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HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




THE BEQUEST OF 

EVERT JANSEN WENDELL 

(CLASS OF 1882) 
OF NEW YORK 



1918 




CPU^PiJ 








HOSPITAL LIFE 



IH THB 



AKMY OF THE POTOMAC. 



BT 

WILIIAM HOWELL BEED. 



BOSTON! 
1866. 



U5 GoyS.iS 



EDtend, aeeordlng to Act c^Ckmip«fi» In the 7«r 1888^ ^ 

WILLIAM BOW£LL REED, 

In Uie Clwkli Offlce of the Dfatriet Court of tlw PUtriet of MMwrhnMlte. 



BTICIOTTPIB AT THB 

BOBVOir 8T1BI0VTPI VOUHBET, 

4 SPEIVa lAHB. 

Pnsswoik by John Wflson and Sons. 



TO 

HON. FRANK B. FAY, 

TnE nUMANE AND CHBISTIAH OSNTLBMAH, 

TOE FJUEMD OF THE 80IDIEB, Bf GAaiP 

AMD IM HOfiFITAI^ 

AND OF THE 8UFFEBINO BYBBTWHEBEt 

THUBOOK 

XB OBATKWULLY ZBSCBIBED. 



PREFACE. 



Tjob mriter has tried to ayoid in this Hide book a too 
liigUj-colored picture of hospital life. He has rather aimed 
to present a sketch which shonld hare the merit of sim- 
plicity' and accuracy even in its mmor details^ with a fbll 
sense of his obligations to the cause of historical troth* 

The manuscript was not written, in the first instance, for 
publication, but to preserre^ for the writer^s own satisfaction, 
a record of a Taluable personal experience* As it grew under 
his hand, old memories were quickened, old companionships 
seemed to be renewed, former scenes were roTiyed, and the 
splendid examples of heroism which were dailj and hourlj 
witnessed, kindled an impulse which has resulted in this 
work. Yielding to the judgment of his friends, he submiti 
it to the public, asking for it a kindly reception* 

W» M* B* 
(4> 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 
WASHINQTON TO FRBDSniCKSBVSG. 

The Wlldernew Campaign opened.— General Orant at the Helm. 

— The Sanitary Ck>nuni8ilon organised for the Belief of the 
Woimded. — They arrive in Waahington.— Scenes on the Steam- 
ers.— Belle Flain.— Dr. Cayler, CUef Medieal Offioer.— Burial 
of the Dead from an Amhnlanee. — Ck>nlMerate Prisoners.— The 
Kight Eneampments— TheCityof IVederieksbnrg. • 

CHAPTER II. 

SCENX8 nr FBEDSniCKSBUBO. 

Ninth Corps HoqiitaL— Marie's Heights.— Boildings filled with 
Woonded.— Adoniram Cookson, and other Cases of Interest.— 
Indian Shsrpshooters. — Last Words.— The Wounded on the 
Lawn.— A Day of Horrors.— BeBnIbroements from Washington. 

— Flowers strewing their Way to Victory. — The Battle. — The 
Boses stained wUh Blood. — Bnoampment of Ambnlances.— 
Night Work on the Held.— Bemoral and Burial of the Dead — 
The Baptism under the Amhulanoe. — Helen L. ChUson. — Braen- 
ation of IVedericksbnrg. — *< Torpedo Hooker.**— The Guerrillas. 

(5) 



6 • COIfTENTB. 

— Down tbe Rappahannodk. — Hoipital Work on the *« Kent.''— 
Mr. and Hn. James F.B.H«nludl 28 

CHAPTER III. 
SAPPAHANKOCK AXTD PAMUNTT. 

Port BoyaL— Tropteal Liixnrianee.— TlrginialCoeldng BIrda.— 
Fire!— The Negroea.- Their Daj of Jnbllee.— The ContnOMUid 
Barge. — Their Srenlng Hymn.- Mlaa Gllaon'a Addresa.- 
White Honae.— ArrfTal of the Tenth and Eighteenth Corpa.— 
The Fortieth Maaaaehnaetta. — lientenantX^olonel Marahall.— 
The Battle of Cold Harhor.— The Field of Carnage.— Horrora 
of Ambnlanoe Transportation. — Field Hoapital at White Hooae. 

' — Eight Thoaaand Woanded. — The Death of lira. General Bar- 
low. 45 

CHAPTSB IV. 
THX BAJSriTABT OOMMJSSIOIT. 

What beeomea of tta Money?- Its Operation at IVederiekalmrg. 

— Hospital laanea.- The Wotk of the Oommiaalon.— Ita En- 
largement aa the War went on.— The Death Batea of the Armj 
contrasted with the Bngliah In the Crimea.— General Belief.— 
Speotal Belief.— The AnxUiarjB^lef Coipa.— Ita Organisation. 

— Personal Belief.— Hon. Frank B. Fay.— Belief Chests.— Their 
Contents. 81 

CHAPTER y. 

A wouAS^a uunaTBT. 

The Battle of Peterahnrg. — The Colored Hospital at G% Point— 
Hoapital KItohena In Virginia and the Crimea.— Her Inflnenee In 
theWarda. 80 



COITTKJrTS. 7 

CHAPTEB VI. 
CITT POIjrT FIELD B08PITAL8. 

Citj Potoi.— MedSetl DIraetor* Dr. Xdward B. Datton.— Genenl 
Grmt.— Kcgron* Krening Serriee.— Sermon of a Colored Scr- 
(j^eani. 90 

CHAPTEB VII. 
THE SILENT 80ES0WS AT BOMR, 

The Tlllafe Foil-oiBoe.— Soldier*! Letter.— The . unknown Deed. 
—The lonelf Italian, Giorannl QoagUa.— Italian Lettera. ... 102 

CHAPTER VIII. 

THE BULL^BIKO. 

The Fietareaqne in the HoapitaL — Seenea in the TTagon Train 
Hoapital. — The Sixth CorfM.— Their Birovae.— The BoU-Bing. 
— SnflMnga of the Priaonera.— Thoir Deatitatlon.— Their Wanta 
aapplled.->l[cnnnder Sentenee of Death. • • 119 

CHAPTER IX. 
CHAEACTEB8 XZf THE H08PITAL. 

AnlTal of the Wovnded.->Last Worda.— The Kew Hampahire 
Soldier.— The Colored Dmmmer Bof. — Tttider Spota. — The 
Yennont Soldftr. — InHnenee of Snilteing. — Hoapital Bommera. 
— Tnek, the liafaie Artnietiat.— A German Soldier of the Thiid 
Generation.— CheerfUneaa In the HoapitaL— The Death of Hari- 
man.— Comlbrt-Baga.- Waahfaig fiMr the Hoqdtala. — Contm- 
iCamp. 1» 



8 C0KTSNT8. 

CHAPTEB X. 
ACTIVE 0PBBATI0N8. 

Tm SUBRVNDBB OF OmnBitAL Lbs. — Orant't dodng Cunptigii* 

— HeaqiitiilKtfon of MoTemcnts. — Peter sbiirsr*— Southside Ball* 
road.— Kwell'B Corps oaptnred. — Conftderato Gcnerala Swell, 
Kcrthawy and Caatis Lee. — Their BiTouac — Woodbridge, the 
Georgia Soldier. 156 

CHAPTER XI. 

auFFBRnras at BunxsriLLX. 

Seardt7 of Smrgeona.— Soeiiea among the Wounded.— Eof^BBing 
Experienoea. — Orcrerowded Sheda and Bailroad finildlnga.— 
Aropatatlona in the Field. — Woondcd tranaferrcd to City Point. 

— SnUMng on the Trains. — Preptimtlon for Death. — Betom of 
fheArmy. •• •• 167 

CHAPTER XII. 
PSTSRSBUBO HOSPITALS. 

CLOsnro Scbnbb.- The Ffeir Gronnda.— Contrasts.— The Bloom- 
ing Gardens of ]^tersbnrg. — Mr. J. W. Ffeige, Jr.— His Work 
at the Fdr Gromids. — Gangrene Ward. — The Bebel Soldier. — 
His SnlTerings and Death. — The Bine Ward. — The Dying Mary- 
lander.- Sd ward Morley, the Maasadmsetts Soldier.- Colonel. 
Prentiss 176 

CHAPTER XIII. 

ABBABAM LINCOLJST. 

XUfeet of the Assassination in the Army.— His Charaofeer and Flo- 
HtloB in History.. ...» iM. 



HOSPITAli LIFE 



Bf THB 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 



CHAPTER I. 

WASHINGTON TO FBEDERIOKBBUBG. 

The'WIldeniess OampAign opened.— Oenenl Grant at the Hetan. 
—The Sanitary Commiflsion organiied finr the Belief of the 
Wounded. — They arriTe in Washington. — Soenet on the Steam- 
en. — Belle Plain. — Dr. Cnyler, Chief Medical Officer. — Bnrial 
of the Dead from an Amhnlanoe. — Confederate Friaoners.— 
The Night Encamj^nent- The City of Fkederickahnrg. 

TEDS winter of eighteen hundred and sixty-foor had 
passed, the buds and leaves of another spring 
time were opening, and we were entering upon the 
fourth year of the war. For the first time in its 
history the military power had been placed nnder one 
directing mind, General Grant haying been made 
1* W 



10 HOSPITAL LIFE IN TBS 

Lieutenant General of the Armies of the United States. 
For many weeks it had been apparent that a strong 
hand was at the helm. New dispositions were made, 
a thorough reorganization was effected, and confidence 
pervaded the pnblic mind. Few, out of the armj, 
realized how tremendous the shock of battle would be, 
while the Medical Department was preparing for such 
work as had never before taxed its energies. 

The Army of the Potomac was massed near Cul- 
pepper Court House and Brandj Station, their pickets 
extending to the Rapidan. On the night of Tuesday, 
the Sd of May, 1864, the army was thrown across the 
river, the Second Corps by way of United States Ford, 
and the Fifth and Sixth Corps by way of Grermania 
Ford. The next day, Wednesday, Was consumed in 
bringing the corps into line. The Second, which was 
to form the left of the army, and had to march in rear 
of the Fifth and Sixth, was not quite in position on 
the left of Warren on Thursday morning. The Ninth 
Corps was brought over on Wednesday and Thursday. 
The crossing was effected without opposition, and prob- 
ably without the knowledge of the enemy; but no 
sooner did General Lee obtain information that the 
army had crossed, than he at once moved to attack it, 
before the line could be formed, and with the object, 



ARMY OF THS POTOMAC. H 

doubtless, also, of preyenting ns from reaching Spott- 
q^lyania Court House before him. He therefore, bj 
one of his rapid and skilful movements, assumed the 
offensive; but after two days of heavy fighting, he 
took the defensive, and pursued that policy to the end. 
The battles of the Wilderness had been fought on 
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 5th, 6th, and 7th 
of May. Accounts of the fearful losses had been 
telegraphed to our cities; fresh reinforcements were 
ordered, and volunteers for both the Sanitary and the 
Christian Commissions were going forward to the 
front to assist in the emergency. The wounded had 
not reached Washington, but were hourly expected. 
It was Monday night, the 9th instant. In temporary 
sheds at the Seventh Street Landing the Sanitary 
Commission were organizing for the prompt relief of 
those who were so soon to need their care. Crackers, 
lemons, cans of coffee, milk, and stimulants were at 
hand. At midnight we were in our blankets for an 
hour's rest; but the hoarse cry of the watchman, 
^^ Steamers in sight I ** brought us to our feet, and 
before they were at the wharf, our coffee, milk punch, 
gruel, and beef-tea were ready. Six hundred men 
were stowed upon the first steamer. It was as dark 
as a sepulchre — as silent as the grave. An occasional 



12 HOSPITAL LXFB IN THX 

moan would call attention to some sufferer who oonld 
not sleep, bis onlj pallet, a wisp of straw, upon the 
deck. The men were packed so closely that it was 
only with extreme caution that we could pass from 
stem to stem without jarring some shattered limb or 
suppurating stump. Our flickering candle gave a 
ghastly pallor to the pinched and suffering faces, and 
a sickening reaUty to the torn and clotted garments 
which covered throbbing wounds. Sharp cries, from 
time to time, came through the darkness, telling us 
that, in moving about the boat, somebody had been 
careless in his step, and put some poor fellow in deeper 
pain. The sufferings of the ambulance transportation, 
the exposures at Belle Plain, where the wounded were 
without shelter in a soaking rain, and the silent en« 
durances of this crowded steamer, made our ministry 
one of healing metcj and Christian love. The men 
were nearly famished, and, as we moved among them 
with our cans of coffee, punch, and lemonade^ their 
brimming eyes and swelling hearts spoke more elo- 
quently of gratitude than any words could do. The 
steamer was rapidly discharged, the men passing out 
in long lines .to the ambulances waiting to transfer 
them to their hospital beds, where rest and all healing 
influences would soon be employed in their restorati<)n. 



ARMT OF TEB POTOMAC. 18 

As thej passed along, those on the stretchers, and the 
lighter cases alike, would hold np their poor, dumb 
wounds for a cooling bath, which we gave ^^ in the 
name of a disciple/' 

Before the first steamer was discharged, others were 
waiting at the landing with their living freights, a 
total of twen^-nine hundred wounded men, to whom 
this ministry was to be repeated. The same crowded 
decks, the same processions of sufferers, the same quiet 
endurances, all day long ; the hard, sharp lines about 
the mouth, and the sunken eye, showing endurance of 
pain and an unwillingness to intrude it upon others* 
Beverently we covered some poor fellow with his 
blanket, his only shroud, as he was taken out dead 
from where they had laid him, his comrades thinking 
by his stillness that he was only ^^ taking rest in sleep,^ 
not knowing that he had entered upon his eternal rest. 

With Mr. and Mrs. James F. B. Marshall, of Boa- 
ton, I started down the Potomac for Belle Plain, on 
our way to Fredericksburg. With a regiment of 
infantry and a battery of artillery, our decks were 
crowded ; but our destination was reached at last ; and 
here we found the base of the army. A simple beach, 
with richly-wooded hills, rose abruptly from the water, 
from which long piers, hastily extemporized out of 



14 HOSPITAL UFS JOT THE 

pontoon boats, ran out into the riTor, "where seyenty* 
five steamers andf transports were unloading supplies 
or landing the reinforcements which were pouring 
down from the defences of Washington* Long wagon 
trains were moving offloaded with commissary sup- 
plies and ammunition for the new fields of carnage in 
prospect, while other trains of wagons and ambulances 
were coming in, discharging the wounded upon the 
ground, where they were to lie without shelter until 
transportation to Washington could be furnished them. 
Heavy rains had made of this soft Virginia soil 
sloughs of mud up to the wheel hubs ; and the roads 
would have been considered impassable in any other 
than such circumstances of fearful necessity. Three 
or four thousand wounded had been discharged, and 
the numbers were every hour increasing. News also 
came of another train, three miles in length, now due 
from Fredericksburg. We could not feed them all ; 
we could not dress their wounds; we could not help 
the dying; we could not minister those consolations 
which are so precious in such cases to those who 
needed outwardly all our care. We could only do a 
little, and, in this vast aggregate of suffering, how 
trifling this little seemed I A kitchen was hastily 
established; our stores were ample— -coffee, milk. 



ARMY OF TBM POTOMAC 15 

whiskey, sugar, lemons, and crackers ; and, haying an 
abundance of wood and good spring water, we were 
soon ready to moTe among the men with soothing 
drinks, which gave them at the same time new 
strength and courage* The rain kept pouring down 
upon these shelterless thousands ; the ground was like 
a sponge. Fires were started upon the hill side, and 
in the evening they were gleaming in their cheerful 
warmth, while the wounded were accepting their lot 
with a patience which was a new revelation every 
hour* When a slice of bread was offered to a soldier 
suffering from an amputation, he said, ^^ Pass it along ; 
he needs it more than I do/' pointing to a comrade 
near him, who had not tasted food for days. The 
noble fellow lost nothing by his willing sacrifice. 
Such was the spirit of our wounded men. 

In this tremendous activity and effort, where such 
miracles of labor were performed in a space so narrow 
that two ambulances could not move abreast, all 
seemed to be in inextricable confusion. In the river 
were barges, steamers, propellers, and transports — 
some at anchor, some discharging, some arriving, some 
departing, and all jammed together in confusion, which 
was increased by the blowing of the whistles and the 
roar of escaping steam; while on shore were tired 



16 HOSPITAL LIFE LST THS 

mules and broken-down horses, army wagons and am- 
bulances, stack hopelessly in the mud, all a surging, 
concentrated mass of intense activity and suffering. 

Dr'. Cuyler, the chief medical officer at this point, 
was the directing mind, eyolving order out of chaos, 
and harmony out of this terrible discord and disorder. 
With grateful feelings I look back upon his bencTolent 
countenance, his noble form, and his weDrbalanced 
mind, as he sat upon his horse, calm and unmoved, 
patient and resolute, giving his orders with a quiet 
dignity and composure which carried strength and con- 
fidence with every word. His kindliness and courtesy 
in such an hour to a stranger, who felt it to be neces> 
sary to intrude upon him with an order for transporta- 
tion, will ever be remembered. An ambulance was 
placed at my disposal, and within a few hours I had 
joined a train which was moving towards Fredericks- 
burg. 

Halting for dinner a few miles out, the train parked, 
and the horses were rested and fed. While we biv- 
ouacked, a man, who had just died, was taken from 
an ambulance which was passing in from the front, 
and was laid by the road side. The drivers could find 
no time to bury him ; but it was impossible to leave 
that unknown soldier, upon whose face were written the 



AMMT OF THE POTOMAC. 17 

nntold sofferiDgs of the ambulance, to be trampled 
upon bj passing trains* Procuring a spade, I dug 
into the soggy, sandj soil bordering the Potomac, soon 
making for him his narrow home. In his pocket was 
only a photograph of a little infant, which showed that 
there was one tie at least to bind him to this world. 
Placing it upon his breast, and covering it with his 
blouse, he was laid down to rest. Grathering about me 
a crowd of men, — soldiers, teamsters, and others, — I 
performed my first funeral service by that river side, 
commending the soul to the care of an all-loving, a]l> 
merciful God. 

At sunset we camped for the night. Before the 
camp was settled, a large body of rebel prisoners, of 
Johnson's Division, by count ninety-four hundred and 
fifty-three men, captured by Hancock's Second Corps 
at Spottsylvania, came in sight, moving slowly under • 
guard, filling the roads, shambling rather than walk- 
ing, with a step so irresolute, and with strength so 
exhausted, that we could not help mingling pity with 
our triumph. 

The Confederate soldier, — it is difilcult to describe 
him, yet we can all recognize the yellowish-gray 
homespun, torn and threadbare ; the bleached, grizzly, 
uncut hair and beard, the sallow countenance, the 



18 HOSPITAL MFS IN THE 

scant equipments, the lean, wiry look, and air of reck- 
less defiance or careless superiority, which is always 
assumed when passing under Northern scrutiny. 
^^We uns caught it from you uns; but look right 
sharp for the Johnnies next time,'' said one to me in 
passing, while there was doubtless not a little quiet 
satisfaction that they had so far in the campaign 
escaped unhurt, and were now removed firom Yankee 
lead. They were strictly guarded, and at night were 
enclosed in a hollow square, defended by artillery, so 
parked that, upon an attempt to escape, grape and can* 
ister would have made sad work with their compacted 



Our ambulance train was four miles long, and we 
were halted upon an eminence which commanded a 
fine rolling country, richly wooded hills, and quiet val- 
leys, which, as night closed in, were brilliantly illumi* 
nated with the thousand camp fires that were burning 
all about us. Our own fires were lighted ; our coffee 
was boiling ; and our pork and hard tack were never 
so acceptable as now, when we rested firom this day of 
unusual excitement and fatigue. The chill evening air 
<tompelled us to draw closer to the embers, and we 
were soon lost in sleep. The guerrilla bands operating 
m the rear of the army had attacked a train the 



ASAIT OF THE POTOMAC. 19 

previouB day, run off the horses, scattered the UDarraed 
drivers, and fired upon our already wounded men. 
Our picket guard exchanged frequent shots with this 
unseen enemj during the night, but the dawn found us 
fresh and readj to move forward into Fredericksburg. 
This citj lies in a valley between two fine ranges of 
hills, known respectively as the Heights of Falmouth, 
on the northern bank of the Bappahannock, and the 
Maries, outside the limits of the town, on the southern 
side. Embosomed in this fertile lowland, its steeples 
were visible only when we approached quite near them, 
the unevenness of the country preventing any distant 
view of the place* The houses are of brick, dark, 
rough, and much shattered by shot and shells; the 
architecture is quaint, and the general air is that of 
ancient respectability* It has none of the activity of 
Bichmond, nor the beauty of Petersburg ; and although 
the movements of the hospital department gave to the 
city a certain life, yet the crumbling town, deserted by 
its population, ruined by the conflicts which had twice 
raged through its streets, gave it an appearance of 
death, from which it seemed that there could be no 
resurrection. We reached the pontoon bridge and 
crossed it. The ruins on the banks of the river told 
the story of the destruction, by our forces, of the 



20 BOSPITAL UFS UT THJt 

Lidiiig-places of the sliarpiBhooteni that contested the 
passage of our pioneers, who, in Bnmside's first attack, 
drove the enemy into their intrenched position heyond 
the town. The buildings were rapidly becoming ap* 
propriated for temporary hospitals, the Medical Direct- 
or, Dr. Edward B. Dalton, having taken possession 
of public edifices and private dwellings, storehouses, 
sheds, and churches. The pews were torn out, and 
the wood used for fires in the kitchens; but the 
wounded were arriving in such numbers, that they 
were laid in the streets and upon the sidewalks to wait 
for shelter to be provided. Ambulance trains moving 
into or passing out of the city ; ammunition or com- 
missary wagons creeping slowly on the front ; orderlies 
dashing from post to post; stretchers with dead car* 
ried out for burial, or with wounded taking their places 
for nursing, — all was ceaseless activi^ and accumu- 
lated sufiering. 

The gardens were fragrant and blooming with flow- 
ers. Boses, honeysuckles, tulips, columbines, and 
stars of Bethlehem were growing in luxuriant pro** 
fusion along every street, and were hanging in graceM 
clusters over the now deserted verandas. The red 
flag of the Sanitary Commission was seen in the dis- 
tance, and we reached its warehouse, the store of 



AMMT OF THE POTOMAC. 21 

Mayor Slaughter, who had bat then been arrested bj 
the Provost Gaard. Our partj of three reported to 
Hon. Frank B. Fay^ of Chelsea, Massachusetts, the 
chief of the Auxiliary Relief Corps; and we were 
assigned to the Ninth Corps Hospitals, reporting to 
Dr. Noyes, on Marie's Heights, just outside the city. 
Every house or place of shelter within a radius of half 
a mfle of the central building was taken and used as a 
hospitaL In mansions of the grandest proportions, in 
leaky sheds and outhouses crumbling to decay, in 
rooms, entries, attics, and upon porticos, our wounded 
men were laid. We were thankful even for floors to 
place them upon, and this without a single blanket to 
soften a couch which at best was to be one of so much 
pain. Among these houses was the Bowe mansion, 
occupied by the owner, an old man, whose sympathies 
were clearly with the rebel cause. His cellar at night 
was a rendezvous for the guerrillas, who held their 
secret meetings there, planning for the recapture of the 
town with all our wounded. This house was our head- 
quarters, and we felt that we were living over a pow* 
der mine, which at any moment might explode. 

We found here a delicate woman and her little 
child : it was announced to her that her house must be 
used as a hospital, two rooms being retained by her. 



22 E08PITAL LIFE UT THE 

She was adced to prepare some dinner for onr partf , 
and was promised that we should canse her as little 
trouble as possible* The poor woman burst into tears^ 
B&jii^y ^^ Indeed, indeed, sir, I have nothing in the 
house but a little com meal for myself and this little 
one ; ** and her story of extreme poverty was only too 
true. From affluence and a luxurious home, she had 
been reduced to this, and, as we afterwards knew, was 
even suffering for want of food. 



AMMT OF THE POTOMAC. 28 



CHAPTER II. 
SCENES IN FSEDESICKSBUBG. 

Ninth Corps HospKaL— Marie's Hetghts. — Bofldings fOled with 
Wounded. —Adoninun Cockmm, and oUier Cases oflnlerest — > 
Indian Sharpshooters. — Last Wocds.— The Wounded on the 
Lawn. —A Baj of Honors. — Beenfbroements ih>m Washfaigton. 
—Flowers strowing their Way to Victory.— The Battle.— The 
Boses stained with Blood. — Bncampment of Amhn lances. — 
Night-work on the Field.— BemoTal and Boiial of the Dead.— 
The Biq[iti8m nnder the Amlmlanoe. — Helen L. Gllson.— 
Byacnation of Fredericksburg. — « Torpedo Hooker." — The 
Gnerrillas. — Down the Bappahannock. — Hospital Work on the 
''Kent."- ICr. and Mrs. James F. B. ManhalL 

INTO the dajB which followed were concentrated 
more vital experiences than nsnal in an ordinary 
lifetime; honrs prolonged into days, and days into 
months of suffering. The accnmnlatin{p wants of our 
men daily called me to the central storehouse of the 
Commission, where the liberal supplies which were 
received by the Sanitary wagon trains w^re as liberally 
dispensed on requisitions suggested by the most press- 



24 HOSPITAL LIFE JOT TES 

ing Deeds of the moment. Oar principal hospital 
bnilding was situated directlj on Marie's Heights, and 
was a large and elegantlj-finished dwelling, the man- 
sion of John L. Marie, from whose name these heights 
are known, — the house now ruined bj the plunging 
shot and exploding shells during the battle of Decem- 
ber, 1862, which had opened great holes in its walls, 
tearing awaj partitions, cutting through the roof, rip- 
ping off the rich mouldings and ornaments over the 
windows, which again were shattered by the concus* 
sion of artilleiy. 

In one comer, upon a stretcher, lay a soldier, whose 
open, manlj fistce, high forehead, and dear, intelli- 
gent eje, bespoke an excellent character. He was 
wounded through the lungs, and breathed only with 
sharp stitches of pain. I recall his cheerful courage, 
his pleasant companionship, his bright smile, which 
seemed to me to light up that room of suffering and 
death with a radiance from the other world. In all 
the crowding memories which come back to me, his 
face is dearlj pliotographed upon my mind ; and I have 
only now to wonder whether, in our hurried evacua- 
tion, his life was sacrificed by the necessity of the 
removal *from the tender mercies of a merciless enemy. 
But I know from the calm, even triumphant, faith with 



AMMT OF THM POTOMtAC. 25 

which he endured his safiTerings, thai he was prepared 
for whatever the kindlj providence of Grod should send* 
Near him was a most hopeless and pitiful case — a 
lad, Adoniram Cookson, wounded in the back by a 
shell. He was a mere boy, not over fifteen, so 
pinched, and thin, and delicate in frame, that I could 
easily have carried him in my arms ; and his face had 
grown prematurely old with suffering. The only po- 
sition in which he could rest was upon his elbow^ and 
knees, and he turned helplessly from side to side, 
moaning and talking in a wild delirium. I cannot 
forget his utterly hopeless look in his moments of 
sanity, the eyes and face so wan and worn with days 
and nights of agony. The poor boy slept at last his 
long and quiet sleep, and was buried in the newly- 
made cemetery, which increased with fearful rapidly 
every day. We covered his lonely resting-place with 
flowers. 

Another lad, in the comer, was propped up by a 
bed-rest, and was slowly wasting away. We kept 
him alive with stimulants, and could not but feel that 
even this effort was a mockery. He was already 
such a wreck his former companions could hardly 
have recognized him. He was always uncomplaining, 
could never express too much gratitude for all our 



26 HOSPITAL LIFE IN TEW 

care, althoagh he knew be was past all healing ; and 
at last, when it became necessary to move him , the 
good angels took him gently to the loving Father^s 
arms* 

Upon this same floor, only a little apart from the 
rest, in a store-room, laj a soldier in the last agonies 
of death — a poor, mutilated remnant of a man, and a 
most loathsome sight. His case was too had to be 
placed with others, and he was laid carefollj upon 
snch ragged garments as we conld collect for a bed, 
not enough to keep his shattered frame fit>m the floor, 
though perhaps he had not sufficient feeling left to be 
aware of its hardness* It was always a relief, when 
morning came, to know that the spirits of snch as 
these had parsed on *^over the river ^ to the fairer 
flelds beyond. 

