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Full text of "Three years in field hospitals of the Army of the Potomac"

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THREE YEARS 



FIELD HOSPITALS. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

Open Knowledge Commons and Harvard Medical School 



http://www.archive.org/details/threeyearsinfielOOhols 



THREE YEARS 



FIELD HOSPITALS 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 



BY 
MRS. H. 



PHILADELPHIA: 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO. 

18 67. 



EDrc 



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ff %4 ^ K 



Entered, ace 



reding to Act of Congress,-€ajs 



fear 1867, by 



In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern 
District of Pennsylvania. 



INTRODUCTION. 



This simple story of hospital scenes, and the 
unpretending sketches of the few brave soldiers 
to which they allude, is arranged from the mea- 
ger notes which were hurriedly written at the 
time they occurred, when there was not the 
most remote idea of ever preparing them for 
publication. 

The events of the war are "graven as with an 
iron pen" upon my memory. To preserve some 
slight memento of them for friends at home, was 
the primary object of these notes: to gratify the 
same persons are they now grouped together. 

Mrs. H. 

Upper Merion, 

Montgomery County, Penna.. 
October 1, 1866. 

(7) 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 



Antietam — Hospitals — Frederick City — Virginia — Break- 
ing up of the Hospitals — Moving North with the Army... 



CHAPTER II. 

Battle of Gettysburg — The Wounded — Incidents in Hos- 
pital — Sanitary Commission Work — The Flagon "Round 
Top" 38 



CHAPTER III. 

The Campaign of 1864— Port Royal— White House— City 
Point 58 



CHAPTER IV. 

First Visit to Annapolis — Stories of Starved Men — Burial 
at Andersonville — Neely's Life in the Dungeon of Castle 
Thunder — Sergeant Kerker — Captains Wilson and Shel- 
ton in the "Iron Cage," in Buncombe County, Tenn. — 
The Boy and the Flag — Gould's returning Conscious- 
ness — Mr. Brown in Danville Prison 91 

( vii ) 




THREE YEAR 



CHAPTER I. 

Antietani.— Hospitals.— Frederick City. — Virginia. — Breaking 
up of the Hospitals. — Moving North with the Army. 

When the first sounds of war were heard, and there 
dimly dawned the startling fact that traitors were im- 
periling the life of the nation, we all remember how 
thousands rushed to arms at our country's call, eager 
to proffer aid in this her hour of need. City, village, 
and country alike gave, as their first offering, their 
young men, the pride and strength of the land. 

The first that our quiet valley knew of the prepara- 
tion for war, a company was being gathered from 
about our very doors, — with Col. Hartranft (now 
major-general — and nobly has he won the double stars, 
to which his bravery entitles him) as their chosen com- 
mander. We saw them as they stood beneath the 
shade of a spreading tree, with uplifted hand, vowing 
true allegiance to the best government the world has 

2 (9) 



10 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

ever yet beheld ; and as that roll now shows, many 
upOn far-off battle-fields have sealed it with their 
blood. 

They followed where Burnside led; and all along 
that way, which occupied four years of these eventful 
times, we trace their course, marked by the battles in 
which they so bravely bore their part. 

As the soldiers went out from among us, there came 
the yearning wish to lessen somewhat the hardships of 
their lonely camp life, especially when sick in hospital 
or wounded. What each family first began to do for 
their relatives and friends, soon became general; and 
thus by uniting together, "Soldiers' Aid Societies" 
were formed. With all loyal women of the land, I 
worked zealously in their behalf; worked, because 
there was irresistible impulse to do, to act. Anything 
but idleness, when our armies were preparing for the 
combat, and we knew not who should be the firstto 
fall, who be called ividow, or who fatherless. At 
length the battle of Antietam came so startlingly near, 
that it brought before us the horrors and sufferings of 
war as we had never previously felt it. From our 
midst six women felt called upon to offer their services, 
for a few weeks, to nurse the wounded. Though 
strongly urged to make one of the number, I declined. 
The idea of seeing and waiting upon wounded men, 
was one from which I shrank instinctively. 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 1 I 

But when my husband returned, soon after, with 
the sad story that men were actually dying for food, 
home comforts and home care; lying by the roadside, 
in barns, sheds, and out-houses; needing everything 
that we could do for them, I hesitated no longer, but 
with him went earnestly to work in procuring supplies 
of food, medicine, and clothing. Through the kindness 
of friends and neighbors, we were enabled to take with 
us a valuable supply of articles that were most urgent- 
ly required. Fortunately they were hurried through 
without delay, came most opportunely, and were inval- 
uable. The name of Antietam is ever associated in 
my mind with scenes of horror. 

As I passed through the first hospitals of wounded 
men I ever saw, there flashed the thought — this is the 
work God has given me to do in this war. To care for 
the wounded and sick, as sorrowing wives and mothers 
at home would so gladly do, were it in their power. 
From the purest motives of patriotism and benevolence 
was the vow to do so, faithfully, made. It seemed 
a long time before I felt that I could be of any use — 
until the choking sobs and blinding tears were stayed; 
then gradually the stern lesson of calmness, under all 
circumstances, was learned. 

We found the men, who had so bravely fought, still 
scattered over the hardly-contested field. At this time, 
6th of October, 1862, they were all under some kind of 



12 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

shelter. A sad want of suitable food and medical 
stores was still felt ; and though both were forwarded 
as rapidly as possible, yet it was insufficient to relieve 
the distress. 

At that early day in the history of the war, we found 
our noble United States Sanitary Commission here, 
doing a vast amount of good. From their store-room 
were sent, in every direction, supplies to relieve the 
greatest suffering. And to it, strangers as we were to 
them, we daily came for articles which we found, in our 
visits to the hospitals, were most urgently needed, and 
which our own more limited stores could not furnish. 
They were as freely given to us for distribution, as they 
had been in like manner intrusted to them by friends 
at home. The Montgomery County delegation occu- 
pied one room in a house adjoining the " German 
Reformed Church Hospital." In this uncomfortable, 
little place, crowded with boxes and swarming with 
hospital flies, the six ladies continued their labors 
during the day, waiting and working faithfully among 
the wounded. And so dividing their number that part 
went daily in the ambulance, which was furnished for 
their use, to look after and prepare food for those in the 
country that urgently required it, while the remainder 
attended to the same kind offices for those who were in 
town. Of the six who at that time volunteered their 
services, one remained in the hospital for two years; 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 13 

two others, from that date until the close of the war, 
were known as reliable, valuable helpers. 

Added to this fatiguing kind of labor, there seemed 
no limit to the numbers who came looking after their 
dead and wounded, the "loved and lost." From that 
little room persons were constantly aided in their 
search for missing friends, food furnished at a time 
when it was almost impossible to buy at any price, 
and they directed to lodgings in the town or else- 
where. 

Among these was a young wife, whose frantic grief 
I can never forget. She came hurriedly, as soon as 
she knew her husband was in the battle, only to find 
him dead and buried two days before her arrival. Un- 
willing to believe the fact that strangers told her — how 
in the early morning they had laid him beside his com- 
rades in the orchard, she still insisted upon seeing him. 
Accompanying some friends to the spot, she could not 
wait the slow process of removing the body, but, in her 
agonizing grief, clutched the earth by handfuls where 
it lay upon the quiet sleeper's form. And when at 
length the slight covering was removed, and the 
blanket thrown from off the face, she needed but one 
glance to assure her it was all too true. Then, passive 
and quiet beneath the stern reality of this crushing sor- 
row, she came back to our room. The preparations 
for taking the body to Philadelphia were all made for 
2* 



14 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

her, and with his remains she left for her now desolate 
home. 

My imperfect notes of this date are filled with 
names of terribly wounded men, who are scattered 
over the entire extent of the field, recalling most 
vividly scenes that can never be forgotten. Those 
were fortunate who were in barns, where they were 
sure of a little hay or straw upon which to rest their 
shattered limbs, while many of the others lingered a 
few days, with no bed nor pillow other than a knapsack 
or piece of clothing. And then — the weary marches 
over, their last fight ended, they closed their eyes, and 
sank to rest. Upon one end of the piazza, at Locust 
Spring, lay Lieut, Williams, of Connecticut. For three 
weeks he lingered in intense suffering, and then passed 
from earth. That same piazza had been thickly strewn 
with the dying, and the wounded, ever since the battle. 
In the house were several officers, all seriously wounded. 
The barns were crowded with the sufferers; among 
them Lieut. Maine, of the 8th Connecticut — nursed by 
his wife, patient and gentle, while life lasted. In one of 
the tents was a zouave ; a shell had torn his chin and 
fractured the shoulder; both legs broken; the fingers of 
one hand partly gone, — yet he is cheerful, and thinks 
he got off well. Near him lay a young boy, from 
Union, Centre County, Penna., wounded in the chest 
badly, but, as his surgeon said, not fatally. His 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 15 

thoughts, sleeping and waking, were of home. He 
was constantly repeating, " Oh, take me to my mother." 
And when I told him that I would do all I could for 
him, that I knew many persons in Centre County, he 
brightened up and quickly said : " Then you will take 
me to my mother." Of his wound he never seemed 
to think, but at each visit we saw that he was fast 
passing beyond our care; and in a few days, repeating, 
while life lasted, the same words, he "fell asleep," and 
so went to his "long home." In a miserable little log- 
house near the Potomac, thirty men lay upon the floor, 
ill with fever; some had a little straw, but no pillows 
were to be found ; at that time it was unavoidable, but 
their food was hardly fit for well men ; medicines very 
scarce; — this house the counterpart of many others, 
both as to occupants, food, etc. 

On the same road were several places filled with 
wounded rebels ; in their hurried flight, they had been 
left by thousands, and now had to be provided for. The 
Episcopal church in the town had also been taken for 
their use. The rest of the churches, and half the houses 
in the place, were crowded with our wounded troops. 

Going into the hospital one evening, I found, lying 
upon a stretcher near the door, Wm. P. C, of the 12th 
New York State Vols., "the" only son of his mother, and 
she was a widow." To my question, if I could do any- 
thing for him, he replied: "Not now; he was waiting 



16 - THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

for the surgeon to attend to him." A few hours later, 
when taken from the operating table, I found him per- 
fectly calm and quiet; after making him as comfortable 
as could be done for the night, promised to care for him 
on the morrow. When I first wrote to his mother, it 
was only to tell her he was wounded. The following 
day was a decided change for the worse, and he 
thought he could not live. Even then, it was not upon 
his own sufferings and death that his mind dwelt, but 
upon his absent mother and sisters. He would con- 
stantly exclaim, "This will kill my mother; oh, break 
it gently to her," After messages to them, would ask 
that some portion of Scripture be read to him, and the 
prayers which he named repeated with him. Thus 
occupied, the hours fled too rapidly, as we felt that 
each moment was precious to him who was upon the 
brink of that unknown river, whose crossing must be 
alone. By his lonely bedside, I wept bitter tears for 
the home so darkened, the light of a mother's life 
departed, and the sorrowing sisters of whom he spake. 
Conscious almost to the moment of his departure, he 
calmly and trustfully passed "into the spirit land." 
Upon the evening of the same day, 13th of October, 
1862, with my husband and a lady friend, we accompa- 
nied the detachment of his own regiment which carried 
his body to the grave. In the Lutheran church-yard, 
with the solemn burial-service of the Episcopal Church, 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. IT 

Mr. Holstein committed his remains to the grave. 
"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust." 
Soon after came the most touching letter of thanks 
from his sister. I thought then, as I still think, that 
those kindly words amply repaid me for the little I had 
done for him, or all I could do, for other soldiers, in 
the future. A few months afterward we stood again 
beside his open grave ; this time, at the request of his 
sister, that we should once more look upon the body 
we had placed there, and know that it was indeed her 
brother. Painful as it was, her request was complied 
with to the letter ; the body, disinfected, was prepared 
for reinterment. With my husband as its escort, the 
homeward journey was taken; at length reached Utica, 
N. Y., in safety; then, his last request complied with, 
carried by loving hands to its final resting-place. 
Again came words of thanks, dearer far to me than 
any earthly treasure. 

While the army rested in the vicinity of Sharpsburg, 
in addition to the wounded, scores of fever-patients 
came pouring in ; some new regiments went down by 
hundreds. About this time the wounded were gath- 
ered up from the numerous scattering hospitals, and 
sent to " Smoketown " or "Frederick City." As the 
short supply of medicine, food, and clothing continued, 
we left, when the party of six went home. Going di- 
rectly to Philadelphia, came to the house of a relative as 



18 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

the wedding-party of a dear friend was about proceeding 
to the church ; with the family, we stood around the 
chancel, as our beloved Bishop Potter pronounced the 
words which made the twain one; and then, as the 
guests returned to the house, for a few moments mingled 
with the crowd. But think of the contrast! Only yes- 
terday walking among, and waiting upon the mangled, 
brave defenders of our country's flag; men who were 
in want of suitable food, lying upon the hard ground ; 
needing beds, pillows, clothing, covering, — is it any 
wonder that I turned away, sick at heart, coldly calcu- 
lating how many lives of noble men might have been 
saved with the lavish abundance of the wedding festiv- 
ities which I saw ? Of the wedding, I knew nothing 
more ; but quietly withdrew to an upper room. From 
thence sent notes, imploring help for the wounded, to 
friends throughout the city: so prompt and abundant 
was the response, that in forty-eight hours we were oh 
our way back to Antietam, with boxes of medical 
stores, valued at one thousand dollars. Delicacies, 
clothing, etc., all selected to meet the wants as we rep- 
resented. We were again most warmly welcomed by 
our friends, the surgeons, under whose direction our 
labors had heretofore been carried on. The supplies, 
as they said, were in many instances a perfect ''God- 
send," as we had articles which it was impossible to 
obtain there. This time, our location was a better 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 19 

one, near the Lutheran church, occupying part of a 
house devoted to fever-patients. A narrow entry sep- 
arated our room from the one where twenty men laid 
upon the floor. Here, in one corner, was a graduate of 
Yale College; his opposite neighbor, a young lawyer, 
from near Pittsburg, who was an only son; next to 
him, upon the floor, the son of a Presbyterian clergy- 
man ; the rest of the occupants, Eastern and Western 
men, indiscriminately mingled. All privates. But all, 
far superior to the same number from any portion of 
the rebel ranks that I have ever seen. 

The next house was filled in like manner: soon after 
we came, and before the names and faces of the men 
were familiar, I went there, carrying some nourishing 
food. A Pittsburg colonel had just requested that I 
would find some of his regiment, if possible, that he 
could not trace. As I opened the door, and asked, 
"Are there any from Pennsylvania here V a number 
replied in the affirmative ; but the one nearest me sank 
back gloomily upon his handful of straw, murmuring : 
"Well, as I am from Massachusetts, I suppose that 
means that we are not to have any of that nice supper." 
I quickly corrected his mistake, and explaining my 
errand, told them the supper was for all: there could 
be no distinction of States, where all the soldiers needed 
care. Thus early was I taught a lesson I never forgot. 

It was but a few days until they were all moved into 



20 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

our house, and this same Massachusetts soldier, Mr. B., 
was one that required more kindness and attention than 
any of the others, during the short time he lived. In 
the same room was Jim C, a boy of nineteen, belonging 
to the 32d Massachusetts Yols. ; he had been very ill 
with fever, but was thought convalescent ; but owing to 
some imprudence, there was a relapse, and he sank 
rapidly. When he knew there was no hope of his re- 
covery, his greatest comfort seemed to be to have the 
Scriptures read to him ; recognizing my voice, called : 
"Oh, pray for me! I have sinned, have sinned; but 
I repent, and 'believe in God the Father,'" etc. "Jim, 
who taught you the Creed?" "I don't know; but I 
want to say it all;" so it was repeated with him; and 
again, with the earnestness of a child, the Lord's 
Prayer was uttered. He listened with the closest 
attention, as different passages were recited to him; 
and would frequently interrupt the reading, saying: 
"Yes, I do believe; say that over again." It was a 
most affecting sight, the dying boy begging God's for- 
giveness of his sins, that he might be "taken up," as 
he expressed it ; and then his body laid in the earth 
without a fear. The few days he lingered were all 
thus spent, and when death was near, almost to the 
last moment that consciousness remained, and his 
voice could be heard, prayers for pardon were upon his 
lips. The evening of the 24th of October, 1862, he 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 21 

suddenly and peacefully died. Early the following 
morning, wrapped in his blanket, he was given a sol- 
dier's burial in the little church-yard. 

"Leave him to God's watching eye; 
Trust him to the hand that made him." 

At this time our valued friend, Mrs. E . . . . , who had 
been the directing power among the party of six, and 
who returned with us to Sharpsburg, had unmistakable 
symptoms of camp fever. She was taken home as 
quickly as possible; the attack at first seemed a light 
one, until an unlooked-for relapse brought her within 
the very shadow of the "dark valley," and she ap- 
peared sinking beyond all human skill. But prayers 
were heard, and answered, and a life so precious spared 
to be the sunlight of her husband's home, and a bless- 
ing to all around her. 

Her sister, " Miss Lizzie," then came to assist : from 
this period almost to the close of the war, she was my 
excellent co-worker. Among the wounded at Antietam, 
Gettysburg, and in Virginia, her kind ministrations 
will be long remembered. 

The 26th of October the army, which had been rest- 
ing for more than a month in the vicinity of the battle- 
field of Antietam, took up its line of march southward ; 
by the evening of the same day their camping-grounds 
were nearly all vacated. The 30th of the month, the 

3 



22 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

last of the troops were moving, and the town looked 
deserted; but in the hospitals the duties continue the 
same, and cases of the deepest interest are daily found. 
Of the numbers we had known upon our first arrival, 
many had gone to their "dreamless sleep" by the side 
of comrades who had early fallen ; and we now saw 
many hillocks in the little inclosures, where a few 
weeks ago lonely graves were found. 

The little hospital in our house continues full. When 
a soldier dies, his vacant place upon the floor is soon 
filled by another; and thus the number remains the 
same. D — g, from Pittsburg, an orphan, with only an 
elder brother to grieve for him, was a case that seemed 
particularly hard. "Leave of absence," at the right 
time, might possibly have saved his life ; but his fur- 
lough came a few hours after death had released the 
suffering body from sorrow and disappointments. 

