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Full text of "Hospital sketches"

HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 



BY 



L. M. ALCOTT. 




" Which, naming no names, no offence could be took." Sairy 
Gamp. 



BOSTON : 

JAMES REDPATII, PUBLISHER, 

221 WASHINGTON STREET. 

1863. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1863, by 

JAMES REDPATH, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 



TEIESE SKETCHES 

ABE RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED 
TO HER FRIEND 

MISS HANNAH STEVENSON, 

BY 
L. M . A. 



PUBLISHEE'S ADVERTISEMENT, 



A considerable portion of this volume was published in suc- 
cessive numbers of The Commonwealth, newspaper, of Bos- 
ton. The sudden popularity the Sketches won from the gen- 
eral public, and the praise they received from literary men of 
distinguished ability, are sufficient reasons, were any needed, 
-for their re-publication, thus revised and enlarged, in this 
more convenient and permanent form. As, besides paying 
the Author the usual copyright, the publisher has resolved to 
devote at least five cents for every copy sold to the support of 
orphans made fatherless or homeless by the war, no reproduc- 
tion of any part of the contents now first printed in these 
pages, will be permitted in any journal. Should the sale of the 
little book be large, the orphans' percentage will be doubled. 

BOSTON, August, 1863. 



CONTENTS, 

PAGE 

CHAPTER I. OBTAINING SUPPLIES. ... 10 
CHAPTER II. A FORWARD MOVEMENT. . . 21 

CHAPTER III. A DAY 31 

CHAPTER IV. A NIGHT. . . . ' . . 46 

CHAPTER Y. OFF DUTY ,64 

CHAPTER VI. A POSTSCRIPT. . r 84 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES, 

CHAPTER I. 

OBTAINING SUPPLIES. 

" I WANT something to do." 

This remark being addressed to the world in general, no 
one in particular felt it their duty to reply ; so I repeated it 
to the smaller world about me, received the following sugges- 
tions, and settled the matter by answering my own inquiry, as 
people are apt to do when very much in earnest. 

" Write a book," quoth the author of my being. 

" Don't know enough, sir. First live, then write." 

" Try teaching again," suggested my mother. 

" No thank you, ma'am, ten years of that is enough." 

" Take a husband like my Darby, and fulfill your mission," 
said sister Joan, home on a visit. 

" Can't afford expensive luxuries, Mrs. Coobiddy." 

" Turn actress, and immortalize your name," said sister 
Vashti, striking an attitude. 

11 1 won't." 

" Go nurse the soldiers,"said my young brother, Tom, pant- 
ing for " the tented field." 

" I will !" 



10 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

So far, very good. Here was the will now for the way. 
At first sight not a foot of it appeared, but that didn't mat- 
ter, for the Periwinkles are a hopeful race ; their crest is an 
anchor, with three cock-a-doodles crowing atop. They all 
wear rose-colored spectacles, and are lineal descendants of the 
inventor of aerial architecture. An hour's conversation on 
the subject set the whole family in a blaze of enthusiasm. A 
model hospital was erected, and each member had accepted an 
honorable post therein. The paternal P. was chaplain, the 
maternal P. was matron, and all the youthful P.s filled the 
pod of futurity with achievements whose brilliancy eclipsed 
the glories of the present and the past. Arriving at this sat- 
isfactory conclusion, the meeting adjourned, and the fact that 
Miss Tribulation was available as army nurse went abroad on 
the wings of the wind. 

In a few days a townswoman heard of my desire, approved 
of it, and brought about an interview with one of the sister- 
hood which I wished to join, who was at home on a furlough, 
and able and willing to satisfy all inquiries. A morning chat 
with Miss General S. we hear no end of Mrs. Generals, why 
not a Miss ? produced three results : I felt that I could do 
the work, was offered a place, and accepted it, promising not 
to desert, but stand ready to march on Washington at an 
hour's notice. 

A few days were necessary for the letter containing my re 
quest and recommendation to reach headquarters, and another, 
containing my commission, to return ; therefore no time was 
to be lost ; and heartily thanking my pair of friends, I tore 
home through the December slush as if the rebels were after 
me, and like many another recruit, burst in upon my family 
with the announcement 

" I've enlisted ! " 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 11 

An impressive silence followed. Tom, the irrepressible, 
broke it with a slap on the shoulder and the graceful com- 
pliment 

" Old Trib, you're a trump !" 

" Thank you ; then I'll take something :" which I did, in 
the shape of dinner, reeling off my news at the rate of three 
dozen words to a mouthful ; and as every one else talked 
equally fast, and all together, the scene was most inspiring. 

As boys going to sea immediately become nautical in speech, 
walk as if they already had their '* sea legs " on, and shiver 
their timbers on all possible occasions, so I turned military at 
once, called my dinner my rations, saluted all new comers, 
and ordered a dress parade that very afternoon. Having re- 
viewed every rag I possessed, I detailed some for picket duty 
while airing over the fence ; some to the sanitary influences of 
the wash-tub ; others to mount guard in the trunk ; while the 
weak and wounded went to the Work-basket Hospital, to be 
made ready for active service again. To this squad I devoted 
myself for a week ; but all was done, and I had time to get 
powerfully impatient before the letter came. It did arrive 
however, and brought a disappointment along with its good 
will and friendliness, for it told me that the place in the Ar- 
mory Hospital that 1 supposed I was to take, was already 
filled, and a much less desirable one at Hurly-burly House 
was offered instead. 

" That's just your luck, Trib. I'll tote your trunk up 
garret for you again ; for of course you won't go," Tom re- 
marked, with the disdainful pity which small boys affect when 
they get into their teens. I was wavering in my secret soul, 
but that settled the matter, and I crushed him on the spot 
with martial brevity 

" It is now one ; I shall march at six." 
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY 



12 HOSPITAL SKETCHES 

I have a confused recollection of spending the afternoon in 
pervading the house like an executive whirlwind, with my 
family swarming after me, all working, talking, prophesying 
and lamenting, while I packed my " go-abroady " possessions, 
tumbled the rest into two big boxes, danced on the lids till 
they shut, and gave them in charge, with the direction, 

" If I never come back, make a bonfire of them." 

Then I choked down a cup of tea, generously salted instead 
of sugared, by some agitated relative, shouldered my knap- 
sack it was only a traveling bag, but do let me preserve the 
unities hugged my family three times all round without a 
vestige of unmanly emotion, till a certain dear old lady broke 
down upon my neck, with a despairing sort of wail 

" Oh, my dear, my dear, how can I let you go?" 

" I'll stay if you say so, mother." 

" But I don't ; go, and the Lord will take care of you." 

Much of the Roman matron's courage had gone into the 
Yankee matron's composition, and, in spite of her tears, she 
would have sent ten sons to the war, had she possessed them, 
as freely as she sent one daughter, smiling and flapping on the 
door-step till I vanished, though the eyes that followed me 
were very dim, and the handkerchief she waved was very 
wet. 

My transit from The Gables to the village depot was a funny 
mixture of good wishes and good byes, mud-puddles and shop- 
ping. A December twilight is not the most cheering time to 
enter upon a somewhat perilous enterprise, and, but for the 
presence of Vashti and neighbor Thorn, I fear that I might 
have added a drop of the briny to the native moisture of 

" The town I left behind me ;" 

though I'd no thought of giving out : oh, bless you, no ! 
When the engine screeched "Here we are," I clutched my 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 13 

escort in a fervent embrace, and skipped into the car with as 
blithe a farewell as if going on a bridal tour though I be- 
lieve brides don't usually wear cavernous black bonnets and 
fuzzy brown coats, with a hair-brush, a pair of rubbers, two 
books, and a bag of ginger-bread distorting the pockets of the 
same. If I thought that any one would believe it, I'd boldly 
state that I slept from C. to B., which would simplify matters 
immensely ; but as I know they wouldn't, I'll confess that 
the head under the funereal coal-hod fermented with all man- 
ner of high, thoughts and heroic purposes " to do or die," 
perhaps both ; and the heart under the fuzzy brown coat felt 
very tender with the memory of the dear old lady, probably 
sobbing over her army socks and the loss of her topsy-turvy 
Trib. At this juncture I took the veil, and what I did be- 
hind it is nobody's business ; but I maintain that the soldier 
who cries when his mother says " Good bye," is the boy to 
fight best, and die bravest, when the time comes, or go back 
to her better than he went. 

Till nine o'clock I trotted about the city streets, doing those 
last errands which no woman would even go to heaven with, 
out attempting, if she could. Then I went to my usual ref- 
uge, and, fully intending to keep awake, as a sort of vigil 
appropriate to the occasion, fell fast asleep and dreamed pro- 
pitious dreams till my rosy-faced cousin waked me with a kiss. 

A bright day smiled upon my enterprise, and at ten I re- 
ported myself to my General, received last instructions and 
no end of the sympathetic encouragement which women give, 
in look, touch, and tone more effectually than in words. The 
next step was to get a free pass to Washington, for I'd no 
desire to waste my substance on railroad companies when 
" the boys " needed even a spinster's mite. A friend of mine 
had procured such a pass, and I was bent on doing likewise, 



4 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

though I had to face the president of the railroad to accomplish 
it. I'm a bashful individual, though I can't get any one to 
believe it; so it cost me a great effort to poke about the 
Worcester depot till the right door appeared, then walk into a 
room containing several gentlemen, and blunder out my re- 
quest in a high state of stammer and blush. Nothing could 
have been more courteous than this dreaded President, but it 
was evident that I had made as absurd a demand as if I had 
asked for the nose off his respectable face. He referred mo 
to the Governor at the State House, and I backed out, leaving 
him no doubt to regret that such mild maniacs were left at 
large. Here was a Scylla and Charybdis business : as if a 
President wasn't trying enough, without the Governor of Mas- 
sachusetts and the hub of the hub piled on top of that. *' I 
never can do it," thought I. " Tom will hoot at y<$u if you 
don't," whispered the inconvenient little voice that is always 
goading people to the performance of disagreeable duties/ and 
always appeals to the most effective agent to produce the prop- 
er result. The idea of allowing any boy that ever wore a 
felt basin and a shoddy jacket with a microscopic tail, to crow 
over me, was preposterous, so giving myself a mental slap for 
such faint-heartedness, I streamed away across the Common, 
wondering if I ought to say " your Honor," or simply " Sir," 
and decided upon the latter, fortifying myself with recollec- 
tions of an evening in a charming green library, where I be- 
held the Governor placidly consuming oysters, and laughing 
as if Massachusetts was a myth, and he had no heavier burden 
on his shoulders than his host's handsome hands. 

Like an energetic fly in a very large cobweb, I struggled 
through the State House, getting into all the wrong rooms and 
none of the right, till I turned desperate, and went into one, 
resolving not to come out till I'd made somebody hear and 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES 15 

answer me. I suspect that of all the wrong places I had 
blundered into, this was the most so. But I didn't care ; and, 
though the apartment was full of soldiers, surgeons, starers, 
and spittoons, I cornered a perfectly incapable person, and 
proceeded to pump for information with the following re- 
sult : 

" Was the Governor anywhere about?" 
No, he wasn't. 

" Could he tell me where to look ?" 
No, he couldn't. 

" Did he know anything about free passes ?" * 

No, he didn't. 

" Was there any one there of whom I could inquire V 9 
Not a person. 

" Did he know of any place where information could be 
obtained ?" 
Not a place. 

" Could he throw the smallest gleam of light upon the mat- 
ter, in any way?" 
Not a ray. 

I am naturally irascible, and if I could have shaken this 
negative gentleman vigorously, the relief would have been 
immense. The prejudices of society forbidding this mode of 
redress, I merely glowered at him ; and, before my wrath 
found vent in words, my General appeared, having seen me 
from an opposite window, and come to know what I was about. 
At her command the languid gentleman woke up, and troub- 
led himself to remember that Major or Sergeant or something 
Me K. knew all about the tickets, and his office was in Milk 
Street. I perked up instanter, and then, as if the exertion 
was too much for him, what did this animated wet blanket do 
but add 



16 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

" I think Me K. may have left Milk Street, now, and I 
don't know where he has gone." 

" Never mind ; the new comers will know where he has 
moved to, my dear, so don't be discouraged ; and if you don't 
succeed, come to me, and we will see what to do next," said 
my General. 

I blessed her in a fervent manner and a cool hall, fluttered 
round the corner, and bore down upon Milk street, bent on 
discovering Me K. if such a being was to be found. He 
wasn't, and the ignorance of the neighborhood was really piti- 
able. Nobody knew anything, and after tumbling over bun- 
dles of leather, bumping against big boxes, being nearly anni- 
hilated by descending bales, ' and sworn at by aggravated 
truckmen, I finally elicited the advice to look for Me K. in 
Haymarket Square. Who my informant was I've really for- 
gotten ; for, having hailed several busy gentlemen, some one of 
them fabricated this delusive quietus for the perturbed spirit, 
who instantly departed to the sequestered locality he named. 
If I had been in search of the Koh-i-noor diamond I should 
have been as likely to find it there as any vestige of Me K. 
I stared at signs, inquired in shops, invaded an eating house, 
visited the, recruiting tent in the middle of the Square, made 
myself a nuisance generally, and accumulated mud enough to 
retard another Nile. All in vain : and I mournfully turned 
my face toward the General's, feeling that I should be 
forced to enrich the railroad company after all ; when, suddenly, 
I beheld that admirable young man, brother-in-law Darby 
Coobiddy, Esq. I arrested him with a burst of news, and 
wants, and woes, which caused his manly countenance to lose 
its usual repose. 

" Oh, my dear boy, I'm going to Washington at five, and 
I can't find the free ticket man, and there won't be time to see 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 17 

Joan, and I'm so tired and cross I don't know what to do; 
and will you help me, like a cherub as you are ?" 

" Oh, yes, of course. I know a fellow who will set us 
right," responded Darby, mildly excited, and darting into 
some kind of an office, held counsel with an invisible angel, 
who sent him out radiant. " All serene. I've got him. I'll 
see you through the business, and then get Joan from the 
Dove Cote in time to see you off." 

I'm a woman's rights woman, and if any man had offered 
help in the morning, I should have condescendingly refused 
it, sure that I could do everything as well, if not better, my- 
self. My strong-mindedness had rather abated since then, 
and I was now quite ready to be a " timid trembler," if neces- 
sary. Dear me ! how easily Darby did it all : he just asked 
one question, received an answer, tucked me under his arm, 
and in ten minutes I stood in the presence of Me K., the 
Desired. 

" Now my troubles are over," thought I, and as usual was 
direfully mistaken. 

" You will have to get a pass from Dr. H., in Temple 
Place, before I can give you a pass, madam," answered Me 
K., as blandly as if he wasn't carrying desolation to my soul. 
Oh, indeed ! why didn't he send me to Dorchester Heights, 
India Wharf, or Bunker Hill Monument, and done with it ? 
Here I was, after a morning's tramp, down in some place about 
Dock Square, and was told to step to Temple Place. Nor 
was that all ; he might as well have asked me to catch a hum- 
ming-bird, toast a salamander, or call on the man in the moon, 
as find a Doctor at home at the busiest hour of the day. It 
was a blow; but weariness had extinguished enthusiasm, and 
resignation clothed me as a garment. I sent Darby for Joan, 
and doggedly paddled off, feeling that mud was my native ele- 



18 " HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

ment, and quite sure that the evening papers would announce 
the appearance of the Wandering Jew, in feminine habili- 
ments. 

-Is Dr. H. in?" 

" No, mum, he aint." 

Of course he wasn't; I knew that before I asked: and, 
considering it all in the light of a hollow mockery, added: 

11 When will he probably return ?" 

If the damsel had said, " ten to-night," I should have felt a 
grim satisfaction, in the fulfillment of my own dark prophecy; 
but she said, " At two, mum ;" and I felt it a personal insult. 

" I'll call, then. Tell him my business is important :" with 
which mysteriously delivered message I departed, hoping that 
I left her consumed with curiosity ; for mud rendered me an 
object of interest. 

By way of resting myself, I crossed the Common, for the 
third time, bespoke the carriage, got some lunch, packed my 
purchases, smoothed my plumage, and was back again, as the 
clock struck two. The Doctor hadn't come yet ; and I was 
morally certain that he would not, till, having waited till the 
last minute, I was driven to buy a ticket, and, five minutes 
after the irrevocable deed was done, he would be at my serv- 
ice, 'with all manner of helpful documents and directions. 
Everything goes by contraries with me ; so, having made up 
my mind to be disappointed, of course I wasn't ; for, present- 
ly, in walked Dr. H. , and no sooner had he heard my errand, 
and glanced at my credentials, than he said, with the most en- 
gaging readiness : 

" I will give you the order, with pleasure, madam." 

Words connot express how soothing and delightful it was to 
find, at last, somebody who could do what I wanted, without 
sending me from Dan to Beersheba, for a dozen other bodies 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 19 

to do something else first. Peace descended, like oil, upon 
the raffled waters of my being, as I sat listening to the busy 
scratch of his pen ; and, when he turned about, giving me not 
only the order, but a paper of directions wherewith to smooth 
away all difficulties between Boston and Washington, I felt as 
did poor Christian when the Evangelist gave him the scroll, 
on the safe side of the Slough of Despond. I've no doubt 
many dismal nurses have inflicted themselves upon the worthy 
gentleman since then ; but I am sure none have been more 
kindly helped, or are more grateful, than T. P. ; for that short 
interview added another to the many pleasant associations that 
already surround his name. 

Feeling myself no longer a " Martha Struggles," but a 
comfortable young woman, with plain sailing before her, and 
the worst of the voyage well over, I once more presented my- 
self to the valuable Me K. The order was read, and certain 
printed papers, necessary to be filled out, were given a young 
gentleman no, I prefer to say Boy, with a scornful emphasis 
upon the word, as the only means of revenge now left me. 
This BOY, instead of doing his duty with the diligence so 
charming in the young, loitered and lounged, in a manner 
which proved his education to have been sadly neglected in 
the 

" How doth the little busy bee," 

direction. He stared at me, gaped out of the window, ate 
peanuts, and gossiped with his neighbors Boys, like himself, 
and all penned in a row, like colts at a Cattle Show. I don't 
imagine he knew the anguish he was inflicting ; for it was 
nearly three, the train left at five, and I had my ticket to get, 
my dinnei to eat, my blessed sister to gee, and the depot to 
reach, if I didn't die of apoplexy. Meanwhile, Patience 
certainly had her perfect work that day, and I hope she en- 



20 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

joyed the job more than I did. Having waited some twenty 
minutes, it pleased this reprehensible Boy to make various 
marks and blots on my documents, toss them to a venerable 
creature of sixteen, who delivered them to me with such pa- 
ternal directions, that it only needed a pat on the head and an 
encouraging " Now run home to your Ma, little girl, and 
mind the crossings, my dear," to make the illusion quite per- 
fect. 