Even the entries of this old mansion were crowded 
with sick and dying men* No available space was 
left unoccupied* The poor fellows just arrived had 
not had their clothes off since they were wounded, and 
were sleeping in blood and filth, and were swarming 
with vermin. They lay as dose as they could be 
packed,, the contaminated air growing worse every 
hour. The openings in the torn and battered walls 
assisted somewhat in ventilation; they were needed 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC • 27 

and welcome breathing-boles* And so from room to 
room, from entry to entry, all was still, and dark, and 
gbastly. Pallid fiices, or bronzed faces, with eager 
eyes, looked np in melting thankfrdness, sometimes 
turning, in their unrest, to change a position which was 
wearing them to the bone, and to pray for a sleeping 
powder, which for this night at least should give them 
relief in unconsciousness. ^* It is so hard to hear the 
hours strike I ** said one to me ; ^^ and yet the night 
must wear slowly on.** Here side by side they lay, 
through long days and longer nights of suffering, wi^ 
no sound but the dock, the stifled moan, or the deliri- 
ous muttering. The air was so dose and nauseating 
that we often reeled with faintness at our work, while 
the^e poor fellows waited and bore all their burden in 
a brave endurance that was like a mirade. 

In a group of four Indian sharpshootws, in one 
comer of this entry, each with the loss of a limb, of 
an arm at the shoulder, of a leg at the knee, or with 
an amputation of the thigh, never was patience more 
finely illustrated* They neither spoke nor moaned, 
but suffered and died, making a mute appeal to our 
sympathy, and expressing both in look and manner 
their gratitude for our care. 

William H. Chambers, whose noble, athletic frame 



28 S08PJTAL UFS JOT THE 

was paralyzed by a spinal wound, prefers a stretcher 
in the open air to the dose and crowded rooms, and 
lies helpless and alone npon the lawn* There was a 
touching contrast between the poor, wrecked body and 
the bright, clear intellect which seemed to be burning 
like a flame. Vigorous in thought, quick in memory, 
quiet and calm in conversation, he was a strong man 
in all but his shattered body, which was fast sinking to 
decay and death. He knew he could not live, and he 
did not wish to live to be a burden to his friends ; and 
as we were about to move him to the steamer, he died, 
leaving messages for those at home,4tnd welcoming the 
change as a bright angel of relief, with perfect trust* 
fidness. I was strangely drawn to him, and could not 
resist the inspiration of his gentle, kindly spirit, which 
could look so bravely upon death, and speak so calmly 
and without fears of those far away who would so 
mourn for him. Yet his death was a relief to all— • 
to him and to us, who felt that life prolonged would 
be to him a lingering misery. 

One soldier (I can never forget his simple^ earnest 
faith) asked me to stop and talk with him. A dis- 
charge of grape and shrapnel through his leg had 
shattered it from thigh to foot ; and as the wound was 
fatal, an amputation was deemed unnecessary. The 



AMMT OF THE POTOMAC ^9 

poor man knew his end was near; jet his strength 
was not qaite gone, and he had much to saj of his 
wifi^ and his poor crippled boj, and he asked me to 
write to them for him. He told me his motive for 
entering the army, of his pleasant home among the 
Green Mountains of Vermont, and of his great sacri- 
fice. He had been, in his earlier dajs, a minister of 
the Methodist faith, and, later, the editor of a paper, 
which had taken its stand boldlj and fireelj for the 
principles at stake in the great contest. He dropped 
his pen and shouldered his mnsket when the call for 
men had come ; and his life and service in the armj 
had been a sincere, religious offering. He had a fine, 
clear eye, a calm forehead, with thin gray hair, sil* 
vered by care and suffering. As I sat on the floor 
with his hand in .mine, I found his extremities grow* 
ing cold, and the film gathering over his eyes. From 
his whispered words I found that he realized that the 
angel was hovering over him. I cut a lock of his 
hair, and the smile which lighted up his face showed 
me that he was aware of it, and knew that it was the 
last token we could send to his wife and children. His 
breathing ceased ; and placing my hand upon the noble 
heart, I found it still. 
The last words of one of these heroic men were 



80 Bospij^AL LiFx nr the 

very striking, and worth a record here. He was 
wounded in the groin, and had been lying for seven 
dajs with no possible hope of recovery, and with very 
little relief. In reply to a question about his burial, 
he said, ** Put upon me a clean, white shirt ; wash 
and shave me, and put two white roses in my hands.^ 
Then he added to those who were standing over him, 
^^Boys, keep on fighting for the flag; bear all things 
and suffer aU things, but never give it up.** His 
request was fulfilled, even to the roses, and his grave 
was strewed with flowers. 

Monday, the 2dd of May, 1864, was a most lovely 
day. The breeze came fresh and cool from the north ; 
the air was pure and dear; the sky perfectly doud* 
less, and of an intense azure, disdosing ^^the blue 
depths of heaven." It was a day for the convales* 
cents, and it seemed as if those who were near to 
death must be revived by the delicious softness of the 
bradng air. We moved them out of the stifling 
rooms to the lawn. Under a grand old oak, whose 
spreading branches gave shelter to nearly fifty men, 
was a Massadiusetts lad, Joseph White, whose case 
for many days I had watched with the strongest inter- 
est. His wound seemed not dangerous, only painful ; 
it was in the arm, under the shoulder. He was always 



ARMT OF THE POTOMAC. 81 

cheerful; and in his place, next the door, I knew 
where to look for b klndlj greeting whenever I entered 
the room where he lay. He had been sadlj weakened 
bj hemorrhage, but was hopeful that within ten days 
he should be at home under his mother's care, and he 
wanted me to write to her. Taking pen and paper, at 
his dictation I wrote a most comforting letter to his 
home; it was full of hopes and plans. He felt as 
sure of life as any of us who ministered to him,- while 
he was in reality at the brink of an open grave. I left 
him for an hour, hardly out of sight, and still at work 
among his companions, who seemed to need care even 
more than he ; when, turning, I noticed an extreme 
pallor upon his face. He had just realized that a 
hemorrhage, which was then beginning, would soon 
place him beyond all human aid. An artery had 
been eaten away in process of healing, and he was 
bleeding to death. There, was no help, and he knew 
it; but he was as calm and resigned as when he 
thought that he had long life before him. It was most 
touching to see how bravely he could look at those 
oozing drops, which every instant told his approach 
nearer and nearer to the other world. The letter was 
still unsealed, and he asked me to add a postscript; 
then, in a deeply solemn voice, he prayed, ^^ Lord, bless 



82 E08PJTAL LIFE JN TEE 

me I ** and passed on where all is bletsing, joj, and 
peace. 

In the mean time fierce conflicts were going on* The 
wounded from the ^Wilderness and Spottsjlvania were 
daOj swelling the numbers of our patients* One am- 
bulance and wagon train, which reached the Heights, 
dischax^ged their living freights of ^^ hundred wounded 
men upon the ground, there being no nook nor comer 
of shelter in any building in the town. We were 
almost overwhelmed by the accumulated work which 
every hour seemed to be bringing to us. Surely such 
a day of horrors the sun had rarely looked upon* 
These sufferers had not eaten food for days. They 
were exhausted with hunger ; many were dying at that 
moment for want of nourishment ; and the ghastly, 
undressed wounds made us heart-sick. Five hundred 
wounds to be examined, bathed, and dressed; five 
hundred men to be fed and washed, and with but our 
little company of aids to do it ! One man, whose pite- 
ous appeal I could not resist, asked me to dress his 
leg. It was a flesh wound, but was dry and hard. 
The bandage was stiff and clotted ; and when I had 
cleansed the skin, I found that he had bled to death. 
At the moment of his appeal to me his life was going 
out. But a few minutes, and he lay on a stretcher 



ASMT OF TSE POTOKAC. SS 

ready for burial. The Burgeons were at work, prol>- 
ing, extracting balls, amputating in the open air, while 
upon every hand were cries of agony from the poor 
fellows, which would have melted any but a heart of 
stone. 

. The tenderness and gratitude of the men were always 
touching. One man said to me, in answer to an in- 
quiry about the roftds over which he had been jolted, 
** All this I can bear ; but wheir I think of the tender- 
hearted people who come so far to care for us, I cannot 
help the tears.** In another case, a boy, who was 
very badly shot, said to me, as I wrote for him, ** Tell 
my mother as pleasant things as you can. Tell her 
the titith ; but qualify it by saying that I am in good 
hands, and am doing well. Tell her about the garden 
of this house, about the flowers, and the kind, good 
Mrs. MarshaU, who is like an angel to us all ;" as 
indeed she was in all her blessed ministries ; and then 
he sobbed out the name of each brother and sister 
whom he held so closely in his remembrance. 

The fearful and undecided battles of the Wildemess 
and of SpottiSylvania, the decimated regiments, and 
the prospect of continued active operations for an 
indefinite period, made the <!aU for reenforcements ii§- 
perative. The fortifications of Washington were left 
2* 



84 B08PITAL LIFE m THE 

oomparatively nndefendecly and their garrisons were 
transferred to active datj in the field. A column of 
sixteen thousand men moved down to join the armj* 
We had received the news of the success and capture 
of prisoners and artillery at Spottsylvania, Who were 
actually passing to the rear, while this body of fresh 
troops was marching through Fredericksburg for the 
front. They were full of fire, and their enthusiasm 
was kindled afresh at the sight of these captured guns 
and other trophies of that bloody field. The clustering 
roses were growing in profusion everywhere ; and as 
the column passed, we threw garlands of flowers, as if 
to strew their way to victory. Their polished arms 
glistened brilliantly in the sun ; their colors were^fiow- 
ing out in the breeze, and they moved forward firmly, 
and, as it proved, to an immediate engagement. 
Within twen^-four hours five hundred men were 
brought back bleeding, wounded, dead, or dying ; the 
same leoses, scarcely faded, were stained with blood, 
which even then was hardly dry. Ewell's Corps, de- 
tached from its main army to make a detour of our 
rear to capture our wagon trains, was met, fought, and 
repulsed within six mfles of where we were ; and now 
t]ie ambulances were returning over the very ground 
upon which these men had moved with steps so firm 



AMMT OF THE POTQMtAC 85 

and hearts so light bat a few hours before. It was 
nearly sunset ; and as the train must halt for the night, 
it was parked in an open, ploughed field, directly at 
the foot of Marie's Heights — that fainons position 
which onr troops had in previous battles stormed in 
Tain. 

The camp for the night was settled at dark; the 
drivers had lain down to rest ; the fires were blazing 
brightly, while the moon, half obscured in the smoke 
of these tremendous battles, shone out red and lurid 
upon the field, lighting it up for our ministries to those 
who were in the agonies of death. Here was this 
vast addition to our numbers, — the dead to be taken 
out and buried, the living to be fed, and washed, and 
surgically dressed. Detailing our guard we visited 
every ambulance, moving those who had died. One 
by one they were placed upon stretchers, their bodies 
hardly cold, their limbs in every position, and they 
were carried out to an adjoining field, where they were 
laid side by side. In the mean time our kitchen was 
taxed to its utmost capacity in preparing nourishment ; 
and before midnight every man had an ample supper, 
such as we could hastily prepare. Our work went on. 
There were throbbing wounds to be dressed, and fe- 
vered limbs to be cooled by firesh water applications. 



86 HOSPITAL LIFB UT TEX 

With basinS) sponges, bandages, and lint, and with 
clear spring water, we went from ambnlance to ambit- 
lance, bathing, cleansing, soothing wonnds which were 
jet fresh and open, and some so ghastly as to make 
ns almost faint. Arms, legs, shoulders, jaws, and feet 
had been carried awaj ; many had received only the 
most hnrried treatment upon the field, while others 
had not been attended to at all. 

Under one of the ambulances we found a lad, 
Charles H. Cutler, of the First Massachusetts Heavy 
Artillery, dreadfully wounded in the back. He had 
crawled out and was lying on the ground, gasping for 
a breath of fresh air, covered with his tent^doth, which 
was saturated and discolored with his blood. His suf- 
ferings were such that he prayed that he might die. 
We attempted to dress his back; but to move him 
caused so sharp an agony, that we could only bathe 
and wash the wound with the cold water which we 
had at hand. The Rev. William H. Channing, who 
was of our party, with that lightning flash of sym- 
pathetic feeling which was characteristic of all his 
service in the field, drew from the lad his story, got 
his father's address, and spoke to him of his critical 
condition. " My boy,** said he, " do you know what 
it is to pray that you may die?'* **Ah, yes; for 



ABMT OF TBE POTOUAtt. 87 

death would bring me 80 mnch peace,** he replied. 
^^ Will 70a haptue me here? I shall feel better then, 
for xaj father always wanted me to be baptized.** So 
in that rough, open field, on our knees under the 
ambulance, the poor boy was received into Christ's 
Church on earth, into the real communion of which 
he was so soon. to enter in heaven. In no prayer or 
service of such profound solemnity had I ever joined ; 
and the promise was made real in that midnight 
experience, if it was ever fulfilled, ^^ that where two or 
three are gathered together in my name, there am I 
in the midst of them.** Administering a sleeping pow- 
der, we left the lad quietly at rest. Moving through 
the train, we kept at work until all was stilL The 
embers of the fires were dying out ; perfect stillness 
reigned tiirough all the camp, with the exception of 
the moanings of the men who were to pass a sleepless 
night in pain. The dead were not to be left uncared 
for nor uncovered* There they were in one long row, 
laid side by side, stark and stifi^, the moon looking 
calmly down upon them — all soldiers of a common 
cause, all dead in a service which we trust had given 
them perfect freedom. With a flickering candle we 
went over each body, examining clothing, marking 
every article, from gunnstopper to watch, or photo> 



88 HOSPITAL LIFE m TEX 

graph, or Bible ; coUecting data of wounds or death, 
with the addresses of their friends, to whom the news 
was jet to come of their burial in an enem/s conntrj 
bj friendly hands. Then with tent-cloth and blanket 
we covered them, leaving them to be baptized with the 
dew of evening, and committing them to the hands of 
a loving and merciful God. 

At daylight we were on the field again, with fresh 
water, crackers, milk punch, and coffee, to give all. the 
refreshment we could before starting them over those 
terrible roads between Fredericksburg and Belle Plain* 
The dead were now to be buried. For hours the sun 
had been blazing with its midsummer heat upon the 
field, and its effect was only too apparent. With two 
spades we began to make the trench, into which thej 
were to be laid ; and when it was finished, the blanket 
coverings were removed, and Mr. Channing stood upon 
the embankment and commenced his short funeral 
service : *^ When this corruptible ahaU have put on 
incorruption^ and this mortal ahaU have put on immor" 
talUy^ then shall he brought to pass the saying that is 
wrUten^ Death is swallowed up in victory.** 

With an appropriate and touching prayer, fervently 
remembering those who were bereaved, we laid, one 
by one, into their last resting-place, these mutilated 



AMMT OF THE POTOUAC 89 

bodies, so changed in these last few hours that no 
friend could have recognized thenu 

One afternoon, jnst before the evacoation, when the 
atmosphere of onr rooms was dose and fool, and all 
were longing for a breath of onr cooler northern air, 
while the men were moaning in pain, or were restless 
with fever, and oar hearts were sick with pitj for the 
snfferers, I heard a light step np<m the stairs; and 
looking np I saw a joung ladj enter, who brought 
with her such an atmosphere of calm and cheerful 
courage, so much freshness, such an expression of gen- 
tle, womanly sympathy, that her mere presence seemed 
to revive the drooping spirits of the men, and to give 
a new power of endurance through the long and pain- 
ful hours of suffering. First with one, then at the 
side of another, a friendly word here, a gentle nod and 
smile there, a tender sympathy with each prostrate 
sufferer, a sympathy which could read in his eyes his 
longing for home love, and for the presence of some 
absent one — in those few minutes hers was indeed an 
angel ministry. Before she left the room she sang to 
them, first some stirring national melody, then some 
sweet or plaintive hymn to strengthen the fidnting 
heart; and I remember how the notes penetrated to 
every part of the building. Soldiers with less severe 



40 HOSPITAL LIFE W TEE 

wounds, from the rooms above, began to crawl ont 
into the entries, and men from below crept np on 
their hands and knees, to catch every note, and to 
receive of the benediction of her presence — for such 
it was to them. Then she went awaj. I did not 
know who she was, but I was as much moved and 
melted as any soldier of them all. This is mj first 
reminiscence of Helen L. Gilson. 

Our work in Fredericksburg was nearly ended. 
The flank movements of Greneral Grant from Spottsyl- 
vania to Hanover Court House left the town exposed. 
The government, with exhaustless energy, was com- 
pleting the railroad to Aquia Creek, in order to trans- 
fer the wounded rapidly to Washington. Two or 
three trains had passed safely through, but the guer- 
rillas operating on that line had broken the com- 
munication, and it became necessary to use all the 
river trani^portation that could be made available. 
Since the first battle of Fredericksburg, however, the 
Bappahannock had been closed by torpedoes. Fortu- 
nately for the wounded, the commander of the river 
flotilla. Captain Hooker, was the man for the occasion. 
Prompt, fearless, and resolute, with a few marines he 
entered one of the towns on the river, arrested a 
dozen of the more prominent citizens of the place, 



ARMY or TME POTOMAC. 41 

confined them on one of his gunboats, and told (he 
authorities that he was going in search of torpedoes. 
If these men were blown up in removing ,them, well ; 
but if one of his crew was injured, he would lay the 
country waste, bum every house and bam, and let the 
people subsist as they could. And they knew that he 
would do it. The torpedoes were removed, and the 
river was opened. The transports followed the fleet, 
and it was announced that the evacuation of Fred- 
ericksburg must be hurried forward as rapidly as 
possible. Those who could walk, either with or with- 
out crutches, were sent forward on foot to Belle Plain. 
Probably many fell and died by the roiidside. We 
know that many lives would have been saved had it 
been possible for them to remain quietly where they 
were* From our own buildings several were sent off 
who died before they reached the landing; while to 
remain, was to linger in the hands of an enemy to 
whose mercy it would not be safe, judging from many 
past experiences, to trust. The evacuation went on* 
Our own men were sent away ; and when we reached 
the wharf, the steamers, which were then crowded 
even to the gangways, were refusing to receive another 
man. Hundreds were left through the night in a 
pouring rain. The Sanitary Commission steamer 



42 HOSPITAL LIFB JK TBM 

^^ Kent" came at last, loaded with stores for the new 
base ; and after the other transports were loaded, we 
took the remainder, forty stretcher cases, all being 
amputations, on onr decks. The gnerrillas came 
swarming into the town, filling its streets, just too late 
to catch their prey, appearing at the landing only in 
time to -see^ the last steamer rapidly moving out of 
sight and range. 

There were many bad cases needing immediate 
care. We had every fiBtdlity, — water, basins, sponges, 
and castile soap, lint and linen bandages, — and went 
to work. Bemoving the clotted cloths, bathing and 
cleansing the stumps, we found three men upon whom 
it proved necessary to perform secondary amputations 
to save their lives. All this suffering was borne in 
utter silence. There was no complaining ; each waited 
for his turn, without appealing to us to pass another 
by in order to come to him. There was one Grerman 
lad who could not speak a word of English. He was 
placed a little out of sight, so that, in the routine of 
dressing, we had not been to him. Supposing him to 
be comfortable, from the cheerfulness of his face, and 
his silence, which had been quite noticeable, he had 
not been attended to. At last, when I went to him 
and opened his shirt, a horrible wound was disclosed, 



ABUT OF TBB POTOUdC, 48 

a shell haying carried away his arm at the shoulder, 
together with the fieshj part of his side. The wound 
was perfectly fresh and healthy, yet the poor fellow 
was so quiet and suhmissive to the necessary manipu- 
lation in the dressing, that he won the love and 
admiration of all on board. 

As I look hack upon these crowded days and nights 
of sad and exciting ex|>eriences, of duties shared and 
work performed with others, there are most precious 
memories of companionship with two friends,* who, 
through death and darkness, with a beautiful fidelity 
to those whom they were serving, made every hour 
bright by their self-forgetting cheerfulness and Chris- 
tian love. Whether amidst the perils of capture by 
the enemy, or the more insidious dangers of the 
swamps, their daily routine was unchanged in its 
serene trustfulness, which gave new strength and con- 
fidence to all around them. And when, after unparal- 
leled exposures, it was seen at last that disease had 
made fearful inroads upon Mrs. M., and they retired 
with hardly a hope that she would live to reach her 
home, it became evident, through the twelvemonth of 
suffering and prostration which followed, how nearly 

* Xr. and Mn. Jamei r. B. Hanhidl, of Bofton. 



44 HOSPITAL LJFB JK TEE 

she had been sacrificed in the absorbing labors of this 
great campaign. With a loilj consecration to doty, 
with united lojaltj to their work, through fatigue, 
hunger, and disease, thej were enriched bj blessings 
which fell from djing lips and overflowing hearts. 



AILMT OF TBE FOTOMAO. 45 



CHAPTER III. 
RAPPAHANNOCK AND PAMUNKT. 

Port Boyal.— Troidcal Lnxiirifinoe.— Tiigfaila Hoddiig Birdi.-* 
Fire I — The Negroes. ~ Their Daj of Jnbflee. -—.The Ckmtrab«nd 
Baige. — Their Eyening Hymn. — MIm GUscm's Address. — 
White House.— AniTid of the Tenth and Eighteenth Corps.— 
The Fortieth Massachusetts.— Lientenant-Colonel Marshall.— 
The Battle of Cold HarlMr.— The Field of Carnage.— Honon 
of Ambolanoe Transportation.— Field Hospital at White Honse. 
— Eight Thonsand Woonded.- The Death of Mrs. General 
Bariow. 

PORT ROYAL, an tmimportant post village in 
Caroline Conntj, Virginia, twentj^fiye mfles be* 
low Fredericksburg, on the Rappahannock, was, for 
two or three days, a temporarj base of the armj* Its 
quiet harbor was fiUed with transport steamers and 
bai*ges, waiting orders to move up the York and Pa- 
munkj Rivers, where a new base was to be established 
nearer Richmond. Here we rested, enjoying the 
beauty of the river, — its calm, fbll current flowing 
smoothly on, reflecting the rich foliage of its shores, 



46 E08PITAL LIFE Hf THM 

which gently rose into the highlands, now lost in the 
pnrple haze of evening. Upon the wide plateau with- 
out the town our forces were drawn up in line* The 
bogles were sounding and drums were beating, while, 
as the sun went down behind rich masses of clouds 
that were bathed in a flood of glory, the bands struck 
up their grand national airs, which were wafted to us 
on the still breath of this beautiful evening. We 
landed on the pontoon pier, which was crowded with 
negroes unloading forage for the twdve hundred and 
fifty wagons soon to start for the front, and walked up 
through crowds of soldiers, picking our way among 
cavalry horses, ambulances, and army teams* The 
town is one of the quaint old Virginia settlements, the 
houses embowered in magnificent shade trees, the gar- 
dens full of creeping vines and fiowers, which peeped 
tiirough every crevice of the fences, and clambered 
over windows and verandas, while rich, dark ivy dung 
to tree and wall, and hung in graceful luxuriance 
everywhere. The rarest exotics grow here profusely 
in the open air ; and there was a tropical fragrance in 
the air, a delicious feeling of luxury and repose, which 
only needed a righteous peace to make the place a 
paradise. The Virginia mocking birds exceed even 
the nightingale in the rich varie^ and sweetness of 



ABMT OF TBS POTOMAC. 47 

their notes. Their joyous trill is never repeated, and 
thej seem to combine in the treasury of their throats 
the music of all the birds. Evening was coming on. 
The long twilight of June was very beautiful. The 
air was calm and still, and the serenity of the night 
was most impressive. Cool, quiet, and tender, the 
moon shone upon us ; the river was like a mirror, and 
we floated along with the tide, only steadying our 
course with the oars, while Venus, the beautiful emer- 
ald evening star, kept its quiet vigil over our pleasant 
hour of rest and recreation. 

At midnight the cry of fire started us to our feet, 
and but a few rods away was a barge of hay burning. 
The heat of the flames was even then felt upon our 
decks. The paint would blister, and the wood begin 
to char, unless we could drop immediately down the 
stream. Bales of burning hay were dropping ofi^ the 
barge and floating towards us* Our fires were out. 
Here were forty helpless men depending upon us for 
succor. The Ust^ soon enveloped the barge, and shot 
up red and lurid in hot forks of flame. The heat 
became intense, and it was soon an impossibility to 
face it. For a time our fate seemed inevitable ; the 
officers of the boat were at their posts, the fires under 
the boilers were kindling, the steam was slowly rising, 



48 HOSPITAL JJFB JOT TBB 

and, at the moment when our position seemed to be 
the most critical, the beam of the engines moved, and 
in half an honr we were anchored ont of danger. 
The next day our wounded were transferred to the 
hospital transport *^ Connecticut,'' and were taken to 
Washington, and our decks were cleared. 

As our armies swept through Spottsjlyania, Caro- 
line, King William, and Hanover Counties, the ne- 
groes, bj instinct, swarmed to the banks of the rivers. 
Leaving the old plantations, their masters, and their 
servitude, dressed as for a festival, and each with his 
bundle, their only property, they made their way in 
companies through the desert, like the children of 
Israel, coming out, as they thought, into the promised 
land. As we passed down the Rappahannock and up 
the York and Pamunky Bivers, squads of families 
could be seen for miles along the banks, making their 
way they knew not whither, but hoping for escape. 
As our steamer sped rapidly along, the poor creatures 
would beg by every gesture of appeal, holding their 
bundles up, raising their hands as if imploring sympa- 
thy, and calling upon us not to pass them by. At 
Port Boyal they flocked down in such numbers that a 
government barge was appropriated for their use. A 
thousand were stowed upon her decks, negroes of all 



ABMT OF TBS POTOMAC. 49 

ages, helpless children, and old men and women, all 
seeking to be free. All their lives long they had 
dreamed of the day of deliverance. Their mde do- 
Yotions had espressed it with the wild fervor of their 
excitable natures ; and now the door was opened, and 
ihej felt that ^'de Lord was leading dem along.'* 
Thej were dressed as for a daj of jubilee. Freedom 
was to them an idea. Thej did not know that it 
meant opportunity, hardship, and privation ; they did 
not dreanr of education, development, responsibility. 
They only knew that it was freedom, and that, in 
breaking their old relation, there would be no more 
auction blocks, and no more cruelty. 

Our steamer was anchored in the river. A hundred 
vessels were there waiting orders to move. Night 
came on. There wete gleaming signals all about us, 
and a thousand colored lights were reflected in the 
water. In the distance we could hear, low and soft, 
the first notes of the negroes' evening hymn. Impas- 
sioned and plaintive it came on, increasing in its 
volume, until the whole chorus broke out in one of 
those indescribably wild, fervid melodies, of which it 
is impossible to resist the impression, until it melted 
away into the subdued meanings of a few who were 
diarged with the refrain. . 
8 



50 HOSPITAL JJFB JH THE 

Our boat was soon lowered and fiOed with an eager 
company, who wished to reach the barge before their 
service was over. Clambering up the sides of the great 
steamer, we fonnd them just settling down to sleep. 
As we moved about among them, we found enough 
who were willing to repeat their hymn. Their old 
preacher addressed them a few words of exhortation, 
'telling them ^^ desc am solemn times," and led them in 
their song. Like wildfire it spread among them, 
and soon a thousand voices blended into one* Under 
the flickering of our single light it was a picture 
indeed. Their countenances were all a^ow with the 
passion of their song ; and as I stood looking upon 
that sea of uplifted faces, I thought that there was 
hardly an emotion which cotdd be awakened by intense 
religious feeling that did not find expression there. 
There was the rapture of some clear vision, the 
anguish of some unforgiven sin, the penitence of a 
lowly spirit; there was the wrestling of some self* 
accusing soul, or the aspiration of one to whom perfect 
love had cast out fear; and there they stood in all 
their untutored simplicity. 

