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1862 December, Seventh Wisconsin

Death of Henry Kaump

Ed. Herald: - killed at the battle of South Mountain, Md., Henry Kamp, son of W. and Phebe Kamp, aged 23 years 10 months and 20 days.
To aid in querying the formidable rebellion, to assist in restoring our once glorious and united Country to its former state of prosperity and unity and for the preservation of our lives and free institutions, another one of our brave young men has fallen.
When the call was made, by the Executive, for troops to resist the onward march of the dire enemies of our government nobly did the free North respond. Thousands of our noble young men immediately placed their lives between our country and their enemies, determined that the honor and power of the government should be upheld though they might be laid in soldiers grave. Among the noble regiments sent from the State of Wisconsin perhaps none are conspicuous than the "Seventh"
In the lost of the names of the "Lancaster Guards," Co. F., Seventh Reg't of Wis. Vol. occurs "Henry Kamp". He shared the hardships of that noble regiment during the dreadful carnage at Bull Run, he was in "Hookers Division" at the terrible battle of South Mountain; he was one of the "brave boys" who without ammunition, stood like a wall of adamant and held the enemy in check for hours although every minute furnished new proofs that the "work of death " was going on among their comrades. There he stood, "Mid the smoke of the contest and the cannon's deep roar," doing battle for the honor of the flag floating above him until relieved by the lead of the Rebels.
"Solder rest! thy warfare's o'er!
Sleep the sleep that knows no Waking!
Dream of battle field no more!
Days of danger, night of waking!"

Henry, thou was't a sacrifice on the alter of thy country; thru hast done thy duty; thy toils are now ended! Kind Henry; generous friend; true hero Hail and farewell!

Rockville, Grant Co., Dec. 10th, 1862

Gallant and Persistent Conduct of our Troops

Events at the General Headquarters - Casualties to Officers - Great Advantage of the Rebel Position - The Sunday following.
Later details of the battle of Fredericksburg do not materially alter the facts already given. There is but one opinion regarding it which is that our army was overwhelmed with disaster without affecting any corresponding injury on the enemy. The New York papers give accounts from the different army corps which are mainly confined to military movements. The Times describes the first grand charge of the Second Corps.
There is a bare plateau of a third of a mile, which the storming party will have to cross. In doing so they will be exposed to fire first of the enemy's sharpshooters, posted behind a stone wall running along the base of the ridge - of a double row of rifle pits on the rise of the crest - of the heavy batteries behind strong field words that stud the top  of the hill - of a powerful infantry force now lying concealed behind these - of a plunging fire from the batteries on the lower range - of a double enfilading fire from cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them  - Sebastopol was not half so strong.
The moment they exposed themselves on the railroad, forth burst the deadly hail - from the rifle-pits came the murderously aimed missiles; from the batteries tier above tier on the terraces shot planes of fire; from the enfilading cannon distributed in the arc of a circle two miles in extent, came cross showers of shot and shell.
Imagine if you can for my resources are unequal to the task of telling you, the situation of that gallant but doomed division.
Across the plain for awhile they swept under this fatal fire. They were literally mowed down. The bursting of shells made great gaps in their ranks; but these are presently filled by "closing up " of the line. For fifteen immortal minutes at least they remain under this fiery surge. Onward they press though their ranks grow fearfully thin. They have passed over a greater part of the interval and have almost reached the base of the hill when brigade after brigade of the rebels rise up on the crest and pour in fresh volleys of musketry at short range. To those who through the glass looked on, it was a perilous sight indeed. Flesh and blood could not endure it. They fell back shattered and broken amid shouts and yells from the enemy.
Gen. French's division went into the fight six thousand strong; late at night he told me he could count but fifteen hundred