Mr. B., the Massachusetts soldier, mentioned some 
time since, was now extremely ill : as I was busied in 
waiting upon them, one Sunday morning, he inquired if I 
would write home for him, as he dictated ; and replying 
that I certainly would, he directed me where to find his 
little writing-case, preferring that his own paper and 
envelopes should be used, that his wife might recognize 
his writing upon them. In a calm, composed manner, 
speaking so clear and distinct that the surgeon invol- 
untarily paused in his work to listen, he gave the part- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 23 

ing messages to wife and children ; wished a lock of his 
hair cut for his wife, while he was living; then, taking 
a ring off his finger, it was inclosed, as he directed, to 
his little daughter; after disposing of other keepsakes 
to his children, added: that their likenesses, with his 
wife's, that had so often comforted him in hours of sad- 
ness, and weary marches, though dimmed with the 
smoke and dust of battles, would be buried by his side. 
This was all he had of his distant home — pictures that 
were so dear, that even when life was gone, they must 
not be separated from him. Then, giving instructions as 
to the final disposition of his property, and the education 
of his children, he commended them, in a few earnest 
words, to the loving care of their Heavenly Father. 
As he directed, I closed the letter, and kept it until a 
few days later, when another was added to it, to say 
that the patient sufferer was at rest. Death, to him, 
was not unlooked for, though it came suddenly; as I 
was reading to him in the evening, he fell asleep, and 
never more wakened upon earth. In the morning we 
found his lifeless body, wrapped in his blanket, lying in 
the entry near our door, — the same resting-place that 
his fellow-soldiers had found. The first coffin that we 
knew used in the hospital was made for Mr. B., of 
rough boards — the remains of our packing-boxes. His 
request was faithfully carried out, and the pictures 
placed beneath his folded hands, 



24 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

Our party having for some time consisted of Mr. EL, 
myself, and friend, we stayed until the town was desert- 
ed ; the few that were left being taken to " Smoketown " 
and "Locust Spring." Our services no longer required, 
we went home the last of November ; staying there 
only long enough to arrange about the forwarding of 
supplies to us, as we should need them in the hospitals. 

Another trip to Antietam and Harper's Ferry, and 
Mr. H. returned, ill with the fever; fortunately, it was 
not a serious attack. We remained there only long 
enough to nurse him through it, when our trips to the 
hospitals at Antietam and Frederick City were resumed. 
While in the latter place, our home was the house of a 
well-known loyal family. They felt, what we at the 
North knew nothing of, that loyalty meant life was at 
stake, homes deserted, property destroyed, and the 
friends of early, happier years, all given up, — for what ? 
devotion to the country, and the flag ! 

As "Stonewall's" men marched through the town, 
they manifested their contempt for the "Starry Flag" 
by trailing it in the dust, at their horses' feet, as they 
rode along. Our friends, pained to know of their ill 
deeds, and unwilling to look upon the disgraceful act 
they were powerless to prevent, closed their doors and 
windows, that they might be out of sight. Their old 
neighbors pointed them out to the rebels, as they passed 
exultingly through their streets, as hated Unionists. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 25 

But their joy was of short duration ; soon driven out 
by our forces, and many prisoners taken, a long line of 
the captured were marched by their door. Now was 
their hour of triumph ; the flag which had been so cau- 
tiously concealed, and sacredly guarded, was brought 
from its hiding-place, and secured to the staff. Mrs. 
J , an elderly lady, a Virginian by birth, de- 
termined they should again pass under the flag they 
had dishonored. 

"In her attic window the staff she set, 
To show that one heart was loyal yet. 
She leaned far out on the window-sill, 
And shook it forth with a royal will." 

The rebels could only threaten, as they moved on, 
that if again in possession of the city, they and their 
home were doomed. Some months after this had 
occurred, I stood by that attic window as she related 
the story, and pointed out how defiantly she had waved 
it over them. Its weight was as much as I could raise, 
and yet, in the excitement, my friend was all uncon- 
scious of it. It was long after, before I saw or heard of 
Whittier's "Barbara Frietchie," — that charming story, 
so told that it will live for ages to come ; and have 
often wondered whether his original and my friend 
were the same. In visits to the hospitals, collecting 
and distributing articles needed among the wounded, 
3* 



26 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

the time was occupied until the battle of Fredericks- 
burg. 

Soon after as possible, we went to Virginia, and re- 
mained in the Second Corps Hospital, near Falmouth. 
Army life taught, perhaps, all who were in it many 
useful lessons. I never knew before how much could 
be done, in the way of cooking, with so few utensils. 
We thought we had some experience in that line at 
Sharpsburg, but here the conveniences were still fewer. 
When we commenced, a little "camp-stove," very little 
larger than a lady's band-box, fell to our lot, upon 
which to prepare the "light diet," as it is termed. 
Three articles — a coffee-pot, a half-gallon tin-cup, and a 
small iron-boiler — were the sum total of kitchen furnish- 
ing: we soon learned to manage nicely; by beginning 
in time, were always ready at the tap of the drum. 
For several weeks, seventy men were daily supplied 
with all the "light diet" they required, prepared upon 
it ; our soldier assistants worked admirably with it ; — 
and gradually, from the Sanitary Commission and 
friends at home, this department was fitted for work ; 
an abundance of delicacies could be made with the 
condensed milk and fresh eggs, which were regularly 
forwarded to us ; bread and biscuit were also sent, 
with farina, wines, butter, dried fruits, etc., so that 
the men fared well. Penn Relief, Reading, Pottstown, 
Danville, and some portions of Montgomery County. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 27 

were the sources from which our supplies, at this time, 
principally came. From the commencement until the 
close of the war, they never wearied in well-doing; 
but worked on devotedly, as only those could whose 
hearts were in it. The memory of them, and their 
good deeds, will ever be lovingly cherished by those 
whose hands were made the channel through which 
this stream of life-sustaining gifts flowed. 

We still depended entirely upon home-supplies for 
our own use; frequently, during that winter, our bread 
was four or five weeks old; we never called it stale 
even then, though at home we would think it unfit 
for the table in as many days. Several trips were 
made to Washington, to purchase bread for us; at 
length, at the request of the surgeon in charge, we drew 
army rations, and were spared much trouble. Our 
dwelling was a little "Sibley" tent, whose only floor 
was the fragrant branches of the pines — giving addi- 
tional care to our attentive "orderly," in its frequent 
renewing; there, while fully occupied, the winter 
slowly wore away. The deep mud, and impassable 
roads, cut by the army, precluded travel ; no chaplain, 
that / ever saw, came to our camp until the roads were 
in good order: men sickened and died, with no other 
religious services, save the simple Scripture reading, 
and prayers, which I was in the daily practice of using 
for them ; and which invariably were received with a 



28 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

pleasant "thank you," and adding: "We are always 
glad to see you, and have you read to us." 

A boy, belonging to the 148th P. V., George S. 
L . . . . , whose home was in Centre County, Penna., 
was very low from hemorrhage ; his nurse came to ask 
if / would try to induce him to eat ; he had refused all 
food that had been offered, and it was important that 
his strength should be kept up : I prepared some article 
as directed by the surgeon, and took it to him ; when 
I entered the tent, he was lying with closed eyes, and 
a face colorless as the canvas above him ; 1 spoke, 
telling him that I came, at the surgeon's request, to 
feed him, that he was not to speak -or make any exer- 
tion — merely swallow what I gave him. The blue 
eyes opened wide, scanned my face steadily for a mo- 
ment ; possibly satisfied with the scrutiny, no objection 
was made, and he really enjoyed the slight repast. I 
told him at such an hour I would be there again, and 
would prepare his food and drink. For two weeks, all 
he ate was what I gave him ; during that time was a 
very decided change for the better, and he could now 
converse without danger. The week preceding the 
battle of Chancellors ville, we were obliged to go home 
for a short time; but left, to carry on the work, my 
valuable assistant, Miss P. When George -found we 
expected to leave, he cried bitterly, exclaiming that "he 
knew he should die, if I left him ;" and thanking, and 
blessing me for my care. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 29 

As soon as it was possible, after the battle, to get 
within our lines, we were at our posts. During our 
absence the hospital had been moved two miles, and 
was now located near Potomac Creek. Of course, as 
soon as we arrived, my first inquiry was for George ; 
the surgeon replied, "he was living, that was all; was in 
a stupor, and knew no one." I could not realize that 
the boy must die ; when I hastened to his tent, and 
spoke, asking if he knew me, his reply was, calling me 
by name: "Do you think I ever could forget you?" 
My daily reading was again resumed ; the blue eyes 
now regularly brimmed over at my approach : it was 
his expressive, silent greeting; though apparently insen- 
sible to all around him, my voice would at any time 
rouse him, and a faint smile light up his wasted face. 
He lingered a few days longer, and then, one quiet 
morning, with the precious words of faith and hope yet 
sounding in his ears, he gently passed from earth. 

Trains of wounded were still coming from the late 
battle, when we arrived ; some had lain for many days 
upon the field, and were gathered up in out-of-the-way 
places ; one such group, of five, " shot to pieces," as they 
said, were entirely overlooked, until found by a New 
Hampshire chaplain, who brought them water for their 
wounds, and obliged the rebels to bring them food : 
finding they had not died, as they had hoped, they 
sheltered them slightly from the weather; and at 



30 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

length, to their great joy, they were sent to our lines. 
In the number were many badly, some singularly 
wounded. While the hospital continued crowded, the 
duties were wearisome, giving but little time, either 
day or night, for any of the attendants to rest; there 
was much daily occurring of interest among those who 
now filled the wards. 

Our nearness to the "front," within sound of mus- 
ketry and cannon, prepared us for whatever might occur, 
so that we were always anticipating more than passed 
around us. As soon as transportation could be had, 
the number in the hospital was lessened by sending 
the patients ISTorth. And now that milder days gave 
promise of the coming spring, the "surgeon in charge" 
commenced the work of beautifying the grounds ; soon 
the sloping hillsides were covered with a neatly planted 
garden, containing a large variety of vegetables. Flow- 
ers, roots, and seeds were sent to us ; and as if by 
magic, beds of flowers were scattered everywhere ; 
many springing into beauty in the form of the corps 
badge — needing but a few weeks' sunshine and showers 
to perfect the red color of the division. Rustic work 
of the most artistic order graced the grounds ; all this 
was done for a twofold reason — to give employment 
to the convalescents, and amusement to the patients. 
In front of our tent was a rustic arbor, so complete 
that any of our country homes would prize it for its 
beautv. 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 31 

Work went on, and everything made apparently as 
lasting as though we expected to spend the summer 
within sight and sound of rebel batteries. A few days 
previous to the army moving, a portion of the sixth 
corps was sent across the river to attract the attention 
of the rebels in that direction, and to ascertain what 
force they had remaining. We were close to one of 
our batteries during a portion of the time this was 
occurring, intently watching the skirmishers, and the 
rebels, that were plainly seen in the woods near them. 
Within a few minutes after we left the spot, the rebels 
again renewed their leaden compliments to the battery 
where we had been : they returned them in like man- 
ner ; in the distance, we plainly heard the sharp firing 
which ensued. Things continued in this way until 
Saturday, the 13th of June, 1863: while at dinner, the 
order was received to break up the hospital; quietly 
and rapidly was it obeyed ; the ambulances were in 
readiness to take all who could not walk, and in two 
hours the seven hundred men were on their way to the 
station. It was surprising to see how quickly crutches 
were thrown aside, and all who could, were willing to 
start for the cars — exulting in the prospect of going 
that much nearer home. When the order to "break 
up" was given, the gardener was putting the finishing 
touches to some ornamental rustic work about our tent : 
instantly hammer and hatchet were thrown aside, flow- 



32 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

ers remained implanted, and, with a hurried "good-by," 
he fell into line with his comrades. The remainder of 
that day was a busy scene of destruction and confusion ; 
but the night found us still occupying our tent, though 
nearly all the others, except a few of the officers' quar- 
ters, had been "struck." The next day, Sunday, came 
with all the loveliness of June ; but there was nothing 
in our surroundings to point it out to us as a day of 
rest. 

Almost the first object which the early morning re- 
vealed to us was the Army of the Potomac in motion. 
Looking down upon the plain beneath, far as the eye 
could reach, was a moving mass of men, horses, and 
artillery, with the heavy army wagons and trains of 
ambulances ; gleaming through and above it all, in the 
bright sunlight, were the bayonets — upheld by that 
heroic column, which the future record proved to be 
firm and enduring as their trusty steel. It was a grand 
sight, never to be forgotten ; in one continued stream, 
this mighty army poured along. At six in the evening, 
our hospital train of empty ambulances was in readi- 
ness ; and then the torch was applied to all that re- 
mained of so much beauty about our camp. We sat, 
quietly watching the flames as they curled and flashed 
from one arbor to another, encircling in a wall of fire 
the evergreen screens which had so pleasantly shielded 
us from heat and dust, and crumbling into ashes in a 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 33 

few moments the work of months. All hospital and 
army property which could not be transported, was 
thus consumed, two officers remaining to see that the 
work of destruction was complete ; what could not be 
burned, the axe rendered useless. As the flames less- 
ened, we took our places and moved on with the train, 
expecting to join the division at Stafford Court House; 
halting there long enough for a hasty supper, the march 
was resumed. To lookers-on, if any could be found in 
that desolate region, it must have presented the appear- 
ance of an almost unending torch-light procession : as 
from nearly every ambulance and wagon was suspended 
a lantern, to point out the dangers of an unknown road. 
At the crossing of Aquia Creek, rested for an hour; 
and here all were glad to sleep, even for that short 
time. A little distance beyond, passed a Connecticut 
battery of six siege guns — 32-pounders, each drawn by 
ten horses. Very early in the morning, the sixth army 
corps came up, moving quickly by, cheering as they 
passed, and calling, " On for- Pennsylvania!" Break- 
fasted near Quantico Creek, in a rebel house ; the occu- 
pants enjoyed our coffee, as a luxury beyond their reach 
since the commencement of the war; on the surround- 
ing hills, found many deserted rebel camps, abatis, and 
defenses of various kinds. This day's march brought 
us to Dumfries, and camped in its vicinity at 11 p.m., 

4 



34 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

the occupants of our ambulance most thoroughly used 
up, all but myself; assisted in arranging ouf little tent, 
prepared lunch, and made very strong tea with thick, 
muddy water — tired and hungry as we were, it was not 
as unpalatable as one would imagine. After three 
hours' rest, the order was given, quietly, to move 
quickly as possible, but cautiously, as we were in sight 
of rebel camp fires. Here, as elsewhere in this hur- 
ried journey, whenever such orders were given, some 
of the soldiers ran with our ambulance, steadying it, 
as the wretched roads required. The rebels were con- 
tinually harassing the rear of our column. We had 
left Stafford Court House late in the evening ; the 
next morning our cavalry had a short fight with them 
there. 

The morning of the 16th of June was cool and de- 
lightful, but the mid- day heat was intense ; the soldiers 
feeling it painfully, but bearing it cheerfully. From this 
place onward, our course could be traced by the blank- 
ets, coats, and knapsacks'thrown aside by the foot-sore 
and weary men ; broken, abandoned wagons and disa- 
bled horses, seen all along the route. The difficulty of 
procuring water was greater than any previous time; 
numbers of Avells by the roadside were observed filled 
with stones; the water was alwa} T s muddy and bad, and 
could be had only at long distance from the road. This 
day found both men and horses needing a full night's 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 35 

rest : quite early in the evening we halted at the edge 
of a beautiful wood in Fairfax County, and in its shade 
our little tent was pitched; with the dawn we were 
astir, deeply thankful for our safe, refreshing rest and 
shelter during the night. Of course, in all this jour- 
ney, our bed was a soldier's couch — the ground; with 
a gum-blanket, and satchel for a pillow, could at any 
time or hour sleep soundly. 

We crossed the stony Occoquan at Wolf's Ford ; on 
the heights were the •remains of formidable-looking 
rebel fortifications. Here, June 15th, 1863, we heard 
the first tidings that the rebels were in Pennsylvania ; 
the excitement the news created was intense. This 
day's heat told sadly upon the men ; despite their eager- 
ness to reach Pennsylvania, they could not bear up, 
and many fell by the wayside from exhaustion : in one 
division, one hundred and twenty reported with sun- 
stroke. During the hurried march, numbers of cavalry 
horses had been abandoned by their riders, who only 
required a few days' rest to recruit, and again they 
were ready for duty. They were to be seen all along 
our route, undisturbed by the passing column, except 
when caught by some of the foot soldiers. It was 
amusing to observe the ingenious arrangements made 
to answer for the horses' trappings : a piece of old tent- 
canvas was soon converted into an admirable bridle; 
another piece of the same shelter kept the saddle (a 



36 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

blanket) in its place ; thus mounted, he would be 
delighted ; and day by day added to the number of this 
escort. There were constantly exciting incidents : 
sometimes we were in a dangerous position, from our 
driver losing his place in the line ; then the crossing of 
the infantry through the train, the frequent breaking 
down of bridges, and the delay caused by disabled 
wagons constantly impeded our progress. 

Near "Union Mills," our troops camped for the night 
in "line of battle;" our little tent was pitched upon 
the banks of the stream, in rear of our army, almost 
within bugle-call of the rebel lines. Here the order was 
given to reduce officers' baggage to twenty pounds, 
forward the surplus to Washington — or destroy it. 
Many officers and men came with the request that we 
would take charge of money and valuables for them. 
It was a touching sight — upon the eve of a battle, as 
it was thought — to see keepsakes, from loved ones- at 
home, intrusted to comparative strangers, hoping thus 
to save them in case of attack, which here, near the 
old "Bull Run" battle-ground, seemed imminent, I 
wore under my coat a belt, and carried the costly sword 
belonging to it under my dress. A civilian, as my 
husband was, could not do so without danger of arrest, 
while I would pass unnoticed. The large amount of 
money and valuables in our possession were brought 
safely to Philadelphia, the former soon restored to its 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 3*7 

rightful owners ; the sword with some other articles 
were unclaimed till near the close of the war. 

As a battle was anticipated, and we were now access- 
ible to railroad, near Sangster's Station, it was thought 
advisable to proceed without delay to Alexandria and 
Washington, from whence we could readily return if 
our services were needed. After remaining some days 
in Washington, Mr. H. was threatened with an attack 
of malaria fever — warning us to proceed homeward 
without delay. We came to it, worn out and wearied 
as we were, as to a haven of rest. 



4* 



38 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS. 



CHAPTER II. 

Battle of Gettysburg. — The Wounded. — Incidents in Hospital. — 
Sanitary Commission Work. — The Flag on "Round Top." 

We remained at home only long enough for Mr. H. 
to recuperate sufficiently to bear the fatigues of travel. 
While he was still unfit for the journey, the great battle 
of Gettysburg, July 1st, 2d, and 3d, 1863, was fought ; 
within one week after it, we were on our way thither ; 
reaching the town late in the evening, spent the night 
upon the parlor floor of one of the hotels ; with a satchel 
for pillow, slept soundly. In the morning went to 
the Field Hospital, where we were most warmly wel- 
comed by our old friends of the second corps. The 
wounded, at that time, lay just where they had been 
placed when carried from the battle — friend and foe 
resting together. 