When their song had ceased. Miss Gilson addressed 
them. She pictured the reality of freedom, told them 
what it meant, and what they would have to do. No 



AMMT OF THB POTOMAC. 51 

longer would there be a master to deal out the peck of 
com, no longer a mistress to care for the old people 
or the children. They were to work for themselves, 
provide for their own sick, and support their own 
infirm ; but all this was to be done under new con- 
ditions* No overseer was to stand over them with the 
whip, for their new master was the necessity of earn- 
ing their daily bread. Very soon new and higher 
motives would come ; fresh encouragements, a nobler 
ambition, would grow into their new condition. Then 
in the simplest language she explained the difference 
between their former relations with the then master 
and their new relations with the northern people, 
showing that labor here was voluntary, and that they 
could only expect to secure kind employers by faith- 
fully doing all they had to do. Then, enforcing truth- 
fulness, neatness, and economy, she said, — 

^^ Ton know that the Lord Jesus died and rose 
again for you. You love to sing his praise and to 
draw near to him in prayer. But remember that this is 
not all of religion. Ton must do right as well as pray 
right. Your lives must be full of kind deeds towards 
each other, full of gentle and loving affections, full of 
unselfishness and truth : this is true piety. You must 
make Monday and Tuesday just as good and pure as 



52 HOSPITAL LIFE IK THE 

Sanday is, remembering that Grod looks not only at 
your prayers and your emotions, but at the way yoa 
live, and speak, and act, every hour of yonr lives.'* 
Then she sang this exquisite hymn by Wbittier : — 

** O, pralM an* tanks, --de Lord lie eoma 

To Mt de people ftee; 
An* maata tink it day ob doom, 

An* we ob Jubilee. 
De Lord dat heap de Bod Sea wabefy 

He Jost aa *trong aa den; 
He aaj de word, we laat nigbt alabei, ' 

To-daj de Lonl*a froe i 



We praj de Lord,— be gib na atgna 

Dat aomo daj we be free; 
De norf wind teU it to de pineB^ 

De wild dock to de sea. 
We tink it wben do ebnroh bell ringt 

We dream it in de dream; 
De rioe bird mean it wben be aingt 

De eagle wben be scream. 

We know de promise nebber Ikil, 

An* nebber lie de word; 
80, like de *postles tai do Jail, 

We waited for de Lord. 
An* now be open cbcry door. 

An* trow awaj de key; 
He tink we lob bim ao before, 

We Inb bim better free. 

De jam will grow, de eotton blow. 
Hell gib de rioe and eom; 

80 nebber yon fear, if nobbcr yon hear 
De dilTer blow bia bom.** 



ARMT or THE POTOMAC, 53 

Here were a thoDsand people breathing their first 
free air. They were new bom with this delicioiu 
sense of freedom. They listened with moistened ejes 
to every word which concerned their future, and felt 
that its utterance came from a heart which could em- 
brace them all in its sympathies* Life was to them a 
jubilee only so far as they could make it so by a con- 
sciousness of duty faithfully done^ They had hard 
work before them, much privation, many struggles. 
They had everything to learn — the new industries of 
the North, their changed social condition, and how to 
accept their new responsibilities. 

As she spoke the circle grew larger, and they 
pressed round her more eagerly. It was all a part 
of their new life. They welcomed it ;. and, by every 
possible expression of gratitude to her,, they showed 
how desirous they were to learn.. Those who were 
present can never forget the scene — a thousand dusky 
faces, expressive of such fervency and enthusiasm, 
their large eyes filled with tears, answering to the 
throbbing heart below, all dimly outlined by the flicker- 
ing rays of a single lamp. And when it was over, we 
felt that we could understand our relations to them, 
and the new duties which this great hour had brought 
upon us* 



54 HOSPITAL LIFE IN TUB 

As the campaign progressed, and the army moved 
towards Richmond, there, took place the fiercer con- 
flicts of Spottsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor, 
with the lesser skirmishes and counter attacks upon 
alternate lines day bj daj. Up the Pamunkj and 
York Rivers to 'White House, and through the poi- 
soned atmosphere of the swamps, the hospital depart* 
ment followed on the great movements of the army, 
which sent dailj its wagon and ambulance trains of 
wounded to the rear. The variety of high and low 
lands, the abandoned plantations, ruined houses, and 
crumbling chimneys, all bearing the marks of the deso- 
lations of war,^ gave a sad picturesqueness to the 
scenery, which in other days might have been called 
beautiful. 

We reached White House at sunset on the 80th of 
May. The open plain was filled with troops, which 
proved to be a part of the army of General Butler, 
under the command of General W. F. Smith, consist- 
ing of the Sixteenth Army Corps and a part of the 
Tenth. They were just going into camp, having but 
then arrived on their way to join the Army of the 
Potomac, which at that moment was not at a greater 
distance than fifteen miles* It was a brilliant sunset, 
lighting up with floods of mellow light this great 



AMMT OF THK POTOMAC 55 

camping ground, and reflected from thousands of glis- 
tening arms. The dress parade was over, and the 
armj was seeking its rest. The camp fires were bias- 
ing as night came on; the colored lights from the 
river fleet were reflected in every dancing ripple, while 
the sentries moved on their lonely beats, and the din 
of the camp was hushed and still. Through the 
night the Medical Director, Dr. Dalton, was upon the 
ground, selecting a site for the hospitaL The highest 
ground, with a proximity to good water, was the first 
necessity. Several ample springs were found, an open 
field was secured near by and easily accessible from 
the river. 

While we wore waiting the arrival of the wounded, 
we went in search pf the Fortieth Massachusetts Begi- 
ment. The headquarters were under a thick bower 
of magnolia leaves, and we received a cordial welcome 
from Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall. The men were 
resting on their arms, their knapsacks being merely 
unstrapped, and their guns lying within reach, ready 
for marching orders. The men were full of spirit and 
enthusiasm, although in the midst of a severe cam- 
paign. They were to enter upon their work again 
to-morrow, few of them probably realizing that the 
setting sun of that day was to be the last that many 



56 SOSPITAL LIFB IN THE 

of them would ever look upon. As we sat in this 
cool, shadj spot, a staff officer rode up with orders to 
have the regiment prepared to move at a moment's 
notice, and we left the cdamn ready for its march« 
The skirmishing previous to the battle of Cold Harbor 
had begun. The heavy guns were distinctly heard 
during the morning — that desultory firing, ominous 
of the coming engagement* The regiment joined its 
brigade, marched to Cold Hai*bor, and, before another 
sun had set, the colonel and one hundred of his brave 
men were dead and buried on the field. The fire of 
a genuine patriotism burned in the heart t>f Colonel 
Marshall. Bold as a lion, he was as sensitive as a 
girL With utter fearlessness in danger, nothing could 
touch so quickly those finer sensibilities of honor as 
the slightest intimation of reproach that firom any 
cause he was neglectful of his duty. The life of a 
skilful officer, of a devoted, earnest, and faithful man, 
was thrown away in rashly vindicating hiinself firom 
an aspersion as unjust as it was inconsiderate; and 
when the noble fellow fell, the tears of his men 
watered his grave. The browi^ haggard soldiers, 
with powder^stained hands, placed him reverently un- 
der the sod, with their comrades who fell at his side. 
The sights of a field of carnage must not be 



ARMT OF TBM POTOMia 57 

described* But in the rear of it we can see groups 
of men sitting nnder trees, or lying in agony, having 
crawled to some shady spot, to a brookHside or ravine, 
where they may bathe their fevered wounds or qnench 
their thirst, while waiting their torn to be removed in 
ambulances to the hospitaL The Sanitary Commis- 
sion's supply wagons, which have been pushed forward 
to the field, are stationed where they can afford the 
most relief* Many sufferers are necessarily passed 
by; but how many an exhausted man has lived to 
tell the stoiy of the Commission's timely ministry, but 
lor which he would have been numbered with the 
dead* In the ambulances are concentrated probably 
more acute suffering than may be seen in the same 
space in all this world beside. The worst cases only 
have the privilege of transportation ; and what a priv- 
ilege I A privilege of being violently tossed from side 
to side, of having one of the four who occupy the 
vehicle together thrown bodily, perhaps, upon a gaping 
wound; of being tortured, and racked, and jolted, 
when each jarring of the ambulance is enough to 
make the sjrmpathetic brain burst with agony. How 
often have I stood on the step behind, and heard 
the cry, *^ O God, release me from this agony I ^ and 
then some poor stump would be jolted from its place, 
3* 



58 HOSPITAL Lin m the 

and be brought smartly up against the wooden frame* 
work of the wagon, while tears wonld gather in the 
eyes and roll down over farrowed cheeks. And then 
some poor fellow would take a suspender and tie it to 
the wagon top, and hold to that, in order to break the 
effect of the jolting ambulance, as it careened from 
side to side, or went ploughing on through roads ren- 
dered almost impassable by the enormous transporta- 
tion service of the army. And yet, as a class, these 
ambulance drivers were humane men. I have been 
with them at their camp fires, and have shared their 
rough evening meal ; I have seen their carefulness and 
skill in driving, and have wondered sometimes at the 
tender considerateness with which they ministered to 
their suffering comrades,, when their life of hardship 
and their rough associations would have such ten« 
den<7 to make them insensible. It was stated that 
never before in any campaign of the Army of the 
Potomac had army wagons been called into use for the 
transportation of wounded men; yet, day after day, 
the trains passed through Fredericksburg, as they 
were at that moment arriving at White House, with 
their living freights of suffering men. 

The dead at Cold Harbor were left unburied, and 
the wounded were rapidly sent to White House, where 



ARKT or THE POTOMAC. 59 

eight thousand arrived before a hospital was estab- 
lished to receive them. The vast plateau was, how« 
ever, soon covered with tents; kitchens and feeding 
stations were established, and the regular routine of 
hospital work went on. In looking back upon this 
hospital encampment at White House, and all the 
sufferings experienced there, its distinctive features 
are lost in the recollection of agonizing sights and 
sounds, and in the sense of accumulating duties, of 
sleepless nights, of days crowded with painful experi- 
ences, of heart and brain overwhelmed with the effort 
to relieve so much suffering. When the armj crossed 
the James, on the 14th of June, and White House was 
evacuated, the whole equipage of the hospital was 
transported to City Point, which was to remain the 
base until the war should dose. Through tropical 
heat and drenching showers this holj work went on, 
untn many were stricken down with miasmatic fevers, 
— some, alas ! to die, and others to approach so near 
to death as to hear the rustle of the angels' wings. 

Of our own more immediate party, Mrs. General 
Barlow was the only one who died. Her exhausting 
work at Fredericksburg, where the largest powers of 
administration were displayed, left but a small meas- 
ure of vitality with which to encounter the severe 



60 BOSPITAL LIFE nST TBM 

exposures of the poisoned swamps of tlie Pamnnkji 
and the malarious districts of City Point. Here, in 
the open field, she toiled with Mr. Marshall and Miss 
Gilson, under the scorching sun, with no shelter from 
the pouring rains, with no thought hut for those who 
were suffering and dying all around hor. On the 
hattle-field of Petersburg, hardly out of range of the 
enemy, and at night witnessing the biasing lines of fire 
from right to left, among the wounded, with her sym- 
pathies and powers of both mind and body strained to 
the last degree, neither conscious that she was working 
beyond her strength, nor realizing the extreme exhaus- 
tion of her system, she fainted at her work, and found, 
only when it was too late, that the raging fever was 
wasting her life away. It was strength of will which 
sustained her in this intense activity, when her poor, 
tired body was trying to assert its own right to repose. 
Yet to the last, her sparkling wit, her brilliant intel* 
lect, her unfailing good humor, lighted up our moments 
of rest and recreation. So many memories of her 
beautiful constancy and self-sacrifice, of her bright and 
genial companionship, of her rich and glowing sympa^ 
thies, of her warm and loving nature, come back to 
me, that I feel how inadequate would be any tribute I 
could pay to her worth. 



AMMT OF THE POTOMAC. $1 



CHAPTER IV. 
THE BANITABT COMMISSION. 

ynaaX l)eoome8 of its Money ?— Its Operation at Frederickstmi^— 
Hospital Issues. — The Work of the Commission. —Its Enlarge- 
ment as the War went on. — The Death Rates of the Army con- 
trasted with the English in the Crimea. — Qeneral Beliefl —Spe- 
cial Belief. — The Auxiliary Belief Corps. — Its Organisation. — 
Personal Belief. — Hon. Fhuok B. Fay. — Belief Chests. — Their 
Contents. 

IT would be dearlj impossible in a few paragrapbs 
to condense all that might be said of the Sanitary 
Commission* Its serrice embraced all those more 
immediate necessities of the soldier, of personal relief, 
both in the field and in the hospital, and indnded in 
its operations a vast aggregate of good, ont of the 
army, which never met the public eje. Its various 
departments in the field ; its bureaus in Washington, 
miiladelphia, and New York ; its beneficent operations 
all over the continent, wherever a soldier's comfort 
was to be provided for, or his interests were to be pro- 



62 HOSPITAL LITE JK THE 

tected, need a Tolmne for the record ; and if the story 
18 ever told, it will be one of the brightest pages in our 
national history. In the operations of this vast cam- 
paign it was foremost in everything. It reached the 
new base as soon as there were soldiers to protect it. 
It was at work preparing for hospitals and providing 
necessary stores before the government machmery be- 
gan to move ; and its red flags were seen evexywhere 
with the stars and stripes, establishing its feeding star 
tions and its depots of supplies. It was made supple- 
mentary to the government ; and thus, in emergencies 
of great suffering, or when starvation threatened to 
add its horrors to the miseries of the wounded, the 
Commission was at hand with its medicines, morphine, 
or chloroform, saving by them as many lives as by its 
stimulants and food. In this campaign the most per> 
feet understanding existed' between the Medical Di^ 
rector, Dr. Dalton, and the gentlemen in charge of 
the Commission. He liberally answered requisitions, 
granted concessions, offered facilities to its agents, and 
promoted its efficiency in every way, and thus vast 
suffering was relieved through the harmonious blend- 
ing of the two agencies. The unselfish and devoted 
heroism of surgeons, both regular and volunteer, the 
prompt and the careful and humane performance of 



ABUT OF THE POTOMAC. 63 

their duties, have led many to saj, that no campaign 
since the war commenced had seen such thorough 
faithfulness in the pressing cares and responsibilities 
of their positions, while never before had there been 
known such variety or severity of wounds. 

A natural question, ^^ What becomes of the monej 
of the Sanitary Commission?'' was often asked. It 
was felt that the large balances, at various times 
known to be in the treasury of the Commission, 
should prove sufficient until the war should dose. 
Try to realize the necessary comforts to be supplied to 
a hundred wounded men. Consider the rolls of cloth- 
ing, shirts, drawers, and stockings; the pillows and 
pads for stumps ; the bed-ticks, slings, and bed-pans ; 
the tents, blankets, and slippers, fans and basins, 
sponges, drinking-cups and spoons, — each man requir- 
ing more or less of all of these, and a hundred things 
beside, for his outward comfort, — and then consider 
the articles of food, including every necessary stimu- 
lant, — oranges, lemons, soft crackers, oatmeal for 
gruel, farina, cordials, canned and dried fruits, and 
meats and vegetables, condensed milk and coffee, sugar 
and tobacco, eggs and crackers, — and all this, not for 
one man, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, but for tens 
of thousands, in one department only of the vast 



64 B08PITAL LIFE IN TUB 

campaign. It is also to be remembered that in Vuv 
ginia the work was not simply with nor in the midst 
of the armj, nor only npon the battle-fields ; it was 
spread over vast tracts of country through which the 
army moved, where wounded men had been left in the 
woods or uninhabited plains. Its stations were estab* 
lished not only where it was known there would be 
want, but where there might be a possibili^ of need, 
requiring comprehensive forethought, prompt and ener^ 
getic action, and unwearied labor in infinite detaiL 
Of some articles the requirements were enormous. 
Condensed milk by the ton; shirts by tens of thou- 
sands ; ice by the cargo ; and so on, with the long list 
of supplies. And this material had to be transported 
by wagon trains from one base to another; horses 
were to be purchased, their forage provided, drivers to 
be paid, steamers to be chartered, and coal procured. 
It was a gigantic machinery, and as beneficent in its 
working as it was vast in its proportions. The 
cash expenditure for the month of May, 1864, was 
$250,000; and this did not include the material 
contributed gratuitously, nor the supplies sent to the 
central depots as a gift. 

. The work at Fredericksburg was carefully sub> 
divided; one hundred and fifty agents were assigned 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 65 

to the yarious Corps Hospitals, each responsible to 
the chief of the corps, Hon. Frank B. Faj report- 
ing to him for instructions, and » drawing through 
him their supplies. The central storehouse was sup- 
plied dailj bj the wagon trains which were loaded at 
Belle Plain ; but such was the demand for stores, that 
no sooner had an invoice been unloaded, than boxes, 
barrels, and shelves were emptied to answer the press- 
ing calls. On one occasion, within ten dajs, 28,763 
pieces of dry good9, shirts, towels, bed-ticks, and pil- 
lows were sent and issued ; while upon another occa- 
sion were issued in sixty days of 



JBbspital Furniture and Personal Clothing. 

Drawen, 48^908 

Soekf, 80,322 

SUppen, 14,901 

Handkerchiefik • . . .43,006 

Towels, 06,104 

Wrappers, 10,236 

FUnmel Bands, .... 8,684 



QnUts, 90,107 

Blankets, 13,600 

Sheets, 42,M6 

Fttlows 86,877 

FUlow-eases, 40,006 

FUlow-tielcs 2,200 

Bed-tldcs, U,716 

Shirts, ....'... .87,004 



To a mind oppressed by contemplating the horrors 
of war, the Sanitary Commission alone seemed to shed 
a gleam of sunshine over the dismal scene. Men 
blessed it with their dying breath ; they prayed for it 
as they lay weak and weary ; and one man, just before 



66 HOSPITAL LIFE IN TEE 

he died, said, " Here is my pocket-book : giye its con- 
tents to the Sanitary Commission." 

Let US not donbt the refining inflaence of suffering. 
Every day we were made stronger for da^ by the 
beautiful revelations of character which this heavy 
trial had brought out. Men of roughest exterior, who 
had faced death in every form, who were grim and 
fearless in battle, and who had seemed utterly destitute 
of the finer sensibilities, when lying in pain, would 
become as quiet, and gentle, and subdued as children ; 
as patient, resigned, and even hopeful, as any saint 
who had overcome all things in the discipline of life. 
A fact of this kind was brought to my notice. A 
wounded soldier, worn with heavy marches, wounds, 
and camp disease, died in the hospital in perfect peace. 
Some, who witnessed his sweet patience and content 
through great languor and weariness, fancied some* 
times that they *^ could already see the brilliant par- 
ticles of a halo above his head.'' Before he died, he 
is said to have written this touching little hymn : — 

**! Ittf me down to ileep 
With little tfaonght or care 
Whether mj waktaig And 
ICe here or there I 

A bowfaig, tmrdened head. 
That only aika to rest 



ASMT OF TUB POTOMAC. 67 

Unqneftioiiinfl^ upon 
A lOTinfl^ tNTCtst. 

Vj good right band ibrgeto 

Its emuiing now; 
To nuureh the wetiy march 

I know not how. 

I am not eager, bold, 

K<Mr itrong. All that ii paai. 
I am ready not to do 

At laat, at laat. 

Hj half day'a woik Is done. 

And thia is all mj i^ort t 
I giTe a iMtient God 

Mj IMtient heart,— 

And grasp bis banner still. 

Though all ita bine be dim; 
These stripes, no less than starst 

Lead after him.** 

The work of the. Commission embraced, in the first 
place, the sanitary concerns of the army, the means 
of preserving the health and securing the general 
efficiency of the troops in the field and their comfort in 
the hospitals* Ventilation of tents, drainage of camps, 
and all of those healthful measures in an army, the 
neglect of which is seen in frightful rates of mortality, 
received attention* To illustrate briefly the value of 
this work of the Commission, the contrast is presented 
between the annual death rate of the English forces in 



68 . HOSPITAL HFB IIT THE 

tbe Crimean War and that of onr own armies. ** In 
the Crimea it increased from 129 per 1000 men per 
annum, to 1174 per 1000 men per annnm, of which 
97 per cent, was from disease." In other words, in 
order to supply the loss by death alone, it would be 
necessary to replace the dead army by a new one of 
equal strength in forty-four weeks. At this point the 
English government began to establish sanitary operas 
tions ; and within a year from their full operation the 
rate was reduced to 25 per 1000 men. Another state- 
ment of this Crimean mortality is as follows : ^^ The 
percentage of deaths (46.7 per cent, in the hospitals 
of Scutari and Koulali, in February, 1855) was nearly 
as great as the percentage of recoveries. But that 
alarming mortality was speedily checked by specific 
sanitary works, so that the death rate fell to two or 
three per cent, in the same hospitals of cases treated." 
On the other hand, in our own armies, as the tabular 
statements show, the loss averaged 65 per 1000 men, 
the result, unquestionably, of the promptness with 
which the Commission met the great question which 
was presented to them by the frightful experiences in 
the last great European war; and it may with ju8> 
tice claim its full share of agency in this snccessful 
result. 



ABMT OF THE FOTOKAC 69 

Then followed the work of Greneral Belief, or the 
Bystem of carrent supply in the field. Its first efibrfc 
was made after the hattle of Ball's Bluff, and during 
the winter of 1861-2. Its history embraces every 
actiye campaign in every department, and its opera* 
tion became more widely known, from the fact that it 
was the administration of the Field Belief, which in- 
daded the distribution of stores, and, to some extent, 
those ministrations of relief which have so deeply 
touched the hearts of the people. Still later was 
organized the Special Belief^ a department for the care 
of discharged soldiers, though other work was con- 
nected with it. Homes, lodges, and soldiers' rests 
were established all over the country; a pension 
agency, with its branches in every large city; a 
bureau for the gratuitous collection of back pay and 
the settlement of deceased soldiers' accounts; and 
employment agencies, from which has accrued a vast 
amount of good to soldiers and to their families in 
thousands of instances. 

Next in order, but not less important, was the 
Auxiliary Belief Corps, which, combining all the 
essential points of the Field Belief, was yet a step 
in advance of that, as it attempted a personal ministry 
to the soldier, in addition to its distribution of supplies. 



70 HOSPITAL LIFE IK THE 

And this department made the work of the whole 
more complete, gave it more significance and a richer 
fraitfulness; for it had in it an abundant wealth of 
love. Its historjy if brief, is jet brilliant with hero- 
ism, and deeply impressive with the records of suffer- 
ing and death, which were the result of the gigantic 
campaign which ended around Petersburg and Bach- 
mond. I do not wish to daim for the corps more than 
may be justly awarded by an impartial judgment ; but 
since the first battles of the war, I believe that no 
organization has rendered more effective service among 
sick or wounded men than this corps has since its 
inception and operation after the battles of the Wilder- 
ness. In the winter of 1868-4, the Hon. Frank B. 
Fay, after more than two years in an independent 
position in the field, saw that a department of personal 
rdief could be ingrafted upon the Sanitary Commich 
sion; that it would become one of its most vital 
branches, and would vastly alleviate suffering in the 
new spring campaign then soon to be opened. Ac> 
cordingly an Auxiliary Belief Corps was organized, 
and began its operations at Fredericksburg after the 
battles of the Wildemess and Spottsylvania .Court 
House. Until this campaign the Sanitary Commis- 
sion had never attempted systematic personal service 



ABIfT OF rax POTOMAC. 71 

or contact with the soldier. Its work in the field had 
been mainly the distribution of snpplies npon reqnisi- 
tions from the surgeons. Its wagons were with the 
Tarions divisions of the army, moying with its move- 
ments, at hand always upon the battle-field to make 
good the deficiency of medical supplies which had 
fallen short, or from any cause were not within reach 
of the surgeons. But no systeinatic personal relief of 
the soldier had ever been attempted until Mr. Fay 
organized this Auxiliary Relief Corps to do such work 
as he had done individually from the earliest cam- 
paigns of the war. Its organization was briefly as 
follows : In connection with each corps hospital there 
was a relief station, having from four to eight agents, 
under the direction of one who acted as captain. 
These stations consisted of a store-tent, a sleeping and 
mess-room, a tent for reading and writing; and, in 
one instance, a school and a chapel were established for 
convalescent soldiers, which proved a valuable kind of 
work among the men, who showed their eagerness for 
such instruction and influence by prompt and fitithful 
attendance. The barge, or central storehouse of the 
Commission, issued supplies daily upon requisitions to 
each of these stations. The chief of the Auxiliary 
Corps had a supervision of the whole work, assigned 



72 HOSPITAL LJFM JUT THS 

new men to their posts, issued general directions for 
the goyemment of the corps, and, occupying an ad- 
ministrative position, kept the machinery running, bj 
which an effective service might be rendered to the 
sick or wounded who were placed under its care. The 
supplies were always issued under the direction of 
the surgeons, but, being personally distributed, more 
surely reached individual cases than if given to de- 
tailed ward-masters or intrusted to hospital stewards. 
This personal service included all those pleasant com- 
panionships and ministrations which cheered the lonely 
hospital inmate, a daily and hourly intercourse, which 
entered into his life and supplied his particular need* 
Earnest men found enough to do, enough for heart and 
hand, enough for their ingenui^, enough for their 
patience, and enough for their Christian chari^. This 
contact with the soldier opened up a great wealth and 
varie^ of experience. Away from the hospitals it is 
impossible to realize how these electric currents nm 
along the invisible wires of sympathy ; how men are 
drawn together ; how dose and tender their relations 
may become ; how such service enriches the man who 
gives and the man who receives ; and how very oAen 
a life has been changed, and lifted up, and renewed by 
the outflowing of the heart, and the personal devotion 



AMMT OF TBM POTOMAC. 78 

of a Stranger to one who needed aO a sister^s or a 
mother^s care. Personal intercourse, — I lay stress 
upon this, — intercoarse which reached down to every 
need of the soldier ; which supplied fi>od for the mind, 
for the sonl, and for the hody ; intercourse which was 
companionship in loneliness, which was cheerinlness in 
homesickness, which was strength in weakness, whidi 
was spiritual comfort and peace in any dark hour, and 
which could li^t the way by its heavenly benedictions 
and its words of lofty cheer from One who has trod 
the dark valley, and who has illumined it for all time 
to those who are to cross it in the light of his sacred 
presence. 

I know the value of this service, and I know the 
appreciation in which men in direst suffering have held 
it. The rolls of the Auxiliary Corps have borne the 
names of some four hundred men who at different 
times entered the service. But mere statistics give no 
idea of the magnitude of the work. Over 20,000 aft 
Fredericksburg, over 2000 at Port BoyiJ, over 20,000 
at White House, over 60,000 at Ci^ Point, and not 
less than 20,000 at Point of Bocks — more than 
120,000 sick and wounded men, not to mention the 
great aggregate of those soldiers who have been cared 
4 



74 HOSPITAL TJFE m TBM 

for. at the feeding stations, which nnmher is probably 
not less than one foorth as many more. The corps 
has worked, as I have had occasion to know, until its 
members hare dropped into their graves ; signal loy- 
alty to the service has kept others at their post nntil 
they have been overtaken by disease ; throng miasma, 
fever, malaria, and contagion they have labored nntH 
many have ruined their constitutions, and have re- 
turned enfeebled to their homes to die, and all for the 
cause which they loved so well. Of the labors of Mr. 
Fay, the chief of the corps, it would be hard to speak 
in terms of too much praise ; and the only difficulty in 
making reference at all to it is the fear that any fair 
statement of his service may seem to be too much the 
language of personal admiration. I prefer, rather, to 
let the memory of all his wise and gentle ministries, his 
kindly and self-forgetting service, be kept fresh in one 
more heart, of all the thousands who have had such 
good reasons for treasuring it. The untiring fidelity 
with which his labors in this direction of personal 
relief in the army were continued, probably had no 
parallel in any other individual case. Before he en- 
tered the Sanitary Commission, Mayor Fay was known 
in ever^ division and brigade of the Army of the 



AMUT OF TBM POTOMAC. 75 

Potomac; and soldiera representing eveiy state, and 
probably nearly every county of the loyal North, have 
at some time been the recipients of his kindly ministiy 
or his generous aid. With characteristic foresight he 
was always prepared and was early upon the field of 
battle with his stores, replenished for the emergency, 
and with all these blessed appliances of healing moved 
among the dead and wounded, sootjiing helpless, suf- 
fering, and bleeding men, parched with fever, crazed 
with thirst, or lying neglected in the last agonies of 
death. And this service was performed with such 
humility and tenderness of spirit as is rarely combined 
with the self-contained force of a matured and disci- 
plined mind.- Notwithstanding the delica<7 of his 
position, and the jealousies easily awakened by those 
in authority who were scrupulous of official dignity, 
and careful as to forms, I believe that in no instance 
did he conflict with any ruling medical power, 6r 
receive anything but the respect and cordial good will 
of those under whom he labored. 

In the winter of 1864 Mr. Fay retired from the 
Commission, continuing, however, his work indepen- 
dently until the war dosed. Mr. A. M. Sperry suc> 
ceeded him as chief of the Auxiliary Corps, who. 