The same correspondent gives an account of events transpiring at General Summer's Headquarters
Returning to the right, I found General Summer seated on the front seat of an unyoked ambulance at the Lacey House, directly opposite Fredericksburg, at the point where the first pontoon bridge spans the stream. The veteran solder had been extremely desirous of crossing over and directing in person the movements of his Grand Division but the Commanding General would not permit it, and as a compromise, he had come down from the Phillips House (which Gen. Burnside had made his headquarters for the day) a mile from the river and established it here at its brink. I could not help feeling regret that the leashed old war dog was not let loose at the throat of the enemy. Meanwhile as Fredericksburg had become entirely too hot to visit with a decent respect for one's safety, I remained with the General in the ambulance to follow the tide of battle as reported by constantly arriving aides and couriers
The old man looked anxious and fearful. Things were not going well with his command. For three hours his men had been fighting at fearful odds. They were much exhausted their loss was excessive and nothing had been accomplished. Indeed, to the test of the ear at the point where we were located, it seemed as though they were being badly pressed. The batteries had been brought down and planted at the head of the streets - The troops were hugging the city closely to escape the fearful fire. "Where is Franklin?" was the eager inquiry. " Everything depends on Franklin's coming up on the flank." .
Franklin's position was plainly observable by the line of smoke and fire a couple of miles to our left. He was making no nearer.
At three o'clock an aide arrived from Gen. Couch to say that his (Couch's) troops were advancing finely; but that Wilcox was keep up "Tell Gen. Wilcox" replies Gen. Summer, "tell him he must make the Ninth Army Corps keep pace with the Second if he can."
At 31/2 o'clock, Sturgis, who had been clinging to the valley amid showers of fire is so hotly pressed that he hardly thinks he can hold out his own till Griffin comes up.
At 4 o'clock, French reports that his right is held by a brigade (Mason's) which is without ammunition!
Summer sends a message begging Burnside that Franklin be directed to advance. But Franklin cannot advance. He has enough to do at this moment to hold his own for Jackson has just thrown in reinforcements and is pushing hard to turn his left. Meantime the reserves have not been touched. Hooker's Central Grand division  - fifty thousand fresh men - have not yet been engaged, indeed are yet mainly on this side of the river.
"Tell Gen. Burnside that he had better, by all means throw some of Hooker's in."
Burnside replies that he has directly ordered Hooker to go in, and that every man on this side of the river shall cross. Promptly the column is pushed down to the pontoons, Humphrey's division, Butterfields's corps, leading. The wary rebels, sharply on the alert of the movement of troops and having a battery or two admirably trained on the bridge, pour in the shells, and somewhat delay operation. Happily, though they fall all around the bridge and kill some men on the banks they do the structure no harm. In case they do, however, a corps of pontooners stand ready to repair any damage.
At 4 o'clock Gen. Hooker who had not yet been across the river, proceeded over, remarking to a friend that he "was going to put this through."
In half an hour volleys of musketry announce that Hooker, with the reserves, is engaged. This last assaulting column consisted of the divisions of Humphrey, Monk, Howard, Getty, and Sykes. They had however got fairly engaged before the sun went down and night closed around the clamorous combatants.
At this time, Gen. Burnside, who had remained all day at the Phillips House, came down to the Lacy House; and in the garden facing the city followed the progress of the fight. Externally calm, the leading player in this tremendous game, was agitated by such intense of feeling as no one can conceive and he paced the garden gloomy as night.
The brevity of time into which the stupendous issue of the day had to be crowed seemed to add redoubled energy to the fury of the combat.
Not "Night of Blucher," as Wellington exclaimed at Waterloo, but rather Ajax's prayer for "more light" was the prompting of every heart.
Creeping up on the flank by the left, Getty's troops succeeded in gaining the stone wall which we had been unable all day to wrench from the rebels. The other forces rushed for the crest.
Our field batteries, which owing to the restricted space had been of but little use all day, were brought vigorously into play. It was the fierce passionate climax of the battle. From both sides two miles of batteries belched forth their fiery missiles athwart the dark background of the night. Volleys of musketry were poured forth such as we have no parallel of in all our experiences of the war and which seemed as though all the demons of earth and air were contending together. Rushing up the crest our troops had got with in a stone's throw of the batteries when the hill top swarmed forth in new reinforcements of rebel infantry who rushing upon our men drove them back.
The turn of a die decides such situation. The day was lost. Our men retired. Immediately cannon and musketry ceased their roar and in a moment the silence of death succeeded the stormy fury of ten hours battle.
As Gen. Burnside turning walked off through the garden and mounting his horse galloped back to his headquarters what thought and feeling passed through his mind? No illusions could make him believe that a victory had been achieved. Shall we say then that it was a defeat? Certainly if to have started out to accomplish a certain object, and to have failed in doing so be a defeat you can apply no other term to the upshot of to-day's battle.
In spite of all the glosses of official telegrams which you may receive, it seemed here to-night that we have suffered a defeat. Let us hope that when fully prepared the assault may be renewed with new tactical combination the position carried and the day retrieved. If it be not so Saturday the 13 day of December must be accounted a black day in the calendar of the Republic.

