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Fbom the Hbadquarteks of thb United States Sanitary 


DuBiNQ THE Peninsular Campaign in Virginia in 1862 



211 SEttmant Street 


Copyright, 1888, 

Bt Gommandekt of the State of Massachusetts, Militabt 
Obdeb of the Lotai, IiEaioN OF the United States. 

All rigkta reserved. 

JortN Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U. S. A. 



Pkefatoby Note 3 

The Sanitary Commbsion : what it was. Aspect of the War 

to women 5 

Women's Central Relief Association ; other associations of 

women 6 

Dr. Bellows's mission to Washington . . 7 

Powers granted to Sanitary Commission by President Lincoln 

and Secretary of War 8 

Work of Inspection ; Vital Statistics 9 

Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted ; Members of Sanitary Commis- 
sion 10 

Money and supplies : how obtained 10 

Branches of Sanitary Commission : method of proceeding . . 11 

Mr. Alfred J. Bloor 12 

Pirst relief work with the armies in the field 12 

Peninsular campaign, 1862. Commission applies for steamers 13 
Books and documents relating to Sanitary Commission : where 

to be found 13 

Hospital Transport Service : first work 14 

Newport, B,. I. Writer joins Hospital Transport Ser- 
vice 16 

Headquarters Sanitary Commission : steamer " Wilson Small" 20 

Women in the service of the Commission 22 

Yorktown, Va. : the old and the new history 23 

Wounded of the Battle of WHliamsburg 25 



Koutine of work 26 

Steamer "Elm City" goes North with 450 men 28 

Spirit of the men : their pride in the army ; their self-forget- 

faluess 30 

Steamer " Knickerboeker " fitted up by two young ladies . . 31 

Devotion of the young men of the Sanitary Commission . . 33 

E«soue of a hundred men at Bigelow's Landing 36 

Licalculable amount of suffering saved by Sanitary Commission 44 

Steamship " S. R. Spaulding." A coincidence 45 

Off Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, White House, Va. . 48 

General Franklin. The White House 49 

General Fitz-John Porter ; General Morell 53 

General Seth Williams, Adjutant-General 54 

State of affairs in the Hospital Transport Service .... 55 

Rules of the service ; difficulties 60 

Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted 62 

Mr. Frederick N. Knapp 64 

"Where's McDowell?" 68 

Kleptomania. How to " prophylac " 69 

Unselfishness of the sick and wounded 72 

Death-rate of the British forces in the Crimea 73 

Lessons taught by that, and by the Sanitary Commission . . 73 

A night excursion in search of fifty-sii men 74 

Dr. Grymes's lesson of calmness. The black side of war . . 77 

A busy night ; with all to do over again 78 

" Spaulding " sails. Fever proves to be typhus, or spotted 

fever 81 

On board " Knickerbocker ; " Dr. Draper 83 

Fitting up the "Elm City." The Shore hospital .... 84 
Civilian doctors and surgical cases. Difficulties of the Com- 
mission 89 

Kind of supplies most needed 91 

" Louisiana " aground with 200 sick on board ; night trip to 

her 92 



Women's Central Relief Association asks for anecdotes . . 94 

Battle of Fair Oaks : Commission ready 95 

Conflicting orders ; no Medical officer on the ground . . . 100 
GoTenunent boats not ready. Fire thousand men sent down 

without preparation 101 

The Commission throws itself in and does all 102 

Our tent : the comfort of it ; difficulties and horrors . . . 107 

None but the unavoidable miseries of war on Commission boats 117 

An excursion party from Washington ; false sentiment . . . 118 

How the writer came to write so many letters 120 

Sanitary Commission supplies : how used ; not wasted . . . 123 
Neglect of Medical authorities after Fair Oaks not likely to 

occur again 124 

Excellence of the army ration : what it is 124 

Queer people : quartermasters. Zouaves, women with a mission 125 

Mr. Enapp breaks down with typhoid fever 127 

How the sick and wounded came down from the front . . . 129 

The misery of carpet-bags 130 

Battle of Fair Oaks, otherwise called Seven Pines .... 132 

A pleasure excursion : out of the breath of hospitals . . . 134 

The dear " Small." General McClellan 137 

Stuart's raid : attack on train of sick men ; five wounded . . 138 

The "Small" turned, into a hospital Practical tenderness . 145 

More " Sabbath-breaking picnickers on a battle-field "... 147 
Dr. Henry J. Bigelow arrives on a mission from Secretary of 

War 149 

Object of the Sanitary Commission not fully understood . . 150 
Mrs. Griffin's health fails. Dr. Grymes, his courage, devotion, 

and death 151 

Gifts from Newport, R. I., Boston and Walpole, Mass. . . 152 

"Feeling of the Southern soldiery as the writer found it . . . 153 

Our dear tent. System of the routine work 155 

Trip to Yorktown to see " St. Mark." Dr. Draper, wife, and 

Mrs. Strong 157 



Medical-Inspector-General, Colonel VoUum, appointed at Mr. 

Olmsted's request 160 

Written agreement, by which Commission takes all worst oases 160 

General Van Vliet has a secret, but will not tell it ... . 162 
Dress paramount in the female mind, even at the rear of an 

army 164 

One week's letters missing. The Change of base .... 166 
Seven hundred thousand rations and forage already up the 

James River 168 

Stores and munitions all safely removed from White House . 169 

Great credit due to Colonel Ingalls and Captain Sawtelle . . 169 
"Wilson Small" the last boat (except Quartermaster's) to 

leave White House 171 

Going down the winding river 172 

Mr. Olmsted's letter. Robert Ware ; in memoriam . . . 173 

" What profit lies in barren faith ? " Hampton Roads . . 175 
" Wilson Small " the first boat (except Quartermaster's) to go 

up James River 176 

Meets the army : Harrison's Landing ; Battle of Malvern Hill 177 

The spirit of the army; the tenor of what it felt and said . . 178 
Dr. Letterman, the new Medical Director of the Army of the 

Potomac 181 

The " Monitor " such a tiny thing. Trip to Washington on 

business 182 

Letter from Mayor of Newport. Special good done by last 

gifts 184 

Contract for army shirts 185 

Medical Department doing well by wounded. The worst 

horror of war 187 

Meeting of President Lincoln and General McClellan at Har- 
rison's Landing 189 

Commodore John Rodgers and the " Galena " 191 

Things not so gloomy ; tone and temper of the army . . . 193 

The Shore hospital : infiuence of new Medical Director . . 193 



Supplies famished to Army of Potomac by Sanitary Commis- 
sion during July and August 196 

Happy relations between President Lincoln and General 

McClellan 197 

Promotion of General Van Yliet, Colonel Ingalls, and Captain 

Sawtelle 198 

Captain George Eodgers : visit to the " Tioga," to shell out 

a battery 199 

Danger from Rebel batteries : Port Powhatan 200 

Hospital Transport Service over : Mr. Olmsted and staff return 

home 202 

Dr H. J. Bigelow, and "the horrors on board the 'Wilson 

SmaU'" 203 

Once more conventional and duly civilized 206 

Memories of two sorts left behind on the James River . . . 206 




Law Olmsted Frontispiece 

Fkedeeick N. Knapp 

De. Eobeet Waee 




A yfOST of the writings relating to the War of the 
■^^■'- Eebellion have been confined to accounts of 
battles, or to adventures so closely connected with 
battles as to seem an essential part of the conflict 
itself. The book here given to the public as "The 
Other Side of War" touches on matters almost en- 
tirely outside the noise and *smoke, the glory and 
pomp, of military operations. Yet it presents scenes 
so intimately related to the army that they seem an 
essential part of a soldier's experience. 

The general work of the Sanitary Commission has 
been fully set forth in histories and in its own invalu- 
able papers and reports. This more personal record of 
its earlier labors tells a story not elsewhere told, of 
how it began, and under what circumstances it first 
carried on its heroic work. As such, these remem- 
brances of the Hospital Tkanspokt Service are 


presented by the Commandery of the State of Mas- 
sachusetts of the MiHtary Order of the Loyal Legion 
of the United States to its Companions as a portion 
of its contribution to the history of those eventful 
days, and in grateful acknowledgment of the loyalty 
and devotion of those men and women whose for- 
titude and grace have given to the Sanitary Com- 
mission its honored place in the story of the great 


Committee on Library. 


The United States Sanitary Commission was an 
organization of private gentlemen whose voluntary 
and unpaid services were accepted by Government at 
the beginning of the War of the Rebellion to supply 
the deficiencies of the Medical Department of the 

It was the outgrowth of a demand made by the 
women of the country ; for in the great uprising 
nothing was more marked than that the principle 
which actuated the nation was shared alike by men 
and women. As the men mustered for the battle-field, 
so the women mustered in churches, school-houses, 
and parlors, working before they well knew at 
what to work, and calling everywhere for instruction. 
What were they to make ? Where were they to 
send ? The busy hands went on, but where was the 
work to go ? Some supplied regiments with articles 
that were practically useless ; others sent to various 
points on suggestions afterwards shown to be un- 
trustworthy. Little circles and associations of women 
were multiplying, like rings in the water, over the 


face of the whole country ; but they were all in need 
of guidance and of information, and they felt it. 
Time and the Sanitary Commission were to show 
them that by a great united effort their work was to 
broaden out into a fundamental good to the whole 
army ; that lives were to be saved, the vital force 
protected; and that women, guided by the wisdom 
of men, were to bear no small part in helping to 
maintain the efficiency of the troops, and thus to 
share upon the field itself the work of husbands and 

At a meeting of women informally called in New 
York, April 25, 1861, the providential idea of at- 
tempting to organize the whole benevolence of the 
women of the country into a general and central 
Association ripened into a plan, and took shape in an 
appeal addressed to the women of New York and 
others " already engaged in preparing against the 
time of wounds and sickness in the army." This met 
with such an answer as showed the deep-felt need 
of it ; and thus began the " Women's Central Relief 
Association" in New York. 

1 The earliest of these Associations of women were formed in April, 
1861, within fifteen days after the President's call for seventy-iire 
thousand men. The names of those organised in April that have 
remained on puhlio record (there were others) are : Soldiers' Aid So- 
cieties of Cleveland, Ohio ; Bridgepoi't, Conn. ; Charlestown and 
Lowell, Mass. ; Women's Central Relief Association, New York ; 
Women's Aid Society, Newport, K. I. 


But still the need of instruction, and the futility 
of trying to carry on the Association without better 
knowledge of the work to be done, pressed anxiously 
on the minds of its members. At this juncture the 
Rev. Dr. Bellows came forward with the sound adyice 
to make inquiry from the only safe sources, — to ascer- 
tain first what the Government was prepared to do, 
and would do, and then to aid it by working with it 
and doing what it could not ; in short, to act upon 
information derived from the Government itself. Ac- 
companied by three gentlemen, afterwards members 
of the Commission, he went to Washington, where 
he discovered, in that moment of national emergency 
and inadequacy, the need of a larger machinery and 
a far more extensive system than any yet contem- 
plated; and thus, under difficulties which need not 
be stated here, he laid the foundation of the United 
States Sanitary Commission. The far-seeing wisdom 
of those men gained on that day for suffering hu- 
manity the greatest relief ever, perhaps, effected by 
any one organization. 

Their success was the result of the forces of pa- 
triotism and love which began to bear with strength 
upon the Government. For not only did the nation, 
in its merciful and patriotic instincts, need the Com- 
mission as its guide and means, but the Government 
needed the Commission to protect it against the 
vast tide of home-feelings and the ardor of a people 


pouring down upon it in indiscriminate benevolence, 
and clogging the machinery, already too limited, 
through which alone a real good to the soldier could 
be applied. It needed, even if it did not desire, some- 
thing to eke out and supplement the existing system. 
That was small enough, to be sure, for it was a sys- 
tem made for a few thousand men suddenly called on 
to provide for an army of several hundred thousand ; 
but at least it was the organized nucleus of some- 
thing larger. The Commission came in, with pledges 
of obedience, to supplement and aid the Medical De- 
partment in the difficult work before it. 

The powers granted to this Commission by Presi- 
dent Lincoln and the Secretary of War, June 9, 1861, 
were substantially as follows. It was styled " A 
Commission of Inquiry and Advice in respect to the 
Sanitary Interests of the United States Forces ; " it 
was to inquire into the matSriel of the volunteer 
army, to inspect recruits, and examine the working 
of the system by which they were enlisted ; it was 
to keep itself informed as to the sanitary condition 
of the regiments, their camps, sites, drainage, etc. ; 
as to the means of preserving and restoring the 
health and promoting the general comfort and effi- 
ciencv of the troops ; as to the proper provision of 
cooks, nurses, and hospitals ; and as to all other 
subjects of a like nature. On the information thus 
acquired it was to base such suggestions to the 


Medical Bureau and the War Department as should 
bring to bear upon the health, comfort, and morale 
of the army the fullest teachings of sanitary science.^ 
It was also to give to the Medical Department, wher- 
ever that unavoidably failed, such supplementary aid 
in the care of the sick and wounded as the generosity 
of the people, and especially the efforts of the women 
of the country, might enable it to give. 

This brief Introduction does not allow space for 
any account of the actual work of the Commission ; 
but the outline of its duties just given will show the 
reader that such an enterprise, springing up in the 
minds of private gentlemen, needed a vast and wise 
organization to make it equal to its own design. 
Fortunately a man of experience, whose name is 
well known for other services to his countrymen, 
was at hand. The organizing genius of Mr. Pred- 

* During the first two years of the War (to May, 1863), eight hun- 
dred and seventy regiments in camp had been inspected, and four- 
teen hundred and eighty-two Reports received, together with a vast 
array of hygienic and physiological facts, all of which were recorded 
and tabulated by Mr. E. B. Elliot and Mr. T. J. O'Connell, actua- 
ries of the Commission, and reported upon, in a treatise of lasting 
value to military science and vital statistics, by Dr. B. A. Gould, of 

Special inspections of all the general hospitals in the country were 
made by Dr. Henry G. Clark, of Boston, with a corps of sixty assistants, 
and reported upon, in twenty-five hundred folio pages, to the Medical 
Committee of the Commission, — Dr. W. H. Van Buren, Dr. C. R. 
Agnew, Dr. Wolcott Gibbs. These and all other records of the Sanitary 
Commission are preserved in the Astor Library, New York. 


erick Law Olmsted made the Sanitary Commission 
what it practically became, — a great machine run- 
ning side by side with the Medical Bureau wherever 
the armies went ; an authorized power fitted to seek 
out and relieve suffering wherever and however the 
Government failed in doing so ; an organized system 
where no inefficiency was tolerated, where the work 
was thoroughly and conscientiously done, but which, 
nevertheless, was so wisely controlled that it not only 
did not give offence to the Military authorities, but 
wrung from them a hearty and universal approval.^ 

An enterprise springing from the hearts of the peo- 
ple, and planting itself firmly on their generosity, was 
not likely to fail for want of means. During its exist- 
ence it received four millions, nine hundred and 
twenty-four thousand, four hundred and eighty dollars 
in money ($4,924,480.99), and the value of fifteen 
millions ($15,000,000) in supplies. But it is estimated 
that $2,000,000 more were raised by its Branches, 
which they expended themselves, and which, though 

' Members of tlie United States Sanitary Commission : Henry W. 
Bellows, D.D., president ; Alexander Dallas Bache, LL.D., Tice-presi- 
dent ; George T. Strong, treasurer ; Frederick Law Olmsted, general 
secretary; Professor John S. Newberry, Western secretary ; Dr. W. H. 
Van Buren; Dr. C. E. Agnew; Dr. Woloott Gibba; Dr. Elisha 
Harris ; Charles J. Stills ; Dr. S. G. Howe ; Bishop Clark, of Khode 
Island ; Horace Binney ; Eev. J. H. Heywood ; Hon. Mark Skinner ; 
J. Huntingdon Wolcott; EzraB. M. MoCagg; Fairman Kogers; Robert 
C. Wood, Surgeon U. S. A. ; G. W. Cullum, General U. S. A. ; 
Alexander £. Shiras, General U. S. A. 


equally serviceable for its purposes, never came into 
its treasury.! The supplies and the proceeds of the 
great " Sanitary Fairs " (amounting to $2,736,868.84) 
came chiefly from the women of the country, and 
were increased in value by the labor which they gave 
in making up materials. Branches of the Sanitary 
Commission, under the control of women, were estab- 
lished in several of the great cities. Each Branch had 
a wide district from which it derived its supplies ; 
and throughout these districts were " Centres of Col- 
lection " in the lesser cities, where, from every town 
and village, the supplies flowed in. The work done by 
the gentlewomen of the land in the offices and store- 
houses of the Branch Commissions was that of an 
immense shipping business. The cases came in from 
every part of their district of supply; the goods 
were examined, sorted, and stamped " U. S. Sanitary 
Commission." Each kind of every article was then 
repacked in separate cases, which were closed up, 
marked, and held ready on demand from the Central 
OSice in Washington. Once a week an account of 
the stock in hand and of its distribution was sent 

1 Probably the amount was much greater. On a tabulated list of 
donations Rhode Island is credited with $11,823.96. But the writer 
received from the city of Newport (unsolicited), in money and sup- 
plies, rather more than 820,000, — which was used in the service of the 
Commission, though it did not appear on its records. It would be 
nearer the truth to place the sum given by the people to the people's 
army through the Sanitary Commission at twenty-five million of dollars. 


from each Branch to the Central Office, and the 
relief agents with the armies who had received 
these supplies accounted for them weekly to the same 
office ; so that a knowledge of all articles in the pos- 
session of the Commission and of their distribution 
throughout the United States, was available at any 
moment to the central head. In like manner, when 
pressing needs were telegraphed to Washington from 
distant fields of action, the news was passed on 
quickly to the Branches, through them to their num- 
berless Societies, and in a few hours the women of 
the distant towns were at work to supply them. Mr. 
A. J. Bloor, the Assistant-Secretary of the Commis- 
sion in Washington, bore the heavy responsibility of 
this department. 

Thus organized almost before the War began, the 
Sanitary Commission was ready to meet the first 
call for the relief of troops in active service. In the 
West at Gauley Bridge, Fort Donelson, and Pitts- 
burg Landing ; in the South at New Orleans, New- 
Berne, and Beaufort ; in the East at Ball's Bluff and 
Drainesville, — it began during the first year of the 
War its great work in the field. During the winter 
of 1861-62, while the Army of the Potomac lay 
in cantonments around Washington, the condition 
of each regiment was examined by the inspectors 
of the Commission, and the standard of health and 
sanitary practices raised by their advice and assist- 


ance given courteously to the regimental officers, and 
almost as courteously received.^ 

When the Peninsular campaign in Virginia opened, 
in 1862, it was found that the Medical Department 
was unable to meet the needs of an army actively 
employed in a low, swampy, and malarious region. 
Seeing this, and acting with the consent of the Medi- 
cal Bureau, the Sanitary Commission applied to the 
Secretary of War for the use of some large steamers 
to be fitted up for the reception and conveyance of 
the sick and wounded. The Quartermaster-General 
at once ordered as many as could carry a thousand 
men to be detailed to the Commission, which, on 
its part, entered into an agreement with the Medical 
Bureau to take charge and proper care of at least 
that number of sick and wounded. 

The first vessel, the "Daniel Webster," was as- 
signed to the Commission April 25, 1862. Mr. 
Olmsted himseK took charge of her. A hospital 
company and stores were immediately embarked, and 
she reached the York River April 30, being refitted 

1 For all information relating to the Sanitary Commission, the 
reader is referred to the following sources : History of the United 
States Sanitary Commission, C. J. Stille (pp. 553, 8vo, Hurd & 
Houghton, 1866); United States Sanitary Commission, Henry W. 
Bellows, D.D. (in Johnson's "Universal Encyclopsedia "); United 
States Sanitary Commission, K. P. Wormeley (pp. 300, 12mo, Little, 
Brown & Co., Boston, 1863) ; Archives of the Sanitary Commission, 
deposited in the Astor Library, New York. 


as a hospital on the voyage down. The army was 
then before Yorktown, from which it advanced a 
few days later. The ship was ready for duty on her 
arrival ; her stores, of which she brought a large 
quantity over and above her own needs, were placed 
in a warehouse ashore (additional supplies coming 
down in tenders), and the work of relieving the sick 
in camp and hospital at once began. Meantime the 
« Daniel Webster " shipped two hundred and fifty 
sick men and carried them to New York, part of 
the hospital company going with her, and part re- 
maining behind with Mr. Olmsted. It was on her 
second voyage from New York to Yorktown that the 
writer of the following letters went down in her, 
to join the " Hospital Transport Service." 

These Letters may be allowed, after this brief 
Introduction, to tell their own story. It is proper 
to say that they are published exactly as they were 
written. If they have any merit, it is only so far 
as they photograph the life of which they tell. To 
touch them up and improve them as a picture would 
destroy this merit, if it exists. Nothing has been 
omitted except a few details having no reference to 
the work in hand : about that work nothing was found 
that it seemed necessary to alter or suppress. 

K. P. W. 

Newpobt, E. I., 1888. 


Newport, R. L, April 27, 1862. 
Deak a., — I am thinking of going to York- 
town. How should you view it? The Sanitary 
Commission has to-day sent off from Washing- 
ton a large steamship to be fitted up as a hos- 
pital transport. Mrs. Griffin has gone down in 
her with Mr. Olmsted, and by his request. I 
have great confidence in her. She is a lady, 
whose presence is guarantee enough that I, or 
any other woman, may go there with propriety. 
She is very efficient, and I should be satisfied in 
working under her. In short, I have written 
to her to send for me if they want me; the 
letter went yesterday. I suppose this will 
rather startle you. But why should it not be 
done ? My work here is closing. Colonel Vin- 
ton (Quartermaster-General in New York) sends 
me to-day the flannel for the last ten thousand 


shirts which close my present contract ; I have 
just drained the community dry as to hospital 
supplies, and the churches have, lately sent in 
$1,800 (making |5,500 which I have received 
since we began in April, 1861). A drawing 
together of circumstances seems to point to 
this thing, and I enter upon it as if it were 
obviously the next thing to be done. 

I have said nothing about it to any one, nor 
shall I tiU I hear from the Commission. You 
must stand by me if the plan meets with dis- 
approval here. 

May V. 

I RECEIVED a telegram from Mrs. Griffin to- 
day, telling me that the " Daniel Webster " 
steamship had arrived at New York with 
the first load of sick and wounded, and that if 
I wish to join the Hospital Transport Service, 
I must be in New York to-morrow morning. 
So I leave to-night. Have telegraphed you to 
that effect. 

U. S. Floating Hospital "Daniel Webster," 
OFF Ship Point, May 10. 

Dear Friend, — I write with a pencil, because 
it is so comfortable. We left New York yes- 


terday at 5 p. m., and came down the bay 
through wonderful efEects of evening light and 
shade and color. We stayed on deck by 
moonlight till eleven o'clock, when I turned in, 
to sleep all night, and get up lazily to breakfast 
at nine this morning. Since then I have helped 
to make our hospital-flag, and have dreamed 
away the day, lying on deck in the sweet air, 
where I could see the bluest sky and the bluest 
water (when the vessel dipped), and nothing 
else. Four ladies are attached to the ship, — 
Mrs. William Preston GriflBn, Mrs. Trotter,^ Mrs, 
Blatchford, and I. As far as I can judge, our 
duty is to be very much that of a housekeeper. 
We attend to the beds, the linen, the clothing of 
the patients ; we have a pantry and store-room, 
and are required to do all the cooking for the 
sick, and see that it is properly distributed ac- 
cording to the surgeons' orders ; we are also to 
have a general superintendence over the condi- 
tion of the wards and over the nurses, who are 
all men. What else, time and experience will 
show, I suppose. 

I am inclined to like the surgeon-in-charge, 

1 Now Mrs. Chaxles Henry Parker, of Boston. 


Dr. Grymes, very much. He commands here ; 
the captain, named Bletham, — a truly honest, 
kindly, sailor-like man, — being, under present 
circumstances, only second. Dr. Grymes is 
sufEering from consumption, and to-day he is 
hanging about, languid and nerveless ; they tell 
me that to-morrow he will be taut, tireless, 
hawk-eyed, and the spirit of an emergency. 
There are eight medical students on board 
(" dressers " they are called), and perhaps 
twenty other young men, ward-masters and 
nurses, — all volunteers. The Government fur- 
nishes the vessel, and the rations of all on board. 
My stateroom, which I share with Mrs. GriflQn, 
is on deck; it opens directly to the outer air, 
and has a large window and ventilator. 

Since writing the above, I have done my first 
work, — making the beds. How you would 
have laughed to see me, without a hoop, 
mounted on the ledge of the second tier of 
berths, making the beds on the third tier ! 

Off T0RK.TOWN, May 11. 

Up at five o'clock to give the last finishing 
touches to the wards. At seven called to break- 


fast, and found Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Knapp 
on board ; McClellan nine miles beyond West 
Point. We are to get sick men on board this 
afternoon, and sail to-morrow, — unless Mr. 
Olmsted wants us to go elsewhere ; Mrs. Griffin 
and I have volunteered to do so. 

Last evening, as we entered the Chesapeake, 
we saw the crimson glow of a great fire in the 
direction of Fortress Monroe or Norfolk ; and 
this morning early we heard the dull, heavy 
sound of an explosion or brief cannonading in 
the same direction. We are now going ashore 
to look at Yorktown, for the wards are all in 
perfect order, and the men can't be shipped till 
evening. The press of work here is overwhelm- 
ing, they say. I am writing with everybody 
about me. Surgeons are coming off to us in 
tugs and row-boats, clamorous for brandy, beef- 
stock, lemons, and all stimulating and support- 
ing things. 

Good-bye ! This is life. It is by mere luck 
that I am here, for Mrs. Griffin never received 
my letter, and only heard by chance that I had 
written it. 


Hbadqcaetbhs U, S. Sanitart Commission, 
Steamer "Wilson Small," 

Off Yorktown, May 12. 

Dear A., — Transferred to this boat. Mr. Olm- 
sted came on board at twelve o'clock last night 
and ordered Mrs. Griffin and me off the "Daniel 
Webster." We had just received, stowed, and 
fed two hundred and forty-five men, most of 
them very ill with typhoid fever. The ship 
sailed at eight o'clock this morning, and will be 
in New York to-morrow night. Mrs. Trotter 
went back in charge of our department, and 
Mrs. Bellows (wife of the president of the San- 
nitary Commission) accompanied her. 

The " Webster " could not get up to the 
wharf, so the sick men were brought off to us 
in tug-boats. As each man came on board 
(raised from one vessel and lowered to the 
second deck of ours in cradles), he was regis- 
tered and " bunked." In my ward, as each man 
was laid in his berth, I gave him brandy and 
water, and after all were placed, tea and bread 
and butter, if they could take it, or more brandy 
or beef-tea if they were sinking. Of course it 
was painful ; but there was so much to be done, 


and done quietly and quickly, that there was 
no time to be conscious of pain. But fever 
patients are, very dreadful, and their moans dis- 
tressing. The men were all patient and grate- 
ful. Some said, "You don't know what it is 
to me to see you." " This is heaven, after what 
I 've suffered." " To think of a woman being 
here to help me ! " One little drummer-boy 
thought he was going to die instantly. I said : 
" Pooh ! you '11 walk off the ship at New 
York. Take your tea." He was quite hurt 
that I could ask it ; but presently I found he 
had demolished a huge slice of bread and but- 
ter, and was demanding more. Then the doc- 
tors made their rounds; and after that, such 
as were in a condition to be handled were put 
into clean hospital clothing. Some, however, 
were allowed to rest until morning. 

We did not get them all settled and the 
watches set till 1 A. m ; after which Mrs. GriflGln 
and I packed up, to leave the ship at daybreak. 
Oh ! if I had it to do over again, I 'd have 
an organized carpet-bag, with compartments 
for everything. As it was, all was poked in 
and stamped upon. 