76 E08PJTAL LIFS ZIT TOM 

Bince the opening qf the war, had rendered -service in 
Bome form in the good cause. His experience in the 
work of personal relief, his gentleness of spirit^ his 
tenderness with the men, his warm, earnest, and sym- 
pathetic nature, pointed to him as the man of all others 
in the corps to take the yacant place ; and such satis- 
faction did he give to those in authori^, that, in the 
concentration of the armies around Washington, after 
the surrender of Lee and Johnson, he was placed in 
charge of the <^ Field BeUef " of this vast hodj of men 
—a responsihilitj and a work which he assumed, and 
carried through with discretion and liberali^. 

Among other arrangements for Ihe campaign was 
the preparation by Mr. Fay, at the expense of the 
Commission, of twelve relief chests, which were care- 
fully provided with a great variety of stores and 
utensils for hospital use, which his experience had 
suggested, and which were packed with great inge- 
nuity and skill. They proved invaluable as a tem^ 
porary supply. With an admirable adjustment of the 
proportions of the various articles needed, it will be 
seen that hardly anything was omitted which could 
contribute to a soldier's comfort in any condition in 
which he might be found* 



AEMT OF THE POTOMAC. 



77 



Into a space of fourteen cubic feet the foUo^ring 
articles were compressed, the list having been made 
of the articles as thej were unpacked'at Fredericks- 
burg: — 



6 ami of tomatoof, 
6 ** of i*ht fffcfn , 
6 ** ' of mattoiit 
12 «< of milk, 
6 lbs. of tuhuif 

5 ttw. of meal, 

6 iMpen of broma, 
Ipdl of batter (eilw.)f 
IflmoferMkerf, 
21b«.eofllBe, 
lib. tea, 
SIb8.tiigar, 
4boCtleiwhidrer, 
2 •* 
2 •« 
2 •« 
1 bottle cider Tioegar, 

1 ** raipberrjTinegar, 
1 <« cologne water, 

1 " barmm, 

2 bottles Jamaica ginger, 

1 bottle brown ginger, 

6 botUea extract of almonds, 
4 u a ofTanllla, 

2 " *« oflemoii, 
2 K « of ink', 
iptqiersliopB, 

2 doaen temons. 



1 bottle mustard, 
25nvtmQgs, 

1 bottle Cayenne pei^per, 
2bottle8pe|^per, 

1 box salt, 
Ssbirts, 

12 pairs of drawers, 
8 pair socks. 

2 dosen bandkereblelk, 
^ arm slings, 

4 pair slippers, 
6 boxes trodMS, 
6 ** Bossia salre^ 
SemptjTials, 
12 boxes matches. 



eibs. nails, 

IbaU twine, 
A lot of bandages, 
A lot of comfbrt bags, 
A lot of nigbt-cqpa, 

1 roU of <A silk, 
2piUow-saeks, 

2 padded rings, 

1 piece of netting, 
2bed4ieks, 
Ireamofpqper, 
1 doaea pe»lioldflrt. 



78 



HOSPITAL LIFE JS TEE 



Idompendlfy 
Iboxpeni, 
280 eoTelopM, 
12eak0tofi<Mip, 

12 dosen i>ipefl, 

1 box cukcUet, 

1 roll of wire, 

1 box of oomlw, 

e Bheeti of wnippiiiir-iN9er> 

1 blaoUiig-bnitli, 
12 papers tobaoeo» 

1 dosen toweli* 

1 diih-pan (8 gaUonf)* 

1 baldng-ptii, 

1 dosen deep tin pUtet, , 

1 ** tin plates, 

Itlnedp, 



2 tin tu B i b i ter Sf 

2tannels, 

2 toaatfny-irons, 

2 bastinir-'poons* 
12 large spoons, 
12 teaspoons, 

1 batcher's knift, 

6kniTes andftu^s, 

Ibasin, 

1 handsaw, 

Ihatchet, 

1 hammer, 

2 pocket looMng-glas sc s, 
1 nntm^-grater, 

1 bmsh broom, 
loorkserew, 

2 eandlestioks. 



This brief review of the Sanitaiy Commissioii ex- 
hib^ bat an outline of its organization. Some daj 
its history will be written^ but even that will give but 
a faint conception of the magnitnde and importance of 
the work it has accomplished. As has been so well 
said, '^ Never, till every soldier whose last moments it 
has soothed, till every soldier whose flickering life it 
has gently steadied into continnance, whose waning 
reason it has softly lulled into quiet, whose diilled 
blood it has warmed into healthful play, whose failing 
frame it has nourished into strength, whose fainting 



ABMT OF TBM FOTOMAC. 79 

heart it has comforted with STmpathy, — never, until 
every boqI has poured oat its story of gratitude and 
thanksgiving will its history he complete ; hut long 
hefore that time, ever since its helping hand was first 
held forth, comes the blessed voice, ^ Inasmuch as ye 
have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me.''' 



80 BOSPITAZ LIFE Uf TOM 



CHAPTER V. 

A woMAira inmaTRT. 

Tbe Batd« of Petenbiug. — The Colored Hbspitel it CUtf Point — > 
-Hospital Kitcbena InYliginiA and tbe Crimei.— Her fiiflneiiee 
in tlie Wards. 

rpHE tmttle of Cold Harbor demonstrated the fiust 
X' that Bichmond could be carried from that line only 
by an enormous expenditure of life, if at all ; and the 
army was rapidly transferred across the James, mak- 
ing heavy assaults on Petersburg on the 15th, 16th, 
17th, and 18th of June, which resulted in gaining 
important ground, but fiauled to give an entrance into 
the city* 

XTp to this time the colored troops had taken but a 
passive part in the campaign. They were now first 
brought into action in front of Petersburg, when the 
fighting was so desperately contested that many thou- 
sands were left upon the field. The wounded were 
brought down rapidly to City Point, where a tempo? 



ABKT OF TEM POTOMAC. 81 

rary hospital had been provided. It was, however, 
in no other sense a hospital, than that it was a depot 
for wounded men. There were defective management 
and chaotic confusion. The men were neglected, the 
hospital organization was imperfect, and the mortality 
was in consequence frightfollj large. Their condition 
was horrible. The severitj of the campaign in a ma- 
larious country had prostrated manj with fevers, and 
typhoid, in its most malignant forms, was raging with 
increasing fittalitj. 

These stories of suffering reached Miss Gilson at at^' 
moment when the previous labors of the campaign had 
nearlj exhausted her strength; but her dutj seemed 
plain. There were no volunteers for the emergencj, 
and she prepared to go. Her friends declared that she 
could not survive it ; but replying that she could not 
die in a cause more sacred, she started out alone. A 
hospital had to be created, and this required all the 
tact, finesse, and diplomacy of which a woman is capar 
ble. Official prejudice and professional pride had to 
be met and overcome. A new policy had to be intro- 
duced, and it had to be done without seeming to 
interfere. Her doctrine and practice always were 
instant, silent, and cheerful obedience to medical and 
disciplinary orders, without any qualification whatever ; 
4* 



82 B08FITAL LIFE Of THE 

and hj this she overcame the natural senritiTeness of 
the medical authorities. 

A hospital kitchen had to be organized upon her 
method of special diet ; nurses had to learn her waj, 
and be educated to thei» duties; while cleanliness, 
order, system, had to be enforced in the dail j routine. 
Moving quietlj on with her work of renovation, she 
took the responsibility of all changes that became 
necessary; and such harmony prevailed in the camp 
that her policy was vindicated as time roUed on. The 
rate of mortality was lessened, and the hospital was 
soon considered the best in the department. This was 
accomplished by a tact and energy which sought no 
praise, but modestly veiled themselves behind the 
orders of of&cials. The management of her kitchen 
was like the ticking of a clock — - regular discipline, 
gentle firmness, and sweet temper always. The diet 
for the men was changed three times a day; and it 
was her aim to cater as far as possible to the appetites 
of individual men. Her daily rounds in the wards 
brought her into personal intercourse with every 
patient, and she knew his special need. At one time, 
when nine hundred men were supplied from her 
kitchen (with seven hundred rations daily), I took 
down her diet list for one dinner, and give it here 



AMMT OF TBM FOTOMAa 88 

in a note,* to show the varietj of the artides, and 
her careful consideration of the condition of separate 
men. 

The foUowing passage from the pen of Harriet 
Martinean, in regard to the management of the kitchen 
at ScDtari hj Florence Nightingale, is tme also of 
those oiganized by Miss Gilson in Virginia. The 
parallel is so dose, and the illnstration of the daOj 
administration of this department of her work so vivid, 
that, if the cifcnmstances under which it was written 
were not known, I should have said it was a fiiithful 

• lift of ntioiiB in tlM GoloMd Hoqpttal at City Point, beiiig a di^^ 
OB WednesdAj, April 25, 1866 1 « 



BoMt Beei; 


Tometoes, 


SlUMl, 


Tee, 


VMd Broth, 


Goflte, 


Stewed Ojiten, 


Toeat, • 


Beef Tee, 


Qmel, 


Xadted Potatoes, 


Seeldedmnr, 




Graven and Bhflffr CoUa«, 


Am»le Jeny, 


Boeat Apple. 



Let it not twaopposed that UiiawaaenofdlnarjboBpttal diet Al- 
tbongb anche Uat waa ftamialied at thia time, yet it waa only poaaUde 
wliile tlM hoapltal had an ample baae, Uke Gttj Point. The armiee, 
when operating at a diatanee, eoold giro hot two or three artiiSiea; and 
in aedre eampaigna theae were ftamlahed with great irregolafity. 



84 BQ8FITAL LJFB Of THM 

picture of our kitchen in the Colored Hospital at City 
Point: — 

*^ The very idea of that kitchen was savorj in the 
wards; for out of it camO) at the right moment, 
arrowroot, hot and of the pleasantest consistence ; rice 
puddings, neither hard on the one hand nor dammj on 
the other; cool lemonade for the feverish; cans fbll 
of hot tea for the weary, and good coffee for the fainC 
When the sinking sufferer was lying with dosed eyes, 
too feehle to make moan or sign, the fibspital spoon 
was pnt between his lips, with the monthfbl of 
strong broth or hot wine, which rallied him tQl the 
watchful nurse came round again* The meat from 
that kitchen was tenderer than any other, the beef tea 
was more savory. One thing that came out of it was 
the lesson on the saving of good cookery. The mere 
circumstance of the boiling water being really boiling 
there, made a difference of two ounces of rice in every 
four puddings, and of more than half the arrowroot 
used. The same quantity of arrowroot which made a 
pint thin and poor in the general kitchen, made two 
pints thick and good in Miss Nightingale's.^ 

Again, in contrasting the general kitchen with the 
light or special diet prepared for the sicker men, there 
was all the difference between having placed before 



AMKT OF THE POTOMAC. 85 

thein <^ the cold mutton chop with its opaqne fat, the 
beef with its caked gravj, the arrowroot stiff and 
glazed, all nntoDched, as might be seen bj the bed- 
sides in the afternoons, while the patients were lying 
back, sinking for want of support,'' and seeing " the 
quick and quiet nurses enter as the dock struck, 
with their hot water tins, hot morsels readj cut, bright 
knife, and fork, and spoon, — and all ready for instant 
eating r' 

The nurses looked for Miss Gilson's word of praise, 
and labored for it; and she had only to suggest a 
variety in the decoration of the tents to stimulate a 
most honorable rivalry among them, which soon 
opened a wide field for displaying ingenuity and taste, 
so that not only was its standard the highest, but it 
was the most cheerfully picturesque hospital at City 
Point. 

This Colored Hospital service was one of those 
extraordinary tasks, out of the ordinary course of 
army hospital discipline, that none but a woman could 
execute. It required more than a man's power of 
endurance, for men fainted and fell under the burden* 
It required a woman's discernment, a woman's tender- 
ness, a woman's delicacy and tact; it required such 



86 BOBFTTAL UFE IM TBM 

nenre and moral force, and soch execative power, as 
are rarelj united in anj woman's character. The 
simple grace with which she moved about the hospital 
camps, the gentle dignity with which she ministered to 
the suffering about her, won all hearts. As she passed 
through the wards the men would follow her with 
their eyes, attracted bj the grave sweetness of her 
manner ; and when she stopped by some bedside, and 
laid her hand upon the forehead and smoothed the 
hair of a soldier, speaking some cheering, pleasant 
word, I have seen the tears gather in his ejes, and his 
lip quiver, as he tried to speak or to touch the fold of 
her dress, as if appealing to her to listen, while he 
opened his heart about the mother, wife, or sister far 
awaj. I have seen her in her sober graj flannel gown, 
sitting motionless bj the dim candle-light, — which was 
all our camp could afford, — with her eyes open and 
watchful, and her hands ever readj for all those end- 
less wants of sickness at night, especiallj sickness that 
maj be tended unto death, or unto the awful struggle 
between life and death, which it was the lot of nearlj 
all of us at some time to keep watch over until the 
danger had gone bj. And in sadder trials, when the 
life of a soldier whom she had watched and ministered 



ABUT OF THE POTOMAC. 87 

to was trembling in the balance between earth and 
heaven, waiting for Him to make all things new, she 
has seemed, hj some special grace of the spirit, to 
reach the living Christ, and draw a blessing down as 
the shining waj was opened to the tomb. And I have 
seen such looks of gratitude from weary eyes, now 
brightened bj visions of heavenly glory, the last of 
many recognitions of her ministry. Absorbed in her 
work, unconscious of the spiritual beauty which in* 
vested her daily life, — > whether in her kitchen, in the 
heat and overcrowding incident to the issues of a large 
special diet list, or sitting at the cot of some poor 
lonely soldier, whispering of the higher realities of 
another world, — she was always the same presence 
of grace and love, of peace and benediction. I have 
been with her in the wards where the men have craved 
some simple religious service, — the reading of Scrip- 
ture, the repetition of a psahn, the singing of a hymn, 
or the offering of a prayer,— and invariably the men 
were melted to tears by the touching simplicity of her 
eloquence. 

These were the tokens of her ministry among the 
sickest men; but it was not here alone that her 
influence was felt in the hospital. Was there jealousy 



88 B08PJTAL LIFE JOT THE 

in the kitchen, her quick penetration detected the 
cause, and in her gentle way harmonj was restored ; 
was there profanitj among the convalescents, her dailj 
presence and kindlj admonition or reproof, with an 
occasional glance which spoke her sorrow for such 
sin, were enough to check the evil ; or was there hard* 
ship or discontent, the knowledge that she was sharing 
the discomfort too, was enough to compel patient 
endurance until a remedy could be provided. And so, 
through all the war, from the seven days' conflict upon 
the Peninsula, in those early July days of 1862, 
through the campaigns of Antietam and Fredericks- 
burg, of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and after the 
conflicts of the Wilderness, and the flerce and unde- 
cided battles which were fought for the possession of 
Bichmond and Petersburg, in 1864 and 1865, she la- 
bored steadfastly on until the end. Through scorching' 
heat and pinching cold, in the tent or upon the open 
field, in the ambulance or on the saddle, through rain 
and snow, amid unseen perils of the enemy, under f^ 
upon the fleld, or in the more insidious dangers of con- 
tagion, she worked quietly on, doing her simple part 
with all womanly tact and skill, until now the hospital 
dress is laid aside, and she rests, with the sense of a 



ABMiT OF TBS FOTOMAC. 89 

Doble work done, with the blessing and prayers of hun- 
dreds whose snlTerings she has relieved or whose lives 
she has saved, being, 

Mln the great hlHorj of tbe land, 
A noble tjpe of good 
Heroie womanliood.* 



90 B08PITAL LIFE XBT THE 



CHAPTER VI. 

CITT POINT FIELD HOSPITALS. 

aty Point —Medical Director, Br. Bdward B. DaItoii.^Genena 
Grant.— Negroes' Eyening Serrlce.— Sermon of a Colored Ser- 
geant 

Cnr POINT, the magnifioent base of our armies, 
claims a word of notice* Although in former 
days it most have been sleepj enough, even with the 
commerce of Bichmond in its streets, it is now wide 
awake. A new dvilization foUows on in the track of 
war. 1£ anj of the F. F. Y.'s are left to daim their 
own, thej would never know it to be the same place. 
Through all its ceaseless activity I never saw one of 
the old inhabitants. The few scattering houses were 
monopolized bj clerks of commissaries and provost 
marshals ; new buildings filled out the streets, — rough 
pine shanties, markets, sutlers' shops, clothing stores, 
ambrotype saloons, hotels, and chapeb, — like the 
mushroom growth of Pike's Peak or California. The 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC. 91 

headquarters of General Grant were on a bluff at the 
junction of the James and the Appomattox, where 
these rivers open out like a lake, while beyond were 
the rich abandoned plantations, and the low fertile 
plains, all trampled over bj the foot of war. An old 
villa, with its wide veranda, all green and beautiful 
amidst its clinging vines, served as the office for Gen- 
eral Ingalls, the chief quartermaster of the army; 
while upon the lawn, under spreading oaks, were plain 
log huts, the camping ground of the lieutenantrgen- 
eraL Here, puffing his cigar with that comfortable 
repose of manner which many have mistaken for dul- 
ness, with nothing but his three stars to attract the 
notice of a stranger, he moved about his headquarters, 
keeping his own counsel, developing silently his own 
plans, to be seen at any time, and easy to be ap- 
proached by all. 

He deals with all questions in a plain, business-like 
manner, with the least show of feeling, and with that 
plain common sense which decides on the instant, and 
then dismisses the subject from the mind. His un- 
demonstrativeness had nothing repulsive about it, for 
he made and retained many strong friends. With 
none of that showy pretension which sometimes wins 
the personal devotion of an army, Greneral Grant, by 



92 B08PITAL LUn IS TBM 

the kindness and consideration with which he listens 
to the humblest soldier, gained that endnring con- 
fidence of his men which no reverses conld destroy. 

A colored sergeant in our hospital, whose mother 
was dying, wished a forlough. The application, if 
made in the ordinary routine, would be too late \ he 
therefore went to headquarters, and found the general 
engaged with a member of his staff. Turning to the 
soldier, he said, *^ Well, sergeant? ** 

The man stated his case briefly, and when he 
finished, the general looked him steadily in the eye 
with that same penetration which always places men 
just where they belong, and immediately directed his 
adjutant-general to make out a thirly days' furlough. 
When it was ready the general handed it to the ser- 
geant, took his hand, and, shaking it, kindly said, — 

" Sergeant, I hope youll find your mother living 
when you get home,^ which could bring no response 
from the poor colored soldier except a choking ^^ Grod 
bless you, general.** 

The wharves were built parallel with the river half 
a nfile in length, and with storehouses containing the 
subsistence, forage, ammunition, and equipment of the 
army. Here were steamers and vessels of every de- 
scription discharging; the fireight was rapidly loaded 



ABMT OF THX FOTOMAO, 93 

into cars, which moved out in long, heavy trains to the 
front, and there was the greatest activity everywhere. 

The road to the hospitab led us by the Bull Ring, 
the picturesque camp of the Fifteenth Begiment of New 
York Engineers, the wagon train camps, corrals for 
mules and horses, long stables of brushwood, thatched 
with boughs of evergreen, groups of low huts for the 
wagoners, while cavalrymen were clanking along on 
their jaded beasts ; ambulances, army teams, and ar- 
tillery, half obscured in sufibcating clouds of dust 
(which, in this dry summer, was nearly twelve inches 
deep), completed the picture. 

Dr. Edward B. Dalton, the Medical Director, held 
his position since the commcfncement of the campaign 
in May. At Fredericksburg, at White House, and 
through all the terrible emergencies of that experi- 
ence, he had displayed eminent administrative ability ; 
and this was now exercised at City Point. With 
every facility furnished by a magnificent army base, 
and after the experience of four years, he so adjusted 
the complicated machinery of hospital administration 
as to leave his mark upon the field hospital system, 
which, in the previous history of the war, had never 
been brought to such perfection. His wise forethought 
and skill, his delicate tact in quietly overcoming di£S.- 



94 E08PITAL LIFE XBT TBM 

cnlties, his sound judgment in matters of detail, his 
decision and firmness of purpose, his scientific accom- 
plishments, his genial and kindly manners, won for 
him the confidence of his superior officers, and the 
cordial good-will of all who were brought into official 
relations with him. 

The Depot Field Hospitals were situated a mile 
from the landing, upon a wide plateau, extending back 
frx>m the Appomattox, and were divided into the Sec- 
ond, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Cavalrj Corps Hospitals, 
representing each corps of the Armj of the Potomac. 
A branch raibroad, running directlj through the centre 
of the hospital grounds, was constructed from the 
main military line, in order that the sick or wounded 
sent in from the division hospitals at the front might 
avoid ambulance transportation, and thus be taken 
directly from the cars and laid upon their hospital 
beds. 

Connected with each hospital were a dispensary, a 
commissary storehouse, general and special diet kitch- 
ens, together with the convalescents' dining-room. The 
Sanitary Commission also established a station in each 
corps. These stations were supplied by daily requisi- 
tions from the barge, the central storehouse, and the 
headquarters of the Commission at this point. Each 



ABKT OF THE FOTOMAC 95 

hospital had accommodations for from fifteen hundred 
to two thousand men. Through the summer months it 
was a vast encampment of tents, which were changed, 
as winter approached, to log barracks with boarded 
roofs, an even temperature being more easilj main- 
tained in them than under canvas coyerings. Everj 
fanciful decoration which the ing^uity of nurses or 
ward-masters could suggest was carried out. Some 
were of most unique design, executed with taste and 
skill; festoons of many-colored papers covering the 
rough walb, arched over the beds, or hanging grace- 
fully over windows and doors, so that there was an air 
of bright and cheerful cleanliness, which was always 
refreshing. 

The chaplain of the hospital was Orderly Sergeant 
Morgan, of the Forty-third United States colored 
troops, an eloquent preacher, a man of most earnest 
and devout spirit, and of unquestioned ability. 

Just before evening service, Juba, with a fitce all 
aglow with expectation, came scratching at the tent. 
Entering, with hat in hand, he said, *^ Thar's a new 
preacher in de camp, and Fs jes^ studyin' if I can get 
to go dis evenin' V* So Juba went. Following on, I 
passed long lines of blackened tents, cheerless and 
cold; grim suffering was everywhere; the curling 



96 HOSPITAL LJFX IN TBS 

smoke was issuing firom the kitchens ; the .guard 
were patrolling on their lonelj beat; nnrses were 
moving abont in their monotonous toil, while the 
pattering rain and the soggy Virginia mud sent 
through me a chillj homesickness and sense of des- 
olation not easily described. Groping through the 
darkness, yet guided by the low, plaintive air of their 
opening hymn, I reached their rude hut of logs, used 
as the wash-house of the hospital, as well as for their 
place of worship. On such occasions this was always 
crowded with its dusky congregation, gathered as it 
was within the limits of the colored hospital. The 
building was about fifty feet in length, the crevices 
cemented with mud, the roof being made of canvas, 
and the interior left rough and cheerless. Lanterns 
were hanging from the poles which supported the 
structure, and the dim candle*ligbt produced a ghastly 
glare, which made it difficult to recognize faces, how- 
ever near. Humble they were and in earnest, moyed 
by the simplest impulse of their hearts, and bound 
together in their devotions by one common bond — the 
love of a common Father. The congregation were 
standing, singing a hymn, after which the preacher 
read a few passages of Scripture and gaye out another 
hymn,— 



ABJiT or TBK POTOMAC, 97 

<« O fi>r a doMT widk wftli God, 
▲ oalm and hearonly frame,**— 

which was read with deep feeling, and even with start- 
ling effect. His prayer was fervent and appropriate, 
moving these simple hearts, and calling from them 
sach ejaculations as ^^ Dis lowly heart am waitin' for 
jon. Lord,** and ^^ Yes, Lord, do come now an' visit 
dis poor sonl,'' and the like. The text was, '< And 
bearing His cross, he went fbrth into a place called the 
place of a skull.'' The sermon was prefaced bj the 
remark, that we all had life before as, with all its 
burdens and sorrows ; and that we had come there to 
be strengthened for duty. We should, therefore, open 
our hearts to all the best influences of the place, and 
then we should go forth ready for the battle like 
^^ giants refreshed with new wine." And, if any were 
in any trouble or sorrow, or if there were heavy 
burdens resting upon the heart, if we went to Jesus 
and laid them at his feet, and were willing to take his 
light and easy yoke, they would melt away like dew 
before the efiulgont brightness of the sun. The ser- 
mon was an appeal to his hearers to place thems^ves 
under the influence of Christ. He pictured the suffer- 
ings of the Saviour, showing how meekly, yet with 
what patience and strength, they were borne ; but he 
6 



98 BOSPITAL LIFE UT TBB 

dwelt upon the idea that divine Justice demanded the 
sacrifice. ^^ Approaching Grolgotha, bearing not onlj 
the cross, bnt the weight of joor sins and mine 
npon his overbnrdened heart, he was fresh from the 
hnmiliations of the judgment hall. There mocked, 
with the^pnrple robe, scourged with the whip, his ten- 
der temples pierced with thorns, with the blood and 
sweat upon his brows, all along the way he suffered 
the derision of the people, who, with cries of ^ Crucify 
him, crucify him I ' were pressing him on to his exe- 
cution* Has he robbed a widow or an orphan? Has 
he an J guile upon his lips? Has he taken gold or 
sflver, or are his hands dripping with' blood, that he is 
dragged thus to a Place of a Skull? Ah, no. He is 

the* pure, the meek, the guileless one ; but it must 

• 
needs be .that one must die. The wrath waxed hotter 

and hotter, that it might not be appeased by any 

rai^som less than this very Son of Grod ; and so the 

blazing sword leaps from the scabbard of justice, and 

the doom is sealed. As he struggles up to the summit, 

he faints and falls under the weight of the cross. 

There, upon the hill-top, stands Justice waiting to 

complete the sacrifice which four thousand y^ars ago 

was appointed for this hour. She waits to set her seal 

upon the atonement. The time is expiring, while jet 



AJtMT or TSE POTOMAC. 99 

the overburdened one is staggering np the hill ; bat he 
reaches it not yet. Is the hoar, then, to pass, and the 
world to be forever lost? Where, then, she asks, is He 
who was to offer himself a ransom? The hoar will 
strike, and the doom will be fixed forever. O God, 
what an hoar I Millions stand in dread expectancy. 
Hell yawns before them, and the heat of eternal fires 
is aronnd them, and the appealing cry goes np to 
heaven that they may yet be saved. With painfol 
feet and a weiary heart he was slowly moving on to the 
sacrifice. He was treading the wine-press alone, bat 
it was not of Panl, or James, or John that he was 
thinking there. It was of the world, of yon and me 
in oar low estate and need. As the moment ap» 
proaches. Calvary is reached. He is seized and laid 
'upon the cross. Sharp nails are driven by merciless 
blows throngh his hands and feet. The cross is lifted 
and plnnged into its place ; and while darkness covers 
the fieuM of the earth, and the veil of the temple is 
rent, and women fall weeping at his feet, the work is 
done. He has not fiinched nor marmared against the 
inexorable decree. He simply prays his Father to for- 
give his murderers, while the mercy*seat is sprinkled 
with his blood. The debt was cancelled at last ; he 
cried, ^ It is finished,' and oar salvation was secared. 



100 E08PJTAL LITE IK TBB 

Seyeiitj-two Boman soldiers guarded the cross, pass- 
ing and repassing, wagging their heads, and sajing, 
^We have him now. Even his God cannot save 
him/ The Pharisee mbbed his hands, chndding in 
derision, and devils enjoyed the triumph. But wait, 
ye powers of hell I Tonr doom is written in charac- 
ters of living fire I In the dark chambers of the 
night, for three days, he waited and slept. On the 
resurrection morning, Gabriel and St. Michael speak ; 
the bonds of the grave are broken ; the sleeping Jesus 
rises ; archangels move out in majesty and g^ory ; and 
through the trackless ether, quicker than the light- 
ning's flash, the risen Lord ascends upon his blazing 
chariot, and rests upon the bosom of his Grod.'' 

The effect of this rude eloquence upon these poor, 
ignorant creatures was a most curious exhibition of 
human nature. The preacher then made an appeal to 
them to follow this long-suflering Saviour ; to give up 
their old ways of life, their profanity, their indiffer- 
ence, their sins, and to become truly Christian men. 
They wept and clapped their hands, shouting, ^^ Amen, 
amen!'* « TU ship for glory P "Dat'ssol" **Yes, 
Lord, send a witness I '' &c. They swayed to and fro, 
calling upon the Lord Jesus to forgive them, to wash 
them dean, amid groans and cries for help. 