Why I was sent to a steamboat office for car tickets, is not 
for me to say, though I went as meekly as I should have gone 
to the Probate Court, if sent. A fat, easy gentleman gave 
me several bits of paper, with coupons attached, with a warn- 
ing not to separate them, which instantly inspired me with a 
yearning to pluck them apart, and see what came of it. But, 
remembering through what fear and tribulation I had obtained 
them, I curbed Satan's promptings, and, clutching my prize, as 
if it were my pass to the Elysian Fields, I hurried home. 
Pinner was rapidly consumed ; Joan enlightened, comforted, 
and kissed ; the dearest of apple-faced cousins hugged ; the 
kindest of apple-faced cousins' fathers subjected to the same 
process; and I mounted the ambulance, baggage-wagon, or 
anything you please but hack, and drove away, too tired to 
feel excited, sorry, or glad. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 21 



CHAPTER II. 

A FORWARD MOVEMENT. 

As travellers like to give their own impressions of a journey, 
though every inch of the way may have been described a 
half a dozen times before, I add some of the notes made by 
the way, hoping that they will amuse the reader, and con- 
vince the skeptical that such a being as Nurse Perewinkle 
does exist, that she really did go to Washington, and that 
these Sketches are not romance. 

New York Train Seven P. M. Spinning along to take 
the boat at New London. Very comfortable ; munch ginger- 
bread, and Mrs. C.'s fine pear, which deserves honorable men- 
tion, because my first loneliness was comforted by it, and pleas- 
ant recollections of both kindly sender and bearer. Look 
much at Dr. II: 's paper of directions put my tickets in ev- 
ery conceivable place, that they may be get-at-able, and finish 
by losing them entirely. Suffer agonies till a compassionate 
neighbor pokes them out of a crack with his pen-knife. Put 
them in the inmost corner of my purse, that in the deepest 
recesses of my pocket, pile a collection of miscellaneous arti- 



22 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

cles atop, and pin up the whole. Just get composed, feeling 
that I've done my best to keep them safely, when the Con. 
ductor appears, and I'm forced to rout them all out again, ex- 
posing my precautions, and getting into a flutter at keeping 
the man waiting. Finally, fasten them on the seat before me, 
and keep one eye steadily upon the yellow torments, till I for. 
get all about them, in chat with the gentleman who shares my 
seat. Having heard complaints of the absurd way in which 
American women become images of petrified propriety, if ad- 
dressed by strangers, when traveling alone, the inborn per- 
versity of my nature causes me to assume an entirely oppo" 
site style of deportment ; and, finding my companion hails 
from Little Athens, is acquainted with several of my three 
hundred and sixty-five cousins, and in every way a respecta- 
ble and respectful member of society, I put my bashfulness in 
my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, 
the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the 
immortality of the soul. 

Ten, P. M. Very sleepy. Nothing to be seen outside, 
but darkness made visible ; nothing inside but every variety 
of bunch into which the human form can be twisted, rolled, 
or " massed," as Miss Prescott says of her jewels. Every 
man's legs sprawl drowsily, every woman's head (but mine,) 
nods, till it finally settles on somebody's shoulder, a new proof 
of the truth of the everlasting oak and vine simile ; children 
fret ; lovers whisper; old folks snore, and somebody privately 
ambibes brandy, when the lamps go out. The penetrating 
perfume rouses the multitude, causing some to start up, like 
"war horses at the smell of powder. When the lamps are re- 
lighted, every one laughs, sniffs, and looks inquiringly at his 
neighbor every one but a stout gentleman, who, with well- 
gloved hands folded upon his broad-cloth rotunuity, sleeps on 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 23 

impressively. Had he been innocent, he would have waked 
up ; for, to slumber in that babe-like manner, with a car full 
of giggling, staring, sniffing humanity, was simply preposter- 
ous. Public suspicion was down upon him at once. I doubt 
if the appearance of a flat black bottle with a label would 
have settled the matter more effectually than did the over dig- 
nified and profound repose of this short-sighted being. His 
moral neck-cloth, virtuous boots, and pious attitude availed 
Mm nothing, and it was well he kept his eyes shut, for 
" Humbug !" twinkled at him from every window-pane, brass 
nail and human eye around him. 

Eleven, P. M. In the boat "City of Boston," escorted 
thither by my car acquaintance, and deposited in the cabin. 
Trying to look as if the greater portion of my life had been 
passed on board boats, but painfully conscious that I don't 
know the first thing ; so sit bolt upright, and stare about me 
till I hear one lady say to another "We must secure our 
berths at once ;" whereupon I dart at one, and, while leisurely 
taking off my cloak, wait to discover what the second move 
may be. Several ladies draw the curtains that hang in a 
semi-circle before each nest instantly I whisk mine smartly 
together, and then peep out to see what next. Gradually, on 
hooks above the blue and yellow drapery, appear the coats 
and bonnets of my neighbors, while their boots and shoes, in 
every imaginable attitude, assert themselves below, as if their 
owners had committed suicide in a body. A violent creak- 
ing, scrambling, and fussing, causes the fact that people are 
going regularly to bed to dawn upon my mind. Of course 
they are ! and so am I but pause at the seventh pin, remem- 
bering that, as I was born to be drowned, an eligible opportu- 
nity now presents itself ; and, having twice escaped a wateiy 
grave, the third immersion will certainly extinguish my vital 



24 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

spark. The boat is new, but if it ever intends to blow up, 
spring a leak, catch afire, or be run into, it will do the deed 
tonight, because I'm here to fulfill my destiny. With tragic 
calmness I resign myself, replace my pins, lash my purse and 
papers together, with my handkerchief, examine the saving 
circumference of my hoop, and look about me for any means 
of deliverance when the moist moment shall arrive ; for I've 
no intention of folding my hands and bubbling to death with- 
out an energetic splashing first. Barrels, hen-coops, portable 
settees, and life-preservers do not adorn the cabin, as they 
should ; and, roving wildly to and fro, my eye sees no ray of 
hope till it falls upon a plump old lady, devoutly reading in 
the cabin Bible, and a voluminous night-cap. I remember 
that, at the swimming school, fat girls always floated best, and 
in an instant my plan is laid. At the first alarm I firmly 
attach myself to the plump lady, and cling to her through 
fire and water ; for I feel that my old enemy, the cramp, will 
seize me by the foot, if I attempt to swim ; and, though I can 
hardly expect to reach Jersey City with myself and my bag- 
gage in as good condition as I hoped, I might manage to get 
picked up by holding to my fat friend ; if not it will be a 
comfort to feel that I've made an effort and shall die in good 
society. Poor dear woman ! how little she dreamed, as she 
read and rocked, with her cap in a high state of starch, and her 
feet comfortably cooking at the register, what fell designs- 
were hovering about her, and how intently a small but de- 
termined eye watched her, till it suddenly closed. 

Sleep got the better of fear to such an extent that my boots 
appeared to gape, and my bonnet nodded on its peg, before I 
gave in. Having piled my cloak, bag, rubbers, books and 
umbrella on the lower shelf, I drowsily swarmed onto the 
upper one, tumbling down a few times, and excoriating the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 25 

knobby portions of my frame in the act. A very brief nap 
on the upper roost was enough to set me gasping as if a dozen 
feather beds and the whole boat were laid over me. Out I 
turned ; and, after a series of convulsions, which caused my 
neighbor to ask if I wanted the stewardess, I managed to get 
my luggage up and myself down. But even in the lower 
berth, my rest was not unbroken, for various articles kept 
dropping off the little shelf at the bottom of the bed, and every 
time I flew up, thinking my hour had come, I bumped 
my head severely against the little shelf at the top, evidently 
put there for that express purpose. At last, after listening to 
the swash of the waves outside, wondering if the machinery 
usually creaked in that way, and watching a knot-bole in the 
side of my berth, sure that death would creep in there as 
soon as I took my eye from it, I dropped asleep, and dreamed 
of muffins. 

Five, A. M. On deck, trying to wake up and enjoy an 
east wind and a morning fog, and a twilight sort of view of 
something on the shore. Rapidly achieve my purpose, and 
do enjoy every moment, as we go rushing through the Sound, 
with steamboats passing up and down, lights dancing on the 
shore, mist wreaths slowly furling off, and a pale pink sky 
above us, as the sun comes up. 

Seven, A. M. In the cars, at Jersey City. Much fuss 
with tickets, which one man scribbles over, another snips, and 
a third " makes note on." Partake of refreshment, in the 
gloom of a very large and dirty depot. Think that my sand- 
wiches would be more relishing without so strong a flavor of 
napkin, and my gingerbread more easy of consumption if it 
had not been pulverized by being sat upon. People act as if 
early travelling didn't agree with them. Children scream and 
scamper ; men smoke and growl ; women shiver and fret ; por- 

c 



26 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

ters swear; great truck horses pace up and down with loads of 
baggage ; and every one seems to get into the wrong car, and 
come tumbling out again. One man, with three children, a 
dog, a bird-cage, and several bundles, puts himself and his 
possessions into every possible place where a man, three chil- 
dren, dog, bird-cage and bundles could be got, and is satisfied 
with none of them. I follow their movements, with an in- 
terest that is really exhausting, and, as they vanish, hope for 
rest, but don't get it. A strong-minded woman, with a tum- 
bler in her hand, and no cloak or shawl on, comes rushing 
through the car, talking loudly to a small porter, who lugs a 
folding bed after her, and looks as if life were a burden to 
him. 

" You promised to have it ready. It is not ready. It must 
be a car with a water jar, the windows must be shut, the fire 
must be kept up, the blinds must be down. No, this won't 
do. I shall go through the whole train, and suit myself, for 
you promised to have it ready. It is not ready," &c.. all 
through again, like a hand-organ. She haunted the cars, the 
depot, the office and baggage-room, with her bed, her tumbler, 
and her tongue, till the train started ; and a sense of fervent 
gratitude filled my soul, when I found that she and her un- 
known invalid were not to share our car. 

Philadelphia. An old place, full of Dutch women, in 
" bellus top " bonnets, selling vegetables, in long, open mar- 
kets. Every one seems to be scrubbing their white steps. 
All the houses look like tidy jails, with their outside shutters. 
Several have crape on. the door-handles, and many have flags 
flying from roof or balcony. Few men appear, and the 
women seem to do the business, which, perhaps, accounts for 
its being so well done. Pass fine buildings, but don't know 
what they are. Would like to stop and see my native city ; 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 27 

for, having left it at the tender age of two, my recollections 
are not vivid. 

Baltimore. A big, dirty, shippy, shiftless place, full of 
goats, geese, colored people, and coal, at least the part of it I 
see. Pass near the spot where the riot took place, and feel as 
if I should enjoy throwing a stone at somebody, hard. Find 
a guard at the ferry, the depot, and here and there, along the 
road. A camp whitens one hill-side, and a cavalry training 
school, or whatever it should be called, is a very interesting 
sight, with quantities of horses and riders galloping, march- 
ing, leaping, and skirmishing, over all manner of break-neck 
places. A party of English people get in the men, with 
sandy hair and red whiskers, all trimmed alike, to a hair ; 
rough grey coats, very rosy, clean faces, and a fine, full way 
of speaking, which is particularly agreeable, after our slip- 
shod American gabble. The two ladies wear funny velvet 
fur-trimmed hoods ; are done up, like compact bundles, in tar 
tan shawls ; and look as if bent on seeing everything thorough- 
ly. The devotion of one elderly John Bull to his red-nosed 
spouse was really beautiful to behold. She was plain and 
cross, and fussy and stupid, but J. B., Esq., read no papers 
when she was awake, turned no cold shoulder when she wished 
to sleep, and cheerfully said, " Yes, me dear," to every wish 
or want the wife of his bosom expressed. I quite warmed to 
the excellent man, and asked a question or two, as the only 
means of expressing my good will. He answered very civ- 
illy, but evidently hadn't been used to being addressed by 
strange women in public conveyances ; and Mrs. B. fixed her 
green eyes upon me, as if she thought me a forward huzzy, or 
whatever is good English for a presuming young woman. The 
pair left their friends before we reached Washington ; and the 
last I saw of them was a vision of a large plaid lady, stalking 



28 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

grimly away, on the arm of a rosy, stout gentleman, loaded 
with rugs, bags, and books, but still devoted, still smiling, and 
waving a hearty " Fare ye well ! We'll meet ye at Willard's 
on Chusday." 

Soon after their departure we had an accident ; for no long 
journey in America would be complete without one. A coup- 
ling iron broke ; and, after leaving the last car behind us, we 
waited for it to come up, which it did, with a crash that 
knocked every one forward on their faces, and caused several 
old ladies to screech dismally. Hats flew off, bonnets were 
flattened, the stove skipped, the lamps fell down, the water 
jar turned a somersault, and the wheel just over which I sat 
'received some damage. Of course, it became neccessary for 
all the men to get out, and stand about in everybody's way, 
while repairs were made ; and for the women to wrestle their 
heads out of the windows, asking ninety-nine foolish questions 
to one sensible one. A few wise females seized this favorable 
moment to better their seats, well knowing that few men can 
face the wooden stare with which they regard the former pos- 
sessors of the places they have invaded. 

The country through which we passed did not seem so very 
unlike that which 1 had left, except that it was more level and 
less wintry. In summer time the wide fields would have 
shown me new sights, and the way-side hedges blossomed with 
new flowers ; now, everything was sere and sodden, and a gen- 
eral air of shiftlessness prevailed, which would have caused a 
New England farmer much disgust, and a strong desire to 
" buckle to, " and " right up " things. Dreary little houses, 
with chimneys built outside, with clay and rough sticks piled 
crosswise, as we used to build cob towers, stood in barren 
looking fields, with cow, pig, or mule lounging about the door.. 
We often passed colored people, looking as if they had come 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 29 

out of a picture book, or off tbe stage, but not at all the sort 
of people I'd been accustomed to see at the North. 

Way-side encampments made the fields and lanes gay with 
blue coats and the glitter of buttons. Military washes flapped 
and fluttered on the fences ; pots were steaming in the open 
air; all sorts of tableaux seen through the openings of. tents, 
and everywhere the boys threw up their caps and cut capers as 
we passed. 

Washington. It was dark when we arrived ; and, but for 
the presence of another friendly gentleman, I should have 
yielded myself a helpless prey to the first overpowering hack- 
man, who insisted that I wanted to go just where I didn't. Put- 
ting me into the conveyance I belonged in, my escort added 
to the obligation by pointing out the objects of interest which 
we passed in our long drive. Though I'd often been told that 
Washington was a spacious place, its visible magnitude quite 
took 'my breath away, and of course I quoted Randolph's 
expression, " a city of magnificent distances," as I suppose 
every one does when they see it. The Capitol was so like the 
pictures that hang opposite the staring Father of his Country, 
in boarding-houses and hotels, that it did not impress me, . 
except to recall the time when I was sure that Cinderella went 
to housekeeping in just such a place, after she had married the 
inflammable Prince ; though, even at that early period, I had 
my doubts as to the wisdom of a match whose foundation was 
of glass. 

The White House was lighted up, and carriages were roll- 
ing in and-out of the great gate. I stared hard at the famous 
East Room, and would have liked a peep through the crack of 
the door. My old gentleman was indefatigable in his atten- 
tions, and I said " Splendid !" to everything he pointed out, 
though I suspect I often admired the wrong place, and 



30 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

missed the right. Pennsylvania Avenue, with its bustle, 
lights, music, and military, made me feel as if I'd crossed the 
water and landed somewhere in Carnival time. Coming to 
less noticeable parts of the city, my companion fell silent, and 
I meditated upon the perfection which Art had attained in, 
America having just passed a bronze statue of some hero, 
who looked like a black Methodist minister, in a cocked hat, 
above the waist, and a tipsy squire below ; while his horse stood 
like an opera dancer, on one leg, in a high, but somewhat re- 
markable wind, which blew his mane one way and his massive 
tail the other. 

" Hurly-burly House, ma'am !" called a voice, startling me 
from my reverie, as we stopped before a great pile of build- 
ings, with a flag flying before it, sentinels at the door, and a 
very trying quantity of men lounging about. My heart beat 
rather faster than usual, and it suddenly struck me that I was 
very far from home ; but I descended with dignity, wondering 
whether I should be stopped for want of a countersign, and 
forced to pass the night in the street. M'arching boldly up the 
steps, I found that no form was necessary, for the men fell 
back, the guard touched their caps, a boy opened the door, 
and, as it closed behind me, I felt that I was fairly started, 
and Nurse Periwinkle's Mission was begun. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 31 



CHAPTER HI. 

A DAY. 

" THEY'VE come ! they've come ! hurry up, ladies you're 
wanted." 

" Who have come? the rebels? " 

This sudden summons in the gray dawn was somewhat 
startling to a three days' nurse like myself, and, as the thun- 
dering knock came at our door, I sprang up in my bed, pre- 
pared 

" To gird my woman's form, 
And on the ramparts die," 

if necessary, but my room-mate took it more coolly, and, as 
she began a rapid toilet, answered my bewildered question, 

"Bless you, no child; it's the wounded from Fredericks- 
burg ; forty ambulances are at the door, and we shall have 
our hands full in fifteen minutes." 

" What shall we have to do ? " 

" Wash, dress, feed, warm and nurse them for the next 
three months, I dare say. Eighty beds are ready, and we 
were getting impatient for the men to come. Now you will 



32 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

begin to see hospital life in earnest, for you won't probably 
find time to sit down all day, and may think yourself fortunate 
if you get to bed by midnight. Come to me in the ball-room 
when you are ready ; the worst cases are always carried there, 
and I shall need your help." 

So saying, the energetic little woman twirled her hair into a 
button at the back of her head, in a " cleared for action " sort 
of style, and vanished, wrestling her way into a feminine kind 
of pea-jacket as she went. 