This is a little boat, headquarters of the San- 
itary Commission, Mr. Olmsted, the General 
Secretary, in charge of the whole transport ser- 
vice, and Mr. Knapp, his second in command, 
living on board. At present she is filled in 
every available corner by severely wounded men 
brought from the battle-field of Williamsburg, 
— wounded chiefly in the legs and thighs. To- 
day Mrs. Griffin and I are supernumeraries, the 
ladies on board being sufficient for all purposes. 
They are, so far as I have yet ascertained, Mrs. 
George Strong, wife of the Treasurer of the San- 
itary Commission, Miss Mary Gardiner, of New 
York, Mrs. M., whose husband is the colonel of 
a regiment in the advance, a tall, symmetrical 
Miss Whetten,^ and a pretty little creature, half 
nun, half soubrette, whose name I don't know. 
They all seem easy and at home in their work, 
as if they had been at it all their lives. I use 
my eyes and learn, and have taken a hand here 
and there as occasion offered. Terrible things 
happened yesterday. Many of the wounded of 
the Williamsburg battle were found lying in the 
woods with their wounds not dressed, and they 

' Now Mrs. Qamble, of Intervale, N. H. 


starving. Mrs. Strong saw them, and says it 
was like going over a battle-field. 

There is a general cry throughout the female 
department for " Georgy." " Where is Georgy ?" 
" Oh, if Georgy were here ! " " Georgy " is on 
board a hospital boat called the "Knicker- 
bocker," which appears to be missing. As I have 
nothing to do, I speculate a good deal as to who 
and what " Georgy " may be. 

Yesterday we went all over Yorktown. I 
sent a few relics to Ralph by the " Daniel Web- 
ster," one of them much envied, — an iron 
pulley from the celebrated gun which McClellan 
telegraphed had been "impertinent this morn- 
ing," and which afterwards burst, to the great 
relief of our men. It is amazing that Yorktown 
was so soon evacuated. Its strength seems very 
great, not only from its defences, but from the 
lay of the land, — range after range of hill and 
ravine, every hill commanding the plain over 
which our army had to creep up, and which was 
also covered by the water-batteries at Gloucester, 
until the gunboats silenced them. We went 
round the fortifications and saw everything, — 
the siege-guns, eighty of them; the fine log- 


houses of the men ; the ten thousand abandoned 
tents, many of which were still standing. 
Guards were placed about the magazines ; and 
at various points, in the paths or by the way- 
side, we came upon placards marked " Danger- 
ous," as a warning of torpedoes. I saw the 
fragments of a flour-barrel in which one was 
buried, killiag the man who dipped into it ; also 
a walnut-tree under which the earth was torn 
up, and where six men were yesterday blown to 
fragments by somebody stepping on the fuse of 
one. We saw what was once Lafayette's head- 
quarters, — now supposed to be a prison, where 
the prisoners seemed to be very little guarded or 
regarded ; then we paid a visit to General Van 
Alen, commanding the post, and called upon 
Miss Dix at the Hospital, — Lord Cornwallis's 
headquarters ; the best house in the place, with 
a wide-panelled hall and staircase. The rooms 
above were crowded with wounded men, all look- 
ing clean and comfortable. It is wonderful how 
in the midst of our own excitements these his- 
torical places impressed us, and it was hard 
enough to believe that the confusion, destruction, 
and filth about us were making a new history. 


We did all this in three hours before the sick 
men could be brought off to the " Webster." We 
shuffle about without hoops; Mrs. Griffin says 
it is de rigueur that they shall not be worn in 
hospital service. I like it very well on board 
ship : it is becoming to Miss Whetten, who is 
symmetry itself; but it must be owned that some 
of us look rather mediseval. I have no idea 
what we are to do, and I ask no questions. Mr. 
Olmsted is the law-giver ; he knows the fact 
of my existence, and will use me when he wants 
ine. It is very cold, and the air has the texture 
of your worst Boston weather, — steel-filings 
and all. 

" Wilson Smail," May 13. 
Dear Mother, — Yours of the ninth received. 
The mails come with sufficient regularity. We 
all rush at the letter-bag, and think ourselves 
blighted beings if we get nothing. Yesterday I 
came on board this boat, where there are thirty 
very bad cases, — four or five amputations. One 
poor fellow, a lieutenant in the Thirty-second 
New York Volunteers, shot through the knee, 
and enduring more than mortal agony; a fair- 
haired boy of seventeen, shot through the lungs, 


every breath he draws hissing through the 
wound ; another man, a poet, with seven holes 
Jn him, but irrepressibly poetic and very comi- 
cal. He dictated to me last night a foolscap 
sheet full of poetry composed for the occasion. 
His appearance as he sits up in bed, swathed 
in a nondescript garment or poncho, construct- 
ed for him by Miss Whetten out of an old 
green table-cloth, is irresistibly funny. There 
is also a captain of the Sixteenth New York 
Volunteers, mortally wounded while leading his 
company against a regiment. He is said to 
measure six feet seven inches, — and I believe 
it, looking at him as he lies there on a cot, 
pieced out at the foot with two chairs.'' 

I took my first actual watch last night ; and 
this morning I feel the same ease about the 
work which yesterday I was surprised to see in 
others. We begin the day by getting them all 
washed, and freshened up, and breakfasted. 
Then the surgeons and dressers make their 
rounds, open the wounds, apply the remedies, 
and replace the bandages. This is an awful 
hour; I sat with my fingers in my ears this 

^ Now General N. M. Curtis, the hero of Fort Fisher. 


morning. When it is over, we go back to the 
men and put the ward in order once more ; re- 
making several of the beds, and giving clean 
handkerchiefs with a little cologne or bay- 
water on them, — so prized in the sickening 
atmosphere of wounds. We sponge the banda- 
ges over the wounds constantly, — which alone 
carries us round from cot to cot almost without 
stopping, except to talk to some, read to others, 
or write letters for them; occasionally giving 
medicine or brandy, etc., according to order. 
Then comes dinner, which we serve out our- 
selves, feeding those who can't feed them- 
selves. After that we go off duty, and get first 
washed and then fed ourselves; our dinner-table 
being the top of an old stove, with slices of 
bread for plates, fingers for knives and forks, 
and carpet-bags for chairs, — all this because 
everything available is being used for our poor 
fellows. After dinner other ladies keep the 
same sort of watch through the afternoon and 
evening, while we sit on the floor of our state- 
rooms resting, and perhaps writing letters, as 
I am doing now. 

Meantime this boat has run up the York River 


as far as West Point (where a battle was fought 
on Thursday), in obedience to a telegram from 
the Medical Director of the Army, request- 
ing the Commission to take ofiE two hundred 
wounded men immediately. A transport accom- 
panies us. But we pay little heed to the outside 
world, and though we have been under-way 
and running here and there for hours, I have 
only just found it out. Don't fret if you do not 
hear from me. I may go to Washington on a 
hospital transport, or — to Eichmond with the 
army ! and you may not hear of me for a week. 
Let no one pity or praise us. I admit painful- 
ness ; but no one can tell how sweet it is to be 
the drop of comfort to so much agony. 

"Wilson Small," May 14. 

Dear Friend, — Last evening we parted from 
all our poor fellows, except Captain Curtis, the ex- 
tensive hero, who is said to-day to have a chance 
for life. Our men were put on board the " Elm 
City," which has been detailed to the Commission. 
She filled up this morning with four hundred 
and forty patients, and sailed for Washington. 
Mrs. George Strong takes charge of the women's 


department, and Miss Whetten goes with lier. 
I was sent oij board this morning to assist them, 
and remained there till the boat sailed. The 
" Elm City " is a large river-steamboat, with 
wide spaces on all her decks, where badly 
wounded men can be laid in rows on cots and 
mattresses, — they could not be put in bunks 
or berths. She cannot make a sea-passage, and 
is therefore sent up the Potomac to Washington. 

It is an immense piece of work to get the 
patients (many of them very low, or in great 
agony) on board and into their beds, and stimu- 
lated and fed and made comfortable. So much 
is needed, — quick eyes and ears, and, above all, 
some one to keep severe order in the pantry, 
or rather the kitchen for the sick-food. Mrs. 
Griffin is magnificent at that. I never saw 
her hurried or worried for a moment ; conse- 
quently she saves time and temper, and does 
the very best that can be done. She spent 
this morning on the " Elm City " watching 
over three men until they died, receiving their 
last wishes, which she is now writing to their 

You will get little public information from 


me. I am told we went some way up the 
Pamunky River yesterday. Mr. Olmsted landed, 
and went over the Williamsburg battle-field with 
incredible difficulty and jolting. It is two and 
a half miles long, with the fences all broken 
down. The enemy are expected to make a des- 
perate stand at Bottom Bridge — wherever that 
may be. The army is now making its way 
along the banks of the Pamunky ; great regret 
is felt that General McDowell was not allowed 
to co-operate at Gloucester. The spirit of our 
men, their confidence in their leaders, their pride 
in belonging to McClellan and the Army of the 
Potomac, is splendid, so far as I see it; and 
everybody says the same. Many fine traits of 
character come out, — such as their self -forge tful- 
ness and tenderness in caring for sick comrades, 
their endurance of suffering, and even contempt 
for it. A poor little boy of seventeen, shot 
through the lungs, was so unwilling to speak of 
himself, never murmuring, but roused into 
excitement on the arrival of the New York 
papers with accounts of the battles. I began 
to read to him about the battle of Williamsburg, 
where he was wounded ; but he gurgled out : 


" Not that ! I know all about that. What did 
our boys do next ? " 

The fire we saw on our way across the Chesa- 
peake was the burning of the Navy-yard at 
Norfolk, and the dull explosion which we heard 
was the blowing up of the " Merrimac." 

"Wilson Small," May 14. 

Dear Mother, — If I can write amid all the 
fun and nonsense that is going on around me, 
I will try to give you a general idea of the state 
of things here. The " Elm City," filled with 
wounded men, sailed this morning. The " S. R. 
Spaulding," a large ocean steamship, is to be 
fitted up for hospital service ; and that appears 
to be our next work. Meantime "Georgy" 
has returned with another vessel, the "Knicker- 
bocker," in perfect order. It seems that the 
Quartermaster's department ran away with the 
boat for some purpose of its own, carrying 
the ladies in her, — for Georgy is a lady, sister of 

Mrs. M . Miss Rosalie Butler accompanied 

her. They made the most of their time, and 
have brought back the runaway boat in perfect 
hospital order. I 've just been over her. They 


have had her cleansed from top to toe, thj 
is, from the hold to the hurricane-deck. Tl: 
" Knickerbocker," you must know, is a larg 
river-steamboat, and is intended for surgici 
cases. Then they prepared the cots, mattresse 
and bunks, and made the beds ; arranged ever 
ward with all necessary appliances; filled tl 
linen-closets with the proper quantity of bei 
linen, hospital-clothing, socks, bandages, lin 
rags, etc. (which were packed in cases an 
bales), got ready the hospital-kitchen, stole 
stove for it, as far as I can make out, and ha 
all the necessary stores unpacked and move 
into places where they would be at hand whe 
needed. These girls must be splendidly efficien 
It is not the doing it, but the knowing how 
should be done, and handling the whole affa 
with as much ease as if they were arranging 
doll's house, that delights me. 

We are all now sitting idly on carpet-bags < 
on the floor, in a little covered saloon or pas 
age on to which our staterooms open. Oi 
dinner-table, the stove, is being removed, ar 
Dr. Ware is improvising a better, with a plan 
across the railing of the stairs. The momei 


the pressure is taken off, we all turn-to to " be as 
funny as we can." I am astonished at the cheer- 
ful devotion — whole-souled and whole-bodied 
devotion — of the surgeon and medical students 
attached to this boat.-^ These young men toil 
day and night at the severest work, quick, intel- 
ligent, and tender. Their business is to ship 
the men, move them carefully from one boat to 
another, and register their names and all their 
belongings ; to attend to the dispensaries, keep- 
ing them amply supplied with stores ; to give 
medical and surgical attendance, dress the 
wounds, and often to sit up all night, after work- 
ing hard all day. Then they turn in wherever 
a mattress comes handy, take a long sleep, and 
come out of it refreshed and full of fun, — in 
which we join until the next work comes, and 
then we are all fresh to work in cheerful concert 
together. This seems the best way to do the 
work ; nothing morbid comes of it, — which is 
the danger. 

We are now making ready to run up the Pa- 
munky Kiver as far as the advance of the army 

* Dr. Robert Ware, surgeon ; Messrs. David Haight, Charles 
Woolsey, George Wheelock. 



at Cumberland. This boat, the "Wilson Small," 
is disabled. She was twice run into to-day, — the 
second time by the huge " Vanderbilt," which 
nearly demolished her. We are to be towed by 
the " Knickerbocker " (for we can't even get up 
steam) as far as West Point, where there is a 
ship-yard. You must get a good map and fol- 
low us and the army, — or rather the army and 
us. General Franklin's corps, with those of 
Porter and Sedgwick, are at Cumberland and 
New Kent Court-House. This is the right wing. 
The left is moving towards the Chickahominy at 
Bottom Bridge, where the enemy are supposed 
to be rallying for a stand. Meantime McDowell 
is coming down from Fredericksburg at last. 
Banks from the direction of Gordonsville, and 
perhaps Burnside may get up along the line of 
the Petersburg Railway. The general opinion 
is that a fearful struggle will take place before 
Richmond. Alas ! But it is not a battle which 
destroys so many lives as it is the terrible deci- 
mating diseases brought on by exposure and 
hardships and the climate of marshes and water- 
courses. The majority of the cases of ill- 
ness which I have seen were men who dropped 


exhausted from the army on its march, and had 
painfully made their way to the banks of creeks 
and rivers, where they were picked up by pass- 
ing boats and brought down to us. A number 
of men who came to-day (one lad who died al- 
most immediately) were in the battle of West 
Point, and took the fever from exposure and 
fatigue afterwards. 

A telegram is just brought on board, saying 
that a hundred sick men are waiting at Bige- 
low's Landing for transportation ; the telegram 
says, " They are dying in the rain." This mess- 
age is to the United States Medical officer at 
Yorktown; but he seems to think the obvious 
thing to do is to hand it over at once to the 
Sanitary Commission. Mr. Olmsted is not on 
board ; when he is found I suppose we shall 
start. The " Knickerbocker " is all ready for 
three hundred men, and I think it likely we 
shall run up in her and be at work all night ; 
but nothing is too much with such efficiency as 
we have on board, — order, calmness, prompti- 
tude. I only wish we might be kept working 

Mrs. 's mother writes dismal letters, which 


try her very mucli, — saying, for instance, that a 
lady must put away all delicacy and refinement 
for this work. Nothing could be more false. It 
is not too much to say that delicacy and refine- 
ment and the fact of being a gentlewoman could 
never tell more than they do here. I read your 
letter to Mrs. to make her envious. 

"Wilson Small," May 16. 

Dear Friend, — I have asked every one 
within reach what day of the week it is : in 
vain. Reference to Mr. Olmsted, who knows 
everything, establishes that it is Friday. Is it 
one week, or five, since I left New York? 

As I wrote the last words of my last letter, 
the " Elizabeth," our supply-boat, came along- 
side with Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Knapp, and just 
behind them a steamer with one hundred and 
eighty sick on board. All hands were at once 
alert. The sick men were to be put on board 
the "Knickerbocker," whither we all went at 
once, armed with our precious spirit-lamps. 
Meantime Mr. Olmsted read a telegram we 
had received in his absence, saying that a hun- 
dred sick were lying at Bigelow's Landing and 


" dying in tlie rain." Mr. Knapp took charge 
of the " Elizabeth," saying, " Who volunteers 
to go up for them?" Three young men, Miss 
Helen Gilson, and I followed him. Not a 
moment was lost, — Mr. Knapp would not 
even let me go back for a shawl, — and the 
tug was ofE. 

The " Elizabeth " is our store-tender or sup- 
ply-boat. Her main-deck is piled from deck to 
deck with boxes. The first thing done is to 
pick out six cases of pillows, six of quilts, one 
of brandy, and a cask of bread. Then all the 
rest are lowered into the hold. Meantime I 
make for the kitchen, where I find a remarkable 
old black aunty and a fire. I dive into her pots 
and pans, I wheedle her out of her green tea 
(the black having given out), and soon I have 
eight bucketsful of tea and pyramids of bread 
and butter. Miss Gilson and the young men 
have spread the cleared main-deck with two 
layers of quilts and rows of pillows a man's 
length apart, and we are ready for the men 
some time before we reach them ; for the night 
is dark and rainy, and the boat has got aground, 
and it is fully ten o'clock before the men are 


brought alongside. The poor fellows are led or 
carried on board, and stowed side by side as 
close as can be. We feed them with spoonfuls 
of brandy and water ; they are utterly broken 
down, soaked through, some of them raving 
with fever. After all are laid down, Miss Gil- 
son and I give them their suppers, and they sink 
down again. Any one who looks over such a deck 
as that, and sees the suffering, despondent atti- 
tudes of the men, and their worn frames and 
faces, knows what war is, better than the sight • 
of wounds can teach it. "We could only take 
ninety ; twenty-five others had to go on the 
small tug which accompanied us. Mr. Knapp, 
the doctor, and one of the young men went on 
board of her. Meantime the " Elizabeth " started 
on the homeward trip, so that Miss Gilson and 
I and a quartermaster were left to manage our 
men alone. Fortunately only about a dozen 
were very ill, and none died. Still, I felt anx- 
ious : six were out of their minds ; one had 
tried to destroy himself three times that day, 
and was drenched through and through, having 
been dragged out of the creek into which he 
had thrown himself just before we reached him. 


We were alongside the "Knickerbocker" by 
1 A. M., when Dr. Ware came on board and gave 
me some general directions, after which I got 
along very well. It was thought best to leave 
the poor wearied fellows to rest where they 
were until morning, and the night passed off 
quietly enough ; my only disaster being that I 
gave morphia to a man who actually screamed 
with rheumatism and cramp. I supposed mor- 
phia could n't hurt him, and it was a mercy to 
others to stop the noise. Instead of this, I 
made him perfectly crazy. He rose to his feet 
in the midst of the prostrate mass of men, and 
demanded of them and of me his " clean linen " 
and his " Sunday clothes." I picked my way to 
him, but could do nothing at first but make 
him worse. At last I was inspired to say that 
I had all his clothes " there " (pointing to a 
dark corner behind a bulkhead) : " would he lie 
down and wait till I brought them ? " To my 
surprise he subsided. I hid in trepidation for 
a few minutes, and at last, to my great joy, I 
saw the morphine take effect. One little fel- 
low of fifteen, crushed by a tree falling on his 
breast, had run away from his mother, and was 


very pathetic. I persuaded him to let me 
write to her. 

The next morning, after -getting them all 
washed, I went o£E guard, and Mrs. Griffin and 
Miss Butler came on board with their break- 
fast from the "Knickerbocker," where the 
hundred and eighty whom we had left arriving 
the night before, were stowed and cared for. 
Getting them all washed, as I say, is a droll 
piece of work. Some are indifferent to the 
absurd luxury of soap and water, and some are 
so fussy. Some poor faces we must wash our- 
selves, and that softly and slowly. I started 
along each row with two tin basins and two 
bits of soap, my arm being the towel-horse. 
Now, you are not to suppose that each man had 
a basinful of clean water all to himself. How- 
ever, I thought three to a basin was enough, or 
four, if they did n't wash too hard. But an old 
corporal taught me better. " Stop, marm ! " 
said he, as I was turning back with the dirty 
water to get fresh j "that water will do for 
several of us yet. Bless you ! I make my 
coffee of worse than that." 

Soon after breakfast my men were trans- 


ferred to the " Knickerbocker." She still lies 
alongside, and we take care of her. She is 
beautifully in order. The ward-masters are 
all excellent, and the orderlies know their duty. 
The men look comfortable, and even cheerful. 
It is a pleasure to give them their meals. I 
gave the men in the long ward (where they lie 
on mattresses in two rows, head to head, two 
hundred of them) their dinner to-day, and their 
supper yesterday. Ah, me ! how they liked it, 
— some of them, of course, too worn to do more 
than swallow a few spoonfuls and look grateful ; 
others loud in their satisfaction. The poor, 
crazy man who tried to destroy himself at Big- 
elow's Landing has some vague idea about me 
now ; and sometimes, when he utterly refuses 
his milk-punch, and thrashes and splutters at 
every one who comes near him, I am sent for, 
when he subsides into obedience with a smile 
which is meant to be bland, and is so comical 
that people around retire in convulsions. 

To-day I am "loafing." Everything is in 
perfect order on the " Knickerbocker ; " and as 
I scent a transfer this afternoon of the whole 
corps to the " Spaulding," to fit her up, I am 


determined to husband my efforts. This boat, 
the " Wilson Small," is finally smashed up ; we 
call her the "CoUida." The hospital-boats 
usually lie alongside of each other, with their 
gangways connected ; and sometimes we run 
through four or five boats at a time. 

Captain Curtis is still on board, doing well. 
He goes North on the " Knickerbocker " to-day. 
Now that our wounded men are gone, we have 
a dinner-table set, and the Captain lies in his 
cot on one side of the cabin, laughing at the 
fun and nonsense which go on at meals. Mrs. 
M. has her French man-servant, Maurice, on 
board. He is capital. He struggles to keep us 
proper in manners and appearance, and still 
dreams of les convenances. At dinner-time he 
rushes through the various ships and wards : 
" My ladies, j'ai un petit plat ; je ne vous dirai 
pas ce que c'est. I beg of you to be ponc- 
tuelle ; I gif you half-hour's notis." The half- 
hour having expired, he sets out again on a 
voyage of entreaty and remonstrance. He 
won't let us help ourselves, and if we take a 
seat not close to the person above, he says : 
" No, no, move up ; we must have order." His 


petit plat proved to be baked potatoes, which 
were received with acclamation, while he stood 
bowing and smiling with a towel (or it may 
have been a rag) for a napkin. But I must 
tell you that Maurice is the tenderest of nurses, 
and gives every moment he can spare to the 
sick. He serves his mistress, but he is at- 
tentive to all, and, like a true Frenchman, he 
so identifies himself with the moment and its 
interests that he is, to all hospital intents and 
purposes, " one of us." 

You are not to be alarmed by the word "ty- 
phoid," which I foresee will occur on every page 
of my letters, nearly all our sick cases being 
that or running into that. The idea of infec- 
tion is simply absurd. The ventilation of these 
ships is excellent ; besides, people employed in 
such a variety of work and in high health and 
spirits are not liable to infection. Nobody ever 
thinks of such a thing, and I only mention it 
to check your imagination. In a boat organ- 
ized like the "Knickerbocker," we women stand 
no regular watch, but we are on hand at all 
hours of the day, relieving each other at our 
own convenience. As for the ladies among 


whom my luck has thrown me, they are just 
what they should be, — efficient, wise, active as 
cats, merry, light-hearted, thoroughbred, and 
without the fearful tone of self-devotion which 
sad experience makes one expect in benevolent 
women. We all know in our hearts that it is 
thorough enjoyment to be here, — it is life, in 
short; and we wouldn't be anywhere else for 
anything in the world. I hope people will 
continue to sustain the Sanitary Commission. 
Hundreds of lives are being saved by it. I 
have seen with my own eyes in one week fifty 
men who must have died without it, and many 
more who probably would have done so. I 
speak of lives saved only ; the amount of suf- 
fering saved is incalculable. The Commission 
keeps up the work at great expense. It has 
six large steamers running from here. Gov- 
ernment furnishes these and the bare rations of 
the men ; but the real expenses of supply fall 
on the Commission, — in fact, everything that 
makes the power and excellence of the work is 
supplied by the Commission. If people ask 
what they shall send, say : Money, money, 
stimulants, and articles of sick-food. 


" S. E. Spaulding," Pamdnkt River, 
May 17. 

Dear Mother, — This has been a delightful 
day. The " Knickerbocker " got safely off at 
five o'clock this morning, after a rather anxious 
night. One of the men from the " Elizabeth " 
died, and another jumped overboard. He rushed 
past me and sprang from the bulwark. I heard 
the splash, but all that I, or any one, saw of 
him were the rings in the water widening in the 
moonlight. Boats were put oE immediately, but 
he never rose. 

Last night, being off duty, I went round to 
a number of Rhode Island men who were on 
board, and wrote letters or took messages for 
them. A coincidence — a real coincidence — oc- 
curred. I had heard Mr. Knapp telling Mr 
Olmsted of the death of a Newport man, David 
A. Newman, Fourth Rhode Island Volunteers. I 
asked for his effects, that I might some day take 
them home with me. In searching for them, a 
knapsack marked " Simeon A. Newman, Fourth 
Rhode Island Volunteers," turned up without its 
owner, who had died in Washington in Decem- 
ber, 1861. This knapsack had wandered on 


with the regiment; by chance it got on board 
our boat; by chance it came under my notice; by 
chance I spoke of it to one of the Ehode Island 
men, who said : " I know a man who knew 
Simeon A. Newman, and he is sick on board 
here now." I hunted him up ; he proved to 
be the nearest friend of S. A. Newman, who 
was color-sergeant of the regiment, and was 
with him when he died. He told me that after 
his death the widow wrote to beg that his sash 
might be sent to her ; but though every effort 
was made, the widow writing again and again 
for it, it could never be found. I went at once 
to the knapsack, and there was the sash. I 
have sent them by express to Bristol, R. I., 
where the widow lives. 

After the " Knickerbocker " was off we " took 
it easy ; " came out to breakfast at ten o'clock, 
and transferred ourselves leisurely to this ship, 
which is a palace to us. We were rather sub- 
dued by our grandeur at dinner. Hotel-fare 
and men to wait upon ^us is rather elevating 
after eating salt-beef with our fingers. After 
dinner we ran up to West Point, where the 
York River forks, the northern branch being 


the Mattapony (pronounced Mattaponz") ; the 
other the Pamunky, along the line of which 
the army has advanced, — through the thirteen 
thousand acres granted by Charles II. to Ralph 
Wormeley 2d ; strange, is n't it, that I should 
be here now ? They have had the pluck to 
run this huge vessel up this little river, without 
a chart, and not a soul on board who has been 
here before. The passage has been enchanting ; 
we ran so close to the shore that I could almost 
have thrown my glove upon it. The verdure 
is in its freshest spring beauty ; the lovely 
shores are belted with trees and shrubs of every 
brilliant and tender shade of green, broken now 
and then by creeks, running up little valleys 
till they are lost in the blue distance. I saw 
the beginning of the battle-field of Williams- 
burg (" long fields of barley and of rye " but 
a week ago), and the whole of the battle-field 
of West Point, still dotted with the hospital- 
tents, from which we have cleared out all the 

The sun set as we rounded the last bend in 
the Pamunky ; the sky and the water gleamed 
golden alike, and the trees suddenly grew black 


as the glow dazzled our eyes. We dropped 
anchor off Cumberland at dusk, and have jiist 
left the deck (on sanitary principles), where we 
were sitting to enjoy the lovely lights and listen 
to the whippoorwill. This is yachting on a 
magnificent scale ; we feel rather ashamed of 
our grandeur, and eager to get back to a tug- 
boat again. This vessel, which used to be a fine 
passenger steamship, has been employed by the 
Government as a transport for major-generals 
and their train. This accounts for the style in 
which she is equipped and manned. She is now 
filled with workmen, putting up three tiers of 
hospital-bunks in the hold and on the forward 
main-deck ; after that is finished we shall begin 
to fit up the wards. To-day we have organized 
the pantry and store-rooms. 

"S. R. Spacldihg," 
Off Headquaetbrs, Army op the Potomac, 
White House, May 18. 