"Beside a stricken field I stood ; 
On the torn turf, on grass and wood, 
Hung heavily the dew of blood. 
Still, in their fresh mounds lay the slain, 
But all the air was quick with pain, 
And gusty sighs, and tearful rain." 

We soon found where and how to resume work, 
which we had so lately left, off: a tent was promptly 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 39 

prepared for our use ; it was not many hours until the 
"diet kitchen" was in full operation; with the large 
and valuable supplies taken on with us, the "institu- 
tion" moved on in a wonderfully smooth, efficient 
manner. 

To aid in relieving the suffering among these 
wounded men was the "Germantown Field Hospital 
Association" formed; I mention it here because this 
was the first point where it came prominently into 
notice. They sent as their representative the well- 
known rector of one of their churches, Rev. B. W. Mor- 
ris ; his services as chaplain are gratefully remembered 
by many in these eventful times. 

An incalculable amount of good resulted from this 
new "Association:" to me was given the great pleas- 
ure of distributing the articles which they contributed ; 
and, until the close of the war, appeals for money or 
hospital comforts ever met with a ready, cheerful re- 
sponse, and an abundant supply of all that was needed. 
They afterward became one of the most valuable aids 
to the "United States Sanitary Commission" to be 
found in Pennsylvania. 

The scenes around Gettysburg were horrible in the 
extreme : the green sod everywhere stained with the 
life-blood of dying men ; the course of the fearful strug- 
gle marked by the "ridges" which furrowed the 
ground until one great hillock would be pointed out 



40 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

where hundreds, perhaps, had sternly fought and 
bravely fallen. To persons unfamiliar with such 
things, as sad a sight as any are the heaps of blood- 
stained clothing, the shattered muskets, the discarded 
knapsacks, disabled cannon and caissons, and the in- 
numerable heaps of slain horses which literally coyer 
the hard- fought field. 

For a few weeks, the events daily occurring in the 
hospitals were most painful; they might be summed 
up, briefly, to be : fearfully wounded men ; nurses 
watching for the hour when suffering would cease, and 
the soldier be at rest; parents and friends crowding 
to the hospital, hoping for the best, yet fearing the 
worst; strong men praying that they might live just 
long enough to see, but once more, wife, or child, or 
mother. 

After this battle, relief came promptly ; it was upon 
our own soil, and the "great heart of the people" was 
stirred to its very depths, when they knew that among 
us thousands of our countrymen lay with ghastly 
wounds, — men who had stood as a "living wall" be- 
tween us and the foe, to save our homes from rebel 
rule. 

All of home luxuries that could be carried, were 
lavished with an unsparing hand by a now deeply 
grateful people. 

The government, fully equipped for the contest, had 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 41 

medical and hospital stores abundantly supplied. With 
the perfectly organized system and immense resources 
of the ''United States Sanitary Commission," ever 
ready and anxious to fill up all demands which the 
government could not, — aided by the Christian Com-, 
mission and large volunteer assistance, — there was no 
long-continued suffering, as in the earlier battles of the 
war. 

These days have left their impress upon all who 
were actors in them. Now, on this calm morning upon 
which I write, there comes thronging before me a vast 
array of forms and faces that I had thought forgotten. 
"Awake but one, and lo ! what myriads rise !" — and so 
the swiftly changing scenes appear. 

Prominent in them, I recall a burial where three 
were at one time taken to the little spot we called a 
cemetery. One sultry afternoon in July the stretcher- 
bearers came tramping wearily, bearing three bodies 
of those who had given their lives for freedom; as the 
last reached the place, the men dropped with a rough, 
jolting motion the army couch whereon he rested. 
The impatient effort to be rid of their burden was prob- 
ably the means of saving a precious life; for the man 
— dead, as they supposed — raising his head, called in 
a clear voice: "Boys, what are you doing ?" The re- 
sponse as prompt: "We came to bury you, Whitey." 
His calm reply was: "I don't see it, boys; give me a 



42 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

drink of water, and cany me back." And then glanc- 
ing into the open grave: "I won't be buried by this 
raw recruit !" The raw recruit was a lieutenant of his 
own regiment. Not many stand so near the "dark 
valley" that they look into their own graves, and 
live. The "boys "did carry him back; and with the 
greatest care, his life was saved ; months afterward he 
was sent to "Chestnut Hill Hospital," Philadelphia; 
from there he wrote to me to say that his surgeon 
thought he would recover. His name was Luther 
White, Co. K, 20th Massachusetts, from Boston; he 
was wounded by a piece of 'shell, which tore off part 
of his ear, and shattering his jaw, laid bare one side of 
the throat. After the battle, he remained for three 
days unconscious, then rallied ; and again sank away 
until he died, — as it was thought, and carried to the 
grave. 

While the hospitals remained in the woods, the number 
of deaths daily was very large ; as soon as the removal 
to the clover-field was accomplished, where all were in 
the sun, the change for the better was very decided ; 
the night after, only two deaths occurred. During the 
few weeks the wounded remained there, my notes were 
too hurried and unsatisfactory for reference ; they 
merely repeat that one and another has passed "to the 
land of rest." 

Large numbers of rebel wounded, numbering thou- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 43 

sands, were left in our corps hospital ; and though 
attended by their own surgeons, they neglected them so 
shamefully that it was an act of common humanity to 
provide better* treatment for men helpless and suffering, 
— prisoners as they were. One of our surgeons volun- 
teered to undertake the duty of attending them, and 
others were detailed for that purpose. Their condition 
when captured was so filthy that the task of waiting 
upon them was a revolting one. 

All of our wounded that could bear transportation 
were forwarded, as rapidly as it could be done, to hos- 
pitals in Pennsylvania and Maryland. By the Tth of 
August there still remained three thousand, who were 
moved into tents at the United States General Hospital 
on the York Turnpike ; when our corps hospital was 
merged into this, we removed there; I remained as its 
matron until the close. 

While the wounded were being brought in from dif- 
ferent directions, a rebel was placed in a tent of Union 
men; one of the number protested against having him 
among them. As they seemed to pay no heed to his 
objections, ended by saying that "he enlisted to kill 
rebels, and certainly as they left him there, his crutches 
would be the death of him — he could use them, if not the 
musket." The attendants, finding the soldier was in 
earnest and the rebel in mortal fear of him, good 
humoredly took him among his own countrymen. In 



44 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

opposite extremes of the camp this same scene oc- 
curred : two men protesting that they "enlisted to kill 
rebels," and would not have them under the same shelter. 

Captain J. C. H.,of the 145th Pennsylvania Yols., 
from Erie, had much the same idea ; he was suffering 
from a thigh amputation — the only one of nineteen 
similar cases, performed at the same time, that lived ; 
a rebel officer was placed in the back part of the cap- 
tain's tent, when he instantly ordered the nurses to 
carry him, upon his bed, under a tree which stood near 
— and there he remained nearly all day, until the sur- 
geon in charge settled the difficulty by removing the 
rebel. 

About one-third of the camp were rebels; this pro- 
portion was almost uniformly kept up ; rebel ladies 
from Baltimore and other places were permitted to 
come and wait upon their own wounded ; as matron, 
it was part of my duties to attend to the distribution 
of delicacies, etc.; I have waited upon them hour after 
hour, as kindly as I ever did upon our own loyal men. 
All this was before I had been among those who were 
starved in Southern prisons ; after having seen them, 
the task might have been a difficult one. The orders 
were imperative in the hospital : no difference was 
permitted in the treatment of the two. 

We found, in the rebel wards, the son of a former 
Secretary of State of New Hampshire, a conscript 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 45 

from Georgia ; his life had been repeatedly threatened 
by them, if he dared to leave, or if he admitted that he 
was a Union man ; so that no one ever suspected the 
fact, until the rebel officers had all been sent to " John- 
son's Island" or Baltimore; the same evening he came 
to the Sanitary tent, and told his story; from there 
taken to headquarters, where it was repeated, — insist- 
ing that he would take his own life, rather than leave 
the hospital a rebel prisoner. To assure him that he 
was among friends, the provost marshal was sent for, 
and the oath of allegiance taken. He remained as 
clerk for some time ; when his wound permitted, was 
sent home. 

A nephew of President Johnson, named Burchett, 
was also a Union man among rebels ; with a number 
of others, they were attempting to come into our lines 
Avhen captured. The rebels told them they would be 
put in the front ranks, and when they came to Gettys- 
burg, carrying out their threat, they were made breast- 
works of. None of the sixty escaped unhurt; many 
were killed. Burchett lost a leg, and one arm perma- 
nently disabled. He was a free-spoken Union man 
among them, and seemed to be no favorite with the 
rebs on that account. He remained a prisoner, hoping 
in the exchange to be sent to Richmond, that he might 
save some property belonging to his father, who had 
lost everything in Kentucky. 

5 



46 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

In the "Union tent," as it was called, standing alone 
in a rebel row, I found a boy of seventeen, wounded 
and "sick unto death," whose wan, emaciated face, and 
cheerful endurance of suffering, at once enlisted my 
sympathy. He was the son of a clergyman in Maine ; 
and in answer to inquiries about his wound, told me, 
with a feeling of evident pride, that "early in the day 
his right leg was shattered and left upon Seminary 
Hill, and he carried to the rear ; that the stump was 
doing badly ; he had enlisted simply because it was his 
duty to do so; now he had no regret or fear, let the 
result be as it might." I wrote immediately to his 
home, to tell them he was sinking rapidly ; my next 
briefly stated how very near his end was; there were 
but a few days more of gentle endurance, and the pre- 
sentiment of the child we had so tenderly cared for 
proved true — when, with murmured words of "home 
and heaven," his young life ebbed away — another 
added to the man}^ thousands given for the life of the 
nation. One week after his burial his father came ; 
with a heart saddened with his great loss, said that his 
eldest had fallen at "Malvern Hill," the second was 
with the army at Fernandina, and Albert, his young- 
est bom, slept with the heroes who had made a world- 
wide fame at Gettysburg. They were his treasures, 
but he gave them freely for his country. 

Another, the only child of a widowed mother, from 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 47 

Montgomery County, Penna., lay from July until Oc- 
tober, calmly bearing untold agony from a wound 
which he certainly knew must result in death ; yet his 
one anxious thought, constantly expressed, was: "Mo- 
ther, do not grieve ; it is best, and right ; bury me with 
my comrades on the field." So, at sunrise one bright 
autumn morning, his soul went up to God, — the casket 
which had held it, we laid to rest among the nation's 
honored dead in Gettysburg Cemetery. 

This bereaved mother, who gave her all for her 
country, — her eldest upon Antietam's hard-fought field, 
Willie at Gettysburg, — with the thousands of others 
who have made the same precious offering, are names 
to be gratefully remembered and cherished while the 
record of this war endures. 

It is very rarely that our brave Union soldiers com- 
plain, or bear impatiently their wounds; on the con- 
trary, they endure suffering with a heroism which 
exceeds even the bravery of the battle-field. 

George W. Warner, of the 20th Connecticut, was a 
case in point : while in the act of firing his musket, a 
shell exploded which took off both arms near the 
shoulders, inflicting also serious wounds in his head 
and leg. He was uniformly cheerful with it all ; some- 
times would despond for a moment when speaking of 
his wife and children, but the cloud was of short dura- 
tion; the pleasant thought of how his little children 



48 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

would wait upon him, seemed to reassure him. As 
soon as he was able to walk, every one seemed ready 
to watch over, assist, and feed him. 

In the officers' row lay, for some weeks, a young lieu- 
tenant, from Schuylkill County, Penn., with both thighs 
shattered, suffering fearfully. A few hours before his 
death, at his request the Holy Communion was admin- 
istered to him ; after joining in the solemn services, 
he remained perfectly still, — unconsciously " passing 
away," as those present thought, — until a glee club, 
from Gettysburg, going through the hospital, singing 
as they walked, paused at his tent and sung — without 
knowing anything of what was passing within — 
"Rally round the Flag." The words and the music 
seemed to call back the spirit to earth, and forgetting 
his crushed limbs and intense suffering, sprang up, ex- 
claiming: "Yes, boys, we did 'rally round the flag;' 
and you will rally oft again!" then sank back ex- 
hausted, and soon was at rest. 

The clergyman Avho was present said it was a scene 
never to be forgotten ; the Christian soldier's devotion 
to his country, even when within the "dark valley," to 
be called back to life again by thoughts of the flag in 
whose defense his young life was given. 

In another portion of the hospital was a man from 
Western Pennsylvania, whom his friends mourned as 
dead; whose funeral sermon had been preached, and 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 49 

his name on the rolls marked "killed in battle." His 
captain and comrades saw him fall in the midst of a 
desperate charge, and almost without a struggle life 
was gone, — as they thought, and so reported. But it 
was not so ; the bullet, in its course, went crashing 
through both eyes, though sparing life. A few hours 
later, when the wounded were gathered up, they found 
him — 

"Where the fierce fight raged hottest through the day, 
And where the dead in scattered heaps were seen." 

Then taken with others to the hospital, he lay for 
weeks unconscious, his brain affected from the inflam- 
mation which ensued. He could give no history of 
himself; but when hungry, would make it known by 
calling u mother ;" and talk to her constantly, — first 
about his food, then of home concerns. I have heard 
him in these sad wanderings when he would ask : 
" What do the girls say about me, now I have gone 
to the war? does Jenny miss me?" and so on. At 
length his parents heard of him, and from the descrip- 
tion thought it might be the son they mourned as dead. 
I was in his tent when his father came, and recognized 
in the blind, deranged man his handsome, brave boy. 
Eventually his mind would be restored, but his sight 
never. In this state he took him home to the mother 
he talked of so much. 

In September, while the hospital was still crowded 
5* 



50 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

with patients, a festival was given for their amusement. 
The surgeon in charge, with the other officers, entered 
heartily into the plan. The Christian Commission 
took an active part in completing the arrangements, 
soliciting and obtaining abundant supplies of fruits and 
delicacies from friends in Philadelphia ; to this were 
added contributions from the town and adjoining coun- 
ties, making a grand feast of good things. The day 
selected, proving bright and balmy, tempted many, who 
had not yet ventured outside their tents, into the open 
air, hoping they might be able to participate in the 
promised enjoyments. The streets and tents of the 
hospital had been decorated with evergreens, and 
everything on this gala day had a corresponding cheer- 
ful look. Hospital life, with its strict military rule, is 
so wearisome and monotonous, that what would be the 
most trivial pleasure at other times and places, is here 
magnified into a matter of great importance. 

When the hour came for the good dinner, which was 
known would be provided, hundreds moved upon 
crutches with feeble, tottering steps to the table, look- 
ing with unmistakable delight upon the display of lux- 
uries. Bands of music enlivened the scene. All the 
variety of army amusements were permitted and 
encouraged, followed in the evening by an entertain- 
ment of negrr} mni^fj-pk — the performers being all 
white soldSSfein trie fi&sffijfaTCN^This last, the soldiers 




ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 51 

thought the crowning pleasure of the day. At an 
early hour the large crowds who had enjoyed it all, 
with the patients, quietly dispersed. 

Our long residence in the hospital gave us the oppor- 
tunity of understanding fully all the prominent points 
of interest in the battle-field, which was constantly be- 
fore us : if we but raised our eyes, they rested upon 
"Gulp's Hill," "Cemetery" or "Seminary Hill," and 
in the distance "Round Top," made forever memora- 
ble by the heroic conduct of the brave men of the fifth 
corps, who, by order of Gen. Meade to Gen. Sykes, 
directed it "to be held at all hazards." 

Among the few valued friends who regularly met in 
our tent, when the fatiguing duties of the day were 
over, was frequently discussed the propriety of placing 
upon some part of the field a flag, to manifest our sym- 
pathy and esteem for those who "here fought and won 
this great battle for our liberties." Some intimation of 
the plan proposed reached our friends at home, and 
directly we heard that a flag would be sent by persons 
residing in our immediate vicinity. To two of the la- 
dies most active in procuring it, was given the pleasure 
of conveying it to Gettysburg. Many of the wounded 
knew when it arrived, and the arrangements being 
made to receive it; at their request, the flag (twenty- 
five feet in length) was carriecL.through the streets of 
the hospital, then taken to "Round Top." All who 



52 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

could leave the hospital — officers, ladies, and soldiers — 
joined the procession. A large concourse of persons 
manifested, by their presence, the pleasure they felt in 
the event. Appropriate and eloquent addresses were 
delivered by David Wills, Esq., of Gettysburg; J. T. 
Seymour, of New York ; and Surgeon H. C. May, of 
the 145th New York Yols. 

Dr. May gave a graphic account of the battle as he 
saw it, describing, in glowing words the many historic 
localities now before us; and, explaining the purpose 
which had brought there so large an assemblage, con- 
tinued : "The occasion of our meeting together on this 
rock-bound, rock-capped hill, to-day, needs no explana- 
tion from me. The most rapturous bursts of eloquence, 
from the most gifted orator of the land, could not 
intensify your interest in the spot on which now we 
tread. When the golden rays of the rising sun lit up 
this elevation on the morning of July 1st, 1863, 'Round 
Top' was scarcely known beyond the few honest hus- 
bandmen who dwell beneath its shadow. When that 
same sun was setting behind the western horizon on 
the evening of July 4th, and again illumined the 
foliage now immediately over our heads, the name of 
•' Round Top ' was on the tongues of millions all over 
the land. It has been in contemplation, for some 
weeks, by a few friends at the General Hospital, to 
erect a national flag on the summit of 'Round Top,' 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 53 

constituting, as it does, one of the flanks of the Federal 
position, and its elevation being so singularly located 
that the flag could be seen for miles in every direction. 
The desire was simply expressed, a short time since, to 
a circle of patriotic ladies of a township of Montgomery 
County, — the immediate vicinity of ' Yalley Forge,' of 
precious Revolutionary memory, — that they would 
contribute a flag for this purpose. Soon the word 
came back that the work was in progress ; later still, 
that it was succesfully accomplished. Willing hands 
from the hospital have prepared and erected this staff: 
and it is our delight and pride, to-day, to behold the 
beautiful folds of our ' Starry Banner' floating in the 
breeze from this hallowed spot, mid the booming of 
artillery and the sweet strains of music — a slight token 
of affection to the memory of our gallant comrades 
who 'sleep the sleep that knows no waking,' on every 
side of us." 

The ceremonies ended, we came back to the sad 
routine of hospital life and suffering ; brightened, how- 
ever, with the pleasant remembrance of the events in 
which we had been participating. 

The work of reducing the number of patients was 
now commenced in earnest. Sixty were at one time 
sent in the cars, who had each but one arm a piece ; the 
next train took the same number with one leg a piece, 
and one little cavalry boy who had lost both at the 
knee. 