I am free to confess that I bad a realizing sense of the fact 
that my hospital bed was not a bed of rp^es just then, or the 
prospect before me one of unmingled rapture. My three 
days' experiences had begun with a death, and, owing to the 
defalcation of another nurse, a somewhat abrupt plunge into 
the superintendence of a ward containing forty beds, where I 
spent my shining hours washing faces, serving rations, giving 
medicine, and sitting in a very hard chair, with pneumonia on 
one side, diptheria on the other, five typhoids on the opposite, 
and a dozen dilapidated patriots, hopping, lying, and lounging 
about, all staring more or less at the new " nuss," who suffer- 
ed untold agonies, but; concealed them under as matronly an 
aspect as a spinster could assume, and blundered through her 
trying labors with a Spartan firmness, which I hope they ap- 
preciated, but am afraid they didn't. Having a taste for 
" ghastliness," I had rather longed for the wounded to arrive, 
for rheumatism wasn't heroic, neither was liver complaint, or 
measles ; even fever had lost its charms since " bathing burn, 
ing brows " had been used up in romances, real and ideal ; 
but when I peeped into the dusky street lined with what I at 
first had innocently called market carts, now unloading their 
sad freight at our door, I recalled sundry reminiscences I had 
heurd from nurses of longer standing, my ardor experienced a 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 33 

sudden chill, and I indulged in a most unpatriotic wish that I 
was safe at home again, with a quiet day before me, and no 
necessity for being hustled up, as if I were a hen and had 
only to hop off my roost, give my plumage a peck, and be 
ready for action. A second bang at the door sent this recreant 
desire to the right about, as a little woolly head popped in, 
and Joey, (a six years' old contraband,) announced 

" Miss Blank is jes' wild fer ye, and says fly round right 
away. They's comin' in, I tell yer, heaps on 'em- one was 
took out dead, and I see him, ky! warn't he a goner ! " 

With which cheerful intelligence the imp scuttled away, 
singing like a blackbird, and I followed, feeling that Richard 
was not himself again, and wouldn't be for a long time to 
come. 

The first thing I met was a regiment of the vilest odors 
that ever assaulted the human nose, and took it by storrn. 
Cologne, with its seven and seventy evil savors, was a posy- 
bed to it ; and the worst of this affliction was, every one had 
assured me that it was a chronic weakness of all hospitals, and 
I must bear it. I did, armed with lavender water, with which 
I so besprinkled myself and premises, that, like my friend, 
Sairy, I was soon known among my patients as " the nurse 
with the bottle." Having been run over by three excited 
surgeons, bumped against by migratory coal-hods, water-pails, 
and small boys ; nearly scalded by an avalanche of newly- 
filled tea-pots, and hopelessly entangled in a knot of colored 
sisters coming to wash, I progressed by slow stages up stairs 
and down, till the main hall was reached, and I paused to 
take breath and a survey. There they were! "our brave 
boys," as the papers justly call them, for cowards could hard- 
ly have been so riddled with shot and shell, so torn and shat- 
tered, nor have borne suffering for which we have no name, 



34: HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

with an uncomplaining fortitude, which made one glad to 
cherish each as a brother. In they came, some on stretchers, 
some in men's arms, some feebly staggering along propped on 
rude crutches, and one lay stark and still with covered face, 
as a comrade gave his name to be recorded before they carried 
him away to the dead house. All was hurry and confusion ; 
the hall was full of these wrecks of humanity, for the most 
exhausted could not reach a bed till duly ticketed and regis- 
tered ; the walls were lined with rows of such as -could sit, 
the floor covered with the more disabled, the steps incl door- 
ways filled with helpers and lookers on ; the sound of many 
feet and voices made that usually quiet hour as noisy as noon ; 
and, in the midst of it all, the matron's motherly face brought 
more comfort to many a poor soul, than the cordial draughts 
she administered, or the cheery words that welcomed all, mak- 
ing of the hospital a home. 

The sight of several stretchers, each with its legless, arm- 
less, or desperately wounded occupant, entering my ward, 
admonished me that I was there to work, not to wonder or 
weep ; so I corked up my feelings, and returned to the path 
of duty, which was rather " a hard road to travel " just then. 
The house had been a hotel before hospitals were needed, and 
many of the doors still bore their o)d names ; some not so 
inappropriate as might be imagined, for my ward was in truth 
a ball-room, if gun-shot wounds could christen it. Forty beds 
were prepared, many already tenanted by tired men who fell 
down anywhere, and drowsed till the smell of food roused 
them. Hound the great stove was gathered the dreariest 
group I ever saw ragged, gaunt and pale, mud to the knees, 
with bloody bandages untouched since put on days before ; 
many bundled up in blankets, coats being lost or useless ; and 
all wearing that disheartened look which proclaimed defeat, 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 35 

more plainly than any telegram of the Burnside blunder. I 
pitied them so much, I dared not speak to them, though, re- 
membering all they had been through since the route at Fred. 
ericksburg, I yearned to serve the dreariest of them 
all. Presently, Miss Blank tore me from my refuge behind 
piles of one-sleeved shirts,, odd socks, bandages and lint ; put 
basin, sponge, towels, and a block of brown soap into my 
hands, with these appalling directions : 

" Come, my dear begin to wash as fast as you can. Tell 
them to take off socks, coats and shirts, scrub them well, put 
on clean shirts, and the attendants will finish them off, and 
lay them in bed." 

If she had requested me to shave them all, or dance a 
hornpipe on the stove funnel, I should have been less stag- 
gered ; but to scrub some dozen lords of creation at a mo- 
ment's notice, was really really . However, there was 

no time for nonsense, and, having resolved when I came to do 
everything I was bid, I drowned my scruples in my wash- 
bowl, clutched my soap manfully, and, assuming a business- 
like air; made a dab at the first dirty specimen I saw, bent on 
performing my task vi et arm-is if necessary. I chanced to 
light on a withered old Irishman, wounded in the head, which 
caused that portion of his frame to be tastefully laid out like a 
garden, the bandages being the walks, his hair the shrubbery. 
He was so overpowered by the honor of having a lady wash 
him, as he expressed it, that he did nothing but roll up his 
eyes, and bless me, in an irresistible style which was too much 
for my sense of the ludicrous ; so we laughed together, and 
when I knelt down to take off his shoes, he " flopped" also 
and wouldn't hear of my touching " them dirty craters. May 
your bed above be aisy darlin', for the day's work yo are doon ! 
Whoosh ! there ye are, and beclad, it's hard tellin' which is 



36 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

the dirtiest, the fut or the shoe." It was ; and if ho hadn't 
been to the fore, I should have gone on pulling, under the 
impression that the "fut" was a booty for trousers, socks, 
shoes and legs were a mass of mud. This comical tableau 

o 

produced a general grin, at which propitious beginning I took 
heart and scrubbed away like any tidy parent on a Saturday 
night. Some of them took the performance like sleepy chil- 
dren, leaning their tired heads against me as I worked, others 
looked grimly scandalized, and several of the roughest colored 
like bashful girls. One wore a soiled little bag about his 
neck, and, as I moved it, to bathe his wounded breast, I said, 

"Your talisman didn't save you, did it? " 

" Well, I reckon it did, rnarm, for that shot would a gone 
a couple a inches deeper but for my old mammy's camphor 
bag," answered the cheerful philosopher. 

Another, with a gun-shot wound through the cheek, asked 
for a looking-glass, and when I brought one, regarded his 
swollen face with a dolorous expression, as he muttered 

" I vow to gosh, that's too bad ! I warn't a bad looking 
chap before, and now I'm done for ; won't there be a thun 
derin' scar? and what on earth will Josephine Skinner say ' 

He looked up at me with his one eye, so appealingly, that 1 
controlled my risibles, and assured him that if Josephine was 
a girl of sense, she would admire the honorable scar, as a 
lasting proof that he had faced the enejiy, for all women 
thought a wound the best decoration a brave soldier could 
wear. I hope Miss Skinner verified the good opinion I so 
rashly expresbcd of her, but I shall never know. 

The next scrubbee was a nice looking lad, with a curly 
brown mane, and a budding trace of gingerbread over the lip, 
which ho called his beard, and defended stoutly, when the 
barber jocosely suggested its immolation. He lay on abed, 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 37 

with one leg gone, and the right arm so shattered that it must 
evidently follow ; yet the little Sergeant was as merry as if his 
afflictions were not worth lamenting over, and when a drop or 
two of salt water mingled with my suds at the sight of this 
strong young body, so marred and maimed, the boy looked 
up, with a brave smile, though there was a little quiver of the 
lips, as he said, 

" Now don't you fret yourself about me, miss; I'm first 
rate here, for it's nuts to lie still on this bed, after knocking 
about in those confounded ambulances, that shake what there 
is left of a fellow to jelly. I never was in one of these places 
before, and think this cleaning up a jolly thing for us, though 
I'm afiaid it isn't for you ladies." 

" Is this your first battle, Sergeant?" 

" No, miss ; I've been in six scrimmages, and never got a 
scratch till this last one ; but it's done the business pretty 
thoroughly for me, I should say. Lord ! what a scramble 
there'll be for arms and legs, when we old boys come out of 
our graves, on the Judgment Day : wonder if we shall get 
our own again ? If we do, my leg will have to tramp from 
Fredericksburg, my arm from here, I suppose, and meet my 
body, wherever it may be. 77 

The fancy seemed to tickle him mightily, for he laughed 
blithely, and so did I ; which, no doubt, caused the new nurse 
to be regarded as a light-minded sinner by the Chaplain, who 
roamed vaguely about, informing the men that they were all 
worms, corrupt of heart, with perishable bodies, and souls only 
to be saved by a diligent perusal of certain tracts, and other 
equally cheering bits of spiritual consolation, when spirituous 
ditto would have been preferred. 

" I say, Mrs. !" called a voice behind me ; and, turning, I 
saw a rough Michigander, with an arm blown off at the shoul- 



38 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

der, and two or three bullets still in him as he afterwards 
mentioned, as carelessly as if gentlemen were in the habit of 
carrying such trifles about with them. I went to him, and, 
while administering a dose of soap and water, he whispered, 
irefully : 

" That red-headed devil, over yonder? is a reb, damn him * 
You'll agree to that, I'll bet? He's got shet of a foot, or 
he'd a cut like the rest of the lot. Don't you wash him, nor 
feed him, but jest let him holler till he's tired. It's a blasted 
shame to fetch them fellers in here, along side of us ; and so 
I'll tell the chap that bosses this concern ; cuss me if I don't." 
I regret to say that I did not deliver a moral sermon upon 
the duty of forgiving our enemies, and the sin of profanity, 
then and there ; but, being a red-hot Abolitionist, stared 
fixedly at the tall rebel, who was a copperhead, in every sense 
of the word, and privately resolved to put soap in his eyes, 
rub his nose the wrong way, and excoriate his cuticle gener- 
ally, if I had the washing of him. 

My amiable intentions, however, were frustrated ; for, when 
I approached, with as Christian an expression as my principles 
would allow, and asked the question " Shall I try to make 
you more comfortable, sir?" . all I got for my pains was a 
gruff 

44 No; I'll do it my self. " 

" Here's your Southern chivalry, with a witness," thought 
I, dumping the basin down before him, thereby quenching a 
strong de.sire to give him a summary baptism, in return for his 
ungraciousness ; for my angry passions rose, at this rebuff, in 
a way that would have scandalized good Dr. Watts. He was 
a disappointment in all respects, (the rebel, not the blessed 
Doctor,) for he was neither fiendish, romantic, pathetic, or 
anything interesting; but a long, fat man, with a head like a 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 39 

burning bush, and a perfectly expressionless face : so I could 
hate him without the slightest drawback, and ignored his exist- 
ence from that day forth. One redeeming trait he certainly 
did possess, as the floor speedily testified ; for his ablutions 
were so vigorously performed, that his bed soon stood like an 
isolated island, in a sea of soap-suds, and he resembled a 
dripping merman, suffering from the loss of a fin. If clean- 
liness is a near neighbor to godliness, then was the big rebel 
the godliest man in my ward that day. 

Having done up our human wash, and laid it out to dry, the 
second syllable of our version of the word war-fare was enacted 
with much success. Great trays of bread, meat, soup and 
coffee appeared ; and both nurses and attendants turned 
waiters, serving bountiful rations to all who could eat. I can 
call my pinafore to testify to my good will in the work, for in 
ten minutes it was reduced to a perambulating bill of fare, pre- 
senting samples of all the refreshments going or gone. It was 
a lively scene ; the long room lined, with rows of beds, each 
filled by an occupant, whom water, shears, and clean raiment^ 
had transformed from a dismal ragamuffin into a recumbent 
hero, with a cropped head. To and fro rushed matrons, maids, 
and convalescent " boys," skirmishing with knives and forks ; 
retreating with empty plates ; marching and counter-marching, 
with unvaried success, while the clash of busy spoons made 
most inspiring music for the charge of our Light Brigade : 

" Beds to the front of them, 
Beds to the right of them, 
Beds ;o the left of them, 

Nobody blundered. 
Beamed at by hungry souls, 
Screamed at with brimming bowls, 
Steamed at by army rolls, 

Buttered and sundered. 
With coffee not cannon plied, 
Each must be satisfied, 
Whether they lived or died; 

All the men wondered." 



40 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

Very welcome seemed the generous meal, after a week of 
suffering, exposure, and short commons ; soon the brown faces 
began to smile, as food, warmth, and rest, did their pleasant 
work; and the grateful " Thankee's " were followed by more 
graphic accounts of the battle and retreat, than any paid 
reporter could have given us. Curious contrasts of the tragic 
and comic met one everywhere ; and some touching as well as 
ludicrous episodes, might have been recorded that day. A 
six foot New Hampshire man, with a leg broken and perforated 
by a piece of shell, so large that, had I not seen the wound, I 
should have regarded the story as a Munchausenism, beckoned 
me to come and help him, as he could not sit up, and both his 
bed and beard were getting plentifully anointed with soup. 
As I fed my big nestling with corresponding mouthfuls, I 
asked him how he felt during the battle. 

" Well, 'twas my fust, you see, so I aint ashamed to say I 
was a trifle flustered in the beginain', there was such an allQred 
racket ; for cf there's anything I do spleen agin, it's noise. 
But when my mate, Eph Sylvester, caved, with a bullet through 
his head, I got mad, and pitched in, licketty cut. Our part 
of the fight didn't lust long; so a lot of us larked round 
Frcdericksburg, and give some of them houses a pretty con- 
sid'able of a rummage, till we was ordered out of the mess. 
Some of our fellows cut like time ; but I warn't a-goin to run 
for nobody ; and, fust thing I knew, a shell bust, right in 
front of us, and I keeled over, feelin' as if I was biowed 
higher'n a kite. I sung out, and the boys come back for me, 
double quick ; but the way they chucked me over them fences 
was a caution, I tell you. Next day I was most as black as 
that darkey yonder, lickin' plates on the sly. This is bully 
coffoc, ain't it ? Give us another pull at it, and I'll be oblceged 
to you/' 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

I did ; and, as the last gulp subsided, he said, with a rub 
of his old handkerchief over eyes as well as mouth : 

" Look a here; I've got a pair a earbobs and a handkercher 
pin I'm a goin' to give you, if you'll have them ; for you're 
the very moral o' Lizy Sylvester, poor Eph's wife : that's why 
I signalled you to come over here. They aint much, I guess, 
but they'll do to memorize the rebs by." 

Burrowing under his pillow, he produced a little bundle of 
what he called " truck," and gallantly presented me with a 
pair of earrings, each representing a cluster of corpulent 
grapes, and the pin a basket of astonishing fruit, the whole 
large and coppery enough for a small warming-pan. Feeling 
delicate about depriving him of such valuable relics, I accepted 
the earrings alone, and was obliged to depart, somewhat 
abruptly, when my friend stuck the warming-pan in the bosom 
of his night-gown, viewing it with much complacency, and, 
perhaps, some tender memory, in that rough heart of his, for 
the comrade he had lost. 

Observing that the man next him had left his meal untouched, 
I offered the same service I had performed for his neighbor, 
but he shook his head. 

" Thank you, ma'am ; I don't think I'll ever eat again, for 
I'm shot in the stomach. But I'd like a drink of water, if 
you aint too busy." 

I rushed away, but the water-pails were gone to be refilled, 
and it was some time before they reappeared. I did not for- 
get my patient patient, meanwhile, and, with the first mugful, 
hurried back to him. He seemed asleep ; but something in 
the tired white face caused me to listen at his lips for a breath. 
None came. I touched his forehead ; it was cold : and then I 
knew that, while he waited, a better nurse than I had given 
him a cooler draught, and healed him with a touch. I laid 

D 



42 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

the sheet over the quiet sleeper, whom no noise could now 
disturb; and, half an hour later, the bed was empty. It 
seemed a poor requital for all he had sacrificed and suffered, 
that hospital bed, lonely even in a crowd ; for there was no 
familiar face for him to look his last upon ; no friendly voice 
to say, Good bye ; no hand to lead him gently down into the 
Valley of the Shadow ; and he vanished, like a drop in that 
red sea upon whose shores so many women stand lamenting. 
For a moment I felt bitterly indignant at this seeming care 
lessness of the value of life, the sanctity of death ; then con- 
soled myself with the thought that, when the great muster 
roll was called, these nameless men might be promoted above 
many whose tall monuments record the barren honors they 
have won. 

All having eaten, drank, and rested, the surgeons began 
their rounds ; and I took my first lesson in the art of dressing 
wounds. It wasn't a festive scene, by any means ; for Dr. 
P., whose Aid I constituted myself, fell to work with a vigor 
which soon convinced me that I was a weaker vessel, though 
nothing would have induced me to confess it then. He had 
served in the Crimea, and seemed to regard a dilapidated body 
very much as I should-, have regarded a damaged garment ; 
and, turning up his cuffs, whipped out a very unpleasant look- 
ing housewife, cutting, sawing, patching and piecing, with the 
enthusiasm of an accomplished surgical seamstress ; explaining 
the process, in scientific terms, to the patient, meantime ; 
which, of course, was immensely cheering and comfortable 
There was an uncanny sort of fascination in watching him, as 
he peered and probed into the mechanism of those wonderful 
bodies, whose mysteries he understood so well. The more 
intricate the wound, the better he liked it. A poor private, 
with both legs off, and shot through the lungs, possessed more 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 43 

attractions for him than a dozen generals, slightly scratched in 
some " masterly retreat ;" and had anyone appeared in small 
pieces, requesting to be put together again, he would have 
considered it a special dispensation. 

The amputations were reserved till the morrow, and the 
merciful magic of ether was not thought necessary that day, so 
the poor souls had to bear their pains as best they might. It 
is all very well to talk of the patience of woman ; and far be 
it from me to pluck that feather from her cap, for, heaven 
knows, she isn't allowed to wear many ; but the patient 
endurance of these men, under trials of the flesh, was truly 
wonderful ; their fortitude seemed contagious, and scarcely a 
cry escaped them, though I often longed to groan for them, 
when pride kept their white lips shut, while great drops stood 
upon their foreheads, and the bed shook with the irrepressible 
tremor of their tortured bodies. One or two Irishmen anath- 
ematized the doctors with the frankness of their nation, and 
ordered the Virgin to stand by them, as if she had been the 
wedded Biddy to whom they could administer the poker, if 
she didn't ; but, as a general thing, the work went on in 
silence, broken only by some quiet request for roller, instru- 
ments, or plaster, a sigh from the patient, or a sympathizing 
murmur from the nurse. 