The Herald correspondent of Gen. Burnside's quarters thus speaks of his demeanor during the battle.
The finest view of the day's sanguinary conflict was obtained from the Phillip's House. Gen. Burnside was here all day, except during his brief visits - one about noon and the other near night - to the Lacy House. His position most of the time was on the upper balcony. With a powerful glass he was watching movements across the river. It was a time of fearful watching for him. Defeat was annihilation and he was fully aware of the difficulties to be surmounted to achieve victory. The frowning batteries of the enemy, their almost impregnable position on the long and rugged hillside opposite, the slow and hazardous crossing of the river by our forces, and that river behind them placing retreat out of question made him sensible of the perilous position our men occupied and how every recourse of military maneuver and brave daring was requisite to insure the defeat of the powerful and determined foe to be attacked - He had his staff and couriers running to and fro constantly. He gave his commands with promptitude and succinctly
"Lose no time," was his almost universal injunction to every courant.

Another correspondent of the same paper describes the death of Gen. Bayard:
the headquarters of Gen. Franklin and Smith were a short distance in the rear of our batteries and in exact range of the enemy's guns, and very many of the shells exploded with a very short distance of where they stood. One of the shells unfortunately struck and mortally wounded one of our bravest and best Generals - Brigadier General George D. Bayard. He was in attendance at the time on General Franklin awaiting orders, and while the fire was the hottest was as calm and collected as he would be at a dress parade. He was frequently urged by his aides and others present not to expose himself so recklessly, but to take advantage of the shelter of some large trees that were there. He scorned the advice, but seated himself under a tree upon the side facing the enemy and had only been there a few minutes when he was struck by a fragment from a shell, which shattered his leg and hip.
He was as cool and collected after being hit as before saying that they had "got him this time" and seemed to know that his wound was mortal. He inquired of the doctor if there was any hope and being told that his only chance was by having the limb amputated, replied that he always said that he would "prefer death to losing a limb" and declined the operation. He was immediately taken to the hospital, a few rods in the rear of where he was shot, and everything was done for him by his staff and the physicians that was possible to mitigate his sufferings.- He did not seem to suffer much pain but occupied his lost hours in writing to his friends.

At about the same time the news came in that General Jackson of Pennsylvania, was killed while gallantly leading his brigade into battle. At the time of his death he occupied the left of our line and was driving the enemy before him.-
Here it was too that Colonel Hatch, of the Fourth Now Jersey was wounded. He had charged upon the fortifications of the enemy and succeeded in driving them out and capturing about one hundred prisoners; but before he could receive assistance the enemy was reinforced by a brigade, and compelled him to relinquish his prize. The Colonel was wounded in the leg, and was obliged to undergo an amputation of the thigh which is always very dangerous. The number of wounded officers is quite large, including Generals Campbell, Vinton, Gibbon and Devins.

Gen. Tyler was struck by a ball on the left breast and what is very remarkable it left a black and blue spot the size of one's hand on his skin, without leaving any visible mark on the cloth. Lieut. Deale of his staff had his life saved by a coat button. Col. Gray, late of the 134th Pennsylvania regiment, whose resignation was accepted a few days since on account of ill health acted as volunteer aide and deported himself with most commendable bravery. Col. Guay was formerly Private Secretary of Gov. Curtin. Col. Elder, of the 126th Penn. regiment was wounded it is feared mortally. Major Todd, of the Ninety-first Penn. regiment had his right leg shot off by a shell. Maj. Johnson, 134th Penn. regiment, was wounded in the hand.
Colonel Gregory, Ninety-First Pennsylvania regiment was also wounded in the hand. This regiment had nine officers wounded and the brigade twenty-nine officers altogether.