Dear A., — My date will excite you. Yes- 
terday, after getting off the "Knickerbocker" 
with three hundred sick on board, we trans- 
ferred our quarters to this vessel, and started to 


run up the Pamunky. It was audacious of us 
to run this big ocean-steamer up this little river, 
without a chart and without a pilot. In some 
places we brushed the trees as we passed, for 
the water is said to be fifteen feet deep a yard 
from the shore. What a garden land it is ! 
Such verdure of every brilliant shade lining the 
shore, and broken into, here and there, by little 
creeks running up through meadow-lands into 
the misty blue distance. We anchored for the 
night o£E Cumberland, — the limit of my aspi- 
rations ; and I went to sleep in the still linger- 
ing twilight, listening to the whippoorwill. In 
the morning when I came on deck Mr. Olmsted 
called me forward into the bows : and what a 
sight was there to greet us ! The glow of the 
morning mist, the black gunboats, the shining 
river, with the gleam of the white sails and 
the tents along the shore, made a picture to be 
painted only by Turner. We ran up to the 
head of the fleet, in sight of the headquarters 
of the army, to the burned railroad bridge, 
beyond which no one could go. 

After breakfast we went ashore, where Gen- 
eral Franklin met us and took us through part 


of his command, — through trains of army 
ons drawn by four mules ; through a ploi 
fifild across which mounted officers and 
staffs were galloping at full speed ; thi 
sutlers' tents and commissary stores, and 
teries and caissons. It was like a vast 
ground. We met one man eating six pi 
once, and not a man without one pie ! I w 
intensely to stop at General Headquarte 
we passed it. But to-day General McGlell 
overborne by business : the army arrived 
on the 16th; twelve scouting-parties are 
out, some coming in every hour ; McClellan 
self is not able to speak an unnecessary \ 
a council is to be held this evening, t 
range the last details for the move to-mo 
— so we felt we ought not even to wish t 

General Franklin took us to the \ 
House, — a house and estate just quitted b 
family of a son of General Lee, whose 
was a Custis. I copied the following n^ 
written in a lady's hand on a half she 
note-paper, and nailed to the wall of 
entrance : — 


Northern soldiers ! who profess to reverence the 
memory of Washington, forbear to desecrate the home 
of his first married life, the property of his wife, and 
now owned by her descendants. 

A Granddaughter op Mrs. Washington. 

Underneath was written (in the handwriting, 
as I was told, of General Williams, Adjutant- 
General of the army) : — 

Lady, — A Northern soldier has protected this 
property within sight of the enemy, and at the re- 
quest of your overseer. 

And so it was. On reaching the spot, Gen- 
eral McClellan would not even make his head- 
quarters within the grounds. Guards were 
stationed at the gates and fences, on the lawns 
and the piazzas. Within, all was beautiful^ 
untrodden, and fresh, while without was the 
tumult and trampling of war. Already the 
surrounding country was a barren and dusty 
plain. We walked through the grounds, across 
the peaceful lawns looking down upon the 
river crowded with transports and ammunition- 
barges. We went through the house, which is 
a small cottage, painted brown, and by no 
means a tvhite house. The carpets and a great 


part of the furniture had been removed, but 
enough remained to show tliat modern elegance 
had adorned the quaint old place. Washington 
never lived in the present house, which has 
been built on the site of the one in which he 
spent his early married life. 

General Franklin allowed me to gather some 
ivy and some holly. We stayed nearly an 
hour, sitting on the piazza and talking to him. 
He struck me as an officer of power, — large, 
with square face and head, deep-sunk, deter- 
mined blue eyes, close-cropped reddish-brown 
hair and beard. He told us that the battle of 
Williamsburg was full of anxiety from first to 
last, and that it took much to decide the final 
fortunes of the day ; but at West Point, after 
the men were landed, he was not for a moment 
uneasy, the game was in our hands from the 
beginning. He feels confident that the enemy 
will make a great resistance before Richmond ; 
if not, it will be a virtual surrender of their 
cause, which he thinks they are far from mak- 
ing. Everything, he said, depended on the 
strength of our army, and he told us that 
McDowell was at last coming down on our 


right wing, which, is to be extended to meet 
him. He spoke with the deepest confidence in 
McClellan, who, he said, was in good spirits, 
though fearfully overworked. 

As we were leaving White House, General 
Fitz-John Porter came to meet us, and walked 
with us to our wharf, where we met General 
Morell ; and they all came on board and stayed 
half an hour. I felt great interest in General 
Porter, who commands one corps d'armee, 
General Franklin commanding another. Gen- 
eral Morell is also an interesting man; looks 
like dear father, but wears a long white beard. 
He received the command of a division yester- 
day. General Porter spoke of McClellan just as 
we all feel, — as a patriot as well as a general, 
as a man who wisely seeks to heal, as well as to 
conquer. There is a fine spirit in General Por- 
ter. He probably has less power than General 
Franklin, is more excitable and sympathetic; 
but there is an expression of devotion about 
him which inspires great confidence. They 
were all very guarded, of course, in what they 
said of the future ; but two hours' talk with 
such men in such places teaches much. 


This afternoon General Seth "Williams, Ad- 
jiltant-General, came on board to pay his re- 
spects to Mrs. Grifl&n. His visit gave us all 
great pleasure. I am told that if any man 
possesses in an equal degree the respect and 
attachment of others, he does; and yet his 
quiet, modest manner and plain appearance 
would hardly instruct a stranger as to his posi- 
tion in the army. .These gentlemen were ac- 
companied by many young officers, all spurs 
and swords and clanking. They were thankful 
for some of our private stores, — needles, buttons, 
and linen thread were as much prized as beads 
by an Indian; and even hairpins were accept- 
able to General Porter, one button of whose 
cap was already screwed on by that female 

I am happy to say that there is no immediate 
chance of my being anywhere but here. We 
came up for medicines and general information; 
the result is that Mr. Olmsted finds such a 
state of disorganization and sixes-and-sevenness 
in the medical arrangements that he has deter- 
mined to make his headquarters here for the 
present. Mr. Knapp has therefore just started 


in the tug for Yorktown to bring up the sup- 
ply-boats, and leave orders for our hospital- 
fleet to follow us up the river as they arrive 
from the North. 

The state of affairs is somewhat this : when 
the march from Yorktown began, and the men 
dropped by thousands, exhausted, sick, and 
wounded, the Medical Department, unprepared 
and terribly harassed, flung itself upon the San- 
itary Commission. When it became known 
that our transports were lying in the river, the 
brigade-siirgeons made a business of sending 
their sick on board of them; and the Medical 
Director sanctioned the practice. The hospitals 
at Yorktown, Fortress Monroe, and Newport 
News are full; the Commission has therefore 
been forced to take these men to the North. 
Nothing, of course, is more desirable for those 
who are seriously ill or badly wounded ; but 
every man who falls exhausted from the ranks 
is sent to us. This will prove in the end ac- 
tually demoralizing to the army if not checked. 
The men will come to think that illness, real or 
shammed, is the way to get home. Already 
suspicious rheumatic cases have appeared. Mr. 


Olmsted remonstrates against the system, but 
of course he has to act under the medical au- 
thority. What is wanted is a large receiving- 
hospital in the rear of the army, which would 
keep the cases of exhaustion and slight illness, 
take good care of them for a week or two, and 
send them back to the front. Mr. Olmsted tele- 
graphed to-day, advising the Surgeon-General to 
send sufficient hospital accommodation, bedding, 
and medicines for six thousand men. This 
ought to be done. Meantime we lie here, and 
may fill this ship, which is now all in order, 

Could you but see the lovely scene around 
me ! We have had a little service of prayer 
and hymns in the cabin, and now we are all — 
the " staff," as we call ourselves — sitting at 
sunset on the deck, under an awning. We are 
anchored in the middle of the river, which is 
about three hundred yards wide at this point, 
and are slowly swinging at our anchor. We have 
dropped down the stream since morning. Scores 
of vessels — transports, mortar-boats, ammuni- 
tion-barges — are close around us, and several 
gunboats. The regiments of Franklin's corps are 


camped along the banks; the bands playing on 
one side, "Hail Columbia! " and, farther down, 
" Glory, Hallelujah ! " The trees which fringe 
the shore lean towards us, — locust, oak, and the 
lovely weeping-elm. One of the latter throws 
its shadow across my paper as we have slowly 
swung into it. I have told Mr. Olmsted that, 
now that I feel at home in the work, I am not 
tied to Mrs. Griffin, but consider the protection 
of the Commission sufficient, and that if he 
wants me, I will stay by the work as long as 
there is any. I like him exceedingly, autocrat 
and aristocrat that he is ; I feel that he would 
protect and guard in the wisest manner those 
under his care. The other gentlemen on board 
are Mr. Frederick N. Knapp, second to Mr. 
Olmsted, in charge of the supplies ; Dr. Robert, 
"Ware, chief-surgeon ; Messrs. Charles Woolsey, 
George Wheelock, and David Haight, his as- 

Direct to me in future to the care of Colonel 
Ingalls, Quartermaster's Department, Army of 
the Potomac^ — think of that! 


" Spaulding," May 20. 

Dear Mother, — It is so iincertain whether 
you receive any of my letters (I receive none 
of yours) that I write to-day by the "Daniel 
Webster," though I have but little to say. The 
"Webster" and the "Elm City" came up the 
river yesterday. We were invited to tea on 
board of the former, and were much pleased to 
find how we are missed. Dr. Grymes is still 
in charge of her, and Mrs. Trotter reigns over 
the women's department with great success. 
Mrs. Strong, Miss Whetten, and Miss Gardiner 
returned on the " Elm City." The " Webster " 
came up in perfect order, ready to ship her 
men as soon as her cargo was discharged. 
She is now loading, and sails for Boston this 
afternoon. We ourselves remain here. Mr. 
Olmsted is anxious to keep his " staff " at the 
heels of the army. I like this much better 
myself. It is more interesting, and the work, 
though harder, is more satisfactory in every 
'wsij. The weather is delightful. At present 
we are idle, — kept so, I am told, in reserve for 
the expected battle. The "Elm City" is to 
remain here as a receiving-ship ; this vessel 


(the " Spaulding ") and the "Daniel Webster" 
are to be used as ocean-transports, and chiefly 
for sick men; the " Knickerbocker " and the 
"Daniel Webster No. 2" as river-transports for 
wounded men, — " surgical cases," as they are 
called. The former make the sea-passage to 
New York, Boston, or Philadelphia ; the latter 
run to Washington or Fortress Monroe. These 
five ships can transport about two thousand 
men a week. Mr. Olmsted is struggling, with 
probable success, to bring the Medical Depart- 
ment to establish a large receiving-camp-hos- 
pital for the lesser cases that ought not to go 
North. Meantime the "Elm City" is to be 
used as a receiving-ship for them pro tern. 

"Spaulding," May 21. 

Dear Friend, — We are just where we were, 
— swinging at anchor under the elm-tree, and 
doing nothing. This galls us a little ; but, after 
all, we women are but a drop in the bucket of 
relief, every one on board, except us, being 
worked to his very utmost, — Mr. Olmsted in 
organizing the work and endeavoring to get the 
medical authorities to fall into some kind of 


system; Mr. Knapp in getting up and issuing 
supplies ; Dr. Ware and our young men ia put- 
ting a receiving-hospital ashore in something 
like decent order. It started last night with 
one hundred tents, twenty-five men in each; 
ambulances coming in every hour, and nothing 
for the men but the bare tents, unfloored. Our 
gentlemen have been there all day ; and Mr. 
Knapp has sent up straw, bed-sacks, bedding, 
food, and clothing. Mr. Olmsted declines to 
let us women go there ; I don't know why. 
A few wounded men came down to-day, and 
were taken on board the "Elm City," where 
Mrs. Strong, Miss Whetten, and Miss Gardiner 
take care of them. 

Mr. Olmsted gave me to-day a draft of the 
" Rules " which he has drawn up for the regu- 
lation of the service on board our ships. I 
inclose a copy, as it will give you a fair idea 
of our interior system after the men come on 
board, and until they are landed at their des- 
tination. It reads very well on paper, and you 
may be sure that it is carried out, with Mr. 
Olmsted at the head of affairs : his are no paper 
orders. But there are hidden rocks and snags 


under that smooth surface which make, in fact, 
the anxiety of our female lives. For instance : 
our boats belong to the Quartermaster's Depart- 
ment ; the captains and crews object, as a gen- 
eral thing, to being used in hospital service, and 
have to be forever coaxed and conciliated. The 
kitchen arrangements are a never-ending plague. 
The cooks and the galleys are not looked upon 
as being for the use of the hospital, and yet 
there is no way of getting others ; so they must 
be persuaded to do the work which we have no 
absolute power to make them do. The twenty 
or thirty bucketsful of soup daily for the "house 
diet " (the sick food we prepare ourselves) are 
an achievement if they are forthcoming at 
the right moment. We order, make ready, 
prepare ; and then it is hard to find that the 
instant our backs were turned everything came 
to a standstill, and that dinner for the sick 
men can't be ready at the right moment with- 
out some superhuman exertion on our parts. 
As for hot water (about which you may observe 
a delicate reference in the " Kules "), our lives 
are made a burden to us on that subject, and 
we might as well be in it at once, — if it could 


be got. You will see from my letters that we 
women do more than is set down for us in the 
programme j for, in fact, we do a little of every- 
thing. We of the " staff " are specially subor- 
dinate to Mr. Olmsted ; and though we are not 
his right hand — Mr. Knapp and Dr. Ware are 
that — we are the fingers of it, and help to 
carry out his ideas. The duties of the men 
and women of the staff are chiefly as fol- 
lows : to superintend the shipping of the sick 
or wounded on board the boats which return 
from the North for fresh loads ; to fit up those 
boats, or others coming into the Commission's 
hands ; to receive at the landing, to sort and 
distribute according to orders, the patients who 
are sent down from the front ; to feed, cleanse, 
give medical aid and nursing to all these men, 
and otherwise take care of them, until the ships 
saU again for the North; and, finally, to be 
ready for all emergencies. 

I think I have not yet described our " Chief " 
to you. He is small, and lame (for the time 
being only) from a terrible accident which hap- 
pened to him a few months ago ; but though the 
lameness is decided, it is scarcely observable, for 


he gives you a sense that he triumphs over it by 
doing as if it did not exist. His face is gener- 
ally very placid, with all the expressive delicacy 
of a woman's, and would be beautiful were it 
not for an expression which I cannot fathom, — 
something which is, perhaps, a little too severe 
about it. I think his mouth and smile and the 
expression of his eyes at times very beautiful. 
He has great variety of expression : sometimes 
stern, thoughtful, and haggard; at other times 
observing and slightly satirical (I believe he 
sees out of the back of his head occasionally) ; 
and then again, and not seldom, his face wears 
an inspired look, full of goodness and power. I 
think he is a man of the most resolute self-will, 
— generally a very wise wUl, I should think ; 
born an autocrat, however, and, as such, very sat- 
isfactory to be under. His reticence is one of 
his strong points : he directs everything in the 
fewest possible words ; there is a deep, calm 
thoughtfulness about him which is always at- 
tractive and sometimes — provoking. He is 
managing the present enterprise (which is full 
of responsibility, without having any rights) 
with the largest views of what is best for the 


army, and compelling the acquiescence of the 
Military authority in his plans, while he scrupu- 
lously keeps within the understood position of 
the Sanitary Commission as subordinate to it. 
You may also see how carefully he attends to 
details by the sketch of them which he has 
given in the "Rules." He is a great organizer- — 
as the past history of the Central Park and the 
Sanitary Commission wUl show — and he is a 
great administrator, because he comprehends 
details, but trusts his subordinates : if they are 
good, he relies on them ; if they are weak, 
there's an end of them. 

As for Mr. Knapp, he is our delight. A thin, 
bald-headed man, with a flowing brown beard 
and a very fine, sweet, energetic face ; always 
overwhelmed with work ; caught at here, there, 
and everywhere by some one who has impor- 
tant business, yet able to give and take any 
saucy drollery that comes up between us. It 
is not easy to say positively what he is, for he 
is never still, and he has certainly not been for 
five consecutive minutes under my observation ; 
but there's one thing which my mind is clear 
about : it shines out from every point of him, — 


he is a pMlanthropist without the hateful as- 
pects of that calling. He is in charge of the 
supply department, — the commissariat of the 
Commission, as it may be called. The entire 
business of ordering and receiving supplies from 
the North, and issuing them, when on hand, 
either to our own vessels or upon the requisi- 
tion of brigade and regimental surgeons for 
camp and field hospitals, is an outline of his 
work. He is always in a hurry; he forgets 
our names, and calls us everything that we are 
not, but says it is " a system ; " he is lain in 
wait for at all corners by some one with a tale 
of distress and a prayer for stimulants, beef- 
stock, straw, sheets, bandages, or what not, all 
of which is duly given if the proper requisition 
from a United States surgeon is forthcoming. 
He is in a chronic state of worry about '•' trans- 
portation," — I declare I think I hear that 
word oftener than any other, except " brandy " 
and "beef-tea." 

The railroad is open to-day to within ten 
miles of Richmond : so says Colonel Ingalls. 
The cars and locomotives came up the river 
yesterday. This enables them to send forward 



supplies with great ease. Hitherto, everything 
has depended on wagon-trains, half of which 
stick in the mud and clay of Virginia roads. 
The one question asked by everybody is : 
"Where's McDoweU?" 

"Spauldinq," May 23. 
Dear A., — Your welcome letter came yes- 
terday. It is great happiness to know that you 
enter into the thing so heartily. You are 
right; it is worth five years of other life, set- 
ting aside the satisfaction of doing something 
directly for the cause. We are stiU on board 
this ship, comparatively idle. Yesterday sixty 
men were sent down from the front ; but the 
surgeon of the Shore hospital refused to take 
them, alleging that he had no room. A tre- 
mendous thunder-storm came up, in the midst 
of which we ran up to the landing-place in our 
little tug, the " Wissahickon," and found the 
men, who were lying on the ground by the 
side of the railway. We gave them brandy 
and water, tea and bread, washed them a little, 
brought off a dozen of the worst cases, and left 
the others comfortable for the night, with blan- 


kets and quilts, in two covered freight-cars. 
This morning we went up with their breakfast, 
and had the satisfaction of seeing them off 
in ambulances for the Shore hospital, owing to 
Mr. Olmsted's strong remonstrances. 

This vessel, the " Spaulding," is filling to- 
day, and sails for New York on Sunday. We 
shall then go on board the " Elm City," and 
the hospital company of that boat, including 
two ladies. Miss Whetten and Mrs. Strong, will 
take charge of this one. Mr. Olmsted has the 
greatest difficulty in preventing the authorities 
from forcing on our pity by their neglect the 
sick men who are now here and coming down 
daily. These men ought to be taken care of 
in tents ashore. If forced upon us and a battle 
occurs, our boats will be ofE with men who 
ought not to go, and we shall have no accom- 
modation for the wounded. Yesterday and to- 
day we have heard cannonading at the bridge 
over the Chickahominy ; and these slight skir- 
mishes send us down a dozen or two of wound- 
ed daily, who are placed at once on board the 
"Elm City." 

General Van Vliet, Quartermaster-General of 


the Army of the Potomac, came to see us to- 
day, accompanied by Captain Sawtelle, Assist- 
ant-Quartermaster. The General was full of 
kindness and gallantry, — quite bubbled over 
with it ; and ofEered us a railway-car to take us 
into Richmond as soon as it is occupied ! "We 
heard last night that McDowell's pickets had 
met ours : God grant it may be true ! There is 
little doubt that McDowell's not being allowed 
to co-operate at Gloucester prevented the over- 
throw of the Rebellion at Yorktown ; and yet 
this McClellan keeps on with a sunny heart, 
and, as General Franklin said, "does his best 
alone ! " 

On Wednesday we were invited on board the 
" Sebago," Captain Murray. A gun-boat is 
very interesting. She carries two large guns 
and a few howitzers. The large guns (Parrotts, 
these were) stand in the middle of the deck, 
one aft, and the other forward, and turn on 
pivots in every direction. The bulwarks can 
be turned down, to allow the guns free range ; 
they are turned up for a sea-voyage : but even 
then these boats ship a great deal of water. 
It was delightful to be on a trig man-of-war. 


The oflB.cers seemed so clean and fresh, after the 
dusty, thread-worn look of the army-officers. 
It is easy to keep neat on board ship, but 
very hard to do it on the march, especially 
through the red clay soil of Virginia. The 
" Sebago " was the gun-boat which, accompa- 
nied by a tiny propeller with one hundred and 
fifty infantry on board, ran a few miles farther 
up the Pamunky the other day, — at sight of 
which the enemy burned two steamers and 
twenty schooners. 

Not much has happened to interest us out of 
our own world. To us the arrival of our various 
steamers, and the consequent visits, inquiries, 
and thefts, are matters of great importance. We 
go on board some newly arrived ship, and find 
up the parties in charge of the invoice: "Six- 
teen pails ! we '11 take eight ; " " Essence of 
beef! we want all that ; " "What! fifty cans?" 
" Fifty ! we must have a hundred," — and so 
on through sugar, arrowroot, farina, spices, 
lemons, whiskey, brandy, etc. ; while the doc- 
tors make a raid of the same kind on the dis- 
pensary. Kleptomania is the prevailing disease 
among us. We think nothing of watching the 


proprietor of some nicety out of the way, and 
then pocketing the article. After such a visit, 
Georgy's unfathomable pocket is a mine of 
wealth as to nutmeg-graters, corkscrews, forks 
and spoons, and such articles. I, being less 
nimble at pilfering, content myself by carrying 
ofE tin pails with an abstracted air. Perhaps 
our visits do not give the keen satisfaction to 
others that they do to us. But they are going 
back where they can get more; while to us who 
remain here, such articles are as precious as if 
they were made of gold. 

I am perfectly well. To please others, I " pro- 
phylac " with the rest. I drink cofEee in excess, 
and whiskey (with quinine) occasionally, and 
eat alarming dinners. "We shall be thankful to 
get off this ship, where we have green velvet 
chairs to sit upon, and are unable to get proper 
cooking arrangements for the sick. We regret 
our dear " Wilson Small," where we lived on a 
permanent picnic, which was in keeping with 
our business and our spirit. 

To-day Mr. Olmsted invited Mrs. Grifi&n and 
me to row with him along the shore. You 
know I dread little boats ; but it was a prospect 


of enjoyment, and I could not forego it. The 
start was lovely. Mr. Olmsted rowed us close 
in shore, where the knotted roots of the outer- 
most trees made a network, or paling, behind 
which drooped or glowed in their spring beauty 
the lovely trees of this region, among them the 
magnolia, the flowering catalpa, and the beau- 
tiful white fringe-tree. Presently some quar- 
termaster hailed us, and we turned back to the 
" Spaulding," which had swung to her anchor 
in the mean time, making the business of getting 
on board again so dreadful to me (Mrs. Griffin 
did not seem to mind it) that that moment is 
laid aside to come into play some day when I 
have brain-fever; and then I shall see the huge, 
black, bulging sides of the great ship hanging 
over me as I pop up and down in a paper boat. 

Mrs. Griffin looked to-day so like a mediaeval 
Madonna, with her heavenly complexion, her 
golden hair, and the extremely angular appear- 
ance which we persist in keeping up without 
our hoops, that I was forced to suggest the 
idea to Mr. Olmsted, who entered thoroughly 
into it. 


"Spauldikg," May 24. 

Dear Mother, — I seize five spare moments 
for you, as I have not written for three days. 
Last night we half filled this ship with the 
worst cases from the shore hospital. She will 
probably fill up to-day from the " Elm City," 
and sail to-morrow. The men are mostly very 
sick, but no deaths occurred last night. Oh ! 
what stories I shall have to tell you one of 
these days. Instances of such high unselfish- 
ness happen daily that, though I forget them 
daily, I feel myself strengthened in my trust in 
human nature, without making any reflections 
about it. Last night a wounded man, comfort- 
ably put to bed in a middle berth (there are 
three tiers, and the middle one incomparably 
the best), seeing me point to the upper berth as 
the place to put a man on an approaching 
stretcher, cried out: "Stop! put me up there. 
Guess I can stand h'isting better 'n him." It 
was agony to both. 

There is great discussion among the doctors 
as to the character of the fever ; some call it ty- 
phoid, others say it is losing that type and be- 
coming malarial remittent. It matters little to 


me what it is ; the poor fellows all look alike, — 
dry, bumed-up, baked, either in a duU stupor or 
a low, anxious delirium. They show little or no 
excitement, but are dull, weary, and sad. The 
percentage of sickness is thought to be small for 
an army on the march through such a region.^ 

1 The death-rate of the British forces during the first year of 
the Crimean War was ; July, August, September, 1854, 293 per 
1000 men; October, November, December, 511 per 1000 men; 
reaching in January, 1855, the fearful rate of 1174 per 1000 
men, of which 97 per cent was from disease, — in other words, a 
rate at which it would be necessary to replace a dead army by a liv- 
ing one in lOj months. Then it was that the British Government 
established sanitary operations ; and as soon as their influence 
was felt — May, June, July, 1855 — the death-rate fell to 250 per 
1000, and from that time rapidly diminished, till in January, 1856 
(one year from its culmination), it was 25 per 1000 men. The 
mortality of the United States army during the campaign in Vir- 
ginia of 1862 was 165 per 1000 men. To what was this differ- 
ence owing ? Not to the fact that our troops brought a greater 
amount of health into the service, for their mortality during the 
preceding period of inaction was much greater than that of the 
British army during a like period. It was owing in part, un- 
doubtedly, to lessons learned from the Crimean War; but it was 
also in a great degree owing to the Sanitary Commission, to its 
careful inspection of recruits, camps, regiments, and to the advice 
which the military authorities so wisely allowed it to give on all 
sanitary and hygienic subjects to the regimental commanders. 
Surely the Commission has a right to point to the comparatively 
small mortality of our forces (small when we consider the nature 
of the climate and the unseasoned condition of volunteers), and 
claim a part, at least, of the credit of it. 


We are all well, and cheerful now that our 
work begins once more. Idleness depressed us 
a little. We now have over one hundred very 
sick men on board. Mrs. Griffin and I have 
just finished our morning's work below; Mrs. 
M. and Georgy have taken our places, and we 
have come on deck for a mouthful of fresh 
air. This morning, before I was up, I heard a 
crash and a cry, and the bowsprit of a large 
vessel, which the tide had swung upon us, 
glanced into the port-hole at the foot of my bed, 
tore through the partition, and, I believe, demol- 
ished the berth on the other side of it. The 
captain, who takes great pride in his ship, and 
has employed these leisure days in getting her 
painted, is now leaning over the side, looking 
at the defaced and splintered wood-work with a 
melancholy air. 

Good-by. Called off. 

" Knickerbockee," May 26. 

Dear Mothee, — I believe my last words on 
Saturday were that I was "called off," — and 
so effectually called that this is my first quiet 
moment since then. We were called to go on 


board the " Wissahickon," from thence to the 
" Sea-Shore," and run down in the latter to 
West Point, to bring ofE twenty-five men said 
to be lying there sick and destitute. Two doc- 
tors went with us. After hunting an hour 
through the fleet for the " Sea-Shore " in vain, 
and having got as low as Cumberland, we de- 
cided (we being Mrs. Griffin and I ; for the doc- 
tors were new to the work, and glad to leave 
the responsibility upon us women) to push on in 
the tug, rather than leave the men another 
night on the ground, for a heavy storm of wind 
and rain had been going on all day. The pilot 
remonstrated, but the captain approved ; and 
if the firemen had not suddenly let out the 
fires and detained us two hours, we might have 
got our men on board and returned comfort- 
ably soon after dark. But the delay cost us 
the precious daylight. It was night before the 
last man was got on board. There were fifty- 
six of them, — ten very sick ones. 