It was long past noon before these repairs were even par- 
tially made ; and, having got the bodiesof my boys into some- 
thing like order, the next task -was to minister to their minds, 
by writing letters to the anxious souls at home ; answering 
questions, reading papers, taking possession of money and 
valuables ; for the eighth commandmnnt was reduced to a 
very fragmentary condition, both by the blacks and whites, 
who ornamented our hospital with their presence. Pocket 
books, purses, miniatures, and watches, were sealed up, 



4.4 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

labelled, and handed over to the matron, till such times as the 
owners thereof were ready to depart homeward or campward 
again. The letters dictated to me, and revised by me, that 
afternoon, would have made an excellent chapter for some 
future history of the war ; for, like that which Thackeray's 
" Ensign Spooney " wrote his mother just before Waterloo, 
they were " full of affection, pluck, and bad spelling ;' J nearly 
all giving lively accounts of the battle, and ending with a 
somewhat sudden plunge from patriotism to provender ; desir- 
ing " Maim," " Mary Ann," or " Aunt Peters," to send 
along some pies, pickles, sweet stuff, and apples, " to yourn in 
haste," Joe, Sam, or Ned, as the case might be. 

My little Sergeant insisted on trying to scribble something 
with his left hand, and patiently accomplished some half dozen 
lines of hieroglyphics, which he gave me to fold and direct, 
with a boyish blush, that rendered a glimpse of " My Dearest 
Jane," unnecessary, to assure me that the heroic lad had been 
more successful in the service of Commander-in-Chief Cupid 
than that of Gen. Mars ; and a charming little romance blos- 
somed instanter in Nurse Periwinkle's romantic fancy, though 
no further confidences were made that day, for Sergeant fell 
asleep, and, judging from his tranquil face, visited his absent 
sweetheart in the pleasant land of dreams. 

At five o'clock a great bell rang, and the attendants flew, 
not to arms, but to their trays, to bring up supper, when a 
second uproar announced that it was ready. The new comers 
woke at the sound ; and I presently discovered that it took a 
very bad wound to incapacitate the defenders of the faith for 
the consumption of their rations ; the amount that some of 
them sequestered was amazing ; but when I suggested the 
probability of a famine hereafter, to the matron, that motherly 
lady cried out : " Bless their hearts, why shouldn't they eat ? 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 45 

It's their only amusement ; so fill every one, and, if there's 
not enough ready to-night, I'll lend my share to the Lord by 
giving it to the boys." And, whipping up her coffee-pot and 
plate of toast, she gladdened the eyes and stomachs of two or 
three dissatisfied heroes, by serving them with a liberal hand ; 
and I haven't the slightest doubt that, having cast her bread 
upon the waters, it came back buttered, as another large- 
hearted old lady was wont to say. 

Then came the doctor's evening visit ; theadministiationof 
medicines ; washing feverish faces ; smoothing tumbled beds ; 
wetting wounds ; singing lullabies ; and preparations for the 
night. By eleven, the last labor of love was done ; the last 
" good night " spoken ; and, if any needed a reward for that 
day's work, they surely received it, in the silent eloquence of 
those long lines of faces, showing pale and peaceful in the 
shaded rooms, as we quitted them, followed by grateful glances 
that lighted us to bed, where rest, the sweetest, made our pil- 
lows soft, while Night and Nature took our places, filling that 
great house of pain with the healing miracles of Sleep, and 
his diviner brother, Death. 



46 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 



CHAPTEB IV. 

A NIGHT. 

Being fond of the night side of nature, I was soon promoted 
to the post of night nurse, with every facility for indulging in 
my favorite pastime of " owling." My colleague, a black- 
eyed widow, relieved me at dawn, we two taking care of the 
ward, between us, like the immortal Sairy and Betsey, " turn 
and turn about." I usually found my boys in the jolliesfc 
state of mind their condition allowed ; for it was a known fact 
that Nurse Periwinkle objected to blue devils, and entertained 
a belief that he who laughed most was surest of recovery. At 
the beginning of my reign, dumps and dismals prevailed ; the 
nurses looked anxious and tired, the men gloomy or sad ; and a 
general " Hark !-from-the-tombs-a-doleful-sound " style of con- 
versation seemed to be the fashion : a state of things which 
caused one coming from a merry, social New England town, to 
feel as if she had got into an exhausted receiver ; and the 
instinct of self-preservation, to say nothing of a philanthropic 
desire to serve the race, caused a speedy change in Ward 
No. 1. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 47 

More nattering than the most gracefully turned compliment, 
more grateful than the most admiring glance, was the sight of 
those rows of faces, all strange to me a little while ago, now 
lighting up, with smiles of welcome, as I came among them, 
enjoying that moment heartily, with a womanly pride in their 
regard, a motherly affection for them all. The evenings were 
spent in reading aloud, writing letters, waiting on and amusing 
the men, going the rounds with Dr. P., as he made his second 
daily survey, dressing my dozen wounds afresh, giving last 
doses, and making them cozy for the long hours tq come, till 
the nine o'clock bell rang, the gas was turned down, the day 
nurses went off duty, the night watch came on, and my noc- 
turnal adventure began. 

My ward was now divided into three rooms; and, under 
favor of the matron, I had managed to sort out the patients in 
such a way that I had what I called, '* my duty room," my 
" pleasure room," and my " pathetic room," and worked for 
each in a different way. One, I visited, armed with a dressing 
tray, full of rollers, plasters, and pins ; another, with books, 
flowers, games, and gossip ; a third, with teapots, lullabies, 
consolation, and, sometimes, a shroud. 

Wherever the sickest or most helpless man chanced to be, 
there I held my watch, often visiting the other rooms, to see 
that the general watchman of the ward did his duty by the 
fires and the wounds, the latter needing constant wetting. 
Not only on this account did I meander, but also to get fresh- 
er air than the close ruoms afforded ; for, owing to the stupid- 
ity of that mysterious " somebody " who does all the damage 
in the world, the windows had been carefully nailed down 
above, and the lower sashes could only be raised in the mildest 
weather, for the men lay just below. I had suggested a sum- 
mary smashing of a few panes here and there, when frequent 



48 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

appeals to headquarters had proved unavailing, and daily 
orders to lazy attendants had come to nothing. No one sec- 
onded the motion, however, and the nails were far beyond my 
reach ; for, though belonging to the sisterhood of " ministering 
angels," I had no wings, and might as well have asked for 
Jacob's ladder, as a pair of steps, in that charitable chaos. 

One of the harmless ghosts who bore me company during 
the haunted hours, was Dan, the watchman, whom I regarded 
with a certain awe ; for, though so much together, I never 
fairly saw his face, and, but for his legs, should never have 
recognized him, as we seldom met by day. These legs were 
remarkable, as was his whole figure, for his body was short, 
rotund, and done up in a big jacket, and muffler ; his beard 
hid the lower part of his face, his hat-brim the upper; and all 
I ever discovered was a pair of sleepy eyes, and a very mild 
voice. But the legs! very long, very thin, very crooked 
and feeble, looking like grey sausages in their tight coverings, 
without a ray of pegtopishness about them, and finished off 
with a pair of expansive, green cloth shoes, very like Chinese 
junks, with the sails down. This figure, gliding noiselessly 
about the dimly lighted rooms, was strongly suggestive of the 
spirit of a beer barrel mounted on cork-screws, haunting the 
old hotel in search of its lost mates, emptied and staved in 
long ago. 

Another goblin who frequently appeared to me, was the 
attendant of the pathetic room, who, being a faithful soul, was 
often up to tend two or three men, weak and wandering as 
babies, after the fever had gone. The amiable creature beguiled 
the watches of the night by brewing jorums of a fearful bev- 
. erage, which he called coffee, and insisted on sharing with 
me ; coming in with a great bowl of something like mud 
soup, scalding hot, guiltless of cream, rich in an all-pervading 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 49 

flavor of molasses, scorch and tin pot. Such an amount of 
good will and neighborly kindness also went into the mess, 
that I never could find the heart to refuse, but always received 
it with thanks, sipped it with hypocritical relish while he 
remained, and whipped it into the slop-jar the instant he 
departed, thereby gratifying him, securing one rousing laugh 
in the doziest hour of the night, and no one was the worse for 
the transaction but the pigs. Whether they were "" cut off 
untimely in their sins," or not, I carefully abstained from 
inquiring. 

It was a strange life asleep half the day, exploring 
Washington the other half, and all night hovering, like a 
massive cherubim, in a red rigolette, over the slumbering sons 
of man. I liked it, and found many things to amuse, instruct, 
and interest me. The snores alone were quite a study, varying 
from the mild sniff to the stentorian snort, which startled the 
echoes and hoisted the performer erect to accuse his neighbor 
of the deed, magnanimously forgive him, and, wrapping the 
drapery of his couch about him, lie down to vocal slumber. 
After listening for a week to this band of wind instruments, I 
indulged in the belief that I could recognize each by the snore 
alone, and was tempted to join the chorus by breaking out 
with John Brown's favorite hymn : 

" Blow ye the trumpet, blow 1" 

I would have given much to have possessed the art of 
sketching, for many of the faces became wonderfully interest- 
ing when unconscious. Some grew stern and grim, the men 
evidently dreaming of war, as they gave orders, groaned over 
thair wounds, or damned the rebels vigorously ; some grew sad 
and infinitely pathetic, as if the pain borne silently all day, re. 
venged itself by now betraying what the man's pride had con- 
cealed so well. Often the roughest grew young and pleasant 



50 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

when sleep smoothed the hard lines away, letting the real nature 
assert itself; many almost seemed to speak, and I learned to 
know these men better by night than through any intercourse 
by day. Sometimes they disappointed me, for faces that looked 
merry and good in the light, grew bad and sly when the shad- 
ows came; and though they made no confidences in words, I 
read their lives, leaving them to wonder at the change of man- 
ner this midnight magic wrought in their nurse. A few talked 
busily ; one drummer boy sang sweetly, though no persuasions 
could win a note from him by day ; and several depended on. 
being told what they had talked of in the morning. Even my 
constitutionals in the chilly halls, possessed a certain charm, 
for the house was never still. Sentinels tramped round it all 
night long, their muskets glittering in the wintry moonlight as 
they walked, or stood before the doors, straight and silent, as 
figures of stone, causing one to conjure up romantic visions of 
guarded forts, sudden surprises, and daring deeds; for in 
these war times the hum drum life of Yankeedom has vanished, 
and the most prosaic feel some thrill of that excitement which 
stirs the nation's heart, and makes its capital a camp of hospit- 
als. Wandering up and down these lower halls, I often heard 
cries from above, steps hurrying to and fro, saw surgeons 
passing up, or men coming clown carrying a stretcher, where 
lay a long white figure, whose face was shrouded and whose 
fight was done. Sometimes I stopped to watch the passers in 
the street, the moonlight shining on the spire opposite, or the 
gleam of some vessel floating, like a white-winged sea-gull, 
down the broad Potomac, whose fullest flow can never wash 
away the red stain of the land. 

The night whose events I have a fancy to record, opened 
with a little comedy, and closed with a great tragedy ; for a 
virtuous and useful life untimely ended is always tragical to 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 51 

those who see not as God sees. My headquarters were beside 
the bed of a New Jersey boy, crazed by the horrors of that 
dreadful Saturday. A slight wound in the knee brought him 
there ; but his mind had suffered more than his body ; some 
string of that delicate machine was over strained, and, for 
days, he had been reliving, in imagination, the scenes he could 
not forget, till his distress broke out in incoherent ravings, 
pitiful to hear. As I sat by him, endeavoring 7 to soothe his 
poor distracted brain by the constant touch of wet hands over 
his hot forehead, he lay cheering his comrades on, hurrying 
them back, then counting them as they fell around him, often 
clutching my arm, to drag me from the vicinity of a bursting 
shell, or covering up his head to screen himself from a shower 
of shot ; his face brilliant with fever ; his eyes restless ; his 
head never still ; every muscle strained and rigid ; while an 
incessant stream of defiant shouts, whispered warnings, and 
broken laments, poured from his lips with that forceful bewil- 
derment which makes such wanderings so hard to overhear. 

It was past eleven, and my patient was slowly wearying 
himself into fitful intervals of quietude, when, in one of these 
pauses, a curious sound arrested my attention. Looking over 
my shoulder, I saw a one-legged phantom hopping nimbly 
down the room ; and, going to meet it, recognized a certain 
Pennsylvania gentleman, whose wound-fever had taken a turn 
for the worse, and, depriving him of the few wits a drunken 
campaign tad left him, set him literally tripping on the light, 
fantastic toe " toward home," as he blandly informed me, 
touching the military cap which formed a striking contrast to 
the severe simplicity of the rest of his decidedly undress uni- 
form. When sane, the least movement produced a roar of 
pain or a volley of oaths ; but the departure of reason seemed 
to have wrought an agreeable change, both in the man and his 



52 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

manners ; for, balancing himself on one leg, like a meditative 
stork, he plunged into an animated discussion of the war, the 
President, lager beer, and Enfleld rifles, regardless of any 
suggestions of mine as to the propriety of returning to bed, 
lest he be court-martialed for desertion. 

Anything more supremely ridiculous can hardly be imag- 
ined than this figure, scantily draped in white, its one foot 
covered with a big blue sock, a dingy cap set rakingly askew 
on its shaven head, and placid satisfaction beaming in its 
broad red face, as it flourished a mug in one hand, an old 
boot in the other, calling them canteen and knapsack, while it 
skipped and fluttered in the most unearthly fashion. What to 
do with the creature I didn't know ; Dan was absent, and if I 
went to find him, the perambulator might festoon himself out 
of the window, set his toga on fire, or do some of his neighbors 
a mischief. The attendant of the room was sleeping like a 
near relative of the celebrated Seven, and nothing short of 
pins would rouse him ; for he had been out that day, and whis- 
key asserted its supremacy in balmy whiffs. Still declaiming, 
in a fine flow of eloquence, the demented gentleman hopped 
on, blind and deaf to my graspings and entreaties ; and I 
was about to slam the door in his face, and run for help, when 
a second and saner phantom, "all in white," came to the rescue, 
in the likeness of a big Prussian, who spoke no English, 
but divined the crisis, and put an end to it, by bundling the 
lively monoped into his bed, like a baby, with an authoritative 
command to "stay put," which received added weight from 
being delivered in an odd conglomeration of French and Ger- 
man, accompanied by warning wags of a head decorated with 
a yellow cotton night cap, rendered most imposing by a tassel 
like a bell-pull, llather exhausted by his excursion, the mem- 
ber from Pennsylvania subsided ; and, after an irrepressible 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 53 

laugh together, my Prussian ally and myself were returning 
to our places, when the echo of a sob caused us to glance along 
the beds. It came from one in the corner such a little bed ! 
and such a tearful little face looked up at us, as we stopped 
beside it ! The twelve years old drummer boy was not sing" 
ing now, but sobbing, with a manly effort all the while to stifle 
the distressful sounds that would break out. 

" What is it, Teddy ?" I asked, as he rubbed the tears 
away, and checked himself in the middle of a great sob to 
answer plaintively : 

11 I've got a chill, ma'am, but I aint cry in' for that, 'cause 
I'm used to it. I dreamed Kit was here, and when I waked 
up he wasn't, and I couldn't help it, then." 

The boy came in with the rest, and the man who was taken 
dead from the ambulance was the Kit he mourned. Well he 
might ; for, when the wounded were brought from Fredericks- 
burg, the child lay in one of the camps thereabout, and 
this good friend, though sorely hurt himself, would not leave 
him to the exposure and neglect of such a time and place ; 
but, wrapping him in his own blanket, carried him in his arms 
to the transport, tended him during the passage, and only 
yielded up his charge when Death met him at the door of 
the hospital which promised care and comfort for the boy. 
For ten days, Teddy had shivered or burned with fever and 
ague, pining the while fur Kit, and refusing to be comforted, 
because he had not been able to thank him for the generous 
protection, which, perhaps, had cost the giver's life. The 
vivid dream had wrung the childish heart with a fresh pang, 
and when I tried the solace fitted for his years, the remorseful- 
fear that haunted him found vent in a fresh burst of tears, as 
he looked at the wasted hands I was endeavoring to warm : 
" Oh ! if I'd only been as thin when Kit carried me as I am 



54: HOSPITAL SKETCHES; 

now, maybe he wouldn't have died ; but I was heavy, he was 
hurt worser than we knew, and so it killed him ; and I didn't 
see him, to say good bye." 

This thought had troubled him in secret ; and my assur- 
ances that his friend would probably have died at all events, 
hardly assuaged the bitterness of his regretful grief. 

At this juncture, the delirious man began to shout ; the one- 
legged rose up in his bed, as if preparing for another dart ; 
Teddy bewailed himself more piteously than before : and if 
ever a woman was at her wit's end, that distracted female was 
Nurse Periwinkle, during the space of two or three minutes, 
as she vibrated between the three beds, like an agitated pen- 
dulum. Like a most opportune reinforcement, Dan, the bandy, 
appeared, and devoted himself to the lively party, leaving me 
free to return to my post ; for the Prussian, with a nod and a 
smile, took the lad away to his own bed, and lulled him to 
sleep with a soothing murmur, like a mammoth humble bee. 
I liked that in Fritz, and if he ever wondered afterward at the 
dainties which sometimes found their way into his rations, or 
the extra comforts of his bed, he might have found a solution 
of the mystery in sundry persons' knowledge of the fatherly 
action of that night. 

Hardly was I settled again,, when the inevitable bowl 
appeared, and its bearer delivered a message I had expected, 
yet dreaded to receive : 

" John is going, ma'am, and wants to see you, if you can 
come." 

" The moment this boy is asleep; tell him so, and let me 
know if I am in danger of being too late." 

My. Ganymede departed, and while I quieted poor Shaw, I 
thought of John. Ho came in a day or two after the others ; 
and, one evening, when I entered my " pathetic room," I 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 55 

found a lately emptied bed occupied by a large, fair man, 
with a fine face, and the serenest eyes I ever met. One of 
the earlier comers had often spoken of a friend, who had 
remained behind, that those apparently worse wounded than 
himself might reach a shelter first. It seemed a David and 
Jonathan sort of friendship. The man fretted for his mate, 
and was never tired of praising John his courage, sobriety, 
self-denial, and unfailing kindliness of heart ; always winding 
up with : " He's an out an' out fine feller, ma'am ; you see 
if he aint," 

I had some curiosity to behold this piece of excellence, and 
when he came, watched him for a night or two, before I made 
friends with him ; for, to tell the truth, I was a little afraid of 
the stately looking man, whose bed had to be lengthened to 
accommodate his commanding stature ; who seldom spoke, 
uttered no complaint, asked no sympathy, but tranquilly 
observed what went on about him ; and, as he lay high upon 
his pillows, no picture of dying statesman or warrior was ever 
fuller of real dignity than this Virginia blacksmith. A most 
attractive face he had, framed in brown hair and beard, comely 
featured and full of vigor, as yet unsubdued by pain ; thought- 
ful and often beautifully mild while watching the afflictions of 
others, as if entirely forgetful of his own. His mouth was 
grave and firm, with plenty of will and courage in its lines, 
but a smile could make it as sweet as any woman's ; and his 
eyes were child's eyes, looking one fairly in the face, with a 
clear, straightforward glance, which promised well for such as 
placed their faith in him. He seemed to cling to life, as if it 
were rich in duties and delights, and he had learned the secret 
of content. The only time I saw his composure disturbed, 
was when my surgeon brought another to examine John, who 
scrutinized their faces with an anxious look, asking of the 



56 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

elder : " Do you think I shall pull through, sir?" " I hope 
so, my man." And, as the two passed on, John's eye still 
followed them, with an intentness which would have won a 
clearer answer from them, had they seen it. A. momentary 
shadow flitted over his face ; then came the usual serenity, as 
if, in that brief eclipse, he had acknowledged the existence of 
some hard possibility, and, asking nothing yet hoping all 
things, left the issue in God's hands, with that submission 
which is true piety. 

