1865: In this striking passage, Swett encounters the restorative powers of the White Mountains — even when the weather proves uncooperative! Note especially the military cast of the group’s frolic, a relic of the recent years of Civil War:
ADVENTURES of a DEAF-MUTE in the WHITE MOUNTAINS ~ by William B. Swett ~ Continued ~
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- Although we often consider the Civil War to have effectively ended by April, 1865, confederate forces remained in the field and were still in the process of surrendering much later; Confederate general Kirby Smith and the Red River remnants of the Confederate Navy, for example, surrendered in early June, even as Swett arrived in the White Mountains. (In fact, the last Confederate general to surrender was the Cherokee general Stand Watie, much later that same month.) Thus, I have assumed Swett’s casual reference to movements, tactics, and “a more earnest battlefield” would carry much deeper significance than mere war-play to a contemporary audience. These hikers are finding refuge, healing, and the “feelings of younger days” in their landscape, even as they act out the passing conflict as a form of recreation.
- The tactical breakthrough I have credited to the aged commander is, of course, based on the Confederate breakthrough at Chickamauga.
- Two centuries before, Darby Field encountered similar weather during his early visit to the White Mountains…