The boat had a little shelter-cabin. As we 
were laying mattresses on the floor, while the 
doctors were finding the men, the captain 
stopped us, refusing to let us put typhoid fever 


cases below the deck, — on account of the crew, 
he said, — and threatening to push off at once 
from the shore. Mrs. Griffin and I looked at 
him. I did the terrible, and she the pathetic ; 
and he abandoned the contest. The return pas- 
sage was rather an anxious one. The river is 
much obstructed with sunken ships and trees, and 
we had to feel our way, slackening speed every 
ten minutes. If we had been alone, it would 
not have mattered ; but to have fifty men upon 
our hands unable to move was too heavy a re- 
sponsibility not to make us anxious. The cap- 
tain and pilot said the boat was leaking (we 
heard the water gurgling under our feet), and 
they remarked casually that the river was 
"four fathoms deep about there;" but we saw 
their motive, and were not scared. We were 
safe alongside the " Spaulding " by midnight ; 
but Mr. Olmsted's tone of voice as he said, 
" You don't know how glad I am to see you," 
showed how much he had been worried. And 
yet it was the best thing we could have done, 
for three, perhaps five, of the men would have 
been dead before morning. We transferred the 
deck-men (who were not very ill) at once to 


the " Elm City," and kept the others on board 
the tug till the next morning (Sunday), when 
they were taken on board the " Spaulding," all 
living, and likely to' live. Later in the day 
the "Spaulding" filled up to three hundred 
and fifty very sick men. 

No one who has not shared them can form 
any idea of the hurry — unless it is kept down 
by extreme quiet of manner — and the solid 
hard work caused by this sudden influx of bad 
cases. Dr. Grymes taught me a valuable lesson 
the night I was at Yorktown on the " Web- 
ster." A man with a ghastly wound — the 
first I ever saw — asked for something ; I 
turned hastily to get it, with some sort of 
exclamation. Dr. Grymes stopped me and said : 
" Never do that again ; never be hurried or ex- 
cited, or you are not fit to be here ; " and I 've 
thanked him for that lesson ever since. It is a 
piteous sight to see these men; no one knows 
what war is until they see this black side of 
it. "We may all sentimentalize over its possi- 
bilities as we see the regiments go off, or when 
we hear of a battle ; but it is as far from the 
reality as to read of pain is. far from feeling 


it. We who are here, however, dare not let 
our minds, much less our imaginations, rest on 
suffering; while you must rely on your imag- 
ination to project you into the state of things 

At eleven o'clock (Sunday night), just as I had 
collected the weary ia the pantry for a little 
claret-punch or brandy and water, after getting 
on what we thought the last man for the night, 
Captain Sawtelle came on board looking very 
sad. He had received orders to send every 
available transport to Acquia Creek. He told 
us that General Banks had been defeated, with 
the loss of two regiments ; and he presumed the 
present order meant that a force was to be 
thrown back to guard Washington, and that 
McDowell was recalled to support Banks. Sad, 
sad news for us ! 

Of course there was nothing to be done but 
to give up the " Elm City " and get the men 
and stores out of her and into the "Spaulding " 
at once. The transports were to sail for Ac- 
quia Creek at 3 A. m., and had to be coaled in 
the mean time. So we went to work again. 
Poor weary Mr. Knapp was off at once ; the 


weary doctors and the weary yotmg men be- 
gan once more the work of hoisting on board, 
classing, registering, and bunking the poor fel- 
lows, — ninety in all ; while the weary women 
brewed more milk-punch and beef-tea, and went 
once more upon their rounds. The last things 
were got ofE the "Elm City" about 2.30 A. M., 
when a telegram arrived countermanding the 
order ! 

I can give you no idea of the work thus ac- 
cumulated into one day. But there were cheer- 
ful things in it after all. One thiug I specially 
remember. A man very low with tjrphoid 
fever had been brought on board early in the 
afternoon, and begged me piteously to keep the 
bunk next him for his brother, — his twin 
brother, — from whom he had never been parted 
in his life, not even now ia sickness; for his 
brother was sick too, and had come down on the 
same train. But, alas ! in shipping the poor help- 
less fellows they had got separated. Of course I 
kept the next bunk empty, even takiag out of 
it a man who had been put in during my ab- 
sence ; and all day long the painful look in the 
anxious eyes distressed me. Late at night, as 


the last men were coming off the " Elm City," 
and I was standing at the gangway by Dr. 
Draper, receiving his orders as he looked at the 
men when they came on board, I heard him 
read off the name of the brother ! You may 
be sure I asked for that man ; and the pleasure 
of putting him beside his brother cheered even 
that black night. Nor shall I ever forget the 
joy of a father who found his son on board, and, 
though ill himself, waited on him with infinite 
tenderness, — only, alas ! to lose him soon. 

"What a day it was, — and a Sunday too ! So 
unlike Sunday that I had forgotten it until we 
were asked to go ashore and be present at the 
funeral of five men who had died on board. 
Mrs. Grifiin went; but one lady was all that 
could be spared. What days our Sundays have 
been ! I think of you all at rest, with the 
sound of church-bells in your ears, with a 
strange, distant feeling. 

We got to bed about 3 o'clock, and at 4.30 
the ladies from the "Elm City," Mrs. George 
T. Strong and Miss Whetten, who take the 
" Spaulding " to New York, came on board 
and shared our staterooms. We left the ship 


just before she started, with three hundred and 
fifty men on board, at 12 M. this (Monday) 
morning, and came on board the " Knicker- 
bocker." We let her go with cheers from this 
vessel. She looked beautiful with her black hull 
and much brass about her ; but she is not well 
adapted for our work. I had a strange feeling 
as I looked at the outside of what I knew but 
too well within. 

At present we shall remain quietly on this 
vessel. There are fifty sick men on board, 
brought from the " Elm City " last night ; but 
there are ladies enough belonging to the ship, 
and we need rest for the battle which they say 
is just at hand. 

There was some excitement and a great gath- 
ering of doctors to-day for a post-mortem on 
board the " Elm City," and they found what 
they call "mulberry spots," — which establish, I 
am told, the typhoid character of the disease.^ 

A good many wounded are now coming on 
board and filling the cots on the main-deck. I 

1 The disease proved, in the hospitals at Fortress Monroe, to 
be an epidemic typhus or spotted fever, now called cerebro-spinal 
meningitis, — a modern edition of the ancient plague. 



am writing in the upper saloon, listening to the 
typhoid moans of a poor fellow at my elbow. 
But T am too inexpressibly weary to keep my 
eyes open a moment longer. I need not tell 
you that I am well as ever, only so sleepy, oh, 
so sleepy ! Yesterday, Captain Murray, of the 
" Sebago," and General Van Vliet came to see 
us ; but of course we could not see them. 
Oh, these Sanitary Commission men, how they 
work, — early and late, sleepless, unflagging ! 
Even as I write, come Dr. Ware and David 
Haight, — dragging a bed-sack which they have 
filled with fresh straw for me, because they 
found out that the one I have was last used by 
a patient with typhoid fever. Kind friends! 
Oh, how well I shall sleep to-night ! 

" Knickerbocker," May 27. 

Dear A., — I wish I could have you by me this 
delightful afternoon to. look at the lovely scene, 
where " every prospect pleases, and only man is 
vile " and wretched. The " Spaulding " got off 
yesterday with three hundred and fifty sick on 
board, and we then transferred ourselves to this 
vessel, where we are living a life which Mr. 


Olmsted feels to be one of such utter discomfort 
that we all try to make the best of it for his 
sake. Still, I will admit to you that it is wear- 
ing to have no proper place to eat, sit, or sleep. 
No matter ! our dear " Wilson Small " will be 
back soon, and we shall go back to our happy 
home life on the top of the old stove. 

This boat is in disorder. Her last voyage 
was made in incompetent hands, — not in- 
competent as to care of the patients, but as to 
general organization. These parties are about 
to be detailed elsewhere, which will leave us 
free to go to work and reorganize the vessel. 
Meantime we are busy arranging the " Elm 
City," which lies alongside, and was not taken 
by the Government after all. 

We were invited to dine to-day on board the 
" Webster," which arrived this morning, prompt 
as usual, and in perfect order. The rest have 
gone ; but I, like a fool, am hors de combat with 
an aggravating pain down my leg. We all "pro- 
phylac" with exemplary regularity; the last 
words of our delightful Dr. Draper, as we 
parted from him on the gang-plank of the 
" Spaulding," were : " Don't forget your qui- 


nine!" How intimate this life makes us with 
those we recognize as true grit; how heartfelt 
our greetings and our partings with them are ! 
Dr. Grymes and Captain Bletham brought me all 
my precious cases filled with supplies from dear 
Newport friends. The Captain says his first 
thought on arriving is : " Now for the ladies' 
cases ; " and he always brings them off in the 
first boat. This vessel ("Knickerbocker") is 
full of Zouaves, detailed to the Commission for 
nurses. I can't endure them. It might be aU 
very well, and in keeping, to get up a regiment 
of negroes en Turcos ; but for an American citi- 
zen to rig himself as an Arab is demoralizing. 

Wednesday Night, May 28. 

Have nearly finished the "Elm City," with 
five hundred beds. Our linen-closets, store-clos- 
ets, and pantries in perfect order. The hardest 
piece of work I have done yet was to keep two 
colored ladies (from the Lee estate) steady to 
the work of scrubbing the lower deck. They 
escaped so many times on pretence of getting 
fresh water that, weary af running after them, 
I came to think it was easier to run after the 


water ; so, pressing David Haight into the ser- 
vice, he and I kept up a solemn procession to 
and from the ship's boilers, bearing the steaming 

Mrs. Beading, an excellent surgical nurse 
trained in the Crimea under Miss Nightingale, 
who has been attached to the " staff " from 
the beginning, went up to the Shore hospital 
to-day. Mr. Olmsted has promised, with great 
reluctance which I do not comprehend, to let 
me go to-morrow; so we are to start early, 
with as much beef-stock, stimulants, and other 
supplies as we can carry. Mrs. Reading has 
taught me a great many things. I pump her 
extensively in our leisure moments. She was 
at Kulali throughout the Russian War. 

" Knickerbockek," May 30. 

Dear Mother, — Yesterday I took Mrs. 
Reading and two Zouaves to carry the sup- 
plies, and spent the day at the camp hospital. 
There are one hundred tents, each cense to hold 
twenty-seven persons; but they were not more 
than half full, many of the first set of men hav- 
ing recovered after a week's rest and returned 


to the front, while nearly two hundred of the 
■worst cases went North on the " Spaulding." I 
found the condition of things far better than 
I expected, and infinitely better than it was a 
week ago. We visited nearly all the tents, and 
gave supplies of beef-tea, milk-punch, arrowroot, 
and eggs for the worst cases, of which there 
were comparatively few, for such cases are put 
on the Commission boats. I found four or five 
men for whom nothing could be done but to 
help them to die in peace, and perhaps twenty 
other bad cases. The remainder needed little 
more than a week or two of rest. The tents 
were both floored and trenched, the day was 
cool and bright, everything smelt clean and 
wholesome. A tent had been pitched for me 
in the middle of the hollow square of the camp, 
where I cooked painfully by one small spirit- 
lamp. We used up everything we took with 
us, and saw the surgeons, who were very cordial, 
particularly Dr. Green, of Massachusetts, and a 
lesser light, Dr. A. A. Stocker, of Cambridge, 
Mass., who gave me his card, whereby I know 
his name. 

Nearly all the camp needs is some respon- 


sible person who could prepare the sick food 
systematically under the surgeons' orders. 
The ordinary diet seemed good and plentiful, 
and quite suited to the majority of the cases. 
We started for home at 4 p. m., and found four 
hundred prisoners just arriving by the railway 
from General Porter's command. They were 
nearly all North Carolinians, — fine-looking men, 
well fed, and in good spirits. One man wanted 
to buy one of our tin cups; I laughed, and gave 
it to him. Another asked Dr. Ware to change 
a ten-dollar Confederate note, and expected ten 
of our dollars for it. Dr. Ware said : " If we 
beat you, what good will those notes be to 
you?" "Oh!" said he, "the United States 
Government will take them." General Van 
Vliet told me that a great many of these men 
had asked to take the oath of allegiance. 
This has been a busy day. We all — " all " this 

, time means Mr. Olmsted, Mr. Knapp, we four 
ladies, and Mrs. Reading — started with breakfast 
for eighty men ; a young surgeon having rowed 
down to us to report that they had arrived in 
the night and were lying in the cars without 

^ food. We found the birds flown, however, — I 


suppose to the camp hospital. But General 
Van Vliet and some telegrams from the front 
met us at the landing; and the result is that 
we are to clear o£E, as fast as we can, all the 
sick and wounded now on our hands. The 
'• "Webster," fills up to-morrow ; the " Daniel 
Webster No. 2 " left immediately for Yorktown 
with four hundred sick on board; the "Elm 
City" will fill to-night, and sail at daybreak. 
We ourselves came back at once to the " Knick- 
erbocker," from which the sick men have been 
removed, and we have been all day unpacking 
and arranging stores, and getting pantries and 
closets in order. I am writing on the floor, 
interrupted constantly to join in a laugh. 
Georgy is sorting socks and pulling out the 
funny little balls of yarn and the big darning- 
needles stuck in the toes, with which she is 
making a fringe across my back. Do spare us 
the darning-needles ! Eeflect upon us rushing 
in haste to the linen-closet and plunging our 
hands into the bale of stockings ! I certainly 
shall make a collection of sanitary clothing. I 
solemnly aver that yesterday I found a pair of 
drawers made for a case of amputation at the 


thigh. And the slippers, — only fit for pontoon- 
bridges ! We are at last in perfect order, and 
are told that the wounded will arrive about 
4 A. M., — such a nice, comfortable hour ! There 
are two hundred and fifty to come down,— 
mostly from Hanover Court-House, where Gen- 
eral Porter had a brilliant success on Friday. 

The Sanitary Commission is not treated in 
the handsomest manner; its benevolence is 
imposed upon. Squads of civilian doctors are 
here, waiting about for "surgical cases." There 
must be dozens of them doing nothing, and 
their boats doing nothing, — waiting for a bat- 
tle. They would not look at a sick man ; bless 
you, he's not their game! It is "cases" they 
want ; and their whole influence goes to getting 
off the sick upon the Commission, instead of 
taking their proper share of the work, so that 
they may, when a battle occurs, get a harvest 
of wounded. Now the reason why we complain 
of this is that Mr. Olmsted is anxious to keep 
his ships (which are perfectly organized and 
well-managed) running in a regular manner, 
so that if a battle occurs, he may be prepared 
for it. If he is overwhelmed with the sick 


(who could be easily and regularly transported 
if all did their share), he is liable to be un- 
prepared for an emergency; and if the Com- 
mission is unprepared, I am afraid it will go 
hard with the poor fellows when the evil day 

Since I began this page a furious gust or 
storm of wind, rain, thunder, and lightning 
has come up. We are plunging up and down 
at our anchor on the sweet river as if it were 
mid-ocean; and in the midst of it the dear 
" Wilson Small " tumbles up alongside, true to 
her colliding principles. Alas for the wounded 
who are on their way to us ! 

Our evenings are the pleasantest hours of the 
day. The Chief and Mr. Knapp and the staff 
collect on a broken chair, a bed-sack, and sun- 
dry carpet-bags, and have their modicum of 
fun and quinine. The person who possesses 
a dainty — chocolate or gingerbread, for in- 
stance — is the hero for the time being. 

Good-by ! The storm is just going over. Oh, 
how good it will be to sleep in a bed once 
more ! I found to-day one of the bed-sacks we 
made in such a hurry last autumn; and in 


unpacking stores I have several times come 
across packages labelled in my handwriting. 
Tell this to the Women's Aid Society. Tell 
them also that flannel shirts are never in suf- 
ficient quantity ; the flannel can be heavier 
and coarser than what we have hitherto used. 
Socks are always wanted. Gray and red flan- 
nel shirts are precious; we keep them for 
special cases. If anybody proposes to send me 
anything, say: Good brandy; gray, white, or 
red shirts, army pattern; canton flannel drawers, 
not too large ; pocket-handkerchiefs (boxes of 
spotted ones can be bought cheap in New 
York), towels, nutmegs, bay-water, coarse flan- 
nel in the piece, Muringer's beef -extract, — this 
is precious as gold to us; Soyer's and other 
soup preparations are comparatively worthless 
for our purpose. We have plenty of fresh 
beef for the "house diet," and we make a good 
deal of our beef -tea out of it with muriatic acid ; 
but even that takes time. What we want is 
something available at a moment's notice ; there- 
fore send Muringer's beef-extract. It comes in 
small cakes looking like a dark glue. Send also 
condensed milk, lemons, and sherry. 


If gentlemen ask what they shall send, say 
MONET to the treasury of the Sanitary Com- 

" Knickerbocker," May 31. 

Dear Mother, — The long letter now en- 
closed I was too utterly tired out to carry even 
the length of the ward to post last night. As 
I finished it, two steamers came alongside, each 
with a hundred sick on board, bringing word 
that the " Louisiana " (a side-wheel vessel, not 
a Commission-boat) was aground at a little dis- 
tance, with two hundred more, having no one 
in charge of them and nothing to eat. Of 
course they had to be attended to. So, amid 
the wildest and most beautiful storm of thunder 
and lightning, Georgy, Dr. Ware, Mrs. Reading, 
and I pulled off to her in a little boat with tea, 
bread, brandy, and beef-essence. (No one can 
tell how it tries my nerves to go toppling round 
at night in little boats, and clambering up ships' 
sides on little ladders ! ) "We fed them, — the 
usual process, — poor fellows, they were so 
crazy. Dr. Ware says I have particular luck 
with delirium, and he made me try my hand 


on a man with whom he could do nothing, 
and I succeeded. 

Soon after, the " Wissahickon " came along- 
side to transfer the men to the "Elm City." 
Only part could go in the first load. Dr. Ware 
made me go in her to avoid returning in the little 
boat. Just as we pushed off, the steam gave 
out, and we drifted stem-on to the shore. Then 
a boat had to put off from the "Elm City" 
with a line to tow us up. All this time the 
thunder was incessant, the rain falling in tor- 
rents, while every second the beautiful crimson 
lightning flashed the whole scene open to us. 
Add to this that there were three men alarm- 
ingly HI, and (thinking to be but a minute in 
reaching the other ship) I had not even a drop 
of brandy for them. Do you wonder, therefore, 
that I forgot to mail your letter ? 

To-day (Saturday) has been a hard-working 
day. It is something to feed two hundred and 
fifty men, and prepare all the food for the very 
sick. I wish you could hear the men after they 
are put into bed. Those who can speak, speak 
with a will ; others grunt or murmur their satis- 
faction : " "Well ! this bed is 'most too soft. 


I don' know as I shall sleep for thinking of 
it!" "What have you got there?" "This 
is hread ; wait till I butter it ! " " Butter — on 
soft bread ! " he slowly ejaculates, as if not sure 
that he isn't Aladdin with a genie at work 
upon him. 

The Women's Central Relief Association are 
constantly begging us for anecdotes relating 
to the gratitude, and so forth, of the men. 
These have great effect, they say, upon the 
public mind, and bring the money down. So 
one day Georgy set out upon a pilgrimage, re- 
solved that she would have something touching 
to report. She found a little drummer-boy 
who seemed a promising subject, so she began : 
" That 's a nice shirt you have on ; I know the 
ladies who made it : have n't you some message 
to send them ? " " Wal ! " said he, with that 
peculiar nasal twang which belongs only to a 
sick soldier on the Pamunky, " you tell 'em it 's 
'most big enough for two." 

Mrs. Griffin is well, and very efficient. It 
requires great thought and care and sweetness 
of temper to get along with this work, and she 
has all of them. I met with the serious misfor- 


tune of breaking the crystal of my watch yes- 
terday. My watch is a part of myself: what 
shall I do without it ? — and there 's so little to 
mark time, or even to distinguish day from 
night, in these vast ships. They are strange 
places, and I often feel like a cockroach, running 
familiarly as I do into all their dark comers. 

" Wilson Small," Sunday, June 1. 

Deak a., — I write amid the distant booming 
of cannon and the hourly arrival of telegrams 
from the scene of action. The battle^ began 
yesterday afternoon. Up to 11 p.m. the ac- 
counts received were not wholly favorable. The 
attack was made on oiu' weakest point. General 
Casey's division, which is the advanced body 
on the Chickahominy. It was attacked on front 
and flank, and retreated; but being reinforced 
by General Heintzelmann, the ground and a lost 
battery were recovered. The second telegram to 
Colonel Ingalls was written off by the operator 
on the envelope of your letter of the 26th ; I 
shall keep it as a souvenir. It says : " General 
Kearny has driven the enemy a mile at the 

1 Fair Oaks, otherwise called Seven Pines. 


point of the bayonet. General Heintzelmann 
is driving back the enemy. Prisoners, General 
Pettigru and several field and staff officers." 
A little later, and we heard : " We are driving 
them before us at every point ; " and now the 
last word is, " Our victory is complete." 

The wounded are pouring in. All our ships, 
except the " Spaulding," are here. Even the 
" Elm City," which started with five hundred 
sick for Yorktown at four o'clock this morning, 
has just returned, beds made and all, — a tri- 
umph for her hospital company ! The " Commo- 
dore," a Pennsylvanian boat, the " Vanderbilt " 
and "Whilldin," Government boats, are fuU. 
The " Knickerbocker " filled up, before we left 
her, with three hundred men from Casey's di- 
vision, — a sad sight. We left her this after- 
noon, after the men were comfortably settled, 
in the hands of those who are to take her to 
Newport News, and came home here, " Wilson 
Small," with all our belongings. Mrs. M. and 
Georgy went off soon after to fit up the "Daniel 
Webster No. 2." 

I am writing on our little after-deck by the 
light of the moon. The shore resounds with 


cheering; even the wounded are elate. All 
around me lie hundreds, well-nigh thousands, 
of the poor fellows. Noble boys! 

"Wilson Small," June 2. 
Dear A.,— The " Daniel Webster " is filling, 
to sail to-night. This letter shall go in her. 
What a day and night we have had ! What a 
whirlwind of work, sad work, we have been in! 
Immediately after closing my letter of yester- 
day, Mrs. Griffin and I were whisked away 
in a little boat, at the peril of our lives, and 
hustled, tumbled, hoisted, first into the " State 
of Maine," where we lost our way amid fright- 
ful scenes, until we finally reached the "Elm 
City," where we were going as night-watch to 
relieve the ladies belonging to her, who had 
been up all the night before. She had four 
hundred and seventy wounded men on board. 
We passed the night up to our elbows in beef- 
tea, milk-punch, lemonade, panada, etc. The 
men were comfortable. The surgeons let them, 
for the most part, have a night's rest before 
their wounds were opened. Not so, however, on 
the "State of Maine," where operations were 


going on all night ; the hideous sounds filling our 
ears even in the midst of our own press of work. 

Our men were so touchingly grateful. There 
was a poor fellow lying close to the door of the 
pantry where we were making and dispensing 
the food and drinks : his leg was amputated. 
I noticed, after a time, that he was stretching 
and straining to get at a bundle or something 
in his berth. I went to him as soon as I could. 
He turned his face to me, covered with tears, 
and put a little crumpled roll of pink paper 
into my hand, saying : " I heard you tell that 
man you gave him the last pin out of your 
dress : don't give us everything ; please take 
these," — precious little roll ! will I ever part 
with it ! Such things are better for us than all 
the quinine in the country. We stayed chiefly 
in our pantry, giving out to the dressers and 
nurses all that was wanted; also to a detail 
who came from time to time from the "State 
of Maine." 

Oh, when shall I forget the sunrise that morn- 
ing as it looked in through the little window 
beside me ! When can I cease to remember the 
feelings with which I saw it ! 


Mr. Olmsted sent peremptory orders at nine 
o'clock that we should return home ; and we left 
the " Elm City," sure that the men had every- 
thing needful, and were safe in the faithful hands 
of Mrs. Balestier and Miss Charlotte Bradford. 
We were no sooner washed and dressed than 
the " Small " scudded up to the landing to take 
on forty wounded just arriving by the railroad. 
The forty proved, as usual, to be eighty, — 
ghastly objects: this was like being on a bat- 
tle-field. The men were just as they fell, in 
their muddy clothing, saturated with blood and 
filth. From then until now, when we have just 
put them on the " Webster," Mrs. GriflSn and I 
have been with them. One died in her care, 
and one in mine ; there were some too far gone' 
to know anything more in this world, but there 
were others, almost as badly hurt, who were 
cheerful, bright, and even talkative, — so differ- 
ent from the dreary sadness and listlessness ' of 
sick men. They seldom groan, except when 
their wounds are being dressed, and then their 
cries are agonizing : " Oh, doctor, doctor ! " in 
such heartrending tones. 

General Devens, wounded in the knee, Colonel 


Briggs, Tenth Massachusetts, wounded in the 
thigh, and several other wounded officers, were 
among the eighty ; but they had their staff-offi- 
cers or orderlies, and though we saw that they 
had what was necessary, we stayed ourselves 
with the men. We have just put part of them 
on the " Webster," which sails for Boston this 
evening, and the rest on the " Elm City," which 
sails for Annapolis at the same time. The 
" Spaulding " has just come up the river, and 
the quartermaster hails me that there are cases 
on board for me. Thank you all ! Dr. Grymes 
has invited us to dinner on the "Webster," that 
we may swallow necessary food, which we could 
not do on the polluted decks of the " Small." 

The trouble the medical authorities give Mr. 
Olmsted is terrible. They send the most con- 
flicting orders, and there is no United States 
medical officer here, at this most important 
point, to refer to. Captain Sawtelle, Assistant- 
Quartermaster, is so good to us. He and Colonel 
Ingalls and General Van Vliet are constantly 
shielding the Commission from annoyance. How 
nobly the Commission has done its work, how 
thoroughly, how wisely ; with what lavish dis- 


regard of labor and care and fatigue, so long 
as the best possible is done for the service! Day 
and night, without sleep, sometimes without 
food, Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Knapp are working 
their brains and their physical strength to the 
utmost. Good-by ! we are just going on board 
the " Webster." No, we have only run along- 
side to give her the order to sail. So good-by 
to our dinner! I hoped to have sent this letter 
by her. The victory is a victory; but oh, the 
lives and the suffering it has cost ! 

"Wilson Small," June 4. 

Dear Mother, — I write a line — only a 
line — that you may not be anxious : you 
can't conceive under what circumstances. I am 
perfectly well. I have no time to write, no 
power to withdraw myself from my surround- 
ings enough to write. 

Conceive of the Medical Director sending 
down over four thousand five hundred wounded 
men without — yes, almost literally without — 
anything for them: without surgeons; no one 
authorized to take charge of them ; nothing but 
empty boatg to receive them. 


Of course the Commissiofi 'throws itself in 
and does all. Mr. Olmsted is everything, — wise, 
authoritative, untiring; but he must break down. 
You carCt ionceive what it is to stem the torrent 
of this disorder and utter want of organization. 
We are all well, and can only thank God that 
we are here, with health, strength, and head. 
To think or speak of the things we see would 
be fatal. No one must come here who cannot 
put away all feeling. Do all you can, and be 
a machine, — that's the way to act; the only 

Good-by ! No head to write more : Mr. 
Olmsted, Mr. Knapp, and I are sitting on the 
floor, resting, with a pitcher of lemonade be- 
tween us. My cases have arrived — oh, so 
thankful ! Thank that good Newport for me. 

"Wilson Small," June 5. 

Dear Mother, — I finished my last letter 
(to A., I believe) on the afternoon of the day 
when we took eighty men on the " Small," and 
transferred them to the " Webster." 

We had just washed and dressed, and were 
writing letters, when Captain Sawtelle came on 


board to say that several hundred wounded men 
were lying at the landing ; that the " Daniel 
"Webster No. 2 " had been taken* possession of 
by the medical of&cers, and was already half full 
of men, and that the surplus was being carried 
across her to the " Vanderbilt ; " that the con- 
fusion was terrible ; that there were no stores 
on board the " Daniel Webster No. 2 " (she 
having been seized the moment she reached the 
landing on her return from Yorktown, without 
communicating with the Commission), nor were 
there any stores or preparations, not even mat- 
tresses, on board the " Vanderbilt." 