The next night, as I went my rounds with Dr. P., I 
happened to ask which man in the room probably suffered 
most ; and, to my great surprise, he glanced at John : 

" Every breath he draws is like a stab ; for the ball pierced 
the left lung, broke a rib, and did no end of damage here and 
there ; so the poor lad can find neither forgetfulness nor ease, 
because he must lie on his wounded back or suffocate. It 
will be a hard struggle, and a long one, for he possesses great 
vitality ; but even his temperate life can't save him ; I wish it 
could." 

" You don't mean he must die, Doctor?" 

" Bless you, there's not the slightest hope for him; and 
you'd better tell him so before long ; women have a way of 
doing such things comfortably, so I leave it to you. He 
won't last more than a day or two, at furthest." 

I could have sat down on the spot and cried heartily, if I 
had not learned the wisdom of bottling up one's tears for 
leisure moments. Such an end seemed very hard for such a 
man, when half a dozen worn out, worthless bodies round him, 
were gathering up the remnants of wasted lives, to linger on 
for years perhaps, burdens to others, daily reproaches to 
themselves. The army needed men like John, earnest, brave, 
and faithful ; fighting for liberty and justice with both heart 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 57 

and hand, true soldiers of the Lord. I could not give him 
up so soon, or think with any patience of so excellent a nature 
robbed of its fulfiment, and blundered into eternity by the 
rashness or stupidity of those at whose hands so many lives 
may be required. It was an easy thing for Dr. P. to say : 
" Tell him he must die," but a cruelly hard thing to do, and 
by no means as " comfortable " as he politely suggested. I 
had not the heart to do it then, and privately indulged the 
hope that some change for the better might take place, in spite 
of gloomy prophesies ; so, rendering my task unnecessary. A 
few minutes later, as I came in again, with fresh rollers, I saw 
John sitting erect, with no one to support him, while the 
surgeon dressed his back. I had never hitherto seen it done ; 
for, having simpler wounds to attend to, and knowing the 
fidelity of the attendant, I had left John to him, thinking 
it might be more agreeable and safe ; for both strength and 
experience were needed in his case. I had forgotten that the 
strong man might long for the gentler tendance of a woman's 
hands, the sympathetic magnetism of a woman's presence, as 
well as the feebler souls about him. The Doctor's words 
caused me to reproach myself with neglect, not of any real 
duty perhaps, but of those little cares and kindnesses that 
solace homesick spirits, and make the heavy hours pass easier. 
John looked lonely and forsaken just then, as he sat with bent 
head, hands folded on his knee, and no outward sign of suffering, 
till, looking nearer, I saw great tears roll down and drop 
upon the floor. It was a new sight there ; for, though I had 
seen many suffer, some swore, some groaned, most endured 
silently, but none wept. Yet it did not seem weak, only very 
touching, and straightway my fear vanished, my heart opened 
wide and took him in, as, gathering the bent head in my arms, 



58 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

as freely as if he bad been a little child, I said, " Let me 
help you bear it, John." 

Never, on any human countenance, have I seen so swift 
and beautiful a look of gratitude, surprise and comfort, as that 
which answered me more eloquently than the whispered 

" Thank you, ma'am, this is right good ! this is what I 
wanted !" 

" Then why not ask for it before?" 

" I didn't like to be a trouble ; you seemed so busy, and I 
could manage to get on alone." 

" You shall not want it any more, John." 

Nor did he ; for now I understood the wistful look that 
sometimes followed me, as I went out, after a brief pause 
beside his bed, or merely a passing nod, while busied with 
those who seemed to need me more than he, because more 
urgent in their demands ; now I knew that to him, as to so 
many, I was the poor substitute for mother, wife, or sister, 
and in his eyes no stranger, but a friend who hitherto had 
seemed neglectful ; for. in his modesty, he had never guessed 
the truth. This was changed now ; and, through the tedious 
operation of probing, bathing, and dressing his wounds, he 
leaned against me, holding my hand fast, and, if pain wrung 
further tears from him, no one saw them fall but me. When 
he was laid down again, I hovered about him, in a remorseful 
state of mind that would not let me rest, till I had bathed his 
face, brushed his " bonny brown hair," set all things smooth 
about him, and laid a knot of heath and heliotrope on his 
clean pillow. While doing this, he watched rne with the sat- 
isfied expression I so liked to see ; and when I offered the 
little nosegay, held it carefully in his great hand, smoothed a 
ruffled leaf or two, surveyed and smelt it with an air of 
genuine delight, and lay contentedly regarding the glimmer of 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 59 

the sunshine on the green. Although the manliest man among 
my forty, he said, " Yes, ma'am/' like a little boy ; received 
suggestions for his comfort with the quick smile that brightened 
his whole face ; and now and then, as I stood tidying the 
table by his bed, I felt him softly touch my gown, as if to 
assure himself that I was there. Anything more natural and 
frank I never saw, and found this brave John as bashful as 
brave, yet full of excellencies and fine aspirations, which, 
having no power to express themselves in words, seemed to 
have bloomed into his character and made him what he was. 

After that night, an hour of each evening that remained to 
him was devoted to his ease or pleasure. He could not talk 
much, for breath was precious, and he spoke in whispers; but 
from occasional ' conversations, I gleaned scraps of private 
history which only added to the affection and respect I felt for 
him. Once he asked me to write a letter, and as I settled pen 
and paper, I said, with an irrepressible glimmer of feminine 
curiosity, " Shall it be addressed to wife, or mother, John ?" 

11 Neither, ma'am ; I've got no wife, and will write to 
mother myself when I get better. Did you think I was 
married because of this?" he asked, touching a. plain ring he 
wore, and often turned thoughtfully on his finger when he lay 
alone. 

" Partly that, but more from a settled sort of look you 
have, a look which young men seldom get until they marry." 

" I don't know that ; but I'm not so very young, ma'am, 
thirty in May, and have been what you might call settled this 
ten years ; for mother's a widow, I'm the oldest child she has, 
and it wouldn't do for me to marry until Lizzy has a home of 
her own, and Laurie's learned his trade ; for we're not rich, 
and I must be father to the children and husband to the dear 
old woman, if I can." 



60 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

" No doubt but you are both, John ; yet how came you to 
go to war, if you felt so ? Wasn't enlisting as bad as mar- 
rying?" ^ 

" No, ma'am, not as I see it, for one is helping my neighbor, 
the other pleasing myself. I went because I couldn't help it. 
I didn't want the glory or the pay I wanted the right thing 
done, and people kept saying the men who were in earnest 
ought to fight. I was in earnest, the Lord knows ! but I held 
off as long as I could, not knowing which was my duty; 
mother saw the case, gave me her ring to keep me steady, and 
said ' Gro :' so I went." 

A short story and a simple one, but the man and the mother 
were portrayed better than pages of fine writing could have 

done it. 



*' Do you ever regret that you came, when you lie here 
suffering so much ?" 

" Never, ma'am ; I haven't helped a great deal, but I've 
shown I was willing to give my life, and perhaps I've got to ; 
but I don't blame anybody, and if it was to do over again, I'd 
do it, I'm a little sorry I wasn't wounded in front ; it looks 
cowardly to be hit in the back, but I obeyed orders, and it 
don't matter in the end, I know." 

Poor John ! it did not matter now, except that a shot in 
front might have spared the long agony in store for him. He 
seemed to read the thought that troubled me, as he spoke so 
hopefully when there was no hope, for he suddenly added : 

11 This is my first battle; do they think it's going to be my 
last?" 

" I'm afraid they do, John." 

It was the hardest question I had ever been called upon to 
answer ; doubly hard with those clear eyes fixed on mine, 
forcing a truthful answer by their own truth He seemed a 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 61 

little startled at first, pondered over the fateful fact a moment 
then shook his head, with a glance at the broad chest and 
muscular limbs stretched out before him : 

" I'm not afraid, but it's difficult to believe all at once. I'm 
so strong it don't seem possible for such a little wound to kill 
me." 

Merry Mercutio's dying words glanced through my memory 
as he spoke : " "Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a 
church door, but 'tis enough." And John would have said 
the same could he have seen the ominous black holes between 
his shoulders, he never had ; and, seeing the ghastly sights 
about him, could not believe his own wound more fatal than 
these, for all the suffering it caused him. 

" Shall I write to your mother, now 4 ?" I asked, thinking 
that these sudden tidings might change all plans and puposes ; 
but they did not ; for the man received the order of the Divine 
Commander to march with the same unquestioning obedience 
with which the soldier had received that of the human one, 
doubtless remembering that the first led him to life, and the 
last to death. 

" No, ma'am ; to Laurie ju&t the same ; he'll break it to 
her best, and I'll add a line to her myself when you get 
done." 

So I wrote the letter which he dictated, finding it better 
than any I had sent ; for, though here and there a little ungrarn 
matical or inelegant, each sentence came to me briefly worded, 
but most expressive; full of excellent counsel to the boy, 
tenderly bequeathing " mother and Lizzie " to his care, and 
bidding him good bye in words the sadder for their simplicity. 
He added a few lines, with steady hand, and, as I sealed it, 
said, with a patient sort of sigh, " I hope the answer will 
come in time for me to see it;" then, turning away his face, 



62 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

laid the flowers against his lips, as if to hide some quiver of 
emotion at the thought of such a sudden sundering of all the 
dear home ties. 

These things had happened two days before ; now John 
was dying, and the letter had not come. I had been sum- 
moned to many death beds in my life, but to none that made 
my heart ache as it did then, since my mother called me to 
watch the departure of a spirit akin to this in its gentleness 
and patient strength. As I went in, John stretched out both 
hands : 

" I knew you'd come ! I guess I'm moving on, ma'am." 

He was ; and so rapidly that, even while he spoke, over his 
face I saw the grey veil falling that no human hand can lift. 
I sat down by him, wiped the drops from his forehead, stirred 
the air about him with the slow wave of a fan, and waited to 
help him die. He stood in sore need of help and I could 
do so little ; for, as the doctor had foretold, the strong body 
rebelled agninst death, and fought every inch of the way, 
forcing him to draw each breath with a spasm, and clench his 
hands with an imploring look, as if he asked, " How long 
must I endure this, and be still!" For hours he suffered 
dumbly, without a moment's respite, or a moment's murmuring ; 
his limbs grew cold, his face damp, his lips white, and, again 
and again, he tore the covering off his breast, as if the lightest 
weight added to his agony ; yet through it all, his eyes never 
Kst their perfect serenity, and the man's soul seemed to sit 
therein, undaunted by the ills that vexed his flesh. 

One by one, the men woke, and round the room appeared 

a circle of pale faces and watchful eyes, full of awe and pity ; 

for, though a stranger, John was beloved by all. Each man 

there had wondered at his patience, respected his piety, admired 

" his fortitude, and now lamented his hard death ; for the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 63 

influence of an upright nature had made itself deeply felt, 
even in one little week. Presently, the Jonathan who so 
loved this comely David, came creeping from his bed for a 
last look and word. The kind soul was full of trouble, as the 
choke in his voice, the grasp of his hand, betrayed ; but there 
were no tears, and the farewell of the friends was the more 
touching for its brevity. 

" Old boy, how are you?" faltered the one. 

" Most through, thank heaven !" whispered the other. 

'* Can I say or do anything for you anywheres?" 

' Take my things home, and tell them that I did my best." 

" I will ! I will !" 

"Good bye, Ned." 

" Good bye, John, good bye !" 

They kissed each other, tenderly as women, and so parted, 
for poor Ned could not stay to see his comrade die. For a 
little while, there was no sound in the room but the drip of 
water, from a stump or two, and John's distressful gasps, as 
he slowly breathed his life away. I thought him nearly gone, 
and had just laid down the fan, believing its help to be no 
longer needed, when suddenly he rose up in his bed, and cried 
out with a bitter cry that broke the silence, sharply startling 
every one with its agonized appeal : 

" For God's sake, give me air !" 

It was the only cry pain or death had wrung from him, the 
only boon he had asked ; and none of us could grant it, for 
all the airs that blew were useless now. Dan flung up the 
window. The first red streak of dawn was warming the grey 
east, a herald of the coming sun ; John saw it, and with the 
love of light which lingers in us to the end, seemed to read in 
it a sign of hope of help, for, over his whole face there broke 
that mysterious expression, brighter than any smile, which 



64 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

often comes to eyes that look their last. He laid himself 
gently down ; and, stretching out his strong right arm, as if to 
grasp and bring the blessed air to his lips in a fuller flow, 
lapsed into a merciful unconsciousness, which assured us that 
for him suffering was forever past. He died then ; for, though 
the heavy breaths still tore their way up for a little longer, 
they were but the waves of an ebbing tide that beat unfelt 
against the wreck, which an immortal voyager had deserted 
with a smile. He never spoke again, but to the end held my 
hand close, so close that when he was asleep at last, I could 
not draw it away. Dan helped me, warning me as he did so 
that it was unsafe for dead and living flesh to lie so long 
together ; but though my hand was strangely cold and stiff, 
and four white marks remained across its back, even when 
warmth and color had returned elsewhere, I could not but be 
glad that, through its touch, the presence of human sympathy, 
perhaps, had lightened that hard hour. 

When they had made him ready for the grave, John lay in 
state for half an hour, a thing which seldom happened in that 
busy place ; but a universal sentiment of reverence and 
affection seemed to fill the hearts of all who had known or 
heard of him ; and when the rumor of his death went through 
the house, always astir, many came to see him, and I felt a 
tender sort of pride in my lost patient ; for he looked a most 
heroic figure, lying there stately and still as the statue of some 
young knight asleep upon his tomb. The lovely expression, 
which so often beautifies dead faces, soon replaced the marks 
of pain, and I longed for those who loved him best to see him 
when half an hour's acquaintance with Death had made them 
friends. As we stood looking at him, the ward master handed 
me a letter, saying it had been forgotten the night before. It 
was John's letter, come just an hour too late to gladden the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 65 

eyes that had longed and looked for it so eagerly : yet he had 
it ; for, after I had cut some brown locks for his mother, and 
taken off the ring to send her, telling how well the talisman 
had done its work, I kissed this good son for her sake, and 
laid the letter in his hand, still folded as when I drew my 
own away, feeling that its place was there, and making myself 
happy with the thought, that, even in his solitary place in the 
" Government Lot," he would not be without some token of 
the love which makes life beautiful and outlives death. Then 
I left him, glad to have known so genuine a man, and carrying 
with me an enduring memory of the brave Virginia blacksmith, 
as he lay serenely waiting for the dawn of that long day 
which knows no night. 



OG HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 



CHAPTER V, 

OFF DUTY. 

" My dear girl, we shall have you sick in your bed, unless 
you keep yourself warm and quiet for a few days. Widow 
Wadman can take care of the ward alone, now the men are so 
comfortable, and have her vacation when you are about again. 
Now do be prudent in time, and don't let me have to add a 
Periwinkle to my bouquet of patients." 

This advice was delivered, in a paternal manner, by the 
youngest surgeon in the hospital, a kind-hearted little gentle- 
man, who seemed to consider me a frail young blossom, that 
needed much cherishing, instead of a tough old spinster, who 
had been knocking about the world for thirty years. At the 
time I write of, he discovered me sitting on the stairs, with a 
nice cloud of unwholesome steam rising from the washroom ; 
a party of January breezes disporting themselves in the halls; 
and perfumes, by no means from " Araby the blest," keeping 
;hom company ; while I enjoyed a fit of coughing, which 
caused my head to spin in a way that made the application of 
a cool banister both necessary and agreeable, as 1 waited for 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 67 

the frolicsome wind to restore the breath I'd lost ; cheering 
myself, meantime, with a secret conviction that pneumonia 
was waiting for me round the corner. This piece of advice 
had been offered by several persons for a week, and refused 
by me with the obstinacy with which my sex is so richly gifted. 
But the last few hours had developed several surprising internal 
and external phenomena, which impressed upon me the fact 
that if I didn't make a masterly retreat very soon, I should 
tumble down somewhere, and have to be borne ignominiously 
from the field. My head felt like a cannon ball ; my foet had 
a tendency to cleave to the floor ; the walls at times undulated 
in a most disagreeable manner; people looked unnaturally 
big ; and the " very bottles on the mankle shelf " appeared to 
dance derisively before my eyes. Taking these things into 
consideration, while blinking stupidly at Dr. Z., I resolved to 
retire gracefully, if I must ; so, with a valedictory to my boys, 
a private lecture to Mrs. Wad man, and a fervent wish that I 
could take off my body and work in my soul, I mournfully 
ascended tu my apartment, and Nurse P. was reported off 
duty. 

For the benefit of any ardent damsel whose patriotic fancy 
may have surrounded hospital life with a halo of charms, I 
will briefly describe the bower to which I retired, in a somewhat 
ruinous condition. It was well ventilated, for five panes of 
glass had suffered compound fractures, which all the surgeons 
and nurses had failed to heal ; the two windows were draped 
with sheets, the church hospital opposite being a brick and 
mortar Argus, and the female mind cherishing a prejudice in 
favor of retiracy during the night-capped periods of existence. 
A bare floor supported two narrow iron beds, spread with thin 
mattrasses like plasters, furnished with pillows in the last 
stages of consumption. In a fire place, guiltless of shovel, 



68 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

tongs, andirons, or grate, burned a log, inch by inch, being too 
long to go on all at once ; so, while the fire blazed away at one 
end, I did the same at the other, as I tripped over it a dozen 
times a day, and flew up to poke it a dozen times at night. A 
mirror (let us be elegant ! ) of the dimensions of a muffin, 
and about as reflective, hung over a tin basin, blue pitcher, 
and a brace of yellow mugs. Two invalid tables, ditto chairs, 
wandered here and there, and the closet contained a varied 
colle3tion of bonnets, bottles, bags, boots, bread and butter, 
boxes and bugs. The closet was a regular Blue Beard 
cupboard to me ; I always opened it with fear and trembling, 
owing to rats, and shut it in anguish of spirit ; for time and 
space were not to be had, and chaos icigned along with the 
rats. Our chimney-piece was decorated with a flat-iron, a 
Bible, a candle minus stick, a lavender bottle, a new tin pan, 
so brilliant that it served nicely for a pier-glass, and such of 
the portly black bugs as preferred a warmer climate than the 
rubbish hole afforded. Two arks, commonly called trunks, 
lurked behind the door, containing the worldly goods of the 
twain who laughed and cried, slept and scrambled, in this 
refuge ; while from the white-washed walls above either bed, 
looked down the pictured faces of those whose memory can 
make for us 

" One little room an everywhere." 

