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HE Harvard student of to-day cannot well under
stand the strange conditions of excitement which pervaded the atmosphere and affected the lives of those who were at Harvard during the years of the great War of the Rebellion. Nor do I believe
that the graduates of ten or twenty years before that epoch, now getting to be well advanced in age, could fairly comprehend what we, as boys, experienced at that time. And
of those who were actually there, and took part in the events, there are not many; for, after all, it was a short transition period, the most interesting part of it being the beginning of the war, the spring of 1861, when we students felt that we were called upon to do something there, in the very place itself, to save the arsenal, and perhaps the college, from invasion and capture.
Of the classes then at Harvard, none was more identified with this important work than the one to which I belonged, — the great and glorious class of 1863. We were then Sophomores, in the full tide of bumptiousness, and just at the age to enjoy the excitements of the occasion; and so I think we did. We graduated in July, 1863, when the early enthusiasms had passed away; there was no novelty in the situation, and those who entered the army then had learned that it was not to be the ninety days' picnic as first supposed. This was after Gettysburg and Vicksburg, when the back of the rebellion was broken. Looking calmly at it now, it seems as if the war should have ended then; as it would have been had it not been prolonged by the culpable vanity of Jefferson Davis, and the hopelessly stubborn resistance of the brave Confederate army. Slavery had been abolished by President Lincoln's proclamation on January 1, 1863, and so the results of the war had been assured before it was finished in the field.
The continuance of the war after Commencement in 1863 gave me and many others the opportunity of taking part in it which would otherwise have been denied us; for my good mother had said from the beginning, when we all had more or
I kept at the time, as well as by letters and other contributions from classmates and friends. Of course, too, I must rely considerably on memory, and as it is a memory which goes back nearly thirty years, it is to be expected that fancy will play her part in the tale.
The political campaign of 1860 was the beginning of the new order of things. Abraham Lincoln was the candidate of the Republican party, then for the first time coming prominently before the people for their votes. 1, like many others, had been brought up in the traditions of the good old Whig party. This is not the place to speak of what it had accomplished; but it had for years been a party of compromise, and such parties generally
have to come to an end in a nation's FROM A PHOTO TAKEN IN 1863.
crisis, — and this crisis arrived later on
with the fatal shot at Fort Sumter. less the war fever, that I could not go During the autumn months of 1860 until I had graduated.
there was plenty of political talk and disI have thought, therefore, that some cussion, and we boys, although too young account of what was going on at college to have a vote, all the same were old during those two years and more would enough to take part in what was going on,
be interesting, as related by one who especially the fun of a torchlight proceswas there and took part in the scenes. sion. These demonstrations at that time I must, at the start, ask indulgence for were very different from the gorgeous anything that seems like egotism in my ones we have seen in the last twenty narrative, for it is taken almost entirely years, in which the Harvard students from what I did or saw or know of have been an important factor. In those myself, aided very much by a scrap-book days there was little in the way of uni
form, but we managed somehow to get way Post tells the story in what he calls torches, the distinguishing feature of such “ A Graduate's Lament": affairs, — often extinguished before long on the march. I well remember one of
" It seems as though 'twere yesterday these torchlight processions, which was in I was a rampant Soph, honor of Bell and Everett, the last candi
And well do I remember now
Th’ elections coming off. dates of the Whigs. “ Bell and the
Oh, those happy days at Harvard, of Belles, 1860, Harvard," was our gallant
jovial student life! motto, as one can see from the badge prepared for the occasion, which I have preserved as a souvenir. We met in that large open space by the Bratttle House, now the University Press, crowded ourselves into an omnibus, and drove over to Brookline, the starting place of the procession, which was to march through that town. There we were treated to “ cakes and ale." We had no band, I believe, but were well supplied with our own musical talent, for it was
our plan on the way back to stop at a few houses in Longwood and favor the young ladies with serenades, then much in vogue. We brought up at the mansion of Amos A. Lawrence, treasurer of Harvard College, who, when the war broke out, was one of the most energetic and patriotic of our citizens; also, at the house of the family of Dutton Russell, who lost two sons in the war.
No better idea of this festivity can possibly be given than by the following stanzas, which I take from a letter in poetry written
me by of the most gifted men in our class, my dearest friend, then rusticated “Our crowd went Bell and Everett, at Milton for some college escapade,
A motto proud had we,
'Twas · Bell and the Belles,' and then the cheer Albert Kintzing Post of New York.
Was, Harvard ! One ! Two!! Three! ! !' Later he was a private and lieutenant in Oh, those, etc. the 45th Mass. Regt. of Infantry, and was drowned at the early age of twenty
"Nobly we all worked for the cause,
Ready in time of need, nine, trying to save the life of a boy with
We'd carry torches sixty miles, whom he had gone in bathing at West Provided we got feed. Hampton, Long Island. His son
Oh, those, etc. the poet of the class that graduated at "Oh, many a jolly time we had, the last commencement. This is the Squeezed in that famous . bus,'
Whose creaking roof we often feared
suspense, at the theatres in Boston, Would be the death of us !
“ Dixie" Oh, those, etc.
was the favorite music, and was
always cheered vociferously when started “ But yet it bore us out right well,
by the band. It seemed as if our people Who'd at its old joints frown,
wanted in every way, even by the enthuWhen • Dixie' and . Litoria' Did all their squeaking drown.
siasm and charm of music, to conciliate Oh, those happy days at Harvard, of
the South, and try to prevent it from jovial student life!”
continuing in its mad career. It was too
soon for “ John Brown's Body" which
“Tell John Andrew,
John Brown's dead."
It was a winter of doubt and gloomy forebodings, and at length, on December 2oth, a few days before Christmas and New Year, it was flashed over the wires. that South Carolina had seceded from the Union. Well did Dr. Holmes express the situation when he wrote :
“ Ah! Caroline, Caroline,
Child of the Sun,
Which can never be won."