54 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

These sights have always been to me the saddest, 
most painful of any. Amid scenes like these we were 
constantly occupied until the breaking up of the hos- 
pital, and the dedication of the National Cemetery. 
That had to us sl deeper interest than to many of the 
lookers-on : many of the quiet sleepers, by whom we 
were surrounded, we had known, and waited upon un- 
til care was no longer needed. 

During the ceremonies of that day, we were so for- 
tunate as to have a place directly in front and within 
a few feet of our now martyred President, and there 
heard distinctly every word he uttered of that memora- 
ble speech, which will last while the Republic endures. 

There was now, November, 1863, nothing more to 
be done at Gettysburg, and we gladly turned our faces 
homeward. Remained there but a few days, until — 
at the urgent request of the Sanitary Commission — I 
consented to call together the various " Soldiers' Aid 
Societies " throughout the State, and in these meetings 
to tell the ladies what I knew personally of the wants 
of the hospitals, — the best way of preparing delicacies 
for their use, the clothing most required, and so on. 

It was impossible to be an idler while this gigantic 
struggle was in progress. The current of swiftly pass- 
ing events had, all unconsciously, drifted me to this 
point; I yielded to its force, and commenced this addi- 
tional labor as part of the work which came unsought. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 55 

There was not the least recognition of self in any part 
of it ; had there been, it would have been impossible 
to have gone on with it. While talking, the disagree- 
ableness of the situation was all forgotten, and thinking 
only of far-off hospital scenes, — the lonely, dreary couch 
of the wounded or sick man, uncheered by loving care 
of wife or child, — the weary tramp of the sentinel, or 
the wretched life of men in trenches, I could do no- 
thing less than tell to other women the story that I knew 
so well, — of want, of suffering unparalleled, of braveiy 
and endurance unequaled, — and then remind them how 
much was in their power to soothe and comfort those 
on battle-field, or hospital, by the preparation of arti- 
cles for their use. 

Of our army in health, I knew comparatively no- 
thing. Men sick, wounded, and dying were not likely 
to manifest any but the good traits in their character; 
and from this knowledge the estimate was made. I 
have been for weeks the only lady in a camp of seven 
hundred men, and have never been treated w T ith more 
deference, respect, and kindness than when thus 
situated. 

The first group of ladies that I met numbered about 
fifty. Their eagerness to learn the little I could tell 
them amazed me, and made it seem a lighter task when 
'I next talked to others. These meetings have fre- 
quently numbered from one to three hundred; often 



56 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

two or three such talks of an hour and a half each in 
one day, continued, without any opportunity for rest, 
week after week. This was our plan for aiding the 
soldiers, while not actually in the hospital. With my 
husband, we traveled through Pennsylvania, taking in 
our route those places which were deemed of most im- 
portance; and were thus engaged until the spring 
campaign commenced in Virginia. 

The schools, both public and private, were also allot- 
ted as part of my field of labor. In Philadelphia and 
vicinity, the scholars often numbered from three to nine 
hundred. It has always been a matter of surprise, 
how intensely interested the children invariably were 
in the simple stories of hospital life I gave them, and 
the plans by which their work and offerings could be 
most effective. Their tear- dimmed eyes and eager 
manner always charmed me, and made this part of 
the work a source of pleasure. In numerous places 
through the State "Aid Societies" were organized by 
this means that worked vigorously until the close of the 
war. 

We found, among the ladies in Carlisle, several very 
flourishing societies. Living upon the border, they real- 
ized, as others more remote could not, the necessity for 
this kind of exertion. There was also a society of chil- 
dren, called " The Little Helpers. " Through the energy 
of the few ladies who directed them, they had accom- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 51 

plished wonders. Their origin was beautiful as their 
title was expressive. A lady lost her little boy, a child 
of six summers, whose mind was full of what he and his 
little play-fellows could do for the soldiers. Suddenly 
taken from earth to the angels above, his mother, in 
her grief, anxious to carry out his plans, called the chil- 
dren together at her house. Every week found the 
little hands busy, — and in their simple, childlike way 
contriving what else they could do for the sick and 
wounded. A fair was the result of this first successful 
effort. 

The name, so suggestive to children of what they 
were, and so readily comprehended by them, was men- 
tioned, and adopted in many places as that by which 
their circle should be known. 

In different portions of Pennsylvania, were incidents 
relating to the numerous Aid Societies of deep interest 
to us who knew them ; but not properly belonging to 
the work we had undertaken, are omitted here. 



58 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 



CHAPTER III. 

The Campaign of 1864.— Port Royal.— White House.— 
City Point. 

The 9th of May, 1864, Mr. H. left Philadelphia, 
with a number of other gentlemen, agents of the Sani- 
tary Commission, for the purpose of proceeding directly 
to the front, to wait upon the wounded — which it was 
known must be expected in large numbers after the 
army crossed the Rapidan. The spring was rainy, and 
the roads horrible, even for Virginia ; with so many 
discomforts surrounding them, and the exposure of ly- 
ing upon the damp earth, it was thought most prudent 
for me to remain in Pennsylvania, and continue my la- 
bors there, until the weather became settled. 

Battles were now daily occurring, and our soldiers 
falling by thousands. The inaction and feeling of 
doing nothing for the wounded was unbearable, and a 
constant source of anxiety and trouble. On the 18th 

of May, with my friend Miss Lizzie B , we left 

home for the hospitals ; arrived at Belle Plain the 
evening of the 23d; the wharf was then crowded with 
wounded, waiting transportation to Washington ; in 
twenty-four hours all were removed ; and we left on a 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 59 

Sanitary Commission steamboat, in company with 
other vessels, — all convoyed by a United States gun- 
boat. The shores of the bay and rivers were at that 
time infested by guerrillas, and as the rebels had a 
wholesome dread of these boats, in their armed defense 
was our only safety. At 7 p.m., May 26th, anchored 
at Port Poyal ; during the night, a barge loaded with 
government hay was fired by the rebels — it was sup- 
posed with the intention of its drifting out among the 
vessels, and thus destroying much valuable property ; 
fortunately the others could be kept away from it, and 
no further damage was done. Yery early in the morn 
ing went on shore, and here had the pleasure of finding 
Mr. H., who had preceded us by a few hours, with 
others, was already busily at work. 

The Sanitary Commission, with its admirably ar- 
ranged system of " relief," was here before any 
wounded were brought in ; and when the long trains 
began to arrive, hot coffee, farina, crackers, etc. were 
in readiness to hand to the exhausted, famished suf- 
ferers before they were lifted from the ambulances. 
Two thousand were now here awaiting transportation; 
the first food and care all had upon their arrival w r as 
due to them. Night and day — taking turns to sleep — 
the work of preparing and distributing food among 
them was continued. Within a few moments after we 
landed, a long train of ambulances came in sight; and 



60 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

v 

finding they were moving toward a little Methodist 
church, we wended our way thither, taking as much as 
we could carry for their present relief. By the time 
the first man was lifted out, the little building was in 
readiness to receive them ; benches and stove removed, 
it was soon crowded to its utmost capacity. Very 
grateful were they for the trifling relief we gave them ; 
no straw, few blankets, and no pillows used in this 
hasty transfer arraugement, yet no murmuring word 
escaped them. 

A fine-looking Massachusetts man, with a bone 
crushed from the knee clown, — where mortification was 
just commencing, — asked in a whisper, as they were 
placing him within the little chancel: " Could I give 
him some kind of stimulant to keep from fainting? the 
pain was agonizing." The little tin- cup was soon 
filled, and as quickly drained; with the momentary 
strength it gave, he could better endure the rearranging 
of splints and bandages. The surgeon shook his head 
as he looked at the discolored limb, and to the soldier's 
urgent entreaties that "it might be taken off without a 
moment's delay," replied "it could be done better on 
the boat;" but added, when beyond his hearing, "the 
morning would find him out of the reach of pain." 

A young officer lay near him, bathing from his can- 
teen his badly wounded foot, and when offered assist- 
ance to dress it, replied : " He had the use of both hands, 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 61 

while many had not, and could do without help until 
they were waited upon." 

All were craving fresh vegetables, onions particu- 
larly; and to their inquiries, we determined to get them 
if the town could furnish them. We tried to purchase 
from a number of persons, but were always denied ; at 
length a place — evidently the abode of wealth — with a 
large, well-planted garden, was seen; the same story 
was repeated: "Would they sell a few onions for the 
wounded?" "No," was the chilling response. "But 
they are begging for them, and you have plenty ; name 
your own price in 'greenbacks,' but we must have 
them." Still the same "No, we don't want green- 
backs." A gentleman of the party then offered gold in 
exchange. "No, gold was of no use to them." Find- 
ing we were going to appeal to an officer who just 
then made his appearance, the lady changed her man- 
ner, and courteously remarked: "If we would give her 
farina and lemons, we might have the onions." From 
the Sanitary Commission rooms, we soon furnished the 
articles she wished. Fifty men lay upon the floor of 
the church, for whom we were pleading : that number 
of onions was unwillingly counted down ; and then the 
lady, appealing to the officer, asked : "Might she take 
a pan of clabber to the wounded Confederates next 
door?" His reply was: "We might, if we chose; she 
could have no communication with them." Of course, 

r>* 



62 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

we could not object; and a little colored boy accompa- 
nied us, carrying what Mrs. WT evidently thought a 
great delicacy. The filthy, ragged-looking rebels 
crowded round us and the pan, until we were glad to 
deliver her message quickly and beat a hasty retreat — 
leaving to the boy the. pleasure of disposing of it. 

We saw strawberries, cherries, and many early veg- 
etables in her garden, which we could not obtain upon 
any terms. Knowing how valuable they were to our 
wounded, as we went back carrying our coveted onions, 
we told many soldiers where they came from, and ad- 
vised them, if they knew any of their wounded com- 
rades who needed them, to find more ; further instruct- 
ing them that there was a guard pacing up and down 
the pavement, to designate an officer's quarters, and 
another in the rear to protect his horses. If they were 
good soldiers, they required no other orders; the hint, 
it is presumed, was sufficient. 

In a small house, crowded with the wounded, was an 
old gray-headed man leaning against the wall; a ball 
had taken off part of his tongue ; the remaining por- 
tion hung, swollen and discolored, from his parched and 
wounded lips. Unwilling to attempt to swallow the 
simple food we offered, he made known by signs that 
it was fresh milk he craved. After diligent search, a 
cow was at length found, picking hay among the wag- 
ons; a half pint was soon obtained and given him ; his 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 63 

expressive gestures of thanks showed how fully he ap- 
preciated the kindness. Later in the day another cow 
was found, and thus he was fed until taken to the boat. 

Noticing a neat-looking church that was not a hospi- 
tal, with a guard in front, we entered and found it to 
be the Episcopal church. Upon opening the prayer- 
book on the desk at the "Prayer for all in Authority," 
found that the words "the President of the United 
States'- were cut out. By it laid a manuscript copy of 
prayers for the rebel government. Telling the guard 
he might look or not, as he chose, that I intended to 
take that manuscript, and send to the Sanitary Fair, 
then open in Philadelphia, — first reading it aloud for 
the benefit of those present, and putting in its place a 
leaf upon which were the prayers, set forth by our be- 
loved Bishop Potter, for the army. That they might 
not be mistaken what it was, wrote upon the margin — 
"Prayers for the Union Armies of the United States, 
by Bishop Potter, of Pennsylvania." The exchange 
was a fair one, — the rebels, it is hoped, profiting by the 
sound doctrine which was given — for their erring 
prayers. 

At this place we saw the first great flocking to our 
lines of the colored population. On our way here, they 
were observed all along the river banks, rushing clown 
from every plantation and village, with cheers, waving 
of hats, and other demonstrations of pleasure, manifest- 



64 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

ing their joy at sight of the old flag, which now meant 
freedom to them. A motley crowd of men, women, 
and children were constantly arriving, begging to be 
protected and sent North. An old gentleman — one of 
the wealthiest in the town — told us, as we sat upon 
his piazza watching this strangely exciting scene, that 
sixty of his servants had gone that day, and were in 
the crowd before us ; his great grief was that he was 
powerless to prevent their leaving, and that he had no 
one to till his corn crop for him. We afterward heard 
that the cavalry foraged upon the fields, so he was 
spared further trouble on that score. 

In the town, Mr. H. met an old woman of eighty 
carrying, as he supposed, a child in her arms ; but 
upon coming to her and questioning her as to her bur- 
den, said she "had her old mother, who was over one 
hundred; that they were going to the 'land of free- 
dom,' and could not leave her a slave in Virginia !" 

The burial of the wounded who died at this transfer- 
post was intrusted to the Sanitary Commission. Every 
soldier was carefully interred, the burial service used 
for all, the grave marked and numbered, and all money, 
valuables, and other articles found upon his person for- 
warded to Washington, to await the orders of relatives 
and friends. A plan of the ground was left with an 
old colored man living near, and the care of the graves 
given to him — for the purpose of aiding friends who 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 05 

came for their remains, and knew nothing of any other 
direction they might have. The same plan, with the 
numbered graves, was retained by the Sanitary Com- 
mission — so that, in case the marks were removed, they 
could positively and certainly be identified. 

Last March, Mr. H. went to Port Royal, for the 
purpose of pointing out the resting-place of a Rhode 
Island soldier, and found that three days after our 
troops left the town, rebel cavalry entered it, — tram- 
pling down every head-board, destroying the graves as 
much as possible, and threatening to hang old George, 
if he put them in order. With the numbered plan in 
Mr. H.'s possession, all marks having been removed, 
by counting and measurement, the spot was readily 
found ; the skeleton remaining as it had been placed, 
with his knapsack at his feet. 

On the 29th of May, left Port Royal with a fleet of 
seventy-five vessels bound for White House, on the 
Pamunkey, where the wounded were now to be sent. 
Vessels loaded with troops for the front were contin- 
ually meeting us, far outnumbering those we had sent 
home weighed down with the wounded "soldiers of the 
Republic." As they pass, all were cheering heartily: 
no note of despondency, as they came within sound of 
the conflict. 

The evening of the 30th, landed at White House ; 
found Gen. Butler's command here, on their way to 



66 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

the front; within twelve hours, some of his wounded 
were brought back; and from that date, much more 
rapidly than tents could be erected to shelter them, 
they were sent on. Day and night the interminable 
trains continued, bringing thousands of wounded men, 
with the dust and smoke of battle yet upon them. 
Acres of ground were soon covered with bleeding, 
mangled men, who had so lately stood unflinching mid 
the storm of rebel shot and shell ; now as bravely they 
endured suffering, while needing every comfort — thou- 
sands not even shielded from the burning sun. 

The work of waiting upon them continued uninter- 
ruptedly, all resting in turn ; sleep was almost impos- 
sible, as every spot of ground was covered, close up to 
the canvas, with soldiers who had crept there for shel- 
ter. Our duties were many and various : the prepara- 
tion of food and drinks, directing and overseeing our 
diet kitchen, occasionally busy for hours among the 
wounded. 

One morning as I came out of our tent very early, 
before the bustle of the day had commenced, a soldier 
came walking feebly, leaning upon a comrade's shoul- 
der, and inquired: "Would I dress his arm? it was 
untouched since first bandaged upon the field, and he 
knew was in offensive, bad condition, filled with creep- 
ing life!" The man said truly, it looked bad; and I 
shrank from the task, but persevered until it was nicely 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 67 

cleansed and dressed. Then with a clean "Sanitary 
shirt," the sufferer was delighted and happy, and over- 
whelming in his thanks. The sincere, heartfelt grati- 
tude of those for whom such trifling services were ren- 
dered was ample recompense. Their earnest words of 
thanks were often more than could be borne — destroy- 
ing, for the moment, the composure which was all-im- 
portant. As the work of attending to that soldier 
went on, hundreds of others, reclining upon the ground, 
were intently watching the process. 

Eager for their turn, one after another came slowly 
up, with the same query from all : " Would the lady 
dress their wound V A rough-looking Irishman among 
the number, having a fearful-looking wound in his 
head, said "he could bear any pain 1 gave him, if the 
doctors did not dress it;" — while in the midst of it, one 
of our best and most experienced surgeons made his 
appearance; observing what was going on, came to 
my relief, and, to the utter dismay of the poor fellow, 
took the sponge out of my hand to show me how much 
too tenderly and carefully the work was done ; at every 
movement of the sponge in his hand, the soldier's head 
bent and shrank beneath the touch, but not one word 
of complaint escaped him ; as the doctor moved away, 
his thanks were not for the kindness shown him, but 
that he was gone, and that my unskillful hands would 
now finish. At this hour the regular dressers com- 



68 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

menced their work, and the one who had usurped their 
office gladly disappeared among the heaps of edibles 
which filled the shelter nearest us. 

Our "diet kitchen" was almost entirely supplied 
from the Sanitary Commission : it seems almost in- 
credible the amount consumed in one day : on the 3d 
of June, two thousand were fed from that establishment. 
The working force consisted of eight soldiers; each had 
his allotted place, and knew the duties required of him. 
Caldrons of soup were quickly made : using essence 
of beef as the foundation, adding to it canned meats 
and vegetables, hard tack, or corn starch. The capacity 
of the caldrons varied from thirty to sixty gallons, 
and during these exciting times they were pushed to 
their utmost. There were men to act as "hewers of 
wood and drawers of water;" others whose work was to 
open the cans, which, as fast as emptied, were thrown 
into a barrel — and picked up directly by the soldiers to 
be used as tin-cups for their soup, coffee, etc. Tubs 
and buckets of milk-punch and lemonade were always 
in readiness. Apart from the eatables, one corner was 
appropriated to crutches, arm- slings, bandages, etc.; 
these were given, and fitted as required. They were 
clothed, bathed, feci ; all hurried, continued work, mak- 
ing it impossible to give an exact account of even one 
day's labor. This day's notes end with: "Gave my 
only straw pillow to a wounded zouave, Sergeant 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 69 

Beecher, from Connecticut; his thanks were enough to 
make my sleep sweet without it." 