For a day or two I managed to appear at meals ; for the 
human grub must eat till the butterfly is ready to break loose, 
and no one had time to come up two flights while it was 
possible for me to come down. Far be it from me to add 
another affliction or reproach to that enduring man, the stew- 
ard ; for, compared with his predecessor, he was a horn of 
plenty ; but I put it to any candid mind is riot the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 69 

following bill of fare susceptible of improvement, without 
plunging the nation madly into debt? The three meals were 
" pretty much of a muchness," and consisted of beef, evidently 
put down for the men of '76 ; pork, just in from the street ; 
army bread, composed of saw-dust and saleratus ; butter, salt 
as if churned ly Lot's wife; stewed blackberries, so much 
like preserved cockroaches, that only those devoid of imagina- 
tion could partake thereof with relish ; coffee, mild and 
muddy; tea. three dried huckleberry leaves to a quart of 
water flavored with lime also animated and unconscious of 
any approach to clearness. Variety being the spice of life, a 
small pinch of the article would have been appreciated by the 
hungry, hard-working sisterhood, one of whom, though accus- 
tomed to plain fare, soon found herself reduced to bread and 
water ; having an inborn repugnance to the fat of the land, 
and the salt of the earth. 

Another peculiarity of these hospital meals was the rapidity 
with which th e edibles vanished, and the impossibility of getting 
a drop or crumb after the usual time. At the first ring of the 
bell, a general stampede took place ; some twenty hungry 
souls rushed to the dining-room, swept over the table like a 
swarm of locusts, and left no fragment for any tardy creature 
who arrived fifteen minutes late. Thinking it of more import- 
ance that the patients should be well and comfortably fed, I 
took my time about my own meals for the first day or two 
after I came, but was speedily enlightened by Isaac, the black 
waiter, who bore with me a few times, and then informed me, 
looking as stern as fate : 

" I say, mam, ef you comes so late you can't have no 
vittles, 'cause I'm 'bleeged fer ter git things ready fer de 
doctors 'mazin' spry arter you nusses and folks is done. De 
gen'lemen don't kere fer ter wait, no more does I ; so you 



70 .HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

jes' please ter come at de time, and dere won't be no frettin' 
nowheres." 

It was a new sensation to stand looking at a full table, 
painfully conscious of one of the vacuums which Nature 
abhors, and receive orders to right about face, without 
partaking of the nourishment which your inner woman clam, 
orously demanded. The doctors always fared better than we ; 
and for a moment a desperate impulse prompted me to give 
them a hint, by walking off with the mutton, or confiscating 
the pie. But Ike's eye was on me, and, to my shame be it 
spoken, I walked meekly away ; went dinnerless that day. 
and that evening went to market, laying in a small stock of 
crackers, cheese and apples, that my boys might not be 
neglected, nor myself obliged to bolt solid and liquid dyspep- 
sias, or starve. This plan would have succeeded admirably 
had not the evil star under which I was born, been in the 
ascendant during that month, and cast its malign influences 
even into my " 'umble " larder ; for the rats had their dessert 
off my cheese, the bugs set up housekeeping in my cracker- 
bag, and the apples like all worldly riches, took to themselves 
wings and flew away ; whither no man could tell, though 
certain black imps might have thrown light upon the matter, 
had not the plaintiff in the case been loth to add another to 
the many trials of long-suffering Africa. After this failure I 
resigned myself to fate, and, remembering that bread was called 
the staff of life, leaned pretty exclusively upon it ; but it 
proved a broken reed, and I came to the ground after a few 
weeks of prison fare, varied by an occasional potato or surrep- 
titious sip of milk. 

Very soon after leaving the care of my ward, I discovered 
that I had no appetite, and cut the bread and butter interests 
almost entirely, trying the exercise and sun cure instead. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 71 

Flattering myself that I had plenty of time, and could see a 11 
that was to be seen, so far as a lone lorn female could venture 
in a city, one-half of whose male population seemed to be 
taking the other half to tire guard-house, every morning I 
took a brisk run in one direction or another ; for the January 
days were as mild as Spring. A rollicking north wind and 
occasional snow stoim would have been mere to my taste, for 
the one would have braced and refreshed tired body and soul, 
the other have purified the air, and spread a clean coverlid 
over the bed, wherein the capital of theee United States 
appeared to be dozing pretty soundly just then. 

One of these tri^s was to the Armory Hospital, the neatness, 
comfort, and convenience of which makes it an honor to its 
presiding genius, and arouses all the covetous propensities of 
such nurses as came from other hospitals to visit it. 

The long, clean, warm, and airy wards, built barrack-fashion, 
with the nurse's room at the end, were fully appreciated by 
Nurse Periwinkle, whose ward and private bower were cold, 
dirty, inconvenient, up stairs and down stairs, and in every- 
body's chamber. At the Armory, in ward K, I found a 
cheery, bright-eyed, white-aproned little lady, reading at her 
post near the stove ; matting under her feet ; a draft of fresh 
air flowing in above her head ; a table full of trays, glasses, 
and such matters, on one side, a large, well-stocked medicine 
chest on the other; and all her duty seemed to be going about 
now and then to give doses, issue orders, which well- trained 
attendants executed, and pet, advise, or comfort Tom, Dick, 
. or Harry, as she found best. As I watched the proceedings, 
I recalled my own tribulations, and contrasted the two hospitals 
in a way that would have caused my summary dismissal, could 
it have been reported at headquarters. Here, order, method, 
common sense and liberality reigned and ruled, in a style 



72 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

that did one's heart good to see ; at the Hurly burly Hotel, 
disorder, discomfort, bad management, and no visible head, 
reduced things to a condition which I despair of describing. 
The circumlocution fashion prevailed, forms and fusses tor- 
mented our souls, and unnecessary strictness in one place was 
counterbalanced by unpardonable laxity in another. Here is 
a sample : I am dressing Sam Dammer's shoulder ; and, having 
cleansed the wound, look about for some strips of adhesive 
plaster to hold on the little square of wet linen which is to 
cover the gunshot wound; the case is not in the tray; Frank, 
the sleepy, half-sick attendant, knows nothing of it; we 
rummage high and low; Sam is tired, and fumes; Frank 
dawdles and yawns ; the men advise and laugh at the flurry ; 
I feel like a boiling tea-kettle, with the lid ready to fly off and 
damage somebody. 

" Go and borrow some from the next ward, and spend the 
rest of the day in finding ours," I finally command. A pause; 
then Frank scuffles back with the message : " Miss Peppercorn 
ain't got none, and says you ain't no business to lose your own 
duds and go borrow in' other folkses." I say nothing, for fear 
of saying too much, but fly to the surgery. Mr. Toddypestle 
informs me that I can't have anything without an order from 
the surgeon of my ward. Great heavens ! where is he ? and 
away I rush, up and down, here and there, till at last I find 
him, in a state of bliss over a complicated amputation, in the 
fourth story. I make my demand; he answers: "In five 
minutes," and works away, with his head upside down, as he 
ties an artery, saws a bone, or does a little needle-work, with 
a visible relish and very sanguinary pair of hands. The five 
minutes grow to fifteen, and Frank appears, with the remark 
that, " Dammer wants to know what in thunder you are 
keeping him there with his finger on a wet rag for?" Dr. P. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 73 

tears himself away long enough to scribble the order, with 
which I plunge downward to the surgery again, find the door 
locked, and, while hammering away on it, am told that two 
friends are waiting to see me in the hall. The matron being 
away, her parlor is locked, and there is no where to see my 
guecis but in my own room, and no time to enjoy them till 
the plaster is found. I settle this matter, and circulate through 
the house to find Toddypestle, who has no right to leave the 
surgery till night. He is discovered in the dead house, smoking 
a cigar, and very much the worse for his researches among the 
spirituous preparations that fill the surgery shelves. He is 
inclined to be gallant, and puts the finishing blow to the fire 
of my wrath ; for the tea-kettle lid flies off, and driving him 
before me to his post, I fling down the order, take what I 
choose ; and, leaving the absurd incapable kissing his hand to 
me, depart, feeling as Grandma Riglesty is reported to have 
done, when she vainly sought for chips, in Bimleck Jackwood's 
" shifless paster." 

I find Dammer a well acted charade of hss own name, and, 
just as I get him done, struggling the while with a burning 
desire to clap an adhesive strip across his mouth, full of 
heaven-defying oaths, Fiank takes up his boot to put it on, 
and exclaims : 

" I'm blest ef here ain't that case now ! I recollect seeing 
it pitch in this mornin', but forgot all about it, till my heel 
went smash inter it. Here, ma'am, ketch hold on it, and give 
the boys a sheet on't all round, 'gainst it tumbles inter t'other 
boot next time yer want it." 

If a look could annihilate, Francis Saucebox would have 
ceased to exist, but it couldn't ; therefore, he yet lives, to 
aggravate some unhappy woman's soul, and wax fat in some 
equally congenial situation. 



74: HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

No wy while I'm freeing my mind, I should 1'ke to enter my 
protest against employing convalescents as attendants, instead 
of strong, properly trained, and cheerful men. How it may 
be in other places I cannot say ; but here it was a source of 
constant trouble and confusion, these feeble, ignorant men 
trying to sweep, scrub, lift, and wait upon their sicker comrades. 
One, with a diseased heart, was expected to run up and down 
stairs, carry heavy trays, and move helpless men ; he tried it, 
and grew rapidly worse than when he first came : and, when 
he was ordered out to march away to the convalescent hospital, 
fell, in a sort of fit, before he turned the corner, and was 
brought back to die. Another, hurt by a fall from his horse, 
endeavored to do his duty, but failed entirely, and the wrath 
of the ward master fell upon the nurse, who must either scrub 
the rooms herself or take the lecture ; for the boy looked stout 
and well, and the master never happened to see him turn 
white with pain, or hear him groan in his sleep when an invol- 
untary motion strained his poor back. Constant complaints 
were being made of incompetent attendants, and some dozen 
women did double duty, and then were blamed for breaking 
down. If any hospital director fancies this a good and 
economical arrangement, allow one used up nurse to tell him 
it isn't, and beg him to spare the sisterhood, who sometimes, 
in their sympathy, forget that they are mortal, and run the 
risk of being made immortal, sooner than is agreeable to their 
partial friends. 

Another of my few rambles took me to the Senate Chamber, 
hoping to hear and see if this large machine was run any 
' better than some small ones I knew of. I was too late, and 
found the Speaker's chair occupied by a colored gentleman of 
ten; while two others were "on their legs," having a hot 
debate on the cornball question, as they gathered the waste 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 75 

paper strewn about the floor into bags j and several white 
members played leap-frog over the desks, a much wholesomer 
relaxation than some of the older Senators indulge in, I fancy. 
Finding the coast clear, I likewise gambolled up and down, 
from gallery to gallery ; sat in Sumuer's chair, and cudgelled 
an imaginary Brooks within an inch of his life ; examined 
Wilson's books in the coolest possible manner ; warmed my 
feet at one of the national registers read people's names on 
scattered envelopes, and pocketed a castaway autograph or 
two ; watched the somewhat unparliamentary proceedings 
going on about me, and wondered who in the world all the 
sedate gentlemen were, who kept popping out of odd doors 
here and there, like respectable Jacks-in-the-box. Then I 
wandered over the "palatial residence" of Mrs. Columbia, 
and examined its many beauties, though I can't say I thought 
her a tidy housekeeper, and didn't admire her taste in pictures , 
for the eye of this humble individual soon wearied of expiring 
patriots, who all appeared to be quitting their earthly taberna- 
cles in convulsious, ruffled shirts, and a whirl of torn banners, 
bomb shells, and buff and blue arms and legs. The statuary 
also was massive and concrete, but rather wearying to exam- 
ine ; for the colossal ladies and gentlemen, carried no cards of 
introduction in face or figure ; so, whether the meditative party 
in a kilt, with well-developed legs, shoes like army slippers, 
and a ponderous nose, was Columbus, Cato, or Cockelorum 
Tibby, the tragedian, was more than I could tell. Several 
robust ladies attracted me, as I felt particularly " wimbly " 
myself, as old country women sa;y ; but which was America 
and which Pocahontas was a mystery, for all affected much 
looseness of costume, dishevelment of hair, swords, arrows, 
lances, scales, and other ornaments quite passe with damsels 
of our day, whose effigies should go down to posterity armed 



76 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

with fans, crochet needles, riding whips, and parasols, with 
here and there one holding pen or pencil, rolling-pin or broom. 
The statue of Liberty I recognized at once, for it had no 
pedestal as yet, but stood flat in the mud, with Young America 
most symbolically making dirt pies, and chip forts, in its 
shadow. But high above the squabbling little throng and 
their petty plans, the sun shone full on Liberty's broad 
forehead, and, in her hand, some summer bird had built its 
nest. I accepted the good omen then, and, on the first of 
January, the Emancipation Act gave the statue a nobler and 
more enduring pedestal than any marble or granite ever carved 
and quarried by human hands. 

One trip to Georgetown Heights, where cedars sighed over- 
head, dead leaves rustled underfoot, pleasant paths led up and 
down, and a brook wound like a silver snake by the blackened 
ruins of some French Minister's house, through the poor 
gardens of the black washerwomen who congregated there, 
and, passing the cemetery with a murmurous lullaby, rolled 
away to pay its little tribute to the river. This breezy run 
was the last I took ; for, on the morrow, came rain and wind : 
and confinement soon proved a powerful reinforcement to the 
enemy, who was quietly preparing to spring a mine, and blow 
me five hundred miles from the position I had taken in what I 
called my Chickahominy Swamp. 

Shut up in my room, with no voice, spirits, or books, that 
week was not a hoilday, by any means. Finding rneals a 
humbug, I stopped away altogether, trusting that if this sparrow 
was of any worth, the Lord would not let it fall to the ground. 
Like a flock of friendly ravens, my sister nurses fed me, not 
only with food for the body, but kind words for the mind ; 
and soon, from being half starved, I found myself so beteaed 
and bctoasted, petted and served, that I was quite " in the lap 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 77 

of luxury," in spite of cough, headache, a painful conscious- 
ness of my pleura, and a realizing sense of bones in the human 
frame. From the pleasant house on the hill, the home in the 
heart of Washington, and the Willard caravansary, came 
friends new and old, with bottles, baskets, carriages and invita- 
tions for the invalid ; and daily our Florence Nightingale 
climbed the steep stairs, stealing a moment from her busy life, 
to watch over the stranger, of whom she was as thoughtfully 
tender as any mother. Long may she wave ! Whatever others 
may think or say, Nurse Periwinkle is forever grateful ; and 
among her relics of that Washington defeat, none is more 
valued than the little book which appeared on her pillow, one 
dreary day; for the D D. written in it means to her far more 
than Doctor of Divinity. 

Being forbidden to meddle with fleshly arms and legs, I 
solaced myself by mending cotton ones, and, as I sat sewing 
at my window, watched the moving panorama that passed 
below ; amusing myself with taking notes of the most striking 
figures in it. Long trains of army wagons kept up a perpetual 
rumble from morning till night ; ambulances rattled to and fio 
with busy surgeons, nurses taking an airing, or convalescents 
going in parties to be fitted to artificial limbs. Strings of sorry 
looking horses passed, saying as plainly as dumb creatures 
could, " Why, in a city full of them, is there no horsepitzl 
for us ?" Often a cart came by, with several rough coffins in 
it, and no mourners following ; barouches, with invalid officers, 
rolled round the corner, and carriage loads of pretty children, 
with black coachmen, footmen, and maids. The women who 
took their walks abroad, were so extinguished in three story 
bonnets, with overhanging balconies of flowers, that their 
charms were obscured ; and all I can say of them is, that they 
dressed in the worst possible taste, and walked like ducks. 



78 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

The men did the picturesque, and did it so well that Wash- 
ington looked like a mammoth masquerade. Spanish hats, 
scarlet lined riding cloaks, swords and sashes, high boots and 
bright spurs, beards and mustaches, which made plain faces 
comely, and comely faces heroic ; these vanities of the flesh 
transformed pur butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers into 
gallant riders of gaily caparisoaed horses, much handsomer 
than themselves ; and dozens of such figures were constantly f 
prancing by, with private prickings of spurs, for the benefit 
of the perambulating flower-bed. Some of these gentlemen 
affected painfully tight uniforms, ar>d little caps, kept on by 
gome new law of gravitation, as they covered only the bridge 
of the nose, yet never fell off; the men looked like stuffed 
fowls, and rode as if the safety of the nation depended on 
their speed alone. The fattest, greyest officers dressed most, 
and ambled statelily along, with orderlies behind, trying to 
look as if they didn't know the stout party in front, and doing 
much caracoling on their own account. 

The mules were my especial delight and an hour's study 
of a constant succession of them introduced rne to many of 
their characteristics ; for six of these odd little beasts drew 
each army wagon, and went hopping like frogs through the 
stream of mud that gently rolled along the street. The 
coquettish mule had small feet, a nicely trimmed tassel of a 
tail, perked up cars, and seemed much given to little tosses of 
the head, affected skips and prances ; and, if lie wore the 
bells, or were bedizzened with a bit of finery, put on as many 
airs as any belle. The moral mule was a stout, hard-working 
creature, always tugging with all his might; often pulling 
away after the rest had stopped, laboring under the conscien- 
tious delusion that food for the entire army depended upon his 
private exertions. I respected this style of inule ; and, had 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 79 

I possessed a juicy cabbage, would have pressed it upon him, 
with thanks for his excellent example. The historical mule 
was a rnelo-dramatic quadruped, prone to startling humanity 
by erratic leaps, and wild plunges, much shaking of his 
stubborn head, and lashing out of his vicious heels ; now and 
then falling flat, and apparently dying a la Forrest : a gasp 
a squirm a flop, and so on, till the street was well blocked 
up, the drivers all swearing like demons in bad hats, and the 
chief actor's circulation decidedly quickened by every variety 
of kick, cuff, jerk and haul. When the last breath seemed to 
have left his body, and "Doctors were in vain," a sudden 
resurrection took place ; and if ever a mule laughed with 
scornful triumph, that was the beast, as he leisurely rose, gave 
a comfortable shake ; and, calmly regarding the excited crowd 
seeemcd to say " A hit ! a decided hit ! for the stupidest 
of animuls has bamboozled a dozen men. Now, then ! what 
are you stopping the way for?" The pathetic mule was, 
perhaps, the most interesting of all ; for, though he always 
seemed to be the smallest, thinnest, weakest of the six, the 
postillion, with big boots, long-tailed coat, and heavy whip, 
was sure to bestride this one, who struggled feebly along, head 
down, coat muddy and rough, eye spiritless and sad, his very 
tail a mortified stump, and the whole beast a picture of meek 
misery, fit to touch a heart of stone. The jovial mule was a 
roly poly, happy-go-lucky little piece of horse-flesh, taking 
everything easily, from cudgeling to caressing ; strolling along 
with a roguish twinkle of the eye, and, if the thing were 
possible, would have had his hands in his pockets, and whistled 
as he went. If there ever chanced to be an apple core, a 
stray turnip, or wisp of hay, in the gutter, this Mark Tapley 
was sure to find it, and none of his mates seemed to begrudge 
him his bite. I suspected this fellow was the peacemaker, 



80 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

confidant and friend of all the others, for he had a sort of 
" Cheer-up, -old-boy, -I'll- pull-you- through " look, which was 
exceedingly engaging. 