ARMT or THE POTOIUO. 101 

One old man rose and sidd, ^^ While de bredren an' 
sisters are singin' ^ An' mast dis bodj die?' let all 
who lub de Lord, an' would wear de golden crown, an' 
be landed safe on Canaan's shore in de last great an' 
terrible day, come up to de altar an' help ns beg for 
mercj on dare poor souls." 

Then followed a scene which baffles description* 
Numbers of men and women, ^^ convinced of sin," 
went forward, knelt down, and amid groanings and 
wails of agonj, prayed to be saved from the bottomless 
pit, and from the fire which is never quenched ; while 
we were hoping that the new birth, if such it reallj 
was, might prove a constantly renewing influence with 
the life of every day. 



102 H09PJTAL LIFE IK THM 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE SILENT 80SB0W8 AT HOME. 

The Village Poet-offioe.— Soldier's Letter.— The unknown Dead. 
— The lonely Italian, Gioranni Qnaglia. — Italian Letters. 

THE news of battle, it comes swift and sure. For 
four long years it has flashed over the wires, 
bringing suspense and desolation to every hamlet and 
Tillage in the land. For days there is an nnnatnral 
qniet through the household, which goes on with the 
sflent routine, under the painful pressure of uncei^ 
tainty, until at last a message or a letter tells the 
whole* 

As I have stood in a country village po8t>offioe, 
watching the tragedies pictured on the faces awaiting 
there the opening of the mail, I have seen strong men 
come in and take their ^< soldier's letter,** tear off, with 
a trembling hand, the envelope, and wail out, ^^ He is 
dead I he is dead I How can I tell his mother? ** I 
have seen two women enter, — one sad, and care-worn, 



ARKT OF THB POTOMAC 103 

and old, leaning upon a younger, a daughter, perhaps. 
They receive the letter and pass out. A glance has 
told them it is a stranger's hand, while a wild fear 
sweeps over their hearts, which they restrain till they 
are quite out of sight. Then the letter is opened. 
^^ May God help thee and me, Jane I '' is all she says, 
while they hurry on to their lowly dwelling, where they 
may hide their grief, where there need be no conceal- 
ment of its cause, and no restraint upon its utterance. 
^^ An only son of his mother, and she a widow.'* 

Here is another mourner, with a shadow not less 
dark upon her life, who must struggle on alone, — she 
who had hoped to be a wife, but now not less a 
widow. And this same story has been repeated in 
how many forms, in how many homes, all over the^ 
land I With the witness of such griefs as these, while 
striving for these alleviations of suffering in the field, 
there was the thought of those at home, who, through 
long and weary months, have waited for tidings of 
ihose who have died, hoping for some explanation of 
the interrupted letters, and the silence which to many, 
alas I is the silence of the grave. And yet, in thoit- 
sands of cases, this explanation never comes ; and the 
suspense is a living grief, a lasting sorrow. Men died 
every day, and were carried out to the dead-house for 



104 BOSflTAL UWE UT TBM 

burial, who left no trace of friends, hardly a name to 
be recorded on a headrboard. Look into that part of 
any soldiers' bnrial-field which is devoted to the '^ un- 
known/' and see the proportion buried there. Turn, 
then, to the lists of names recorded, and ask of their 
families if they have received the notice of their death. 
This office was left to any comrade who might know 
the friends, to any humane person who was interested 
in the case ; but it was not provided for as a part of 
the regular routine of hospital duty. The constant 
sight of the dead carried out for burial deeply touched 
me, and suggested a want, which might be easfly sup- 
plied, of a complete list of the patients, with the 
address of their nearest relative. I found that nearly 
all the men had dose family ties. Their hearts were 
as tender, their sensibilities as keen, their emotions as 
deep as ours. They were quickly moved by old mem- 
ories of home, of &ther or mother, of wife or chil- 
dren ; and our appealing to those affections, aside fit>m 
its moral effect, had a good sanitary influence, the men 
being grateful for such appeals, and responding heartily 
to them. In our hospital such a list was attempted, 
and its value was every day illustrated by the touching 
letters of thankfulness received from homes which 
were clouded indeed by bereavement, which but for 



ARMT OF THE POTOMUO. 105 

auch intelligence would have remained in that darker 
sorrow of nncertaintj nntil they should meet their 
missing ones face to face in the other world. Mothers 
wrote of their ^^ undying gratitude ** for the simple 
announcement of the fact that their sons were in a 
hospital ; or they wrote, " By the love you bear your 
own mother, give me some tidings of my boy. Is he 
alive? Where can I see him? Is he dead? When 
and how?** 

In Washington the Sanitary Conmiission had a Di- 
rectory, which was as com]plete a record as possible 
of names in the Washington hospitals. Mr. Bowne, 
the chief of this bureau, writes thus in illustration of 
the value of these records : — 

^^ Of the many scenes witnessed in' the bureau, I can 
only niention a few without attempting a description. 
A mother has not heard anything of her son since the 
last battle ; she hopes he is safe, but would like to be 
assured. There is no escape; she must be told that 
he has fallen upon the ^ Federal altar ; * an agony of 
tears bursts forth, which seems as if it would never 
cease. Another, less excitable, does not tire of telling 
< how good a boy he was.' ^ No mother ever had such 
a son as he,' sobs a thirds A father presents himself, — 
a strong man, and yet young in years, — to receive the 
5» 



106 HOSPITAL LIFE UT THE 

same announcement, and sinks, with andible grief, into 
a cfaair. Another, with pale face and tremulous voice, 
anxious to know, yet dreading to hear, is told that his 
boy is in the hospital a short distance off; he grasps 
the hand with both of his, while tears run down his 
cheeks, and without uttering another word leaves the 
room. ^ It is very hard, my friend,' was said t6 oiie 
mute with grief, ^ but you are not alone/ ^ I know it, 
sir,' was the prompt reply, ^ but he was the only one I 
had/ 

^^ A woman of more than ordinary intelligence and 
appearance, with almost breathless voice, said, * I want 
to find my husband ; I have not heard from him for 
several months* I have written to the officers of his 
regiment, but do not get any reply ; can you tell me 
where he is?' 

(( ( Will you please to give me his name, and num- 
ber of his regiment?' *0, yes, sir/ ^ You will find 
him at Lincoln Hospital; the city cars pass near 
the building, and the conductor will point it out to 
you/ A momentary shade of incredulity is percep- 
tible; then turning her full, deep eyes, swollen with 
emotion, she gives one look, — a full reward for a month 
of labor, — and in an instant is in the street. • • • 
Thus the varied scene goes on. One inquirer leaves 



ARMT or TBB POTOMAC. 107 

the room gratefol, buoyant, bappj, to be followed hj 
another eqoallj grateful, who will ^ tread softlj' the 
remainder of his days, for the * light of his dwelling 
has gone out.* As each departs, another fignre is 
added to the list of ^ inquiries and answers/ and the 
seemingly monotonous work of the bureau is resumed.^ 
This Directoiy, however, did not come into practical 
operation in the field hospitals, and it was the want of 
it which I attempted to supply. A man with whom I 
had but just been talking, and whose address was 
upon my list, passed out of his tent to dinner. In the 
street of the hospital he fell dead. Nobody knew to 
what ward he belonged ; he was *^ unknown,'' a soldier 
just arrived. My book was called for, and there was 
the whole story. The poor fellow was laid upon a 
stretcher, and was carried to the tent for the dead; 
and when I went to see him, he was cold. I wrote to 
his wife, enclosing a hundred dollar bill found in his 
pocket-book ; and had it not been for this list, there 
would have been another ^^ Hannah at the window,'' 
waiting, watching throng long years for the loved one 
whom she would never see again. In this case she 
was sufiering for want of food ; her children were shoe- 
less, and thinly dad; and the money, which would 
otherwise have remained unclaimed in the adjutant* 



108 HOSPITAL UFS XBT TBJt 

general's office, met her want, and perhaps sayed her 
little famfly firom cold and stanration. 

Even a more striking illustration of the valne of 
such a list was shown in a case which we had watched 
for manj days with the tenderest interest — that of a 
lonely Italian soldier, who had strayed firom his regi- 
ment, sick and helpless, seeking refuge in our colored 
wards. He could not understand a word of English ; 
and when we saw him, besides a wasting consumption, 
he had the gnawing of homesickness, with which he 
was passing rapidly away. We had been ministering 
to his wants with all the care and sympathy which his 
case awakened ; and by French, and such few Italian 
words as we had at command, we tried to talk with 
him. As we spoke of our cold climate, and contrasted 
it with his own mfld and beautifiil Italy, his eyes 
brightened, his face seemed radiant, and, with his 
arms extended heavenward, he gasped out, ^^L^Italie 
est paradise I ** He seemed to see his own smiling 
Pavia and Yigevano, to feel the soft breath of the 
Mediterranean, and to bring up all the sunny memories 
of his fiur-off home. He sank back and smiled, and I 
placed my hand upon his heart to feel its throbbing. 
His skin was white as an infant's ; and on my remark- 
ing this to him, he said, with a sad smile, ^^ Oui, out, 



AMMT or TBB POTOMAC 109 

None / ^ and then, pointing to the group of colored 
Boldieni gathered aboot his bed, he tried to saj, ^^ Yet 
all these are bhick.'' After much effort we found in 
a neighboring hospital an Italian who conld act as 
oar interpreter. There was no time to lose, for his 
strength was failing fast. We were eager to learn his 
storj, which proved to be the old tale of deception and 
fraad^ of the cruelties of the bounty agents, and of 
sufferings the sequel of which would soon be death. 
He had been in the country but a few days, when, 
he knew not how, he found himself clothed in a blue 
uniform, and regularly enlisted in the military service 
of the government. A man of delicate frame, he had 
simply broken down from the severities and exposures 
of the campaign, and here he was to die. His mind 
reverted to his distant home, and he spoke with deep 
emotion of his *^ poor old father and mother,^ and his 
brothers, and of what a tragedy their separation had 
proved ; of his dear old cathedral of Yigevano, and of 
his employments, which he should never enter upon 
again. He knew he was going to die. He felt that 
the sands of life were fast running out, and that in a 
few hours all would be changed. Yet he did not 
shrink from death'; he welcomed it rather, for what 
was life to him? It was only privation, hardship, 



110 HOSPITAL UFX IIT THJK 

lonelinesS) and suffering. He had no inflnenoe to pro- 
cnre his discharge ; he conld make no appeal for jos- 
tioe \ his comrades were strangers, and spoke a strange 
tongne, of which he knew not a word; he had no 
companion to whom he could look for sympathy, or to 
whom he conld tell his story of wrong; indeed, he 
could hardly make himself understood hy these new 
friends, who were trying to comfort and cheer his last 
hours. But one boon was granted him — that of heai^ 
ing his native language from the lips of a countryman. 
At first he 'seemed bewildered; then, realizing the 
whole, he was overjoyed that such a blessing should 
have been his before he died. His deep, spiritual eyes 
opened, expressing indescribable content and peaee, 
though there was still a restlessness and anxiety, of 
which, for a long time, we could not guess the cause. 
He was ' sinking rapidly. A weight was upon his 
mind, and he had not the words or the wish to reveal 
his trouble. At length I asked if he had money to 
dispose of, assuring him that if he had, he might, with 
perfect confidence, intrust it to us to be disposed of as 
he might desire. This was his secret; and, as he 
gave a sigh of relief, he unstrapped his belt, which 
contained, as it proved, eight hundred and fifty dollars* 
His pulse was growing faint, and his mind seemed to 



AEMT OF TEM POTOMAC. HI 

wander ; but bj stimulants he was so far restored as to 
understand our questions regarding his family, their 
names .and residence. . He tried to write, bnt the 
pencil trembled in his hand ; and through his lips, now 
growing white, I could just catch the letters as he 
i^>elled them out. There was dearlj written out at 
last his own name, ^^ Giovanni Qnaglia,'' find that of 
his brother, ^* Giuseppe Qnaglia, St. Andrews Street, 
Vigevano, Department of Pavia, Province of Yige- 
vano, Italj.** The money was to be sent to him, to be 
divided according to his discretion. The dying man 
seemed now at ease, and I left him that he might rest. 
As we withdrew, he held my hand firmly in both of 
his, trying in this way to express the gratitude he 
could not utter. The poor fellow never spoke again, 
for, before the dawn, he had gone up into the light of 
the eternal morning. His body was removed to the 
tent for the reception of the dead ; and at four o'clock 
of the following afternoon, two stretchers, upon which 
were borne the body of a colored soldier who. had died 
in the cars on the way {o the hospital, and this poor, 
firiendless Italian, were carried out to their graves. 
There were two mourners walking on either side— a 
sad funeral procession. We performed a short service 
for the poor unknown n^groi whom perhaps nobody 



112 HOSPITAL LIFE Uf THE 

was to mourn, and for this stranger from another land. 
Soldiers gathered aboot the graves, standing rever- 
ently with uncovered heads; and while the earth 
trembled with the tremendous firing all about us, we 
committed these two soldiers of a holy cause to their 
soldiers' graves. This was mj Sunday's service. 

Letters were at once despatched to Italy. Succeed- 
ing steamers brought answers, clothed in the warm, 
fervent language of that demonstrative people, and 
containing most touching evidences of gratitude foi' 
our care. Both the originals and the translations are 
given, to complete the illustration of the value of our 
^* book of records '' to a family in another land, as well 
as to show the tone of earnest feeling with which they 
responded to a kind office, which there was no soldier 
in the arn&y too humble to have received at our hands. 
It will also be seen that the last letter, dated June 17, 
1865, contains an acknowledgment of a remittance of 
2952 francs, the proceeds of the money committed to 
our care. 

4» VioBTAVO» January 7» 1866. 
Host Wobtht Sm: I have not words to express 
my thanks for your kind and chfuritable assistance to 

•For the origfaial lettera lee pp. 116-118. 



ABMT OF TRE POTOMAC. 113 

mj poor brother Giovanm. I kaow that yon are 
blest in jonr vast conntrj ; but gratitude is not want> 
ing to you also in Italy. 

With respect to the execution of the last wish of my 
poor brother, I send you enclosed a certificate of my 
fraternity, and a power of attorney, in order that (after 
deducting the expenses for conyerting into funds avail- 
able to us the. effects left by my brother, — governing 
yourself, in fine, according to the dictates of your 
fatherly heart), you may cause a draft for the same to 
be sent to my address. I would beg, if possible, also, 
to have some article belonging to my brother, that I 
might be the possessor of a last memorial of him. It 
.will also be conferring an additional fayor upon me if 
you would be pleased to inform me of what malady my 
brother died, and how long he was sick. I should 
further be doubly grateful if the prayers of the .Church 
shall be offered up for the deceased Giovanni. 

May Heaven grant you eveiy blessing, as also the 
very worthy Mr. C. F. B. 

. Please to accept my sincere salutations and thanks, 
with those of my aged father. We should both of us 
esteem ourselves fortunate if we could in any way be 
of service to you. 

Believe me, your devoted servant, 

GlUBXPFB QUAGLIA. 



114 HOSPITAL LIFE W THE 

YiOBTAVO» April 4, 1865. 

EsTSBMED Sm: I have received your very kind 
letter of the 28th of Febroary, together with your 
likenesses. Ton could not have bestowed upon me a 
more precious gift than the portraitures of those who 
watched over the last moments of my poor brother. I 
assure you that I shall never part with them, and that 
while I live they will be ever before me. 

With respect to the money you have in keeping, 
even as you have acted as a second father to my 
poor brother, I beg you to' continue to be so also to 
me. You will please, thercJTore, to do entirely as you 
think best for my interest, and I leave you fully em^ 
powered to remit the amount whenever you think fit. 

It will always be to me a happy circumstance to 
receive tidings from you, so fatherly do I consider the 
interest you have manifested towards me ; and I would 
that Heaven would vouchsafe to me the privilege of 
being in some little way useful to you ; it would be a 
great consolation to me. 

Accept, in the mean time, my most sincere saluta- 
tions, and believe me. 

Most respectftilly, yours, 

Giuseppe Quaglia. 



ABMT or THS POTOMAC. 115 

ViOBTAVo, June 17» 1866. 

Host Esteemed Sib: I have received joor kind 
letter of the 16th of May, with a bill of exchange for 
2952 francs, payable 16th July; and I will advise 
yon immediately on receiving the amount. In the 
mean time I have not words sufficient to thank yon 
for so many favors conferred upon me; but I shall 
have your person in perpetual remembrance, as I also 
beg you to keep me in your memory. And if I could 
by any possible event be useful to you in these parts, I 
should deem myself most fortunate. Whenever you 
should think proper to favor me with tidings of youxw 
self, they would be most gratefully received. 

Accept, meanwhile, my most cordial salutations, and 
believe me. 

Sincerely yours, 

Giuseppe Quaglia. 



YioBYAHO* li 7 Gennijo, 1865. 

Deonissix o SlONOEB ; Non 6 parole nifficienti per rin* 
grasiarla della caritatevole assbtensa prestata al poyero mio 
fratello GiovannL So che la Sa. Ya. k benedetta nel suo 
vasto paese ; ma non le manca la riccmoscensa anche in Italia. 

Bapporto all' esecoiione dell' ultima volontii del povero mio 



116 HOSPITAL LIFE m TBM 

fratello, le acchindo un attestato di firateniiti^ ed una proeora 
che la Sa. Ya. (dedotto le apese anche per oonyertire in 
assegni yaleyoH fra noi H yalore laidato dal mio fratello 
Oioyanniy regolandosi iniomma ool tuo cuore di padre), 
ritiri ci6 di cui se tratta ; ed in seguito me lo fiuri ayere al 
mio indirixso. Lo pregherei, te fosse possibile, di ayere un 
qnalche oggetto che appartenesse al mio fratello, onde ayere 
un' ultima suamemoria come pure mi B9xk un nuoyo fayore 
se la Sa. Ya. yoir4 degnarsi di sapermi dire di quale malatia 
^ morto il mio fratello, e quanto tempo stette ammalato. Le 
Bar6 doppiamente grato, se fiuri dire una prece al Gioyanni 
estiuto. 

n Cielo le accordi del bene, come all' ottimo signore Carlo 
Federico Bradford ; ed accetta i mid sinoeri saluti e ringra- 
aiamente, anche al nome del mio yecchio padre, die si do- 
manderessimo fortunati se entrambi potessimo essergli utiH 
in qualche oosa; e mi creda, 

8uo deyotissimo seryo, 

GlUSEFFB QUAOLU* 



YxGxyAVO, 4 Aprile^ 1865* 
Dbonissimo Sionobe: O riceyuto la gentilissima sua 
lettera delli 28 Febbrajo, unitamente al suo ritrato e qneUo 
della gentile Signora Gilson. Regalo maggiove non mi 
poteya &re die quelle d' ayer F imagine di due euori ood 
generosi, i quali anno assistito andie negli ultimi momenti 



ARMT OF TBM POTOMAC 117 

del povero mio firatello ; e le asneiuo che non li abbando- 
ner6 mai, e sin che YiTi6, staranno sempre a me dinanzL 

Biguardo la somma che tiene in depoaito, Biccome Lei a 
&tto da secondo padre al mio poyero fratello, quindi lo 
prego di esaere egualmente Terao di me ; peroi6 iacda Lei 
come meglio crede onde fare al mio interesse, e cosi lo lasdo 
in faoolti di epedirmeli qnando crede opportono. 

Mi sar^ poi sempre in grande fayore onde qua! yolta ayr6 
H piacere di riceyere delle tue nodzie, mentre io la admo 
oome mio padre, e desidererei che {1 (Selo mi yolesse accor* 
dare la grazia di poter esaergli utile in qualcfae cosa, che 
sarebbe per me V unica conaolazione. 

Aggradisca intanto i miei pid sinoeri saluti, e mi creda suo 
wmilimnmo seryo^ 

OlUSEPPB QUAOLLL 

p. S. Yoglia degnarsi di fiurgli tanti saluti alia gentile 
Signoxa GiUon. 



YxoayAKo, 17 Gugno, 18G5. 
FBBGUTI8SDCO SiONOBE: O riceyuto la gentile yostra 
lettera delli 16 Maggio con una cambiale di fr: 2952 pagabili 
16 LugUo, che aubico yi render6 ayyisato quando ayr& ineaa- 
aato F amontare. Intanto non 6 parole per ringraziaryi dei 
tanti fayori che mi ayete fatto ; ma ayr& eterna memoria 
della yoatra peraona comb pure yi prego yoi pure di ayermi 
preeente : e se per case yi ooconesae d' abbiaognaryi qualbhe 



118 aOSPJTAL LIFE JN TBM 

cosa da queste parti, rioordBtcrvi di me, che potendo etaerri 
ntfle in qualche oota mi domanderei fortmiato. Qoando 
eredete, fayoritemi di Toatre notisie che mi taranno sempre 
care. 
Acoettate intanto i miei cordiali Mluti e credetemi sempiey 
Yoatro affino. amioo e serro^ 

GlUSEPFB QUAOLU. 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC. 119 



CHAPTER VIII. 
THE BULIn-SING. 

The TktautBqpe in the HospitaL— Scenes in fbe Wagon Thdn 
HospitaL — The Sixth Corps. — Their BiTonac — The Ball- 
Bing.— Snflferings of the FHsonon.^ Their Destitatikm.— Their 
Wants 0Qpplied.»Men onder Sentence of Death. 

r[E high standard which the hospital had attained 
made it necessary to keep on with the work of 
renovation and improvement. As to one street of onr 
camp there was nothing to desire. The tents were 
dean and cheerful; the heds all neat and in order; 
the tent poles decorated with fandfnl paper, or with 
colored doth ; festoons of red, white, and bine ; sprigs 
of evergreen, cedar, or hoUy, with the little bright 
berries, pinned to the tent doth over eadi bed, or set 
npon the little tables standing at eadi bedside. Then 
the cups and plates were scoured, and the knives, and 
forks, and spoons were as bright as so many silver 
doUars fresh from the mint; the stoveifwere black as 



120 aOSPITAL LIFE JN TEE 

polish could make them; and all was so fresh and 
sweet, that one wonld be satisfied himself to be sick 
there. Each nnrse taxed his ingenuity and taste to 
invent some new thing to please the eje; and if a 
stray ^^ Harper's^ f^und ita way into camp, it was 
soon appropriated, and the pictures pasted into a 
frame, which hung conspicuously before the men. All 
sorts of little devices like these added cheerfulness to 
our camp, and a home-like feeling to the wards. 

The camp was in the form of a hollow square ; the 
light-diet kitchen, the dispensary, the surgeon's quar- 
ters, the sanitary supply store, and the steward's tent^ 
were all in the centre, and the hospital wards were all 
round in the three streets of the square. One of these 
streets had been below the mark. The nurses had. 
been reminded of this, but had neglected their du^. 
They were caUed up, ordered to ^^fall in" in two 
ranks, which led them to fear that they were to be 
sent to their regiments. In a few words the law was 
laid down ; they were marched through some of the 
tents on the other side of the camp, and two days 
were allowed before inspection. In the mean time 
the woods were scoured for green branches and hoUy 
sprigs, and before the appointed day the tents were 



AMMIT OF TBM POTOMAC. 121 

ready for the examination. Thus our whole hospital 
was brought up to its high standard. 

Every day we were at the bedside of the dying, 
trying to understand their last messages to wives or 
mothers, trying to relieve the last pangs of those 
whose spirits seemed to be just fluttering between 
earth and heaven. One old negro in a tent next to 
ours had tried to tell me what he wished me to write 
to his family, and I had left him after administering a 
little wine. Within ten minutes he sent for me again, 
seeming brighter than when I had left him. He had 
been thinking of all the kindness ** which that little 
lady and you, sir, had shown me, a poor stranger in 
this lonely country," and the tears dropped one by one 
down upon his coarse beard as he tried to express his 
gratitude. He told me to write to his wife that ^^ he 
was happy, for he had found firiends, and he felt that 
the good Father was veiy near ; '' and so the old man 
sank back upon his pillow to die. 

Half a mile from our camp was a wretched group 
of tents, called ^^ the hospital of the wagon train.'' It 
was indeed no hospital, but a place where some thirty 
sick men were lying utterly neglected, with little med- 
ical attendance, and but two nurses, with no comforts, 
needing everything. Their more pressing wants were 
6 



122 B08PXTAL LIFE IN THE 

rapplied. Being tiviUani^ and employed only as la* 
borers, thej were not entitled to any medical care 
except that which they oonld secure by pajrment, and 
they had no daim upon the medical supplies. The 
men were sick and destitate, and we arranged for 
those who needed care the most to send daily to oar 
kitchen for their diet, and promised that they should 
receive such other attentions as we could give them. 
They were rough, but intelligent and kindly ; Maine 
men, hardy pioneers, who had, through exposure and 
by working in the water, got inflammatory rheuma- 
tism, which had caused them the most acute suffering. 
They were, nearly all in this condition. One old, 
gray-headed man, lying on a rough board bunk, quiet 
and patient as a child, with that pale, suffering look, 
and those deep, sunken eyes, which mark those who 
have been wasting away with pain, said, when we 
gave him of our stores, and laid by his side one thing 
after another which he needed most, ^^ We have these 
societies in our town for the soldiers, but I never 
began to realize the value of them till now. Mind, 
Fm none of your flatterers. Fm an old man, have 
had a hard lot in life ; Fve got ^^9^ sons in the army 
— my all ; and if I never see them again, I give them 
to the cause. You don't know how your coming here 



ABMT OF THB POTOMAC 123 

kind o* cheers me up*** We knew it did, for we saw 
the tears gathering in his eyes ; and when I thought 
of those ^Y^ sons, I conld not but recall the beantifbl 
letter of consolation then just written bj Abraham 
Lincoln to the poor widow who had hwried her five 
bojSy when he spoke of the feeling of ^^ tolemn pride ** 
which was her predoas privilege, now that she had 
laid such a sacrifice upon the altar of her conntrj. I 
conld not bnt feel that the same was applicable to him 
also, — that ^* solemn pride/' 

As we retomed, we went down to the bank of the 
river, the point of junction of the James and the 
Appomattox, which opened wide, and beaodfol, and 
calm, like the Bay of Naples. The rivers, blending 
into one, were like a mirror. There was a lovely 
purple haze over the whole country, and the trees and 
undergrowth on the edge of the low shores on either 
side were dimly reflected in the unruffled water. A 
tow-boat, puffing white steam in great clouds, which 
curled behind it, added to the picture, and was the 
only thing to cause a ripple upon the surface ; and we 
looked, trying to realize that this was the base of 
operations of two gigantic armies, all so still and 
peaceful in the foreground, and all so fiercely ener- 
getic in the rear. 



124 M08PITAL LIFE m THE 

The Sixth Corps, after its splendid service under 
Sheridan in the Valley of the Shenandoah, was trans- 
ferred back to the Armj of the Potomac early in 
December, 1864. The First Division reached onr 
camp abont noon, and bivonacked* Onr hospital din- 
ner had been served, and we were uncertain what 
disposition to make of the remaining pans of torkej, 
when we thought of these men who had halted for an 
honr^s rest. Their haversacks were empty ; bnt fires 
were soon blazing, coffee wa9 soon boiling, and* each 
group was intent on the preparation of their scan^ 
meaL It was a picture, but I cannot paint it. The 
corps was covered with the dust and heat of a great 
campaign. They had been marching and fighting 
with but little intermission for three months. They 
were rough and rusty; their uniforms were torn, 
threadbare, and spattered with mud; and the men 
were rude, grim, and much in. earnest. They had 
an air of the unconquerable about them, a steady seU^ 
reliance, and perfect enthusiasm for their leader and 
their work, which was verified afterwards in their 
characteristic and successful assault upon the enemy's 
works. They gathered about their fires, hungry, 
thirsty, grimy ; their knapsacks were thrown off, their 
arms were stacked, and their burdens listened for an 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC 125 

hour. Men were bringing wood and water, while the 
coffee was boiling upon the coals, waiting for the 
hard tack, which with it was to be their only meal. 
The fellows lined the road, asleep, on the rampage, on 
the lounge, and nibbling their scanty rations. We 
started out with the remnant of our hospital dinner. 
Turkey did not often grace the camp, and the boys 
needed no other invitation than our approach. We 
were instantly surrounded, and for a moment were 
ready to think that these men were wolves in human 
shape. The circle grew larger and larger. New 
heads and faces, peering one above another, were 
added to the crowd with every moment, while before 
me were a hundred cups blackened by many a long 
campaign," with a hundred voices, each demanding his 
share of what we had. Antony was standing near me 
within the circle, holding high above his head this 
other pan of turkey. A hundred hands were raised, 
hands of every shape and shade, all extended to 
scramble for a bone, each finger on the stretch, expres- 
sive of eagerness and want. In an instant the pan 
was emptied, each soldier, with a hand full of turkey 
soup, or of bare turkey bones, working his way out of 
the inner circle, with a face of such jolly satisfaction, 
that we were repaid for all our trouble in their behalf. 



