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The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

A drummer-boy's diary

by William Bircher








As some apology seems to be necessary for the effort herewith made, to add one more volume to the already overcrowded shelf containing the nation's literature of the great Civil War, it may be well to say a few words in explanation of the following pages. I thought that these sketches of my memoranda of army life, as seen by a boy, would prove enjoyable and profitable to my comrades of the Second Minnesota and their children; and I believed that they might at the same time serve to revive in the minds of the veterans themselves long-forgotten, or but imperfectly-remembered, scenes and experiences in camp and field. It was not my original intention to write a connected story, but rather to give to my old comrades the contents of the diary I kept through our term of service, as I have been urgently pressed by so many old comrades to put it into print. And as no full and complete history of the Second Minnesota Regiment has ever been written, it is hoped that these recollections of one of its humblest raembers may serve the purpose of recalling to the minds of surviving comrades the stirring scenes through which they passed, as well as keeping alive in coming time the name and memory of the organization which deserved so well of its country during the ever-memorable days of now more than twenty-seven years ago. With these few words of apology and explanation, I herewith place the " Drummer-Boy's Diary" in the hands of my surviving comrades.

The illustrations are from the " Eecollections of a Drummer-Boy," by kind permission of Messrs. Ticknor & Co., publishers.


Company K. South St. Paul, 1888.


"fort Sumter, S. 0., April 12, 1861, 3.20 A.m. "sir,—

" By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the provisional forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time. We have the honor to be, very respectfully, " Your obedient servants,


" Aide-de-camp. " STEPHEN D. LEE, " Captain C.S.A., Aide-de-camp. "major Eobert Anderson,

" United States Army, Commanding Fort Sumter."

All readers of American history will remember this famous order of General Beauregard to Major Anderson, commander of Fort Sumter, and the firing on Fort Sumter by the Confederates.

Without a doubt this issue was expected. It

at least found General Beauregard prepared to

keep the appointment of his representatives with

sufficient punctuality. The hour went slowly by,

and the batteries were silent. Five anxious min


utes more were counted, and the dark quiet of the night was yet unbroken; but hardly were another five completed, when the flash and the dull roar of a mortar came from the battery on Sullivan's Island. The unconscious shell went up shrieking and wailing along its fiery curve, and lingering reluctantly before its downward plunge, bursting as it fell directly over the doomed fortress.

No meteor of more direful portent ever lit the sky; for this told surely of the beginning of a civil war, compared to which all civil wars before it were as squabbles in a corner; a war in which millions of men were to be engaged, and which was to scatter ruin and want, not only through the country in which it raged, but across the sea, among two of the most powerful nations of the world; which was to convert half a continent into one great battle-ground, and strew it from east to west with the graves of its citizens, slaughtered to gratify the base ambition and the disappointed pride of a small factious oligarchy who justified themselves in their attempt to destroy, with the monstrous assumption of the right of one man to own and use another as his property; but to the eager neophytes in war who manned the Charleston batteries this shell was merely the signal for the beginning of a bombardment in which they expected to run some risk and to gain much glory, for they knew well their overwhelming superiority, both in numbers and in weight of artillery, and they knew how weary, worn, and wasted were their handful of opponents with anxiety, watching, and lack of food.

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