Pigs also possessed attractions for me, never having had 
an opportunity of observing their graces of mind and manner, 
till I came to Washington, whose porcine citizens appeared to 
enjoy a larger liberty than many of its human ones. Stout, 
sedate looking pigs, hurried by each morning to their places 
of business, with a preoccupied air, and sonorous greeting to 
their friends. Genteel pigs, with an extra curl to their tails, 
promenaded in pairs, lunching here and there, like gentlemen 
of leisure. Row^y pigs pushed the passers by off the side 
walk; tipsy pigs hiccoughed their version of "We wont go 
home till morning," from the gutter ; and delicate young pigs 
tripped daintily through the mud, as if, like " Mrs. Peery- 
bingle," they plumed themselves upon their ankles, and kept 
themselves particularly neat in point of stockings. Maternal 
pigs, with their interesting families, strolled by in the sun ; 
and often the pink, baby-like squealers lay down for a nap, 
with a trust in Providence worthy of human imitation. 

But more interesting than officers, ladies, mules, or pigs, 
were my colored brothers and sisters, because so unlike the 
respectable members of society I'd known in moral Boston. 

Here was the genuine article no, not the genuine article 
at all, we must go to Africa for that but the sort of creatures 
generations of slavery have made them : obsequious, trick ish, 
lazy and ignorant, yet kind-hearted, merry- tempered, quick to 
feel and accept the least token of the brotherly love which is 
slowly teaching the white hand to grasp the black, in this 
great struggle for the liberty of both the races. 

Having been warned not to be too rampant on the subject 
of slavery, as seceh.li principles flourished even under the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 



81 



respectable nose of Father Abraham, I had endeavored to 
walk discreetly, and curb my unruly member ; looking about 
me with all my eyes, the while, and saving up the result of 
my observations for future use; I had not been there a week, 
before the neglected, devil-may care expression in many of 
the faces about me, seemed an urgent appeal to leave nursing 
white bodies, and take some care for these black souls. Much 
as the lazy boys and saucy girls tormented me, I liked them, 
and found that any show of interest or friendliness brought 
out the better traits which live in the most degraded and 
forsaken of us all. I liked their cheerfulness, for the dreariest 
old hag, who scrubbed all day in that pestilential steam, 
gossipped and grinned all the way out, when night set her free 
from drudgery. The girls romped with their dusky sweet- 
hearts, or tossed their babies, with the tender pride that makes 
mother-love a beautifier to the homeliest face. The men and 
boys sang and whistled all day long ; and often, as I held my 
watch, the silence of the night was sweetly broken by some 
chorus from the street, full of real melody, whether the song 
was of heaven, or of hoe-cakes ; and, as I listened, I felt that 
we never should doubt nor despair concerning a race which, 
through such griefs and wrongs, still clings to this good gift, 
and seems to solace with it the patient hearts that wait and 
watch and hope until the end. 

I expected to have to defend myself from accusations of a 
prejudice against color ; but was surprised to find things just 
the other way, and daily shocked some neighbor by treating 
the blacks as I did the whites. The men would swear at the 
*' darkies," would put two gs into negro; and scoff at the idea 
of any good coming from such trash. The nurses were willing 
to be served by the colored people, but seldom thanked them, 
never praised, and scarcely recognized them in the street ; 



82 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

whereat the blood of two generations of abolitionists waxed 
hot in my veins, and, at the first opportunity, proclaimed itself, 
and asserted the right of free speech as doggedly as the irre- 
pressible Folsom herself. 

Happening to catch up a funny little black baby, who was 
toddling about the nurses' kitchen, one day, when I went 
down to make a mess for some of my men, a Virginia woman 
standing by elevated her most prominent features, with a sniff 
of disapprobation, exclaiming : 

" Gracious, Miss P. ! how can you? I've been here six 
months, and never so much as touched the little toad with a 
poker." 

" More shame for you, ma'am," responded Miss P. ; and, 
with the natural perversity of a Yankee, followed up the blow 
by kissing " the toad," with ardor. His face was providen. 
tially as clean and shiny as if his mamma had just polished it 
up with a corner of her apron and a drop from the tea-kettle 
spout, like old Aunt Chloe. This rash act, and the anti- 
slavery lecture that followed, while one hand stirred gruel for 
sick America, and the other hugged baby Africa, did not 
produce the cheering result which I fondly expected ; for my 
comrade henceforth regarded me as a dangerous fanatic, and 
my protege nearly came to his death by insisting on swarming 
up stairs to my room, on all occasions, and being walked on 
like a little black spider. 

I waited for New Year's day with more eagerness than I 
had ever known before ; and, though it brought me no gift, I 
felt rich in the act of justice so tardily performed toward ssoino 
of those about me. As the bells rung midnight, I electrified 
my room-mate by dancing out of bed, throwing up the 
window, and flapping my handkerchief, with a feeble cheer, 
in answer to the shout of a group of colored nson in the street 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 83 

below. All night they tooted and tramped, fired crackers, 
sung " Glory, Hallelujah," and took comfort, poor souls ! in 
their own way. The sky was clear, the moon shone benignly, 
a mild wind blew across the river, and all good omens seemed 
to usher in the dawn of the day whose noontide cannot now 
be long in coming. If the colored people had taken hands 
and danced around the White House, with a few cheers for 
the much abused gentleman who has immortalized himself by 
one just act, no President could have had a finer levee, or one 
to be prouder of. 

While these sights and sounds were going on without, 
curious scenes were passing within, and I was learning that 
one of the best methods of fitting oneself to be a nurse in a 
hospital, is to be a patient there ; for then only can one wholly 
realize what the men suffer and sigh for ; how acts of kindness 
touch and win ; how much or little we are to those about us ; 
and for the first time really see that in coming there we have 
taken our lives in our hands, and may have to pay dearly for 
a brief experience. Every one was very kind ; the attendants 
of my ward often came up to report progress, to fill my wood- 
box, or bring messages and presents from my boys. The 
nurses took many steps with those tired feet of theirs, and 
several came each evening, to chat over my fire and make 
things cosy for the night. The doctors paid daily visits, 
tapped at my lungs to sec if pneumonia was within, left doses 
without names, and went away, leaving me as ignorant, and 
much more uncomfortable than when they .came. Hours 
began to get confused ; people looked odd ; queer faces haunted 
the room, and, the nights were one long fight with weariness 
and pain. Letters from home grew anxious ; the doctors 
lifted their eyebrows, and nodded ominously ; friends said 
" Don't stay," and an internal rebellion seconded the advice ; 



84 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

but the three months were not out, and the idea of giving 
up so soon was proclaiming a defeat before I was fairly routed ; 
so to all " Don't stays" I opposed " I wills," till, one fine 
morning, a grey-headed gentlemen rose like a welcome ghost 
on my hearth ; and, at the sight of him, my resolution melted 
away, my heart turned traitor to my boys, and, when he said, 
" Come home," I answered. "Yes, father;" and so ended 
my career as an army nurse. 

I never shall regret the going, though a sharp tussle with 
typhoid, ten dollars, and a wig, are all the visible results of 
the experiment ; for one may live and learn much in a month. 
A good fit of illness proves the value of health ; real danger 
tries one's mettle ; and self-sacrifice sweetens character. Let 
no one who sincerely desires to help the work on in this way, 
delay going through any fear ; for the worth of life lies in the 
experiences that fill it, and this is one which cannot be forgotten. 
All that is best and bravest in the hearts of men and women, 
comes out in scenes like these ; and, though a hospital is a 
rough school, its lessons are both stern and salutary ; and the 
humblest of pupils there, in proportion to his faithfulness, 
learns a deeper faith in God and in himself. I, for one, 
would return tomorrow, on the " up-again,-and-take-another " 
principle, if I could ; for the amount of pleasure and profit I 
got out of that month compensates for all after pangs ; and, 
though a sadly womanish feeling, I take some satisfaction in 
the thought that, if I could not lay my head on the altar of 
my country, I have my hair ; and that is more than handsome 
Helen did for her dead husband, when she sacrificed only the 
ends of her ringlets on his urn. Therefore-, I close this little 
chapter of hospital experiences, with the regret that they were 
no better worth recording; and add the poetical gem with 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES 85 

which I console myself for the untimely demise of " Nurse 
Periwinkle :" 

Oh, lay her in a little pit, 
With a marble stone to cover it] 
And carve thereon a gruel spoon, 
To show a " nuss " has died too soon. 



8(> HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 



CHAPTER VI. 

A POSTSCRIPT. 

My Dear S. : As inquiries like your own have coine to 
me from various friendly readers of the Sketches, I will 
answer them en masse, and in printed form, as a sort of 
postscript to what has gone before. One of these questions 
was, " Are there no services by hospital death-beds, or on 
Sundays?" 

In most Hospitals I hope there are ; in ours, the men died, 
and were carried away, with as little ceremony as on a battle- 
field. The first event of this kind which I witnessed was so 
very brief, and bare of anything like reverence, sorrow, or 
pious consolation, that I heartily agreed 'with the bluntly 
expressed opinion of a Maine man lying next his comrade, 
who died with no visible help near him, but a compassionate 
woman and a tender-hearted Irishman, who dropped upon his 
knees, and told his beads, with Catholic feivor, for the good 
of his Protestant brother's parting soul : 

"If, after gettin' all the hard knocks, we are left to die 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 87 

this way, with nothing but a Paddy's prayers to help us, I 
guess Christians are rather scarce round Washington.' 1 

I thought so too ; but though Miss Blank, one of my 
mates, anxious that souls should be ministered to, as well as 
bodies, spoke more than once to the Chaplain, nothing ever 
came of it. Unlike another Shepherd, whose earnest piety 
weekly purified the Senate Chamber, this man d!d not feed as 
well as fold his flock, nor make himself a human symbol of the 
Divine Samaritan, who never passes by on the other side. 

I have since learned that our non-commital Chaplain had 
been a Professor, in some Southern College ; and, though he 
maintained that he had no secesh proclivities, I can testify 
that he seceded from his ministerial duties, I may say, ske- 
daddled ; for, being one of his own words, it is as appropriate 
as inelegant. He read Emerson, quoted Carlyle, and tried to 
be a Chaplain ; but, judging from his success, I am afraid he 
still hankered after the hominy pots of Eebeldom. 

Occasionally, on a Sunday afternoon, such of the nurses, 
officers, attendants, and patients as could avail themselves of 
it, were gathered in the Ball Room, for an hour's service, of 
which the singing was the better part. To me it seemed that 
if ever strong, wise, and loving words were needed, it was 
then ; if ever mortal man had living texts before his eyes to 
illustrate and illuminate his thought, it was there ; and if ever 
hearts were prompted to devoutest sell-abnegation, it was in 
the work which brought us to anything but a Chapel of Ease. 
But some spiritual paralysis seemed to have befallen our 
pastor; for, though many faces turned toward him, full of 'Hie 
dumb hunger that often comes to men when suffering or danger 
brings them nearer to the heart of things, they were offered 
the chaff of divinity, and its wheat was left for less needy 
gleaners, who knew where to look. Even the fine old Bible 



88 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

stories, which may be made as lifelike as any history of our 
day, by a vivid fancy and pictorial diction, were robbed of all 
their charms by dry explanations and literal applications, 
instead of being useful and pleasant lessons to those men, 
whom weakness had rendered as docile as children in a father's 
hands. 

I watched the listless countenances all about me, while a 
mild Daniel was moralizing in a den of utterly uninteresting 
lions ; while Shadrach, Mcshech, and Abednego were leisurely 
passing through the fiery furnace, where, I sadly feared, some 
of us sincerely wished they had remained as permanencies; 
while the Temple of Solomon was laboriously erected, with 
minute descriptions of the process, and any quantity of bells 
and pomegranates on the raiment of the priests. Listless they 
were at the beginning, and listless at the end ; but the instant 
some stirring old hymn was given out, sleepy eyes brightened, 
lounging figures sat erect, and many a poor lad rose up in his 
bed, or stretched an eager hand for the book, while all broke 
out with a heartiness that proved that somewhere at the core 
of even the most abandoned, there still glowed some remnant 
of the native piety that flows in music from the heart of every 
little child. Even the big rebel joined, and boomed away in 
a thunderous bass, singing 

" Salvation! let the echoes fly," 

as energetically as if he felt the need of a speedy execution 
of the command. 

That was the pleasantest moment of the hour, for then it 
seemed a homelike and happy spot ; the groups of men looking 
over one another's shoulders as they sang ; the few silent 
figures in the beds ; here and there a woman noiselessly per- 
forming some necessary duty, and singing as she worked; 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 89 

while in the arm chair standing in the midst, I placed, for my 
own satisfaction, the imaginary likeness of a certain faithful 
pastor, who took all outcasts by the hand, smote the devil in 
whatever guise he came, and comforted the indigent in spirit 
with the best wisdom of a great and tender heart, which still 
speaks to us from its Italian grave. With that addition, my 
picture was complete ; and I often longed to take a veritable 
sketch of a Hospital Sunday, for, despite its drawbacks, 
consisting of continued labor, the want of proper books, the 
barren preaching that bore no fruit, this day was never like 
the other six. 

True to their home training, our New England boys did 
their best to make it what it should be. With many, there 
was much reading of Testaments, humming over of favorite 
hymns, and looking at such books as I could cull from a 
miscellaneous library. Some lay idle, slept, or gossiped ; yet, 
when I came to them for a quiet evening chat, they often 
talked freely and well of themselves ; would blunder out some 
timid hope that their troubles might " do 'em good, and keep 
'em Btiddy ;" would choke a little, as they said good night, 
and turned their faces to the wall to think of mother, wife, or 
home, these human ties seeming to be the most vital religion 
which they yet knew. I observed that some of them did not 
wear their caps on this day, though at other times they clung 
to them like Quakers; wearing them in bed, putting them on 
to read the paper, eat an apple, or write^a letter, as if, like a 
new sort of Samson, their strength lay, not in their hair, but in 
their hats. Many read no novels, swore less, were more silent, 
orderly, and cheerful, as if the Lord were an invisible Ward- 
master, who went his rounds but once a week, and must find 
all things at their best. I liked all this in the poor, rough 
boys, and could have found it in my heart to put down sponge 



90 HOSPITAL SKETCHES 

and tea-pot, and preach a little sermon then and there, while 
homesickness and pain had made these natures soft, that some 
good seed might be cast therein, to blossom and bear fruit 
here or hereafter. 

Regarding the admission of friends to nurse their sick, I 
can only say, it was not allowed at Hurlyburly House ; though 
one indomitable parent took my ward by storm, and held her 
position, in spite of doctors, matron, and Nurse Periwinkle. 
Though it was against the rules, though the culprit was an 
acid, frost-bitten female, though the young man would have 
done quite as well without her anxious fussiness, and the whole 
room-full been much more comfortable, there was something so 
irresistible in this persistent devotion, that no one had the 
heart to oust her from her post. She slept on the floor, without 
uttering a complaint ; bore jokes somewhat of the rudest ; 
fared scantily, though her basket was daily filled with luxuries 
for her boy ; and tended that petulant personage with a never- 
failing patience beautiful to see. 

I feel a glow of moral rectitude in saying this of her ; for, 
though a perfect pelican to her young, she pecked and cackled 
( I don't know that pelicans usually express their emotions in 
that manner,) most obstreperously, when others invaded her 
premises ; and led me a weary life, with " George's tea-rusks," 
'* George's foot-bath," " George's measles," and " George's 
mother ;" till, after a sharp passage of arms and tongues with 
the matron, she wrathfully packed up her rusks, her son, and 
herself, and departed, in an ambulance, scolding to the very 
last. 

This is the comic side of the matter. The serious one is 
harder to describe ; for the presence, however brief, of rela- 
tions and friends by the bedsides of the dead or dying, is 
always a trial to the bystanders. They are not near enough 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 91 

to know how best to comfort, yet too near to turn their backs 
upon the sorrow that finds its only solace in listening to 
recitals of last words, breathed into nurse's ears, or receiving 
the tender legacies of love and longing bequeathed through 
them. 

To rne, the saddest sight I saw in that sad place, was the 
spectacle of a grey-haired father, sitting hour after hour by 
his son, dying from the poison of his wound. The old father, 
hale and hearty ; the young son, past all help, though one 
could scarcely believe it ; for the subtle fever, burning his 
strength away, flushed his cheeks with color, filled his eyes 
with lustre, and lent a mournful mockery of health to face and 
figure, making the poor lad comelier in death than in life. 
His bed was not in my ward ; but I was often in and out, 
and, for a day or two, the pair were much together, saying 
little, but looking much. The old man tried to busy himself 
with book or pen, that his presence might not be a burden 
and once, when he sat writing, to the anxious mother at home, 
doubtless, I saw the son's eyes fixed upon his face, with a look 
of mingled resignation and regret, as if endeavoring to teach 
himself to say cheerfully the long good bye. And again, 
when the son slept, the father watched him, as he had himself 
been watched ; and though no feature of his grave counte- 
nance changed, the rough hand, smoothing the lock of hair 
upon the pillow, the bowed attitude of the grey head, were 
more pathetic than the loudest lamentations. The son died ; 
and the father took home the pale relic of the life he gave, 
offering a little money to the nurse, as the only visible return 
it was in his power to make her ; for, though very grateful, 
he was poor. Of course, she did not take it, but found a 
richer compensation in the old man's earnest 'declara- 
tion : 

G 



92 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

"My boy couldn't have been better cared for if he'd been at 
home ; and God will reward you for it, though I can't." 