126 HOSPITAL LIFE Di TEX 

Bongba and desperadoes are found in all armies. 
Under a system of bounties the dregs of Europe were 
landed on our shores, and soon found their way into 
the ranks. The business of recruiting was monopo- 
lized by men whose profession was gambling or thiev- 
ing, or who were adepts in the art of murder ; and 
the result was desertion and bounty-jumping, and a 
vast accumulation of greater or lesser crimes,- which 
demanded sharp and instant retribution. . As a place 
of confinement at City Point the Prisoners' Barracks 
were established, known as the Bull-Ring of the army* 

It would be difficult to exaggerate the painful im- 
pressions which the first view of this den left upon my 
mind. Indeed, I have no colors dark enough to sup- 
ply all the shading to that terrible picture ; nor have I 
the words in which to describe it, or the life within it, 
as presented to me on my brief visit of inspection. 

The pen was composed of three large barracks of 
one story, which opened each into separate enclosures 
or yards, surrounded by high wooden fences, strictly 
guarded by sentries day and night, while this was all 
enclosed in a single railing, between which and the 
high fence a patrol guard was kept constantly in 
motion. The inner sentry stood guard upon a Raised 
platform built out from the fencci which gave him a 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC. 127 

▼iew of the three pens and of every priBoner in them. 
At the entrance was a horizontal bar of wood, sup- 
ported by two upright posts, from which were sus- 
pended short ropes used for ^ng up men by the hands 
or thumbs as a punishment. As I entered the yard, 
four men were standing, some on tiptoe, tied with 
their hands above their heads, without overcoats, shiv- 
ering in a sharp December wind, their hands black 
with the cold. To illustrate the class of men thus 
punished : one of these four, a man of fierce and des- 
perate spirit, who had threatened the lives of some of 
his comrades, and upon whom already rested a charge 
of murder, refused to give his name and regiment to 
the court martial convened to try him. This blocked 
the trial, as no witnesses could be summoned ; and, as 
he was obstinate in his reticence^ he was ordered to be 
tied up every day until he would tell the organiza^on 
to which he belonged. For six days he endured this 
torture, which at any moment he could have relieved ; 
and, as I afterwards learned, when he could bear it no 
longer, and told his name and regiment, his spirit was 
so utterly crushed and broken that he became as quiet, 
inoffensive, and obedient as a child. The court mar- 
tial dealt, probably, with every variety of charge, from 
pet^ thefts and disrespect to ofScers, up to desertions 



128 HOSPITAL LIFE Uf TEE 

to the eDeinjy and captures of these same deserters 
with arms in their hands. But, innocent or guilty, 
held for the highest crimes known to military law, or 
for the common delinquencies or felonies of a soldier, 
all were confined alike and together, awaiting trial. 
At this time there were ahout four hundred men im- 
prisoned. Their condition was horrihle. They were 
destitute of clothing; and, up to January, without 
stoves, their sufierings were as needless as they were 
intolerable. It was my fortune to obtain admission, 
with another member of the Sanitary Commission, to 
estimate their wants, to look into their condition, and 
to suggest such remedies, or provide such alleviations, 
as we might have it in our power to offer — a privi- 
lege not before extended to a civilian. With a large 
quantity of woollen shirts and drawers, stockings and 
towels, paper and envelopes, we entered the enclosure. 
It was a pen of filth and vermin. IVevious to this 
visit, tickets for clothing had been issued to those who 
were most in need. We stood upon a raised platform, 
looking down upon the yard. The officer in charge 
ordered the men out of the barracks, and they formed 
in line. I shall never lose the impression of those 
faces as they were turned up, each eager for some- 
thing, where they all needed so much. The men came 



. AltMY OF THE POTOMAC. 129 

shuffling out of the building, with that listless air 
which showed how indifferent thej were to their fate : 
conples chained together ; men half naked came alone ;* 
dad in every yarietj of garments, ^- Federal uniforms 
and Confederate, — the blue, and the yellowish-gray, 
all in rags ; some with a mealnsack over their shoul- 
ders, some witb a gunny-bag for a jacket, others with 
their cotton drawers, and witb feet tied up in bagging, 
to serve as shoes and stockings; without hats, with 
uncombed hair, ragged, filthy, all alive with vermin. 
Here were hardened criminals, — the outlaws of so- 
ciety, — reckless and defiant, many of them under sen- 
tence of death, yet unconcerned about their fate, and 
careless whether the execution w^re ordered for to- 
morrow, or were indefinitely postponed. There were 
sixty or seventy others, who knew that after trial their 
crimes would be expiated on the scaffold, or that they 
would be ^* shot to death by musketry,'* yet accepted 
their lot with a profane bravado which made one 
shudder* 

The line was formed, and our distribution began. 
One by one they came forward. To the first, '' Un- 
button that blouse, and let us see what you require.^ 
It was stripped open, and he was naked to the waist. 
^^ A shirt for you.*' The next man, with gunny-doth 
ۥ 



ISO HOSPITAL Lin nr tee 

tied over his feet, sore and bleeding with the oold, 
^' A pair of stockings/* The next, comparativelj com- 
fortable, ** Only a towel." The next, with only a thin 
pair of drawers, and no pantaloons, '^ A pair of draw- 
ers.'' And so, one by one, the men pressed forward, 
— some with meal-sacks for a blanket, others without 
even this protection, breaking the line in their eager- 
ness to receive something to keep them warm ; a shiv- 
ering, suffering crowd, pinched by the frosty morning 
air ; their hands, and feet, and bodies blue with cold. 
They moved about the yard, if for nothing more than 
to keep up a brisk circulation ; men of all ages, from 
the gray-haired to the youngest lads, and some so 
utterly broken in spirit that they had evidently re- 
signed themselves to whatever might be in store for 
them. One man, who previously had only the thinnest 
dothing, without shirt or drawers, sat at night in his 
bunk with his hands folded up under his jacket, which 
he tightened about him, crying by the hour together* 
There was one lad, of only twelve years, in this pen — 
a bright little fellow, quick in his movements, the only 
really cheerful one in all that crowd of men. As I 
asked the lieutenant Why a boy was placed with such 
desperadoes, the lad looked up and said, with the most 
perfect nonchalance, '' I relieved my captain of some 



AEMT OF THE POTOMAC 131 

of his greenlmcks ; he had too many, and I had none ; 
he didn't know how to use them, and I thought I 
would spend them for him." The hoy was demoral- 
ized ; but when I remonstrated with the officer against 
confining such a lad with such associates, he said, 
wliat I had already been convinced was true, that he 
was as bad as any of the men, and could not be worse. 
I replied that he might be made better, and ought to be 
removed. He pointed to headquarters, and told me to 
go there, if there was wrong to be redressed. 

The court martial tried, on an average, four cases a 
day. Five were sent away for execution the day I 
was there. A negro was sentenced, for an attempted 
crime, to the ball and chain. The chains were riveted 
round his ankles, two heavy iron balls being attached ; 
and when he walked, he either carried them in his 
hands or dragged them after him, while the clanking 
of the chain was heard wherever he moved. 

After the distribution of the clothing we went 
through the barracks; and I could readily believe 
the officer, who had been a prisoner at Richmond, 
when he said that he would rather be confined in the 
Libby Prison for six months than in. the Bull-Ring for 
one. They were about thirty feet in width by one 
hundred and fifty feet long, built of rough boards, one 



182 EOSPITAL LIFE Hf TEX 

BioTj high. Along the wbole length of the barracks, 
on each side, were banks, which held three or fonr 
men each, the floor serving for one, and three being 
made above it. In the centre of the building was 
another range of them, which extended from end to 
end ; and the scene here beggared all description. The 
bunks were not filled, for many were in the yard ; but 
each one had its occupants, and their condition was 
loathsome in the extreme. They were lying upon the 
boards, with no straw or blanket ; and although there 
were no prison bars or dungeon walls, yet it was dark 
and noisome. Lying all about us were men under 
sentence of death, awaiting their call to the gibbet. 
In one bunk was a man all curled up with chills, 
wrapped in an empty sack for oats, without straw or 
other covering. There was yet a spark of kindliness 
left, as I could see by his subdued ** Thank you,** 
which was, in him, more than an utterance of words. 
Li one bunk were two men chained together, fying in 
a state of utter wretchedness and despair. Their con- 
dition was horrible, and they were awaiting their 
doom. I shall never forget the expression of their 
faces as they uncovered liiem, nor the intense yearning 
for companionship which was caressed in their eyes^ 
half obscured by their long matted hair, as they looked 



AEMT OF THE POTOMAC. 133 

op in response to something I. said to them. Thej 
were in the darkest comer, on the floor, so soon to be 
executed, yet with nobody to speak one gentle word, or 
to ofler to them anj kindly sympathy in their last hour. 
Bnt this state of things had been worse. Before 
these barracks were bnilt, the men were in little shelter 
tents in the yard, and at night slept upon the ground 
with no blankets or other covering to protect them. 
In rainy weather they were exposed, with no over* 
coats, dad jnst as I have described them above. Com- 
plaints were made, and barracks were bnilt ; and only 
the. day before my visit had stoves been put into them. 
The barracks were built from a fund which accumu- 
lated, like a hospital fund, frt>m the savings of rations 
issued by the government. A full ration was more 
than the necessities of a man required ; and where so 
many were together, a saving was made and a fund 
accumulated, which was appropriated for the benefit 
of the men. The only redeeming feature of the whole 
was the food and the arrangements for cooking it. 
This was done in a separate building in the enclosure. 
A large circular brick furnace was built, about four 
feet high, containing six large caldrons, which were 
set with grates and flues, ingeniously arranged for the 
boiling of soup, meat, and coffee* I looked this 



184 BoaFjTAL un m thx 

cooking department through daring the preparation of 
dinner, and all was dean and in order* 

After our Tint, stringent orders for cleanliness were 
issued ; and, as the winter passed, their condition did 
not grow worse; and as spring opened, it improved 
day by day. 



ABUT OF TBS POTOKAO. 135 



CHAPTER IX. 

CEABA0TEB8 IN TEE E08PITAL. 

AniTil of the Wounded.— Last Words.— Tbe New Hampehire 
Soldier. — The Colored Bnimmer-Boy. — Tender Spots. — The 
VermoDt Soldier. — Inflnenoe of Soffering. — Hospital Bommers. 
— Tirade, the Maine Artillerist. — A German Soldier of the 
Third Generati<Mi.— Cheerftilness in the HoepitaL— The Death 
of Hartman.— Comlbrt-Bag8. — Washing fbr the Hospitals.— 
Ckmtmband Gamp. 

rIE absorbing interest of this hospital life increased 
every day : with new cases, new characters, new 
conntenances, new sufferings, new stories of sorrow, 
eyery honr was fulL The wounded cavaliy men 
were brought in from the recent movements on our 
left. The train stopped in the rear of our tent. It 
was dark and raining. With our lanterns we went 
out to assist their removal on stretchers, — some, alas I 
who needed no sympathy now, who were past all heal- 
ing I One poor lad, to be so tenderly cared for, with 
both arms just amputated, was yet gentle and patient 



186 S08PJTAL UFM IM THB 

in this loss, and confident that his firiends wonid raDy 
to bis aid. Another, with a bandage over both eyes, 
had had one of them destroyed by a bayonet thmst in 
a charge ; and snch cases of individual snfiering were 
now to demand all onr care. A bunch of grapes we 
gave to one, a cap of water to another, a glass of wine 
to another, ^- reaching, in this simple way, wants 
which more ambitions offerings wonld not supply ; yet 
all were received with speechless gratitude, and reacted 
upon one's own heart in ways too subtle to be defined. 
The story of such experiences can never be told. In 
addition to the spoken word, there was the tone, the 
look, the fluttering life, the stillness of the ward, and 
the presence of death. K I could have written it as I 
went along, — if I could have given pictures daguerre- 
otyped from the instant impressions and exporiences 
of every hour, apart from its grouping, and coloring, 
and shading, — it would have been a revelation of in- 
dividual character, a history of individual endurance, 
an outline of those finer sensibilities and emotions 
which enrich our human nature, and give a new sense 
of its dignify, beauty, and nobility. There were many 
things to touch the heart as we went frt>m ward to 
ward, too trifling indeed to jot down in a diary, or to 
write in a letter, yet not too unimportant to recall 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC 187 

after thej were gone, as a part of the tragedy of our 
daOy lives. 

One poor fellow, who seemed to be as well as nsnal, 
sufficiently strong to move about his tent, went to lie 
down, and within two hours breathed his last* I 
happened to be with him, administering stimulants, 
chafing his hands and temples; but the angel was 
hovering over him, and the spirit took its flight. As 
I stepped into another tent, another of the dead was 
borne off to his burial on a stretcher. And so it went 
on from day to day, with nobody to drop a tear, with 
nobody to think of it a moment after the man was laid 
in his grave. 

Often the dying were conscious to the last ; some of 
them realizing their condition, and waiting for the 
summons, with a faith as simple as a child's. One 
man said to me, '' Tell my mother that I am dying ; 
tell her that I have nothing to fear ; tell her I am sure 
of an eternal home, for I know that my Saviour has 
gone to prepare it." Another man said to me, ^^ Noth- 
ing can befall me, for Jesus Christ does and will 
sustain me.** And so they passed on from day to 
day, — some with the tenderest hearts and with a most 
living faith, others benumbed and unconscious by dis- 
ease, or wild with the delirium of fever* 



188 EOSPITAL LITE IK THE 

In one of our wards we had a little feHow, possibly 
reaching the minimum stature of a soldier, but only 
fourteen years of age, a New Hampshire lad, rugged, 
intelligent, and of most winning countenance. I asked 
him why he entered the serrice. He wanted to save 
his country. He was sick from exposure, he would 
admit ; but still he liked the service, was satisfied with 
his rations, and *^ wanted to see the thing throng^.'* 
A brave boy, away frt>m the influences of home, 
roughing it in the army with the rest, sleeping on the 
ground, rolled in his blanket only, the coldest nights, 
yet with no gnawing homesickness at his heart, only 
cheerfulness, hopefulness, and good courage. He had 
the true New England grit. 

Another lad, — a sick, helpless, and friendless col- 
ored boy, — not quite fourteen, whose only home had 
been a cold and cheerless camp, died, after many 
weeks of wasting fever. He was a poor little waif in 
a great army ; he had no memories of a pleasant child- 
hood, no links bound him to any human creature but 
ihe rough soldiers who surrounded him, or to us his 
friends, .who were touched by the gentleness and sub- 
missive patience with which he bore his pains. He 
had been wasting away for weeks, growing thinner 
and paler every day ; at times sitting curled up at the 



ABMT OF TBS POTOMAC. 189 

Stove in the tent, always quiet and thonghtfuL He 
was one of the most gentle, lovable little fellows I 
ever met. Although he suffered much, he never coni- 
plained. He seemed to feel that he could not live, and 
to look death in the face quietly and firmly all the 
time. I am not sure that he fully realized it all ; but in 
everything I said to him, he was so gently acquiescent 
that it really seemed as if he was willing and ready to 
die, if it so pleased the all-loving Father above. He 
was a drummer boy ; and as he said to me with much 
pathos once, ^^ I have not a friend in -the world," 
'^ Ah,** said I, ^^ Henry, we are your friends, and we 
will do for yon all we cbji to make yon well, and to 
make you happy." He knew and felt this ; and every 
day I used to go into his tent and sit down beside him, 
and try to make him realize that, although the world 
about him might seem very cold and hard, yet there 
was One who never forgot orphans and little friendless 
duldren (for he was so small and thin that I could 
easily have held him in my arms) ; and I endeavored 
to cheer his loneliness by telling him of all the pleasant 
people that I knew. Then he soon became too weak 
to rise, and so, day after day, kept his bed, patiently 
enduring, gratefrd for every effort to tempt his appe- 
tite, and for every attention that we could pay him. I 



140 E08PITAL LIFE HT TBM 

watched him day bj day, and saw that the lamp was 
only flickeriDg, and that very soon we should have to 
lay him away in the grave ; and so the little fellow 
died as calmly and quietly as he had lived, leaving no 
home to be darkened by bereavement, bnt going up to 
a bright home, where we trust that he has found his 
friends among the angels. 

It is surprising to see what tender spots there are in 
the hearts of some of our roughest men. I went with 
Miss Gilson into one of the wards, where she was 
asked to sing. Joining in some simple hymn, which 
called forth a response from a few voices in different 
parts of the tent, and finding how eager the men were 
for more, she sang a plaintive little song, <* Just before 
the battle, mother,*' then the most popular song in the 
army, and reproduced in a hundred different ways by 
the soldiers or by the bands. There was perfect still- 
ness in the ward, and the melody melted into thai 
exquisite air, ^^Fm lonely since my mother died.** 
Nearly every man had raised himself on his elbow to 
catch these notes. Some were wiping their eyes, and 
others, too weak to move, were hiding their emotion, 
which still was betrayed by the quivering lip, and the 
single tear as it fell, but was not wiped away. One 
fine fellow, a Vermont boy, very sick, could hardly 



ARUr or TRK POTOMAC 141 

speak, wben sbe went up and laid ber band upon bis 
bead, and bmsbed back bis fine, soft, black bair. He 
was a man of delicate mould ; and sbe soon found, in 
talking witb bim, tbat altbongb a private in tbe army, 
be magnified bis position, wbile it also reflected back 
its dignity upon bim. Homesickness bad done its 
work. He bad been in tbe bospital six months, after 
tbe severe exposures of tbe earlier part of tbe cam- 
paign. He said to me, ^'Do jou know bow manj 
men die of bomesickness in tbe army? O,'* said be, 
^^ I feel it so mucb Aere,** pressing bis fingers over bis 
beart, ^^and I think it will wear me out.** 

As we moved about from tent to tent, or firom bed 
to bed, it is not tme tbat every man in the bospital 
presented such strong claims upon our sympathies. 
These were only individual cases; and as these are 
generally mentioned in bospital experiences, people get 
the impression tbat all bospital life is full of heroism, 
of thrilling personal narrative, or of that which moves 
or melts the beart to tenderest pity. Now, any true 
picture of bospital life must tell the whole story. I 
know that suffering subdues and softens any nature, 
however rough ; and that there is an influence all the 
time in the bospital to bring out what is purest and 
noblest in the heart; still, the men who lie there are 



142 B08PJTAL UFS 2K TBM 

odIj average men; and wbfle there may be many 
choice spirits among them, and manj who show every 
day a noble fidelity to their position, yet a large pro- 
portion are those who have had no previous advan- 
tages of training ; who entered into the service from 
varions motives; who are quite unused to the finer 
susceptibilities and amenities of life, — all dasses of 
men, even to those who are unworthy of the uniform 
they wear. We met all sorts of characters; some 
from whom I shrank with instinctive aversion ; others, 
whom no kindness seemed to touch ; and others still, 
who would, play upon your innocence or your sympa- 
thies, practising those tricks of the army which were 
unworthy of any man. And here were such of every 
grade: the morose and the afiable; the kindly tem- 
pered and the churlish ; the outlaw and the gentleman ; 
the tenderly educated boy, with a mother at home who 
never forgets him in her prayers ; the man of high 
and noble motive, who remembers his wife and little 
children as the one sacred bond to keep him true ; and 
the outcast of society, whom nobody would weep for, 
— of whom the world says, perhaps too harshly, that 
he is fit only for the front of the line of battle, and 
whom society is glad to be rid of when he dies. 
Yet these men were all soldiers in a common cause. 



ARMT OF TBM POTOKAC 143 

They fonj^ for our national bonor, thej fell bleed- 
ing in its defence, and all alike were entitled to all 
tbe healing ministries of onr service — to the balm 
whidi we con]d poor into their aching wonnds. There 
were loathsome diseases which called fbr personal 
service at the bedside, whidi yielded to him who ren- 
dered it onlj heartache and depression; there were 
kindnesses and attentions which all had a right to 
daim, yet which did not always meet with responses 
of gratitude; while without the most careful self- 
discipline, one found himself serving one patient at 
the expense of another, — neglecting the outcast for 
the sake of the gentleman. We did have our pets in 
the hospital, and we could not help it. How different 
was it to go into one tent and see a poor boy raised in 
bed, dying of a rapid consumption, yet so cheerful, 
subdued, and quiet in his sufferings, thankful for every 
word of sympathy, or for any attenticm to his comfort, 
and then pass on to another tent of men, convalescent, 
perhaps, who found pleasure only in the vilest literar 
ture (for which we always .substituted decent books), 
men whose tastes were low, who had no habits of 
perscmal cleanliness, and had to be educated up to it 
every day. Thus we had every variety of character 
in our work. It was not all poetry, nor was it pretty 



144 HOSPITAL LIFE IN THM 

sentiment to cry oTer. It was hard, exhansdng work^ 
sometimes disoonraging, and always sad. There were 
few gleams of sunshine, there were many clouds ; hut 
whether the hurden were easy or light, we had to 
carry it cheerfully and hopefully, unto the end. 

In the transfer of colored troops from the Army of 
the Potomac to the Army of the James, a regiment 
passed through our hospital and camped in the edge 
of the woods directly in our rear. The surgeon 
reported his sick. The Medical Director ordered them 
into our vacant beds, and I was sent to see their con- 
dition and to get them in. Fifty-five men were lying 
out without shelter from the dampness of the evening, 
with.no more care than a surgeon with no medical 
supplies could give, and altogether the men were in a 
sad and suffering condition. They were bolstered up 
against the trees; fires had been built before them, 
and they were needing everything. Ambulances were 
provided, and before midnight they were in comfort- 
able beds. This was no sooner done than the steam 
whistle spoke the arrival of another train to be cared 
for — cases of black, malignant typhoid; many help- 
less on stretchers, some shivering with chills, others on 
fire with fever — a picture, by the dim candle-light, 
of misery indeed. When the work is over we seek 



ABMT or TBM POTOMAC 145 

our rest, and morning finds tbose who bad died during 
the evening, in the dead tent, with their names pinned - 
npon their blankets, wrapped ready for their hmnble 
bnriaL 

^^ Trask is dead,'' said Parrish to me one afternoon 
on mj return from the front. A strong bond of sym- 
pathy had existed between us, and for weeks I had 
watched his painful decline with an interest which I 
sometimes thought only one brother could feel for 
another in such an experience ; and now in my absence 
be had died. I went to the dead tent alone, and 
gently removed the blanket which was his only shroud. 
He lay, calm and placid, and free from pain, next to 
a comrade who bad died the same hour, a helpless 
cripple, both occupying beds side by side. If ever 
sickness illustrated the triumph of spiritual power over 
physical weakness and pain, his, in that humble hospital 
bed, had made it dear. When it became evident that 
an operation was necessary to save life, in the nervous 
quivering of 'the flesh, be groaned. It was but once, 
and it was the only expression of pain I heard him 
utter while he was under our care. I bad some choice 
port wine, which we gave him three times a day, and 
for a time he seemed to be gaining slowly ; but it was 
onljr IB seeming, for he was really growing weaker and 
7 



146 HOSPITAL LIFE UT TEE 

weaker every day. One morning I went in to see 
him, and as I put my hand npon his forehead he spoke 
to me about his wife and the fonr little difldren whom 
he should never see again. He went into the service 
a private soldier, with the simple purpose of doing his 
part, which he had done, as I afterwards learned, with 
unspotted honor. He loved his family, and he loved 
his country ; and if we are to judge of the character 
of his service from the spiritual beauty of his last 
days, — from his constancy, and patience, and strong, 
courageous cheerfulness, — it must have been indeed 
a service of which the purest patriot might well be 
proud. But he was to die, and he knew it ; and as I 
bade him good by, thinking to see him again, with the 
pressure of his hand there was the moistened eye, 
which I cannot but feel was his expression of the 
closeness of the tie which bound us two together in 
this last companionship of his life. The letters from 
his wife, afterwards received, tried to express her 
gratitude for our care. She knew he could not live, 
and in her sorrow, which will darken her whole life, 
she could only write, ^^ It is so hard, it is so hard to 
bear!'' 

In one of our wards was a young German, a noble 
fSdIlow, a soldier of the third generation, his grandfather 



ARKT or TWB POTOMAC. 147 

having been killed at the battle of Leipsic, under Na- 
poleon, and his father in the revolution in Grermanj in 
1848. The yonng man enlisted early in the war, and 
when his tame expired he went in again. He was de- 
voted to the cause, and determined to see the struggle 
through. Within him were smouldering those old fires 
of liberty which had allured him to this country, and 
finally into the strife ; and he was there fighting for a 
cause which he believed to be his cause, as it was the 
cause of every oppressed people on the earth. He had 
been in every battle of the Army of the Potomac, 
which, to a man who had not flinched, was indeed a 
proud record. With his mother he had struggled on 
for six years through poverty and neglect until he 
made a comfortable home for her, and then he entered 
the army. His face told of privation and suffering. 
There were deeper lines in his forehead than one often 
sees in men of twenty-two, and his whole fSstce showed 
a manhood well controlled, a pure and resolute pur- 
pose, with a heart as gentle and tender as a woman's. 
I could see this when he spoke of his mother, and of 
that one furlough two years before, and of the blessing 
which that brief visit was to him. Such a cheerful 
face is always sunlight in the ward, where, upon 
hospital beds, through days and weeks of pain, there 



148 HOSPITAL LIFE IK THE 

are so few alleyiatioiis. And as to cheerfulness, I am 
reminded of an old man wbo was brought in weeks 
before, so reduced that we thought it impossible thai 
he should live. I call him old, while yet he was onlj 
forty-four ; but I can only think of him as a man of 
sixty. Although so broken and prostrated, a mere 
skeleton in frame, he was the most thoroughly cheerful 
man we had. Whatever his condition, he would say, 
^* I think I am on the gain.'' He never looked on the 
dark side ; and when I have wondered at his cheerful- 
ness, he would say, *^We sick men have our duties 
too. You are patient and kind to us; we should 
repay you, in the only way we can, by being cheer- 
ful.'' And this is heroism. It is not the heroism of 
the battle-field, for that is thought to be a grander 
thing than any such endurance ; but it is the harder 
heroism of the hospital, which, if never recorded in 
our literature, has its bright pages in the book of eter- 
nal remembrance. 

2^. Ware says, in his little tract, thai cheerfulnesa 
is not merely the grace of a full heart, — it is often the 
charm of a sad one ; and I am sure that this old man 
had enough to make him sad. As I saw him wasting 
away day by day, and felt that the dullness of death 
was creeping over him, and as at last I was called to 



AHMT OF THE POTOMAC. 149 

feel his pulse as it ceased to beat, I thought of that 
little Terse, so applicable here, — 

^ Cut as a teoken reiael by. 

Thy wlU I can no longer do; 
Yet whfle a daUj death I die, 

Thy power I mxj In weakness show; 
Mj patfenee may thy glory raise, 
My speechless woe proclaim thy praise.** 

The last hours of the old year were consecrated, as 
so manj preceding days had been, by death. One 
man, also prematurely old, who had been drafted, and 
accepted as a good recruit but four months ago, leay- 
ing his little family of three children and their mother, 
was now to fill a soldier's grave. Disease had made 
fearful inroads upon his system ; and his face, so thin, 
and pindied, and care-worn, always bore a concen- 
trated expression of pain. Still, he ever spoke hope- 
fiiUy about his home, and about ^^ the three smart little 
boys as you'd ever wish to put your eyes on.'' He 
asked me to write to ^^ Mary," that she must not let 
his sickness, or even his death, if he were to die, 
trouble her too much. ^^ Although it is very hard to 
be so far away from her, yet I try to be happy, and 
I keep saying over to myself all the hymns I ever 
knew." And as he fell back upon this exquisite 



150 B08PJTAL LIFE UT TBM 

resource of his memory, drawing upon the wealth of 
his religious stores for the only comfort and peace 
which could come to him in his last hours. Towards 
eyening the nurse called me, and said Hartman was 
dying. I took my flask of hrandy, a little hay rum, 
and a dean linen handkerchief, and went into his tent. 
His hands were clasped, his eyes were set, and his 
face horo such an expression of suffering as made it 
the most piteous sig^t that one could look upon* 
Finding him conscious, but unable, although trying, 
to speak, by stimulants and chafing he was so much 
restored as to speak feebly what he wished to say* 
He preferred to talk in German ; so, through a nurse 
who was in the ward, he gave me his last messages to 
those at home, and then sank rapidly, the heart having 
entirely ceased within a few moments, although it was 
impossible to tell the instant when he died. As the 
sun went down in a flood of splendor on New Yearns 
Ere, we laid him away ; and as the morning of Sun- 
day broke still and peaceful on our camp, I could not 
but think of the weeping women at the sepulchre, who 
found the stone rolled away, and in their risen 'Lord 
that death was swallowed \ip in victory. 