The 5th of June, Mr. Schall came, bringing the body 
of his brother, Col. Edwin Schall, to be embalmed. He 
fell at Cold Harbour on the 3d of June, shot through the 
neck. Connected with this gallant officer's death is an 
incident so singular that it is worthy of record : Sunday, 
the Yth of June, in the Officers' Hospital in George- 
town, my niece was sitting by her husband's bedside, 
watching the passing away of a life now near its close. 
As the things of earth receded, and another world 
dawned upon his gaze, the lamp of life flickered and 
flashed in this its closing scene. Suddenly rousing up, 
his voice, which had previously been faint and feeble, 
rang out in a clear, loud tone : " Lieutenant, lieuten- 
ant !" A wounded lieutenant lying near him answered : 
" What is it, captain ?" He replied : "I'm not calling 
you, it is Lieut.-Col. Schall; I saw him fall, and 
thought the way he was lying perhaps he was dead." 
His wife soothed him, telling him "the colonel was all 
right;" and he sank exhausted on his pillow. But in a 
few moments called in the same tone : " Lieutenant, 
lieutenant !" repeating again the same words, that "he 
had seen him fall," etc. Again he was soothed to quiet- 
ness. Fully conscious that' death was near, the brave 
soldier, in a few earnest, never-to-be-forgotten words, 
sent home the message, that he "gave his life freely for 

7 



70 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

his country." Then commending his soul to God, and 
committing wife and children to the same loving care, 
in two hours peacefully passed to that land "where 
there is no more sorrow, or sickness, or pain." In 
Captain Bisbing's death, two homes were made deso- 
late; he was an only child; to the home circle of wife 
and children an irreparable loss, whose sorrows we do 
not presume to dwell upon. When Mrs. B. returned 
with her husband's body to their home, she then first 
learned that the colonel had fallen— as the captain 
described — two days previously. His body also was 
brought home for burial, and interred the day preceding 
the captain's funeral. 

June the 7th, wounded still pouring in ; frequently 
orders would be sent to us to prepare to feed a train of 
wounded five miles in length. I do not know how 
accurate that estimate may have been, but it seemed to 
us as though they never would end. Upon each arrival 
of the wagons, would be found some who had gone to 
their final rest during the roughness of the way, — suf- 
fering alone in the midst of so much misery, without 
any of the kind words and tender ministrations which 
we, at home, love to lavish upon those who we know 
are entering into the "dark vallej^." 

One of our party, while distributing food and drink 
at night, noticed a corporal's arm over the side of the 
ambulance, and offered to him a cup of punch; finding 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 11 

another hand stretched out for it, called, "that is for the 
corporal;" the reply was, "he has been dead for hours." 

Many, of necessity, were buried by the roadside, or 
wherever they chanced to be ; but when practicable, 
the bodies were brought on and interred in our little 
cemetery — making this desolate land truly " sacred 
soil." The site selected was just without the intrench- 
ments, near the burial-ground of the Peninsular cam- 
paign : in it the graves remain as they were left two 
years previous ; some few inscriptions still legible. 
Major D. H. Yon Yalkenburg, 1st New York Artil- 
lery, killed May 31st, 1862, was the only officer's grave 
to be seen. The inscription on a head-board, at the 
grave of a sergeant, was re-cut by a comrade on the 
second anniversary of his death. 

The Sanitary Commission continued superintending 
the burial of the dead, their chaplains performing the 
service at the grave ; the record kept in the same order 
as before mentioned. 

Among a large number which arrived at this time 
was a man who had lain between the breast- works of 
the two armies forj/jce days without care, and no food 
except the very small quantity he had with him when 
wounded ; one leg was amputated, the other dressed, 
before he was brought to the hospital; he will soon be 
sent to Washington, and his surgeon thinks may recover. 

Transports leave daily, crowded with the wounded. 



12 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

Among the thousand that were to- clay fed from our 
diet kitchen were numbers of officers, worn out and 
weary, who had been sent from the front with vari- 
ous orders. The unusual activity indicates that our 
stay here will be short. 

Eight hundred captured rebels brought in, guarded 
by a negro regiment — the most humiliating thing to 
them that could have occurred ; the sight was so novel 
that we all left our tents to look at them ; one of our 
men, recognizing his former owner, ran up with a 
pleased look to speak to Massa Charles, but he re- 
fused to recognize him, and moved on with the crowd ; 
among them is a rebel woman, sergeant of artillery — 
she was the last to leave the gun when captured. 

The 13th of June, we packed all that could be spared 
on the Sanitary Commission barge ; we remain for 
the purpose of waiting upon any wounded that may 
yet be sent ; after the removal had fairly commenced, 
and all in confusion, several hundred arrived; all of 
whom were fed and provided for at our diet kitchen. 

Nearly all the wounded hurried off to-day ; all that 
can in any way limp to the wharf do so; preparing 
rations for the trip. Guerrillas reported near us ; two 
of our soldiers, who went beyond the picket lines to 
forage, were caught, stripped of their clothing, and sent 
back to camp. It taught the boys a useful lesson — 
that they must be satisfied with their position as it is. 

White House, from very early times, has been a 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. T3 

place of historic interest; here General Washington 
met his wife, and from here they went to the little 
church four miles distant to be married. At the com- 
mencement of the war, it belonged to the Lee family ; 
during Gen. McClellan's administration was carefully 
guarded, so much so that, when our soldiers were lying 
upon the wet ground, heaps of unused boards were near 
the buildings. The house was afterward destroyed by 
fire, trees cut down, fences and out-buildings removed ; 
at the time we were there, two tall chimneys alone 
remained to mark the spot. Some distance from the 
ruins of the house, a few T dilapidated negro cabins were 
standing, occupied by very old people, who had been 
slaves on the plantation all their lives. Before leaving, 
we supplied them with food, clothing, and medicines 
sufficient to last them six months ; it was all secreted, 
before we left, to secure it from the rebels. 

June 15th, 1864. This day last year, moving with 
the "Army of the Potomac" northward; now prepar- 
ing to move, with the same army, south. Three times 
this morning the order was given to proceed to the 
boat, but each time recalled; tents are all gone, and 
we wander listlessly about in the hot sun, or sit upon 
the boxes containing all our present " worldly goods." 
The soldiers who comprise our "kitchen department" 
take it all very philosophically ; they while away the 
hours lounging upon the ground, singing "When this 



74 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

cruel war is over," and other favorite songs. At 12 m. 
the final order came to start, and the odd-looking party 
slowly trudged along, each laden with what they con- 
sidered indispensable for the trip ; a hot, dusty walk, 
without umbrellas, to the wharf — a mile distant ; at the 
last moment procure an additional supply of "hard 
tack" and pork, in case of emergency, and have with 
us five days' rations for our party. 

The "Montauk," a government vessel, is crowded 
with our corps officers, surgeons, nurses, and attend- 
ants; on our vessel, and the canal-boats which are 
lashed to its sides, there are six hundred persons. We 
were hardly out of sight, not yet of sound, when the 
rebels attacked the small force which had been left to 
guard the trains, and drove them within the intrench- 
ments; fortunately, a portion of Sheridan's cavalry 
came up soon after it commenced and routed them 
thoroughly. 

We steamed slowly down the Pamunkey ; came to 
West Point and York River about six; anchored at 
dark : at daybreak, moved on down the York River. 
This evening, full rations could not be issued to the 
men, a mistake having been made about the supplies 
being placed on the wrong boat — a load of iron bed- 
steads sent in their place. 

The morning of the 17th, the men still short of 
rations, and trouble threatening, the Sanitary Commis- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. f5 

sion gave them $he pork and "hard tack," with coffee, 
which had been provided in case of need. This 
restored peace and order again. Soon after we came 
up with the rest of the fleet; anchored below Fort 
Powhatan ; an order was sent to the supply-boat for 
rations, and no further difficulty occurred. Here we 
were detained while Gen. Grant was crossing with his 
army to the south side of the James River. The pon- 
toon bridges upon which they passed were the objects 
upon which all eyes were fastened. The roads leading 
to the river could be traced by the clouds of dust which 
hung heavily over them. This was the second time 
we had seen that grand army moving in "battle array." 
In the evening signal lights were seen flashing upon 
the hill-tops and from their camping grounds; the ship- 
ping was beautifully illuminated with various- colored 
lanterns ; and though in the midst of war, the river, 
with its numerous lights, had a gay, holiday look. 

On the 18th of June the pontoons were removed, 
and we pass on up the James; at 1 p.m. landed at 
City Point ; the town filled with wounded. In the 
evening, walked through the dust two miles to the site 
selected for the hospital, which is a wheat- field on the 
Appomattox. The continued heavy firing near Peters- 
burg plainly heard. A few tents were arranged for the 
surgeons, nurses, etc., and in refreshing sleep all else 
was soon forgotten. 



76 



In the morning, our rations were very scanty — we 
had bnt the remains of what we brought with us from 
White House. Before a stove could be had, or cal- 
drons in readiness, those who were slightly wounded 
came straggling in; soon the number increased; and 
then trains came in sight, and were unloaded upon 
the ground. Battle-smoked and scarred, dusty, weary, 
and hungry, the poor fellows came — looking longingly 
at anything to eat; from early morning until late at 
night, the scene was the same as White House — 
thronged with wounded ; the worst cases sheltered in 
tents, the others lying upon the now trodden wheat. 
It was impossible, with the few conveniences at hand, 
to prepare food for all that number. The night was 
far advanced before we were ready for the rest we so 
much needed, and then retire, with wounded and dying 
men tying upon the ground close to our tent. How 
heartless it sounds, at home, to sleep under, such cir- 
cumstances ! 

The next day, commenced 5 a.m. Nothing before 
us all the day but wounded ; wounded men at every 
step you take. Three times that day we fed six hun- 
dred men (when the number is given we know it to 
be accurate, as it is taken from the morning-report 
at headquarters), not counting the stragglers who re- 
ceived a cup of soup, farina, or crackers, as the need 
might be. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 11 

The first boat-load sent off to-clay, June 20th; but 
others directly fill their places. All that makes endur- 
able this voluntary life of toil, and saddening scenes, is 
the simple fact that we know some lives are brightened 
by the care we strangers give to sick or wounded men. 
Every train brings with it cases of especial interest: 
one man, as he was lifted from the ambulance, almost 
with his parting breath, gave his name, company, and 
regiment ; and then slept, to wake no more to pain and 
agony. Upon the ground lay a little French boy, so 
low he could scarcely speak; as I quietly sponged, 
with cool water, his face and hands, his lips quivered, 
and from his firmly-closed eyes tears were slowly 
trickling; perhaps it may have reminded him of a 
mother or sister's care, in the far-off land of his birth. 

The weather is now intensely warm, June 24th. 
Clouds of dust fill the air ; and though the hospital is 
some distance from the traveled road to the front, yet 
by four o'clock the rows of tents which stand but a 
few yards from us are obscured, and the river, about 
one square distant, is invisible. 

The Sanitary Commission, with the consent and 
approval of the "authorities,'*' again select the spot for 
the cemetery, and continue to superintend its arrange- 
ments and the burial of the dead. During the past 
week, two hundred have come to this "silent city ;" two 
hundred were sent North to-day, all "walking cases,' , 



78 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

as the surgeons say ; but sucli walkers are uot often 
seen outside of a field hospital. I happened to be 
passing as the sad procession came in sight ; of course 
stopped to give them a kind word, and say good-by. 
As the motley -looking crowd, in their hospital uniform 
of shirt and drawers, — a few wearing caps and shoes, 
many without either, — came near, the first sentences 
I heard were from the " advance guard," the best 
walkers of the party, who shouted: "Here we come, 
reinforcements for Grant." Another calls: "Keep 
step; left, left." "We are the cripple "brigade," said 
his comrade with the crutch. "This is war," in a 
sadder tone, from a faint-looking corporal, as he feebly 
passed by. Some too ill even to raise their eyes, move 
slowly, painfully on, step by step, through the burning 
sand to the boat. Many who are really unfit, start to 
walk, as they say, imagining they will get home sooner. 
The stretcher-bearers bring up the rear, to pick up 
those who fall exhausted by the way. 

The next day, two hundred bad cases were sent: 
two of the number were soon carried up again from 
the boat, wrapped in their blankets, signifying that 
they had "fought their last battle," and were now 
ready to be laid beside their fellow-soldiers in the cem- 
etery. They died upon the wharf, while waiting to be 
carried on the boat. 

The contrabands have been coming to the hospital 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 19 

in large numbers, for protection, for some days past; in 
their hasty flight, they pick up the very articles we 
would think they did not need — probably leaving what 
would be useful. A group of fifty just passed, well 
loaded : one with a bed upon his shoulders ; another, a 
box as large as he was ; many of th& women carrying 
cooking utensils ; a little fellow, of six or eight, wear- 
ing a gentleman's coat, the skirts sweeping the ground, 
a stove-pipe hat upon his head, — the style of twenty 
years ago, — and, above all, a huge cotton umbrella ! 
Many of the young girls wore flounced silk dresses, 
evidently " confiscated " from missus's wardrobe. Their 
arrival quite enlivened the hospital ; they were in every 
direction greeted with continued shouts, which mark of 
attention seemed gratifying to them. Rations are fur- 
nished them by government, and tents supplied for 
their use; all who wish to remain are employed in 
some way, the rest are sent to Washington. 

July 4th, all the North expecting some great battle 
or success, while here it is so quiet that it seems 
almost like a real Sunday. Salutes are heard from 
every quarter in honor of the day; and at the front, 
the "Petersburg Express" sent its compliments into 
the town, at intervals of fifteen minutes, to remind 
them of the day we celebrate. This morning Dr. 

C , of Massachusetts, told me of a young soldier 

in his ward that he knew must die ; while attending to 



80 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

him, dressing his wound, the man inquired in a cool, 
calm manner: "Doctor, what is to be the result, life 
or death ?" The doctor hesitated a moment, and said : 
"There is one chance in ten that you may live." He 
was quiet for a little while, then, with a bright, beam- 
ing smile, replied : " Better than that, doctor ; God is 
good!" "Well, my boy," answered the surgeon, 
"that chance is the best." He has all the care that 
can be given him; but with a wounded, fractured 
thigh, the doctor says the " chance" is even less than 
he stated. 

A steam fire-engine has been furnished to force water 
from the river to the hospital, for sprinkling the streets 
and to cool the heated tents. Gen. Grant was walking 
through the hospital a few days since, and observing 
how much they suffered from dust, said "his wounded 
men must be better cared for; the streets must be 
watered, if it took a regiment of men each day to do 
it." As his word is law, the engine came: a large 
force of negroes have it in charge, and already the good 
results are seen. Water-tanks were afterward built, 
more engines and hose obtained, and all day long the 
street-sprinklers are at work. The dust continues fear- 
fully deep ; it is the only thing that moves about 
freely. 

The third division of the sixth corps marched by to- 
day, to embark on transports ; going North, it is said, to 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 81 

look after Ewell's corps— that, we hear, Is destined for 
another raid upon Pennsylvania. Numbers of "vol- 
unteer aids " have been obliged to give up their work 
here ; many ill with fever ; Mr. H. obliged to go home 
for a few clays' rest, thoroughly worn out with the 
arduous labors which have occupied him since early in 
the spring. Each corps hospital has its share of the 
colored population : our settlement for them is on the 
river bank ; from there we hear their voices as they 
join in their evening worship ; going into their meeting, 
we found them kneeling upon the earth, praying earn- 
estly that "God would bless good President Lincoln," 
and "all de great Union armies;" that " He would 
take care of de breddern and sisters, now they be in a 
foreign land;" then, interrupting the prayers, a voice 
commenced — 

"0, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come 
To set de people free !" 

Prayers and their simple music were strangely blended, 
but all in the most devout manner. 

On the 14th of July, a floor was put in our tent; 
previous to this, the deep dust was the only carpet we 
had ; an arbor of evergreen branches was also placed at 
the two entrances ; now sheltered from the scorching 
sun, we are very comfortable — quite luxurious living, 
and certainly we should never complain while sick and 



82 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

wounded lie upon the ground. But, in contrast with this 
dwelling, sometimes will come before us thoughts of a 
country home in Pennsylvania, with cool, airy rooms, 
and pleasant surroundings of shade- and fruit-trees, 
abundantly- planted gardens, etc., until the longing to 
be there seems irresistible. The absorbing duty in 
which we are engaged, is all that can make us forget it. 

July 30th. Rebel fort blown up at seven this morn- 
ing ; the cannonading and firing during the night which 
preceded the explosion were fearfully distinct, so much 
so as to prevent sleeping. Large numbers of wounded 
were brought in to-day, principally to the ninth corps 
and the colored hospital. Among the colored troops, 
four out of every five of their officers were either killed 
or wounded; yet the men behaved bravely. 

A young lieutenant from the ninth corps called to 
tell us he had been wounded in the late engagement, 
and that he had been promoted ; with his twin brother, 
he entered the service at the very commencement of the 
war ; the other, a lieutenant, fell at South Mountain ; 
but passed unhurt through numberless battles, un- 
til this time ; and was determined to remain with his 
regiment after being wounded, until told by the sur- 
geon that if he did so he would lose his foot, probably 
his life; very reluctantly he came to the hospital. 
When his commission was received, his comrades 
asked him if he was aware that "in their regiment 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 83 

promotion meant death?" and then going over the list 
of names, such and such a one had been promoted, 
and soon after fallen, his reply was : "Yes, he knew all 
that; but should accept it just the same, if he was 
conscious that death came with it — was perfectly will- 
ing to take his chance with the 'boys!'" With him 
was a frail-looking lad, wounded in the head ; the lieu- 
tenant found him, after the fight, near the intrench- 
ments, sobbing; as he came near, the boy called that he 
was wounded, and quickly said : " Will you write to my 
father, and tell him I did my duty as a good soldier ?" 
" Yes," was the response ; "bat first bear your wound 
as a soldier." The sobs were instantly stilled, and he 
went with the lieutenant to the hospital ; his elder 
brothers were in the army, and he had long been 
anxious to join them ; but he was— 

"Only a boy ! and his father had said 
He never could let his youngest go." 

His parting command had been to "do his duty; that 
he would rather know his son had fallen in battle, 
than hear he was a coward." Painfully wounded in 
the head, he yet remembered the injunction ; his great 
anxiety was, that his father might know he had obeyed 
him. 

The streets of this city of tents are gradually assum- 
ing a much more cheerful appearance : arbors are 



84 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

erected at the front and rear of the tents, thus forming 
a continuous shelter and pleasant walk for the patients. 
August 4th was the national fast-day; the camp un- 
expectedly short of rations, so many fasted who would 
not otherwise have obeyed the President's proclama- 
tion ; a sermon at headquarters, in the evening, by the 
first division chaplain. A party composed of the ladies 
in the hospital were invited, with the surgeons, to take 
a trip up the James in the Sanitary Commission boat; 
through the dilatoriness of one of the ladies, all were 
detained ; when we at length reached the wharf, it was 
only in time to see the boat slowly steaming on its 
way with not more than eight or ten of the invited 
party on board. Disappointed and sadly vexed, we 
retraced our steps ; but when, a few hours after, they 
returned with the mournful tidings that, near Turkey 
Bend, they were fired upon by guerrillas, — the engi- 
neer instantly killed, two Sanitary agents wounded, 
one mortally, — we saw how providential was our 
detention; had all gone, the conspicuous dress of the 
officers would have made them a fair mark for the 
rebels ; with a larger compan}^, the loss of life would 
probably have been greater. The boat was obliged to 
put on more steam, and proceed on her way until they 
came to the gun-boat which brought them in safety 
beyond the reach of rebel bullets. The large Sanitary 
flags were floating from the mast, conclusive evidence 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 85 

to the guerrillas that the vessel belonged to that noble 
organization whose field of labor embraced all the 
wounded within our lines ; Union and rebel alike 
kindly cared for. 