Of course the best in our power had to be 
done. Mrs. Griffin and I begged Mr. Olmsted 
not to refrain from sending us, merely because 
we had been up all night. He said he would n't 
send us, but if we chose to offer our services to 
the United States surgeon, he thought it would 
be merciful. Our offer was seized. We went 
on board ; and such a scene as we entered and 
lived in for two days I trust never to see again. 
Men in every condition of horror, shattered and 
shrieking, were being brought in on stretchers 
borne by " contrabands," who dumped them any- 


wliere, banged the stretchers against pillars and 
posts, and walked over the men without com- 
passion. There was no one to direct what ward 
or what bed they were to go into. Men shat- 
tered in the thigh, and even cases of amputar 
tion, were shovelled into top berths without 
thought or mercy. The men had mostly been 
without food for three days, but there was 
nothing on board either boat for them ; and if 
there had been, the cooks were only engaged 
to cook for the ship, and not for the hospital. 

"We began to do what we could. The first 
thing wanted by wounded men is something to 
drink (with the sick, stimulants are the first 
thing). Fortunately we had plenty of lemons, 
ice, and sherry on board the " Small," and 
these were available at once. Dr. "Ware dis- 
covered a barrel of molasses, which, with vin- 
egar, ice, and water, made a most refreshing 
drink. After that we gave them crackers and 
milk, or tea and bread. It was hopeless to try 
to get them into bed ; indeed, there were no 
mattresses on the " Vanderbilt." All we could 
do at first was to try to calm the confusion, to 
stop some agony, to revive the fainting lives, to 


snatch, if possible, from immediate death with 
food and stimulants. Imagine a great river or 
Sound steamer filled on every deck, — every berth 
and every square inch of room covered with 
wounded men ; even the stairs and gangways 
and guards filled with those who are less badly 
wounded ; and then imagine fifty well men, 
on every kind of errand, rushing to and fro 
over them, every touch bringing agony to the 
poor fellows, while stretcher after stretcher 
came along, hoping to find an empty place ; and 
then imagine what it was to keep calm our- 
selves, and make sure that every man on both 
those boats was properly refreshed and fed. We 
got through about 1 A. m., Mrs. M. and Georgy 
having come ofE other duty and reinforced us. 

We were sitting for a few moments, resting 
and talking it over, and bitterly asking why a 
Government so lavish and perfect in its other 
arrangements should leave its wounded almost 
literally to take care of themselves, when a 
message came that one hundred and fifty men 
were just arriving by the cars. It was raining 
in torrents, and both boats were full. We went 
on shore again : the same scene repeated. The 


-wretched " Vanderbilt " was slipped out, the 
" Kennebec " brought up, and the hundred and 
fifty men carried across the "Daniel Webster 
No. 2 " to her, with the exception of some 
fearfully wounded ones, who could not be 
touched in the darkness and rain, and were 
therefore made as comfortable as they could be 
in the cars. We gave refreshment and food to 
all; Miss Whetten and a detail of young men 
from the " Spaulding " coming up in time to 
assist, and the officers of the " Sebago," who 
had seen how hard pressed we were in the after- 
noon, volunteering for the night-watch. Add 
to this sundry Members of Congress, who, if 
they talked much, at least worked well. One 
of them, the Hon. Moses F. Odell, proposed to 
Mr. Olmsted that on his return to Washington 
he should move that the thanks of Congress be 
returned to us ! Mr. Olmsted, mindful of our 
feelings, promptly declined. 
• We went to bed at daylight with breakfast 
on our minds, and at six o'clock we were all on 
board the "Daniel Webster No. 2," and the 
breakfast of six hundred men was got through 
with in good time. Captain Sawtelle kindly 


sent us a large wall-tent, twelve caldrons and 
camp-kettles, two cooks, and a detail of six men. 
The tent was put up at once ; Dr. Ware giving 
to its preparation the only hour when he might 
have rested during that long nightmare. We 
began to use it that (Tuesday) morning. It 
is filled with our stores ; there we have cooked 
not only the sick-food, but all the food needed 
on the Government boats. It was hard to get 
it in sufficient quantity ; but when everything 
else gave out, we broke up " hard-tack " into 
buckets full of hot milk and water a little 
sweetened, — " bread and milk " the men called 
it. Oh, that precious condensed milk, more pre- 
cious to us at that moment than beef essence ! 

Tuesday was very much a repetition of Mon- 
day night. The men were cleared from the 
main-deck and gangways of the " Daniel Web- 
ster No. 2" on to the "Kennebec." The feed- 
ing business was almost as hard to manage as 
before. But still it was done, and we got to 
bed at 1 A. m. Mrs. M. and I were to attend 
to the breakfast at six next morning. By some 
accident Mrs. M., who was ready quite as soon 
as I was, was carried o£E by the " Small," which 


started suddenly to run down to the '^ Spauld- 
ing." I had, therefore, to get the breakfast 
alone. T accomplished it, and then went ashore 
and fed some men who were just arriving in 
the cars, and others who were in tents near 
the landing. The hon'ors of that morning are 
too great to speak of. The men in the cars 
were brought on board the "Daniel Webster 
No. 2 " and laid about the vacant main-deck 
and guards and on the deck of a scow that lay 
alongside. I must not, I ought not to tell 
you of the horrors of that morning. One of 
the least was that I saw a " contraband " step on 
the amputated stump of a wretched man, I 
took him by the arm and walked him into the 
tent, where I ordered them to give him other 
work, and forbade that he should come upon 
the ships again. I felt white with anger, and 
dared not trust myself to speak to him. While 
those awful sights pass before me I have com- 
paratively no feeling, except the anxiety to 
alleviate as much as possible. I do not suffer 
under the sights ; but oh ! the sounds, the 
screams of men. It is when I think of it 
afterwards that it is so dreadful. 



All yesterday (Wednesday), after the early 
morning, things went better. Our tent-kitchen 
worked to a charm. Dinner was well through 
by 2 p. M., and we had time to look after the 
men individually, and to make preparations for 
two hundred more, who were expected by the 
railway at 4 p. m. They did not come, how- 
ever, till 1 A. M. While my letter has been 
in progress (with countless interruptions) Mrs. 
Griffin and Mr. Woolsey have come in to report 
that the two Government boats, the " Louisi- 
ana" and " State of Maine " (which have taken 
the place at the landing of the " Vanderbilt " 
and *the "Daniel Webster No. 2 "), are in good 
order, have excellent hospital stewards; that 
the Commission has supplied them with ample 
stores; and that the two hundred men who 
came down this morning have gone quietly on 
board the " State of Maine " and are comfort- 
able. I hope, I pray, the worst is over. 

About nine hundred wounded remain to be 
brought down. Mr. Olmsted says (mr boats 
have transported one thousand seven hundred 
and fifty-six since Sunday ; the Government and 
Pennsylvanian boats together about three thou- 


sand. Mr. Clement Barclay was with us on 
Monday night on the " Vanderbilt." I believe 
he went with her to Fortress Monroe. He was 
working hard, with the deepest interest and 
skill. I went with him to attend to a little 
" Secesh " boy, wounded in the thigh ; also to a 
Southern colonel, a splendid-looking man, who 
died, saying to Mr. Barclay, with raised hand : 
"Write to my wife and tell her I die peni- 
tent for the part I have taken in this war." 
I try to be just and kind to the Southern men. 
One of our men stopped me, saying: "He's 
a rebel ; give that to me." I said, " But a 
wounded man is our brother ! " (rather an ob- 
vious sentiment, if there is anything in Chris- 
tianity) ; and they both touched their caps. The 
Southerners are constantly expressing surprise 
at one thing or another, and they are shy, but 
not surly, at receiving kindness. Our men are 
a noble set of fellows, so cheerful, uncomplain- 
ing, and generous. 

Remember that in all that I have written, I 
have told you only about ourselves, — the 
women. "What the gentlemen have been, those 
of our party, those of the " Spaulding " and of 


the other vessels, is beyond my power to relate. 
Some of them fainted from time to time. 

Several regiments have come np yesterday and 
to-day as reinforcements. Their bands are gay, 
and the trim look of the men almost amusing. 
The Southerners wear no uniforms, and are the 
shabbiest set of fellows. Short gray spencers, and 
trousers of any color or no color, are the nearest 
approach to regimentals that I have seen. 

Last night, shining over blood and agony, I 
saw a lunar rainbow ; and in the afternoon a 
peculiarly beautiful effect of rainbow and stormy 
sunset, — it flashed upon my eyes as I passed 
an operating-table, and raised them to avoid 
seeing anything as I passed. 

"Wilson Small," June 8. 

Dear Friend, — This is the first quiet Sun- 
day since we have been here. How long it will 
stay quiet, no one can tell for an hour together. 
The past week is wholly indescribable. Our 
own boats filled up calmly and comfortably on 
Sunday and Monday with the wounded of Sat- 
urday. Then the Government boats began to 
fill ; and such fearful scenes as we have passed 


through since then until noon of yesterday, I 
would not tell you if I could. From five to 
eight hundred wounded men have been sent 
down daily : no authorized officials to receive 
them ; no arrangements made of ■ any kind. 
The boats which have been lying here idle for 
weeks, waiting for " surgical cases," wholly un- 
prepared, and their surgeons off to the battle- 
field. No stores, no beds, no hospital stewards, 
no food, no stimulants. Then it is that the 
medical authorities fling themselves on the San- 
itary Commission, and the Commission gives 
everything with a generous hand. It has done 
all that has been done on three fourths of the 
Government boats, and that at the last moment, 
without notice, and when its supplies were 
heavily taxed in fitting out its own boats, — 
which, happily, were all, except the "Spaulding," 
here, and ready to ship the first wounded that 
came down. Never did men work as ours have 
worked. It would be hard to say who did best 
where all did so well. No description can give 
you a full idea of the pressure upon them, of 
the necessities they strove to meet ; and all to 
be done out of their regular system, hurried and 


confused by the hurry and excitement of the 
one medical officer who appeared to have any 
authority upon the ground. 

As for us women, all we could do was to give 
drink, stimulants, and food to the poor fellows, 
and what other little ease we could. We take 
great comfort in a tent-kitchen provided for 
us by Captain Sawtelle, from whom we receive 
much thoughtful, kind attention. From it we 
have fed four thousand men this week ; on Thurs- 
day we served twelve hundred meals. We also 
receive kindness from other officers. Far from 
meeting with any of the usual army opposition, 
our help is claimed and warmly acknowledged. 

To-day things look brighter. The " Elm City " 
and " Knickerbocker " are back and in perfect 
order. A new medical officer has been placed 
in charge of the transportation from this point. 
He began his duties yesterday after the depar- 
ture of the " Louisiana." She was fifty per 
cent better than any of the other Government 
boats, and yet this officer said to me to-day, 
when I took him through the wards of the 
" Knickerbocker " (she filled up at midnight) : 
" Oh, what happiness to look at this boat after 


that accursed thing of yesterday! " I find I can 
bear anything with calmness and, in one sense, 
indifference so long as I am beside it and en- 
gaged with it. To feel acutely at such times 
is merely selfish. But no tongue can tell what 
I suffered yesterday afternoon when I was 
obliged to stay on board here for a little rest, 
and listen to the groans of men undergoing 
operations on the gangway of the " Louisiana," 
to which we were moored. No trial of nerves 
ever equalled that. But why speak of such 
things ? I beg you to offer the Prayer for the 
Sick, and that for the Afflicted, every Sunday in 
the Chapel. Can you not change and add some- 
thing to them, to fill out and express all that 
we feel ? It would be a great satisfaction to 
me to think that this were done. 

I trust the worst is over. How little you all 
realize the magnitude of our necessities at your 
distance from them ! Think of a handful of us 
here to keep order for the wounded of this 
great army, — I might almost say to keep life in 
them. I cannot adequately tell you of the work 
these Commission men have done. The lives 
saved are theirs. "Day" and "night" are words 


of no meaning to Mr. Olmsted and Mr. Knapp. 
I think they must break down under the pres- 
sure of care and physical effort. The young 
men of the Commission are most praiseworthy. 
Nothing is too hard, or too humble, or too con- 
stant for them to do, and do gladly, as if they 
rejoiced to do it. Dr. Robert Ware has more 
upon him than any one but Mr. Olmsted and 
Mr. Knapp ; he is all that is sensible, energetic, 
and successful. 

I have seen many men die, but never one to 
whom such a word as one might wish to say 
could be spoken. Our work is not like regular 
hospital work. It is succoring men just off 
the battle-field, and making them easy, clean, 
and comfortable before we turn them over into 
other hands. Those who die are too low when 
they come to us to know much ; and when you 
think that four thousand men have passed 
through our hands this week, you will under- 
stand that we can do little beyond the mere 
snatching from physical death. 

Good-by ! I hope you may be happy this 
summer, — it would be something to be able 
to think of happiness as existing somewhere. 


I send you a little poem addressed to Mrs. , 

by a private soldier who had been in her care 
on one of our boats. If you knew her you 
would see that there is a poet's insight in 
what he says of her : — 

From old Saint Paul till now, 

Of honorable women not a few 

Have left their golden ease, in love to do 

The saintly work which Christlike hearts pursue. 

And such an one art thou, — God's fair apostle, 
Bearing his Love in war's horrific train ; 
Thy blessed feet follow its ghastly pain 
And misery and death, without disdain. 

To one borne from the sullen battle's roar. 
Dearer the greeting of thy gentle eyes 
When he aweary, torn, and bleeding Ues, 
Than all the glory that the victors prize. 

When peace shall come, and homes shall smile again, 
A thousand soldier-hearts in Northern climes 
Shall tell their little children in their rhymes 
Of the sweet saint who blessed the old war-times. 

" Wilson Small," June 8. 
Dear A., — I have written to mother and to 

Mr. M of the battles of the 1st and 2d 

of June. I refer you to those letters for the 
sad story of those days. The Commission boats 


were all here when the wounded began to come 
down in freight-cars from the front. They 
filled and left with their accustomed order 
and promptitude. After that, other boats, de- 
tailed by Government for hospital-service, were 
brought up. These boats were not under con- 
trol of the Sanitary Commission. There was 
no one appointed to take charge of them ; 
no one authorized to receive the wounded at 
the railroad ; no one to ship them properly ; 
no one to see that the boats were supplied with 
proper stores. Of course the Commission came 
forward to do what it could at a moment's 
notice ; but it had no power, only the right of 
charity. It could neither control nor check the 
fearful confusion which ensued as train after 
train came in and the wounded were brought 
and thrust upon the various boats. But it did 
nobly what it could. Night and day its mem- 
bers worked, — not, you must remember, in its 
own well-organized service, but in the hard duty 
of making the best of a bad case. 

On board the Commission boats we see the 
unavoidable miseries of war, and none else. 
As soon as the men come on board, all suffering, 


except that of illness, ceases (this is a fact to be 
thought of and dwelt upon) ; we know and see 
that every necessary comfort and every chance 
for life is freely supplied. I often think of the 
money and supplies which by the kindness of 
the people of Newport passed through my 
hands before I left home. How little I then 
knew their value ! How little I imagined that 
each article was to be a life-giving comfort to 
some one sufferer! Believe me, you may all 
give and work in the earnest hope that you 
alleviate suffering ; but none of you realize what 
you do, — perhaps you can't conceive it, unless 
you could see your gifts in use. I often wish, 
as I give a comfort to some poor fellow and see 
the sense of rest it gives him, and hear the 
favorite speech, " Oh, that 's good ; it 's just 
as if mother was here ! " that the man or woman 
who supplied that comfort were by to see how 
blessed it is. 

I refer you to my other letters for the details 
of that week, — I cannot write of them again. 
And to-day, at the close of such a week, comes 
an " excursion party " from Washington, — 
Congressmen and ladies in silks and perfumes 


and lilac kid gloves ! " Sabbath-breaking pic- 
nickers on a battle-field ! " as Georgy called 
them in a rage. I took one lady, with a little 
honest pride, through the wards of the " Knick- 
erbocker," where everything was sweet and 
fresh, the men all quiet in their white beds and 
clean hospital clothing, — nothing, compara- 
tively, to shock any one. She wished to call 
her sister ; but a gentleman who was with her 
said : " Oh, don't ; don't let her see such an 
awful sight ! " Now there was nothing painful 
to be seen ; at that moment the awfulness of 
war was but an idea, — then why did n't that 
idea keep them away from here altogether ? 

The " Elm City " is back to-day ; the ladies 
have put her in order as she came up the river. 
There have been no arrivals of wounded; those 
who came down last night were the wounded of 
last Sunday. Their wounds were in a frightful 
state, — alive with maggots. 

Your letter (" not dated," as gentlemen say) 
telling me that you have sent another spirit- 
lamp is received to-day. You can't tell what 
your letters are to me ; I actually put them 
under my pillow to read when I wake in the 


morning, — like Ralph. I am well ; but ex- 
citement, fatigue, and quinine have made me 
deaf, which bothers me a good deal. Mr. 
Knapp has broken down, as I knew he would. 
Oh, what a sad loss he will be to us! Dr. J. 
Foster Jenkins has arrived to take his place. 
Mr. Olmsted's health begins to give the doctors 
serious uneasiness, — so they tell me ; but he 
says he is well. 

" WiLBON Small," June 9. 

Deak Mother, — I can't retain the least 
recollection of when I write, or what I write, 
or to whom it is written. I only know that I 
do write to somebody nearly every day. You 
owe the multitude of my letters partly to the 
fact that they are written here and there at 
odd moments, and partly to the other fact that 
when we go off duty we go utterly off, and come 
up to our little haven of rest, the "Small." 
When we get here we can't sit and do nothing, 
we can't think, we can't read ; what can we do 
but write ? Sometimes the intense excitement 
of our lives finds vent and ease in writing ; 
but at other times, when we have nothing 


pressing to do, we feel so inert that the effort 
to collect our thoughts to write even a line is 
too great. We have so many letters to scrib- 
ble for the poor fellows that materials must 
always be handy. I go about with my note- 
paper rolled up in a magazine and stuck, with 
pens and ink, into an apron-pocket ; and so it 
sometimes happens that a letter to you is be- 
gun, continued, or ended while on duty. Be- 
side the letters we write and send o£E for the 
men, we have many from friends inquiring 
after husbands, sons, and brothers who are re- 
ported wounded. Such letter-s will never cease 
to be a sad and tender memory to us. One 
came last week from a wife inquiring after her 
husband, but none of us could attend to it 
until to-day. "Give him back to me dead," 
she says, "if he is dead, for I must see him." 
Mrs. Griffin remembered the name ; he was one 
of the men whose funeral she attended ashore 
one Sunday evening. So to-day I went up and 
found him under the feathery elm-tree. I made 
a little sketch of the place and sent it to her, — 
all I could send, poor soul ! 

I am sitting now on a barrel iu the tent. 


waiting for a train of sick men who were tele- 
graphed to arrive an hour ago. A million of 
flies are buzzing and whirling and settling 
about me. If you doubt the number, " Count 
them, sir, count them," as the waiter at 
Vauxhall said to the man who asked if there 
were really five millions of lamps, as advertised. 
Flies are much harder to count than lamps, so 
I let you ofE four millions. 

I hear that inquiries are being made as to 
how the Sanitary Commission uses its supplies. 
If they are made of you, say that so far as I 
have seen (and it is not too much to say that 
more than half of what is used on our boats 
passes under the women's knowledge), there is 
no waste, but the most careful use. The Com- 
mission is not only doing in the best manner 
its own work, but it has supplied stores of hos- 
pital food, stimulants, and every thread of 
clothing, lint, bandages, sheets, articles and 
utensils of hospital use, and much else of a mis- 
cellaneous character, to the Government boats, 
besides the daily, I might almost say hourly, 
requisitions from the regimental hospitals. If 
people ask whether more can be wanted, let 


them consider this. Let them reflect that four 
times a week our own boats have to be fitted 
out. To be sure, the same things are to some 
extent used again ; but, without waste, much 
must be lost. For instance, washing cannot be 
done here or on the boats ; oij the latter it 
would be dangerous. Much that is used has 
to be thrown overboard ; it would be a risk 
to life to do otherwise. Large cases of soiled 
clothing, sheets, etc., are nailed up and sent 
North on the ships. Perhaps each of them 
carries two or three thousand of such articles. 
Of course the supplies diminish; though from 
time to time the washed articles come back. 

Oh ! if those at home could see all that I 
see, no trouble, no expense, no sacrifice would 
be thought too great to strengthen the hands 
of this Commission so that its work may not 
fail. I know of my own knowledge how the 
articles supplied by the women of the country 
go ; and I know there is no waste. When 
hour by hour some direful necessity is brought 
to sight, much has to be given which never 
comes back into our hands ; all given to the 
Government boats is, of course, never returned, 


— nor could that be expected. On our own boats, 
however, economy is practised just so far as 
not to interfere with the success of the work. 
Oh, how pressed we are for some things ! 
Tin pails, lanterns, and things of that kind we 
are always begging for, and "annexing" where 
we can. 

I ought to say that I believe the confusion 
and neglect on the part of the Medical Depart- 
ment which occurred last week was exceptional, 
and not likely to occur again. At least the 
authorities have now been warned, and I be- 
lieve they will profit by the warning. Probably 
no army in the world ever advanced with so 
much to alleviate its hardships. Notwithstand- 
ing the suffering I see, I feel this ; and when I 
reflect that I see all, or nearly all, there is of 
miseiy, I am ready to say that this war is not 
as dreadful as war once was. The men are 
well clothed and shod and fed ; the ration (on 
which we live also) is excellent ; the beef, rice, 
flour, and coffee as good as need be.^ 

* I found this to be the case when I became, later, superinten- 
dent of a large United States Army General Hospital, where the 
articles composing the ration came directly under my observa- 


"Wilson Small," June 10. 

Dear Mother, — Being the happy possessor 
of a pen-holder (pilfered from the " Elm City"), 
and having nothing to do, I shall write you a 
long letter. We are all collected, shivering 
and idle, under piles of blanket-shawls. All 
the wounded have come down and gone, and 
we have nothing to do, at least for to-day. If 
the weather were but mild, we could be com- 
fortable and enjoy our rest ; but never in the 
depth of winter did I feel the cold as I do to- 
day. I am chilled to the heart. 

Keep my letters ; they will remind me to tell 
you many things now forgotten. I wish it had 
been possible to keep a journal, so much that 
is interesting and droll in men and things 
occurs every minute ; such armies of queer 

tion. I never saw one of inferior quality. The ration of the 
United States soldier is : f lb. of pork or bacon, or 1|- lbs. of 
fresh or salt beef ; 22 ounces of bread or flour, or 1^ lbs. of 
com-meal ; to every hundred rations, 10 lbs. coffee, 1^ lbs. tea, 
15 lbs. sugar, 1 lb. sperm candles, or \\ lbs. tallow ditto, 4 lbs. 
. soap, 2 quarts salt, 8 quarts beans or peas, 10 lbs. rice or hominy, 
4 quarts vinegar, 1 gallon molasses (twice a week), 100 lbs. of 
fresh potatoes or 100 ounces dessicated vegetables (three times 
a week). Bacon means ham or middlings. 


people turn up ! Quartermasters are among the 
queerest. We have our own chief dragon on 
the " Elizabeth," with whom I am supposed to 
get along better than the others, therefore I 
conduct all difficult negotiations. I rush to 
him for something important a dozen times a 
day. He is resolute not to give it to me till I 
write and sign a requisition. Of course I am 
wanting it for something pressing, so after a 
slight blandishment I get it under promise of 
sending the requisition, — which is never sent. 
Then we have squads of comical " contrabands " 
(who like us very much until it becomes a ques- 
tion of work), and a detail of kind, nimble, 
tender Zouaves. I have become a convert to 
them after a long struggle, — their efficiency, 
tlieir good sense, their gentleness are so marked. 
Even their dress, which I once hated, seems to 
take them in some sort out of the usual man- 
ners and ways of men. They have none of the 
dull, obstinate ways of that sex, — they are 
unexceptionable human beings of no sex, with 
the virtues of both. 

Then we have every style of arrogant army 
surgfeon and presuming volunteer surgeon, no 


end of army officers, and some few naval 
officers: all of whom come trooping on board 
the " Small " after Mr. Olmsted, — chiefly, I ob- 
serve, about dinne]>time. The Commission is 
sadly imposed on in this way ; it is used as a 
hotel. Last night four ladies arrived on the 
mail-boat, and instantly transferred themselves 
to the " Small." They have no business here, 
and nowhere to go. If such women are given 
a duty to do, they leave it, after a while, on the 
general principle that they are " wanted at the 
front." When they get there, the surgeons 
will have nothing to do with them; and, fin- 
ally, this morning two, who are thought to be 
of doubtful character, have been returned 
whence they came. The wonder is how they 
get the passes to come at all. No lady should 
attempt to come here unless accepted or ap- 
pointed by the Government or the Commission. 
Ardent women with a mission should not come 
in any other way, if they value their own 

Our dear Mr. Knapp has broken down, as I 
knew he would, and is gone home with typhoid 
fever. I think I told you that a new surgeon- 


in-charge had been appointed to the Shore 
hospital, with superintendence of the ship- 
transportation. He seems a kind man, and 
desirous to keep on good terms with the Com- 
mission and work with it. He is very cor- 
dial to us women, and begs us to come and 
do what we can at the hospital. Mr. Olmsted, 
however, frowns upon the idea, — frowns ? No ; 
but he remains impenetrably silent, — which is 
worse, for we can't rebel at it. 

I often feel the pleasantness of our footing 
among all these persons, — official, military, 
naval, and medical. They clearly respect our 
work, and rightly appreciate it ; they make no 
foolish speeches, but are direct and sensible in 
their words and acts ; and when work is over, 
they do not feel towards us as " women with a 
mission," but as ladies, to be with whom is a 
grateful relaxation. 

Dr. McClellan, on the General's staff, came 
in from the front, and stayed with us last night, 
on his way to Fortress Monroe. He thinks 
there will be a gigantic battle before Richmond, 
and speaks of twenty thousand wounded. It is 
overwhelming to think of it. The nation must 


send us more sheets, shirts, drawers, and money 
— Money. 

The " Elm City " is lying alongside, between 
the " Small " and the shore. There is little for 
her to do at present. A dozen or so of wounded 
come down occasionally and go on board of her. 
A standing order now exists that none but 
wounded shall be put on the boats ; all the sick 
are to go to the Shore hospital. Our tent is at 
the head of the wharf, just where the railway 
ends abruptly at the burned bridge. Dr. Ware 
selects the cases from the freight-cars, on the 
bare floor of which they are jolted down from 
Savage's Station, — the terminus of the road at 
the front. The worst cases are put inside the 
covered cars, — close, windowless boxes, — some- 
times with a little straw or a blanket to lie on, 
oftener without. They arrive a festering mass 
of dead and living together, — or did, during the 
battle-week. Now they are sent down more com- 
fortably; the bad cases have plenty of straw 
and plenty of room within, and the slight cases 
are perched upon the roof, or come down on 
long trains of trucks. Meantime we have 
ready in the tent proper food and stimulants, 



and administer them to all after their hard 
journey, and before they go either on board the 
boats, or are taken in ambulances to the Shore 

I shall send this letter by Monsieur de Tro- 
briand, who goes home to-night, having had a 
severe attack of typhoid fever, from which he 
is not recovered ; ill as he is, he is delightfully 
amusing, though I suspect him of being slightly 
out of his head. I think sometimes, when I 
am idle, of the happiness of getting home again. 
Oh ! I never, never will grumble at anything 
again. But also I will never eat beef when 
once I escape from -army rations ; and I will 
never again own a carpet-bag. The misery 
those carpet-bags have cost me ! I rush up for 
something that is wanted in a hurry; it is at 
the bottom of the bag, — things that are wanted 
always are. I tip it over into the berth, seize 
what I want, and am gone again. But then 
comes midnight ! I creep up tired and sleepy, 
and find a mound of books, boots, cologne-bot- 
tles, and other brittle and angular things which 
must be cleared away before I can fling myself 
down. Amelia, our black servant, says : " Laws 


me ! I do wonder if you sleep on all dat 
muss ! " 

Eeinforcements are arriving daily. I suppose 
from eight to ten thousand of McCall's division 
(a small portion of McDowell's corps) have 
arrived within a week. At first I scarcely 
noticed their coming. I heard their gay bands, 
and the loud cheering of the men as the trans- 
ports rounded the last bend of the river and came 
in sight of the landing ; but such sounds of the 
dreadful other side of war filled my ears that 
if I heard I heeded not. For the last night or 
two the arrivals by moonlight, the cheers and 
the gay music have been really enlivening. We 
see the dark side of all. You must not, how- 
ever, gather only gloomy ideas from me. I see 
the worst, short of the actual battle-field, that 
there is to see. You must not allow yourself 
to think there is no brightness because I do 
not speak of it. 

