourselves. 

But I must close, as it is growing dark, and there is every 
prospect of a lively affair to-night. If this letter is duly sent, 
you may take it for granted that I got through all right. Now, 
my dearest cousin, write me soon, and at length, and give me 
good words which shall make my heart feel warm and strong 
in this distant land and rough life. 

THE LAST LETTER RECEIVED BY ME. T. D. W. 

CAMP NEAR ACWORTH, GA., 
June 8, 1864. 

MY DEAREST MOTHER, .... I think that I have not 
written home directly since we were at Cassville, though I 
sent off a short epistle to Annie from our trenches, written 
under a heavy fire ; but this was more for the oddity of the 
thing, and I know that it was a very absurd letter. We have 
had a very hard and fatiguing fortnight of it since leaving 
Cassville ; we started on May 23, marched through the rich 
arid beautiful valley of the Etovvah, which is worthy of being 
possessed and worked by free people, crossed the Etowah on 
pontoons, and massed our forces on its south bank. The 
next day we pushed cautiously ahead, through a town called 
Stilesborough, where large quantities of cotton had been de 
stroyed the day before, then began to leave the rich and 
fertile valley, and to enter the oak forests and barren districts 
of the eastern Altoona ridge, until we camped in a" place 
bearing the euphonious name of Burnt Hickory. On Wednes 
day we marched through the mountains by parallel roads, 
toward a creek called Pumpkin Vine Creek ; our Division 
being considerably in the advance, the other Divisions making 
flank demonstrations towards Dallas. At Pumpkin Vine Creek 
we found the bridge half burned by the rebel cavalry ; but it 



464 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

was soon repaired, and our Division began to cross, and to 
pass into a ridgy wooded country, where, about two miles 
from the creek, we found the enemy in force, and attacked 
him with our first Brigade, driving his forces back quite a 
distance. Here very large forces of the rebels could be seen 
coming up, and their artillery was being planted. To our 
dismay, we learned from prisoners, that nearly the whole of 
the rebel army was in our front, both Hood and Hardee being 
present with their Corps. Nothing but our first brisk attack 
had saved us ; the enemy supposed that our whole army must 
also be there ; a determined advance on their part would have 
cut Geary's whole Division in pieces before it could have re 
treated. We made our preparations for a vigorous defense ; 
I took my batteries back across the creek, and placed them 
in strong positions, to cover the crossing, and the Divisions 
of Williams and Butterfield, and General Howard's Corps, 
were ordered up on double quick. You can imagine our 
anxiety until they arrived ; but the critical moment went by, 
the rebels did not improve their golden time, and as soon as 
General Hooker had got his three lines of battle, General 
Williams' Division forming the first two lines, General Butter- 
field's the third, while our Division, which had been all day 
long skirmishing and holding the enemy in check, formed the 
reserve, I followed the first line of battle with a section of 
my Battery, ready to place it in position as soon as a position 
could be found, which was too rare in that heavily wooded 
country. I had a fine opportunity of observing General 
Hooker, who rode close behind the first line, and encouraged 
the men immensely by his cool and easy bearing and his 
cheering words. Perhaps he exposes himself too much, but 
he gets more fight out of his men than any officer I ever saw. 
The men went into the fight superbly ; the rebels were driven 
steadily back, and back, until they reached a strongly fortified 
position that they had prepared ; here they made a stand and 
checked our advance, and the fighting became very severe. 
The second line relieved the first, and the third the second ; 
rebel batteries poured shell and canister into our ranks, and 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 465 

yet they pushed on. Just before dark our Division was sent 
in, and with two good hours for work would have carried the 
rebel position ; but a pitchy darkness came on, and the fight 
ing on both sides ceased almost instantaneously, and both 
sides began to intrench the positions in which they were rest 
ing. We had not won everything, but we had gained the 
crossing of Pumpkin Vine Creek, a serious obstacle, and had 
pushed the enemy back two miles by determined fighting, and 
had even gained a footing on the crest of his position. The 
next day was spent in strengthening the works thrown up on 
the night of the 25th. At daybreak on Wednesday, the 2yth, 
the three brass batteries of the Corps were placed in position 
in these works. 