August 9th, a terrible explosion occurred on board 
the ordnance barge at City Point ; at the moment, I 
was occupied in the arbor in front of our tent,- and so 
had an unobstructed view ; with the first shock stooped 
to the earth, as though struck upon the head ; the tent 
quivered as though it must fall ; it seemed so very near 
that the first thought was, the rebels are shelling the 
hospital ; finding that not correct, the next surmise was, 
Gen. Grant's headquarters have been blown up. There 
now rose to a great height a dense column of smoke, 
spreading out at the top in form of an umbrella, and 
from it fell a shower of death-dealing missiles ; it liter- 
ally rained muskets ; shells flew in all directions ; some 
passing over us, exploded beyond the hospital. The 
scene upon the bluff near the landing was sickening : 
dismembered bodies were strewn about the ground, the 
dead and dying side by side ; the wounded were soon 
gathered up and brought to the hospital. 

The cause of the accident could not be accounted for, 
until upon the trial of the villain Werz, a rebel witness 
related how he had done it : making some excuse to 
see the captain, was told he was not on board, insisting 
the package that he had for him could be given to no 

8* 



80 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

one else, asked permission to place it upon his table ; 
as he did so, arranged the fuse, and withdrew to a 
place of safety. The explosion soon occurred, as he 
anticipated, destroying many lives, principally among 
the colored laborers ; the others having gone to dinner. 
A large amount of government property was destroyed, 
and many buildings. 

August 12th, a few of the ladies in the hospital, with 
some Sanitary Commission officers, went at 2 p. M. 
on board the little tug-boat " Gov. Curtin " to Point 
of Rocks, Bermuda Hundred, and City Point, — the 
first rest away from the wounded since this campaign 
commenced, in May; took tea on board the supply- 
boat of the Commission, which is anchored at City Point 
wharf. The short trip did us all good, and we returned 
refreshed, ready for our daily duties. When we reached 
our hospital, found the tents and every place of shelter 
filled ; hundreds of men lying upon the ground ; occupied 
until late in the evening waiting upon them. Cannon- 
ading again heard up the James River. The second 
corps is moving somewhere, and the hospitals crowded 
in consequence. During all that week there seemed to 
be no cessation of the firing; wounded were constantly 
sent in ; and old scenes were again and again repeated. 

A young lawyer, sergeant in a Xew York regiment, 
is so deeply grateful for the little done for him — imag- 
ining, as many others do, that he would have died with- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 87 

out it. An elder brother had fallen in one of the early- 
battles of the war, and then he thought he must take 
his place. When he enlisted, it almost broke his 
mother's heart ; and now he often asked, would she 
ever see him again ? We feared not, and as soon as 
possible hurried him off to a more favorable climate and 
better care. Near him lies a Vermont sergeant, who 
tells me he has been a wanderer in many lands; but 
that away up in Vermont his mother is always work- 
ing for the hospitals ; he never could see the use of it, 
but now will write and tell her it is returning in bless- 
ings upon her son. 

The fight at Deep Bottom sent to us many 
wounded, the most serious cases taken without delay 
to Washington. The day before this battle, as the 
men marched wearily by the hospital, covered with 
dust, ignorant of their destination, all were exulting in 
the prospect of going to Pennsylvania ; still further to 
confirm them in the belief, they were embarked at City 
Point and the transports started down the river ; pro- 
ceeding on their way until darkness concealed them 
from view, they silently turned about, and moved 
up again, to be taken into the battle. While it 
was raging, a company of the 57th New York was 
commanded by a sergeant ; unwilling to occupy the 
position, as his comrades told me, he was lagging 
behind ; a corporal near him could bear it no longer, 



88 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

and stepped out to lead the men as though he had 
always been accustomed to command. Gen. Barlow sat 
upon his horse, quietly observing the whole manoeuvre ; 
and when the fight was over, sent for the corporal, tell- 
ing him at such an hour to report to Gen. Hancock's 
headquarters. The man left, wondering what had 
been done ; and when he returned according to orders, 
the two generals consulted together for a few moments, 
the corporal was called in — and when he left the tent, 
it was with the rank of captain, as a reward for his 
gallant conduct. He again entered the battle, filling 
the position he so well merited ; but within an hour 
fell dead, shot through the heart. 

Similar cases were reported to us where bravery 
was encouraged by promotion upon the field, to show 
that deeds of valor were appreciated by their leader. 
Gen. Hancock possessed, in a remarkable degree, the 
power of exciting enthusiasm among the mighty hosts 
he so often led to victory. We, who have been with 
this corps long enough to become "veterans" in the 
service, may well be pardoned for the interest we- feel 
in the enduring fame they and their intrepid com- 
mander have achieved. 

The hospital again crowded with the wounded and 
sick, which are sent North as rapidly as the transports 
can take them. "Hancock's cavalry" — as the rebels 
style the second corps, from a way they have of ap- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. S9 

pearing in most unexpected places — again "on the 
move," which accounts for the late unexpected addition 
to our numbers. 

September 9th. The first time during the summer, 
rode as far as Gen. Meade's headquarters, which is 
within sight of our fortifications, and within shelling 
distance of the rebels — if so inclined. Passed, both 
going and returning, through most fearfully desolate- 
looking country. Part of it has been beautiful, as the 
remains of fine orchards and the ruins of large houses 
testify. Where the families remained in their homes, 
they were not molested; if the house was vacant, it 
was certain to be destroyed by the army. Met hun- 
dreds of men returning from Northern hospitals to 
duty ; they look well, while those we send to the 
front are miserable in comparison. Graves scat- 
tered by the roadside, and gathered in clusters where 
hospitals or camps have been located, marking the 
course of the army. Near a deserted house, the large 
garden was made a burying-ground : many of its quiet 
sleepers are, doubtless, mourned for in Northern homes 
— some whose resting-place will never be known. 

"From Western plain to ocean tide, 
Are stretched the graves of those who died 
For you and me." 

My husband's health, which had not been good 



90 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

during the summer, was now so much affected by the 
climate, that a change for him was all-important, and 
he again went North. We remained a few weeks 
longer, continuing the same routine of duties — varied 
only by the sad scenes around us. 

While in the midst of so much excitement, in the 
times which form history, we were unconscious of it 
all : it was our daily life. Now, in these peaceful days, 
we begin to realize where we have been, and in what 
we have taken part. 

Early in November, we left, expecting to return, 
after a few weeks' rest, and resume our position in 
the corps hospital; but Mr. H.'s health was so much 
impaired that it was not thought prudent for us to do so 
until cold weather. With a glimpse of home and its 
comforts, in three days we again commenced visiting the 
"Aid Societies" and schools, and continued uninter- 
ruptedly until January ; during that time, met several 
thousands. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 91 



CHAPTER IV. 

First Visit to Annapolis. — Stories of Starved Men. — Burial at 
Andersonville. — Neely's Life in the Dungeon of Castle Thun- 
der. — Sergeant Kerker. — Captains Wilson and Shelton in the 
"Iron Cage," in Buncombe County, Tenn. — The Boy and the 
Flag. — Gould's returning Consciousness. — Mr. Brown in 
Danville Prison. 

In this closing period of the war, and of our labor in 
the hospitals, comes the darkest, saddest page of all — 
too terrible to be lightly spoken, and too painful in its 
remembrances to be dwelt upon any longer than is 
needful for the connected continuance of the narrative. 
The inhuman, fiendish treatment of our soldiers in 
Southern prisons has how become a matter of history, 
the truthfulness of which cannot be doubted. Would 
that it could be ! 

By the bedsides of dying skeletons, as they shudder- 
in gly recalled their prison life, I have written their sad 
stories, which often ended with : "We can never tell 
the half of all we have endured ; it would not be cred- 
ited, if we did." All of horrors that I had seen and 
known during these memorable years, faded into in- 
significance when contrasted with this heinous crime — 
a systematic course of starvation to brave men made 



92 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

captives by the chances of war ! Our first visit to 
Annapolis was with the object of seeing and knowing 
more of them ; that by a recital of their condition, I 
might interest still more those who were devoting 
themselves to the preparation of hospital comforts. 
The little we saw of the starved men, at that time, 
enlisted all my sympathies. In one of the wards of 
the hospital at Camp Parole, a man belonging to the 
5th Indiana Cavalry was reclining in a large rocking- 
chair near the stove ; his features sharpened by suffer- 
ing, the eyes sunken, skin tightly drawn over the lips, 
as though they could never smile again ; the whole face 
had an unearthly, smoke-dried parchment look. Upon 
asking him where he was from, he answered plainly : 
"Anderson ; that cruel treatment, no shelter, with want 
of food and water, had brought him to this condi- 
tion." His age was almost eighteen; I should have 
said at least forty. There was no appearance of flesh 
upon the attenuated hands and arms ; he died within 
an hour, before we left the building. Near him lay 
two others, who seemed pleased to relate their stories 
and have any one listen to them. All had been so 
long unused to kindness, that a pleasant word or the 
least attention surprised them. They also had been 
at Andersonville, Florence, and other prisons ; but the 
first named was worse than all. Their statements 
as to kind of food, want of shelter, etc. were afterward 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 93 

confirmed by hundreds of others. They gave their 
corps, regiment, when captured, etc., stating that of 
the large number who entered with them, but few left 
it alive. 

Their mode of burial was this: every morning a 
wagon was driven through the camp, to pick up those 
who had died during the night; the poor, emaciated 
bodies were caught up by an arm and foot, and pitched 
into the wagon as a stick of cord-wood would be 
thrown ; this was continued until no more could be 
piled in, then taken to the shallow trenches which 
were to receive them ; they were packed in, lying upon 
the side, the head of one over the shoulder of the man 
in front of him ; a slight covering of earth concealed 
the victims from sight, relieving them of that much 
care by lessening the number in their vile prisons — 
but adding another to the list of martyrs from the 
North. They crept, at night, in holes burrowed in the 
ground; those too feeble to prepare such shelter, 
crowded together in rows for warmth; during the 
winter, the outside sleepers were almost invariably 
found stiff and cold, in the morning light. 

The appearance of those with whom I had been 
conversing reminded me of the skeletons I had seen 
washed out, upon Antietain, Gettysburg, and other 
battle-fields, only they had ceased from suffering, and 

9 



94 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

were at rest; these were still living, breathing, help- 
less, starved men. 

On board a vessel, which had just unloaded its mis- 
erable passengers, came a young boy, who was carried 
on shore ; when bathed, and made comfortable with 
clean clothing, taken into one of the tents at Xaval 
School Hospital. As he was laid upon his nice, clean 
mattress, he called to his comrades in suffering: "Boys, 
I'm ready to die, now that IVe heard the music, and 
have seen the old flag." Some one auswered : " Surely 
you don't want to die, now that we are home again ?" 
The boy replied: "I prayed so earnestly that I might 
live only long enough to die upon our own soil ; and 
now, though I should like to see my own home, I am 
perfectly happy, and ready to go ; I know I can't live." 
He continued to talk cheerfully of- death, repeating 
every few minutes: "IVe heard the music, and I've 
seen the old flag." In three hours the feeble spark- of 
life was gone ; and he was, the next morning, carried to 
the cemetery — with sixty -five of his companions ! the 
most saddening funeral procession that perhaps was 
ever formed. Sixty -five starved men, who lingered 
long enough to die upon our own soil, and under the 
"dear old flag !" 

"In treason's prison-hold, 

Their martyr-spirits grew 
To stature like the saints of old, 
While, amid agonies untold, 

They starved for me and yon /" 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 95 

In one arrival of four hundred and sixty, only sixty 
were able to walk ashore ; the four hundred were car- 
ried ; half of these died within a few days ; one-third 
of the whole number imbecile. They appeared like a 
wretched bundle of bones, covered with a few filthy 
rags. Of those who were able to totter about, the 
greatest care was requisite ; they would search eagerly 
for bones, crusts, crumbs, or anything that was or had 
been eatable ; some discovered the slop-barrels, and 
took out of them the savory morsels of bones or vege- 
tables. There were instances where a sick man was 
feebly raising the bread to his lips, when a stronger 
one would snatch it from his fingers. The same look 
of hopeless sadness is on every face, without a smile — 
smoke-dried skeletons. 

Their statements, though coming from different 
prisons, all agree in this one fact : they were starved, 
without shelter, and wearing only the scantiest cloth- 
ing — the rags which remained from the time they were 
captured; — when their coats, blankets, and valuables 
were all taken from them. Many, after conversing 
about it, will say: "You never could imagine such 
horrors." In one room, I singled out the two most 
skeleton like, and asked the least emaciated one : 
"What prison did you come from?" He looked at 
me with a vacant stare, and answered : " Prison ? ah — 
yes, I'm Anderson !" I gave him up, and his friend 



96 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

replied: "He thought they had been shown through 
all the prisons, though last from Anderson." Another, 
that I asked the same question, replied : " He was 
from Florence ; had been at Charleston once ; didn't 
know how long since; they were all bad alike." 

In another ward were five, all very low : two of the 
most fearfully emaciated men that we had yet seen ; 
one from Iowa, the other from Michigan ; they were 
too feeble to speak ; we could only take the nurse's 
account, which varied but little from the others ; both 
died during the night, 

In the next room was Andrews, from Ohio ; 

at the commencement of the war, he was about fin- 
ishing his college course — and wrote to his parents that 
"he must go, it was his duty to do so ; that his life 
was no more precious than others which must be 
given." His mother, repeating to me what I have 
just written, said : He was an only son, it was agony 
to think of parting with him ; but they did not, could 
not object, and he went. In the same town was his 
very dear friend, also an only son ; his parents would 
not consent to his going, and during that year he died 
at college. Now, her son had been spared through 
many battles and hardships, and through the sufferings 
of prison life ; he was ill, when exchanged ; had at 
one time escaped ; but chased by dogs to the swamps, 
was concealed in them until he became so exhausted 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 97 

for food, that when he came out in search of it, was 
unable to run from his pursuers, and taken back to 
prison ; where his only shelter was a narrow alley be- 
tween two buildings, until a rebel, with some kindness 
of heart, picked him up and laid him upon a scrap of 
blanket, from which a dead man had just been carried 
out. At length, some Sanitary Commission blankets 
were given them — one for five men ; as their compan- 
ions died, they crept closer together ; and at the time 
of leaving, he had half of one. When he arrived, he 
was among the bad cases ; his mother heard he was in 
Annapolis, and came directly on ; to her devoted care 
he owes his life ; she never left him day or night, but 
gave him, by the spoonful, nourishing food and drink 
as ordered by his surgeon ; at length, to her great 
joy, was pronounced some change for the better. 
When we saw him, he was sitting up for the first 
time : had he been anything but a "returned prisoner," 
we would have said such an emaciated man could not 
live. His mother was sitting by him, bathing his skel- 
eton-looking hands; and calling our attention to the 
shrunken arms, said they were looking so much better, 
that she was perfectly happy in the thought of soon 
taking him home. 

In the same building is a man whose mind seems 
quite gone: he is always looking for his mother; un- 
conscious as he is, they cannot tell where to write, or 

9* 



98 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

whether she is living. As I entered the door, he 
sprang up in an excited manner, calling out: "Yes, 
yes, there is my mother!" With a few soothing words, 
he was soon quieted; but when the nurse attempted 
to give him medicine, threw it from him, saying : 
" They are always trying to poison us in prison." 

On the second floor was Arnold, from Miles- 
burg, Ceutre County, Penna. ; his feet were frozen, and 
he was so starved that but little hope was entertained 
of his recovery. His mother was with him, doing all 
in her power for him. 

A boy who had been very low, but then seemed ral- 
lying, was requested by the surgeon to show his ema- 
ciated arms ; unfastening his collar, he said : " This 
is the color I was all over, when we landed; but it is 
not dirt, lady; I'm clean now." The bony framework 
of the chest was plainly visible, giving painful evidence 
of what he had endured. 

In the officers' ward was a young man from the 
121st New York, who looked feeble and emaciated, 
with but little hope of life ; he had just picked out a 
tooth; thought all were loose. Another, with a frac- 
tured thigh w T hen captured, but who now seemed ap- 
parently doing well, had been without any care while 
in rebel hands; they never did anything for him. As 
a general rule, the officers fared better than the men ; 
but there were also manv sad case? anions: them. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 99 

The food given to the men in those hospitals was 
the very best, and most nourishing that could be pre- 
pared. As one of their surgeons remarked : "Medical 
skill was often at a loss ; their books never taught 
them how starved men should be treated." They 
relied almost entirely upon good food for their cure. 

Upon our return home, the work for the hospitals 
was resumed; with this added incentive, to urge upon 
those we met untiring efforts in behalf of our returned 
starved prisoners. There were but few families who 
had not some friend or relative among them, whose 
stories of patient endurance of suffering touched all 
hearts. While help was needed for them, there seemed 
no limit to the generous offerings of the people. 
Through the Sanitary Commission, an immense sup- 
ply was forwarded for their use, beside what was sent 
through other sources. There was too much to be 
done at Annapolis, for the returned prisoners, to 
remain contentedly telling others what they could do ; 
so that in a very short time we returned, — accompa- 
nied by a friend, Mrs. S., of Boston, who had with her 
a valuable contribution of articles from persons there ; 
she remained a few weeks, — our stay was until July. 

Directly after our return to Annapolis, while waiting 
in the Sanitary Commission Rooms, a train of ambu- 
lances, containing nineteen bodies, passed, the first and 
last of the number covered with the flag ; we followed 



100 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

the procession to the cemetery, and saw them laid side 
by side in their quiet resting-place — Chaplain Sloan offi- 
ciating. Upon the head-boards of all the prisoners should 
be inscribed "starved to death!" that in future years 
Southern "chivalry" might read and know the fact. 