"Wilson Small," June 12. 

Dear A., — Yours of the 4th received, telling 
me you have sent some cases. How eagerly 
I shall look out for the " Webster ! " I wish 


I could instruct you fully as to the late battle ; 
but our work so fills both time and mind that 
I feel as if I lived out of the war now that I 
live in it. You have much fuller accounts in 
the New York papers than I can give you. 
The little that I know is, however, true, and 
that is more than can be said of all the papers 
tell you. The late battle was not a general 
engagement. The enemy attacked us on the 
left. Our left is composed of two corps d'ar- 
m^e, — General Keyes's and General Heintzel- 
mann's. Each corps has two divisions, each 
division four or five brigades, each brigade four 
regiments. Our left has been for some time 
across the Chickahominy, although not so near 
Richmond as our right, which is now bridg- 
ing the river and the swamps to cross higher 
up, and is composed of two corps, — General 
Franklin's and General Fitz-John Porter's j the 
latter stretching away to the right to form the 
desired junction with McDowell. The bed of 
the Chickahominy is narrow ; but in wet 
weather it becomes nearly treble its width, 
making the bridges and causeways which we 
have built nearly impassable. The enemy, tak- 


ing advantage of the great storm which flooded 
these bottom lands (destroying, so they hoped, 
our communications), attacked General Casey's 
division on three sides. This division is part 
of General Keyes's corps. It was clearly a sur- 
prise, some of the officers being killed at dinner 
in their tents. We were forced back, losing 
guns and ground, — which were recovered, how- 
ever, when General Couch's division (also of 
Keyes's corps) came up. It is said that when 
General Kearny's division (of Heintzelmann's 
corps) reached the ground, the day was already 
redeemed. Our right was from four to seven 
miles distant from the scene of action, which 
was at a place called Seven Pines, on the line 
of the railroad. General McClellan, whose 
headquarters are on the railroad this side of 
the Chickahominy, and about the centre of our 
lines, crossed the river Saturday afternoon 
with General Sumner and his corps, and the 
next day (Sunday) defeated the enemy at all 

This is all I know ; and you won't imderstand 
it without a map. I am sorry to say General 
McClellan is very unwell, if not seriously ill. 


I am told he has had the fever, which has left 
him with camp dysentery. I inclose a printed 
letter of Mr. Olmsted's about the work of the 
Commission which we all like very much. I 
have made some notes to it, for I comprehend 
the family egotism about me enough to feel 
that you will read the letter with double inter- 
est if you know where I fit into it. 

Last evening we made our first pleasure excur- 
sion. Mr. Olmsted begged us ("us" always means 
himself and staff) to take a run in the " Wheel- 
barrow," " Wissahickon," or " Wicked Chicken," 
as we indiscriminately call our tug-boat, up 
the river beyond the burned bridge. We gen- 
erally have one or two pleasant outsiders not far 
off. Last night it was Colonel M., who had 
ridden in from the front to spend a day with 
his wife. Oh, how we enjoyed our little holi- 
day ! It was sweet to run suddenly out of the 
noisy bustle of the wharves and the camp, out 
of the breath of hospitals, into the still river, 
shining with amber lights of sunset, where 
nothing broke the silence but the cranes — and 
we. We came home by moonlight, refreshed 
and happy. 


To-day (very suddenly, and just at dinner- 
time) the Chief discovered that an ice-boat was 
missing; so we have dropped down to Cum- 
berland in search of her. In other words, we 
have had a peaceful family dinner, safe from 
loafers and spongers; and now we are sitting 
on the after-deck, dreaming, reading, writing, 
and some of us, of course, smoking. I can't tell 
you what a pleasure it is to be with these 
people who go right in to a thing thoroughly. 
Nobody is head here (except the Chief). We 
all do a little of everything, and pretty much 
what we please. I am, if anything, at the foot. 
This is not humility, but truth ; the others are 
so prompt and efficient that they often take 
out of my hands that which I might do. 

We are just passing the charred bones of a 
burned rebel gunboat. Oh, this pretty river ! 
How I wish you could be beside me now ! If 
you were, you should occupy our best chair, 
which once was cane-bottomed, but now has 
only the frame-work of the seat, on which we 
poise ourselves. 

I am well, and shall last, I think, till we get 
to Richmond. Don't be uneasy about me ; if 


I should be ill, I shall take the mail-boat, and 
be at home before you can hear of it. To-mor- 
row I take a ride in an ambulance, which equi- 
page the surgeon-in-charge of the Shore hospital 
is to send down for us, that we may go up and 
organize a special diet kitchen for him, where 
proper sick-food can be prepared under the 
surgeons' orders. All good hospitals ought to 
be self-supporting. Government furnishes an 
ample ration, which can be drawn in money 
(" commuted " they call it) and spent in proper 
food for the sick, instead of the ordinary mess 
diet. I should like to have charge of a hospital 
now. I could make it march, if only I had 
hold of some of the administrative power. 

We have little to do at the present moment. 
From twenty-five to seventy-five sick men come 
down daily. We give them a meal as they 
arrive, and then they are taken to the Shore 
hospital. When a wounded man comes down 
he is put on the " Elm City," now lying along- 
side the wharf. We have done nothing on 
board of her since we last fitted her up before 
the battle. She has her full complement of 
service, and the women's department is in the 


competent hands of Mrs. Balestier and Miss 
Bradford. At present our time is divided be- 
tween the tent and the " Small," — the dear 
" Small ! " I wonder whether we should like her 
as well under any other name. We have given 
quite a home-look to our little cabin, which is 
never without its bouquet of magnolia, jessamine, 
and honeysuckle. Our orderlies gather the flow- 
ers as an attention to "the ladies," and every 
now and then Captain Sawtelle sends a bunch. 

Heavy orders for intrenching-tools were 
filled and sent forward last night. This looks 
as if a battle were not in prospect. It is all 
very well for political idiots and men at ease 
to talk about " cutting our way into Richmond." 
If they want it done, why don't they give 
McClellan strength enough to do it ? Colonel M. 
says that we must trust him ; that whatever he 
does, be it act or wait, will be well done. When 
will the nation learn that it is in the hands of 
its greatest man, and wait calmly for his re- 
sults, only taking care in the mean time to 
strengthen his hands ? ^ I hope you keep my 

* It is peihaps as well to say here that my present opinion 
of General McClellan is somewhat different from what it was. 


letters (for my own benefit). I have no recol- 
lection of where I have been or what I have 
done. You can form no idea of the bewilder- 
ment and doubt in which we live as to "times 
and seasons, hours of the day and days of the 
week. It is really absurd. I am told to-day 
is Thursday ; but I certainly thought it was 

" Wilson Small," June 14. 

Dear Mothee, — If I can give you a clear ac- 
count of what occurred last night, I shall do a 
clever thing ; for everybody is asking everybody 
else if he has any positive idea as to what the 
fuss was all about. 

We were waiting in our tent for a train of 
sick men which had been due more than an 
hour. It was nearly seven o'clock, and every- 

I still think that he was an able general, and a noble and patri- 
otic man, who sought to heal as well as to conc^uer. But he was, 
it seems, too slow for the work he had to do. He was an accom- 
plished and careful soldier, even a great one ; but he had not 
the genius of War, nor the dash that sometimes takes its place. 
On the other hand, we must remember that no great commander 
was ever so trammelled and thwarted by civilian ignorance and 
scheming. Had the powers ultimately given to General Grant 
been intrusted to General McClellan, he might, perhaps, have 
ended the war in this campaign. 


thing was ready ; presently the train came in, 
and five men, bleeding from fresh wounds, were 
brought out. The train had been fired into, 
a quartermaster had been killed, and five of 
the sick men wounded.^ All this had happened 
about three miles from White House. We did 
not pay much attention to the story, for we 
were busy giving and sending food to the rest 
of the men. But presently Mr. Olmsted came 
up with an order from Colonel Ingalls : " The 
ladies will return at once to their boat." Of 
course we obeyed, but as slowly as we could, 
asking questions as we went along. A second 
order came : " Report the ladies on board at 
once." We obeyed. Presently Mr. Olmsted fol- 
lowed with a third order : " The wounded will 
be moved from the 'Elm City' to the ' Small ' 
instantly ; the latter will run down to the 
' Spaulding.' This arrangement is made, as 
the shipping may have to be burned. Put the 
ladies behind the iron walls of the 'Spaulding.' " 
Then came another hurrying order : " Let the 
' Ehn City' go down with her wounded on 

* Stuarf s raid. See Colonel von Borcke's account of this 
"gallant" deed in "Blackwood's Magazine " for September, 1865. 


board, and rendezvous witli the ' Small ' along- 
side the ' Spaulding.' " So away we went. 

But Mr. Olmsted was not satisfied. I believe 
he felt that our right place was where we might 
be of service ; and after seeing the order obeyed, 
he took a boat and rowed himself back to 
the landing. The result was that an order was 
sent down soon after to bring the " Small " 
back to the wharf and take on the sick men 
who had arrived on the train. So we took a 
detail and thirty mattresses from the " Spauld- 
ing," and went back as fast as we could. Cap- 
tain Sawtelle came on board at once. Nothing 
very definite was known. A gap had occurred 
in our lines somewhere near Hanover Court- 
House. A regiment of cavalry was supposed 
to have got through. A good deal of harm 
had been done. Our hearts beat for the rail- 
road-bridges (two distinct fires could be seen), 
and for a moment we felt gloomy. It would 
have been a serious business to cut off even one 
day's supply to the army ; it would have played 
into the enemy's hands, — perhaps by forcing 
on a general engagement. Captain Sawtelle 
was arming every man capable of bearing arms, 


— teamsters, etc., — and was prepariug to burn 
everything, shipping and all, if necessary. Two 
of our party, Mr, Woolsey and Mr. Mitchell, vo- 
lunteered their services, and were under arms all 
night. A battery of artillery was hastily got 
together of guns that had arrived the night 
before ; and this morning we learn that the 
Bucktail Rifles, Colonel Biddle's regiment, 
which had gone up two days earlier, has re- 
turned to guard the railroad-bridges. These 
and the track are perfectly safe. The telegraph- 
wires have been cut. The two fires we saw were 
only some shipping — two or three schooners — 
five miles up the river. It is said that a body 
of guerillas from the country between the 
Pamunky and the Rappahannock, hearing of 
the dash of their cavalry, came across the Pa- 
munky on five scows, and did some damage. 
I wonder if they were looking at us the other 
night from behind the cranes ! 

This is the resume of what we have heard 
from Captain Sawtelle, who pays his morning 
and evening momentary visit or look at us. 
Now you know all about the affair historically, 

— at least, as much as anybody knows; but 


there 's a dark, private aspect of it to me, and 
though I dare say I can tell it as a joke, it is like 
playing with something that has not yet lost its 
sting. Georgy and I were highly indignant at 
being sent away ; we thought it shirking our 
duty, and very inglorious. At last our tongues 
got loose ; we said all we thought, — at least I 
did. I said more than I thought, because I was 
in a passion ; and all I got for it was the sense 
of having hurt and wounded Mr. Olmsted. Of 
course he was right ; I can see now that he had 
to take care of us, even though it seemed ab- 
surd. This happened as we were going down 
to the " Spaulding." Presently Mr. Olmsted 
was missing. He had taken a small boat, 
and was rowing himself back to the landing. 
I saw him shoot into the darkness, and I felt 
like a brute ; I was so sorry for what I had 
said ; I felt I had somehow goaded him, — and 
I thought of him, so delicate, and now really 
ill, making his way into danger in a horrid 
little boat. 

Just then Dr. Jenkins told us that if we had 
valuables on board, we had better secure them, 
as the " Small " might have to be burned. 


While I was getting my bags ready, I remem- 
bered that Dr. Ware and David Haight were 
ashore, in charge of the sick who were left in 
the tents, and that all their things would be 
burned unless somebody saved them. So, with- 
out further thought, I went into the stateroom 
which they shared together, and spreading a 
huge shawl of Eobert Ware's on the floor, I 
proceeded to fill it with the entire contents of 
the room. I had just finished, and was knot- 
ting the ends of the shawl together, when 
Georgy came by. She stood like a mocking 
fiend, gazing at that wretched blue bundle ; she 
drew such a picture of the possible morrow, and 
of my shame and confusion when I should have 
to explain what I had been about, that I was 
completely beaten down and humbled ; and 
when Mr. Olmsted's order came, recalling us, 
and I perceived that the " Small " was not 
likely to be burned, I fell into a perfectly abject 
state of mind. This mollified her. "Come," 
said she, relenting, " there 's time enough ; 
let's go to work and put the things back." 
How grateful I felt to her while I quickly 
untied the "pack," as she persisted in calling 


it. I had a general idea where the coats and 
trousers ought to go; but where the minor 
articles belonged, who could tell ? But I 
wouldn't show perplexity under Georgy's eye, 
and I popped them here and there with a sem- 
blance of order that stateroom did not wear 
when I went into it. Alas! This morning, 
through the ventilator, came the fatal cry : 
" Haight, take your things out of my bed ! " 
"Where 's my hair-brush?" " Where 's mme ?" 
" Upon my soul, I believe you 've even got my 
tooth-brush ! " Oh ! if any one ever repented 
himself of philanthropy, I did then ; and who 
shall guarantee me that Georgy will not come 
out and tell the whole story, and put me to 
open shame ? 

It took a very short time to turn our little 
home into a hospital. By 2 A. m. the men were 
all on board, and by four o'clock they were com- 
fortable for the night. They are very sick, — 
perhaps the worst set together that I ever saw ; 
scarcely any are in their right mind, some are 
raving, one is screaming now for "something 
hot," " lucifer-matches." They have been much 
shaken by the attack on the train, which has, I 


think, greatly aggravated their condition. One 
of them died this morning, unconscious, as usual, 
and so quietly that it was some minutes before 
I believed it, though Dr. Ware said it was so. 
He was speechless when he came into our 
hands, — sent down with no indication of name 
or regiment ; and so he dies. There is another 
dying man lying next to where he lay; and 
though his eyes are bright and intelligent, he 
can give no sign, and I cannot discover any- 
thing about him. So many nameless men come 
down to us, speechless and dying, that now we 
write the names and regiments of the bad cases 
and fasten them to their clothing, so that if 
they are speechless when they reach other 
hands, they may not die like dogs, and be 
buried in nameless graves, and remain forever 
" missing " to their friends. This was Georgy'a 
thought, — so like her ! How I love her practi- 
cal tenderness ! 

Mr. Olmsted is puzzled what to do with these 
men. There is a standing order against any 
but wounded going upon the boats ; but they 
can hardly be sent to the Shore hospital until 
the question as to what this raid really is, set- 



ties itself. I have no time to write more. We 
are short-handed, and can spare but little time 
from the men, and they, poor souls, are so 
noisy and crazy that they give us unusual care 
and anxiety. I am now going below to the 
main-deck saloon, where they are, for the night- 

The " Daniel Webster " reported herself at 
4 p. M. Dr. Grymes and Captain Bletham came 
on board at once. The latter was much grati- 
fied by D. and A.'s visit to the ship at Boston. 
My precious cases are on board ; but in the 
present condition of the " Small " they must 
remain on the " Webster." 

In oue Tent, June 18. 

Dear A., — All my delightful cases and let- 
ters are received. You have just no idea of 
the pleasure they give. I wrote last on the 
14th. Sunday was a very distressing day. 
Our sick men were still with us, for Mr. Olm- 
sted could neither get permission to put them 
on the " Elm City," nor induce the surgeon of 
the Shore hospital to send his ambulances for 
them. Expecting every hour to move them. 


we were unable to put tliem into hospital 
clothing ; and as they were very restless and 
crazy, this made our work less satisfactory than 
usual. In all other respects they were well 
cared for. 

The painfulness of the day was greatly in- 
creased by a visit from a Sunday picnic of 
Congressmen and ladies. One of the former 
went to Mr. Olmsted and complained to him 
of what he saw on our boat. He said the men 
were in " an awful state. I saw — I saw with 
my own eyes — flies settling on them and biting 
them ! " This gentleman came into the ward 
with a rose held to his nose ; and when told 
they were all typhoid-fever cases (" That one by 
you is the worst case I ever saw," Georgy said 
maliciously), he went abruptly away. Had he 
stopped to examine the condition of things, he 
would have seen that every man who could not 
brush the flies away had a mosquito-netting 
over him, and all the others had fans. The 
thermometer is at 90°, and the flies are an Egyp- 
tian plague; but all was done that could be 
done to alleviate it. I could see that this affair 
pained Mr. Olmsted exceedingly. It was essen- 


tially unjust; but the outward circumstances 
of the case, as I have stated them, did not per- 
mit that ample refutation which a mere glance 
into one of the wards would usually afford. I 
think he felt it the more as it was our very own 
castle thus invaded by reproach. But a few 
hours later a thing occurred which must have 
wiped from his mind the sting of reproach from 

such a quarter. Colonel , who was on the 

"Elm City," very ill with typhoid fever, was 
madly anxious to get home. He knew he must 
die, and he craved to see his wife. The gentle- 
men of the excursion-party were asked to take 
him back on their boat. They refused ; alleg- 
ing that they were " a select party," and " not 
prepared to incur infection : " they made the 
ladies the ground of their excuse. So Mrs. 
Griffin went at midnight to the ladies and 
begged them to consent to take him ; and of 
course they did so. I could enlarge upon this, 
but the subject is hateful. 

Sunday evening we moved our men to the 
"Elm City," where I found them all comfort- 
ably placed on Monday, when I went through 
the wards with a member of the New England 


Women's Association, who had come down on 
the " Webster " to make up her mind as to 
whether we were doing our duty. She went 
back with them on the " Elm City " yesterday. 

Dr. Henry J. Bigelow arrived early in the 
week. He came on a private mission from 
the Secretary of War to see and report upon 
the state of the Medical Department, and find 
out where the hitch really is. I wish he had 
come from the Surgeon-General instead. The 
Secretary of War is apt to send missions of 
private inquiry by which he forgets to profit ; 
so that the best man for the work of inspection 
is likely to go back from here and have his 
observations disregarded. Mr. Olmsted has paid 
him all the attention in his power. Matters of 
importance are, however, pending at this mo- 
ment between Mr. Olmsted and the Surgeon- 
General, and this throws some g^ne into his 
intercourse with Dr. Bigelow. I gather that 
he cannot open himself freely to him. I do 
not know, of course, how matters are between 
Mr. Olmsted and the Medical Department, and 
if I did know I should not speak of them ; but 
I may certainly say this : that the Department 


feels tlie greatest gratitude to Mr. Olmsted for 
what he has done, and would gladly give him 
much wider power, if that were what he is 
seeking. That is not his object, however; in- 
deed, the object of the Commission itself is not 
sufficiently understood. Those who admire its 
wise and noble work naturally feel the wish 
that larger power should be given to it. But 
the object of the Commission itself is not this. 
It seeks to bring the Government to do what 
the Government should do for its sick and 
wounded. Until that object is accomplished, 
the Commission stands ready to throw itself 
into the breach, as it did during that dreadful 
battle-week, as it does more or less all the time. 
The thing it asks for is not the gift of power, 
but that the Government should take the work 
away from it by doing it thoroughly itself. A 
Medical Inspector is to be sent here immediately, 
at Mr. Olmsted's earn'est request, and we shall 
see what that will bring forth. But, after all, 
I fear the principle of active war is, and per- 
haps must be, — every marching man is pre- 
cious ; when he drops, he 's a dog. Ah ! what 
would have become of him so far without the 


Sanitary Commission ? I am not afraid to say 
that no enterprise ever deserved better of the 
people. Alive to the true state of things, ever 
aiming at the best thing to be done, and striving 
to bring everything to bear towards that, it has 
already fulfilled a great work, — let those who 
have reaped its benefits say how great and how 

I am sitting with Georgy in the tent, waiting 
for the arrival of a train of sick men, due 
notice of which is always telegraphed to us 
from Savage's Station. The " Wilson Small " 
has dropped down the river to coal, Mrs. Grif- 
fin is, I grieve to say, knocked up, with curious 
symptoms of fainting and wandering. Dr, 
Ware says she must go home, and she leaves 
on the mail-boat to-morrow, — a most serious 
loss to us at any time, but especially if an 
emergency occurs. 

Yesterday we did nothing special but dress 
in clean clothes (I mean the cleanest we had) 
and go down to the " Webster," where we 
were received with all honors, and had a good 
dinner, — Georgy and I eating an incredible 
number of raspberry tartlets. Dr. Grymes drank 


to US in his happiest manner : " Ladies, I 
give you a welcome where you have a right ! " 
The ship was dressed with magnolia, honey- 
suckle, and the lovely white fringe blossoms, in 
our honor. The " Webster" is a constant satis- 
faction to the Chief, bemg thoroughly all right, 
— thanks to Dr. Grymes and Mrs. Trotter and 
her good captain.^ 

In onR Tent, June 20. 

Dear Mother, — For the first time I have 
neglected you, — and not from hard work either, 
but from a scattering sort of work, which has 
left us no time of absolutely needed rest in 
which to write. All your Newport cases have 
arrived ; also four cases of brandy and one of 
beef stock, marked " F. Gordon Dexter; " four 
of sherry, from Mrs. J. Howland Shaw ; one of 
lemons, marked "Mrs. Kuhn;" also a case of 

' Dr. Giymes's health was steadily giving way. As we looked 
at him, so full of energy and ardor in his work, we used to think 
he knew he was a dying man, and chose to alleviate death and 
suffering in others as long as life was in him. After the campaign 
was over, he became surgeon of the Sanitary Commission " Home " 
in Washington. His residence was a few paces off, and he reso- 
lutely came to his work until it took him half an hour, supported 
on each side, to get over that short distance ; then he died. 


assorted liquors, and a box of lemon-squeezers, 
from the Honorable Ezra (can't make out the 
name), of Walpole, Mass., who says he had seen 
a letter of mine somewhere, in which I told 
that I had squeezed eight hundred lemons on 
one occasion. The cases sent by the "St. Mark " 
are also in my possession ; but for the last three 
days I have had no time to open them, and I 
won't sacrifice my present hour of writing to 
do it now. 

The Fourth Connecticut came down to-day for 
its siege-guns. We, who have seen the black- 
ness of battles, rejoice, and trust it is a sign 
that there may be no more. God grant it may 
be so ! How deluded the body of the Southern 
troops and people have been by their leaders ! 
I go as much as I can among the prisoners, that 
I may judge for myself how they feel. I find 
surprise their chief emotion. " I never thought 
of this." "I could change the feelings of half 
my county if I told them what I know now." 
One man told me he had never fired his gun. 
They look shy, and are unwilling to meet your 
eye ; but if you make any way with them, you 
are almost sure to see tears in theirs. I have 


written letters for several of them, which Gen- 
eral Wool and General Dix have been very kind 
in forwarding from Fortress Monroe on the flag- 
of-truce boat. The men are eager to write, 
" because their friends are thinking them so 
badly treated, and they want to tell them how 
it is." Of course there may be exceptions to 
this spirit ; but I have, so far, met with none. 
Just now I asked a handsome young fellow, 
with a clear eye which at first he rather veiled, 
if he had all he wanted, — " All," he said ; 
" more than I deserve to have." 

Wednesday, the " Small " went down to coal, 
and Georgy and Dr. Ware and I spent the day 
in the tent, and dined with our old black aunty 
on the "Elizabeth," — or the "Fiend," as she 
is commonly called, from her habit of rushing 
up at all hours of the day and night, making 
unearthly noises with her steam-pipe. The 
usual number of men, about a hundred, came 
down. The process is this : I will describe it, 
and you can imagine it, once for all. 

We have thirty-three Sibley tents along the 
line of the railroad on the other side of the track. 
On this side, and just at the head of the wharf, 


— an old scow and a few planks which we dig- 
nify by that name, — stands the tent, filled with 
stores, and the kitchen behind it. The "kitchen" 
is al fresco, and consists solely of two long 
trenches about a foot deep, with forked upright 
stakes at each end and a pole across, on which 
the camp-kettles are hooked over the fire built 
in the trench below. Alongside the tent we 
have two large wall-tents, where we put the 
worst cases, so as to have them close at hand ; 
the others, which are mostly waiting for the hos- 
pital ambulances, are put in the Sibley tents. 
We take great pride and satisfaction in these 
arrangements. It is true that the tent is smoky 
and hot, not pleasantly odoriferous, and filled 
with flies ; but when the smoke is very bad we 
make believe it kills the flies. In short, we 
admit nothing evil of our tent ; and when Dr. 
Agnew, peeping round in the smoke, said in the 
kindness of his heart : " Oh, how uncomfortable 
for you ! " we were seriously angry with him.^ 

A train arrives, and the principle on which 
we proceed is as follows : The wounded men 

1 " It was not the vale of Cashmere," as Dr. Ware wrote 
me in his last letter, jnst before his death, " but many dear asso- 
ciations cluster round it." 


are sent at once on board whicliever transport 
lies at the wharf (the "Small," the "Elizabeth," 
and the " Wicked Chicken " always lie outside 
of the large vessel). As they pass our tent, we 
give them something refreshing or stimulating, 
as the case may need. The sick men are put 
into the tents, and we give them a meal. They 
ought to be moved promptly to the Shore hos- 
pital; but the surgeon-in-charge is not prompt, 
so they are often a day or a night in our 
hands. This gives us an average of a hundred 
men to feed and attend to daily ; but they are 
constantly changing. Dr. Ware has the entire 
charge and responsibility of them and of the 
shipments upon our boats. As soon as a train 
comes in he selects the cases. Meantime we 
despatch, by our four orderlies, buckets of soup, 
or tea, or milk-porridge, and other food ; then 
we follow Dr. Ware into the train with the 
inevitable brandy and beef-tea. The cars are 
large, double freight-cars. The worst cases lie 
upon the floor inside ; the slight cases sit upon 
the roof. Dr. Ware is everything to us, — so 
sensible, so self-sacrificing, so prompt, so care- 
ful. We owe all the comfort of this tent to 


him, for he takes pains to keep it well supplied, 
and thus ef&cient. His fault is that he thinks 
too little of himself ; and I fear it wUl always 
keep him back in life. 

On Thursday we went down in the " Small " 
to Yorktown. Mr. Olmsted wished to inspect 
the "St. Mark" (it ought to be "St. Luke"),— 
a large clipper-ship sent down by the Sanitary 
Commission. The surgeons and ladies were 
ashore when we arrived, so we could go over 
the ship with an eye to her real merits. She is 
magnificent ; but so wholly out of the pale of the 
necessities of our work that, though we heartily 
admired, we could not feel the intense pleasure 
and sympathy with which we hail some lesser 
good on the other vessels. She is not fit for trans- 
port service, drawing too much water to get up 
the rivers, and having no steam. She should be 
kept as a floating-hospital off Fortress Monroe ; 
for that she is perfect, — giving noble accommo- 
dation for a few, say two hundred, men. Our 
work, on the other hand, requires us to give 
life and some comfort to the many. 