The world correspondent thus alluded to the advantages possessed by the rebels in point of position:
The enemy have tremendous advantages of position equal at least to three to one. They occupy a tangle of hills of semi-circular shape with their right resting on the Rappahannock, and their left upon their strongly fortified position at Fredericksburg.
In front of this semi-circle is our position, our line being parallel with the Rappahannock. We occupy, as it were, the stage of the amphitheatre, while the enemy has the auditorium. Every available position on the hills is fortified by artillery in earthworks overlooking, commanding and in many cases enfilading the open plain below over which run the railroad and the Bowling Green turnpike. Our plan of attack was to make a sudden onslaught upon each flank with a view of turning one or the other; which done, to overwhelm and pierce their center. The enemy however, endeavored to anticipate our movements by advancing and attacking our left at 9 A. M. This was Jackson's move but he was most handsomely foiled by Franklin's, with Reynolds corps, who had the extreme left. To make this attack, Jackson had crossed the Massapenax from the south side.

the Herald says:
I have conversed with a good many during the day. They all accord to our men splendid bravery in attacking them in their strongholds.
"It was murder to fire on such brave men." remarked one, describing the gallant manner in which our troops advanced upon them. "We waited till you men got close up and fired. Hundreds fell. - Again they closed ranks and came on. We were behind a protecting earthwork, and your balls whistled harmlessly over us. We were taken prisoner before we knew it."

The Tribune's letter, dated Sunday, says:
The Sabbath has been occupied with the duties suited to the day. A few reports of cannon have broken its sacred quiet and the skirmishers have occasionally disturbed the solemnity of the day by discharges of musketry. But chiefly the time has been occupied with the last sad offices of respect to the dead and the labor of love to the suffering and the dying. We have spent the day amid scenes the most softening and sorrowing, gathering the names of those who lay stretched upon their straw, groaning and sighing with their wounds - many of them in the agonies of death.
We have witnessed the patient fortitude of many, who with their wounds still uncared for, have spent the night upon the ground in the open air; we have been familiar with the pale faces and exhausted countenances of those who have suffered amputation of limbs; we have seen brave men writhing under the tortures of the scalpel and saw and all the saddening and frightful spectacles which the hospitals present upon the day after a battle. Such scenes which we would gladly have avoided, have been constantly before us, as we have stooped to hear from the sufferers their names their regiments and their wounds.
The hospitals, we are glad to report, are far better organized than we have ever known them before. The new system of details recently introduced by Dr. Leterman, Burnside's Medical Director, have brought into the army an important and gratifying information. Certain skillful surgeons are selected for operations, others for the other various duties of the service.
The general air of seriousness and care which has been exhibited contrasts with what we have previously observed. The best possible attention is given to the wounded at all of the hospitals which we have visited to-day.

The Times thus alludes to the rebel position:
Regarded as a position of defense that which the rebel leaders have taken up on the Rappahannock and which we have been pleased to assail in the manner indicated and with the result known none could possibly be more magnificent or more nearly impregnable. With fifty thousand men they should easily hold it against three times that numbers of assailants. And indeed they appear never to have employed more than about that number.
Every time we poured forward fresh men, they had ready reinforcements to match. From prisoners taken I learn that on the right, commanded by Jackson, half the force only (and chiefly the division of A. P. Hill, and Early's brigade) was engaged. I take it that they had along the line of the Rappahannock about one hundred thousand men and that fifty thousand more or less were actually engaged in he contest.
The confederate leaders have acted with their usual wilyness in this whole matter. They did well to let us into Fredericksburg, firing but half a dozen guns when they could have brought a hundred to bear upon us. The city itself was the veriest trap that ever was laid - and we have walked into it. 
Is it any wonder that such a position - on the inside of an arc of a circle of batteries-
"Mid uproar, nether, and surrounding fires"- our troops were over and over again broken and shattered in the attempt to take it? The wonder is that such admirable pluck was shown.
It is a hopeless task now, to go back over the series of blunders that have made this disaster possible - to inquire, for instance, who is responsible for the delaying of the pontoon bridges ten days beyond the time promised General Burnside, thus enabling the rebels to render their position impregnable. Enough that the inquisition well come by and by.