In one of the wards of St. John's Hospital was Mr. 
Kerker, of Ohio, watching by the bedside of his only 
child — the last of six ; an elder son had been captured 
a year previous, and afterward murdered by the rebels. 
This one was a sergeant of the 2d Virginia Cavalry: with 
three others, had volunteered to go upon a dangerous 
expedition for the purpose of cany in g a dispatch to 
headquarters for Merril's Division ; seeing troops in the 
distance, and not knowing who they were, gave his 
saber, etc. to the men, telling them if he was not back 
in two hours, to return and report his fate, but he 
would go on alone. Moving cautiously, hiding in the 
bushes and grass, he was at length seen by their 
pickets, — surrounded and captured, — but tore his dis- 
patch into small pieces; the rebels picked it up, and 
fitting it all together, read that the general must take 
the north road with his force, and troops would be sent 
to meet him. Missing the dispatch, — as intended, — he 
took the south road, as had previously been decided ; . 
the rebels were deceived, and the division saved. It 
was a ruse — to sacrifice one man, and save numbers. 
The poor fellow lived through his imprisonment, reach- 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 101 

ing Annapolis an emaciated skeleton. His father 
heard of his arrival, and came immediately to wait 
upon him : he watched him with the most anxious, 
tender care, — hoping each day to see him better, that 
he might take him where he was so impatient to be — 
home ; but all in vain : we saw how the wasted frame 
daily became weaker, and at length there came sud- 
denly to both father and son the utter hopelessness of 
anticipating any change but that which death must 
bring. From that time, cheerfully and pleasantly, as- 
though preparing for a delightful journey, his last 
arrangements were made, looking forward to that home 
"not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." As 
his father remarked : "He had always been a good boy, 
attentive at church and other religious duties." The 
first letter which he wished to dictate was to his former 
pastor, thanking him for all his care and kindness dur- 
ing his early life, and telling him how happy he was, 
now that earthly scenes were so nearly over, etc. 
There were parting messages to dear friends at home ; 
and all the time, loving words of thanks, and pleasure, 
that his father could be with him. With the most 
earnest, childlike faith and trust in our Saviour's prom- 
ises, his face ever wore a bright look when telling that 
"he was going home to God." A lady who had man- 
ifested much interest in him, he asked to "be his 
mother while he lived, and watch over him." Most 



102 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

faithfully did she fulfill the request. As we entered his 
teut in the morning, he would greet us with a smile, 
and say: "Still here, waiting." It was one of the 
most beautifully touching death-beds that I have 
known in the hospitals. Early in the morning of the 
20th of April, 1865, death came gently to the boy who 
had so longed for him, and the freed spirit was at rest. 
The wasted body was taken by the sorrowing father 
to their home in Ohio : another martyr added to the 
fearful list, whose reckoning Grod alone can balance. 

In the officers' ward, at Naval School, was Capt. 
Washburn, of Boston ; he was ill when he came from 
prison. His father, who had five sons out of six in 
the service, — all who were old enough to go, — was 
waiting upon him. 

In the late arrival was a young officer, emaciated 
and ill. His brother had been with him during all his 
imprisonment : and when the order came for their ex- 
change, both were permitted to leave, if they could 
reach the station, three miles distant ; this one started, 
carrying his skeleton brother upon his back for two 
miles, when his strength entirely failed, and he sank, 
overcome by the exertion,' upon the ground; after rest- 
ing some time, started again with his burden ; but the 
effort was in vain — his wearied frame could go no far- 
ther : and as he laid him down, the brother clasped his 
arms around his neck, and died ! There, by the dusty 
roadside, the brave young officer's grave was made. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 103 

In the chapel were a number of very bad-looking 
skeletons ; several with frozen feet. 

A few days since an old gentleman came, inquiring 
for his son : he had died two hours before his arrival — 
the last of seven ! Four starved to death in rebel 
prisons : all were in the service. Well might he 
exclaim: "Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow 
like unto my sorrow!" 

Steward Newman, of Company I), 5th Michigan 
Cavalry, — whose statements are confirmed by Lieut. 

Hayes, from near Lock Haven, Penna., Miller, 

of Boston, and other comrades, — says : while in 
prison at Andersonville, he has frequently seen our 
soldiers tied to the whipping-post by the thumbs, their 
toes just touching the ground, the helpless sufferers so 
thin and weak that their bodies swayed in the wind 
like a moving pendulum ; the crime, asking for food ! — 
unable to eat what, at home, their cattle and horses 
would refuse, and even chickens could not live upon. At 
thanksgiving, they were kept eighty hours without 
any food, because they refused to tell where the tunnel 
was which they were digging. At length it was com- 
pleted, and all their arrangements made for escaping, 
when one of their number, tempted with tobacco, 
revealed their plans : one thousand were to have left 
that very night. The tunnel was so wide that two could 
go out abreast. They caught the scamp who told : with 



104 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

india-ink, put a large letter T, for traitor, upon his fore- 
head and nose, shaved half his head, and turned him off. 
Their coffee was made of the burnt crusts of their mis- 
erably baked corn-cob bread. At long intervals a little 
rice would be given them, which they browned and 
made of it what they thought good coffee, eating the 
roasted grains afterward. Another drink was made by 
putting corn-cob meal in a bucket, and standing it for 
three days in the sun to ferment, adding to it molasses 
and sassafras — which the negroes would procure for 
them. A man fortunate enough to have sufficient 
money for the purchase of a barrel and the needful 
corn-meal and molasses, would soon improvise a 
sutler's establishment by stretching over poles the 
ragged remains of an old blanket : and there, with 
this attempt at shelter from the sun, would call to the 
ragged crowd, as they passed along : 

"Here's your good, nice beer, fiye cents a glass! 
Good, cool, and tart ! walk up and try; 
If you don't like, you needn't buy!" 

When the prisoners were moved from Andersonville 
to Florence, they left behind them all their cooking 
utensils, as they were told they were to be exchanged, 
not sent to prison ; but finding they had been deceived, 
asked permission of a rebel, Major Brown (it is humil- 
iating to add that he was formerly from Pennsylvania), 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 105 

to use the tin-roofing of the cars which stood near; he 
consented, and they took off the entire roof of one. 
The only tools they had were a cold-chisel, a railroad 
spike, and an old table-knife ; in a marvelously short 
time, cooking pans, cups, and buckets were cut out and 
hammered together ; and when the variety was shown 
to the rebel major, he remarked : " They might turn a 
Yank into the woods with nothing, and he would soon 
have all he needed." Buckets, plates, and spoons 
were made of wood. For the buckets, they split staves 
of wood, the negroes furnishing poles for hoops and 
handles. As far as ingenuity could go, they made the 
best they could of their wretched surroundings. The 
men were divided by thousands, then hundreds, for 
convenience in distributing rations : while at Florence, 
Newman entered his name three times in one thou- 
sand, — giving, of course, two feigned names, — that he 
might draw sufficient food to sustain life ; fortunately, 
he was not found out; if he had been, the penalty of 
one hundred lashes, in his enfeebled health, would 
have killed him. 

Staunton, Pete Obrey, and Hoover were the men of 
infamous notoriety, who did more lashing of our sol- 
diers at Anderson ville than any others. Staunton was 
chief of police : the few picks and spades within the 
stockade were under his control ; Newman asked per- 
mission to use one, to repair his sleeping-pit ; instead 

10 



106 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

of a reply, was felled with it to the earth ; when con- 
sciousness returned, he dare not complain ; suffering 
with the blow, and ill as he was, could only crawl 
away to his ditch, thankful to escape with life. The 
two first named were at Annapolis while we were 
there ; their lives had been so often threatened, if found 
outside the hospital, that they were glad to keep within 
its walls for safety. Pete disappeared one night, do 
one knew where. These men all wore the Federal 
uniform : while doing so, possessed the entire confi- 
dence of the rebels in command — proving that, though 
wearing the "army blue," they were rebels in disguise. 

A Massachusetts sergeant said when his regiment 
entered Anderson, one hundred and thirty- five men 
answered roll-call ; after a captivity of eight months, 
nineteen only could be found. An Illinois man re- 
marked that twenty of his company were taken prisoners 
with him ; at the end of five months, five were living. 
A little Massachusetts fellow, wounded in the leg when 
captured, cut crutches from the woods, and by their 
aid marched, for sixty miles, with his comrades. He 
was afraid the rebels would do as they threatened, 
leave him to starve to death if he did not keep up 
with the party. When they reached prison, he was 
sent to the hospital. The ball is still in. 

A fresh arrival of prisoners to-day, 27th of March ; 
the most of them can walk ; if these were the first we 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 10? 

had seen, we would think them all bad. Among them 
was a young German who had lain for three days be- 
side his dead comrade, that he might draw his rations ; 
representing all the time that he was too ill to get up 
for them; and keeping him covered with their rags, 
when the "dead-cart" passed along. Many are suffer- 
ing with frozen feet: some have lost all their toes, 
others only on one foot. 

On the 28th, assisted in the distribution of Sanitary 
Commission articles — needles, thread, comb, paper, en- 
velopes, and towel — to fourteen hundred of the late 
arrivals : these are presumed to be well men, at least 
they are well enough to keep out of the hospital for a 
time. They march up in line for their dinner, which 
consists of good soup, boiled cabbage, and half a loaf 
of bread, given to them from an open window ; in the 
same order, they march on to the next building, where 
they receive the articles named. Their remarks, as 
they pass along, are amusing; many " thank you's" 
were said heartily; they all looked, and I have no 
doubt were, pleased. "Boys, wouldn't we like the rebs 
to see this," "the folks do care for us at home," etc., 
showed how gratifying it was to them to be thus 
remembered. In about two hours the fourteen hun- 
dred were all supplied, and the crowd scattered. 

A Maryland infantry boy, belonging to the ninth 
corps, was a prisoner eight months ; had had a fur- 



108 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

lough, and was now back ready for duty ; had " asked 
to be sent front," saying, "the rebels had boarded him 
eight months, and he was anxious to go back and 
settle his bill of fare I" 

April 29th. A boat, with three hundred, just arrived : 
the drum calls the " stretcher-bearers " to fall in line ; 
and all who can, rush to the landing. Following the 
crowd, we come to the wharf just in time to see the 
unsteady column begin to move. On board the vessel 
the hospital band is playing cheerful strains of wel- 
come, and they come ashore to the music of familiar 

tunes. 

"Back to the North, where the air is free; 
Back from the land of pain." 

Tottering and feeble, bronzed and smoke-blackened, 
tangled hair and matted beards, some in rebel garb, 
many barefooted and bareheaded, the majority clothed 
in shirt and drawers furnished by the Sanitary Com- 
mission in Wilmington, a few fortunate possessors of 
a blanket, — such is the walking party. It was more 
than some of them could do to walk, so they gave it up, 
and, as the line of " stretcher-bearers " followed in their 
wake, were added to the number. Sorry plight for 
three hundred brave men to come from Southern care ! 
Martyrs for the nation, patient and uncomplaining, 
they do not blame the government — they censure no 
one ! 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 109 

In all the precious lives lost to friends and home, and 
the wrecks of noble soldiers yet remaining, is not the 
hand of God seen ? The costly offering was asked for, 
and given, that the nation might be saved, and that 
distant lands might learn to what refinements of cruelty 
slavery had educated a people ! 

Among them one was noticed straining his eyes 
toward the shore, and, as they neared the wharf, was 
one of the first to press forward to leave the vessel ; 
he walked along the plank, eagerly looking in the dis- 
tance ; tottered with a few feeble steps upon our soil, 
and then — fell dead ! his wish gratified : he died at 
home. 

Another load of two hundred : some skeletons among 
them who could not be made to comprehend that they 
were in a land of plenty, and would he provided for ; but 
clutched with a firm grasp the bones and scraps which 
they had concealed ; and when forced to drop them out- 
side the gate, did so with tears, repeating, "they had 
been in prison eighteen months, and knew what starva- 
tion was." 

Thomas Gr. Spikean, from New York, while at Flor- 
ence was set to work outside of their prison inclosure, 
building chimneys for the rebels; finding food daily 
becoming more scarce, determined to escape, or perish 
in the attempt. Thinking death preferable to slow 
starvation, five men broke their parole and started with 
10* 



110 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

him : for ten days kept together, until they were 
tracked by clogs, and obliged to secrete themselves 
in the swamps ; wading about in them until they be- 
came chilled, at length reached a small island in safety; 
from there to land ; came to Orangeburg just as Sher- 
man's forces left it, and to Columbia as they were 
taking up the last pontoon ; crossed in a skiff, and were 
then taken care of by the army. 

There had been terrible suffering during all the win- 
ter months, among our soldiers in prisons, for want of 
clothing, food, fire, and shelter. Five sticks of wood 
were given to one hundred men once in three days ! 
That amounted to none at all, for, as they have shown 
me the size, it could all be burned in an hour. 

A man, who has been a prisoner since the battle of 
the Wilderness, now lies entirely stiffened, helpless, 
and unable to move, from exposure and sleeping upon 
the cold ground : he says, at one time Sanitary Com- 
mission clothing was pretended to be distributed by 
the rebels — six pieces to one thousand men ! the rebel 
guard wore the caps, clothing, and blankets, while our 
men died by scores for the want of them. 

Again assisting in distributing Sanitary Commission 
articles to sixteen hundred and forty men : they had 
been in prison but a few months; a small number 
among them, eighteen months ; these had been rest- 
ing at Wilmington, where they were well fed and 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. Ill 

kindly cared for, and now looked well and happy in 
their new blue. The distributions, which are made at 
College Green Barracks, are a source of pleasure to the 
recipients, while it is both gratifying and amusing to 
those who act as donors. 

A German named Neabal, 54th New York, eleventh 
corps, who was captured at Gettysburg, July, 1863 : 
stayed in that horrid Belle Island eight months ; from 
there to Andersonville, thence to Savannah, where they 
had good rations ; then taken to Macon and Charleston ; 
for three weeks they were kept moving, for fear Gen. 
Sherman would find and release them; the corn which 
the cavalry horses dropped upon the ground, when 
they were fed, was all they had to eat for several 
days ; he was paroled in Wilmington the last of Feb- 
ruary, and soon after sent North. 

April 4th. Three boats filled with prisoners arrived : 
some shocking-looking cases among them; as soon as 
they were bathed, dressed, and made comfortable in 
good beds, you could hardly recognize the squalid- 
looking crowd we had so lately seen. As soon as 
possible, passed through the wards, taking names, and 
notes of messages to write to friends at home — that is 
always the first request ; wrote, and mailed for them 
that evening, twenty-two letters. In the morning, 
was pained to learn the number that died during the 
night. Mrs. Hulster, of Ohio, found her nephew in this 



112 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

arrival: he had been reported dead by his comrades, 
and so they all believed at home. The toes of one 
foot were entirely gone, part of the other badly frozen ; 
he is ill with the terrible fever brought here by the 
prisoners. 

The one great, exciting event is the fall of Richmond, 
so long expected, and now occurring so quietly that 
these poor fellows think it cannot be ; as we move 
among them, they constantly ask : "Is it true ? God 
grant it may be !" The salute of one hundred guns, 
which was soon afterward fired, confirmed their belief 
that it was so. The Naval School band played patri- 
otic airs in the cupola of the State House, Governor 
Bradford made a speech to the excited crowd, flags 
were floating, and the Union people here, as every- 
where, jubilant over the good news. 

To-day, met Captains Wilson and Shelton, of the 
5Tth Ohio Yols., who have been in the service four 
years, and intend to remain while there is a rebel in 
arms against the government ; they were captured at 
Atlanta, 20th of July, 1864; sent from there to Macon, 
thence through nearly all the prisons in the Confed- 
eracy. As soon as taken, were asked for all valuables — 
watches, rings, money, and clothing, — last of all, their 
honorable captors took their arms. On the 10th of 
November, escaped from Columbia; finding great diffi- 
culty in eluding the pickets, they secreted themselves 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 113 

in the mountains, and built a hut for shelter; while 
there, they were kindly provided with food by the 
Union people and colored population ; many very 
poor were anxious to give up their small amount 
of provisions for Union officers and soldiers; at night, 
some of the loyal people of Transylvania County, N. C, 
would come, driving a cow before them loaded with 
whatever provisions they could collect. The rebels 
became so expert following a trail, that they would 
track them as the Indians do : as they would not sus- 
pect a cow, she was made to carry the burden, and de- 
ceive them. By such acts of kindness they were kept 
in good health until the 18th of January, when they 
were recaptured and taken to Asheville, Buncombe 
County, Tenn., where, with six others, they were put 
in an iron cage used as a dungeon. It was eleven 
feet in length, nine wide, and seven high ; there was 
no bed, bench, stool, or anything to sit or lie down 
upon ; no blanket, or covering of any kind, except the 
scanty clothing which had been left them ; they were 
not out of the dungeon once during the month : filth 
and vermin in it beyond description ; a stove stood 
outside their bars: if the wood was not placed just in 
one spot, they could have no fire, no matter how much 
might be there. Their miserable allowance of food 
consisted of the black corn-cob bread, varied at long 
intervals with rough pieces of boiled pork, which was 



114 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

carried to them in a bucket, and served out by a rebel, 
who had the itch, dipping his hand into the bucket and 
tossing them whatever the fingers brought up ! At 
first they turned away with loathing, unable to catch 
the dainty morsels ; but continued starvation brought 
them to eat it without a word. While in the cage, a 
lieutenant in our army, Wm. Johnson, a resident of Hay- 
wood County, N. C, was placed there for a few hours; 
no clothing left him but drawers ; he was told he was 
a traitor, and a doomed man ; listened to it all with 
folded arms; and soon afterward was taken out to a 
field near by, and deliberately shot by a rebel sergeant 
named Bright; earth was thrown thinly over the 
young martyr's remains ; and when their food came 
in the morning, the man brought the tidings that the 
body had been nearly devoured in the night. After re- 
maining there one month, they were taken to Morgan- 
ton and put in a similar cage for a few days ; from there 
sent to be exchanged. Capt. Wilson said he had, at 
one time, a tender, sympathizing heart, even for rebels 
in suffering; but that was all gone now, and in its 
place something as hard as their own cob bread. 

Again occupied in the pleasant duty of distribu- 
ting Sanitary Commission articles, at the Barracks, to 
seventeen hundred and sixty men: many have been 
prisoners but a little while. Among them are some 
of Sherman's veterans, and his noted "bummers," 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 115 

who, smart as they were, could not always escape 
from the rebels. Such work as this is a most agreeable 
contrast to the wards, where we see nothing but skele- 
tons, and hear their sad tales of suffering so touchingly 
related. 

In this arrival were many wounded from the late 
battles and skirmishes; their blankets and coats were 
taken from them : at night, without any shelter, they 
suffered from exposure. From Danville to Richmond, 
one hundred and forty miles, they were crowded on top 
of box-cars : the rebel lieutenant in charge telling the 
guard to "push them with his bayonet, crowd them 
up; he wished they were all dead!" The poor 
wounded men had to hold on with both hands ; many, 
unable to do so, rolled off, and had broken bones added 
to the suffering of their wounds ; some died there from 
the effects of that ride, and others who are here cannot 
live. 

A young boy, after he was captured and robbed of 
his clothing, was shot in the side by a man who rode 
up, and without one word, fired a revolver, aiming at 
his heart ; a quick movement saved his life, but he lies 
helpless, and suffering with an ugly wound. 