The Quartermaster, an old friend, gave us 
many valuable things. Case after case rattled 


on to the "Small," and tin pails almost in 
abundance. "We dined on board. Dr. Draper 
is in charge, — his wife and Mrs. George T. 
Strong among the ladies. Soon after dinner 
a telegram arrived, recalling Mr. Olmsted to 
White House ; and we had the sweetest run up 
the river by every light imaginable, — sunlight, 
simset, twilight, moonlight. 

Orders had come to send the " Webster " and 
the " Spaulding " to Fortress Monroe immedi- 
ately, and empty the hospitals there as fast as 
possible. Mrs. Griffin went in the " Webster," 
which sailed at eleven o'clock last night ; so 
one of our four fingers is missing. 

To-day the Chief and the " Small " have gone 
to Yorktown on "special business." Mrs. M., 
Georgy, Dr. Ware, and I are waiting in the tent 
for one hundred and fifty men now due. To- 
morrow, I fear, we shall have many wounded ; 
heavy firing on our right has been going on all 
the afternoon, and a good deal of musketry. 

This is a very rambling letter ; but it is hard 
to keep any ideas in one's head, being inter- 
rupted every tenth word by cooks. Zouaves, 
and obnoxious persons of many kinds, who per- 


sist in looking into the tent and asking ques- 
tions. This afternoon, as I was attending to 
some men in the Sibley tents, I came upon one 
of the exhortative kind, who often afford us 
much amusement. He made a rapid survey 
of the history of the world, to prove that no 
women had ever done as we were doing, no 
men had ever been succored as they were 
succored. Whether he was out of his mind, 
or simply one of the irrepressible, I could not 
tell ; but he looked so funny, declaiming in his 
hospital rig, that I slipped out of the tent, con- 
vulsed with laughter, — for which I felt sorry, 
and rather ashamed, a moment later, when I 
saw the tears in the eyes of a gentleman, new 
to the work, who was with me. But we must 
either laugh or cry ; and this work teaches us 
that we had better laugh, if we mean to be 
good for anything. I hope I have not seemed 
to you heartless in the tone which I have 
taken ; it is that which we all adopt, and, 
though perfectly genuine, it answers as a men- 
tal prophylactic. 

Good-by ! I mean to go to sleep. The train 
is not in, and may not be till morning. I have 


learned to sleep on my arm, and it is very 
" comfy." As for Georgy, she curls herself up 
anywhere, like a little gray kitten, and is asleep 
in a minute. 

"WiLBON Small," June 22. 

Deak Mother, — Yesterday was a hard day, 
and not a very useful one. The result is that I 
am a little befogged this morning, — deaf, drowsy, 
and dull. Five hundred men came down last 
night, — the clearings-out of the regimental hos- 
pitals on the right. Our gentlemen were up 
all night. I was safe in my berth ; but Georgy 
was in the tent till 3 A. M., though she had 
been up all the night before. 

The Great Mogul, the Medical Inspector, 
Colonel VoUum, for whom Mr. Olmsted has 
been begging, has arrived. He is staying on 
board the " Small." He ranks every other med- 
ical officer ; therefore on him our hopes depend. 
The run to Yorktown on " special business " 
was made to give the Chief and the Inspector a 
chance of quietly discussing the whole matter. 
Mr. Olmsted has just been, full of brightness, 
to tell me that everything is arranged satis- 


factorily, and to read me the signed agree- 
ment. The Commission is to take : 1. All badly- 
wounded men, all amputations and compound 
fractures of the lower extremities, and all other 
cases which ought not to travel at first (say 
five hundred, — a large estimate), and keep them, 
on board the "Knickerbocker" and the "St. 
Mark," in the river until they can be moved. 
It engages to spend a sum not exceeding ten 
thousand dollars on the means of carrying out 
this first item. 2. It agrees to receive at Fortress 
Monroe three thousand other bad cases able to 
bear transportation, whenever a battle occurs ; 
and four thousand five hundred more within 
twelve days of it, and transport them to New 
York, Washington, or elsewhere. 

Thus, you see, the Commission gains the 
certainty that the worst cases and the greatest 
suffering shall be under its own eye and care. 
The rest — the slightly wounded, or those so 
wounded as to be able to help themselves — are 
the ones that are left to the Government. The 
country may feel assured that when the great 
battle occurs, provision is made for those who 
shall suffer most ; and the Commission feels that 



the country will provide that it shall not fall 
short in its engagement. This enables us to 
contemplate a great battle with less of a night- 
mare feeling than we have had while there was 
nothing to expect but a repetition of past scenes. 
We feel that something is impending ; the clear- 
ing out of the hospitals, the arrangements thus 
decisively made for the wounded, all seem to 
point to a coming emergency. Oh ! can we 
help dreading it? 

General Van Vliet has just been here, — a jolly 
old gentleman, with his shock of yellow-white 
hair, and his nice, old-fashioned politesse for 
" the ladies." We fire a volley of questions 
at him. First, and before all else, " How is 
the General ? " (meaning, of course, General 
McClellan.) "Ho ! he's well; quite got over that 
fever of yours, — what do you call it, typhoid ? " 
Then we try to get out of him some information 
about the state of affairs. He said he dined at 
General Porter's headquarters with several of 
the corps commanders yesterday, and it was 
universally agreed that General Porter's position 
was not tenable any longer ; that our line was 
far too long (I told you that our right was 


stretched out to touch McDowell). "Well," 
says the General, " Porter is in what you may 
call a deadlock, — emit get across the river ; 
there 's a battery " (making a lunge at our best 
chair). " What they '11 do will be to try and 
turn our flank. Perhaps they '11 do it ; per- 
haps not." " And we ? " we cried. "Oh, you!" 
he said, with his jolly laugh, " you 'U have to 
cut and run as best you can, and we 'U go into 
Richmond." "Shall we go up the James River?" 
"How are you going into Richmond?" "Has 
Burnside got Fort Darling ? " Here the General 
became impenetrable, but looked so profoundly 
wise that if he did not tell his secret, he at 
least told that he had one. 

Captain Sawtelle sent me a present of mint 
to-day (his orderly could not restrain a smile 
as he gave it to me), and the Captain came 
just now with an eye, I fear, to that improper 
thing called a " mint-julep." You may think it 
very vulgar, but let me tell you it is very good ; 
and you would think so too if you had been 
up all night, with the thermometer at 90°. 
Georgy is flitting about, putting things to rights 
(or wrongs) with as much energy as if she had 


not been up two nights. She has hunted me 
into the smallest corner of the cabin, while she 
dusts and decorates the rest. Her activity is 
a never-ending marvel to me. I saw her to- 
day spring from the ground to the floor of a 
freight-car, with a can of beef-tea in one hand, 
her flask in the other, and a row of tin cups 
tied round her waist. Our precious flasks ! 
They do us good service at every turn. We 
wear them slung over our shoulders by a bit 
of ribbon or an end of rope. If, in the " long 
hereafter of song," some poet should undertake 
to immortalize us, he'll do it thus, if he's an 
honest man and sticks to truth : — 

A lady with a flask shall stand, 
Beef-tea and punch in either hand, — 
Heroic mass of mud 
And dirt and stains and blood ! 

This matter of dirt and stains is becoming 
very serious. My dresses are in such a state that 
I loathe them, and myself in them. From chin 
to belt they are yellow with lemon-juice, sticky 
with sugar, greasy with beef-tea, and pasted 
with milk-porridge. Farther down, I dare not 
inquire into them. Somebody said, the other 


day (a propos of what, I forget), that he wished 
to kiss the hem of my garment. I thought 
of the condition of that article, and shuddered. 
This state of " things " has reached its climax. 
" Georgy," I said the other day, " what am I 
to do? I can't put on that dress again, and 
the other is a great deal worse." " I know 
what I shall do," says Georgy, who is never 
at a loss, and suggests the wildest things in 
the calmest way : " Dr. Agnew has some flannel 
shirts ; he is going back to New York, and can't 
want them. I shall get him to give me one." 
Accordingly, Santa Georgeanna has appeared in 
an easy and graceful costume, looking espe- 
cially feminine. I took the hint, and have 
followed suit in a flannel shirt from the hos- 
pital supplies ; and now, having tasted the 
sweets of that easy garment, we shall dread civ- 
ilization if we have to part with what we call 
our " Agnews." 

Just as I was writing the last words. Dr. 
Coolidge came on board. I was delighted to 
see him. He has a sad story from his place of 
action, — as sad as ours ; as sad as all that come 
from honest hearts and capable heads wherever 


they are. But let us hope for better things to 
come, — especially to-day. 

Good-by ! I have so many letters to write 
that sometimes I feel as if I could not write 
another word. I have twelve lying by me now, 
ready to go o£E, — soldiers' letters, and answers 
to the friends of the dead. We receive such 
pathetic, noble letters from the parents and 
friends of those who have died in our care, 
and to whom it is a part of our duty to write. 
They will never cease to be a sad and tender 
memory to us. The mothers' are the most 
noble and unselfish; the wives' the most pa- 
thetic, — so painfully full of personal feeling. 

[The letters of the following week are missing. 
The mails were stopped on account of the prepara- 
tions for the " change of base," and probably the 
letters were lost in them. The above is the last letter 
mailed from White House which came to hand ; the 
next was brought down on the " Small," and mailed 
from Fortress Monroe.] 

"Wilson Small," off White House, 
Friday Afternoon, June 27. 

Dear Mother, — Yesterday we went down 
the river, at Captain Sawtelle's request, to clear 


the way, order the transports and barges quietly 
down, and prevent confusion. All the steamers 
towed all the sailing-vessels. Imagine a fleet 
of several hundred vessels streaming down the 
shining river. The Pamunky twists and turns 
so much that one day, after passing the " Web- 
ster " on her voyage down, we met her again, 
half an hour later, with only a narrow belt of 
land and a few trees between us. 

We returned last evening and found the 
whole place transformed. All the trees along 
the shore for half a mile had been cut down 
and toppled over into the river. The gunboats 
were drawn up ready for action, with their 
gims pointed to sweep the plain laid bare by 
the felling of the trees. Every hospital tent, 
two hundred and fifty of them, was down. All 
articles of value, commissary stores, ordnance 
stores, medical stores, etc., were on transports 
and barges, and on their way down the river. 
Nothing was left but the Quartermaster's De- 
partment tents, our tent, the camp of the Ninety- 
third New York Regiment, and a few stores 
and sutlers' quarters. Soon after, we saw the 
dear tent dismantled before our eyes, all her 


contents going on board the " Elizabeth," — Dr. 
"Ware rescuing for me, at the last moment, my 
invaluable Lund's patent corkscrew. 

The truth is, the whole thing has been pre- 
paring for days. Captain Sawtelle told us this 
morning that seven hundred thousand rations 
and a large amount of forage were sent up the 
James River a week ago. This is doubtless a 
masterly strategic movement of McClellan's, 
compelled by the want of reinforcements. As 
for what is going on with the army to-day, it 
would be simple folly to attempt to give you 
any account of it. The wildest and most con- 
tradictory rumors are afloat. We lie at the 
wharf, and all around us are people eager to 
tell absurd and exaggerated stories. I make 
it a rule to believe nothing that I do not pick 
up from Captain Sawtelle. Yesterday there 
was an impression that Stonewall Jackson was 
coming down upon us to destroy this depot ; 
and that has hastened the removal which was 
already prepared. 

Stripped of all exaggeration, I suppose the 
truth is this : General Porter, being flanked in 
immense force, has wheeled round and back. 


He crossed the Chickahominy at four o'clock 
this morning. The whole army is now across 
that river ; the enemy are in part on this side of 
it. We may now go into Richmond on the left, 
— Burnside co-operating. In that case this 
base of supplies will be more available up the 
James River. Meantime Colonel Ingalls and 
Captain Sawtelle are sending forward supplies 
in trains and army-wagons as fast as possible. 
The troops have six days' rations in their knap- 
sacks. The enemy evidently hope to ruin us by 
seizing this station, — hitherto the sole source 
of supply to our army. Instead of which, every- 
thing has been sent away; the few things that 
remain are lying on the wharves, ready to go on 
board a few vessels at the last moment. The 
" Elm City" is waiting for the Ninety-third New 
York Regiment, which is stationed here on guard- 
duty. We have had our steam up all day, ready 
to be off at a moment's notice ; and even as I 
write comes the order to start, the enemy hav- 
ing got the railroad. And so rapidly have we 
gone, that between writing the words " Elm 
City " and " railroad " we are off ! 

Such a jolly panic! Men rushing and tearing 


down to the wharves, — these precious civilians 
and sutlers and " scalawags " ! The enemy are 
in force three miles from us ; they have seized 
the railroad, and cut the telegraph. We pri- 
vately hope to get a glimpse of them as we go 
down the river ; it would be something to say that 
we had seen the Confederate army of Kichmond ! 

"We have just enjoyed the fun of seeing 
the last of the shore-people rushing on board 
schooners and steamers, — the former all yelling 
for " a tow." I never laughed more than to 
see the " contrabands " race down from the quar- 
ters and shovel into barges, — the men into one, 
the women into another. The " Canonicus " 
stayed behind to carry off Colonel Ingalls and 
Captain Sawtelle, who are highly pleased with 
the way the whole thing has been done, — as 
well they may be, for it reflects the greatest 
credit upon them. 

All our army is now across the Chicka- 
hominy : General Porter crossed at four this 
morning; only General Stoneman and the cav- 
alry are this side of the river. The order which 
finally moved us was in consequence of a mes- 
sage from General Stoneman to General Casey, 


which came by mounted messenger while Mr. 
Olmsted was with the latter. It said : " I hold 
the enemy in check at Tunstall's [three miles 
from White House, on the railway], and shall 
for a short time. I shall then retreat by White 
House." Then the great gun of the " Sebago " 
boomed out, and we all slipped our moorings. 
The gunboats were in line of battle ; we passed 
between them and the shore ; the men were 
beat to quarters, and standing at. their guns, — 
the great ferocious guns ! 

We had scarcely turned the first bend of the 
river before we heard explosions, and saw the 
smoke and fire of the last things burning, — such 
as locomotives, cars, a few tents, whiskey, etc. 
Before leaving, we saw clouds of dust, and Gen- 
eral Stoneman's baggage-train came trotting in ; 
and at the same moment a corral of invalid 
horses and mules, kept here by the Quartermas- 
ter's Department, seven hundred of them, were 
let loose and driven towards Cumberland*. The 
last I saw of the White House, General Casey 
was sitting on the piazza, and the signal-men 
on the roof were waving the pretty signals, 
which were being answered by the gunboats. 


And now we are streaming down the winding 
river; the "Elm City" ahead, with two or 
three schooners ; the little " Wissahickon " rac- 
ing along as fast as she can go, like a crab, and 
blessing herself that she is too little to be de- 
tained for " a tow." By and by we come, haul- 
ing slowly two big schooners ; then comes the 
" Daniel Webster," towing ammunition-barges ; 
after her the " Vanderbilt," towing something 
of which I can see only the masts above the 
trees as the river winds. At each bend there 
is an excitement. Somebody is sure to be with- 
in an ace of getting foul of somebody else. 
The smoke at White House is growing denser 
and denser, and we hear cannon, — which we 
take to mean that the gunboats are getting a 
chance at the enemy. 

The " Spaulding " here comes quietly up the 
river, and asks, bewildered, for orders. Mr. 
Olmsted replies : " Go up for the first heavy 
tow you can find, and report at Yorktown." 
So the Commission, having no sanitary business 
on hand, does its best for the service in another 


[To this letter I venture to add the following 
extract from one written some months later by the 
Chief of the party who left White House that Friday 
evening, June 27, 1862 : — 

" All night we sat on the deck of the ' Small,' 
slowly moving away, watching the constantly in- 
creasing cloud and the fire-flashes above the trees 
toward White House ; watching the fading out of 
what had been to us, through those strange weeks, a 
sort of home where we had worked together and been 
happy, — a place which is sacred to some of us now 
for its intense living remembrances, and for the 
hallowing of them all by the memory of one who, 
through months of death and darkness, lived and 
worked in self-abnegation ; lived in and for the suf- 
ferings of others, and finally gave himself a sacrifice 
for them."i] 

"Wilson Small," off Fortbess Moneob, 
Saturday, June 28. 

Dear A., — You will see my letter to mother, 
which gives an account of the removal of the 
depot at White House. We left last evening at 
the last moment, and rendezvoused for the 
night off West Point. Captain Sawtelle sent us 

* Dr. Robert Ware, who died at his post, aa surgeon of the 
Forty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, during the siege of Wash- 
ington, N. C, March 12, 1863, aged twenty-seven. 


off early from there with despatches for Fort- 
ress Monroe. This gave us the special fun of 
being the first to come leisurely into the panic 
then raging at Yorktown. The " Small " was 
instantly surrounded by terror-stricken boats ; 
the people of the big " St. Mark " leaned over 
their bulwarks to question us. Nothing could 
be more delightfiil than to be as calm and 
monosyllabic as we were, — partly from choice, 
and partly imder orders from Colonel Ingalls. 
They knew nothing, except the fact that the 
enemy had possession of White House. It seems 
that General Van Alen, commanding at York- 
town, had telegraphed to Colonel Ingalls after 
we left White House, and received from our 
successors a polite request to " go to — " 

We find no news here at the Fortress. We 
hoped to meet some from the James River ; but, 
on the contrary, it is we who have brought all 
the news as yet. Our eyes are strained towards 
the James, and every time a black hull shows 
in that direction we are feverish with anxiety 
and hope. The universal feeling here is that 
this movement of McClellan's is a grand stroke 
to wring a triumph out of adverse circum- 


stances. I feel it is so. " What profit lies in 
barren faith ? " was the thought I fell asleep 
with and dreamed of all night. 

Meantime we are here in Hampton Eoads, 
breathing life in the salt air. May I never see 
the pretty poisonous Pamunky again! Keep 
my room ready for me ; I may be home any 
day. Oh, to sleep in a bed once more ! It 
seems too great a rest ever to be reached. I 
am writing on the upper deck at 3 A. m., 
looking out upon the dawn, which slowly shows 
me, one by one, the places we have read of, — 
the Rip-Raps, Sewall's Point, Craney Island, and 
the ruins of the old church at Hampton.^ 

Off Norfolk, Sunday Evening, June 29. 

We are coaling here to-night, and leave at 
daybreak for Harrison's Bar, James River, 
where our gunboats are said to be. We hope 

* How well I remember the night when this letter was written, 
and the feelings which were not expressed in it ! Our minds had 
been strained to the utmost, and the disappointment and uncer- 
tainty striking sharply upon them were more than we could bear. 
I remember well what a dreadful day we passed off Fortress 
Monroe. At night I could not sleep, but went out and sat on the 
deck and wrote by the light of my lantern, and wondered if my 
mind were leaving me, and whether it would right itself again. 


to get farther up, but General Dix warns us 
that it is not safe. What are we about to 
learn? No one here can tell. 

Off Bebklbt, Harrison's Bar, James River, 
Tuesday, July 1, 1862. 

Dear Mother, — We arrived here yesterday 
to hear the thunder of the battle * and to find 
the army just approaching this landing. Last 
night it was a verdant shore; to-day it is a 
dusty plain. The feelings with which we 
came up the James River I can't describe, our 
anxiety, excitement, and breathless desire to 
know something were so great. Not a vessel 
was in sight after we left Newport News, except 
the " Canonicus," Quartermaster's Department 
boat, which was just ahead of us. No one 
could guess what knowledge any moment might 
bring to us. 

We were just admiring a fine old colonial 
house, when some one standing in the bows 
cried out : " I see something white among 
the trees to the right ! " and in a few minutes 
more we made them out to be army-wagons. 

> Of Malvern Hill. 


We had met our army ! What next were we 
to learn ? Never shall I forget the look of the 
first oflB.cers who came on board, — one a major, 
the other a chaplain. They were gaunt and 
haggard, their hair stood o\it from their heads 
stiffened with dust and dirt, their faces were 
nearly black, and to their waists they were 
literally moulded in Virginia clay. " Oh ! what 
is this ? " we cried. " Is it a defeat ? " " De- 
feat ! No ; we have retreated, but we never 
turned our backs on them. We have faced and 
fought and beaten them for five days ! " 

Just as we arrived. General McClellan came 
down on the " Galena " to see Colonel Ingalls. 
Think what a relief it must have been to his 
anxious mind to learn the perfect success of our 
removal from White House, and to know that 
supplies were already here, and following us up 
the river, for his exhausted army ! I saw the 
gunboat he was on, but I did not see him ; and 
he was gone almost immediately. 

The " Spaulding " has just come up the river 
and gone ahead of us (Miss Whetten and Mrs. 
Balestier on board) ; her iron sides can carry her 
safely past the rifle-pits which line the shore, and 



Mr. Olmsted thinks her stores may be service- 
able higher up. Dr. Jenkins has gone with 
her to judge for himself. No one can tell what 
work there is for us ; the wounded have not 
come in. 

"Wilson Smail,'' Harrison's Landing, 
July 3. 

Dear A., — As I write I glance from time to 
time at the Army of the Potomac, massed on the 
plain before me, — an army driven from its po- 
sition because it could not get reinforcements 
to render that position tenable ; forced every 
day of its retreat to turn and give battle ; an 
army just one third less than it was : and 
yet it comes in from seven days' fighting, 
marching, fasting, in gallant spirits, and making 
the proud boast for itself and its commander 
that it has not only marched with its face back- 
ward to the enemy, but has inflicted three times 
the loss it has borne, and that the little spot of 
its refuge rings with its cheers. 

And yet the sad truth cannot be concealed : 
our position is very hazardous. "What I hear 
said is such as this: "Unless we have rein- 
forcements, what can we do ? Must McClellan 


fight another bloody battle in a struggle for life, 
or surrender? Give us reinforcements, and 
all is well. We have got the right base now. 
We could not have it at first ; we made an- 
other ; that other the Government made it im- 
possible for us to maiatain. Day by day we 
saw it growing imtenable. We now have the 
true base of operations against Richmond. The 
sacrifice ? Yes ! but who compelled it ? The na- 
tion must see to that. The army and McClellan 
have done their part, and nobly have they done 
it. Let them now be strengthened, and all is 
well, or better than before." This is the one 
tone. No wonder that they feel in spirits, 
they have done their duty ; and I look in their 
poor worn faces and feel that their deepest 
honor in life will be that they belonged to the 
beaten Army of the Potomac — and yet, not 
beaten ; everything that that is, except precisely 
the thing it is. 

I am sitting on deck. Poor Miss Lowell, 
whose gallant brother was killed yesterday, is 
beside me. She belongs to the "Daniel Web- 
ster," which is to load up this afternoon. We 
are lying a stone's throw from a long wharf, and 


a little in-shore of it. My eye can follow the 
lines within which our army lies. The immedi- 
ate prospect is a sandy shore, with a sandy slope 
behind it, up and down which the cavalry are 
ceaselessly passing to water and swim their 
horses in the river. At the head of the wharf 
are General Keyes's headquarters ; to the right 
are General Franklin's ; and a little farther 
back. General Porter's ; while the eighth of a 
mile back upon the left, General Headquarters 
are said to be. The long wharf is a moving 
mass of human beings : on one side, a stream 
of men unloading the commissariat and other 
stores ; on the other, a sad procession of wound- 
ed, feebly crawling down from the Harrison 
House and along the beach and wharf to go on 
board the transports. The medical authorities 
are doing well by them. The Harrison House is 
made into a hospital, and the men are comfort- 
able (so say our gentlemen, who have been 
among them) ; the slight cases are lying on the 
lawn and under the trees. To-day — thank God 
for the great mercy ! — is cloudy, without rain, 
I know nothing of them personally. We women 
are not yet permitted to go ashore, and I try to 


believe, as I am told, that it is impossible we 

A new Medical Director of the army has been 
appointed, for which we are deeply thankful. 
He is now on board the " Small," and has just 
stood near me for a few moments, talking to 
some one, so that I could observe him, — one 
looks into faces so much here ! His gave me a 
sad calmness. Such a worn face, — worn in the 
cause of suffering; full, it seemed to me, of a 
strong earnestness in his work. How much at 
this moment is freshly laid upon him ! ^ I can't 
tell you anything of my own knowledge about 
the wounded ; but I judge from what I am told 
that there is not much suffering, and no privation 
among those who are here. They are chiefly 
slightly wounded and exhausted men. But 
where are the others ? Alas ! where ? This is 
war, and there 's no more to be said about it. 

1 Dr. Letteiman. Soon after his appointment he reorganized 
his department, remodelled the medical corps, established a plan 
for division field-hospitals after a battle, and got an efficient 
ambulance system into good working order. Thus when the bat- 
tles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, ChanceUorsyille, etc., occurred, 
the Medical Department, its surgeons and supplies, were well 
prepared, and nothing at all like the suffering after Fair Oaks 
occurred again. 


But I was telling you what I see from the 
deck as I sit writiug, — of course with countless 
interruptions and nmnings below to give this 
poor surgeon or that poor chaplain as many 
comforts for their sick men as they can carry off 
in their saddle-bags, or tied up in pillow-cases. 
Now, suppose I tell you that I am seeing and 
hearing war at this moment in the shape of 
shells bursting within our lines directly in front 
of me ! And there 's the wonderful little " Moni- 
tor " firing her great eleven-inch gun — there it 
goes, boom ! and then the screwing, screaming, 
rushing sound of the great rifle-shell! Talk of 
wonders ! there never was anything in that line 
like the " Monitor." You don't imagine what a 
little tray of a thing she is, — I did n't. Why, 
the sides of her captain's gig, which is towing 
aft, are higher than hers ! She lay close by us 
for an hour this morning, and at first I could 
not believe she was the real thing. 

Chesapeake Bat, Friday, July 4. 

While I was writing the above letter Mr. 
Olmsted came out from a long interview with 


Dr. Letterman, the new Medical Director, in 
which the latter had urged him to go to Wash- 
ington and see and advise the Surgeon-General 
about the state of things here. So Colonel and 
Mrs. M. were put on board the "Daniel Web- 
ster " (then loading to sail that night), we took 
Mrs. Trotter in exchange, Doctors Ware, Cool- 
idge, and Jenkins were left on the " Elizabeth " 
to misery and business, and we came off at once. 
We passed the "Monitor," roaring and whist- 
ling away, at one of the doubtful points of 
our position. I looked down upon her as we 
passed : she is literally nothing but a flat tray, 
a foot and a half out of water, with what looks 
like a small gasometer in the middle of her. 

As we passed Fortress Monroe this morning 
we heard of the President's call for three hun- 
dred thousand men. Very good ; but we wish 
he would send fifty thousand here at once. 

"Wilson Small," Haekison's Landing, 
Monday, July 7. 

Dear Mother, — We reached Washington 
Saturday morning. Mr. Olmsted transacted his 


business, and we started on our return Saturday 
afternoon, bringing with us a cargo of tents for 
the army. This destroyed our blissful visions 
of a bath and bed at "Willard's. 

I can't tell you how Washington oppressed 
me. Its bitter tone towards McClellan fell 
strangely on our ears, which yet rang with the 
cheers of the army. We met Commodore 
Wilkes, who told us he had that moment re- 
ceived his appointment to the naval command 
on the James River. 