Every home influence which can be brought to bear 
upon a soldier^s life in camp or hospital is needed to 



ARMY OF THB POTOKAC. 151 

oounteract the immoraliiiesy the coarseness, and the 
manifold temptations with which thej are surrounded. 
Thej derive pleasure from even a trifling remembrance, 
and the simplest gift is not without its influence. 
There was a distribution of ^^ comfort bags/' contain- 
ing all the little conveniences which a soldier on the 
march or in the hospital is always g)ad to receive— > 
needles, thread, pins, buttons, tape, and jam, together 
i^dth little papers of pepper, ginger, cloves,* even tea, 
and sugar, and tobacco ; and in all mj hospital ezpe* 
riences I have never seen anything which has ^ven 
such real pleasure to the men. Those who were able 
to move gathered round the stores in their wards, the 
cripples of all kinds crept up and sat upon the adjoin- 
ing beds, each waiting for his gift. As it was handed 
to him, he went to the bottom of it vnth the pleased 
curiosity of a little child searching the stocking for the 
gifts of Santa Clans on Christmas morning. 
^VLook at that needle-book ! ** 
" See my towel— just what I wanted 1 **• 
*' JoUy ! here's a comb : haven't had one since the 
Weldon Raiboad 1 " 

And one man, who had a felon on his finger, found 
a little roll of soft linen with a box of salve — the very 
thing he needed most. He retired to his bed. in the 



152 HOBFITAL LIFE Of TBM 

corner with as much quiet sadsfiGUStion as I ever saw 
piotnred on any face. One little flaxen-haired lad, not 
yet sizteeni the skin of whose forehead was as white 
and transparent as an infant's, yet very sick with 
typhoid fever, said to me, as he looked np holding 
feebly out his thread, and pins, and buttons, ^^ This 
will be my only Christmas present, — it is so nice to 
be remembered/' 

The letters fix)m the children who sent these things 
were also a blessing to the men. One of these par- 
ticolarly attracted them. After its contents had been 
rehearsed to a little group, a hail was heard from a 
distant comer : ^^ I say, let's have it up here now.** 
A fine-looking man, propped up in bed, having lost 
his arm, was chosen reader; and as he spoke in a 
full, dear voice, every eye was upon him, while men 
were turning on their cots to catdi every word. 
When it. was finished, cries of, ^^Groodl goodi'' 
^^ That's the sort I " Ac, resounded through the ward. 
The value of such gifts in their influence cannot be 
over^timated in rough army life, where each man has 
to look out ft>r himself, and where he has everything 
to drive away the more softening influences of his 
home. 

I have seen enough to make me believe in the truth 



AMMT OF TSB POTOMAC 158 

of that simile I have heard, that manj a soldier is 
like a September chestnut, — the outside is hard, and 
sharp, and shut up ; but the inside is soft, and sweet, 
and good. Now, the thing is to get at the inside ; and 
I claim that if the shell was once cracked, and one 
fairly reached the tender spot, recalling memories of 
home, of wife, or mother, or little children, they would 
forget their brutal games and coarse associates, and 
show the tenderness and the gentleness which were in 
their hearts, but which their rough exterior so entirely 
concealed. 

The washing for the hospitals was done by the con- 
trabands, the government, for such service, providing 
them with shelter and rations. Their little settlements 
were therefore connected with each hospital at City 
Point. They flocked into our lines from the old plan- 
tations, — whole families, of three generations, — and 
cast their lot with us. It was often a hard lot. At first 
tlieir encampment was composed of mere hospital flies, 
hardly yielding shelter from the rain. Their cooking 
was done upon embers on the ground, the smoke fiUing 
their tents, which afibrded no outlet. The discomfort 
of this may readily be conceived. Winter came on 
with no provision for them, and caused the sharpest 
suffering. They were destitute of clothing and money, 
7» 



154 B08PJTAL LIFE IN TBS 

and were dying firom ezposare and neglect I asked 
one of them one day why be left his home. He 
looked up at me with a simple wonder, saying, *^0, 
'case I couldn't stay dar no longer.** 

"Why not?*' 

*^ 'Case I wouldn't eat de worm nor take de lash. 
In massa's 'backer^field de programme is, for ebery 
one dat miss a worm in pickin' from de leaf, why yoa 
hab to eat dat worm or take de lash ; I took de lash 
rather dan eat de worm. So dey stretch me out on all 
fours, and take de long brack whip, and cut de fiesh. 
Den dey cut de ground wid de bloody lash, and get it 
full ob dirt, and draw de blood again ; and dat's de 
trubble. I lub de missus and de chil'ren ; but de Lord 
open de door, and dat was 'nuff fur me." 

In this rude camp, with all the privations of this 
primitive jstyle of living, there was no complaint. 
With a simple submission to their lot, they accepted it 
without a murmur. The attention of Miss Gilson had 
been called to their condition, and soon comfortable 
huts were built, clothing was sent from the North, and 
their prospects brightened. These huts were built in 
streets, were well trenched, and, if not always tight 
and warm, were fSeur more comfortable than open air 
exposure. Some of them were extremely neat and 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC 155 

pleasaBt, and the women took pride in their humble 
homes. The work these women performed was of 
great Talne to the hospitals. With a superintendent 
to direct them, they labored faithfully. Eager to 
learn, thankful for a word of encouragement, they 
became accustomed to their new position, and were 
satisfied and happy. 

The influence of Miss Gilson was quickly noticeable 
in the camp. Her word was law ; and as she moved 
among them, illustrating and enforcing the plain duties 
of life, its effect was seen in greater fitithfulness to 
their work, in kindness to each other, in neatness, and 
gentleness with the children. She made them feel 
thai their religion was not for prayer meetings and 
Sundays alone, but was for the wash-tub, for ^ty 
among the sick, for bearing their burdens patiently — 
a religion for work-day life, for all places and all 
times. They were made to fed that they had hearts 
and minds, as well as bones and muscles; and that 
while they were compelled to wmrk for their daily 
bread, they must also steadily improve their condition, 
and be worthy of their freedom, by living true, devout, 
£uthful, and loving lives. 



156 B08PITAL LIFE JOSf TBM 



CHAPTER X. 

ACTIVE OPEBATIONa. 

THB SUBREMDSB OF GENEBAL LEB* 

GranftTs Clodng Campaign. ^ Bccapitolatf <m of Moremciitf. — P6- 
tenlmrg. — Soothside Bailrood. — Swell's Coriit captared.— 
Ck>nfederate Generals Ewell, Kenhaw, and Cnstis Lee.— Tlieir 
BiTomac— Woodbridge^ the Geoigia Soldier. 

THE loDg winter of 1864-5 was passing into spring. 
Through the apparent inactivity of many months, 
General Grant^s plans were silently culminating to the 
point of a general movement of the army. Sheridan's 
cavalry had just .finished the last raid in the vaUey and 
on the James River Canal, and having been partly 
remounted at White House, was now reacty for the 
grand movement to the left. 

President Lincoln, the Lieutenant-Gkneral, Meade, 
Sherman, and Admiral Porter were in council at the 
modest headquarters of the armies at City Point. 

The strength of General Grant's combined forces 



ABUT OF THS POTOMAC. 157 

was estimated at 140,000 effective men, while that of 
Lee was supposed to be not less than 70,000. It is 
probably near enough to the tmth to saj that this 
estimate was the groundwork upon which the cam- 
paign was based. The conception, execution, and 
result of the operations which followed will probably 
be considered to be by far the most remarkable and 
brilliant feature of the war. With the evidence made 
public up to this writing, there is enough to show that 
the campaign was carefully planned, and as energet- 
ically carried out. One writer says, ^^ The batties of 
April 1st and 2d, south of Petersburg, were necessary 
to the solution of the strategic problem. The object 
was to gain a position on the right flank of Lee, in 
order to force him not only to evacuate Petersburg, 
but to compel him to evacuate it in such a way that be 
would have to retreat by roads on the north side of the 
Appomattox Biver. By the success of these batties, 
Lee was forced north of the river, and Grant gained a 
route to BurksviUe Junction, the point to which Lee 
intended to retreat, running parallel to that of the 
rebels, separated from them, a great part of the dis- 
tance, by a river much shorter and without any natural 
obstructions such as lay in Lee*s way. Lee had to 
retreat by tiie longer route, which was practicaUy made 



158 S08PITAL LIFE m TBM 

Btin longer bj the necessity of recrossing the Appo- 
mattox. The consequence was, that Grant not only 
reached Bnrksville Junction by the time Lee reached 
Amelia Comrt House, and interposed himself as an 
impassable barrier to the junction of Johnson and Lee, 
but also continually presented a force between Lee and 
Lynchburg. By keeping this force * thus heading Lee 
off,* while at the same time he continually attacked 
him in flank and rear, Grant forced him, on the sev- 
enth day, to surrender his whole force. From the 
moment of occupying Burksville, Grant held Lee in a 
position from which, if defeated in battle, he had no 
line of retreat. Ho was forced to make a stand in a 
position m which, had he given battle, he would have 
been forced to an unconditional surrender or equally 
disastrous dispersion.** 

The significance, therefore, of the following letter, 
which Grant addressed to Lee, will be at once appre- 
ciated : *^ The result of the last week must convince 
you of the. hopelessness of further resistance on the 
part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this strug- 
gle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to 
shift frt>m myself the responsibility of any further 
eflhsion of blood, by asking of you the surrender of 



AnUT or THB POTQKACL 159 

that portion of the Confederate States Armj known as 
the Armj of Northern Virginia/* 

It is well known that the armj, by a well-directed 
assault upon the rebel position in front of Petersburg, 
carried their works on Sunday morning, April 1, and 
entered that citj in triumph on that day. The aban- 
donment of Richmond followed immediately, as well 
as the evacuation of all its defences; and the rebel 
army was rapidly moved in a southerly direction, as 
before described. Through Dinwiddie, Nottaway, and 
Appomattox Counties there were frequent engage- 
ments, the enemy retiring in every instance, and leav- 
ing their dead and wounded in our hands. These 
were scattered over sixty miles of territory, either left 
upon the fields or hurriedly moved to whatever place 
of shelter presented itself, so that along that bloody 
track of war every wayside church, farm-house, and 
bam became a hospital. The country was electrified 
by the news ; and so elated were men's hearts with 
the grandeur of the victory, that its poor, maimed, 
suffering victims were for the moment passed by. 
Few at home realized the suffering; yet I think it 
had rarely been equalled in intensity during the war, 
though of course it had been in amount. The medical 
wagons were with the trains, which could not keep 



160 SOSPITdL LIFE m TBM 

pace with the xnovements of the army, and in oon- 
seqaence there was great destitution of supplies^ 

Dr. Dalton, then the Medical Director of the Ninth 
Corps, was ordered to establish a hospital at Bnrks- 
Tille, and to gather in the wounded preparatory to 
their being sent to Ci^ Point as soon as railroad com- 
munication could be opened. He reached the Junction 
with no supplies, being unable at the moment to com- 
mand them ; but he took possession of every house 
and shed, sent out his wagons foraging through the 
country, and in a few hours had potatoes, flour, eggs, 
poultry, pigs, &c., in abundance. He started a ba- 
kery, and had everything as nearly ready as the state 
of things would admit by the time the wounded were 
brought in. 

The surgeons were with their regiments forty mfles 
away, and but few could be reached in the exigency. 
A corps was therefore organized at City Point, with 
orders to proceed to the front; and joining this I 
started in one of the first trains which entered the 
city of Petersburg after the evacuation. We passed 
directly through the abandoned camps and works of 
the enemy, saw their rifle-pits and fordflcations, their 
bomb-proofs, abatis, sunken roads, and excavations, — 
all showing a high order of engineering skill, and 



AEMT OF THE POTOMAC^ 161 

a perseyerance which had proved well nigh nncon- 
qnerable. 

The lower part of Petersburg was a desolation. 
At m7 feet were the debris of the evacuating army : 
a thousand stands of arms scattered and destroyed, 
— gun-locks, gun-barrels, and bayonets; the roUing 
stock of their railroads hopelessly mined, — cars, 
wheels, bolts, and rails warped and twisted by the 
fire. The town was apparently but little ii\}ured by 
the siege, although it has been stated that eight hun- 
dred houses were more or less scarred by the iron 
rain* A few buildings were entirely destroyed ; roofs 
were shattered ; gutters, blinds, and windows torn from 
their places, or bore terrible marks of the conflict. 
The people looked pinched and hungry. They had a 
pale, care-worn look, an expression of suffering and of 
premature age, which was enough to show that the 
war had been to them no pastime. 

Moving slowly out over the Southside Road with a 
heavy train of supplies, we passed Sunderland's, Farm- 
ville, and Ford's Station, — the scenes of recent con- 
flict, — and reached Wilson's at midnight, where we 
camped. While resting here a column of prisoners 
reached the station, and went into bivouac in the open 
fields acyoining. They numbered 8500 men and 800 



162 E08PITAL LIFE UT THE 

officers, the corps of General Ewell, captared hj Shei^ 
idan's cavalry and the Fifth Corps. Their side and 
wonnded were in this colnmn, which had heen marched 
twentj-five miles that day over horrible roads. A 
strong patrol guard was placed aroand their bivouac^ 
and, by favor of the officer in charge, I entered their 
lines. 

Generals Ewell, Kershaw, and Custis Lee, Tucker 
and Semmes (of the rebel navy), with other division 
and brigade commanders and their respective staffs, 
were in a group apart* Finding that strangers were 
welcome, I sat by their fire talking of their campaign, 
of the prospects of General Lee*s escape, and of the 
general crisis of the war, which all frankly admitted 
was at hand. 

Ewell appeared infirm and prematurely old. A 
cripple, he moved feebly on crutches, and had the air 
of a tired, worn-out, disappointed man. He took the 
best view of his capture; said his men would not 
fight, and that the war was near its dose. The days 
of old Stonewall Jackson were over, he said ; but he 
believed that even with his inspiration, nothing more 
could have been done. Speaking of the Bichmond 
conflagration, the results of whidi he had not heard| 
he said, ^^ I acted under orders, bu^ regret that those 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC 1G3 

orders did not include Breckinridge, who should have 
been thrown into the hottest of the flames/* 

Kershaw seemed a model soldier in look and bear- 
ing. Compact, firm, and self-contained, he had the 
manners of a gentleman, and was, perhaps, the most 
brilliant man of the party* ^^ For two years I have 
doubted the justice of the cause,*' said he ; ^^ but my 
social position wonld not warrant its abandonment.'* 
CusUs Lee was reticent, hardly courteous, haughty, 
soured, and ugly in spirit. When the column passed, 
one ambulance in the advance, containing this group 
of general officers, and followed by the 800 of lesser 
rank, I thought of the prisoners whom the Boman 
generals brought home in chains to grace their 
entry into the capital. There were the same proud, 
defiant bearing, the same unconquered and unconquep> 
able spirit, the same stateliness and arrogance, which 
no disaster or defeat could move. Here, in these later 
days, in this wildemess of desolation, where there are 
but few witnesses of their humiliation, where there 
were no shouts of triumph, or pasans of victory, 
marched these 800, followed by the 8000, with as 
proud a bearing as if they were indeed the victors, 
awaiting the crowns of laurel and the plaudits of the 
world. 



164 E08PITAL LITE JN TSM 

There was snffenDg in this bivoaac which needed 
instant alleyiation, and a hospital was at once estab- 
lished for the sick. They were marching without 
tents, and with but few blankets to protect them from 
the rain. The storm had lasted a week; the fields 
were soaked with water, which also covered the sur- 
face of the ground — the onlj resting-place these thou- 
sands of men could claim. In groups all over the 
closely guarded fields these prisoners were collected, 
cooking their now liberal rations of beef and coffee. 
Night after night they gathered round their camp fires, 
sleeping in the soppy grass, chilled, and suffering from 
the cold night winds of the season; while scattered 
all through the ranks were men who were in the 
last stages of exhaustion by exposure, sickness, and 
wounds. Foot-sore and weary came forward those 
who were to go into hospital; and I never saw so 
utterly pitiful a sight as these poor, squalid creatures, 
on fire with fever, racked with chills and rheumatic 
pains, and emaciated by disease and want. Many 
were too weak to stand, and were obliged to rest 
upon the ground. Their condition seemed hopeless, 
and for such numbers we had no hospital accommo- 
dations. 

Among these sick and wounded men was one who 



ARMT OF THS FOTOMAO. 165 

had attracted my attention, from his superior intelli- 
gence, his cultnre, and refinement, which were in 
marked contrast to the repnlaiveness of his onter garb. 
His clothing was torn and threadbare, his pantaloons 
in ribbons about his feet, his hat without a brim, his 
hair bleached and tangled ; and frt>m a recent fall on 
the march he was encased in mud. Holding out his 
hand, which was covered with a stained and ragged 
handkerchief, he addressed me, and asked if I would 
amputate his fingers, which were badly mangled by a 
fragment of a sheU* The wound had not been dressed 
since his musket was shot from his hands nine days 
before, nor had the steel splinters been extracted. I 
removed the clotted covering, and found his hand in a 
most offensive condition, so utterly neglected had it 
been. The bones were uninjured, and. with proper 
care the hand might yet be saved. The wound was 
cleansed, and dressed with fresh lint and bandages; 
and as I was about to pass on to another case, he said, 
^^ I am fiunt for want of food. Can you get me some 
hard tack?'' One of the guard at his camp fire dieer- 
fuUy took frt>m his haversack his ration of uncooked 
pork, and cut a liberal slice, which he gave me with 
some hard bread. I took it to my rebel soldier, who 
ate it with an eager appetite and a thankfid smile. 



1G6 E08PITAL LIFE UST THM 

sayiDg that if I knew what he had lived upon since he 
started on the campaign, I coold realize how near 
starvation he was. Said he, ^^ I had a pint of com, 
and for nine days that was my only food.'' But, look- 
ing back to a loxurioos home, he said, sadly, ** I have 
not always been thus reduced. My home is in Sar 
vannah. I joined a battalion of our young men in 
1861, because I believed in the southern cause. For 
three years I fought and suffered, a private soldier, 
until at last my eyes were opened to the rapacity of 
the leaders in Richmond ; and I have been longing for 
the old flag again. There are but few of us left now,** 
said he, *^ of those boys who went out in '61 ; and 
when they get news of our last battle, therell be 
mourning in Savannah, for they were her dioicest 
sons. But L thank God the war is over." 

His father, a devoted and consistent Union man, 
now the collector of the port of Savannah, was at this 
time in Washington. I wrote that Henry was a pris- 
oner, slightly wounded. A few weeks from this time 
they were united, after this separation of years ; and 
I had afterwards the satisfaction of taking them both 
by the hand, and receiving their kindly attentions in a 
northern city, where the raw pork and hard tack were 
recalled as the most delicious of luxuries. 



ABKT OF THE POTOMAC. 167 



CHAPTER XI. 
8UFFEBING8 AT BUBK8VILLE. 

Scard^ of Surgeont.— Scenes among the fTonnded.— I^ngross- 
ing Experiences. — Orercrowded Sbeds and Railroad Bnildings. 
— Ampntotions in the Field. — Wounded transferred to Ci^ 
Point. — Soilisring on the Trains.— Preparation for Death.— 
Betom of the Army. 

r[E surgeons with whom I started from City Point 
established their hospital at Wilson's Station, as 
before stated, instead of at the frorUj where thej were 
ordered to go. They had an ample hospital equipage, 
medical stores and commissary supplies in abundance, 
with but half a dozen patients, who had straggled into 
their camp, while a few miles beyond were thousands 
who were suffering for the very stores and attention 
which they were sent to supply. The railroad was 
uncompleted beyond Wilson's, and the trains could 
not therefore run farther; but wagon transportation 
could have been obtained, and ought to have been 
secured, in this pressing emergency of suffering. 



168 E08PITAL LIFE IS TBM 

Leaving my oompanioos, I poshed on alone to Borks- 
TiUe with a few private stores, and found wagon and 
ambulance trains arriving at the Junction filled with 
these maimed and bleeding men. Thej came creep- 
ing slowly over the hills, as if to soften the agonies of 
such transportation. Every shed and building was 
filled at once. The men were laid upon the ground 
under the shelteii^ of brush, in freight depots, in the 
open air, under extemporixed roofs of rubber blankets, 
the mud up to one's knees, and the moving from point 
to point almost an impossibility. There were but few 
surgeons, and these were overworked at the operating 
tables, while three thousand men were lying in this 
squalid suffering. 

In two or three open sheds and in one railroad 
building were six hundred men without even straw for 
bedding, and no blankets to protect them frt>m the 
rain which soaked through these long wards of misery. 
Dr. Bichardson, who was in charge here, ordered milk 
punch for the amputated cases, and they were soon 
supplied. Several were dying ; and upon the spot my 
brandy flask was soon in use, restoring two or three 
sufficiently to get frt>m them their names, and to write 
some last message to their firiends. In one row were 
^y^ men lying on the hard fioor, all thi^^ amputations, 



ABUT OF THE POTOKAC 169 

and all dying. Two of them were oonscioaB, and 
were able to gasp out some last words for wife or 
mother, which were written qnickl/ down, and the 
letters despatched, telling how and where they died. 
In a small room, partitioned off from the main shed, 
were three hopeless cases, placed there that they might 
breathe their last in peace, apart from the noise and 
excitement of this overcrowded shed — one with a 
severe shell wound through both hips, another with an 
arm and shoulder carried away, and the other with his 
jaw and face terribly shattered, and his tongue half 
gone. Men were sitting up bathing their own wounds, 
when they could get the water, or were helping each 
other, whfle there were meanings and cries for help, to 
all of which it was impossible to respond. When the 
more pressing wants were met, with sponges, rubber 
basin, bandages, and lint, there was enough to do. 

As I entered one of these bmldings, 'from one end 
to the other there were cries, ^^ Doctor, O doctor, 
come and dress my wound I ** ^^ Mine, doctor, mine !'' 
*^ Nobody ever 9>mes to me ; dont' pass me by T' ^^ I 
shall die if I cannot get some water \** ^^ O, if you 
only knew how I suffer I '' ^^ Do dress this thigh,'' or 
arm, or leg, or head, — each one proclaiming his own 
shattered frameg helpless and in agony. In another 
6 



170 aOSFTTAL LIFE IN THE 

shed were two bundred rebel wounded. A mirgeoii 
of their own sat there and smoked his pipe, never 
showing sympathj enough to dress a single wound, so 
£Eur as I could see, while our own soldiers acted as 
their nurses, treating them as tenderly as they could. 
One poor rebel, with a thigh amputation, lying in a 
building with some of our own men, in answer to the 
question whether he wished to be removed to the shed 
where his own companions were, said, ^^ We are all of 
one family now ; these are my brothers as much as 
yours ; let me stay where I am ; '* while I could see 
under his head a little Testament, which he had been 
reading in this very hour of his suffering and loneli- 
ness, having the new revelation of that wider feIlow« 
ship which I felt he was so soon to realize in another 
world. In one comer was another dying man; and 
next to him one shot through both ejes^ who prayed 
for his release ; while others, who in their very agony 
were crying, ^* Have merc^, O Lord, have mercy upon 
me P* were far beyond all healing. 

After several days the railroad was opened, and it 
was taxed to its utmost capacity in transferring the 
wounded to City Point. There were long trains of 
twenty freight cars, as closely packed inside as the 
men could lie, and covering every foot of space upon 



AMMT OF TEX POTOMAC 171 

the top, with no blankets or straw for a wounded limb 
or an amputated stump. 

In this train was work for fiftj pairs of hands. 
Their wounds were throbbing with fever, and needed 
the cooling of only one sponge full of water. There 
were one thousand men ; they had been placed in the 
cars in the early afternoon, and were to have started 
before dark. Many would not live to reach City 
Point, and their last hours in this jolting train would 
necessarily be hours of k^nest suffering. With cold 
spring water I went through each car, bathing their 
heated stumps. It was dark, and there were no signs 
of starting. For hours they had been lying in this 
state neglected, and upon every hand the men were 
asking, '* How long, O, how long, must we lie here? '^ 
It was heart-rending to pass from car to car and see 
their condition, to hear their cries for even a cup of 
water to moisten their lips, or a drop to wet their 
fevered wounds, and to see their silent appeal by the 
holding up of undressed limbs. The surgeon in charge 
of the train for whom these thousand were waiting 
and suffering, was found at midnight in a comfortable 
room half a mile off, enjoying a cigar and a game of 
euchre. He was reported to the Medical Director. 
Even this faithless surgeon would have been melted 



178 HOSPITAL xarm nr tbm 

had he seen their gratitade as the sponge was 
squeezed, and the cold water flowed smoothly over 
the stiffened, clotted handages, softening them, and 
reaching the wound, which was soothed and refreshed 
hy the application : '^ God hless jou, sir T' << O, this 
is so cool I '^ ^^I shall sleep nowl** ''I hope yonll 
never know the want of water? ** and the like. The 
men were hungry, and had had nothing since their 
early dinner twelve hours hefore. I went up to our 
tent, huilt fires, had large '^containers'' of heef tea 
prepared, and gave a little to each, also filling can- 
teens, and supplying other needs of the moment. At 
two o'clock in the morning the train started with its 
living freight of shattered, suffering men. This was 
hardly over hefore a long train of army wagons of 
wounded, just from the field, reached the camp. Ba- 
sins, sponges, bandages, lint, and plaster were again in 
requisition, and making a heavy draught upon the 
medical wagons. Candles gave out, and we were left 
in the dark. We had to do the best we could, the men 
lying on the ground covered only by tent flies, which 
hardly shed the rain ; and so we worked until mom* 
ing, dressing and feeding men who for five days had 
been without either care or nourishment. 

As the days passed, and the wounded arrived in 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC. 173 

large numbers, more ample accommodation was pro- 
vided* Now a regular field hospital was established, 
with all its equipage; the tents arranged in streets 
were all trenched, and a new corps of surgeons took 
charge, fresh and readj for their work. The roughly- 
constructed operating tables were in the open air, and 
were in constant use. Besections, prpbings, and am- 
putations went on, and men were under the knife from 
morning to evening, and often until candle-light. The 
days passed with lightning rapidity, so crowded with 
engrossing experiences that days might count for years 
from the abundance of life which was lived in them. 

I have often been asked if men, under such circum- 
stances, embrace the opportunity to prepare for death, 
when death seems so very near. My experience ac- 
cords so completely with that of an English gentleman 
in the hospitals at Scutari,* that I am tempted to 
quote his liEuiguage, which is very much to the point 
here* 

<* The hospital is only, after all, a part of the battle- 
field ; it is a crowd of those who have fought, and 
who, fighting, have, through wounds or weakness, had 
to &n back from active service to passive sufiering. 
They are still, as it were, in the ranks ; still on duty, 

' * Hon. and Ber. Sydney G. Otlionie. 



174 B08PITAL LIFE UT THE 

to recover, to return, to die, or to be inyalided at 
borne. 

'^ Men in tbe field speak not of danger ; it speaks for 
itself, and none are deaf to it, tbongb none will act as 
tbongb tbej beard its warning Toice* Men wbo for 
many weeks bave lived a life in wbicb tbe onlj cbange 
from tbe privation and watcbfnlness wbicb undermined 
tbeir strengtb, was tbe call to action, one more deadly 
tban anotber, become so babitoated to bold life cbeap, 
are so tborongbly wrapped np in tbe risk ai wbicb 
tbey seek tbe bonor of tbe profession, tbat, as in 
camp, so in bospital, deatb is an ever-expected gnest, 
and few indeed seek to make special preparation for 
its coming* Wben it does come to tbem on tbeir beds, 
it is still a soldier's deatb : a letter or two may be 
dictated to a friend, some messages sent to brotber 
ofBicers ; a qnick, calm, distribution of effects ai band 
made ; gratitude expressed to tbose wbo so kindly ever 
Buppost tbeir brotber soldiers in tbose moments : tbese, 
witb tbe brief services tbe cbaplain can offer, form tbe 
cbief features of tbe last scene in tbe lives of tbese 
brave men* It is a battle-field deatb just postponed 
till tbe victim bas joined in tbe bospital ranks.'' 