Here we remained six days without relief, under a burning 
sun, constantly under fire, with the rebel works less than two 
hundred yards distant from us, and their sharp-shooters often 
stealing up to within one hundred and fifty yards, and sending 
their bullets into our embrasures with disagreeable sharpness 
and precision. Fortunately their advanced works were in a 
hollow, and so they overshot our breastworks as a general 
rule ; but sometimes an enterprising reb would climb a tree 
and get a very fair view of us, as we took our ease on the 
sharp stones behind our works, and then we would find it 
convenient to huddle up pretty close into the trenches. Night 
was the worst time of all ; the short distance between the 
lines made a rush possible, at any time, from the enemy's 
works to ours ; and then the Fourth Corps, which occupied 
the works to our left, had a nervous way of getting up a false 
alarm about three times in the course of the night, and making 
us tumble up to our posts, thus completely breaking our rest 
and depriving us of sleep. On Sunday night the rebs under 
took to see if they could oust us, and came up to within fifty 
yards of our works in a very threatening manner ; but we were 
wide awake, and after a hot little fight of about half an hour, 
they got back to their works very rapidly, and their officers 
could not get them out to make another assault. We must 
have mowed them pretty badly, as we fired twenty-four rounds 
30 



466 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

of canister into them at short range. Pretty business for Sun 
day night, was it not ? We were at last relieved in the trenches 
by some of the Fifteenth Corps, General Logan's, and moved 
off to the left of the army. The exposure and wearing excite 
ment had made us all more or less unwell. I came off better 
than most of the others, and a dose of opium broke up a 
severe attack of dysentery that had begun to come on. Since 
then there has been more or less fighting, mostly to our ad 
vantage. We now hold the railroad to Altoona: our next 
point is Marietta, then the passage of the Chattahooche 
River, and then onward to Atlanta. We march probably to 
the river to-morrow morning, and it is impossible to say when 
a general engagement may come on. When it does, we are 
confident of success, and especially that the Twentieth Corps 
will have plenty to do and will do it well. Our Corps has 
done almost all the fighting in this campaign, and has sus 
tained a very large proportion of the losses. I think that the 
entire loss of our Corps since we left Bridgeport must be 
rather over than under five thousand. Our battles have 
seemed small and pigmy-like beside those in Virginia, still 

we are not idle and are making progress The climate 

suits me as well as, or better than Virginia. In the morning 
and evening the air is full of the delicious perfume from the 
blossoms of the wild grape and the hawthorn, from thyme and 
other sweet grasses. The smell of these last make me think 
of Athens and Mount Hymettus. Think of me as well and 
strong, and doing the best I can, and always longing to hear 
from my dearest mother. 

Your ever loving son, 

WILLIAM WHEELER. 

The following letter to Professor Henry H. Hadley will 
serve to introduce, and add to the interest of, the next and 
final letter of this collection, as coming from the soldier to 
whom reference is herein made. 



ARMY LIFE AND SERVICE. 467 

HEAD-QUARTERS THIRTEENTH NEW YORK BATTERY, 
BRIDGEPORT, ALA., April 14, 1864. 

MY DEAR MR. HADLEY, Your kind note, in reference to 
Mr. Lee, whom you caused to enlist for my Battery, has been 
duly received, and permit me to thank you most sincerely for 
the interest you have taken in my command. The acquisition 
of a single good man is right acceptable, and the Spring is 
just the time when we need all our available force at the front. 
I think that I shall be able to make it comfortable for this 
new recruit, physically at least ; the moral and religious ad 
vantages of a Battery are not very great, but I think that the 
general tone, and the sense of self-respect, are much higher 
than in the Infantry. He will, at least, have an opportunity 
of doing and enduring in the cause. My Battery has never 
been in the reserve, and this spring it will probably have 
a prominent part to play, as it belongs to General Hooker's 
new Corps, the Twentieth, which will doubtless be pushed into 
the thickest of all the fights. If I survive the campaign, I 
shall hope to thank you in person for your kindness and 
thoughtfulness in my behalf. 

IN FIELD, June 23, 1864. 
CAMP NEAR MARIETTA. 
PROFESSOR HADLEY : 

My dear Sir, The painful intelligence I have to com 
municate, of Captain Wheeler's death, you will receive through 
other sources before this reaches you. The envelope which 
I send, you will observe, has his frank, which I obtained yes 
terday morning, there being no stamps to be procured in the 
Battery. When I went to him he was sitting in the ambulance 
writing, unconscious as I was, .no doubt, of the fate that so 
soon awaited him. I will give the circumstances of his death 
as near as I am informed. At noon, yesterday, the 22d. we 
had orders to advance to a new position in front, the enemy 
having fallen back about a mile for fear of a flank movement. 
Captain Wheeler, being acting Chief of Artillery for the 
Division, took Knapp's Pennsylvania Battery forward, while 



468 LETTERS OF WILLIAM WHEELER. 

we remained where we were. Shortly after, or while they were 
getting the Battery in position, the enemy made two or three 
charges, evidently with a view of capturing it, as we had no 
breastworks. They were repulsed and driven back, however, 
every time, by the fire of the infantry and the artillery. It 
was while they were making one of these charges, as Captain 
Wheeler stood partly behind a tree, making observations and 
giving orders, that a ball from a sharp-shooter struck him in 
the left breast, piercing him through the heart, from the effects 

of which he died almost instantly His death created 

a deep and solemn impression in the Battery, and a general 

expression of regret was manifested by all 

Most sincerely yours, 

FRANK M. LEE. 



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