, V.. 
December 17, 1862

Since I last wrote to you the Seventh has passed through another battle, and I will give the reader a short history of the battle, from the time we crossed the Rappahannock till we re-crossed it, and also of the enemy's fortifications as seen from our position.
We crossed the river at 3 o'clock p. m. on the 12th, Friday, and camped for the night. The rebels gave us a slight welcome by sending a few shells while we were massed, some of which struck in our brigade with out doing injury. In the evening General Burnside rode along the lines and was cheered vociferously as he passed, all seeming to have great confidence in their commander.
The 13th at 7 o'clock A. M. we were ordered to the front, on the left flank, which General Doubleday was ordered to hold his division being the left of the line and our brigade - that is MEREDITH'S - the extreme left. About 10 o'clock A.M. we were ordered to advance our line so as to gain position of a piece of woods which the rebels then held; our skirmishers were thrown out and Battery B, 4th U.S. Artillery, (of which Alonzo Priest is an efficient member) was got into position and commenced shelling the woods; the rebels soon left, removing all their killed and wounded. They had one piece of artillery disabled which they took off the field. We took five horses and some prisoners.
General DOUBLEDAY'S division advanced about one and a half miles during the day, under a heavy fire of artillery. In the afternoon the firing on both sides came to a lull, but about sunset it was again opened on the extreme right of the rebels on our left flank, the firing being principally by artillery and sharpshooters. The artillery fire was mostly directed to the infantry in support of the artillery. Our loss in the Seventh was one killed and three wounded. The Twenty-fourth Michigan of our brigade suffered most; their loss was seven killed and sixteen wounded. They are a new regiment, but done credit to themselves and the State from whence they hail.
The following night our Regiment was detailed for picket duty. An occasional shot from the sharpshooters and now and then a charge of canister from the rebels caused us much annoyance during the night. On Sunday all was silent the most of the day, except picket firing in front, all keeping line of battle formed ready to advance when ordered. On the 14th, Companies G and H were thrown out as skirmishers, at 9 o'clock A. M.; the rest of the regiment remained in line of battle. At night we were relieved by the Nineteenth Indiana, and fell back to our line of battle in front of the left flank being our former position, and were again ordered to sleep on our arms. - Just as many were closing their eyes for a little rest when lo! the order came to pack up as quietly as possible. Then commenced one of the greatest military feats of good Generalship ever undertook -t hat of re-crossing a large river with a great army and a hostile foe in front capable of annihilating the army owing to their superior position. Never did I witness the hand of Providence more fully exhibited to the children of men; the god of battles led us over safe and dry shod.
During the retreat our left rested about eighty rods from the line of rebel batteries. Our artillery was moved to the rear by hand and during the night a strong wind arose which continued to increase so that our pickets in front of our line of battle knew nothing of our departure till ordered, towards daylight, to gradually fall back. We re-crossed the Rappahannock in good order and camped for the night. Towards daylight it commenced to rain which made it quite uncomfortable. You can imagine the indignation of the rebels when they learned of our successful withdrawal.
About 3 o'clock on the morning of the 16th we moved our camp one mile and since then have moved four times and every time designed to go into winter quarters. I think winter quarters will not be our portion at least I hope not. We are now camped this 25th day of December one mile from Potomac Creek and near Bell's Plain.
Your readers will please excuse this hasty sketch, as I now write while on picket post. I close by wishing you all a "Merry Christmas," and "A Happy New Year!"