Many of the prisoners have been so long away from 
home and friends, that they cannot understand why 
so much sympathy should be manifested for them. 
Thomas Brown, Company I, 58th Massachusetts, who 



116 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

has been for weeks the most patient sufferer, and now 
very near his end, says he never saw anything like the 
kindness and attention shown to the men in this hospital 
(St. John's); that certainly the Lord put it into the 
hearts of the people to do all this for them ; he wished 
the men in Southern prisons might know it. 

Calder, of the 174th Ohio, is a Virginian, his wife 
and children living on the Rapidan when last he heard 
from home. He had great difficulty in eluding the con- 
script officers ; at length crossed the lines, and enlisted 
in Ohio ; when captured by the rebels, was tried for 
treason, and a rope tied round his wrists and ankles 
for three months ; was nine months in prison, then 
made his escape. 

A boy was brought into "St. John's" to-day, the 
son of a Presbyterian clergyman near Baltimore : since 
the first battle in which he was engaged, he has been 
frantic with terror ; he knows very well that he was a 
prisoner in Castle Thunder, but thinks he was put 
there as a punishment for praying daily "that God 
would end the war, give victory to our armies, and 
peace to the land." His dread of Southern prisons is 
painful to behold : when the flags which hang upon 
the walls are pointed out, and he is asked "if they look 
like the rebels' ?" conscious for the moment, he will 
reply, "oh, no; that looks like home;" but with a 
shudder he is again in the dreaded prisons, and it is 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 117 

with difficulty he can then be calmed and quieted. 
The surgeons think the rest and pleasures of home 
will, in time, restore his mind ; he will very soon be 
sent there. 

In another ward is a case something similar to the 
Maryland boy, though this man has endured longer 
imprisonment and greater suffering. His name is 
Ephraim Gould, from Maine ; his mind seemed entirely 
gone ; he was only conscious of his prison life : that 
was all fearfully distinct. To-day there seemed a 
gleam of returning reason : and observing a lady near 
him, called his wife, and asked, was she here, had she 
written, or was it all a dream ? Fortunately, his wife 
had been written to, and a letter received from her; 
some money was handed to him, and told it was his 
own ; he looked intently at it for a moment, and then 
remarked: "Surely that is United States; it don't 
look like the rebel stuff!" Then recognizing a ten, a 
five, and so on, gave their value correctly? Inquires 
as a little child would do how he must get out of bed, 
must he ask if he wants to sit up, and so on. It is the 
most complete awakening of an imbecile man that I 
have yet seen. To the regret of all who knew him, 
this was but a faint glimmer of reason, ere exhausted 
nature gave up the struggle. Once more he was con- 
scious for a short time ; then sank into the repose of 
death. 

11 



118 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

Among those whose minds were not restored was 
"Fred," supposed to be a Swede: when asked his 
name and residence, would give the first he thought 
of — rarely the same twice. At the breaking up of the 
hospitals, "Fred" was sent to Baltimore: we saw him 
there in August, 1865; he seemed better; and wrote 
his name in a beautiful hand, "Fred, Chicago." 

An intense love of the flag is observed in nearly 
all who are received here. From the high flag-staff 
at the Naval School, the vessels can distinguish the 
flag floating while yet some distance out. A boy was 
lately carried from one of the boats who seemed wild 
with excitement when he gazed upon it; and when 
laid upon his bed in the hospital, asked that it might 
be placed where he could see it. A small one was 
given to him : his greatest pleasure seemed to be to lie 
under its folds ; he held it in his hands, laid it upon 
his face, nestled close to it in sleep, and would never 
have it out of his sight. The poor emaciated child 
lingered a few days, forgetting his sufferings and all 
the dark, weary months of hopeless imprisonment ; he 
was perfectly happy under its protection, and died with 
his flag in his hands ; was carried to his grave with it 
resting upon the coffin lid. 

Another boat load, of two hundred, just arrived: 
many of them in good condition, having been sent from 
Wilmington to Fortress Monroe, where they have been 
for three weeks ; some skeletons in the number. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 119 

Met Mrs. Galbraith, of Ohio, looking for her son ; 
she was lost and bewildered in the crowd, and knew 
not where to go or what to do ; taking charge of her, 
he was soon found — the mother sobbing for joy that 
her boy was alive. He was sitting up: now, with her 
care, can soon bear the journey home. 

In the last arrival, came Wm. Neely, Company B, 
83d Pennsylvania Vols., enlisted in Philadelphia. He 
was captured the 11th of October, 1863, and taken to 
Richmond, Va. After having made several desperate 
efforts to escape with his comrades, on the 24th of 
December he was put in the dark, condemned cell of 
Castle Thunder; an iron bar, fifteen inches long, was 
riveted upon his wrists and ankles ; the other end of 
the same bar fastened in like manner to Capt. Avery, 
of Kentucky. They were kept in that dungeon four 
months and six days ; the only clothing they were per- 
mitted to keep was pantaloons and blouse; no cover- 
ing of any kind allowed them ; no chair, bench, or bed ; 
nothing to sit or lie down upon but the filthy floor. 
Sometimes six men were kept in the same cell with 
them ; at night, a light was placed near the bars ; dur- 
ing the day, total darkness. He concealed in the roof 
of his mouth, for six weeks, a fine steel saw, such as is 
used about gun-barrels : at the time they were sent 
away, had one bar cut through, ready to make another 
effort to escape. The iron bar upon his wrist cut 



120 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

into the bone, making an offensive wound; the scar it 
made he carried to his grave. When taken out, they 
were covered with filth and vermin, so enfeebled that 
they could with difficulty stand alone, and looking like 
nothing human. The captain was started for Tennes- 
see to be tried for treason ; but on the way escaped, 
and reached his command at Kuoxville in safety. 
JSeely was sent to Salisbury, from there to Columbia, 
thence to Macon, and hurried back again to Columbia, 
dodging Sherman. He finally escaped, by tunneling 
out under his prison walls, the Asylum in Columbia, 
eight days before Gen. Sherman entered the town ; a 
Union lady concealed him, a lieutenant, and sergeant 
until they could rejoin our forces ; he came to Fayette- 
ville with the second division hospital of the fifteenth 
army corps ; from there to Wilmington with the refu- 
gees, where they were kindly fed and cared for until 
able to bear the journey, when he was sent with others 
to Annapolis. He lingered two months, and died in 
St. John's Hospital. Continued efforts have been 
made to find his family : this statement has been pub- 
lished in city and country papers without avail : in- 
formation of importance to them is still in my posses- 
sion. 

Harris was one of the most revolting-looking skel- 
etons that was landed : when brought in, his head 
was without hair, except a little tuft in front ; his head 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 121 

and neck were eaten in great boles by vermin — they 
had burrowed in ridges under the skin ; mind and body 
were alike weakened. He rallied for a few days: with 
good treatment and kindness, it seemed as though his 
life might be saved ; but all was of no use : rebel 
cruelty had too surely done its work, and the victim 
suddenly died without any apparent illness other than 
starvation. 

The 15th of April, 1865, came the saddest news 
that ever startled the American people: our beloved 
President Lincoln murdered ! It seemed incredible, 
and it was long before it could be realized. Where so 
lately was rejoicing, all is now changed to mourning. 

In one of the wards of "St. John's" is a man who 
had been three months a prisoner, and wounded. The 
flag always remained fastened to his bed : this morning 
it was at half-mast, heavily draped with black. Con- 
tinuing our walk, found many others like it: the only 
token of sorrow they could give. 

In the Naval School Hospital is a man from New 
York Mounted Rifles who has been a prisoner two 
years and three months, having tried all their prisons 
in turn. His stories of the "dead line" are terrible, 
yet agreeing accurately with all others I have heard 
speak of it. A boy was with him, going to the stream 
near the "line" to procure water that would be a little 
11* 



122 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

purer than that farther down : as he stooped to fill his 
cup, the guard tossed a piece of bread near him — 
eagerly the hand was outstretched to grasp it, the 
fingers up to the "line," when, in an instant, his brains 
were scattered upon the cup and bread he held ! and 
the guard resumed his walk, well satisfied that he had 
performed a commendable act. 

A daily occurrence is the number of those who come 
searching for friends : all they know is, they were pris- 
oners; and so hope to find them, or hear tidings of 
them. Many, alas ! have filled an unmarked grave at 
" Anderson ville," "Florence," or "Millen," or perhaps 
may have been among those who, unable to tell their 
names when landed, died and were buried as "un- 
known!" and so added to — 

"The brave hearts that never more shall beat, 
The eyes that smile no more, the unreturning feet." 

An old gentleman from Ohio could not give his son 
up : but telling, with tears, his affecting story, would 
ask help from every one he met to find his boy. All 
the records were searched in vain for John H. Ritchey, 
Company C, 122d Ohio Yols. 

A mother came from New York to the Sanitary 
Home: after searching all the records without success, 
she walked through all the hospitals — gazing at every 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 123 

man, and inquiring if they knew her son ; at length a 
man said there was a book here with that name in it, 
that the man died as they came to the wharf; as soon 
as she saw it, exclaimed: "It was a Bible she had 
given him; her writing was in it!" It was a great 
comfort to her to find out that much certainly. 

Miller, belonging to a Massachusetts regiment, was 
so emaciated when he arrived that, when his father 
came for him, it was thought he could not reach 
Baltimore alive ; by resting with him frequently, 
reached home in safety. His weight then was sixty- 
five pounds, his height six feet : after some weeks' 
stay, returned, weighing one hundred and twenty 
pounds. He walks very well with a cane, but cannot 
stoop to the ground — as there are still large sores upon 
his back, from lying on the ground through storms and 
sun. 

Calling at the embalmer's about the body of a man 
who had just died, I found a gentleman from Con- 
necticut waiting to have a coffin, that had been disin- 
tered, opened. When the lid was thrown off, it proved 
to be one of the most terribly starved ones. The face 
had not changed : it was a ghastly green color, with 
mould upon it, as he came from prison ; the fair, light 
hair was brushed smoothly off the forehead — for some 
reason it remained uncut, showing that it had been 



124 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

matted and sunburnt. The father's agony was most 
painful to those who were present : taking up the skel- 
eton hands, would exclaim: "If he had fallen when 
with Sheridan, upon the battle-field, or by illness, he 
could have borne it without a murmur; but this! — he 
never thought his brave young boy would starve to 
death !" repeating over and again, " starved, starved to 
death!" After the embalmer had prepared the body, 
it was again robed in nice, clean clothing from the 
Sanitary Commission ; but the face remained un- 
changed, when the father took the wasted remains to 
his home. 

Mr. Brown, a New York man, who enlisted in a 
Pittsburg regiment, is one of the most suffering cases 
among the prisoners. Directly after their capture, he 
was standing quietly with a group of others, when a 
brutal rebel soldier struck him down with his musket; 
he was never able to straighten himself afterward. He 
was taken to one of their hospitals, where, without any 
care, the wound sloughed and became offensive. When 
the men were taken from No. 4, Danville, he was left 
in the room alone — as he says, to die; calling to a 
rebel nurse, he implored him to carry him out with the 
others ; but all in vain ; at length some one came in to 
hear what he was saying, when, with the desperation 
of a drowning man, he clung with both arms round his 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 12") 

neck, telling him he would not let him go until he was 
taken to his companions. In that way he was carried 
and laid upon the platform, to wait for the cars : no 
blanket, or covering of any kind, to cover his poor suf- 
fering body; his moans and cries from pain and the 
cold were constant, until a rebel, more kind than his 
fellows, came to him, saying "he had been in our 
prisons, and knew how well they were treated ; and 
would do all he could for him." He succeeded in pro- 
curing some whisky, which he gave him — that warmed 
and quieted him ; then finding a piece of blanket, 
wrapped him in it and laid him near the fire. When 
the cars came, lifted him in, bidding him "good-by," 
with "Yank, you will soon be in your lines, while I go 
to the front to bring over a crowd with me." That 
was the last he saw of the man who, at that time, 
saved his life. During all the time he lingered, his 
sufferings were intense ; his sister, Mrs. Clark, of Alle- 
ghany City, waited upon him most devotedly until 
death released him from all pain. 

Two Georgia women, wives of prisoners, came on 
the boat with them, and were brought to the " Sanitary 
Commission Home." While the prisoners were at 
Macon, these girls worked in a woolen mill near : when- 
ever they could do so unobserved, would take some of 
the cloth and divide among them. The men assisted in 



126 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

some kind of work outside their prison, and there the 
girls could take them food; when released, they were 
married, and marched with them fifty-eight miles — until 
they were put upon the cars, and sent on by boat. This 
is the third party of the kind we have seen here. 

The "Sanitary Commission Home" at this place, 
Annapolis, has been to hundreds a place of shelter 
when the town was crowded to overflowing, and a 
home at all times to those who were received beneath 
its roof: here the relatives and friends of those in the 
hospitals were provided for, meals and lodgings fur- 
nished gratuitously, and all made comfortable. Mrs. 
Hope Sayers, the estimable matron who presided so 
efficiently and pleasantly over the establishment, will 
ever be kindly remembered by all who were its 
inmates. 

May 13th. Eleven hundred and fifty men landed at 
the Barracks: again employed distributing articles 
among them, which are always received in the same 
pleasant manner. Those sent to the hospital are very 
dark with smoke and sun, and skeleton-looking like 
those who preceded them. They tell the same stories 
of their prison life, and repeat what others have said — 
how they dug wells at Andersonviile fifty feet deep, 
their only tools the halves of a canteen and an old 
table-knife. An arrival of rebel officers and privates 



ARMY OP THE POTOMAC. 127 

with several hundred " galvanized Yanks," — an express- 
ive term in army parlance, meaning that these men, in 
their desperation for food, accepted the tempting offers 
of the rebels, — but they were never trusted or kindly 
treated by them — and despised by their old com- 
rades. 

Among the wounded is Sergeant Black, State color- 
bearer of the 67th Pennsylvania Yols., who lost a leg 
while carrying the flag. He was shot by a rebel not a 
yard from him : as he fell, they caught the colors ; it 
was but a moment ere his company had them back 
again, and their rebel bars with it. The fight was 
through a swamp, which varied in depth from four 
inches to as many feet. 

May 29th. Another arrival of prisoners : among 
them are the blackest white men I have ever seen. 
These are nearly the last from the South : they are 
suffering with scurvy and kindred ailments; exposed 
for months to the sun and storms and the smoke of 
pitch-pine, they are most thoroughly browned and 
tanned. Among them is a perfect skeleton — a boy 
from Ohio : he enlisted in a Kentucky regiment ; is 
now sixteen, and has been in the service two years. 
Longing and praying to see his mother, inquiring of 
every one how soon he will be sent home — he died 
suddenly at the end of two days. There are twenty 



128 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

others in the same arrival almost as bad as he is ; the 
most of them must die, as Ohio did. 

The wife of one of these skeletons arrived directly 
after they landed. She had heard, in her home in 
Western Pennsylvania, that he was living, and was 
here. She came, dressed in the deep mourning she 
had worn for him for two years : for so long was it 
since she had heard of his death ; but — 

"Southern prisons will sometimes yawn, 
And yield their dead into life again." 

There was a happy meeting : he recognized, and could 
converse with his wife for a few hours — and then death 
came. The following morning a few sympathizing 
strangers stood with her, in the little chapel, as the 
last impressive service was performed ; and then he 
was carried to rest beside the thousands of his fellow- 
soldiers. 

A browned and emaciated boy, who had endured a 
long imprisonment, said the earth he burrowed out was 
his only shelter until he planted a few grains of corn : 
with great watching and care, it grew to screen him 
slightly from the sun, and remind him of fields of it at 
home. 

A man from the 15th Massachusetts, whose name I 
neglected to take, was captured at the battle of the 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 129 

Wilderness eight days after re-enlisting. He had with 
him a blackened, soiled Bible : the binding and paper 
had once been handsome, but now, from exposure to 
storms, like its owner, looked badly; he said the rebels 
often tried to get it, but he managed to secrete it : it 
was his best friend, and very precious to him ; he 
hoped to take it with him to his home in Massa- 
chusetts. 

Upon giving to one of them some trifling articles, he 
thanked me very cordially, and said: "You must not 
think us a set of children, because such little things 
make us so happy; but remember we have had no 
kindness shown us for fifteen months, and these things 
tell us we are home again among friends." And thus 
they talk by the hour. 

Two brothers were lying side by side : one had lost 
half his foot and was in the hospital, while his brother 
was in the stockade at Andersonville. The one in the 
hospital had concealed some money, which he divided 
with his brother as soon as he could get out to him ; 
thus enabling both to purchase food, and probably 
saved their lives. 

Near them was a wounded Indian, and a Maine man 
six feet four inches tall — now so emaciated that he 
does not weigh one hundred pounds: in health, weighs 
over two hundred. 

12 



130 THREE YEARS IN FIELD HOSPITALS, 

June 6th, came the last arrival of bad cases : among 
them Philip Hattel, Company I, 51st Pennsylvania 
Vols., from near Barren Hill, Montgomery County; he 
was captured at the battle of the Wilderness; from 
prison, sent to Fortress Monroe; from there to this 
place. He lingered three weeks, and died, as thou- 
sands of his comrades had, from cruel starvation. 

It seems strange that one of the earliest captured 
should be returned among the very last. The name I 
have lost, but the facts are as I wrote them when the 
man related the story to me : After the first Bull Run 
fight, a number of men were making their escape to a 
place of safety, when some negroes offered to pilot 
them beyond the rebels ; but they were soon surrounded, 
and the whole party taken to Richmond, where they 
were tried for abducting slaves, and sentenced to im- 
prisonment during the war. They were kept in Rich- 
mond two years : then moved in regular rotation 
through all the prisons, and sent North with the very 
last. What became of their colored friends, they never 
knew. It was very mortifying to the soldier to think 
he had been a prisoner during the entire war: and 
fearful that his friends would not receive him, he de- 
termined to take the name of one who had died in 
prison ; his comrades had great difficulty in dissuading 
him from doing so. 



ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 131 

An old gentleman, from Columbia, Penna., came in- 
quiring for " St. John's Hospital." Two days previous 
he had received a letter from his son, whom they had 
long mourned as dead ; and now, overjoyed to know that 
he was alive, he could hardly wait to be directed to the 
place. The boy came in the last arrival, is convales- 
cent, and will return with him. 

The 1st of July found the hospitals vacated, and a 
few months later restored to their former uses. The 
war ended, peace ensured, men mustered out of service, 
our work completed, there came for the first time in 
ail these long, eventful years, to overtasked mind and 
wearied body, the perfect rest of home! 

This glimpse of hospital work can give but an im- 
perfect sketch of a portion of that mighty host "who 
have filled history with their deeds, and the earth with 
their renown."