At tbis time tbe army was returning victorious. 
On tbe lltb of April, General Grant and staff, witb 



AEMiT OF THE POTOMAC 175 

three of his corps oommanders, dismounted at Burks- 
▼iUe, taking the cars for Citj Point, having made in 
the saddle thir^-fiye miles that daj. Thej came is 
as quietly and calmly as if they had been out on an 
inspection of the army, instead of achieving victories 
unparaUeled in their importance in our history, and 
ending in that week the bloodiest war of modem 
times. 

On the 12th, G^eral Sheridan, with his (ortj cap- 
tured flags, followed by his cavalry and artillery, 
received the plaudits of those who could cheer them 
as they passed. On the 18th, at sundown, the Sixth 
Corps crossed the railroad junction at Burksville, 
passed out through the hospital encampment, and 
bivouacked on the hills beyond. They had marched 
ei^teen miles in six hours, over horrible roads, but 
were all on fire with enthusiasm, cheering, always 
victorious, and coming in almost on the run. The. 
Second Corps, and the Fifth, and the Ninth, with the 
Army of the James, followed on, their work com- 
pleted, the problem of free government solved, and this 
nation once more at peace. 



176 HOSPITAL LIFE IK THE 



CHAPTER XII. 
FETEBSSUBG HOSPITALS. 

CLOSING SCXNBS*— -THB FAIR GBOUHDB. 

CoDtriftt.— The Bloomiiig Qaxdeni of Petenboig.— Mr. J. W* 
Fl^ge, Jr.— His Woik at tlie FUr Groonds.— Gangrene Ward. 
— Tbe Bebel Soldier.— His Sufferings and Death.— The Bine 
Ward.— The Dying liarylander.— Edward Moriej, the Haa> 
sachnsetts Soldier.- Colonel Prentiss. 

FtOM the intense sufferings and labors in the oyer- 
crowded sheds and raihroad depots at Borksyille, 
to the dean, qniet, and comfortable tents and barracks 
.of the weU-ordered hospitals at Petersborg, — this was 
the contrast which twenty-four hours brought me. Be* 
turning with the feeling that peace had dawned, that 
there would be no more reeking hospitab, nor deso> 
lated homes, nor broken hearts; and that even upon 
these Virginia fields fruitful harvests would spring in 
the Tery track of war, — flowers even upon the bat- 
tle-field, — it will not be difficult to realise that in 



AEMiT OF THE POTOKAC. 177 

Petersburg I could find refreshment in the beauty 
and fragrance of its gardens, and rest in the quiet 
seclusion of its groves of pines. It is a quaint old 
dty, entirely southern in its style and architecture. 
The yerandas covered with creeping vines, which grow 
everywhere in magnificent neglect, were bowers of 
beauty. .Every shrub, and tree, and flowering bush, 
from the rose and the magnolia to the orange and the 
^j had almost a tropical luxuriance, and the air was 
filled with the aroma. Many of the residences were 
deserted; and where they were not, we had cordial 
invitations to enter at their open gates and pick the 
flowers. The pansy, the violet, the narcissus, the 
double-flowering almond, the exquisite wisteria, and 
the lily of the valley, with every variety of buds and 
roses, — these filled our tent with firagrance. All this 
was an oasis in a desert of sufiering. There were men 
all about us who were at the very last ebb of life, and 
before the night passed the light of Ihe eternal morn- 
ing dawned for them. To lose one's self in the quiet 
peacefiilness of such an afternoon was indeed a relief 
after such a tension upon mind and heart. 

At this point Mr. J. W. Paige, Jr., of Boston, was 
in charge of the Sanitary Commission. In his tent 
under the magnificent pines, which recalled one of hiti 
8* 



178 HOSPITAL LIFB IK THM 

fayorite Italian bannts, and which gave shade to the 
Fair Grounds Hospital, I found him engrossed in the 
most laborions dudes of administration. The incom- 
petency of one of the agents, and the serioos iUness of 
another, jnst then stricken down with fever, hronght 
upon him a wide range of duties. These he assumed 
and carried through, with a quiet energy and self- 
forgetting devotion. Obstacles were met and over* 
come. The relations between the Medical Department 
and the Sanitary Commission were harmonized by a 
quick perception and no little diplomatic skill, which 
resulted in making both more effective than either 
would have been alone. In the wards his gentleness 
and skill In dressing soothed many a sufferer, while his 
cheerfulness lightened many an hour of loneliness and 
pain. Anticipating the capricious appetites of the sick- 
est men, there was no delicacy which the markets of 
Petersburg could afford that he did not make to find 
its way to the wards, daintily prepared on his little 
stove in the open air, and taken to the soldier whose 
feverish palate could only relish such delicate £ure. 

To avoid the dangers of a dreadful infection, the 
gangrene ward was established in an ice-house, apart 
from the main hospital. Here, where the most loath- 
some and hopeless cases were awaiting death, where 



ASMT OF THE POTOMAC. 179 

was every type of this horrible disease, was the scene 
of many of his most touching ministries'. Here were 
limbs which could only be cleansed, not dressed ; am- 
putations where the fli^ had been eaten away, and 
the fiesh was ragged and fisdlen from the bone ; wounds 
into which the gangrene was making its fearful rav- 
ages day by day — a charnel-house, indeed, where was 
opportunity for such service as is rendered at the bed 
of death, when the sufferer is past all h^ng. 

'* Make them as comfortable as you can ; they will 
see no hope this side the grave,'' said the kind-hearted 
surgeonr; and however nauseous the air, or offensive 
the work, our friend labored cheerfully on, making the 
poor fellows feel that the greatest favor to him was 
simply to permit him to continue his ministry. Thus 
through the broiling heat of an early summer there 
was this noble fidelity to his work, which won the love 
and respect of all who were brought into relations with 
him. 

In the intervals of resting from little attentions to a 
poor, lonely boy, a rebel soldier who was dying, I took 
up pen and paper to write, while sitting at his bedside. 
Let us look into the ward. The wound has just been 
dressed, the hemorrhage stopped, the bottles, basin, 
syringe, sponge, and water cleared away. He is 



180 aOSPITAL UFB m thm 

sleeping easfly now. A bright-ejed, handsome, intelli- 
gent lad of seventeen, I was attracted to him bj the 
nncomplaming patience with which he bore his suffer* 
ings. He was in the Confederate armj, bnt was one 
of those who would never be called a rebel, being a 
conscript, and at heart lojal to his flag. He was a 
Virginian, the son of a poor minister in one of those 
scattered settlements on the Sonthside Bailroad ; and 
from occasipnal conversations I had gleaned scraps 
.of private historj, which could onlj increase mj kind 
feeling for him. In September, 1864, working quietlj 
on bis father^s farm, a mere boj, he was seized in a 
merciless conscription, and hurried to Richmond, where 
he was placed in the ranks of the rebel army. He 
was an onlj child; and, although he confessed to 
manj short-comings, he knew thai he was the onlj 
comfort of his home, and told me of his mother^s 
grief when he went awaj. His wound, to all out- 
ward seeming, was slight, being between the shoul- 
ders, and hardly showing a bruise. The sheD had 
cut his clothing, and but just touched the spinal col- 
umn ; but it had, however, paraljzed the lower part 
of his body, so that his condition was one of great 
helplessness. A bed sore soon developed itself; and 
it increased with such rapidity, that all thought that 



ARMY OF TBS POTOMAC. 181 

his life was oiify hanging bj a thread. As I stood bj 
him, he opened his' ejes, and said to me» in the most 
distressed waj, ''I cannot open mj month;'' and, 
upon examinadon, I found that he had the lockjaw, 
to add to his dreadful sufferings. ^^An hour ago I 
could laugh and sing,'' he said; ''but now I know 
that I must die." The surgeon, being called, confirmed 
the impression that his case was hopeless; and we 
determined that, at whatever cost, his last hours 
should be undisturbed. Baj rum seem^ to refresh 
him; and I bathed and rubbed his head, and chest, 
and arms, the poor fellow expressing his gratitude by 
word and look, saying to me, "You are the best 
fiiend I ever had," and repeating it over and over 
again. 

After a few moments of dreamy repose, he opened 
his eyes, and said, '' Do yon really think that I am 
going to die? Idonot want*to die." I told him that 
his condition was very critical, and that we all felt 
that he could not continue very long. ' '' I have been 
trying to make my mind up to it," he said ; '' but it is 
so hard, and I am afiraid to die. I have put off my 
repentance until it is too late — too late; and now I 
know that God will not receive me." I told him that 
it could never be too late, and, if he realty wished 



182 HOSPITAL LIFE m TEM 

to be forgiyen, and would onlj open his heart to all 
holy inflaences, that God would send his peace and 
pardon down, and would receive him just as kindlj 
and as loyinglj as an earthly father would if he were 
to grieve or trouble him. He seemed to feel that God 
never could care for Attn; that his face was turned 
away, and that all his prayers and intercessions were 
in vain. Then I tried to make him feel how large a 
place there must be in the Father^s heart for all such 
poor, suffering children as he ; how rich and abundant 
his merciful care ; how inexhaustible his love. I told 
him that even the birds of the air and the flowers of 
the field were not beneath his notice ; that not even a 
sparrow could fall without his seeing it;- so that in 
his own fear and suffering this Father was nearer to 
him than any earthly father could be ; and that heaven 
was open to him, and all sweet and blessed influences 
were around him, if he could only receive them as 
from a Father's hand. Then I repeated to him the 
litde psalm, ^* Bow down thine ear, O Lord, for I am 
poor and needy,'' with, '^ The Lord is my Shepherd, 
• • . and though I walk through the valley of the 
shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with 
me ; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." Then 
followed Christ's invitation, '^ Come unto me, all ye 



ARMY OF TBS POTOMAC. 183 

that labor and are heavy hiden, and I will give you 
rest ; take mj yoke upon yon, and leam of me, for I 
am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest 
unto yonr souls ; for my yoke is easy and my burden 
is light/' Then I repeated a part of the chapter, 
*' Let not your heart be troubled," with those other 
words, so beautiful, so rich in their promises, '* Peace 
I leave with you, my peace I give unto you ; let not 
your heart be troubled, neither let it be afiraid/' 

And now, in that lonely, quiet hour, there seemed 
to be a Presence which glorified everything about us 
— a spiritual uplifting, a deep revealing, which the 
repetition after me of the Lord's prayer seemed to 
make all the more real. This was hardly audible to 
any but ourselves, although in the ward perfect still- 
ness reigued, the men all vaguely comprehending the 
subject of our communion. 

Here was a young man dying. With strong tenacity 
he held to life, shrinking from what he called his doom. 
His distress of mind was such as I had never seen. 
His old theological teaching had told' him that he must 
have a change of heart, or he could not be saved ; and 
he was too weak to understand the process, or to know 
where to begin, or what to do. He was in despair. 
There was no sense of Grod's loving presence ; and so 



184 HOSPITAL LIFE IK TSM 

be most die, feeling that the eleventh hour was too 
late, and shrinking from his fate. I had never before 
attempted to nounister to such a case. In most pitiable 
tones of distress he would murmnr, '* Lord Jesos, save 
mj soul ; " while in this great gulf of sorrow I could 
onlj meet him with the Saviour's words, hardlj trust- 
ing to my own, jet ever hoping and watching for the 
incoming and indwelling of that peace which should 
surpass all human understanding. And I seemed. to 
see it come at last, as the angel hovered over him, and 
as perfect love bad cast out fear. From a quiet sleep 
he woke calm and perfectly resigned. Spiritual things 
became more real to him, and he looked with a clearer 
fSEdth and a more simple trust to the end which we 
all felt was very near. A day or two before, I had 
written to his father to come and see his dying son. 
Through the kindness of a soldier the letter reached 
him, and one aflemoon, just at dusk, be came. Al- 
though there was the quiet joy of their meeting, yet 
in that sad place it was a sad sight to see this poor 
gray-haired man — subdued, crushed by suffering, im- 
poverished by the war — sitting, hour afier hour, by 
his son, who was dying by the slow torture of lockjaw 
and of the poison of his wound. The subtle fever was 
burning his strength away ; and as the father watched 



AEMiT OF THE POTOMAC 185 

and waited with his hoy, Btnoothing the hair upon the 
pillow, wiping the drops npon his forehead, or fanning 
him with onlj a scrap of paper then at hand, there 
was so much tenderness in his eye, snch silent, speech- 
less, tearless sorrow, that I conld only leave them 
together,— the son so happy now, the father so thank- 
fid that even this hoon had been Tonchsafed him, and 
both knit together in this last communion and com- 
panionship of their lives. And thns the night passed 
and morning came; and as the hours wore on, he 
seemed to suffer more and more. His body twitched 
nervously with pain, his jaws were set, his limbs grew 
cold, and his lips white ; but there was no more mur- 
muring. He lay serenely conscious that death was 
calling him, and at last he answered the call, passing 
through the valley without a struggle, leaving this 
poor father to go back alone to his stricken and child- . 
less home* 

One evening, just at twilight, I went into our blue 
ward at the Fair Grounds, Petersburg, to see a lad 
whose condition for many days had led us to believe 
that he could not continue very long. As I sat by his 
side, and placed my hand upon his forehead to smooth 
back his hair, he said to me, ^' Do you know, sir, that 
I am looking death in the face?'' I could only reply, 



186 EOSPITAL UFX JOT THM 

" Yes, I know you are, my dear boy ;** for the re- 
peated hemorrhage of his womid had conyinced me 
that his recovery was beyond a possibility. He was 
perfectly submissive and trustful. He was ready to 
die, or he was willing to live, — as it should please the 
all-loiving Father ; and as I had seen, hour after hour, 
an attendant stanching the blood which was trickling 
from his wound, I could only feel that we were to 
count the hours before we should have to lay him in 
his grave. He had been a faithful soldier for three 
years, and had been disdiarged. The old farm had 
no charms for him ; and after the excitements of the 
home greetings had passed, he went as a substitute 
back to the army, receiving a large bounty at the 
hands t>f the brokers. Then followed days of what 
may well be termed mh. We need to throw a veil of 
charity over this part of the story; for although he 
had wandered far away, he had fallen into the hands 
of devils in human shape, who drugged him, and 
rpbbed him of his money ; while all the time, in his 
heart of hearts, he was true. And now he was suffer- 
ing, perhaps dying, for the cause he had loved so welL 
He told me how deep his valley of humiliation had 
been; that his struggle was all alone; that through 
sleepless days and nights he had been praying for 



ARMY OF THE POTOMUC. 187 

God's gracious, helping spirit, until at last the burden 
had been lifted off, and Yiov all-sustaining faith and 
promises had been made real; and the trouble, and 
doubt, and terror of the grave were all lost in the 
opening glory. When I went away, leaving him to 
others' care, it was with the feeling that he would not 
be a care to anybody very long, — hoping only that his 
mother's letter would come, to bring its solace to him 
before he died. 

In such ministries as these the days were spent ; and 
yet, when night came on, and left us to a retrospect, 
there was the sense of how little we had really done. 
Often hours would pass in sitting by the bedside of a 
soldier, simply watching and waiting for a change; 
giving a sip of porter once in a while ; brushing a fly 
off his face when he was disturbed ; shading his eyes, 
or fanning him ; answering only when he spoke, and 
keeping always quiet that he might sleep. 

A ftttal wound through the right lung had laid one 
noble fellow low; and his last hours were hours of 
suffering. I had previously gained the young man's 
confidence., and had learned his story; and when it 
had fallen to me to tell him that he could not live, 
he seemed perfectly ready and willing to die, — being 
calm, hopeftil, and believing. He died almost in my 



188 HOSPITAL LIFM m TBM 

arms, leaving his messages for loved ones at home, 
which it was my dntj to dbmmanicate bj letter. 

From his bed I go to that of another — a little boy 
of but fourteen years, very low with chronic diarrhoea. 
I had rarely seen snch agony of snfiering. The poor 
little fellow, so wan and thin, his face so pale and 
wasted, his vital power so nearly exhausted, and his 
whole condition making sach an appeal to one's ten- 
derest sympathy, — so lonely away from his mother 
and his home, — knew he was going to die, yet had no 
conception of the change. He passed on as I stood at 
his bedside. 

And another case, Edward Morley, a lad from 
Westfield, Massachusetts, lying in agony in a ward 
near my tent. His wound was a compound fracture 
of the thigh. He was too weak for an amputation, 
his hemorrhage requiring the constant pressure of a 
finger upon the femoral artery, and the poor fellow 
was suffering beyond all hope of relief. He was one 
of the noble spirits of the army — a genuine soldier, 
with as fine a face and as dear an eye, and with as 
kindly and thoughtful expression as one would wish 
to see. He spoke but seldom, giving but little expres- 
sion to his feelings ; but his thoughts were constantly 
of those who would be left at home to mourn. He 



AUMT or THB POTOMAC. 189 

was traaqnil and resigned, and even cheerftd at 
times when a comrade came to his bed to talk with 
him. 

When I communicated the result of a consultation 
to him, he simply replied, ^^ Do not think that I am 
afraid to die. At home. I was surrounded by every 
religious influence* Since my mother^s death I have 
had the memory of her love to keep me true, and I 
know that she will welcome me up there.'* At his 
request I repeated the psalm, ''The Lord is my 
Shepherd.'' Before it was finished, his large, deep 
eyes opened and looked into mine, and tears formed 
and rolled down his cheeks at the passage, *' Thou^ 
I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I 
will fear no evil, for thou art with me ; thy rod and 
thy staiF, they comfort me." I felt that he was lean- 
ing upon that rod and staff, as he looked, in the midst 
of all his sufferings, with a dear and living fiEuth unto 
the end. 

He had been in the service four years, and was then 
but twenty ; but the lines of suffering were cut deep 
into his fistce ; and as he lay there so patiently, with 
such sweet resignation to his Father^s will, the whole 
ward seemed to be lighted with the triumph of his 
dosing hours* He did not seem to demand my sym- 



190 E08PITAL LIFX IN THE 

pathjy although he had it all ; he onlj wanted conn 
panioDBhip) and he asked not to be left alone, bat to 
have me sit bj his bed and watch with him through 
the night. But he did not need even this, unless I 
was to sit and keep a lonely vigil over his tenantless 
body ; for of a sudden he died, hardly gasping, yet con- 
scious to the end. 

In one of our wards we had an officer, Colonel Cli£> 
ton J. Prentiss, of Baltimore, whose case was of such 
peculiar and touching interest that it ought not to be 
passed by. In one of the closing battles of the war 
he was wounded through the lungs. When I first 
saw him, he was brought into the hospital from the 
field, as we thought, fatally hurt. At the same time 
a lad, a rebel soldier, was lifted from the stretcher 
upon an adjoining bed, with a thigh amputation, hay* 
ing been struck by a fragment of a shell above the 
knee. This Union officer and this rebel soldier lay 
side 6y side, not knowing that they were indeed own 
brothers, and unconscious, in all that bloody strife 
which had set its fatal seal upon them both, that 
they had been striking the one against the other, and 
falling but ten feet apart. And so, by some blessed 
providence, they were brought together at last, — the 
glance of an eye, or some well-known tone of voice^ 



AEMT OF THB POTOMAC. 191 

makiDg their recognition complete, which it onlj 
needed the hand-grasp to confirm. In the earlj stages 
of their wounds, two of their brothers ' — one of whom 
neither had seen for eight years — came down to nnrse 
and watch with these other two, who were dying so far 
from home. And throagh the months which followed 
they were all united, these fonr, who had been so 
widely separated, bonnd together by the ties of sym- 
pathy, and service, and brotherly afiection. 

And now they are both at rest: Billy — the kindly 
impnlsiTe boy — and his noble brother united, after 
such a fearful separation of sacrifice and of blood, in 
this last companionship of their lives, — both entering 
the new home, where there is no distinction between 
the blue jacket and the gray. 

The younger died first. Day after day we used to 
visit him in the quiet ward where he seemed to be so 
much alone, for he had but little sympathy until he 
was converted over to the old flag, which he had for- 
saken. And when the memories of his home and his 
early companionships came over him, and he felt that 
even this renewal of old ties was still but a fraternal 
estrangement, his boy's heart quite gave way, and he 
begged for the kindly smile of this elder brother, for 
the love and generous sympathy of their boyhood. In 



192 HOSPITAL UrE Uf THE 

a few weeks the ezhanstion of his STStem was so com- 
plete that he sank rapidlj awaj and died. 

The brave and allrendnring colonel lived on, — every 
breath a stab, and every movement of the poor fraQ 
body like the tension and snapping of some cord of life. 
Through many weary months he waited and suffered, 
life had much in store for him. He longed to be 
again amid its peaceful activity ; yet he was always 
submissive, and only looked to see what was the lov- 
ing Father^s will. And that will was revealed at last, 
giving him but time to say, '^ It is well ; I am ready 
to go.'' 

Enridied and strengthened by discipline, — a true 
growth from sacrifice and suffering, — his was a death 
which has caused many a heartache outside the circle 
of his home. His earlier years were spent in Mary- 
land, where he had all the advantage of the best cul- 
ture and training which his father^s school could give, 
whidi were superior, probably, to those of any similar 
establishment in the State. The elegant accomplish- 
ments of the father, his careful discipline, his sdiolarly 
tastes and habits, together with the genial influences 
of his home, all joined in the ripening of a character 
which it only needed such an experience as that of the 
past four years to develop into a manhood at once 



ABUT OF TEE POTOMAC. 198 

strong, harmonious, and beaatifiil. He was a devout, 
earnest, and faithful man ; ready always for kind offices 
for those about him, breathing a spirit of helpfulness 
and service, when, by Whatever sacrifice, he could do 
anything for another. This spirit of self-forgetting 
lingered about him to the end. Upon the little table 
by his humble hospital bed lay his Bible, his constant 
companion. The sharp discipline of suffering was not 
without its heavier and darker clouds ; yet through the 
gloom the light ineffable of trust and peace was stream- 
ii^g ^» giving diviner beauty to the spirit which could 
answer cheerfuUy to the angel's calL 
9 



194 nospiTAL LiFX m tme 



CHAPTER XIII. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Sflbci of fhd Amstinaticm in the Army.^Hii Chandw and 
Fotltioii in History* 

rIE Army of Northern Yirginia had capitulated. 
Its last banner was lowered and traHmgy its arms 
and artillery had been stacked and parked, its organi- 
sation forever destroyed. G-eneral Grant had returned 
to City Point, the war yirtoally at an end. The Army 
of the Potomac was resting upon its laurels; with only 
magnanimity for its old enemy, while men of every 
grade and rank were freely living over old scenes and 
fighting over old battles, mingling their common mem- 
ories of victory and defeat, as it had alternated, in our 
history. 

There was good cheer everywhere. The rank and 
file of the rebel army, dispersing to their homes, filling 
the roads and swarming through the fields, shared the 



AUKT or THE POTOMAC 195 

hospitalities of our soldiers, and were treated with a 
hindlj and liberal spirit. 

It was at this moment that the triamph and rejoic* 
ing of the nation were changed to mourning and deso- 
lation. Abraham Lincoln was dead I A great sorrow 
donded the brightness of the glory which for the mo- 
ment had burst upon the people, and a nation was in 
tears. The booming cannon, the craped and drooping 
flag, the dirges of the bands, and the tolling of the 
beUs were the sounds and signs of national grief. The 
armj was profoundlj moved. A reaction, which made 
Confederate soldiers tremble, followed the assassina- 
tion, and arrogance melted into humility. 

With all generous motiyes for those with whom he 
had been contending, Abraham Lincoln could utter 
these words, already embalmed in the memory of the 
world : ^^ With malice towards none j with charity for 
all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see 
the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in ; 
to bind up the nation's wounds ; to care for him who 
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his 
orphans ; to do all which may achieve a just and last- 
ing peace among ourselves and with all nations.'' 

And yet, with this gentle pleading for his enemies, 
there was on^ standing at his side to strike him down. 



196 MOSPITAL LIFE Uf TSB 

ThroQj^ Mr. Lincoln's greatest trials, throng^ the 
most perplexing periods of his administration, when 
perils thickened about his path^ I coold onlj think of 
the burden which rested upon his mind and heart. He 
once said, ^* I do not know how this war will end ; 
but I do know that, end jas it may, I shall not long 
sorvive it/* 

One who knew him well, said that he broke down, 
time and again, nnder his weighty cares ; '^ his noble 
fiM» became haggard and weary, and nothing but the 
strong will and the undergrowth of gnarled manhood 
preTcnted him from going down to his graTe.** A 
feeling of personal loyalty went ont instanctiTely to 
meet him. If there was blindness to his errors when 
he. made them, there was also the thoaght of the 
unparalleled dangers and difficulties of his position, 
of those grayer problems of public policy, for which 
there was no precedent, which he was called upon to 
solve. 

The Hfe of a Republic was in his keeping { and 
although an unknown, untried man, the eternal prov- 
idence of Grod was over him ; and from his simple 
trust came the inspiration and the strength for the 
frilfilment of his loAy destiny. His greatness, his per- 
fect balance of character, his wisdom, calmness, mag- 



ABMT OF THE POTOMAC* 197 

nanimitjr, and tenderness of heart, vindicated itself at 
last, and he won the world's respect and honor. A 
faithfal worker for his countr/s weal, persevering in 
his task, tme to his great trost, he wore his honors 
with hnmilitj and prajerfhlness. He mled in tmlj 
regal majesty, for he ruled in justice tempered with 
mercy. His education, such only as the rough, pio- 
neer life of a wilderness could afford, was yet such as 
to make him, perhaps, the central figure of modem 
history. Devoting himself with singleness of purpose 
to his stupendous work, he labored for the highest 
aims ; and in working got but little of what most men 
work to get. Still, he attained what but few men have 
ever reached — the symmetrical development of pow- 
ers which in a great crisis of his country's life raised 
him to be first in that country's love; and he so 
worked and lived, that in his proudest moments of 
triumph he never forgot his humble birth, his hard- 
handed toil, his sympathy with the people whom he 
always carried in his heart. Such majesty with such 
simplicity I such power with such self-forgetfulness I 
His natural dignity was mingled with unfailing play 
of humor, while his almost grotesque ungainliness of 
look and stature did not derogate from the nobility of 
his manhood. 



198 B08PITAL LIFE IN TME 

In the great and closing triumphs of the war he did 
not forget the men who had achieved them. How 
beantifnl was the spirit with which he visited the 
hospitals hot a week hefore he died I Standing at 
every bedside, he had a kindlj word and smile for 
every man, speaking to every soldier in the camp, 
and cheering them all by his genial presence and his 
encouraging words. How benignant a dose to his 
public career I With what reverence these thousands 
of crippled men will regard his name, enshrining it 
with all affectionate loyalty in their hearts and mem- 
ories forever! 

It seemed as if, in the bolt of the assassin, the 
national life received the last test to which republican 
government could be subjected. Aside from the public 
grief, the national functions were undisturbed. A con- 
tinent was draped in mourning, yet the vitality of its 
government was unimpaired* In our history no event 
had created such universal prostration. The loyal 
North, appalled by the catastrophe, found expression 
for its grief only in silent '^ going about the streets.** 
It was a day when the sun and the lig^t, and the 
moon and the stars, seemed darkened ; it was a day 
when fears were in the way, and strong men bowed 



AEUr OF TEE POTOUAO. 199 

themselyes, and were/' afraid of that which is high,** 
and the keeper of the house trembled. 

It would be impossible to give in words the sense 
of desolation with which we moved about our hospital 
work, or of the profound emotions awakened by every 
muffled drum and booming cannon. We had suffer- 
ing, and sorrow, and death all about us. But greater 
sorrow and bereavement came to hallow the lesser, 
while these mingled emotions served to chasten every 
thought and feeling, and to make every duty more 
sacred than before. 

With the return of peace came the home welcome 
to our sick and wounded men. Ward by ward was 
vacated, hospital after hospital was given up, until at 
last the dismantled barracks were all that was left of 
the scene of our absorbing labors. Year by year these 
marks of a great hospital department will be lost. 
But the memories of calm endurance of suffering, of 
noble hearts hushed in death, of precious companion- 
ships formed, and of strong characters ripened in great 
emergencies, will ever yield a grateful blessing upon 
the services and sacrifices of hospital life. 



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