Dec 18, 1862


FRIEND COVER:-We have been across the Rappahannock and had another battle. A week ago to-day our guns opened upon the enemy from the Heights on this side all along the river, from Falmouth to about one mile below Fredericksburg, and kept it up most of the day. Two pontoon bridges were thrown across in the morning about half a mile below the town. The enemy's sharpshooters stationed along the bank of the river and in the houses near by resisted throwing the bridges across just at the lower end of the town until night. This drew the fire of our guns upon the city and many houses were burnt. Just at night a detachment of our troops crossed over in boats and took seventy prisoners and returned. Three bridges were then thrown across the river. Early on Friday morning our troops commenced crossing, the enemy making no resistance to the movement. Our division, (Doubleday's) was assigned a position on the extreme left and crossed last, our brigade being the last to cross of the Division. As we ascended the bank on the opposite side the enemy opened fire upon us. They, seeming to  have an especial spite against the "Big Hats," we moved down to our position and bivouacked for the night.
There had been but little fighting this day. On Saturday morning the battle opened with artillery in front of where we lay. In the meantime Summer and Hooker had crossed at the upper bridge and taken up their position on the right and center. Smith's Corps was on our right, and ours (Reynolds Corps) on the left and our division on the extreme left, the left of our brigade, resting on the river. We moved down the river a distance of about four miles from Fredericksburg, driving the enemy out of a piece of woods as we went, and being under a severe fire of solid shot, shell, grape and canister, until after dark, but thanks to good fortune and ditches, together with the enemy's bad firing, we met with but small loss. During this time the battle raged heavily on the right and center. Gibbon, our old commander, took some two miles of railroad, but his troops then broke and ran. He was wounded in the head and arm. As he was attempting to rally his men it is said he held up his wounded arm and swore that he had rather have two regiments of his old Iron Brigade than the whole division he then commanded.
Night finally closed the firing except among the skirmishers who kept it up continually. Sunday morning opened with a brisk musketry fight up towards the center which soon ceased, the balance of the day and Monday were remarkable only of their great quietness under the circumstances which was only interrupted by the skirmishing and an occasional cannon shot.
Monday night soon after dark we got up and fell back to this side of the river, accomplishing, I think one of the most successful retreats from before the face of an enemy on record.
We were over the river four days and three night with easy range of the enemy's guns and under arms all the time. Sleeping upon our arms our lullaby was secesh bullets whistling over us and striking with a dull "thud" among and around us.
I sum up with my opinions, which as I have not seen a single paper since we returned may not conform with those generally received. We were not whipped although we did not whip the enemy. Our movement was scarcely more than a reconnaissance in force. We found the enemy too strongly entrenched, fell back to assume a better position. When we make a real attack upon them I think it will be upon the right. I scarcely know the amount of our loss. I estimate it at five or six thousand. Our regiment lost one man killed in Company H, and six wounded one in Co. F., other Grant County Companies escaped loss entirely. We are now encamped about a mile back from the river opposite Fredericksburg awaiting the next movement. It is quite cold here, and I write under a tent fly which is our only protection from the weather. We expect to have wedge tents soon. 

The health of the regiment is good.
Yours Truly.

CAMP ARLINGTON, Dec 22, 1861
Editors Patriot:-Since last I wrote you, there has nothing of moment occurred, without I except, one or two sham fights, which took place near Bailey's Cross Roads. The last was the best and of that I will make a few remarks. We took up the line of march between 9 and 10 o'clock a.m., and arrived at the Cross Roads before noon, where we stacked arms and waited for the coming of the balance of the Division, which arrived on the ground in time for operations, which was 2 o'clock p.m.
While we were in waiting, as a matter of course, peddlers with  pies, apples, and other eatables, appeared; as soon as they came to a halt the boys swarmed around their wagons so thick that it was impossible for an outsider to get at them; however, this state of things was of short duration - the boys wanted to buy faster than the peddler would handout and made change whereupon the boys got their backs up - some swore, some said upset him, &c.
The latter plan was adopted; for soon could be seen the uprising of one side of the institution and then on the opposite side to scatter; when lo! peddler and all contraptions were scattered on the ground. When he (the peddler) had recovered his equilibrium he asked the boys to tip the wagon back which they did with a relish because the good things were under it.-
Then came a tug of pushing and scratching, did not get mixed up in that scrape. But soon another traveling bakery appeared and halted close to where I stood; the boys all excitement as they termed it, "rallied" on this sutler and were upon the point of giving his establishment "a boost" when he threw overboard a barrel of apples and in the excitement and eager haste for the apples he made his escape. In this melee I got mixed. I could not with stand the rush and was borne into the midst of the crowd; I thought then every one for himself so I pitched in. Suffice it to say - I got all I wanted but whether it was apples or jams, I don't like to tell. I do not want you to think the boys are as bad as would appear by what I have written -such incidents are not common.
At 2 p.m. the battle was opened. The way the blank cartridge suffered was a caution.- the 7th opened the fire, and was supported on either bank by a battery of artillery; the 6th was in position on our right. Soon the fire passed along the entire line of battle which was perhaps 1/2 mile. The 19th Indiana was kept as our reserve and the 2d as a reserve for the 6th. We had 20 rounds of blank cartridges; when they were all exhausted our ranks were opened right and left and the reserve formed a line in front. We make a number of advances as of driving the enemy, but nary a retreat.-
Gen. McDowell commanded. The men appear to place confidence in him, and well they may. In his noble mien there is all that goes to make the soldier, the officer, the warrior - at least so far as my judgment goes.
S. J. M.