On my return here to-day I find your letters, 
Nos. 16 and 17 ; also one from the Mayor of 
Newport, telling me of the munificent gift of 
the churches, and asking how I should like to 
have it spent. I have replied, asking him to 
send half in supplies to us here, and half in 
money to the treasurer of the Sanitary Com- 
mission. How well Newport has done her part 
in the work ! I am often reminded by different 
branches of the Commission that she was among 
the very first to send supplies. In Washington 
I heard it again. Even the particular character 
of the things she has sent has been praised to 
me. I wish you would let the community 


know that my last cases by the " Webster " ar- 
rived the night before we left White House. 
The Medical Director telegraphed Mr. Olmsted 
to send supplies for the wounded to Savage's Sta- 
tion. The " Elizabeth " had been seized to tow 
something; but our other boats had plenty of 
everything except brandy, so I was delighted 
to have the cases to send. They went on the 
last train that got through, together with the 
cases marked " Miscellaneous." Please let my 
generous friends know that coming when they 
did, their gifts were doubly blessed. Oh ! if 
they could but form an idea of what those 
things were to those poor wounded, cut off from 
getting down to our care, and lying parched 
and agonized and necessarily abandoned by the 
army. The same day (the day before we left 
White House) I received a most kind letter from 
Colonel Vinton, calling my attention to his ad- 
vertisement for bids, and offering me another 
contract. I answered gratefully, making pro- 
posals for one if I could begin it in September. 
The letter came, as usual, to Colonel Ingalls' 
care ; and its official appearance, on business 
of the Quartermaster's Department, must have 


created some curiosity, for it was sent up in 
hot haste by special messenger.^ 

I had the dearest letter from A. to-day. She 
says, " Can such things interest you ? " Why, 
nothing interests me so much. I shall come 
back sick of great events and armies. I want 
never to see a blue-coat or a gun or an ambu- 
lance again. I am glad my letter from Fortress 
Monroe reached you. To have you say that 
you get clear ideas from my letters, astonishes 
me. I write them as one in a dream. 

We have come back to find that the army, 
which we left massed just here, has got into 
position, and is intrenched or intrenching. 
General headquarters is moved about a mile 
and a half inland. General McClellan says 

1 This, with the allusion on page 1, refers to a contract for 
the making of flannel army-shirts, given me by Deputy Quar- 
termaster-General D. H. Vinton, U. S.»A., for the purpose of 
giving employment to the families of volunteers and other poor 
women. During the winter of 1861-62 we made over seventy 
thousand. The Department paid me fourteen cents a shirt, and 
furnished the flannel and the buttons. I paid the women eleven 
cents a shirt (they could easily make four a day, without a ma- 
chine), and the remaining three cents just coverea the cost of 
linen-thread, transportation to and from New York, office and 
workroom expenses. The ladies of Newport helped me to cut the 


positively that he can hold the position. The 
wounded are all in, and either shipped or cared 
for on shore. When I say " all," I mean those 
within our lines ; the most severely wounded we 
shall never see. Forty of our surgeons are with 
them, scattered along the line of march; they 
are prisoners by this time. This is the worst 
horror of war, and one I cannot trust myself 
to think of. The Medical Department is doing 
well by the sick and wounded who have reached 
this Landing. Four thousand have be^n already 
transported on their boats and ours, which come 
and go with their usual regularity. The gentle- 
men of the Commission are busily at work issu- 
ing stores, and fitting out and sending off the 
vessels ; but it is evident that our work (I 
mean that of the women at these Commission 
headquarters) is over. I feel this so much that 
I begged Mr. Olmsted to let me take the mail- 
boat as we passed Fortress Monroe last night. 
But he was unwilling ; and i);i little things as 
well as in great things no one opposes his will. 

We look and hope and pray for reinforce- 
ments. Immediate levies should be made, the 
recruits used in garrisons, and the older troops 


sent here. The whole question is, Are we in 
earnest ? Is the nation in earnest ? or is it the 
victim of a political game ? For God's sake, 
for the sake of humanity, let us strike one 
mighty blow now, and end this rebellion ! 
Surely it cannot he that the nation can't do 
this ! Then let it be done ; and oh ! do not 
sacrifice this noble army. Let every man take 
arms that can take them, and fill the places of 
tried men who could come here. At this mo- 
ment " a strong pull and a pull altogether " 
would end this rebellion, and send its wretched 
leaders to their just destruction. This is not 
my opinion only, it is the sum of all I hear. 

The weather is intensely hot. My hand 
wets and sticks to the paper as I write. The 
thermometer at the door of my stateroom is 
98.° We cannot put our faces out upon deck 
without blistering them in the fierce glare of 
sky and water. How I wish Ralph could see 
the great balloon which is just going up from 
headquarters ! 


"Wilson Small," July 8. 

Dear Mother, — For the last two hours I 
have been watching President Lincoln and Gen- 
eral McClellan as they sat together, in earnest 
conversation, on the deck of a steamer close to 
us. I am thankful,' I am happy, that the 
President has come, — has sprung across that 
dreadful intervening Washington, and come to 
see and hear and judge for his own wise and 
noble self. 

While we were at dinner some one said, 
chancing to look through a window : " Why, 
there 's the President ! " and he proved to be 
just arriving on the " Ariel," at the end of the 
wharf close to which we are anchored. I sta- 
tioned myself at once to watch for the coming 
of McClellan. The President stood on deck 
with a glass, with which, after a time, he in- 
spected our boat, waving his handkerchief to us. 
My eyes and soul were in the direction of gen- 
eral headquarters, over where the great balloon 
was slowly descending. Presently a line of 
horsemen came over the brow of the hill 
through the trees, and first emerged a firm-set 
figure on a brown horse, and after him the 


stafE and body-guard. As soon as the General 
reached the head of the wharf he sprang from 
his horse, and in an instant every man was a- 
foot and motionless. McClellan walked quickly 
along the thousand-foot pier, a major-general 
beside him, and six oflficers following. He was 
the shortest man, of course, by which I distin- 
guished him as the little group stepped on to 
the pier. When he reached the " Ariel '" he 
ran quickly up to the after-deck, where the 
President met him and grasped his hand. I 
could not distinguish the play of his features, 
though my eyes still ache with the effort to do 
so. He is stouter than I expected, but quicker, 
and more leste. He wore the ordinary blue 
coat and shoulder-straps ; the coat, fastened 
only at the throat, and blowing back as he 
walked, gave to sight a gray flannel shirt and 
a — suspender ! 

They sat down together, apparently with 
a map between them, to which McClellan 
pointed from time to time with the end of his 
cigar. We watched the earnest conversation 
which went on, and which lasted till 6 p. m. ; 
then they rose and walked side by side ashore, — 


the President, in a shiny black coat and stove- 
pipe hat, a whole head and shoulders taller, as 
it seemed to me, than the General. Mr. Lin- 
coln mounted a led horse of the General's, and 
together they rode off, the stafiE following, the 
dragoons presenting arms and then wheeling 
round to follow, their sabres gleaming in the 
sunlight. And so they have passed over the 
brow of the hill, and I have come to tell you 
about it. The cannon are firing salutes, — a 
sound of strange peacefulness to us, after the 
angry, irregular boomings and the sharp scream 
of the shells to which we are accustomed. 

All day we have had the little " Monitor " 
and the ugly " Galena " (flag-ship) and the 
'•' Maritanza " beside us, a stone's throw off. 
Last evening Commodore John Rodgers, at 
present commanding on the James, came to see 
us, and rowed us up the river and round the 
" Monitor " and his own vessel, the " Galena." 
Ugly as she is, I must .confess the latter has the 
most fighting look of anything that I have seen 
connected with war ; she reminds me of Rab 
in a dog-fight. But they say she is a failure, 
and a downright fraud upon the Government. 


She looks something like a Chinese junk, broad 
at the water-line, and running in from that. 
She has two large lumps on one side, caused by- 
shots that have passed through her and lodged 
in the iron casing on the other side. 

There is a funny little Rebel gunboat close 
beside us, captured on Friday by the " Mari- 
tanza." A shell exploded in her boiler, tearing 
out her intestines, as it were, and doubling her 
up into the drollest little object. The " Teaser " 
they call her. The prettiest sight I see is the 
signalling, — flags by day, and lamps by night; 
the most incomprehensible, graceful thing that 
can be seen. The " Galena," the " Monitor," 
and the " Maritanza," which went off this 
morning to prevent General Longstreet with 
twenty thousand men from attempting to cross 
the river, are just coming in to their evening 
anchorage, and beginning the pretty signals, 
which are being answered from the roof of the 
Harrison House. 

Things are not as gloomy here as you fear. 
The tone and temper of the army are magnifi- 
cent. If reinforcements are sent, all will be 
weU. Everything depends on the Administra- 


tion at this moment, — not on the army ; that 
is now made up of veterans, and knows and 
rejoices in its strength. 

Commodore Kodgers has just been to invite 
us on hoard his ship. We have accepted for 
nine o'clock to-morrow morning, though it is 
a chance if she is not on duty at that and every 
other hour. He offered also to take us over 
the " Monitor." After that — having seen the 
" Monitor " and McClellan — I wish to go home. 
There is no more work for a woman here. The 
Government is doing well by the sick and 
wounded. The Sanitary Commission may justly 
claim that it has led the Government to this ; 
and it can now return to its legitimate sup- 
plemental work, — inspecting the condition of 
the camps and regiments, and continuing on a 
large scale its supply business. But as for us, 
we ought to go ; to stay here doing nothing, 
is a sarcasm on the work we have already 

" Wilson Small," July 10. 

Dear A., — This morning I went ashore with 
Mrs. Barlow (Arabella, wife of the General) 
without orders and, indeed, without permission. 



But Mrs. Barlow offered to take me, Mr. Olm- 
sted was not on board, and I was so anxious to 
see for myself the state of things that I could 
not forego the chance. The hospital occupies the 
Harrison House, called Berkley (how familiar all 
those names are to you and me !), and a barn, 
out-buildings, and several tents at the rear, con- 
taining, or I should say able to contain, in all, 
about twelve hundred men, — perhaps more, at 
a pinch. About a third of those now in hospital 
will be fit for duty after a week or two of rest. 

The influence of the new Medical Director is 
already manifest. It would be too much to say 
that all the wants of the sick and wounded are 
met as they would be on our own boats, where 
the men are as well cared for as in a city hos- 
pital, — it would be absurd to expect as much as 
that in a temporary hospital hastily arranged, 
and especially after such an exhausting march 
as the army has just made; but I am quite 
satisfied that the men have every essential 
care ; the situation is the healthiest to be found 
about here, there are surgeons enough, and 
an excellent hospital-steward, with properly 
appointed ward-masters and nurses. I told 


the hospital-steward how much we depended on 
beef-stock and milk-punch, because they are so 
quickly and easily prepared ; and I promised to 
send him (I felt as if I were making a will) 
my spirit-lamp and kettles, and to get our com- 
missary to give him an ample supply of Murin- 
ger's beef-extract, and condensed milk. I have 
just filled two pillow-cases for him with all the 
odds and ends that remain to me, — fans, pads, 
handkerchiefs, towels, bay-rum, cologne, band- 
ages, flannel, pins, needles, tapes, buttons, paper 
and pens, etc., and my precious lamp, with all 
its adjuncts. 

"We stayed about three hours with the men, 
writing letters for them. Such letters are often 
very funny. Some few told the horrors of the 
march; but as a rule they were all about the 
families at home. Did you ever notice how 
people of limited education seem unable to re- 
late anything that is happening about them ? 
They go over a string of family details quite 
as well known to their correspondent as to 

I am glad I went ashore, for now I am quite 
content to go home. Our work — I mean the 



women's work — is over, except on the " Web- 
ster " and the " Spaulding," which must still 
make two or three trips in the service of the 
Commission. All that now remains to be done 
for the army on the James is the regular work 
of inspecting camps and issuing from the store- 
boats such supplies as may be needed.^ 

I did not go on board the " Monitor " on 
Wednesday, after all. The others went, but I 

* Supplies furnished by (he Sanita/ry Commission to the Army of the 
Potomac, from July 1st to August 31st, 1862. 





Hospitaij Delicacies, 

Quilts .... 30,197 

Shirts .... 87,994 

Condens'd milk, cans 2,624 

Blankets . . 13,500 

Drawers . . 48,303 

Jelly, jars 6,959 

SheBts .... 42,945 

Socks .... 80,322 

Tea, lbs 541 

Pillows . . . 35,877 

Slippers. . . 14,984 

Spirits, bottles . . . 1,026 

Pillow-cases 49,096 

Handk'roh'fs 43,606 

Wine, dom. gals. . . 570 

Pillow-ticks. 2,269 

Towels . . . 65,164 

Wines, foreign, gals. 450 

Bed-ticks . . 11,716 

Wrappers. . 10,235 

Vinegar, bottles . . 692 

Rubber cloth 

Flannel bands 3,684 

Syrups, bottles . . . 1,435 


Oiled silk 

Beef-stock, liquid, lbs. 634 
Beef-stock, solid, lbs. 1,052 
Farinaceous food, " 12,268 

On. Mr. Olmsted's return from Harrison's Landing he sent 
down, as the most pressing need of the army (the shadow of 
scurvy was hanging over it) a vessel freighted with vegetables. 
A cargo of ice had preceded it. These vegetables proved of in- 
valuable service, and were distributed to all the regiments at 
Harrison's Landing 


had fallen into a weary and disconsolate con- 
dition, in which, the effort seemed too great. 
Commodore Rodgers had tried to keep the 
President, who paid him an early visit, long 
enough to meet us ; but Mr. Lincoln said: "No, 
he had promised to be with Georgy at nine 
o'clock, and Georgy must not be kept waiting." 
I liked the story; it seemed to picture such 
happy relations between the President and the 

« Wilson Small," July 12. 

Dear Mother, — I wrote this morning by 
Dr. Ware, who left us on the mail-boat, that 
I should start for home to-morrow morning. 
Meantime our plans are changed. A flag-of- 
truce came down to-day to the " Maritanza," 
requesting us to go up and get our wounded 
who were left along the line of march, — four 
thousand of them, it is said. So the whole hos- 
pital fleet is to run five miles up the river, 
under convoy of the gunboats, to Haxall's or 
Carter's Landing. We are all ready, and wait- 
ing the order to start.^ 

1 The enemy sent down only four hundred men, keeping 
the rest as prisoners. The former were shipped on board the 
" Spaulding " and another vessel. 


Captain Sawtelle paid us a visit to-day, — the 
first for a week. He is promoted to Colonel 
Ingalls's position ; Colonel Ingalls to that of 
General Van Vliet ; while the General is on 
his way to Washington for unknown honors, — 
all this in just acknowledgment, I suppose, 
of their admirable management at White House. 
Captain Sawtelle thinks our losses have been 
greatly over-estimated, as a very large number 
of stragglers have come in this week. He 
places the number of killed, wounded, and miss- 
ing at twelve thousand. The artillery corps of 
one hundred and fifty-six guns lost one hun- 
dred and forty-three men, — not a man to each 
gun. He told us that almost the last thing he 
did at White House was to order the engines 
upon the railroad to be run, with all the cars, 
to the end of the track and precipitated into 
the river. Just as the order was being executed, 
the train almost in motion, he recollected that 
a gunboat had gone up beyond the bridge, 
and that the train would block the river. He 
then ordered the cars and the engines to be 
piled up and fired, which, together with the 
White House, made the great blaze which we 


saw ; the White House was fired by a drunken 

I never felt the slightest desire to witness a 
battle until I listened to the accounts they all 
give of the battle of Malvern Hill, where our 
whole artillery was massed on the hill-side and 
hurled back a column of thirty thousand men 
as it debouched with three heads. I listened 
to the guns ; and even where we were it was a 
mighty thunder. 

I have had one pleasant day, or part of a 
day. I was sitting alone, the rest were out 
rowing on the river, when I heard the regular 
beat of man-of-war's oars, and presently a trig 
captain's gig came alongside, and Captain George 
Eodgers, of the " Tioga," ran upstairs.^ I was 
delighted ; it is really so much to see an old 
friend here. He urged me to go on board the 
" Tioga," and promised to take me first to the 

* Captain Rodgers was killed in the turret of the moni- 
tor " CatsMll," which he commanded before Charleston, S.C., 
in 1863. He was passing a U. S. A. General Hospital where I 
was stationed, the day after he received his appointment to her. 
He landed, and ran up to my quarters to tell me of it. I con- 
gratulated him. " Yes," he said, " I am appointed to my coflan," 
— alluding to the build of the vessel. 


"Monitor," and then down the river to shell 
out a battery which was troublesome. I forgot 
I was tired and ill; I felt a momentary pang 
at my dirty dress : but I put on a clean white 
apron, and went off with alacrity. Things did 
not turn out quite favorably. When we reached 
the " Monitor " the men were bathing, and we 
had to give up our visit. And we had scarcely 
reached the lovely " Tioga," when a clumsy 
brig got foul of her, tearing away part of her 
paddle-box ; and we did not get free till half- 
past ten at night, when there was nothing for 
me to do but go back at once to the " Small." 

The " Tioga " is a picture, — just out of dock, 
lovely in model, and brilliant in paint and 
brass. She carries eight guns, — one a ten-inch 
Dahlgren, the other a ten-inch rifled Parrott. 
Captain Rodgers gave me a piece of the only 
Confederate balloon (captured on the " Teaser "), 
made of ladies' silk dresses of every pattern and 
color. The piece I have is partly a brown 
stripe, and partly a green chin^. 

The other day as we came up the river, re- 
turning from Washington, we were ordered by 
the gunboat on guard to go single file past some 


wooded bluffs. The. " Juniata " was ahead of 
us, when a shot went through her pilot-house 
and hit the bell-wire, making the signal to stop. 
The engineer obeyed it and stopped the boat, 
when a second shot fell between us, — otherwise 
the " Small " might have caught it. Captain 
Rodgers told me he was convoying us, and had 
just left us, as he thought, beyond all danger 
from Fort Powhatan, when the shots were fired. 
He ran up immediately; but before he could 
get a gun sighted, the fellows had limbered up, 
and were off. It was a light four-gun battery. 
These batteries give a great deal of trouble, but, 
so far, have done very little damage. The men 
make breast-works of felled trees behind other 
trees which conceal them. Our gunboats keep 
up a constant straggling fire into the woods to 
prevent the enemy from settling in one spot. 
It was to dislodge one of these batteries, which 
seemed to have taken up a position near Fort 
Powhatan, that the " Tioga " was ordered down 
the river, when, imfortunately, she collided with 
the brig. 


Newport, R. I., July 25. 

Dear Friend, — I have slept in my own 
bed ! or, rather, I did not sleep, — I lay awake 
thinking of a poor Southern fellow who said to 
me one morning : " I could n't sleep, ma'am, 
for thinking how comfortable I was ! " 

We left Harrison's Landing on Thursday in 
the '■' Daniel "Webster," with two hundred and 
thirty sick on board. At Fortress Monroe Mrs. 
Griffin came off from the "Euterpe " ^ to ask 
me to take her cousin, a captain in the regular 
army, to his friends in Newport. We had some 
difficulty in getting him on board, for the sea 
was running very high at midnight, when Mr. 
Olmsted put the "Webster" as close to the "Eu- 
terpe " as he dared. The captain had typhoid 
fever, with a good deal of low delirium ; but he 
did very well during the voyage, having a com- 
fortable berth on deck under cover. When we 
reached New York I took him over to the New- 
port boat in an ambulance, hunted up Captain 
Brown, and made him establish my patient on 

' Sister-ship to the " St. Mark." She was used as a receiving- 
hospital in Hampton Roads. Mrs. Griffin took charge of the 
women's department on her for several weeks. 


his stretcher in the airiest part of the boat. It 
was rich to see the state of fuss into which that 
worthy man was thrown, and to hear him ex- 
hort me to " keep calm " ! As soon as I could, I 
went below, and made the stewardess give me 
oceans of warm water, out of which I emerged 
a new creature. When I went back to my 
captain I found a lady sitting by him, — his 
mother, who happened to be going to Newport 
on that boat ! So I gave up my last patient 
into better hands, — though at night, when I 
found him moved out of the fresh air, so essen- 
tial to him, into the close cabin, I wished I had 
held command over him till we landed, and 
sighed over the follies of private nursing. 

I met several friends on board. Mr. Tweedy 
gave me his stateroom," and Mr. Edward King 
took me down to supper, — an excursion I never 
made in my civilized existence ; but now (think 
of it !) the lights, the flowers, the feast, seemed 
to me delicious and magnificent, — an Arabian 
Nights' entertainment ! No one will accuse us 
of having " eaten up the gifts of the people " 
on board the " Small." If they do, I shall make 
Dr. Bigelow give us a testimonial about it. He 


owes it to us in return for all the grumbling 
which he did over our bad food. The last I 
saw of him was at the best restaurant in Wash- 
ington, where we left him on the 5th of July ; 
but he tells me in a subsequent letter that he 
went to see Dr. Bellows, President of the Sani- 
tary Commission, and that, owing to his strong 
representations of the horrors on board the " Wil- 
son Small," " a cook, a cooking-stove, and some- 
thing to eat " were to be sent down at once. "I 
told him," he adds, "that in all probability no 
one on board that boat would live to get home ; 
but that a few puddings, if administered immedi- 
ately, might save one or two : and I gave him six 
excellent recipes." Can't you imagine them ? 

The Hospital Transport Service is ended. 
We left the " Elizabeth " well supplied, and 
moored to the long wharf at Harrison's Landing, 
where the surgeons and chaplains and quarter- 
masters can get at her with ease. Dr. Jenkins 
and Dr. Douglas remain to superintend the 
issue of stores and inspect the condition of 
camps and regiments ; but the transports are 
given back to the Quartermaster's Department : 
our reign is over. I wonder who '11 succeed to 


my cabin on the " Small," and hang his clothes 
on my gimlets (used for pegs), and inherit my 
other little inventions of that nature ? 

Georgy and Mr. Olmsted and I sat up the 
greater part of our last night on the "Web- 
ster," talking as people will who know that on 
the morrow they are to separate widely. Did I 
say somewhere that Mr. Olmsted was severe, or 
something of that kind? Well, I am glad I 
said it, that I may now unsay it. Nothing 
could be more untrue ; every day I have under- 
stood and valued and trusted him more and 
more. This expedition, if it has done no other 
good, has made a body of life-long friends. We 
have a period to look back upon when we 
worked together imder the deepest feelings, 
and to the extent of our powers, shoulder to 
shoulder, helping each other to the best of our 
ability, no one failing or hindering another. 
From first to last there has been perfect accord 
among us ; and I can never look back to these 
months without feeling that God has been very 
good to let me share in them and see human 
nature under such aspects. It is sad to feel 
that it is all over. 


The first thing Mr. Olmsted did on arriving 
in New York was to send down a cargo of vege- 
tables to check the scurvy, that enemy having 
appeared in force. Mother was greatly amused 
by my reply to her inquiry : " What shall be 
done with that last hundred dollars ? " " Oh, 
spend it in onions ! " I cried, enthusiastically. 
The last I saw of Mr. Olmsted he was disappear- 
ing down the side of the " Webster," clad in the 
garb of a fashionable gentleman. I rubbed my 
eyes, and felt then that it was indeed all over. 
I myself had risen to the occasion by putting 
on a black-lace tablespoon [such were the bon- 
nets of the period], in which I became at once 
conventional and duly civilized. 

We are not yet forgotten on the James ; at 
least I am assured of it in two letters, — one 
from the Great Mogul, the Medical Inspector- 
General ; the other from that United States offi- 
cer who did more than any other to make our 
work successful. They are characteristic. One 
writes : " How I miss the dear ladies of the 
' Wilson Small ' and their freshening drinks, — 
animal that I am! but how can I forget that 
which comforted me ? " The other says : " The 


departure of the ' Wilson Small ' has left a sad 
blank in these waters. It always had a hu- 
manizing effect upon me to go on board, if only 
for a moment. I trust that when this weary 
war is over I may meet the friends I have" made 
here under happier skies." 

There ! my story is done. A short three 
months ago I wrote to tell you it was begin- 
ning ; but what a lifetime lies between now and 


Agnew, Dr. C. R., 10, 159, 165. 
Army of the Potomac, 12, 13, 
48, 57, 178, 179, 186, 187, 204. 

Balestier, Mrs., 58, 99, 137, 177. 

Barclay, Clement, 110. 

Barlow, Arabella, wife of General, 

Bellows, Rev. Henry W., D.D., 

Bellows, Mrs., 20. 
Bigelow, Dr. Henry J., 149, 203, 

Blatchford, Mrs., 17. 
Bletham, Captain, 18, 84, 146, 

Bloor, Alfred J., 12. 
Bradford, Miss Charlotte, 99, 137. 
Branches of Sanitary Commission, 

6, 11, 12. 
Butler, Miss, 31, 40. 

Change of Base, 166-172, 176, 

Clark, Dr. Henry G., 9. 
Curtis, Gen. N. M., 26, 28, 42. 

Death-rate, British Army, Cri- 
mea, 73. 
Devens, General, 99. 
Dexter, F. Gordon, 152. 
Douglas, Dr., 204. 
Draper, Dr., and Mrs., 80, 83. 

Elliott, E. B., 9. 

Fair Oaks, battle of, 95-118, 132. 
Franklin, General, 49, 50, 52. 

Gamble, Mrs. (see Whetten). 
Gardiner, Miss Mary, 22. 
Gilson, Miss Helen, 37, 38. 
Green, Dr., 86. 
Griffin, Mrs. Wra. Preston, 15, 16, 

29, 40, 70, 71, 75, 94, 97, 105, 

151, 158, 202. 
Grymes,Dr., 17, 77, 146, 151, 152. 

Haight, David, 33, 57, 82, 142. 
Harrison's Landing, James River, 
176, 176, 194, 196, 204. 

Ingalls, Colonel, 57, 100, 139, 169, 
170, 198. 

Jenkins, Dr. J. Foster, 120, 142, 

Knapp, Frederick N., 19, 22, 36, 

37, 57, 62, 64, 79, 101, 115, 120, 

Knhn, Mrs. Charles, 152. 

Letterman, Dr., Medical Director, 

181, 183, 194. 
Lincoln, President, 8., 183, 189, 





Malvem Hill, battle of, 176, 199. 

McClellan, General, 50, 62, 133, 
137, 177, 179, 186, 189, 190, 191. 

McDoweU, General, 80, 66, 68, 78. 

Members of U. S. Sanitary Com- 
mission, 10. 

Mitchell, Edward, 141. 

Monitor, The, 182, 183, 200. 

Morell, General, 63. 

M., Mrs., and sister, 31, 74, 96, 105, 

Newport, Rhode Island, 15, 16, 91, 
184, 186, 202. 

O'Connell, T. J., 9. 

Olmsted, Frederick Law, 9, 10, 
13, 20, 22, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 
67, 101, 102, 115, 120, 128, 134, 
135, 142, 145, 147, 149, 150, 160, 
173, 205, 206. 


Pamunky River, Virginia, 30, 34, 

46, 47, 172, 173, 175. 
Parker, Mrs. Charles Henry (see 

Porter, General Fitz-John, 34, 53, 

168, 170. 

Ration of TJ. S. Soldier, 124, 136. 

Reading, Mrs., 85. 

Rodgers, Commodore John, 191, 

Rodgers, Captain George, and 

" Tioga," 199, 200, 201. 

Sanitary Commission, 6, 8, 13, 
89, 100, 109, 117, 122, 160, 161, 

Sawtelle, Captain (now General), 
68, 78, 100, 102, 106, 141, 163, 
168, 169, 170, 198, 206, 207. 

Sebago, Capt. Murray, 68, 69, 

Shaw, Mrs. J. Rowland, 152. 

Stocker, Dr. A. A., 86. 

Strong, George T., 10. 

Strong, Mrs. George T., 22, 28, 
29, 67. 

Stuart's Raid, 138-141. 

Supplies ; money, etc., 10, 91, 122, 
123, 196. 

Trobriand, M. de, 130. 
Trotter, Mrs., 17, 162, 188. 

Van Alen, General, 174. 

Van Vliet, General, 68, 82, 88, 
162, 163, 198. 

Vinton, Gen. D. H., 185, 186. 

VoUum, Colonel, Medical Inspec- 
tor-General, 160, 206. 

Ware, Robert, 32, 33, 62, 82, 107. 

Whcelock, George, 33, 57. 

Whetten, Miss Harriet Douglas, 
22, 29, 58, 67, 80, 106, 177. 

White House, Pamunky River, 
50, 51, 62, 171. 

WilUams, Gen. Seth, 60, 51, 54. 

Women's Central Relief Associa- 
tion, 6, 7, 94. 

Women's part in the War, 6, 7 

Woolsey, Charles, S3, 59. 

Torktown, Va., 14, 23, 24, 157.