My own experiences of this sort began when my first man 
died. He had scarcely been removed, when his wife came in. 
Her eye went straight to the well-known bed ; ifrwas empty; 
and feeling, yet not believing the hard truth, she cried out, 
with a look I never shall forget : 

" Why, where's Emanuel ?" 

I had never seen her before, did not know her relationship 
to the man whom I had only nursed for a day, and was about 
to tell her he was gone, when McGee, the tender-hearted 
Irishman before mentioned, brushed by me with a cheerful 
"It's shifted to a better bed he is, Mrs. Connel. Come out, 
dear, till I show ye;" and, taking her gently by the arm, he 
led her to the matron, who broke the heavy tidings to the 
wife, and comforted the widow. 

Another day, running up to my room for a breath of fresh 
air and a five minutes' rest after a disagreeable task. I found 
a stout young woman sitting on my bed, wearing the misera- 
ble look which I had learned to know by that time. Seeing 
her, reminded me that I had heard of some one's dying in the 
night, and his sister's arriving in the morning. This must be 
she, I thought. I pitied her with all my heart. What could 
I say or do ? Words always seem impertinent at such times ; 
I did not know the man ; the woman was neither interesting 
in herself nor graceful in her grief; yet 5 having known a 
sister's sorrow myself, I could not leave her alone with her 
trouble in that strange place, without a word. So, feeling 
heart-sick, home-sick, and not knowing what else to do, T just 
put my arms about her, and began to cry in a very helpless 
but hearty way ; for, as I seldom indulge in this moist luxury, 
I like to enjoy it with all my might, when I do. 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 93 

It so happened I could not have done a better thing; for, 
though not a word was spoken, each felt the other's sympathy; 
and, in the silence, our handkerchiefs were more eloquent 
than words. She soon sobbed herself quiet ; and, leaving her 
on my bed, I went back to work, feeling much refreshed by 
the shower, though I'd forgotten to rest, and had washed my 
face instead of my hands. I mention this successful experi- 
ment as a receipt proved and approved, for the use of any 
nurse who may find herself called upon to minister to these 
wounds of the heart. They will find it more efficacious than 
cups of tea, smelling-bottles, psalms, or sermons; for a friendly 
touch and a companionable cry, unite the consolations of all 
the rest for womankind ; and, if genuine, will be found a 
sovereign cure for the first sharp pang so many suffer in these 
heavy times. 

I am gratified to find that my little Sergeant has found 
favor in several quarters, and gladly respond to sundry calls 
for news of him, though my personal knowledge ended five 
months ago. Next to my good John I hope the grass is 
green above him, far away there in Virginia ! I placed the 
Sergeant on my list of worthy boys ; and many a jovial chat 
have I enjoyed with the merry-hearted lad, who had a fancy 
for fun, when his poor arm was dressed. While Dr. P. poked 
and strapped, I brushed the remains of the Sergeant's brown 
inane shorn sorely against his will and gossiped with all 
my might, the boy making odd faces, exclamations, and 
appeals, when nerves got the better of nonsense, as they 
sometimes did : 

" I'd rather laugh than cry, when I must sing out anyhow, 
so just say that bit from Dickens again, please, and I'll stand 
it like a man." He did; for " Mrs. Cluppins," "Chad- 
band," and "Sam Weller," always helped him through; 



94: HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

thereby causing me to lay another offering of love and admi- 
ration on the shrine of the god of my idolatry, though he does 
wear too much jewelry and talk slang. 

The Sergeant also originated, I believe, the fashion of calling 
his neighbors by their afflictions instead of their names ; and I 
was rather taken aback by hearing them bandy remarks of 
this sort, with perfect good humor and much enjoyment of the 
new game, 

" Hallo, old Fits is off again !" " How are you, Eheuma- 
tiz?" " Will you trade apples, Kibs?" " I say, Miss P., 
may I give Typus a drink of this ?" " Look here, No Toes, 
lend us a stamp, there's a good feller," etc. He himself was 
christened " Baby B.," because he tended his arm on a little 
pillow, and called it his infant. 

Very fussy about his grub was Sergeant B., and much 
trotting of attendants was necessary when he partook of nour- 
ishment. Anything more irresistably wheedlesome I never 
saw, and constantly found myself indulging him, like the most 
weak-minded parent, merely for the pleasure of seeing his 
brown eyes twinkle, his merry mouth break into a smile, and 
his one hand execute a jaunty little salute that was entirely 
captivating. * I am afraid that Nurse P. damaged her dignity, 
frolicking with this persuasive young gentleman, though done 
for his well-being. But " boys will be boys," is perfectly 
applicable to the case ; for, in spite of years, sex, and the 
" prunes-and-prisms " doctrine laid down for our use, I have 
a fellow feeling for lads, and always owed Fate a grudge 
because I wasn't a lord of creation instead of a lady. 

Since I left, I have heard, from a reliable source, that my 
Sergeant has gone home ; therefore, the small romance that 
budded the first day I saw him, has blossomed into its second 
chapter ; and I now imagine " dearest Jane " filling my place, 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 95 

tending the wounds I tended, brushing the curly jungle I 
brushed, loving the excellent little youth I loved, ^and eventu- 
ally walking altarward, with the Sergeant stumping gallantly 
at her side. If she doesn't do all this, and no end more, I'll 
never forgive her ; and sincerely pray to the guardian saint 
of lovers, that " Baby B." may prosper in his wooing, and 
his name be long in the land. 

One of the lively episodes of hospital life, is the frequent 
marching away of such as are well enough to rejoin their 
regiments, or betake themselves to some convalescent camp. 
The ward master comes to the door of each room that is to be 
thinned, reads off a list of names, bids their owners look 
sharp and be ready when called for; and, as he vanishes, the 
rooms fall into an indescribable state of topsy-turvyness, as 
the boys begin to black their boots, brighten spurs, if they 
have them, overhaul knapsacks, make presents ; are fitted out 
with needfuls, and well, why not ? kissed sometimes, as 
they say, good by ; for in all human probability we shall 
never meet again, and a woman's heart yearns over anything 
that has clung to her for help and comfort. I never liked 
these breakings-up of my little household ; though my short 
stay showed me but three. I was immensely gratified by the 
hand shakes I got, for their somewhat painful cordiality assured 
me that I had not tried in vain. The big Prussian rumbled 
out his unintelligible adieux, with a grateful face and a 
premonitory smooth of his yellow moustache, but got no 
farther, for some ene else stepped up, with a large brown hand 
extended, and this recommendation of our very faulty estab- 
lishment : 

" We're off, ma'am, and I'm powerful sorry, for I'd no idea 
a 'orspittle was such a jolly place. Hope I'll git another ball 



96 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

somewheres easy, so I'll come back, and be took care on 
again. Mean, ain't it ?" 

I didn't tbink so, but tbe doctrine of inglorious ease was 
not tbe tbe rigbt one to preacb up, so I tried to look sbocked, 
failed signally, and consoled myself by giving bim tbe fat 
pincusbion be bad admired as tbe '* cutest little macbine 
agoin." Then tbey fell into line in front of tbe bouse, looking 
ratber wan and feeble, some of tbem, but trying to step out 
smartly and marcb in good order, tbougb balf tbe knapsacks 
were carried by tbe guard, and several leaned on sticks instead 
of sbouldering guns. All looked up and smiled, or waved 
beir bands and touched tbeir caps, as tbey passed under our 
windows down tbe long street, and so away, some to tbeir 
bomes in tbis world, and some to tbat in tbe next ; and, for 
the rest of tbe day, I felt like Rachel mourning for her 
children, when I saw the empty beds and missed tbe familiar 
faces. 

You ask if nurses are obliged to witness amputations and 
such matters, as a part of their duty ? I think not, unless 
they wish ; for the patient is under the effects of ether, and 
needs no care but such as the surgeons can best give. Our 
work begins afterward, when the poor soul comes to himself, 
sick, faint, and wandering ; full of strange pains and confused 
visions, of disagreeable sensations and sights. Then we must 
sooth and sustain, tend and watch ; preaching and practicing 
patience, till sleep and time have restored courage and self- 
control. 

I witnessed several operations ; for the height of my ambition 
was to go to the front after a battle, and feeling that the sooner 
I inured myself to trying sights, the more useful I should be. 
Several of my mates shrunk from such things ; for though the 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 97 

spirit was wholly willing, the flesh was inconveniently weak. 
One funereal lady came to try her powers as a nurse ; bur, a 
brief conversation eliciting the facts that she fainted at the 
sight of blood, was afraid to watch alone, couldn't possibly 
take care of delirious persons, was nervous about infections, 
and unable to bear much fatigue, she was mildly dismissed. 
I hope she found her sphere, but fancy a comfortable bandbox 
on a high shelf would best meet the requirements of her case. 

Dr. Z. suggested that I should witness a dissection ; but I 
never accepted his invitations, thinking that my nerves belonged 
to the living, not to the dead, and I had better finish my educa- 
tion as a nurse before I began that of a surgeon. But I 
never met the little man skipping through the hall, with oddly 
shaped cases in his hand, and an absorbed expression of coun- 
tenance, without being sure that a select party of surgeons 
were at work in the dead house, which idea was a rather trying 
one, when I knew the subject was some person whom I had 
nursed and cared for. 

But this must not lead any one to suppose that the surgeons 
were willfully hard or cruel, though one of them remorsefully 
confided to me that he feared his profession blunted his sensi- 
bilities, and, perhaps, rendered him indifferent to the sight of 
pain. 

I am inclined to think that in some cases it does ; for, though 
a capital surgeon and a kindly man, Dr. P., through long 
acquaintance with many of the ills flesh is heir to, had acquired 
a somewhat trying habit of regarding a man and his wound as 
separate institutions, and seemed rather annoyed that the 
former should express any opinion upon the latter, or claim 
any right in it, while under his care. He had a way of 
twitching off a bandage, and giving a limb a comprehensive 
sort of clutch, which, though no doubt entirely scientific, was 



98 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

rather startling than soothing, and highly objectionable as a 
means of preparing nerves for any fresh trial. He also 
expected the patient to assist in small operations, as he consid- 
ered them, and to restrain all demonstrations during the 
process. 

" Here, my man, just hold it this way, while I look into it 
a bit," he said one day to Fitz G., putting a wounded arm 
into the keeping of a sound one, and proceeding to poke 
about among bits of bone and visible muscles, in a red and 
black chasm made by some infernal machine of the shot or 
shell description. Poor Fitz held on like grim Death, ashamed 
to show fear before a woman, till it grew more than he could 
bear in silence ; and, after a few smothered groans, he looked 
at me imploringly, as if he said, " I wouldn't, ma'am, if I 
could help it," and fainted quietly away. 

Dr. P. looked up, gave a compassionate sort of cluck, and 
poked away more busily than ever, with a nod at me and a 
brief " Never mind ; be so good as to hold this till I finish." 

I obeyed, cherishing the while a strong desire to insinuate a 
few of his own disagreeable knives and scissors into him, and 
see how he liked it. A very disrespectful and ridiculous 
fancy, of course ; for he was doing all that could be done, 
and the arm prospered finely in his hands. But the human 
mind is prone to prejudice ; and, though a personable man, 
speaking French like a born " Parley voo," and whipping off 
legs like an animated guillotine, I must confess to a sense of 
relief when he was ordered elsewhere ; and suspect that several 
of the men would have faced a rebel battery with less trepida- 
tion than they did Dr. P., when he came briskly in on his 
morning round. 

As if to give us the pleasures of contrast, Dr. Z. succeeded 
him, who, I think, suffered more in giving pain than did his 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 99 

patients in enduring it ; for he often paused to ask: " Do I 
hurt you?" and, seeing his solicitude, the boys invariably 
answered : " Not much ; go ahead, Doctor," though the lips 
that uttered this amiable fib might be white with pain as they 
spoke. Over the dressing of some of the wounds, we used 
to carry on conversations upon subjects foreign to the work in 
hand, that the patient might forget himself in the charms of 
our discourse. Christmas eve was spent in this way ; the 
Doctor strapping the little Sergeant's arm, I holding the lamp, 
while all three laughed and talked, as if anywhere but in a 
hospital ward ; except when the chat was broken by a long- 
drawn " Oh ! " from " Baby B.,' J an abrupt request from the 
Doctor to " Hold the lamp a little higher, please," or an 
encouraging, " Most through, Sergeant," from Nurse P. 

The chief Surgeon, Dr. 0., I was told, refused the higher 
salary, greater honor, and less labor, of an appointment to 
the Officer's Hospital, round the corner, that he might serve 
the poor fellows at Hurlyburly House, or go to the front, 
working there day and night, among the horrors that succeed 
the glories of a battle. I liked that so much, that the quiet, 
brown- eyed Doctor was my especial admiration ; and when my 
own turn came, had more faith in him than in all the rest 
put together, although he did advise me to go home, and 
authorize the consumption of blue pills. 

Speaking of the surgeons reminds me that, having found all 
manner of fault, it becomes me to celebrate the redeeming 
feature of Hurlyburly House. I had been prepared by the 
accounts of others, to expect 'much humiliation of spirit from 
the surgeons, and to be treated by them like a door-mat, a 
worm, or any other meek and lowly article, whose mission it 
is to be put down and walked upon ; nurses being considered 
as mere servants, receiving the lowest pay, and, it's my private 



100 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

opinion, doing the hardest work of any part of the army, 
except the mules. Great, therefore, was my surprise, when I 
found myself treated with the utmost courtesy and kindness. 
Very soon my carefully prepared meekness was laid upon the 
shelf; and, going from one extreme to the other, I more than 
once expressed a difference of opinion regarding sundry messes 
it was my painful duty to administer. 

As eight of us nurses chanced to be off duty at once, we 
had an excellent opportunity of trying the virtues of fehese 
gentlemen ; and I am bound to say they stood the test admi- 
rably, as far as my personal observation went. Dr. O.'s 
stethescope was unremitting in its attentions ; Dr. S. brought 
his buttons into my room twice a day, with the regularity of a 
medical clock ; while Dr. Z. filled my table with neat little 
bottles, which I never emptied, prescribed Browning, bedewed 
me with Cologne, and kept my fire going, as if, like the candles 
in St. Peter's, it must never be permitted to die out. Waking, 
one cold night, with the certainty that my last spark had pined 
away and died, and consequently hours of coughing were in 
store for me, I was much amazed to see a ruddy light dancing 
on the wall, a jolly blaze roaring up the chimney, and, down 
upon his knees before it, Dr. Z., whittling shavings. I ought 
to have risen up and thanked him on the .spot ; but, knowing 
that he was one of those who like to do good by stealth, I 
only peeped at him as if he were a friendly ghost ; till, having 
made things as cozy as the most motherly of nurses could 
have done, he crept, away, leaving me to feel, as somebody 
says, " as if angels were a watching of me in my sleep ;" 
though that species of wild fowl do not usually descend in 
broadcloth and. glasses. I afterwards discovered that he .split 
the wood himself on that cool January midnight, and went 
about making or mending fires for the poor old ladies in their 



HOSPITAL SKETCHES. , 101 

dismal dens ; thus causing himself to be felt a bright and 
shining light in more ways than one. I never thanked him 
as I ought ; therefore, I publicly make a note of it, and further 
aggravate that modest M. D. by saying that if this was not 
being the best of doctors and the gentlest of gentlemen, I shall 
be happy to see any improvement upon it. 

To such as wish to know where these scenes took place, I 
must respectfully decline to answer ; for Hurly-burly House 
has ceased to exist as a hospital ; so let it rest, with all its 
sins upon its head, - perhaps I should say chimney top. 
When the nurses felt ill, the doctors departed, and the patients 
got well, I believe the concern gently faded from existence, or 
was merged into some other and better establishment, where I 
hope the washing of three hundred sick people is done out of 
the house, the food is eatable, and mortal women are not 
expected to possess an angelic exemption from all wants, and 
the endurance of truck horses. 

Since the appearance of these hasty Sketches, I have heard 
from several of my comrades at the Hospital ; and their 
approval assures me that I have not let sympathy and fancy 
run away with me, as that lively team is apt to do when 
harnessed to a pen. As no two persons see the same thing 
with the same eyes, my view of hospital life must be taken 
through my glass, and held for what it is worth. Certainly, 
nothing was set down in malice, and to the serious-minded 
party who objected to a tone of levity in some portions of the 
Sketches, I can only say that it is a part of my religion to 
look well after the cheerfulnesses of life, and let the dismals 
shift for themselves ; believing, with good Sir Thomas More, 
that it is wise to " be merrie in God." 

The next hospital I enter will, I hope, be one for the 
colored regiments, as they seem to be proving their right to 



102 HOSPITAL SKETCHES. 

the admiration and kind offices of their white relations, who 
owe them so large a debt, a little part of which I shall be so 
proud to pay. 

Yours, 

With a firm faith 

In the good time coming, 

TRIBULATION PERIWINKLE. 



NEW PUBLICATION. 



Heady September 1. 



SPEECHES, LECTURES, 

AND 

LETTERS: 



BY 

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CONTENTS OF THE VOLUME: 

I. Publisher's Advertisement, containing a Letter from Mr. Phillips. 

II. The Murder of Lovejoy. Mr. Phillips' first Speech in Boston, delivered De- 
cember 8, 1837, which at once established his fame as one of the ablest of living 
orators. 

III. Woman's Rights. Speech at Worcester, October 15, 1851, with the Resolu- 
tions, embodying the whole philosophy of the Woman's Rights Movement, prepared 
and presented by Mr. Phillips. 

IV. Public Opinion. Delivered January 28, 1852. 

V. Surrender of Sims. January 30, 1852. 

VI. Sims' Anniversary. April 12, 1852. 

VII. Philosophy of the Abolition Movement. January 27, 1853. 

VIII. Removal of Judge Loring. February 20, 1855. 

IX. The Boston Mob. October 21, 1855. 

X. The Pilgrims. December 21, 1855. 

XI. Letter to Judge Shaw and President Walker. August 1, 1859. 

XII. Idols. October 4, 1859. 

XIII. Harper's Ferry. November 1, 1859. 

XIV. Burial of John Brown. Delivered at the Grave of the Martyr, December 
8, 1859. 

XV. Lincoln's Election. November 7, 1860. 

XVI. Mobs and Education. December 21, 1860. 

XVII. Disunion. January 20, 1861. 

XVIII. Progress. February 17, 1S61. 

XIX. Under the Flag. April 21, 1861. 

XX. The War for the Union. December, 1861. 

XXI. The Cabinet. August 1, 1862. 

XXII. Letter to the New York Tribune. August 16, 1862. 

XXIII. Toussaint L'Ouverture. December, 1861. 

XXIV. A Metropolitan Police. April 25, 1863. 

XXV. The State of the Country. May 11, 1863. 



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